Archive for August, 2012

*** out of *****

What to make of Cosmopolis, this flavorless layer cake of a movie? Here’s a film that robs us of cinema’s simplest pleasures: escapism, emotionalism, identifiable characters, narrative pull. And it does so, very much, on purpose. Like the financial guru at its center, Cosmopolis lives in the abstract. It’s a relentless blast of ideas, devoid of the meaty goodness that makes human stories stick to our ribs. It seeks to distance us from the characters and actions on screen. And it succeeds. Good for it.

It’s hard to love a film so alienating and artificial. But there’s no end to how much you can admire its radical experimentation.

Unfolding over a single, fretful day, Cosmopolis follows a billionaire financier (Robert Pattinson) as he rides across Manhattan in a sound-proof limo. Pattinson holds a series of meetings in his souped-up habitat; he forces those in his insular world — coworkers, lovers, doctors — to come to him. Pattinson has made a colossal gamble on the yuan, one that drains him of billions as the day progresses. He tries to convince an art dealer (Juliette Binoche) to sell him the entire Rothko Chapel, discusses the markets and human behavior with his “chief of theory” (Samantha Morton), has a sex-charged exchange with his finance director (Emily Hampshire) while undergoing an endless prostate exam, and, all the while, forces his security team to drive through hours of traffic to his favorite barbershop.

A lot flies around the periphery of Cosmopolis, but given Pattinson’s willful seclusion, his headlong dive into the world of currency exchanges, we only catch it in scraps. Protestors have overtaken Manhattan, hurling dead rats in spectacular displays against income inequality. Someone has made a credible threat on Pattinson’s life. Manhattan stands still to honor a deceased Somali rapper (K’naan). This Waiting for Godot-like non-story cascades into a tremendous final showdown between Pattinson and a downright feral Paul Giamatti, a former employee. (more…)

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Tim Heidecker gets his arm cut off in Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie; Simone Mareuil gets her eyeball sliced open in Un Chien Andalou.

Halfway through Freddy Got Fingered, the supposed abomination from ’90s relic Tom Green, a 28-year-old man serenades his father with a song about sausages. That man, played by Green himself, has designed an elaborate pulley system in his father’s living room. Sausages dangle from the ceiling, the links shooting up and down as Green mashes notes on his keyboard. For good measure, a pair of steaks also hang from his ears. The elements coalesce into perhaps the most demented image ever from a multimillion-dollar, studio-financed movie.

Tom Green asks if his father would like some sausages in Freddy Got Fingered.

Can you deny the inventiveness of a Rube Goldberg-like device that makes sausage links bounce up and down as you play the keyboard? It’s the kind of inspired set piece that earned Freddy Got Fingered a (perhaps sarcastic) rave from the New York Times, when A.O. Scott argued that Green and his sausages “may show up some day at the Museum of Modern Art.” Roger Ebert, in a review as negative as Scott’s was positive, bemoaned the very thought that “the day may come when Freddy Got Fingered is seen as a milestone of neo-surrealism.”

I’m here to tell you that today is that day. But I wouldn’t use the phrase “neo-surrealism.” Freddy Got Fingered, rather, is the godfather of avant-garde bro comedy. Welcome to a marriage of the crass and the absurd. This style of humor, once quarantined to “The Tom Green Show,” is now the go-to mode for many of America’s top comedians. Surrealism spiked with gross-out gags, dick jokes, and comically excessive violence: that’s the secret recipe behind the likes of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay movies, “Tim and Eric Awesome Show,” and “Family Guy.” The movement is, if nothing else, a total sausage fest. (more…)

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