TIFF posted this great BTS video last year of the riot scene in Cosmopolis last year and it’s included in the David Cronenberg: Virtual Museum. We see Robert Pattinson and Samantha Morton talk about the urge to destroy and the background getting ready for battle. It’s a great look back at the making of this intellectual film.
Behind the Scenes: Cosmopolis: A Specter is Haunting the World
Much of Cosmopolis takes place in the back of Eric Packer’s (Robert Pattinson) limo, which has been cork lined—or “Prousted”—to block out the sounds of the external world. While the limo provides a very intimate setting for Eric and his occasional companions as they make their way through the streets of New York, more than 160 extras were employed as the mob of protestors running rampant outside of the car. This video takes a closer look at the sound design of this film, and the technical challenges of balancing the chaos of a crowd with the extreme quiet inside the limo.
One of the great things about Cosmopolis is the ongoing conversation that is had. A recent blog post from Memoirs From A Culture Stalker took a look at Cosmopolis and Cronenberg’s use of bodies in the film. It’s a good read that adds more layers to a film that already unfolds like an onion.
Cosmopolis is a film about rapid, difficult conversations mostly taking place in a car. Its narrative stakes are obscure, it lacks anything like a climax, and it features some of the most soulless and alienated characters I have seen. Yet compelling direction from Canadian vet David Cronenberg and its timely indictment of our finance-driven way of life make it a bleak, deconstructive comedy worth watching.
For this post, I would like to narrow my focus to what I think is the master theme of the film: the human body. Cronenberg, who has directed such fleshly pictures as The Fly, Videodrome, Dead Ringers, and Crash (no, not that one), is obviously preoccupied with embodiment as a subject. For him, the body is a site of transformation, suffering, pleasure, and horror. But humans are not merely flesh but also psychology, and therefore a place where we can see “normative” boundaries between mind and body, inside and outside, and all sorts of others break down and blur. In Cosmopolis, Cronenberg investigates what I would call financial bodies, bodies that are abstracted, rationalized, and monetized into nonexistence or irrelevance.
We’ll be looking first at the body of our protagonist, Eric Packer (perfectly embodied by Robert Pattinson). A financial wunderkind worth tens of billions of dollars, he initiates the plot of the film by setting out across New York City in search of a haircut. This day, however, the American President is also in town, as well as a mob of anarchist protesters and a so-called “credible threat” to Packer’s life. While this is going on, he is intentionally destroying his company and personal fortune through bad currency speculation. Much of the reasoning for this remains mysterious, though hints surface here and there. The film makes much of the tedium and arduousness of his slow advance through the city in a technically advanced and closely guarded stretch limousine, outwardly identical to all the others. While Packer is able to manage all aspects of his business using his networked car and its various computer interfaces, he must bodily move from one side of the city to another to get his haircut.
Pattinson’s performance and Cronenberg’s camera are able to tell us that, whatever despicable things Packer has done, he is no less human than those protesters. Something admirable about Cosmopolis is that, while it is clearly a film critiquing the suffocating excess of wealth and its displacement and marginalization of the poor, it does not let the audience off with an easy moral or a tidy political solution. This is why, even though the dialogue in the film is abstract and didactic, the film still feels unresolved and tense throughout. It might be obvious about what it’s about, but it’s far more obtuse about what it thinks we should do about it. It’s a film that points to the smouldering wreckage of global consumer capitalism while admitting that we in the first world have our entire identity invested in it.
Cronenberg is teaming up again with Robert Pattinson, Sarah Gadon, producer Martin Katz and more to film his next movie, Maps To The Stars. Follow our blog HERE if you’d like to keep up with the news. Production begins July 8th.
Indiewire made a list of 2012 independent films that ranked in their Year-End Critic’s Poll that are now streaming on Netflix so “you can now have immediate access to some of the most acclaimed recent films”. Cosmopolis is number 6 on the list. I checked out a few of these already but I’m most excited for Holy Motors since it was constantly mentioned with Cosmopolis last year (the year of white limos) and topped many lists. Click HERE to see the impressive Best of 2012 rankings list for Cosmopolis and check our some of the films you probably recognize from joining Cosmopolis on those year-end lists.
Cosmopolis Blog discovered a fun reviewer that lists drinking games for the films they review. Movieboozer wasn’t a fan of the film but we think their game is pretty spot on for having an “enhanced” movie watching experience:
Take a Drink: any time a rat is referred to or shown
Take a Drink: whenever anyone talks in convoluted finance-speak
Thanks a lot, Vija.
Take a Drink: anytime anyone has or refers to sex
Yup. Poor another round, Mr. Packer.
Do a Shot: whenever Pattinson tells someone his prostate is asymmetrical
We knew that wasn’t really water.
And there you go! I bet Kendra would have liked to play but she’s a sloppy drunk and always spills drinks where they don’t belong.
I watch this movie all the time and will definitely test this out with Chauffeur Deb. The financial and sex talk ones are going to be the killer. Let us know if you try the game. You can always play with coffee and OJ but where’s the fun in that?
The future is impatient. Pressing upon our characters, Eric Packer and Vija. Chief of Theory or not, you can’t stop birthdays from rolling around and today we celebrate Robert Pattinson and Samantha Morton who share May 13th as their day of birth.
They were not born to run. We look at them and know what they are. Two tremendously talented actors who continue to share complex, riveting characters on the big screen. We wish them all the best and continued success.
Chiaroscuro wrote a great review for Cosmopolis that’s a pleasure to read on this celebratory day. An excerpt:
‘Cosmopolis’ proves to be an outstanding and unflinching depiction of the current climate. The character of Eric Packer almost serves as a modern day martyr. His overwhelming sense of isolation from the real world or the growing disillusionment that comes with being wealthy, he seems relentless in his pursuit to reject any association with such a fatally mundane lifestyle.
In a real game changing role, Pattinson delivers his most accomplished and assured performance to date. Anchoring the film with meticulous poise and charisma, his thoroughly engaging protagonist here may finally put the doubters to rest in regards his acting abilities.
Cronenberg certainly hasn’t opted for the ‘hack and slash’ approach here either in his interpretation of Delillo’s work. The tongue twisting lengthy segments of dialogue literally torn from the pages are daringly faithful. The uninitiated perhaps will be left dumbfounded by the bamboozling of such intelligent jargon, others will find it refreshing and mesmerising. Whilst his directorial style remains intimate and precise, he certainly doesn’t shy away from the visual metaphors either. A particular highlight involving Pattinson facing up to Paul Giamatti’s antagonist Benno Levin, framed exquisitely within a wide angle shot emphasising the ever growing class divide between the rich and a disgruntled working class.
Overwhelming in its deconstruction of so many subject matters, it’s certainly too unusual and talky for the mainstream. For the more open-minded among us however, ‘Cosmopolis’ is an engrossing piece of cinema saturated in social resonance and intellect that deserves its intricacies to be deciphered.
Click HERE to read the review in its entirety! Click HERE to read more reviews!
10:00 pm Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg, 2012, Canada, 109 min, 14A
Arriving in the wake of the Occupy movements and the recent financial collapse, David Cronenberg’s stylish and timely adaptation of Don DeLillo’s apocalyptic satire follows a billionaire financier (Robert Pattinson) as he creeps across an imploding New York City in a limo, his life of absurd luxury collapsing around him. It’s a scenario geared expressly toward Cronenberg’s sensibilities, playing out like Videodrom–or, as The New Yorker argued, Crash–transplanted to the endangered world of the one per cent. With Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Jay Baruchel.
Canada’s Top Ten 2012
If you’re in the area, go show your support for this excellent film! Tickets are $10 at the door. Click HERE to see other pricing and to purchase.
The chauffeurs send huge congratulations to Sarah Gadon! We loved her performance as Elise “We will. We Shall” Shifrin and are thrilled to see it recognized last night by The Vancouver Film Circle Critics.
On the Canadian side, Kim Nguyen’s haunting child soldier drama Rebelle and Panos Cosmatos’s feature film debut Beyond the Black Rainbow each received three awards. Rebelle was named best Canadian film, Rachel Mwanza best actress in a Canadian film, and Serge Kanyinda best supporting actor in a Canadian film. Beyond the Black Rainbow, a science fiction film set 20 years in the past, picked up awards for best director of a Canadian film (Cosmatos), best actor in a Canadian film (Michael Rogers), and best British Columbia film.
Rounding out the Canadian awards, Sarah Gadon was named best supporting actress in a Canadian film for David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis.
Congratulations Sarah! And congratulations to ‘Cosmopolis’ for all the nominations.
Slant Magazine reviewed the Cosmopolis Bluray and gave the overall film and features 4 out of 5 stars. Here’s an excerpt of the special features review.
Cronenberg delivers another distinctive, compulsively listenable commentary track. Per usual, he comes across assuredly articulate, icily intellectual, and dry as a martini. He discusses what interested him in Don DeLillo’s novel (above and beyond the book’s prescient socioeconomic material, it was DeLillo’s mannered dialogue, which the director describes as “Pinteresque,” that struck him) and how he put together a script in just six days. Cronenberg covers at length the casting process and the rigors of the studio-bound shooting (combining sets and extensive CGI in order to have Toronto stand in for New York). Funniest bit: Cronenberg advising Robert Pattinson that if a GP ever gave him a prostate exam that lasted as long as the one in the film, that doctor had plans for him “other than medical.” Calling “Citizens of Cosmopolis” a featurette is a bit of a misnomer, since this comprehensive making-of doc runs as long as the film itself. Featuring most of the cast and crew as talking heads, it also provides unprecedented, in-depth access to Cronenberg’s directorial process. As such, it’s essential viewing for fans and film students alike. And if that’s not enough, the disc includes another 30 minutes’ worth of interviews; some of the material is culled from the documentary, but sufficiently expanded on to make them worthwhile in their own right.
Click HERE for more on the Bluray review and a reprint of the film review. We posted it back during Cannes but it’s great and should be read again (“diamond-hard and dazzlingly brilliant“).
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