Sunday, March 1, 2009

Day Twenty-Five: Schizopolis (1996) - Rank 2.5/5


You know how every now and then, you'll watch a movie while you're taking care of some household task and as you take care of that chore, you come to the slow realization that you have no fucking clue what is happening? No? Well, then rent this film and fold your laundry at the same time. You'll find yourself wrought with the same sense of complete confusion I did about half an hour in (reminiscent of the time I tried to watch "Wild at Heart" while grading student portfolio good).

Ironically enough, Soderbergh speaks directly to his audience at the beginning, warning that if you fail to understand the film, then it is no one's fault but your own, and the only way to resolve the problem is to watch the film again and again. While I don't feel that the film necessitates multiple viewings as the director's preamble might indicate (and based on what I absorbed once I finished meticulously folding my undergarments), I do feel a hankering for a second viewing. Simply because: when the film hits, it really hits (though the same could be said when the film misses). This is due to the story being presented in a series of vignettes, analogous to a sketch comedy show. While some skits may be hilarious, there are others that are as lifeless as Ricardo Montalban (too soon?). I love the dialog that ensues between Soderbergh's first alter-ego, Fletcher Munson and his wife.

Munson: (upon arriving at home) Generic greeting

Munson's wife: Generic greeting returned.

They carry on entire conversations in this manner and it's simply outstanding. Looking at "Schizopolis" as another component of Steven Soderbergh's body of work, I find myself amazed at what a versatile director he is. Compare "Out of Sight" with "Ocean's Eleven" and "The Good German" ("The Limey" is another prime example that happens to be my favorite piece of cinema by Soderbergh). Each is presented in a unique film style by a director determined not to fall into the easy trap of mold-filmmaking that so many of his peers do. Such a dedication to the craft of movie making as well as professional self-improvement is extremely rare today. For that reason, I believe I'll heed Soderbergh's advice and at least give the film a second chance.

Watch the Trailer

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