“It was a nice tracking shot, but we’re no closer to our dream.”
Wouldn’t you know it… I was proud of myself for being nearly caught-up with the blog before True/False, then a global pandemic came along and set me back by another month. Anyway, lucky I took some notes on this one – it was very good, and also Dupieux’s most convincingly movie-looking movie yet. No Mr. Oizo music, for some reason.
Jean “The Artist” Dujardin drives out and pays too much for a deerskin jacket, the soundtrack playing thriller tension music. Dude’s got money problems, estranged-wife problems, cellphone problems. He steals a book on filmmaking to impress waitress Adèle Haenel (star of The Unknown Girl), then hires her as his editor (he hasn’t read the filmmaking book and doesn’t know what editing is) and keeps asking her for money. Since she is investing in the film, she starts considering herself a producer and bossing Jean around.
Jean is a terrible person from the very start, and that’s before he starts delusionally talking to himself-as-the-jacket, then hitting the town on a jacket-snatching spree and eventually murdering all jacket-wearing citizens with a sharpened fan blade. Good ending, Jean’s actions catching up with him, Adèle inheriting the jacket.
Opened the Cannes Directors Fortnight, playing with a bunch of movies that never opened here, plus The Lighthouse, First Love, and the Luca Guadagnino short I just heard about last night.
Dupieux’s third feature, made between Steak and Wrong Cops. The Mr. Oizo music is always a plus in these, and at first I thought it was excellent until anyone opened their mouth, and it became too self-conscious about its own wackiness. In the end, I think it’s his most watchable movie, even as it breaks all the rules of storytelling.
Cops led by Stephen Spinella of Ravenous plus a briefcase-toting accountant (Mr. Show’s Button Gwinnett) hand out binoculars to a group of spectators, who view the birth of the Scanners-powered killer tire, then all die from poisoned turkey – except for one veteran-looking wheelchair dude played by Wings Hauser (of Beastmaster II and Watchers III) who doesn’t eat.
Spinella and Button, showing that none of this is real:
Wings continues to observe the carnage for three days, and when the cops rig a dummy with explosives to trap the tire, he busts into their part of the movie to tell them it’s a stupid idea. “It’s not the end! He’s been reincarnated as a tricycle, c’mon!” The tricycle blows up Wings then continues with a growing tire army towards Hollywood.
The director is hilariously unpretentious in Cinema Scope: “Obviously there is no meaning … Obviously I made a movie about a living tire so I want to have fun.”
Lightweight absurd comedy about a group of not-good cops. It’s self-consciously weird about the Mr. Oizo songs this time – one cop (eyepatched Eric Judor, a main guy in Steak) is a bedroom dance-pop producer, and other characters are playing similar instrumental grooves in headphones and car stereos. I can’t tell if I like it more or less than the other Dupieux movie I’ve seen because it’s been too long, but this one has more actors I recognize: Eric Wareheim (using his uniform to harass yoga women in the park) and Steve Little (a drug dealer trying to hide his gay-porn history from his family). Best of all, and I never thought I’d say this, playing a teenager (?) with the absolute most hilarious line deliveries: Marilyn Manson.
Yoga woman strikes back:
Little delivers drug packages duct taped inside a dead rat. Eric’s partner is MADtv regular Arden Myrin, and the main cop harassing Manson is Mark Burnham. I think he shoots a guy watering the lawn (Daniel Quinn), who ends up riding around in Little’s trunk for half the movie before making a valuable contribution to Eric Judor’s music composition. Both of Laura Palmer’s parents appear (separately). At least one person dies at the end (Little stabs himself in the neck with a gardening tool). It’s a silly bit of fun which would be forgotten tomorrow if not for the fact that it features Marilyn Manson, and – I cannot stress this enough – he is great.
This seems like a good idea. Mr. Oizo (seriously, the guy with the sock puppet music video from like 1997) writes and directs a movie about two maladjusted nitwits in a wacky future, casting a comedy duo who have been in at least three movies together. A good idea, but an especially underwhelming movie. I mean, I’ve seen some underwhelming movies lately, like The GoodTimesKid, but at least that one featured the wacky kitchen dance scene as something memorable to hold onto. I watched Steak last night and it’s already starting to fade. And the trouble is I don’t think that was intentional, to make a lightweight wispy mumblecore film. It’s mostly set seven years in the future, but even its futuristic society details seem stolen from other movies. For instance, plastic surgery has run rampant (Brazil) and schoolkids form exclusive, violent clubs and drink only milk (A Clockwork Orange).
It’s not totally clear how much has changed in the future, since we mainly see one town’s high school, and still more specifically, a five-man gang called Chivers (urban dictionary: “group of people dedicated to alleviating the stress of an otherwise hectic day with daily afternoon randomness”). When Blaise gets out of psychiatric hospital for shooting up some bullies (a crime actually committed by his friend George), George wants nothing to do with him, finally beginning to fit in with the super-cool Chivers. Blaise adjusts to the new social life faster than his now-ex-friend and gets himself into Chivers just as George is kicked out for smoking (a no-no in the future). Then they kill a fellow gang member by sorta-accident and run off together. The whole thing is played for absurd comedy – few laughs, just a low-key sense of weirdness. Pleasant Oizo music runs throughout, naturally. Only technical detail I noticed was the camera’s very shallow depth of field – always some part of the shot that isn’t in focus. A nice enough waste of time, but doesn’t get me too anxious to see Oizo’s new killer-tire movie Rubber.