Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: Schizopolis (1996)

Find me another film that makes you say the words ‘Ker-fuck?’ every ten minutes. Yeah, there’s probably plenty… but shut up.

Called an “artistic awakening” in interviews, Schizopolis is a celebration of half-baked ideas and sight, sound, and editing gags, most of which are related directly to film as a storytelling medium. Built around it is the tiniest semblance of a plot tying together the few characters with actual names. Explaining what that is makes brain hurty so I won’t try. I’ll just say that the actual “story” part of the film begins to drag and fall apart on the asphalt as the third act rolls around.

Wielding the power of editing trickery and Python-like non-sequitors, Soderbergh constructs a film that says… something. Maybe about the uselessness of dialogue? Or the power of editing over a practically nonexistent story (he learned that in the last two films!). Or that film in general is dumb, real dumb, and can mean anything at any given time for any given person. Does he hate film? Possibly in a Terrence Malick sort of way. He does keep trying to retire.

For you meta-whores out there, attempting to interpret this scattershot film is exactly “the joke,” and might excuse its own failure to be coherent. It would delight Soderbergh to know that, in addition to enjoying the gags in the film, you attempt to navigate the quagmire and string together a structure that holds. Which would on one hand be a fool’s errand, the other giving him the power to state that you DO NOT GET IT.

Without the strength of its jokes, I could possibly hate this movie. I am frequently frustrated by “the setup is the whole joke, dummy, no, no, fuck you, I don’t need a punch line!” thing… sometimes it strikes me as laziness. Here, I have little doubt that the filmmaker at least knew what he was making, i.e. not inventing scenes on the fly the day-of-shoot, or sitting on his ass and filming the actors at a flat angle as they act “real,” like certain Sofia Coppolas out there. There’s drive and vision behind it, with about 40% of Soderbergh’s subconscious yapping at us. And there’s something satisfying about a narrative that doesn’t feel the need [FINAL THOUGHTS MISSING]