Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cosmopolis: Miami Heat

You guys, David Cronenberg has something to say and he’s going to tell us again and again and again! I haven’t read Don DeLillo’s novel of the same name that Cronenerg has adapted, but the film’s structure and dialogue come off as little more than prose that has been awkwardly repurposed for the screen so I feel like I have. Disjointed and largely impenetrable, Cosmopolis will prove a difficult film to love and an easy one to loathe. Sadly, in spite of Cronenberg’s desire to repeatedly tell us about His Opinion, Cosmopolis ends up saying very little. There’s nothing particularly new here, which is especially disappointing coming from Cronenberg, who made such brilliantly allegorical cinema as Videodrome and Naked Lunch. It's all just so literal. Yikes.

For whatever reason, Cronenberg has gotten his actors to recite their already very disconnected dialogue in a stilted with little embodiment. Probably very much The Point Of The Movie, but it makes for awkward viewing. Pattinson is not bad, nor particularly good, but he does lend the character a smug exterior that at least adds some shade to the proceedings. Jay Baruchel and Paul Giamatti serve their roles admirably, but aren’t given much to work with. Sarah Gadon, meanwhile, is a chore to sit through as Parker’s rather vanilla-toned wife, but Mathieu Amalric manages to inject some life and energy into his brief moment. By the end I had long since tuned out so maybe they all mean something, but it’s all just so lacking in vitality.

Technically it is hard to fault. Seamless integration of visual effects into the pristine limousine set that is the focus of most of the film, and the sleek business suit costume design of Denise Cronenberg are much appreciated. I can’t say the same for the original rap tune written by DeLillo and rapper K’Naan, which is an embarrassment. Cosmopolis unfortunately amounts to little with Cronenberg is so intent of hammering his message so deeply into the viewer’s head that he cracks skull. There is no subversive spin on the material and proves as superficially empty as the limousine that acts as a symbol of extravagant one percenters. If Magic Mike looked at the physical toll the GFC has played on the body of Channing Tatum's inspiring stripper, then Cosmopolis is the opposite end of the spectrum. A frustratingly dull series of discussions about greed, corruption and capitalism from the eyes of an uber-rich young business man. C

The biggest disappointment of all was the complete and utter waste of opportunity with how Cronenberg represented New York City. For all we know it could have been set in any city... Miami, perhaps? Not gonna lie, I kinda wished Pattinson's limo was going to find itself in the middle of one of those ridiculous flash mobs from Scott Speer's Step Up: Miami Heat (nee Step Up Revolution for American readers). It could be like one of those weird television cross over's where audiences are all "Why are the characters from Bones in this episode of Private Practice?" It certainly would have given Cronenberg's film some snap to it to have Pattinson peek out his windows to see the nubile, fleshy dancers of the fourth Step Up movie gyrating about on car hoods. And, hey, Step Up Miami Heat does in fact try and weasel some weak-as-piss social commentary into its own proceedings. Ya know, as much as this basically-but-i-guess-not remake of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo can muster in between feisty choreographed dance routines and limp romance. Its anarchic move busters sure have the rat-hoisting rioters of Cosmopolis beat.

Still, there's something to be said about the good time that I have with these films. I genuinely believe that Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D are good movies with lively ways of discussing the way art brings people together and how it has the power to change people's lives. This fourth entry essentially gives up on even attempting any connection to the prior three films outside of a late entry cameo that does nothing but call attention to the fact that this is a Step Up movie in name only. It could have simply been titled Miami Heat and be done with, but brand counts for a lot on the global market these days and without Channing Tatum willing to pop up for a third time there weren't many ways it could go with its franchise characters.

The dancing is indeed lively, although its use of 3D is less obvious than its predecessor, and the actors are all incredible good looking, if not necessarily in correlation with their acting skills. Newcomer leading man and former MMA fighter, Ryan Guzman, quite literally has his shirt off or at least unbuttoned for a good two thirds of the movie and, let's face it, it was a nice touch. Of more concern was Kathryn McCormick's sand-based opening routine. I can only imagine what doing the splits on a beach could result in and it ain't pretty. Elsewhere there's an actress named Cleopatra and Mia Micheals from So You Think You Can Dance looking horrifically bored/botoxed.

Of course, nobody goes to these movies for the actors, and by now the franchise has descended into little more than wildly hysterical lulz in between the catchy dance numbers. There's little to no logic at all, ridiculous dialogue gets spouted with utmost sincerity - "He's the Mark Zuckerberg of The Mob!" - and once again the extras get overly carried away with their hip-hop flavoured expressions. Yo yo yo! It's all terrifically absurd and no more absurd does it get than the art gallery sequence in which covert, camouflaged dancers take over an opening night seemingly without raising the curiosity of the gallery director. Did she not notice there were statues in her exhibit that aren't actually meant to be there? Naturally it doesn't make a lick of sense, but at least it gives off the faint scent of trying to be a half-decent movie unlike Streetdance 2, which was just embarrassing for all involved (still funny though). I had a hoot of a time and I don't care who knows it! Z+

And, ya know, just 'cause...

Yeah, I'll take him over Robert Pattinson.

Can we have more of these movies though? How about each subsequent movie relocates the drama ("drama") to a new city, and a new impoverished neighbourhood that needs saving from the grasp of greedy developers. We could have Step Up: San FranDisco!, Step Up: Bustin' Boston, and Step Up: Salt Lake Shivers about a new dance move called "the shiver". Considering what gets called dancing in this franchise I'm sure they'd have no trouble convincing people that it's a real thing. Long live the teen dance flick!!!

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