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Great Cosmopolis Review from ‘The Independent’   1 comment

From The Independent

David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis is a very stylish work. It should be, because it’s a film largely about style. Its theme is the heartless, even sociopathic detachment with which today’s hyper-rich lead their hermetically cushioned-in lives. The problem with stories satirising decadence is that what they satirise can end up looking seductive. What’s to stop Cosmopolis becoming as vacantly chic as the world it depicts?

The answer is Cronenberg’s ironic intelligence – although this is so finely tuned that it’s hard to pin down quite how it works. That’s why some of his most provocative films – among them, Crash and eXistenZ, both of them echoed here – are among his most misunderstood.

Cosmopolis courts the same fate. The source is Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel about a young billionaire financier, Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), who spends a day riding across Manhattan in his state-of-the-art limo. He’s ostensibly after a haircut, but in reality – as his reckless financial speculations threaten to sink both him and the entire global economy – he’s heading for a rendezvous with death, truth, the impenetrable dark beyond his world’s luminous spectacle. He is, you might say, cruising for a transcendental bruising.

Cronenberg hasn’t so much adapted as transcribed the novel: he’s trimmed its incident but left much of DeLillo’s hyper-stylised dialogue. The film records Packer’s progress across town, his car moving with regal slowness because of various obstacles: among them, a presidential cortege, the funeral of a Sufi rapper, an angry demo directed precisely at people like Eric. Occasionally Eric picks up passengers with whom he engages in serious, sometimes abstract discussion. An elegant woman (Juliette Binoche) joins him for businesslike sex – then rolls around coquettishly while discussing the viability of Eric’s prospective art purchases. Hirelings discuss numbers, currency fluctuations, the “microtimed” nature of post-modern knowledge, in the case of Vija Kinsky (Samantha Morton), Eric’s “head of theory”. Another woman (Emily Hampshire) comes on board in time to witness Eric’s daily rectal exam – which makes for a grotesquely comic flirtation, Eric leaning over her like a tortured Francis Bacon nude.

Eric’s ultimate appointment is with Benno Levin (Paul Giamatti), an angry ex-employee who embodies an abandoned pre-digital culture. En route, there are other stops to make, including several dreamily happenstance encounters with Elise (Sarah Gadon), the wife that Eric hardly knows.

Here’s what I mean about style: see Cosmopolis in a cinema with good sound, and listen to the way that Gadon’s silky, incantatory voice is recorded so that it’s like a physical object, filling the space around it. This might seem merely an effect, but it’s intrinsic to the outright difference of this film. Cosmopolis uses sound and silence brilliantly. The limo is a space capsule drifting weightlessly through town, excluding all external noise – which implodes into the car the second its doors open.

The car is at once throne room and coffin, its black leather interior as fetishistically realised as anything in Cronenberg’s car-sex drama Crash (look at Binoche’s stiletto propped post-coitally on the console). Outside, the world’s disorder scrolls frictionlessly by, like a live stream of a pageant happening in another universe.

The limo is Eric’s psyche, which can only remain security-sealed for so long; by and by, the world and his own mortality will get to him. But the car is also a stage for an ambulant chamber drama: this is the most overtly theatrical film Cronenberg has made, a series of heightened two-handers, culminating in the apocalyptic showdown with Giamatti’s Levin.

As for what Cosmopolis says about the current financial abyss, I’m not sure it’s that interested in pursuing the diagnoses of DeLillo’s book. What the film does explore, mesmerisingly, is the riddle of how to turn a book about a limo ride into an experience that is itself a ride – or rather a glide. Such is the film’s out-and-out otherness that Robert Pattinson – who puts up a strong, wryly amused show as the savagely blank Eric – himself becomes a stylistic element among many. This is a surpassingly odd film that some will reject outright, but I was totally won over. Cosmopolis may, like Packer’s limo, be an elaborately conceived but essentially vacant vehicle – yet it has a master at the wheel

Posted June 19, 2012 by fastieslowie in Cosmopolis, Robert Pattinson

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Cosmopolis ‘Heads Up’ in The Independent – UK   1 comment

From The Independent

What are we talking about? A new film adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel Cosmopolis, following a young billionaire asset manager as he tries to make his way across Manhattan in a very swish limo, in order to get a haircut.

Elevator pitch Through limo glass, darkly: Cronenberg takes R-Patz for a spin through sex, wealth, and death.

Prime movers It’s directed and adapted by David Cronenberg.

The stars Taking the lead is Robert Pattinson, and the rest of the cast is top drawer too: Juliette Binoche, Samantha Morton, Paul Giamatti, Jay Baruchel and Kevin Durand all star.

The early buzz Empire, when commenting on a new dark, glitteringly rapid-fire trailer, wrote, “Robert Pattinson is living every wide-eyed Apprentice’s dream in the new trailer for Cosmopolis – seemingly, at any rate. Admittedly, there are more of those Cronenbergian strains of sex, death and paranoia than you’d find around Sir Alan’s [sic] boardroom table.” The Hollywood Reporter says, “it falls upon David Cronenberg’s vehicle Cosmopolis, a nihilistic futuristic drama (is there any other kind?) with a lot of drug-fueled sex and craziness to showcase Pattinson’s acting chops. The film could be another chance for Rob to be just another pretty (if tortured) face … [but Pattinson] claims that Cosmopolis has given him ‘balls’.” Jolly good.

Insider knowledge R-Patz is quite the Cronenberg fan – and openly grateful to the director for giving him a chance in a “serious” flick. So much so, he conducted a 13-hour fashion shoot for French magazine Premiere in order to pay homage to Cronenberg’s work (including hanging out on a sofa with a stomach wound and staging a threesome with himself and a pregnant lady).

It’s great that … Judging by the trailers, it’s going to be a high-octane return to form for Cronenberg – and who knows what interesting impact it could have on the cine tastes of young, impressionable Twi-hards…

It’s a shame that … The most recent trailer proclaims: “Finally the first film about our new millennium” – which seems a little hubristic, to be honest, not to mention uncharitable towards the past 12 years of film.

Hit potential Cosmopolis is at Cannes, where ordinarily its reception might have a big impact – but it’s got R-Patz in it. It’ll do just fine, even if every critic hates it.

The details Cosmopolis is released on 15 June.


“Bel Ami” and “Cosmopolis” on The Independent UK’s 2012: The unmissable cultural treats List   3 comments

From The Independent:

2012: The unmissable cultural treats

 Next year promises to be a cultural jamboree, with world-class films, art exhibitions, gigs and theatre performances around the country. Our critics select the most exciting highlights

Bel Ami

Twilight’s Robert Pattinson plays an unscrupulous journalist on the make in 19th century Paris in an adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s novel directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod (from theatre company Cheek by Jowl.) Long before phone hacking and the Leveson Inquiry, the film shows that journalists were using the most devious means to get ahead.

Release Date: 2 March


A multi-millionaire young stockbroker heads across Manhattan in a limousine to have a haircut. It may not sound like much of a starting point for a film but David Cronenberg’s screen version of Don DeLillo’s novel promises to be a sleek and disturbing satire about narcissism and modernity. Robert Pattinson stars as the self-absorbed anti-hero.

Release date: TBC