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Cosmopolis

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Day-making news for Jason Panella, I'm sure. ;)

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. :!:

That Cronenberg chose to adapt DeLillo worst novel(la) is...something.

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Well, that's a Cronenberg film all right.

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Posted · Report post

Well, that's a Cronenberg film all right.

My reaction, too. It looks like it might me more akin to some of his older films than his recent ones, though.

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Well, that's a Cronenberg film all right.

My reaction, too. It looks like it might me more akin to some of his older films than his recent ones, though.

It's the first film where he has written the screenplay since eXistenZ, so that should make some difference.

FWIW there are a couple of websites about the film already up with lots of information on them.

http://cosmopolisfilm.com/

http://www.cosmopolisthefilm.com/

I had heard about the project but wasn't aware of the book that it is based on. It seems that the film is going to be dealing with some pretty strange stuff (only hinted at in the trailer), which of course is right up Cronenberg's alley. Knowing his track record, I think we can be pretty confident that he'll be able to make something this bizarre, work as a good film.

Edited by Attica

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Twitch has the [non-embeddable] full trailer.

The trailer declares the movie "the first film about our new millennium." I guess we can't fault them for lack of ambition.

I picked up the novel the other day, actually. I'll be giving it a spin in the next week or so.

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I'm getting NAKED LUNCH flashbacks. (Given my low opinion of NAKED LUNCH, that's not a good thing.)

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Having just finished the book, I'm really interested in seeing this thing play out onscreen. It's a strange book. I’m honestly not entirely sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, there’s some cool stuff going on with Capitalism and that sort of thing; on the other hand, it falters very badly in the last fifty pages or so--flies apart a bit, doesn't quiet cohere. And everyone’s making speeches to everyone else. Which could work, and kind of does, but it can get a little old. On the other hand, I think it's certainly talk-aboutable, and today more than ever—with Occupy Wall Street come and gone, etc etc etc, it certainly seems more timely than a book written in 2003 might be expected to be. Heck, the movie might even live up to its hype-tastic tagline if it plays its cards right.

I'm ashamed that I didn't recognize the line "A specter is haunting the world." It is, of course (as DeLillo points out in his novel) a paraphrase of the first line of The Communist Manifesto. The book is very interested in the mechanics of Late Capitalism--the way it creates crises (like the anarchists in the book) and then re-absorbs them as part of its function (again, I was reminded of the considerably less-violent Occupy movement, which seems to have been absorbed into the news cycle pretty effortlessly). The solution--or, at least, a solution--seems to lie in a violent break such as a protester who immolates himself in imitation of the Buddhist monks years back; it's a sort of action that the Market [these things must always be thought of in Capitals] cannot comprehend, and so cannot absorb. I'm not sure exactly how that squares with the end of the novel (I could spin some ideas, but it would be getting into spoiler territory), but it's one of the book's many interesting themes.

EDIT: Reading back, it seems that this is DeLillo's worst? Which might explain why I found it thematically interesting but a bit incoherent.

Edited by NBooth

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Bought the book and have been trying to read it.

I'm not, to put it briefly, impressed.

There's some good prose in the first twenty pages, but I can't imagine myself actually getting through this.

I'm also reading The Broom in the System at the same time, which doesn't help. DFW's got DeLillo trumped in every way.

Maybe I should just call it a day and ask what DeLillo books I should read?

Edited by Timothy Zila

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Twitch has a review:

Packer, bored to the point of near inhumanity, never seems to worry about them, and so, neither do we. He is slightly more concerned about the investment he made in foreign currency plummeting.

So, rather than a thriller, Cosmopolis plays more like a wispy film of ideas, with conversations in the limo about society, wealth and humanity dominating most of the screen time. Almost all of these feel detached and meticulously unfocused. Characters toss around ideas or questions, which their conversation partner then promptly ignores or responds to with a non-sequitur. It's often reminiscent of work by playwright/screenwriter Harold Pinter, but never quite as fun, nor nearly as humorous as it should be.

The reviewer hasn't read the book, and so can't comment on how close this is to the book. But the above-quoted passage sounds pretty much in line with the novel.

Edited by NBooth

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The reviewer hasn't read the book, and so can't comment on how close this is to the book. But the above-quoted passage sounds pretty much in line with the novel.

Exactly — the blurb you posted could pass as a review of the book.

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DFW's got DeLillo trumped in every way. Maybe I should just call it a day and ask what DeLillo books I should read?

There's some consensus that DeLillo hasn't produced a great novel since Underworld, so don't be so quick to judge him. I've read almost everything by DeLillo and I also never got past the first 20 pages of Cosmopolis. To me the only exception to the post-Underworld slump is The Body Artist, which is a very strange and un-DeLillo novella that I would love to see adapted by a filmmaker like Claire Denis or Lucrecia Martel. Anyway, here are some recommendations:

White Noise -- a good starting point, especially if you're enjoying Broom of the System. DFW's first novel owes a lot to early DeLillo, and even more to Pynchon's Lot 49.

Underworld -- a big, fat, ambitious novel that is totally worth the effort (or, at least that's how I felt when I read it a decade ago).

Libra -- I like this one more than most do, but I'm a sucker for playful pomo historical fiction.

Mao II -- I've read it once and don't totally get it, but it's one of DeLillo's most idea-crammed novels.

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The reviewer hasn't read the book, and so can't comment on how close this is to the book. But the above-quoted passage sounds pretty much in line with the novel.

Exactly — the blurb you posted could pass as a review of the book.

Indeed. I liked some of the ideas floating around in the novel, but the problem is they just float; there's not much in the way of narrative interest [or even anti-narrative interest] to keep them from seeming like anything but a poorly-digested first run at a nonfiction book of some sort.

Meanwhile, Barbara Scharres is also disappointed:

Most of the actors deliver their lines with a mannered lack of expression reminiscent of "Antiviral" (I guess this is what the future is like). Packer spends a day from morning until night trying to get across town in the car in order to visit his favorite barber. In the course of the day he takes meetings in the car for unrelenting serial talkathons on subjects that revolve around money and the global economy: "What does it mean to spend money? A dollar? A million?" The dialogue is rife with rhetorical questions.

She also seems to think the movie's inspired by Occupy Wall Street, which is incorrect--but one might almost believe the novel itself is inspired by Occupy, except for the awkward fact that it was published in 2003. That seeming prescience is actually one of places where the novel works, though not because of anything in itself.

Edited by NBooth

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A couple more reviews:

FirstShowing:

While the film itself, on its surface, is indeed about a stretch limo slowly progressing across a very busy New York City, full of protests and of course plenty of traffic, it's oddly far too static. It moves along disjointedly, complete with awkward vignette moments rather than flowing scenes with segues, and none of it progresses Pattinson's character in any way. Instead, we continue to learn more about how hollow and absentminded this guy is, not helped much by Pattinson's equally wooden and slipshod performance.

Slant:

David Cronenberg's adaptation of Don DeLillo's postmodern, Ulysses-like novel Cosmopolis plays like a profoundly perverse, darkly comic successor to Videodrome. Taking on another "unfilmable" novel, Cronenberg again accomplishes something remarkable: hewing closely to the source material in letter and spirit, yet still stamping it as a distinctly Cronenbergian endeavor, albeit one lacking much in the way of his trademark body horror (with one notable, bloody exception). Diamond-hard and dazzlingly brilliant, Cosmopolis alternates between mannered repression and cold frenzy, one of the ways in which it most closely resembles Cronenberg's prior A Dangerous Method.

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Saw this tonight.

I'd have to side with the Slant review's positive take (although I can't compare it to the novel having never read it). It's distinctly Cronenberg and that one body horror shot near the start is a real shocker.... not so much for the blood or gore but in the timing of it (it reminded me of that one notable shot in the film CACHE). Other than that the film's surprisingly sparing on any sort of violence.

It's weird and trippy as can be expected. But the really noticeable thing about this film is the dialogue (the film is very wordy). It's fascinating, beautifully written (and sounding), well acted, and full of philosophy. There is in particular a couple of fascinating lines at the end of the film. The kind of stuff that sends a chill up my spine.

It's slow moving and it's a very safe bet that there are going to be a whole lot of people who don't "get" this film. But it's surely going to give some others something to talk about.

Edited by Attica

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I'm with you, Attica. Thematically, the film didn't have the strongest core, but it was full of dynamite performances and it looked pretty great. The story does gather momentum toward the end, just when I was thinking my patience with the story was going to run out.

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The story does gather momentum toward the end, just when I was thinking my patience with the story was going to run out.

Until, of course, it cops out in the very last shot. And not for the first time either (the taser).

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Christian said:

:the film didn't have the strongest core, but it was full of dynamite performances and it looked pretty great. The story does gather momentum toward the end, just when I was thinking my patience with the story was going to run out.

VJ Morton said:

:Until, of course, it cops out in the very last shot. And not for the first time either (the taser).

Yeah the film looked good. I thought they did a fine job of keeping the film visually interesting when a great number of the shots were in the Limo. This kind of reminded me of Hitchcock's LIFEBOAT in that they didn't have much to work with set or location wise through a lot of the film, but they still made it interesting.

My patience with the story nearly ran out in a few places as well but I'm glad that I stuck with it. I rather liked the end of the film. Cronenberg, being Cronenberg, could have gone to a gory extreme at the end but it was refrained. For me it ended on a note that was haunting and therefore thought provoking. I can totally see that the ending (and therefore likely the whole film) wouldn't work for some. It's a bizarre film.

FWIW here are some good interviews with Cronenberg about the film. They can be found at the 8/21/12 and 6/7/12 dates.

I personally have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Cronenberg's films. I love his philosophy and understanding of filmmaking, but I'm not a big fan of when he goes overboard with some more graphic aspects in his films, especially when it's not related to the story. In VIDEODROME where the graphic depictions DO fit the story I ended up deciding to fast forward through a lot. I liked what the film was saying (and how it was so far ahead of its time in its insights) but didn't think it was healthy for me to watch how it was saying it. As well I'm not entirely comfortable with how snippets of his atheism shine through in the world building of his earlier films.

He is one of my favourite filmmakers for listening to in his commentaries and interviews though. He's full of insight and intelligent thinking about the art and craft of filmmaking. He also seems like a nice enough guy.

Edited by Attica

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The story does gather momentum toward the end, just when I was thinking my patience with the story was going to run out.

Until, of course, it cops out in the very last shot. And not for the first time either (the taser).

Was there a follow-through tasering in the novel? Also, the last shot cop-out, I take it, is in comparison to the novel, about which Wikipedia tells me:

He is finally murdered by the second of the two stalkers, a former employee who sees the assassination of Packer as the only possible meaningful act in his own life.

What about

the killing of the bodyguard

? I don't see that mentioned in the Wikipedia entry, but it's not comprehensive, of course. I was going to argue that THAT scene wasn't a cop-out, but maybe it's been invented for the screen version only.

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I keep debating with myself whether I should or shouldn't see COSMOPOLIS. There is a kind of mad ambition to the conceit of COSMPOLIS that intrigues me. But I have found the soullessness of of Cronenberg's recent work very off-putting, and the few excerpts from COSMOPOLIS I have encountered do not suggest to me that COSMOPOLIS is a change of pace.

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Ryan, if you've been bothered by soullessness in recent Cronenberg, by all means skip Cosmopolis.

Attica: I, too, have found Cronenberg's commentaries illuminating in some cases, although the Spider commentary wasn't as helpful in sorting through that film as I'd hoped it would be. I'm looking forward to watching the video interviews you linked. Thanks!

Edited by Christian

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Ryan H said:

:But I have found the soullessness of Cronenberg's recent work very off-putting

I agree with Christian's advice to skip this then. I'd think that it's probably more soulless than his last few films.

Christian said:

:although the Spider commentary wasn't as helpful in sorting through that film as I'd hoped it would be.

No. The commentary didn't help much with that aspect. I did like how he gave some insight into different artistic choices in the film. Mainly the choice to have Spider by himself on the street and such as often as possible in order to help convey the loneliness of his condition. Originally they had extras on the street and kept cutting them back because it didn't feel right. I found that intruiging. Cronenberg is a very cerebral yet also intuitive filmmaker.

I also liked how he mentioned that they intuitively set up the bathtub shot and after the film was done a lady who's son had similar issues mentioned to him that they got that part just right, how did he know this? It was also interesting how so many people had told him that the film was healing for them. I thought it was pretty darn depressing myself although I did like it quite a bit.

I didn't quite figure out all of what was happening in the film, but I think that was part of the point..... to put us in the place of disorientation and confusion that Spider would have been in and for us therefore to understand and emphasize with his and others illness better.

:I'm looking forward to watching the video interviews you linked. Thanks!

Enjoy. smile.png

Edited by Attica

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