Movie: Cosmopolis (2012)
Method: Netflix DVD
Why Did I watch this?
Oh, so many reasons. I don't have all that many Cronenberg films on my resume, nor do I have many Pattison films. I wanted to see his attempt at playing Bruce Wayne ten years before The Batman (2022). The premise of him just driving around NYC rush hour in a big limo as "his empire collapses around him" sounded really interesting. It was about the end of the year and the last to check off my list!
What Did I know ahead of time?
All that stuff I said up there. Actually a good amount! I knew the basic idea, the director, and the lead actor. I was surprised by some of the cast who showed up and how much the film didn't really stick with its premise all that long, but let's get into how bad this piece of shit is.
How Was It?
I had forgotten how much I enjoy 80s Cronenberg but how rough modern Cronenberg is. I was equally excited for Eastern Promises (2007) and A Dangerous Method (2011) and both those movies were remarkably flat despite getting critical praise at the time. I have not seen Crimes of the Future (2022), so it's hard to talk about modern modern Cronenberg, but the cutting edge of body horror balanced with sincere humanity from his early period is dead. He's now very boring and misguided.
I made a huge mistake with this series. Well, not that bad, I don't regret watching a lot of these terrible films because now I know, but I feel a bit like Michael opening a bag with a dead dove inside. I don't know what I was expecting. There were so many interesting or notable movies for whatever reason on my list that I had never gotten to see, but as it turns out, most missed out on becoming a cult favorite for a reason. They're just really bad movies.
I kept wanting to find a movie that didn't deserve its reputation. Or be like, "Hey, this movie is really interesting, why didn't it ever catch on?" Mongol (2007) should be a really great, notable movie, it's crazy that we haven't had a fantastic Genghis Khan biopic. Except the direction is uninteresting and the casting is insane. I found a few great gems. Last week's Bringing out the Dead (1999) was fantastic. Cosmopolis may have been the biggest whiff of the year. So let's get into it.
Robert Pattison is a tech billionaire who wants a haircut. So he drives across town dealing with a Presidential motorcade, anarchist protests, and the funeral of a rapper he likes. While this is happening he yuan rises like crazy, but as a financial manager he mistakenly bet against it, so he loses hundreds of millions of dollars. It sounds really fun! This movie doesn't even know that it's a movie.
First, it lost me immediately with some horrendous car riding green screen. An early scene with Jay Baruchel looks worse than Toonces the Cat. Like...why. It just seems like a complete failure to have any creative cinematic problem solving. The dialogue is stiffer than Star Wars Prequels, and every character talks exactly alike. This is enhanced by constant reassurances of knowledge, "I know this, I don't know this, you know this." It's very distracting.
The age old question then, is "Is all this on purpose?" Like, is it supposed to be saying something about the unreality of the movie, the falseness of the characters, a growth towards humanity, or an elucidation of flaws? It's hard to find any evidence of any of these. Consequences seem real and the movie isn't really dreamlike or a play on logic. Characters are maybe vapid and false on purpose, as they seem to come and go with little introduction as to who they are (I thought his wife was originally a prostitute, it's how the conversation was framed. THAT may have been on purpose...) or why they are important to the story. Pattison certainly seems to lean more into his human roots instead of his stuffy business acumen as the story progresses, but dialogue-wise nothing changes to indicate this. And since every character speaks like a crazy person there's not really anyone who represents the other side.
Do we represent the other side? Critical audiences who can gawk at the mundane insanity and scoff at another world wholly alien from our own solely because of power and money? There doesn't seem to be consequences in this movie. Everything is taken from Pattison (rather quickly), and he seems to just ignore it. He becomes destitute, but remains blase. He doesn't care or express fear, sadness, or anything. He's still just an emotionless dick. Man I hated this movie.
Again, maybe this is the point? That billionaires are bad people? There are films that do a better job of showing the nuance of emotionless tech giants, from The Social Network (2010) to hell, Don't Look Up (2021). There are a lot of people angry for no reason other than broad and generic social unrest, which is notable, but the film doesn't bother to get into the nitty gritty of that, either.
There's a bit to like here. Pattison is charismatic. The sex scenes are surprisingly erotic despite really trying hard not to be. I liked the basic premise, that he's so aloof that he just thinks he's invincible and wants a haircut in a specific way. They reveal there is some nuance there, like the barber used to cut his dad's hair. I liked the cabbie bit, it goes on way too long. I don't know why he killed his body guard. It's all kind of maddening.
There might be some justification for this movie to exist, but I can't figure it out. I'm trying to look deeper but there's nothing there. I want someone to tell me why I should care about any of this, I really do. But this was deeply disappointing and a huge waste of time. One more to go for this year's series!