Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cosmopolis: Analysis Of Pretentious Rubbish

Okay, for my first proper blog entry, I may as well write about the most recent movie I've seen in the cinema. If you want a short summary of what the film is about, as there are many other sites on the internet you can find that out. Besides, isn't that what Wikipedia is for? So all I'm going to do is recount my experience going into this film, and follow that up with an attempt at some analysis of the feature (ie. nitpicking every aspect of the film, which leaves me open to correction from those who either liked it, or "got it"). The following text will be filled with spoilers, which I will give fair warning to later on.

I said before that I don't have many interesting hobbies, but the one I do partake in are trips to the cinema. I have a membership card for Cineworld where I can watch as many movies as I want to in a month for 20 euros. So that gives me opportunities to check out movies that I may not have been interested in if I was to actually pay for a ticket (well, more than the 20 euro limit for each month if I wasn't a member). Which cuts out the risk on wasting money on a movie that turned out to be a load of rubbish. And if you read the title of this article, I'm sure you can figure out what I thought of the movie, but I'll get to that.....once I stop with this prolonged introduction.

What have I heard about the movie beforehand?

My only recollection on hearing about this movie was reading on movie websites about an upcoming film by David Cronenberg which starred that guy from the Twilight movies. While reading his filmography, I am reminded that I haven't seen some of his more "out-there" movies, like Scanners or Videodrone. And I have seen clips of the weird special effects from his movies (like the infamous scene at the beginning of Scanners.....I would post a link, but I'm sure you know how to use YouTube by now). But I was a fan of The Fly and A History Of Violence. With this movie, considering that I also saw Crash and Naked Lunch, I did expect Cosmopolis to be along the same lines. Whether I was going to like it or not, remained to be seen.

As for Robert Pattinson, I've never seen the Twilight movies. I know of them, I am told how bad they are in all their sparkling glory, so I am in no position to take the piss out of him. As I see it, even if I do manage to see these movies, giving out about the Twilight series is like giving out about Barney's Great Adventure. They were made for a certain audience, and I am way removed from that audience. And there's no use complaining about how popular they are, mediocrity (for the most part) will always be financially successful. Why do you think reality talent shows are still on the air?

But I have to admit, I do find this funny. And this was the only RPatz (ugh) movie I've seen:

As for any actual reviews of the movie, I only read this one, and even though I read the last line, I STILL went to watch it.

There's a lot going on here... ostensibly. And for a film with so much going on, this is boring as shit.

A quick opinion of the movie

My god, IT WAS boring as shit. So much that I'm amazed that I actually sat through the whole movie. In the cinema I counted 17 people at the beginning of the screening. Whether the low attendance was due to the lack of interest in the film beforehand, or the fact that England were facing Italy in the European Championships is anybodys guess. But from those 17 people, 10 of them walked out. Rating: 3/10

And here's why

Let's start off with a short summary of what the film was about (and before you point it out, yes I am contradicting my statement in the first paragraph). Robert Pattinson plays a guy called Eric (and that's the only character name I remember, without looking up the names of the other characters online), who seems to be a man of some importance, more so that he is not fazed by the arrival of the President to Manhattan (going as far as asking which President it is). Even though this will cause traffic jams, he decides to go across town to get a haircut. So he gets into his customised limousine.....and most of the movie takes place inside this limousine, with the few exceptions where he steps outside for whatever reason.

Over an hour into the movie, which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner with his newly married wife (of which he rarely gets to sleep with), meetings with various people who work for him (and having sex with two of them onscreen), his daily medical checkup (which includes checking his prostate), the death of his favourite rapstar, getting a pie to the face from some French protester, murdering his bodyguard (which I'll touch upon later, as I'm still not sure why), the theme of "rats as currency" inserted at various points of the movie, and having many, many long winded conversations about life and capitalism in which they sound more like stuffy college professors instead of real people.....he finally gets a haircut.....well, half of a haircut.

He leaves the barbers, takes his gun (again, I'll talk about later), goes to a garage where his limo is getting cleaned up, and he is shot at by someone in a building nearby. He finds the apartment where his would be assassin is stationed, has a conversation with him for over twenty minutes, in which Eric shoots himself in the hand (ugh, later), and while being held at gunpoint by the man who wishes to kill him.....the movie ends.

What I felt towards the end

Well films of which the ending is open to interpretation, especially if leaves whatever preceding it unresolved, is always taking the risk. It is easy to annoy the viewer who has invested that much time into viewing this feature, only for it to end abruptly, especially those who would prefer a definitive ending. This practice can be seen as an attempt to become more arty, or make the viewer come up with their own conclusions, but other times, it can be seen as annoying and pretentious. Off the top of my head, The Wrestler and The Grey apply this type of ending, but where those two movies did have an interesting, or at least consistent, narrative, Cosmopolis just meanders on throughout its whole duration, and for it to finish suddenly, it makes the whole experience a waste of time. If it was supposed to give me something to think about, all it made me think of was those 2 hours of my life that I wasted, and that I'll never get back.

Eric, Robert Pattinson, (ugh) RPatz, whatever

I don't have a problem with the guy's acting. He does a decent enough job, considering the material he's been handed. Apparently Eric was meant to be played by Colin Farrell, who opted out to do Total Recall (as much as I am skeptical of that reboot/remake, it turned out to be a good decision on his part).

The character of Eric is, for want of a better term, dull. From the beginning of the movie, and from the way people react to him, along with talk of his possessions, including the very limousine in which he is in, you know he's a bigshot in some way. But why I'm not entirely sure. At first I thought he was involved in weapons development, hence his attitude to the President coming to Manhattan. But apparently he's a billionaire in the financial sector, who has to be protected by his bodyguard (played by the actor who was a soldier working for Charles Widmore in Lost) as there is a constant threat on his life. But not even that fazes him.

He is materialistic, buying anything expensive and rare, from "priceless" art to a wartime German bomber, just because he has the money to do so, along with the bragging rights. He states that he is losing millions of dollars everyday, so this either shows that his wealth is so vast to the point that it means nothing to him, or it is an early indication to his desire to sabotage his life.

He doesn't show much care or feeling towards most of the people in his life, or anyone else for that matter. Whether it is someone getting stabbed in the eye on live television, due to problems with the Yen, or towards his wife, who he has recently married. The wife is just as equally jaded and emotionally distant as Eric, and judging from the cold interactions between the two, with the topic of conversation frequently steered by Eric as to when he can sleep with her again, it feels more like a marriage of convenience, as opposed to a union of love.

On a sidenote, while I didn't know who the actress was at the time, let alone actually remember her character's name, her face reminded me of either Patricia Arquette or some woman I saw in an issue of Playboy during my teens.

Sarah Gadon
(for you film buffs)
Patricia Arquette
(for those who never saw True Romance)
Quinn Koloski
(for you perverts)

If there is any feeling Eric has towards his wife, it is lust. For a guy who can get anything, and in the case of women, anyone he wants, the constant rejections from her must really get to him, especially that not even marriage can guarantee sex with her. And for someone who has no problem with obtaining sexual partners, including employee Juliette Binoche (from Three Colours Blue and.....erm.....actually I've never seen any other movie she's been in), his security guard, and another employee that, while he never actually sleeps with her on camera, there is tension between them, despite having his prostate examined by a doctor. Speaking of the sex scenes, you know a movie is so bad that not even scenes of nudity and sex would even interest your average reader of Nuts magazine.

I still question why these two people are married to each other, other than the fact that what they have in common is indifference to each other and life in general. It can't be to do with family pressures, as from what I gather in the barbershop scene, Eric's father has passed away a long time ago. It could be because of money, as both seem to come from well to do backgrounds, so maybe it's more of a business partnership than an actual loving relationship. NOTE: I may have gotten some facts wrong by misinterpretation or not coping on to something during the film, but given that I actually sat through the whole movie, I'm surprised I even remember what I watched.

The one time Eric shows any emotion towards another character is when he learns of the death of his favourite rapper from natural causes, who he seemed to know personally, and whose funeral is taking place that day. He is such a fan that he has this rapper's music playing in one of his two elevators in his apartment complex. He learns the news from (I'm guessing) someone who worked for the rapper, who chastises Eric for being upset that he died of natural causes as opposed to being shot in a typical "gansta rap" feud.

The fact that Eric cries and hugs the bearer of bad news makes the scene more confusing. Especially afterwards he leaves his limo, to get pied in the face by some annoying, pretentious French protester, of which his bodyguard apprehends, and watches two people playing basketball. He has a brief chat with his bodyguard, which includes the voice activation function of his gun. Eric holds the gun, the bodyguard says the password, and then Eric shoots him in the head.....out of nowhere, and for no apparent reason. Right before he gets his goddamn haircut.

He generally holds people in contempt, to the point that others admit that they don't know how to answer his questions, as he will quickly judge them and therefore lose all respect for them. This is shown during the last scene with his would be killer (played by Paul Giamatti), where they both get into a debate about what they think of the other person's worries and values (to paraphrase the killer, he says he has symptoms while Eric has complexes). The summary of this long and, quite frankly, boring exchange is that both feel that the other person is full of shit when it comes to what they are thinking, what they feel, and their motivations as to how they got to this moment of time. And yet nothing is explained as to who the killer is, whether he's an ex-employee, or someone who had an idea stolen by Eric. But Eric recognises him only as a guy he saw near an ATM earlier on in the movie (the scene lasted about 3 or 4 seconds). And again, maybe I didn't catch what the answer was during this scene, but at this point of the movie, I was looking at my watch, and begging the movie to just end already.

And a few minutes before the anti-climactic ending, where our main character does nothing to defend himself from the possibility that he would get a bullet to the head, Eric shoots himself in the hand. Bizarrely, even the assassin tends to Eric by helping him stop the bleeding. Whether this is supposed to show that the assassin is not really a killer at heart, I don't know. It's just a bizarre, but stupid scene.

Eric's Self Destruction

For whatever reason, it seems that Eric is on a path of self destruction, whether it is financially (losing millions on a daily basis), through sexual encounters out of wedlock (which is admittedly doubtful), committing murder (but then again he made no real attempt to stop his would-be assassin, yet he kills his bodyguard), or just self harm. What I mean by the latter is of two scenes in the movie; the most obvious one being the scene where he shoots himself in the hand. The other is during a sex scene with his other security guard where she brandishes a taser gun, and Eric begs her to shoot him with it. You see the red aiming light on his chest, and he keeps begging her to do it.....and then it cuts to him in the limousine. And I see three people walk out of the cinema as a result. Hell, I was ready to walk out, as it was that moment during the film that I gave up on it. How, or more importantly, why I stayed? I don't know, I really don't.

Now, it's hard to sympathise with a main character that belongs to the 1% of the population, especially as the film is set in the near future, yet it's supposed to parallel with the Occupy Wall Street movement that was going on at the time of the making of the movie. And if you're not supposed to sympathise with them, then you could at least understand what the character is going through. But there lies the problem, there is no hint as to what was driving him mad in the first place. We don't know if this was building up over a period of time, or whether he just woke up that day, and decided to go nuts.

If I was to make a comparison, I would compare Eric to Patrick Bateman from American Psycho (whether it be from the novel or the film). This is a guy who belongs to a world of excess, capitalism, and greed, along with a character that is just as bland as the company he keeps, yet you have an insight into what drives his madness and his mindset.

But the only thing I could guess as to why Eric suddenly went crazy, was being told that his prostate was asymmetrical, of which he brings up with his would-be killer, and asked him what it means, to which he replies that it means nothing. I guess it's because he wishes things to be perfect, and he is so precise in his way of thinking, that he cannot handle any curveballs or irregularities that life brings up. And if the whole reason that he is orchestrating his own demise is due to the fact that his prostate is "asymmetrical", then that makes it hard for myself, as the viewer, to feel any sympathy, or come to any understanding, to the events of the movie.

I do remember that the doctor who checked him was not his normal doctor, so whether it's another example of a curveball that he couldn't handle, such that his tried and trusted doctor never mentioned his "irregular" prostate, I don't know. It just left me with the opinion that this guy is an idiot.

Stupid things that bugged me: Dialogue

The way these characters speak to each other is not natural. Which would be fine if the world is meant to be alien and surreal (as in Naked Lunch). But the world is set in the near future, and it could be argued that the limo itself is in a way a surreal setting. But Eric leaves the car every now and then, so it breaks this illusion straight away. If anything, it makes whatever is going on outside more distracting, especially during a conversation Eric has with employee Samantha Morton (who was in Minority Report and.....hmmm, again, another actress of which I've only seen one film), where they talk about some rubbish (I don't know, capitalism or something), while a load of protesters rock the limo, spray graffiti, and walk all over it.

The whole "professor speak" reminded me of the Richard Linklater films Waking Life and Fast Food Nation. It works during the former, as the film is based in a dream world, but in the latter, the dialogue sounds unnatural coming from what are meant to be everyday, normal people (especially in one scene with includes Ethan Hawke and, coincidentally, Patricia Arquette, talking to a young girl which sounds more like a lecture on the evils of "the man").

Stupid things that bugged me: The Barbershop Scene

Considering that this was the focus of the first hour of the movie, I was half expecting this scene to be of some importance when Eric finally gets to his long time trusted barber. But it doesn't. Simple as. All it is, is the barber giving him some leftover takeout from the fridge, while his limo driver exchanges taxi stories with the barber.

Now that scene was annoying as it is, but no more than the rest of the movie up to this point. But the one thing that bugged me, was at one point, the driver realised that his bodyguard was gone, and wondered where he was. Not knowing that Eric shot him in the head, apparently because the limo is sound proofed, hence why the driver never heard a shot, Eric tells him that he gave him the rest of the night off.

For a guy who apparently needs 24 hour protection from those who wish to harm him, it's funny how the driver suddenly copped on that his bodyguard was missing. Eric then goes on about earlier having a gun (guns came up in conversation), but throwing it away (after shooting his bodyguard, but not wiping off the fingerprints), and he is criticised by the barber and the limo driver for throwing away a gun when he knew he was going to a rough area of New York. While they continue to give out to him, all I kept thinking was why the limo driver was giving out to him, yet he only realised himself that the bodyguard has been missing for quite a while.

Stupid things that bugged me: The Actual Haircut

And continuing on with this "pivotal" scene in the barbers, he only has one side of his head cut, while the other is still uncut and caked with remnants of the pie from earlier on. Now, this could symbolise the main character getting used to the idea of imperfection, but struggling with it, as he leaves with the gun that belonged to the barber, promising that he will come back to get the other half done, and so he.....erm.....ugh.....

That's IT! I GIVE UP!

I can't take much more of this. It hurts my brain to recollect anything from that horrible movie, and trying to make sense of all that rubbish. Also, in the formation of this blog entry, I was over halfway through this text, and for some reason, four to five paragraphs disappeared without a trace, even though I hit the "save" button. Apparently it was due to an error in the HTML, even though I never touched the HTML code.

So to remember and rewrite all that I previously wrote was a pain in the ass. And if there's anything I learned from my first proper blog entry, was that maybe I should save the text somewhere else on my computer, incase I run into another problem with this site. And hopefully I will learn the art of editing. Jesus, I'd hate to find out what the word count for this document is.

And on a final note.....

before Cosmopolis, I thought the worst movie I've seen this year was Prometheus. And boy, I could still go on about how bad that movie was. If anything, it reminded me of when I saw Avatar in the cinema. The 3D effects were amazing, in the case of Prometheus, the set design was superb, but for both movies, the stories were very poor. But at least Avatar's plot was consistent. I could probably write a blog entry longer than this based on Prometheus, but I'll post this video review instead, as these guys brought up similar complaints I had with it.

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