Story of a man who simply wants to eat breakfast.

On second viewing I’m still confused as to the repair workers’ murderous motivations, or how Timlin heard the conversation about tattooing anchors and “mother” and snuck inside that kid. If the cop is lying about everything that could explain it. On third viewing I’ve decided the movie’s double-agent loyalties and its inconsistency about scar tissue are nothing to fret about.

Scott Speedman costarred with Kate Beckinsale in the Underworld series, which have Resident Evil-ish posters, which makes me tempted to watch them. Ah no, I guess not.

Best movie I’ve seen in a while. Some hits from the sites:

David Cairns in Shadowplay [comparing to eXistenZ]:

There are factions in ideological conflict over questions of authenticity, but instead of Phildickian Big Question #1 (What is reality?) this is more about Phildickian Big Question #2 (What is a human being?). Evolution seems to be getting out of hand… is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Kristen Stewart in Vulture:

It’s really fun to have three scenes. If you don’t nail it, you’re wallpaper. Timlin is so locked up, self-oppressed, wants to be good at her job, and totally represents the rigidity of the government that they live under. And she experiences an awakening in a split second … I’m very rarely asked to play weird little characters like that.

Vadim Rizov in Filmmaker:

No lines are overtly comic in the sense of being meant as funny by those delivering them, but the audience always knows when to laugh at a particularly weird exchange even as Shore’s score keeps a straight face … A lot of the dialogue is unapologetically Big Picture thematics, repeatedly drawing links between suffering and its ability to generate art while wondering if the two are really inextricable. But this thematic flexing, which is simultaneously direct and vague (and hence seemingly infinitely suggestive without actually committing to anything), is less absorbing than Cronenberg’s style, a finely honed, mysterious ability to make medium-shot coverage of characters talking on chiaroscuro-shaded stage builds weirdly entrancing.

Amy Taubin and David Cronenberg:

AT: I laughed throughout.
DC: You are the right audience.
AT: And I cried a lot.
DC: And that’s even better.

Léa Seydoux is a famous TV newscaster, known for onsite foreign reports and for giving playfully confrontational questions to the president at home, lives with husband and kid in an insane performatively-rich house. At work she gives too much on-camera direction, saying “got that?” a half second after every speech – her segments must be a nightmare to edit. There’s a minor car crash (she rear-ends a motorcyclist) and a major one (her husband and kid plunge off a cliff), and every personal tragedy or professional fuckup is just another tabloid headline. She starts actually caring about the stories she covers, but the public image and end result is the same.

France will be seen next in the Cronenberg, her TV producer is in the brand-new Quentin Dupieux and her husband was in Personal Shopper. Doesn’t feel very Dumontian, except when accident victim Baptiste is around. It’s all very nice-looking (and with great music by the late Christophe) but a traditional media/celeb satire seems like small fries after Slack Bay.

France with producer:

France with husband:

Back in theaters for this one. I love going into Wes movies with absurdly high expectations, because he always meets them. I’ll read the hater critics some other time – maybe they were looking for something more than an endless parade of favorite actors and impeccable production design, but I wasn’t. Much of the movie is in 4:3 black and white, and either my screening was over-matted or the titles appear at the extreme top and bottom of frame.

Bookending segments in the newspaper office, with editor Bill Murray alive in the first piece and dead in the second. Bicycle tour through the town of Ennui by Owen Wilson. Story 1 is relayed by Tilda Swinton, involving art dealer Adrien Brody patronizing imprisoned painter Benicio del Toro whose guard/model is Léa Seydoux (they get some actual French people in here sometime). I was least involved in the middle piece, about faux-May’68 student revolutionary Timothée Chalamet’s affair with reporter Frances McDormand. Then Jeffrey Wright is reporting on celebrated police chef Steve “Mike Yanagita” Park, who helps foil a plot by Edward Norton to kidnap chief Mathieu Amalric’s son.

Michael Sicinski (Patreon) also liked the Benicio story best:

By contrast, Anderson’s snotty riff on May ’68, “Revisions to a Manifesto,” succumbs to the director’s worst comedic instincts, essentially declaring that political desire is nothing more than sublimated horniness … The final segment, “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner,” sort of splits the difference, although it is elevated considerably by a fine performance from Jeffrey Wright, channeling James Baldwin as a melancholy ex-pat uncomfortable with his journalistic distance. The story itself is mostly just a riff on The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s portrait of courtly civility as a bulwark against anarchy. But it’s Wright’s representation of honest inquiry, and humanistic curiosity, that makes it far less silly than it should be.

Watched again a month later, with Katy this time.

I love when an absurd movie by a foreign filmmaker starring a pile of my favorite current international actors opens in town… and plays the multiplex. Judging from the turnout, they won’t be making that mistake again.

We open with the situation I knew from the trailer: Colin Farrell and acquaintance-turned-rival John C. Reilly are at a hotel where they are given thirty days to find a compatible mate or else they’ll be turned into an animal of their choosing. They go for daily treks in the woods to shoot escaped loners – for each one they bag, they’re given an extension of their hotel stay. In desperation, each man tries to fake compatibility with a woman – Reilly gives himself nosebleeds to get paired with pretty young nosebleed-prone Jessica Barden (because these are the kinds of surface similarities that make successful couples) and Farrell acts heartless to get matched with champion hunter Angeliki Papoulia. After this fails catastrophically and she murders his brother (a dog), he escapes into the woods, later returning to forcibly turn her into an animal (he also murders double-agent maid Ariane Labed, which means he dispatches both stars of Alps).

It’s no better in the woods, as leader Lea Seydoux has even stricter rules against coupling. Unfortunately, during their covert trips to the city (where Seydoux is pretend-paired with Michael Smiley of Kill List), he and his travel companion Rachel Weisz fall in love, and she is blinded as punishment, which leads to a hilarious/horrifying finale (remember the nosebleeds).

Also at the hotel: Peep Show star Olivia Colman as the manager, Ashley Jensen (Extras) as a sad woman who fails to get Farrell to like her, and Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas) as the “limping man”. I’ll have to watch again – when listing islands, did someone say “Chevalier”?

M. Singer:

Combined, [the film’s segments] add up to this cautionary tale about the way rigid governments impose their values on their citizens, and how close-minded people try to convince others (and often themselves) that their beliefs are not only the correct ones but the only ones. In the end, that sort of thinking can leave you blind to the truth that happiness can’t be regimented or regulated. And right now, that feels like a pretty timely message.