Not Sufficiently Extreme
‘Fight Club’ meets ‘Zed and Two Noughts’ meets ‘Bladerunner’ meets ‘Fearless’ meets ‘Leaving Las Vegas.’
I celebrate the intelligent vision of this film. But ‘Fight Club’ wove a more engaging neurosis; ‘Zed’ had a stronger disturbing vision; ‘Bladerunner’ a more thorough sense of programmed sex; ‘Fearless’ more visceral crashes; and ‘Leaving Las Vegas,’ more relentless characters marching to oblivion (though it is not in the class of the other films).
Cronenberg has a fine visual sense, but it is not strongly individual. And the same can be said of his metaphoric fabric. So although this film is worth watching, I cannot consider it important. What really bothered me was how restrained it was. We needed stronger discomfort (like ‘Shadow of the Vampire’), a more radical visual statement (like ‘Pillow Book’), excessively greater perversions (The Coens could do it), increasingly outrageous acting style (Garafalano, where are you?). This is a pretty tepid film given its aspirations.
This is not a film about sex in the real sense — it amazes me that anyone could think so — rather, the technology of filming sex and what works in films for an audience with escalating needs. Folks: the chief character is a FILM producer. The drivers in the club are FILM stunt drivers. The re-enactments are of FILM actors’ deaths.
Spader was chosen, I’m sure, because of his balance of in-your-face I’m-a-character no I’m-an-actor stances in ‘Sex, Lies’ which also was a film about meeting the expectations of film audiences by directly phoning the sex memes. (Note how most of the sex — and car smashes — are from behind?)
This film is a big goof on anyone who sees it and thinks it is about sex. Very clever indeed, as it also explains why someone would need to think so.
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.