Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rubbing the Wrong Way

Quentin Dupieux's telekinetic car tyre movie Rubber was one title I was very eager to see after last year's MIFF. Unfortunately I missed it due to bad scheduling (on behalf of the festival and myself), but having just watched it thanks to Madmen's DVD release I can comfortably say I didn't miss a thing. In fact, after 40 minutes of watching it I went to Twitter and labelled it "unwatchable" before going to bed.

Returning to it today and it was pretty much just as bad as it was last night. It holds no water at all, in one ear out the other, and amounts to noting more than an overly extended Tropfest winner. It probably would have made a very entertaining Tropfest winner, too, but as a feature film it's 80 minutes of blah.

"In the Steven Spielberg movie E.T. why is the alien brown? No reason.
In Love Story why do the two characters fall madly in love with each other? No reason.
In Oliver Stone's JFK why is the President suddenly assassinated by some stranger? No reason.
In The Excellent Chain Saw Massacre [sic] by Tobe Hooper why don't we ever see the characters go to the bathroom? Or wash their hands like people do in real life? Absolutely no reason.
Worse, in The Pianist by Polanski how come this guy has to hide and live like a bum when he plays the piano so well? Once again the answer is no reason.
All great films contain some element of no reason."

With this introduction, writer/director Quentin Dupieux waves his magic wand and gives himself carte blanch to do whatever the hell he wants with no rhyme or reason whatsoever. 'It's the point, stupid!' This dialogue sounds like it was written by a 13-year-old who was eager to prove he knew a lot about movies by citing some famous movies and their directors (except, quite tellingly, Arthur Hiller who I guess doesn't have the same arty cache as Roman Polanski or Oliver Stone). Instead, he just comes off looking silly and more than a little childish. It's not like mainstream audiences are going to be watching Rubber anyway, so why not take inspiration from that other directing Quentin and cite some more esoteric titles?

This scene, a prologue of sorts, sets up the film in the wrong manner from the get go, anyway. Without it I may have been able to accept Rubber as just some sort of bizarre, prosaic stoner film, but by deliberately trying to give it a point of not having a point makes the whole thing a rather useless viewing experience. Dupieux is just making a movie with no point, and what's the point of that? There are movies that have free-flowing forms with little to no plot at all that still feel like more vital, energetic and importantly necessary, like they were born out of the directors need to tell that story, than Rubber. There's no need to think "what is he trying to do here?" because he admitted right up front that his movie is about nothing. And not in a humourous "it's a show about nothing" kind of way that is actually about something. It's just... there. A car tyre awakens by itself for some reason, it does some stuff and then the movie ends. Nothing to think about or enjoy here; It's just slow, repetitious and dull

It doesn't even have a deranged edge to it, with Dupieux - acting as cinematographer and editor - choosing to film it in a very chilly, straight-forward manner. It's easy to follow and boring when it should be messy and kinetically insane. It does have great visual effects, make-up and a wonderful pulsating music score by "Mr Oizo" and Gaspard Augé, but they can't save the film from being anything other than a director trying to cynically make a "hip" movie to get himself on the scene - something made all the more obvious by Dupieux's decision to film in English and set it in America, despite being a French filmmaker using French money - without having anything to actually say or anything interesting to show. D-

1 comment:

Mierzwiak said...

Quoting Scream 4, Rubber is postmodern meta shit. I hated it.