Now on VOD, “Zeros and Ones” is a pandemic thriller due to the art of Abel Ferrara, the certified nut behind the famous indie magazine from the 90s Bad Lieutenant. He describes Ethan Hawke as an American army videographer and his anarchist/communist/terrorist/choice twin (as long as he’s not a fascist).
The first being imprisoned in closed Rome and the second in the good old US by A. Bringing what Ferrara says might work stupid, so maybe during those 86 minutes, he’ll get up.
We exposed Hawk’s face up close and disguised himself as Ethan Hawk.
The film hasn’t even started yet – it offers a polite intro that says Ferrara doesn’t give us anything “didactic”. The Covid era is evident in the weeping, n*ked image of Harvey Keitel written forever.
About this story: Rome. 2020. MY KINGDOM FOR DEAL LIGHTING. A lonely subway train speeds into Rome, and Hawk’s character. JJ gets out and travels through the train station and abandoned streets. He comes home, at least I think he’s home, washes his hands, talks about Zoom with a friend.
Or agent leaves go for a walk, has a soldier take his temperature. It jumps into a jeep, receives vague instructions from the boss. “This is world news,” he shoots to believe “- and walks with a video camera in hand. Each scene squints at a rough height. It’s night, and although it’s not night, it’s always like the night in this movie.
He passed his brother’s wife and daughter, who woke up crying. He had an interesting conversation with the little girl: “What are you dreaming of? Fish? He didn’t answer, probably because he was almost the opposite of warm and funny.
The next stop, a sketchy and unidentifiable location – the film is full of it – is about some white powder medicine and seeing a tablet computer. At home, the disturbing video of his brother is shot with serum and interrogated. He talks about visiting the Muslim prayer room with a homeless man whose cardboard box looks like a coffin in the image above.
He accompanies two other soldiers to film them leading a boxing board, going to church so a nun can lead a mysterious dialogue. There’s much more here, including weird scenes with Russians and some unsettling fake CGI blasts in the Roman landmark of hell’s lore.
I found myself dreaming of things looking at Zeros and Ones.
Things like fish! The film is incomprehensible, ugly to watch, and contains no humour, which is not a good way to say it’s “challenging”. Ferrara scrambled some of his favourite things – s*x, violence, religion, s*xual violence against religion – into one big pot of existential gloom from the start of Covid.
All we can do is think of it as some calm, cloudy and humid mood, and everyone is pretty close to the camera to smell their holes. Mass death and isolation remain on the plot’s periphery, which otherwise requires interpretation. Good luck.
All of this was intentional, of course. But also wholly rejected. Ferrara has a reputation for provoking, so kill yourself by trying to snatch interesting political metaphors from loud Americans and laughing Russians who cross paths in dirty Roman subways and occasionally pop up on the streets.
Way to see the Vatican. I’m sure there’s a grainy, pixelated shadow here, in Hawk’s almost hero-like personification, in everything that goes on – read it as often as you can. Despite their insane opacity, I genuinely believe Zero and Unit have an audience. It’s just very, very, very little.