Cosmopolis – Review

Cosmopolis (2012) 

Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Robert PattinsonJuliette BinocheSarah GadonMathieu AmalricPaul GiamattiSamantha Morton.

How can anyone enjoy such a self-indulgent pile of unintelligible garbage is really beyond me. A few years ago I used to think Cronenberg was one of the most inventive directors around in America: his early films, though not very accessible in a mainstream sense, have always been at least incredibly imaginative and created some images of nightmares of an almost visceral quality, which would stick in our minds for years and years to come: whether it’s an exploding head (Scanners) or a TV screen literarily eating your head (Videodrome), or piece of ears and fingernails falling off Jeff Goldblum  decomposing body  (The Fly). Even the non-completely successful  Naked Lunch or eXistanZ despite their absurdity, were intriguing enough to keep you glued to the chair and had ideas and inventiveness to fill not just one but two films. And then Crash, of course, I film I really hated  and yet I cannot deny its power.

More recently David Cronenberg seems to have abandoned his visceral style for one which is more cerebral… and his nightmarish images have been replaced by tedious logorroic dialogue and by doing that he’s really lost me… It was only a few months ago that his spectacularly dull A Dangerous Method was released. A film that not only managed to bore the hell out of my me, but which also made Michael Fassbender look quite a banal actor: quite an achievement indeed. But if you thought A Dangerous Method was slow, talky and un-cinemtic, Cosmopolis will go you even further and take you to unexplored corners of boredom and self-indulgness, like few films have done before! How could Philip French from the Observer have called it “riveting cinema” is a real a mystery… Are you kidding me?

I would be willing to bet that if the film had been made by a different unknown director, (and not starred Pattinson) hardly anyone would have even noticed it, let alone raved about it as some people are doing.

There are possibly one of two interesting ideas about the film’s concept, which all come from the novel by Don DeLillo, from which the film was adapted: the journey of a multi-bilionarie crossing New York inside a limousine to have a haircut (yes, that it is).

Whether you read Cosmopolis as a premonition for the economic crash or simply as the descent of a man into bankrupcy, there is no denying that this film is one of those clear examples of an adaptation that should have really stayed on the written page of a book. Because once the cumbersome dialogue gets transposed onto the screen, it really begins to show how proposterous and self-indulgent it all is. And unfortunately that’s all the film has to offer: dialogue dialogue, dialogue… and more dialogue. I have nothing against films built around dialogue and speeches (12 angry men is a masterpiece and that takes place inside a room where people talk at each other!). The problem here is that the dialogue in question is so full of itself , so obtuse, so preposterous, so un-real, so arty, and just so uninteresting, that after a while it really starts to go through you, as opposed to you. While watching this film I literarily found myself wondering “What is it they’re actually saying to each other?!”.

Beyond the dialogue, there’s very little else to admire in this film. The cocoon-like atmosphere inside the limousine is not supposed to be real, but it’s jarring at the best, it’s distracting and after about 5 minutes it becomes just tedious. The multitude of characters that come in and out of the journey, all seem to live in some sort of limbo, and despite their obvious differences, all talk with the same monotone voice those uninteresting lines of dialogue. So much so that it’s actually impossible to tell whether anyone is good in this film. I’m sure they are, because they’re all great actors… Sadly, their skills is totally wasted here. Lots of people asked me: “How is Robert Pattinson? Is he good?”. Well you know what? I have no idea? Mainly because that part is playing is so dull, so unreal, so uninteresting, so un-engaging that after a while not even the charm of Twilight-icon is enough to carry you through.

I’m all in favour of film directors trying new things, experimenting with cinema, trying to follow their personal paths, but when it comes to pointless crap like this, they should really spare us from joining their egocentric selfish trip!

This is an insult to all those Pattison fans out there and a deadly kick on the balls to all of us common mortals who happen to stumble across it. They should really pay us to watch this kind of stuff and it should not be the other way round… (actually I might ask Philip French to pay my ticket!).

Stay well away from it, for your own sake. Let’s not encourage Mr. Cronenberg to pull any of this shit on us again!

4/10

A Dangerous Method – Review

A Dangerous Method (2011) 

Directed by: David Cronenberg. Written by: Christopher Hampton. Starring Michael FassbenderKeira KnightleyViggo Mortensen.

I can’t remember the last time when I have been so much in disagreement with the general critical response for a movie… Everywhere I look I seem to hear and read high praises for Cronenberg’s latest work, and yet I am willing to bet that few of those who claimed to like it so much would be ready to watch it again. As far as I am concerned I am struggling to find something positive to say (well, yes, nice costumes…) and the only reason why my vote isn’t any lower is because I am willing to admit that I might have not been in the right mood for it.

Even in his most flawed films, Cronenberg has always been an interesting director, or at least able to create not only an almost palpable atmosphere, but also a particularly defined style and vision which set him apart from the usual Hollywood crowd.

And yet this one seems a film with no direction whatsoever. Not only each sequence felt random and inconsequential as if not necessarily edited in the right order, without any real feeling of natural progression from the previous one into the next, but also it was all so static and lifeless that sometimes I even wondered whether anyone was actually directing at all. At no point I felt any sympathy for any of the character: in fact, not only I did not like any of them, but I didn’t even hate them either. I just didn’t care.

And this is is a rather strange thing to say, because on paper, a film about the relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud (and consequently the birth of psychoanalysis) sounded to me very intriguing indeed. Sadly, pretty earlier on into “A dangerous Method” I realised that this wasn’t really the type of film I was hoping to see.

I found myself uneasy right from the word “go”, that is from the moment I saw Keira Knightley overacting like never before and stretching her chin to new unbelievable levels, as if screaming to the audience “I want that Oscar!!”. Well, darling, not this time.

Then, after the early screams, it all calmed down a bit and the dialogue started… and that’s when it got worse! For a film which should rely on words more than action itself (especially given the static nature of it all), I found the script absolutely puerile. It all felt like it was written by a high school kid, who’s just heard a few things about Freud and wants to impress his friend with his newly acquired knowledge. I mean, there are actually lines like “You Freud, have always sex in your mind. Why does everything always has to do with sex?”!  Really? Mr Hampton, who are you writing this script for? Surely your target audience doesn’t need things spell out so boldly and blatantly.

It was like reading a checklist of all the possible clichés one could think about psychoanalysis (and Freud in particular). Who is this film for anyway? At times it felt like it was so ridiculously basic, as if it was written for people who have never even heard of Freud and Jung. Other times it was all so ridden with heavy handed quotes and so “up its own self” that it felt like watching some boring lecture given by an even more bored teacher, sitting on your old desk back in school. From such a renowned scriptwriter (he wrote Dangerous Liaisons and Atonement among the other things) I was expecting a lot more: maybe Mr Hampton should watch a few episodes of HBO’s classy “In Treatment” to learn a thing of two about the subtlety of bringing psychoanalysis to the screen.

As far as the two leading male actors (Fassbender and Mortensen, who by the way was so good in both Cronenberg “A History of Violence” and “Eastern Promises”), they were as good as they could possibly be, but in the end they both failed to impress, move, or even raise any sort of emotion beyond boredom. But then again, that’s hardly surprising given both the script they were actually given and a clear lack of any direction, which forced them to talk at each other in the most contrived scenes and badly staged, where even the extras in the background seemed fake and moved slowly and gently like… erm…well, extras (particularly noticeable in the scene by the river).

Sorry David, not this time for me.

5/10

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