Out 1

Out 1 ★★★★★

Decades from now--but fewer than you'd think--a bunch of kids from an eco-commune in the Midwest go rummaging through the basement of a library. Scummy floodwaters having claimed all the erstwhile more popular discs (algae beards "Cars" and "Everybody Loves Raymond"), the kids find a box set of "Out 1" in a dry pile in the back corner.

When they take it home and pop it in--let's say the grid's powered by stationary bikes and solar panels--they're sucked into a world that seems increasingly familiar. Sure, this Paris place looks a lot like the skyscraper graveyards their parents paddled for their lives from, but these characters could damn well be their comrades. They have a Colin, blowing into his harmonica while he tries to crack the conspiracy that made it all come crashing down. They have a Frederique, swindling and gender-swapping her way to some simulacrum of independence even though you know she'll meet her fate under less than ideal circumstances. And Thomas--doesn't he remind you of the let's-face-it leader of this place who figured out how to squeeze a surplus from this implacable mud-patch we call home? all starry eyes and dreamy moues when he tells exactly what your place is, most of the time on you hands and knees while he leans on the rails and sips wine.

If in this wretched tomorrow these kids want to restart the grand project called cinema, "Out 1" will show them the way. It's the tools and it's the toolbox. Let's just hope those digital cameras still work.

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