Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Girthy Grindhouse Guy Presents: Rubber (2010, Quentin Dupieux)

Every so often a film comes around that entirely changes how you, as a viewer, will treat your movie-going experience for the rest of your life.  It may be because of the script or a particular performance, or simply because it was an altogether well-made film.  It creates such a sense of wonder that you immediately decide, come hell or high water, that you are going to spend the rest of your life making films.  OR (and such is the case with a 12 year old Christopher Centanni), you are subjected to a film riddled with tits, gore, the occult and cussing.  After that heathen hardwiring takes place, its fairly difficult to bounce back.  If you’re me, you still want to make movies (yeah, I went to film school)—but you want to make regressive, totally insane films that make people question “Why?” Sure, making the next Citizen Kane would be fun too, but there is something so sweet about making a ridiculous story that equal parts entertains and offends.  I always have been, and always will be a fan of the “B Movie” and “Grindhouse Cinema.” Long story short, stupid shit excites me, and Grindhouse movies are the stupidest of shit.

So with that, I would like to introduce you to the Girthy Grindhouse Guy.  This pathetic pseudonym is my way of sharing some of my favorite films from my life to this point, as well as maybe bringing to light some new films that would normally be left out in the dark… probably where they belong.  So for better or for worse, let’s begin.

Writer/Director Quentin Dupieux’s debut feature Rubber begs the question, “Why?” Why did a film like this get made? Why did any of these actors take the part? Why did Mr. Dupieux even write it in the first place? The answer is summed up, quite literally, in the AMAZING expository sequence of the film (it’s possibly the greatest opening sequence in the history of cinema, but I won’t spoil it here) when it is explained to the audience that the film is an homage to the concept of “no reason.”

The ridiculousness of the film is simultaneously its greatest strength and weakness.  As a “story”, the film is very fragmented and not really in place.  It’s told in two basic parts; there are the people involved in the actual “rampage” created by Robert—yeah, the tire got a name—and their attempts to stop him.  Then, simultaneously there is a large group of people watching the film through binoculars as if they are a movie audience.  The former contains moments where people are fully aware that this is a ludicrous story, and that there is no way it could be real… and many times it's not.  I know that sounds strange, but it's what makes the film so interesting.  The things Robert does are very real and very violent.  The human characters involved in the film however, are living in an existence where bullets don’t kill them (literally) and a turkey that was randomly fed to them by a pervert on a bike is fatally poisonous.  All of this sounds absolutely insane, and rightfully so.  The film is about a TELEKENETIC RADIAL TIRE that stalks a nameless girl and uses his powers to blow people’s heads off.

If we take a step back and examine the film not as a story, but as an experiment with genres, adding in a little bit of social commentary, we get a very different picture.  Rubber succeeds largely because of its presentation.  I’ve seen the movie described as an “Absurdist Thriller,” and I couldn’t think of a more accurate description.  You do wonder what all of the suffering is for.  Is there an end to it?  Will the girl get out alive?  Why are all of these random people made to suffer?  The answer, as presented to us right up front, is and always shall be, “no reason.”  To me it says a lot about the horror genre, especially in modern times with all of the exploitation that has made it into mainstream films.  Rubber aims to showcase the stupidity and inherent humor there is in people dying for “no reason” in movies.  His selection of a telekinetic super tire with murderous tendencies was just a funny, over the top vehicle to get these ideas across.

I think the most interesting part of the film comes when you piece the two parallel stories together.  The tire is a violent murderer, causing endless pain and suffering, killing innocent people and stalking a beautiful woman. Everybody’s worst fears, right?  MAYBE.  In the movies it’s all about buying in.  This film is no exception.  If you buy into the fact that there aren’t really any typical jokes, its just such a ridiculous premise that all of the things that would normally be scary are rendered hilarious.  I think Dupieux wants his audience to realize the absurdity of the horror genre, and then embrace it to a comedic end.  This critic (read: fanboy) bought in from the first frame and never looked back.  I think the film is a very interesting look into the aesthetics of a horror movie as well as an indictment of their total inanity.

No matter what, Rubber is one of the most unique, obtuse and unnecessary movies I’ve seen in a while.  But it is also one of the best.

****/Four Stars

Luckily for those of you in Arizona, Rubber will be playing at MADCAP Theaters on May 6th and 7th, courtesy of the Midnite Movie Mamacita.  I know for sure that I will be there, and you better be too.  For those in the other 49 states and our international readers, you can catch Rubber on DVD/Blu-Ray on June 7th, 2011

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