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Stuart Croft
By this time, Croft's work was also being represented by Fred Mann who, as Rhodes + Mann, had first exhibited The Loss Leader back in 2001. Mann had also co-produced Hit, and it was with this new level of support that Croft was able to realise his most ambitious project to date.

First shown at Fred [London] Ltd in January 2006, Century City (9 min, 2005) is a dual-screen crime thriller that again revisits the cinematic convention of the two-sided telephone conversation.

It is six in morning in LA and made-for-TV movie director Peter Kashlin is chewing the fat with Detective Delport. Delport is across the world in Cape Town and is calling about Kashlin's daughter Crystal, an actress who, in a case of life copying art, has been murdered while filming a remake of Godard's 1963 movie Contempt at the Cape's eponymous Century City studios. While Delport remains at her desk, Kashlin roams his movie lot. The conversation meanders from potential killers, insurance policies, body doubles and stock fraud to the script of Kashlin's next TV movie, Triple Blade, in which Crystal, as Detective Honeywell, would have featured in 'three or four' sex scenes. With more motives, intrigues and suspects than any TV crime thriller, the looped conversation is endlessly unresolved.

But we all recognise the nuances of movie dialogue, and something about Delport's accusative attitude just isn't right. Is Kashlin a suspect, despite the impossible logistics of being on the other side of the globe? In the movies, anything is possible. The dialogue is mirrored by Kashlin's restless wanderings, which take him into the very office from which Delport's Cape Town scene is played. As the artifice of the set is revealed, in the internal and perverse logic of movie-making, so Kashlin's alibi is blown. Nothing is what it seems, especially in Hollywood. As Kashlin himself bemoans, the fact that Hollywood is just a process, a style, and 'not even a place', means that much of his work is done anywhere but in LA.

Century City is Croft's most complex work to date and, together with Hit, undoubtedly his most critically successful. Eschewing his now familiar dissolves and rapid cuts, the worlds of Delport and Kashlin occupy separate screens, demanding a different kind of integration. Although inextricably linked by the fast moving dialogue, Croft almost wilfully deconstructs any more formal bonding. Delport's is a static, almost classic late-night office scene, filmed with the rich depth of celluloid: the cop tied to her desk, burning the midnight oil, punctuated only by the odd cut. Kashlin's scene is restlessly recorded with the immediacy of hand-held video in docu-drama style À la Hill Street Blues, with extras moving in and out of shot. The language of cinematic genre seems to tell us these are worlds apart, until the moment when Kashlin wanders onto Delport's set and we are reminded that, while it's only a movie, movies have their own rules.

Keith Patrick is an independent curator and writer based in Barcelona.

Keith Patrick
Still from Century City by Stuart Croft, 2006
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