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A creepy portrait of American helplessness (2001, 91 min.) by writer-director Tim McCann, whose only previous feature is Desolation Angels (1995). The title, taken from a sound collage on a Beatles album, refers to a TV commercial closely studied by a young schizophrenic in Manhattan (Michael Risley), who believes it's sending him secret messages. As in his earlier film, McCann is something of a pathologist, but the object of his scrutiny is less the schizophrenic than the way practically everyone in his orbit tries or doesn't try to cope with him—friends, relatives, acquaintances, employers, doctors, HMO bureaucrats (tellingly, many of the social functionaries are named after film noir directors: Karlson, Lang, Fuller, Hathaway). The only person who's really attending to him is his fiancee (Hal Hartley discovery Adrienne Shelley), though she doesn't get much help from anyone else. Spalding Gray has a hilarious cameo as the director of the commercial, whose vanity blinds him to the hero's madness when he's asked to give an interview, but in fact just about everyone in this sharp, passionate feature is chillingly good. 90 min.

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