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A Frankenstein fable for the millennium, Puzzlehead gives the age-old battle of man versus machine a realistically scientific yet suspenseful reinvention that includes a love triangle, suicide, imprisonment, and more. Evoking the bleak, cold, futuristic world depicted in James Cameron's Terminator, James Bai's eerie sleeper tale conjures a hypnotic dream-like environment, devoid of people, where technology is outlawed. Walter is a lonely reclusive scientist toiling away on his latest creation: a self-aware robot made in his own likeness, affectionately christened Puzzlehead. The child-like android becomes all things to Walter: project, companion, housekeeper, and his one connection to the outside world. Things get complicated when Puzzlehead stumbles upon the obsessive object of Walter's desire: a neighborhood storekeeper named Julia. A series of deceptions ensue, as each member of the trio faces a surreal sequence of life or death decisions. Puzzlehead must choose between loyalty to his maker and a blossoming sentiment towards Julia. Julia questions which being she truly wants to be with. And Walter, in order to pursue Julia without competition, decides to take control of Puzzlehead's ability to think for himself. But the question remains: has he?
Film Information Collapse
[PUZZL] | 2005 | 81 | Narrative Feature
Foreign Title: (Puzzlehead)
About the Director(s)Collapse
Born in Columbia, Missouri and raised in southern California, James Bai studied business management as an undergraduate while playing lead guitar in various rock bands. While working as an accountant, he made his first film, animated on 10 stacks of Post-Its©, called Bonin': A Dog's Life. After confirmation from his younger brother, who was attending NYU's undergraduate film program, that the short was indeed as funny as he thought, Bai enrolled in Columbia University's School of Film. His student short films garnered numerous awards, screening both domestically and internationally. After graduation, a calling to "go into the shed" caught hold of Bai and led him to spend the next six months in Alaska, where, as research for his new film, he taught himself to play the piano by ear at a nearby church. Bai eventually resettled in Brooklyn where the mesmerizing tale Puzzlehead was produced.