Saturday, April 23, 2016

Review: Self/less (2015)

Is it that the business, by nature, wears people down and turns them into inert husks of the warriors they used to be? Does part of that nature include an element that does everything it can to sabotage the project and its leader? It seems that way when a film is seconds from becoming immersive and is then followed by five decisions that undercut and apologize for getting that close. I would love more than anything to put the blame on the editor, Robert Duffy, because he edited this thing like garbage, but -- goddammit, he also edited Singh's good films, didn't he? So, bottom line, if we focus all points onto one man for success, we must also do the same for failure.

Self/less is Death Becomes Her and The Game, brought to you by Apple and Google. A bunch of nonsense followed by even more nonsense, some inorganic character development that indicate the time for the audience to use the restroom, scene problems solved numerous times by characters running on the other side of a small hill. It isn't the bizarre fuck up that was Mirror Mirror, merely a generic sci-fi actioner that's biggest crime is that it wastes the talent of the people involved.

Some Tarsemyness manages to sneak in. There are brief symmetrical tableaus of characters sitting in beautifully arranged settings that would have played perfectly from there until Singh decided he needed to include every single angle they shot that day. There are sweeping sidelong dollys and montage techniques absorbed via a close friendship with David Fincher, and at least one or two frames of the Living Paintings gimmick. The more surreal approach that Singh is known for (and what we all show up for) could have only helped elevate the material, but is currently out to lunch. Alas, we may have to install another gravestone in the visual stylist's graveyard and put Singh's right next to Alex Proyas.

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