Monday, February 18, 2013




What is left for the man who has everything?  The majority of the chief appeal of ace director David Cronenberg's latest concoction, Cosmopolis, is the way it attempts to explicate a functional answer. Said answer, unfortunately, appears to manifest itself through a series of calculated steps leading in the direction of total self destructive collapse. The main body of focus is on the every waking movement of one Eric Packer (realized here by a sparkle free Robert Pattinson) a still youthful master of the universe type who prefers to wheel his deals quite literally within the top end confines of his slick ass limousine. We enter his cool and precise mode of existence on one typically bustling, big city Monday. At the start of the film, while posturing in that certain special way the 1% do, Eric decides that he needs himself a haircut and although there are plenty of functional barber shops in the fairly immediate vicinity (as his ever trusty chief bodyguard Torval carefully points out) Eric has his mind set to traverse the cluttered urban sprawl to a rickety old joint in some far less polished segment of the crude inner city.

The ensuing trek fuels the remainder of the film's body, peopling Eric's slow crawl to his rather illogically chosen destination with varied fragments of his business and social lives as well as the random, sweltering chaos of the increasingly unstable cityscape that surrounds him. He trades barbs with his tech boy, endures an alarmingly protracted prostate exam, bangs a foxy French cougar (Juliette Binoche) who happens to be his art dealer, morns as best he can the abrupt passing of his favorite hip-hop star, suffers the wrath of a hyper-kinetic pie wielding activist and breaks off from the action proper to attempt to sway his aloof young beauty of a wife (Sarah Gadon) back into his embrace, which seems odd given his own seriously detached reaction to just about everything. The limo ride proves so protracted and drawn out due a perfect storm of calamitous factors including a presidential event that has era security on edge and traffic smashed together like cattle. Riots and protests abound and the risk of an assassination attempt is at the forefront of every foot soldier's mind.

So what pragmatic purpose could this obstacle laden sojourn actually have? It would seem that our suave non-hero has a slow burning agenda pertaining to the particulars of his own financial ruin. Eric Packer has set his Wall Street skills against himself by hedging his investment luck against the power of the Chinese yuan (much to the chagrin of his key financial analysts). This poor, practically soulless fool even seems to be more preoccupied with a cheap, sensational fling with a sexy security agent than addressing the notion that someone out there in all the mounting disorder may be plotting his mortal demise.

We eventually get a reveal on this looming threat of a potential assassin in the form of a disgruntled former employee of Packer's named Benno Levin (Paul Giamatti, as twitchy and curious an actor as ever) who opens fire on his one time boss yet ends up engaging in a long and greatly involved conversation with him about the nature and purpose they both serve in this twisted information age saga and Levin basically offers forth a summation of all that went wrong for this young man who so long had effortlessly excelled at getting everything right. The verbal trade off between Pattinson and Giametti in itself works as a strong and fitting recap of the world this film Cosmopolis presents to us. Language and the measure in which it is delivered as a method of communication is the protein that drives this picture.

The film is essentially a rapid succession of conversations pertaining to the bits and specifics that fill out Eric Packer's vast, upper crust lifestyle. Robert Pattinson is supported throughout this parade of unending chatter by a healthy (and mostly Canadian) cast featuring (in addition to the aforementioned Giametti and co.) Jay Baruchel as Packer's personal tech geek, Samantha Morton and Emily Hampshire as two key advisers, Kevin Durand (memorable as the menacing Martin Keamy in the T.V. show Lost) as Packer's close yet ill fated security escort Torvil and Mathieu Amalric as the pie crazy 'Pastry Assassin'. Cronenberg milks each performer's respective strengths to max effect and has assembled a tight and efficient machine in which to detail Eric Packer's weighty day on the move.

Cosmopolis was adapted to a loyal degree by the director from auther Don DeLillo's 2003 novel of the same name (Big Dave claims to have pounded out the script in a scant 6 days!) and lensed on a very controlled set in Toronto featuring the limo interior surrounded by greenscreens with the New York like cityscape imagery inserted on top of them for the finished product. Cronenberg's ample skill makes a potentially stuffy and redundant project come off with a deft pace and well above average level of dramatic value. No, this is not to say this baby has earned a place alongside the filmmakers finest works, like Naked Lunch, The Fly, The Dead Zone and A History of Violence, but it never bored me. Worth it fully for fans of the director and/or the novel. Twilight groupies, you might wanna make an alternate choice.

The home video release comes by way of a company called E One Entertainment ( and comes outfitted with audio commentary from Cronenberg and a feature length behind the scenes documentary that goes in depth with the steps it took to put this project together. It can be found at most outlets.

Extra, Extra.


Another Wisconsin boy gets it done. Bradley Scott Sullivan writes and directs a senario that entails a fateful trip into the woods for a small collective of earnest young volunteers looking to find a suitable location in which to develop a youth center. The six of them arrive, pitch their tents, feel each other out, bust open the booze and then it all goes to hell. One by one, each of the cast members falls pray to an increasingly absurd series of cruel, brutal examples of dire human error. The overachiever pokes an eye out with a tree branch, the bitchy girl gets slapped in the face with a chainsaw (the picture's finest gore gag), another poor sap becomes overwhelmed by visions of one of the newly dead gals and hangs himself and eventually the bad boy with a sordid past becomes paranoid and perpetuates further mayhem.

This ultimately leads to the silent, brooding semi-hero type of the picture (some actor named Kurt Cole, as with most low budget genre offerings, there are no names that will be easily recognized) to rise to the challenge of overcoming the unexpected chaos and making it back to the civilized world in one piece. The film plays out its rather simple yet slightly startling, odd ball premise of random misfortune as opposed to a concrete, standard issue stalker/monster menace as a cross breeding of grindhouse tackiness (the picture quality occasionally becomes suspect as a result of this) and a somewhat slapstick addressing of some really hardcore ultraviolence. The cast is serviceable (plus the lead chick, Emmy Robben, looks just swell with less and less clothes on) and the picture is kept to a nice, compact 80 minutes. No fat on this puppy. Good job Brad, you've scored another one for the Wisco (even if your film was shot down by Austin, Texas). Plus it all leads to a solid wrap up that really does make this little trek deserving of a two dollar rental.