If you prefer your movies straightforward and easily comprehendible, stay far away from this one. With a story that barely attempts making sense and an aggressive, hyperkinetic style, SLIPSTREAM is more about the experience of watching it than understanding it. Hopkins successfully creates a stream-of-consciousness feel using constant quick cuts, flashy editing, overlapping images, footage from other movies, different film stocks, jumps in time, bizarre musical choices…pretty much anything you can think of. The end result is something like MULHOLLAND DR meets NATURAL BORN KILLERS meets ADAPTATION. The whole thing can feel like overkill (a simple scene of two people talking might have a hundred cuts), but eventually I got used to the “dream within a dream” style and was able to watch SLIPSTREAM without feeling like eyes-open Alex in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. (On a side note, editor Michael R. Miller deserves a freaking medal for slapping all this together.)
For some reason, I just love the fact that this complete mindf*ck of a movie comes from Sir Anthony Hopkins, and I mostly liked what he did (or attempted to do) here as a writer and director. As random as everything was, Hopkins manages to tie a lot of stuff together, be it thematic threads or recurring images, and actually gives a couple clever explanations for the weirdness. The chaos also allows him to work with a hodgepodge of styles, genres and character types. There’s a noirish murder-mystery (with a fantastic Christian Slater), a little western vibe, and some funny meta-gags about Hollywood that feels like Hopkins venting some personal steam (courtesy of a hilarious John Turturro).
SLIPSTREAM is a bizarre experiment, and definitely not a film for the masses, but I didn’t mind taking the trip when it was all said and done.
Commentary by Anthony Hopkins: This track is well-worth taking in if you want some help digesting the movie (or just to hear the classical thespian’s soothing voice.) Hopkins first lays out his intentions with the movie, which was not meant to be a deep statement, just a creative outlet for himself. (He even refers to SLIPSTREAM as an anti-movie, without structure or order.) It also seems to be a surprisingly personal film for the man, one inspired by his own experience.
Dreaming SLIPSTREAM (15:24): “There’s no message in it. There’s no symbolism in it. And yet it’s packed and loaded with symbols, I guess.” There you have it, straight from Hopkins himself. This making of also includes the director explaining how the film came about, and interviews with the cast explaining what they make of the whole thing.
Deleted Scenes (11:56): Three scenes, one of which adds another meta-layer to the film, and another that takes a nice jab at ALEXANDER.
Extra Tidbit: Hopkins also composed the score for SLIPSTREAM. I think we have a new Robert Rodriguez on our hands, ladies and gentlemen.