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Cronenberg seems to have abandoned his visceral style for one which is more cerebral… and his nightmarish images have been replaced by tedious logorroic dialogue and by doing that he’s really lost me… It was only a few months ago that his spectacularly dull A Dangerous Method was released.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

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec – Review

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010) 

Directed by Luc Besson. Starring Louise BourgoinMathieu AmalricJean-Paul Rouve

Director Luc Besson finally returns to live action after a 6 years hiatus, though after watching this film, I wished he had waited a little bit longer. 

The film is adapted from Jacques Tardi’s early ’70s comic book series, set in 1912 Paris: in fact it’s taken from 2 different adventures (the first one is the story-line about the pterodactyl and the second one about the mummies) and throughout the film there is so much going on that I really wished thinking they had sticked to just one of storylines.

The international posters sells “Adele Blanc-Sec” as a cross between Indiana Jones and Amelie (and that’s an already pretty bold and yet suspicious claim as the two films despite being both very good are surely quite incompatible with each other), but there are also hints from the Tintin strips and even reminders to Lara Croft herself.

The film certainly looks very stylish and quite expensive (though some of the CGI work looked a bit ropey): both the cinematography and the art direction are top-notch, as we’ve come to expect from Besson’s films. The 1900 Paris is recreated with ravishing details as the camera swoops along the many sets, and locations but unfortunately it’s the story-line that ultimately lets it all down.

The plot is so convoluted that in the end it takes all the fun away from what could have been quite an enjoyable experience.

It’s hard to see what the target audience for this film should be. Sometimes it is all so silly that you could be forgiven to think this is one for the kids, and yet the use of the voice over and the actual structure of the story both seem to aim at a much more mature type of audience (and let’s not even mention the completely gratuitous nudity, which is just baffling and really pointless).

There are individual some good scenes here and there (for example the Indiana-Jonesenque adventure in Egypt) which give you a glimpse of what the film could have been if it had sticked to a more simple genre.

But where the film really fails completely is in its comic timing (there’s one funny joke toward the end, to do with a certain pyramid in Paris…): the comic characters are so stupid and over the top that not only are more reminiscent of Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther films, but they somehow manage to diminish the impact of the rest of the film, especially from both the most poignant moments.

In the end it is very hard to take any of that seriously, or to care for any of the characters on the screen (despite a good performance by Louise Bourgoin, in the title’s main role). All you’re left is a sour taste about all that money wasted on a messy and flippant film which is all style and very little substance.

Mr. Spielberg, do watch it closely and learn your lessons for your your upcoming Tintin.

6.0/10

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