I have 498 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday or Tuesday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it!
What’s the movie? Cosmopolis (2012)
What’s it rated? Rated R for a new millennial patois, nihilism in the first degree and a pessimistic view of humanity’s outcome as a whole.
Did people make it? Written and Directed by David Cronenberg. Based off of the novel by Don DeLillo. Acted by Robert Pattinson, Samantha Morton, Sarah Gadon, Juliette Binoche, Jay Baruchel, Kevin Durand, Mathieu Amalric, K’naan and Paul Giamatti.
What’s it like in one sentence? It’s like David Cronenberg adapting a Don DeLillo novel…but with Hal Hartley as the on-set acting coach.
Why did you watch it? I was going to do Compliance, but we had a Movie of the Day on it recently so I jumped to Cosmopolis. Compliance will happen, though.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Robert Pattinson is Eric Packer, a billionaire currency speculator who has recently made a giant mistake speculating about the Chinese yuan. Packer is driven across Manhattan to get his hair cut as he meets with his Technical Adviser (Baruchel), Art Consultant (Binoche), Chief of Theory (Morton), Wife (Gadon), Chief of Finance (Emily Hampshire) and others. Plus, the traffic is at a standstill because of anti-capitalist riots, the president’s motorcade cruising around the city and the slowly moving funeral of Packer’s favorite musician, Brutha Fez (K’naan). All of these elements combine with a threat on Packer’s life and a security team that knows the assassin will strike at some point during the next few hours. Will he survive the day? Will the U.S. pull itself out of the downward spiral of a rioting lower\middle class? Will the film place images and dialogue together to make us care about anything we see on screen? All signs point to “huh?”
Play or remove from my queue? Make no bones about it: this movie is fascinating. There is a constant sense of urgent and impending doom from the dialogue and its delivery tied directly to the intensely oppressive score that keeps you mostly glued to the happenings. This overwhelming sense of dread combined with the mannered dialogue, deadpan delivery and Cronenberg’s emotionally unobtainable coldness make for a film that is hypnotizing in its execution, but frustratingly just out of reach in regards to its ability to connect emotionally. I realize that might be the point since Packer is emotionally stunted and only able to connect to power, hunger and sexuality, while lacking the empathy to connect those feelings to genuine human interaction. But Pattinson’s deadpan delivery added to this and the intentionally claustrophobic framing of every scene leaves the film fraught with tons of interesting pieces not adding up to a satisfying whole.
Cosmopolis is a very good film that I think requires multiple viewings for one (or just me) to really grasp what Cronenberg was going for, but on first glance I’m left a little cold. There’s a lot beneath the film’s exterior interests when it comes to politics and finance and how that can sometimes leave no room for love or basic human interactions, but because Eric Packer is such an enigma we’re left with nothing but concepts on a sketchpad instead of a fully formed piece of art. I haven’t read the source novel, although I have read DeLillo’s White Noise, Underworld and Point Omega and have a feeling that much of the dialogue was taken verboten from the book, as he’s a lifelong fan of the non sequitur and purposefully stilted and obtuse dialogue. The problem with making this cinematic is that the script needed Packer to feel like a three dimensional human being to get us invested in the story so it could be more than a passing curiosity, yet by the film’s closing credits, we almost seem to know less about him than before. Pattinson is fine and carries the movie ably, but he’s marathoning a script that needs a few sprints here and there. The entire supporting cast is fantastic, especially Giamatti, Binoche and Durand, but they’re all acting out surface characters given no room to grow.
I recommend the movie and think everyone should watch it (if for nothing else than Giamatti and Cronenberg’s work), but maybe next week one of you smarts can let me in on whether I’m missing a large piece of the puzzle or whether it came wrapped that way. I wanted to be dazzled by Cosmopolis and was instead left frustrated and hungry for a more quenching cinematic meal.
Do you have a favorite line? I thought “Talent is more erotic when it’s wasted” was a pretty great throwaway line in a film filled with them.
How’s the music? The score by Howard Shore and Metric is oppressive and hauntingly beautiful. This might be a piece of music I hunt down and keep in the collection.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? The Limits of Control (I sadly still haven’t made time for this one yet), Robsessed (I’mmmmm gonna pass on this one), Bel Ami (heard good things), Kumare (one of my favorite films of last year) and LOL (not gonna do it).
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? Colin Farrell was initially supposed to play Eric Packer. I wonder if that would have made a difference in how the movie felt in the long run since Farrell does a lot of acting with his eyes, whereas Pattinson…doesn’t. It might have given us a window into Packer this film never allows for.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3.0
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 2.8
Can you link to the movie? It’s all I ever wan-ted!
Any last thoughts? I would love it if people would chime in with their thoughts about this film. I felt like whole swaths of it went over my head, while simultaneously never feeling left behind. It’s also the first film of Cronenberg’s I can think of where I felt him admiring his own intelligence (if that makes any sense). Set me straight, Chewers!!
Did you watch anything else this week? Gonna see Evil Dead as soon as possible, but other than Mad Men and Thrones, I have been sick and out of the loop as of late.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, The Hunter? I feel a little more positive towards it, even though the end of the film is one step away from full blown Misery Porn.
Next Week? Hara-Kiri? Bindlestiffs? The Comedy? Is it ok to do Compliance now? Citadel? Vampire Dog????