Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rubber (2010)

“In the Steven Spielberg movie "E.T.," why is the alien brown? No reason. In "Love Story," why do the two characters fall madly in love with one another? No reason. In Oliver Stone's "JFK," why is the president suddenly assassinated by some stranger? No reason. In the excellent "Chain Saw Massacre" by Tobe Hooper, why don't we ever see the characters go to the bathroom, or wash their hands, like people do in real life? Absolutely no reason! Worse, in "The Pianist," by Polanski, how come this guy has to hide and live like a bum when he plays the piano so well? Once again the answer is no reason. I could go on for hours with more examples. The list is endless. You probably never gave it a thought, but all great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason, and you know why? Because life itself is filled with no reason. Why can't we see the air all around us? No reason. Why are we always thinking? No reason. Why do some people love sausages and others hate sausages? No f***in' reason... Ladies, gentlemen, this film you're about to see today, is an homage to 'no reason,' the most powerful element of style.”

An unfortunate victim of "Robert".

With this speech from a police lieutenant, so begins the now legendarily wacky movie Rubber. Centering around a tire that inexplicably gains sentience and a telekinetic ability to blow things up (like rabbits and human heads), Rubber also features a number of head-scratching elements including an audience that watches the mayhem while commenting on it and is seemingly held captive by a maniacal cop that insists that the tire’s killing spree is all part of the show they’re watching. The movie is not without its humour, but isn’t overtly campy and loony. You’ll be more entertained by the strange unexpected paths the film embarks on as “Robert” the tire goes on a mad killing spree to eradicate every human he sees by blowing up their heads. The audience that watches the chaos in the movie is hilarious, depicting every annoying audience member you’ve encountered at the theatre, like the clueless young girls who make fun of everything, the kid who asks his father questions about every scene, the two nerds who have to comment on everything to show how smart they are. And the way “Robert” the tire is portrayed is interesting – when he first gains sentience, the film takes its time to show you how it learns about the world around it while it explores the desert terrain and encounters objects that it can roll over or blow up with its new found telekinetic powers. He almost looks like a child learning to walk for the first time, just through the movements of the tire itself.

The audience looks on.

The ending of the film is awesome and the only natural escalation of the concept. When I was finished watching Rubber, I liked it but it actually wasn’t what I was expecting. Sure, it’s loopy, but the movie left me with more of an impression of being an art film rather than the balls-to-the-wall grindhouse-style movie I was expecting. Still, it’s worth your time if you’re brave enough to watch something that’s a little out of the norm, and if you're not afraid of there being "no reason" to most of the proceedings.



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