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It was a rainy Sunday and I went looking for cheese, but found a savory
meal. Frankly, I was hoping to kill off a few brain cells in the
mindless fun of watching a movie about a killer tire. Expecting
something along the lines of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, I wanted to
drown myself in delicious B-movie goodness. This coming from the man
that cannot change the channel when my remote calls up images of Joan
Collins being eaten by giant ants in Empire of the Ants.
Yet soon I realized that this film was so much more than horror spoof or a silly gimmick film. The movie opens with a desert road randomly strewn with simple wooden parsonage chairs facing in all directions. Next a car appears and begins deliberately swerving into the chairs, breaking each one of them, until it comes to a halt. At that point, a sheriff emerges (from out of the trunk?!) and knocks on the driver door where he is handed a full glass of water. The sheriff breaks the fourth wall and begins addressing the audience by speaking of the "no reason" principle of famous movies like E.T., Love Story and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This narration immediately reminded me of the criminologist from Rocky Horror Picture Show, and I suddenly did not know what to expect from this movie.
I honestly think the less said about this film the better. Suffice it to say that Rubber is one part B-movie schlock, one part David Lynch, and one part Hitchcock. (Did I just actually go there?) On my first watching of the movie, I appreciated its style. The camera angles, the homage to Psycho, the riveting and unnerving sound track were somehow quite effective in producing suspense. Quite remarkable when the serial tire is a generic tire! Juxtaposed against this atmospheric cinematography was a very healthy dose of absurdity and dark humor. This makes for an extremely interesting viewing experience, where the audience switches abruptly from anticipation to laughter to abject confusion.
The sheriff tells us that there is "no reason" for this film. What a deceit! Because there is a reason for virtually everything from the opening scene of the destruction of chairs, to the irony of a Nascar race, to the well placed remake of the song "Just Don't Want to be Lonely" to (yes!) the turkey. Irony abounds even as our in character heroine proclaims that she cannot read the lines of dialog because they are garbage.
The second time I watched this movie, I focused on its true theme. I realized with delight that the movie is about movies and their audiences. Pay very close attention to every scene with the bystanders on the road and you will realize that the killer tire story is not the actual plot at all. Also, on second viewing, you can revel in the brilliant personification of the killer tire (Robert). A tire that learns, sleeps, recreates, dreams, and even has flashbacks to his previous inanimate incarnation on an actual car. Observe the film structure and use of the reflecting glass and incineration scene as key catalysts. You will be amazed at all you missed when first watching this movie.
Astonishingly, this became my favorite movie of 2011 so far. Lovers of film should not miss this.
"The film you are about to see is an homage to 'no reason', that most
powerful element of style." This is the manifesto that opens Rubber,
delivered directly to the audience in a breaking of the fourth wall
that is somewhat like taking a pound of dynamite to a pane of glass.
Rubber is a "horror" film about a black rubber car tyre that kills people by making their heads explode. With telepathy. And when I say "horror" I do of course mean "side-splittingly funny, pitch black, absurdist comedy." The opening scenes of Rubber are a deliberate assault on the separation between the audience and the film. Normally the opening sequence of a film seeks to bring you into the world of the film; the audience is encouraged to step through the silver screen and forget about the real world for the duration of the story. Rubber perverts these expectations. The film comes crashing through the screen, into the world of the audience. It reminds us at every turn that we are watching a film, and indeed that the very act of our watching is what makes the film happen.
There are actually two plot lines at work in Rubber. The first concerns a murderous inanimate object , an innocent but spirited young woman on the run from some troubled element of her past, and the county sheriff on the trail of the vulcanised psychopath. This is ostensibly the core thread of the movie, but we soon see that this action only serves as a literal distraction for the audience, who exist in the film, embodied as actual participants, though ones who remain clearly and distinctly removed from the action, watching events at a distance through field glasses. This distraction covers the real story, that of the sheriff, who is in fact the antagonist of the story, attempting to kill off the audience (through the manoeuvrings of his toady, The Accountant) so that the film can end and he can go home.
The movie within the movie begins with a sequence that could have come straight from Leone's scrapbook. A man lies face down in a desert. Slowly, he rises, and shakes himself off. He staggers along, and falls. He rises again, and continues to stagger on, through the endless desert. Except that the "man" in question is a rubber tyre (Roger, according to the credits). This is the brilliance of Rubber; that it can appropriate the cinematic language that we are so familiar with, and apply it to situations that cannot be anything but utterly absurd.
Other scenes lift from a variety of sources, including a sequence that takes place in what is clearly the Bates hotel from the original Psycho. For a film that claims to be dedicated to meaninglessness, it is ironic that not a single frame is without a clear purpose. Every shot serves to either ensconce us in the impossible world of a rubber tyre who murders people, or tear us forcibly out of it, as we return repeatedly to the plight of the poor audience, stranded in the desert with no food, and prey to depredations of a murderous cast member, or possibly character. It's never clear whether the antagonist is an actor who wants to stop playing his role, or a character in a story who wants the story itself to end; the latter appeals, if only for its deeply apocalyptic subtext. When the film ends, where does the character go?).
Even the choice of the supposed villain must have taken a great deal of thought. It's such an elegant choice; an object capable of locomotion, but without moving parts to cutely animate. Something that has an element of menace (after all, a tyre, attached to a vehicle, can do a lot of damage), but is also innately ridiculous. An object that can fulfill the emotive needs of the film yet has remarkably little capacity to emote. Consider that all this thing can do is roll forward, roll backwards, fall over, stand up, and vibrate its sides. That's a sum total of five things you can ask your star to do for you on screen. As a film-making challenge alone, that's a spectacular feat to undertake.
I could go on for days about the tiniest of "seemingly irrelevant but incredibly well thought out" details that litter the film. That Rubber invites such complex readings is a testament to the subtlety that underlies the simple brilliance of the film itself. Whatever you may think about the subtext and meaning of this supposedly meaningless film, it doesn't really matter if Rubber "means" anything or not, because whatever else it may be, the film is absolutely hilarious. We are talking literal "tears of laughter" funny here.
Quentin Dupieux provides us with excellent cinematography, full of lingering establishing shots and vivid, often deliberately off-frame close-ups, and the cast all turn in magnificent performances, especially Jack Plotnick, who demonstrates the ability to carry a scene from laugh out loud funny to deeply uncomfortable in a matter of seconds. The script is tightly written, and the humour builds on itself in layers, rising from the initial "WTF?" moments of nervous laughter to the farcical crescendo of the closing scenes, where every element of the film collides in a scene that, if nothing else, will mean that I'll never look at tricycles the same way again.
I could continue to pick at Rubber, pulling out detail after detail, examining each one in turn to find new facets, new thoughts and revelations. None of that really matters though; what you need to know is that Rubber is the strangest, funniest, and most dazzlingly original film you will see this year, and considering that Scott Pilgrim vs The World just came out, that's one hell of an achievement.
Originally from http://www.rgbfilter.com/?p=9032
A movie about a killer tire sounds like the most ridiculous concept
next to someone creating a human centipede. Yet, these two concepts did
in fact make it onto film and both of them failed to meet their
absurdly high expectations. The film is a homage to 'no reason', as we
are told at the beginning and when a film is created for no reason, you
know you are in trouble.
The film opens with a character talking directly to the viewer by breaking the fourth wall. He states the the film has no purpose, so he is actually preparing you for the most useless film you'll ever see. Unless of course you've been one of the special few who have seen The Room. As interesting as this may be, it's also a drawback. Why would someone think that to interest an audience, you need to tell them from the beginning that everything has no purpose what so ever. It makes the audience feel like they are wasting their time. Rubber wasted my time.
I don't know why the prospect of a killer tire that makes your head explode sounded good to me, but it did. I thought I was in for a ridiculously cheesy good time. I got something else entirely. A boring, redundant film that has no fun factor. The audience is actually a part of the film, represented by a few people who actually watch the events unfold and make comments. Again, an interesting concept that never materializes.
I give the film credit for looking great, it never felt like a cheap film to me. They get creative when shooting scenes with the tire, they make the killer tire really seem to have a mind of it's own. They actually give it a name in the credits, Robert. All this creativity is wasted though on a script that bores the hell out of the viewer. They were on a mission to make a film with no purpose, good job they achieved it.
This movie is not for everyone. I understand some people will watch
this Hitchcockian masterpiece, and walk away perplexed. As is the case
with any work of art. This film will take you on a journey through an
unimaginable, inexplicable, but fantastic life of a tire that goes by
the name of Robert. This film is a tribute to classics like ... like
...I don't know, I was just joking anyway. This movie is TERRIBLE. If
you could say it's about anything, it's about an "ANIMATE" tire, not an
inanimate one as is described in the summary, but no reason to be a
douche about it. It shakes, and rattles, and makes things blow up. And
on top of that there's nothing on top of that. Personally, I can watch
anything. I make watching bad movies my biznass. So I know bad movies.
This movie falls into the category of, "Directors who want to see how
long it will take before you walk out the theater in disgust." I need
to work on my category titles but you get the idea.
Anyway, in this movie you're accompanied by a group of observers. There each handed a pair of binoculars so they can watch as the events unfold from a distance. They become the equivalent of some random jackass talking throughout a movie. As the observers observe even they get bored, and actually fall asleep while watching the same thing that your watching. That's when I knew the writers, and director of this film were laughing at my expense.
Now it's time for my mandatory negative review smart ass metaphor. If you want to experience this film, save your self the time, and money. Go find a spare tire, roll it down a hill, and then shoot yourself in the face.
Sigh... I've been really looking forward for this one. And the premise
makes 'Rubber' sound almost irresistible. But there are two ways of
killing off a smart movie idea: 1.) Believe that the idea works so well
with the audience that it won't notice inconsistencies and bad acting.
2.) Constantly remind the audience what a smart idea it is watching.
Unfortunately, 'Rubber' succeeds in both: the only saving grace in terms of acting is Wings Hauser, the other leads make you seriously ponder an early leave. And what's with the pompous speeches? To be sure, 'Rubber' is not about taking you out or into a moment. It's about constantly reminding you that this moment isn't really happening. For some, that might be a nice existentialist twist. For others, like me, such ambition is completely out of place in a film about a tire blowing people's heads up.
If you'd edit this down to five minutes, you'd get a seriously hilarious short, though.
As for more rewarding options in the 'weird French horror film with excellent cinematography' section, I suggest 'Amer' (2009). It's equally pointless but delightful eye-candy (in the literal sense of the word).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After seeing this peculiar, but compelling little picture, I really
wonder more than before what the motives are that any of us have for
making a pilgrimage to a theatre to watch a film! I found Rubber to be
downright hilarious at times and very disturbing at others. Quentin
Dupieux's oddball spectacle was 1 of the early sellouts at this past
Fantasia festival and hearing so many people talking about the story's
development made me want to check out the weirdness now that smaller
venues are booking the flick for exhibition. This will alienate as
many, if not many more, as it charms.
A mixed crowd of society's cross sections, not too much unlike the basic groups and eccentric individuals in a typical movie audience (slightly older know it all guys, obnoxious teens, thoughtful pre-teen, elderly folks overwhelmed by it all, video camera toting bootlegger, non-conformist cynic, etc.) are witnessing a spectacle many real people would go into the desert to see. A vulcanized utilitarian item which usually ends up as a child's toy tied to a tree or in a nightmarish inferno is coming to "life" and wreaking havoc on the animate and inanimate objects in it's path. Kind of like a spree murderer who gains instant notoriety and with each subsequent act of "violence", bringing more police and news attention to their progress.
You'll have to see the film yourself and make a determination of your own, because this in a strange way is like being 1 of many witnesses to an hypothetical crime spree. And we know that much eyewitness testimony is not entirely credible when under the scrutiny of trained interrogators & cold hard science like DNA, analogous to critics' dissections & box office gross! I'm glad I saw Rubber, but am not naive enough to think the majority of non-film buffs will agree. A challenging, intentionally frustrating piece of 21st century entertainment!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Rubber" may be many things, but one thing it probably isn't is
something like anything you've seen before.
Whether that's good or bad will have to be decided by the individual viewer. What to make of a movie that opens with a man addressing the camera directly with a soliloquy about the unifying principle of life and movies being that everything happens for no reason, and then sitting down an audience in the middle of the desert to watch the movie within the movie that we're watching before poisoning them all to death? What to make of a movie about a tire that comes to life and uses its telekinetic powers to make people's heads explode? Is this movie a cautionary environmental tale, a sort of revenge-of-the-trash horror film? Is it a deconstruction of the slasher/splatter genre? There are enough references to classic movies (and the film's structure itself is already reflexive) to suggest that "Rubber" is a riff on or homage to something, but what that something is I'm not sure.
"Rubber" isn't quite good enough to rise above film-stunt status; you can too often practically hear the people behind the camera congratulating each other on their own cleverness. But it is often quite funny, mostly thanks to Stephen Spinella, as the police officer who serves as both our guide and the chief of police on the trail of the killer tire, and Jack Plotnik, as the chief's geeky right-hand man. If it left me somewhat baffled, it also left me thinking about it for a long time afterward, and even now I think back on certain moments in the film with a chuckle.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I first heard that there was a new movie out about a tire that
becomes a serial killer I was intrigued. When I learned that it is the
work of French director Quentin Dupieux, I decided it was bound to be
until I discovered that Quentin Dupieux is better known as Mr.
Oizo, the electro house musician who brought us the infectious 1999 hit
single Flat Beat. Then I had to see it!
Rubber is the story of a tire. The tire's name is Robert. One day Robert becomes sentient and decides to venture out into the world. It's a moving scene as Robert takes his first halting rolls and discovers the joy of squashing a plastic bottle and then a scorpion, until he is stopped by a glass bottle. frustrated Robert soon discovers his true power he can make things blow-up with his mind. Pretty soon he's on the road and heading straight for the local population and a mysterious girl who he sets his sights on. Meanwhile on a remote hillside the audience have gathered to watch his apparent path of wanton destruction, with intrigue, apathy, joy and sadness. Standing between them and their viewing pleasure is a cranky sheriff who really wants to go home, and the lack of food and basic resources, which sets the crowd on edge.
If that all sounds a bit weird then believe me that's not even the half of it. Rubber is a deeply strange movie. Robert is almost a sympathetic character. The way he is framed and the audience's investment in his "birth" and journey give him a Wall-E type of existence. He almost wish that he succeeds in his apparent mission of getting the girl. Roxane Mesquida plays the girl. Unfortunately she's given little else to do than be the token female. Aside from a brief scene were she's forced to try lure Robert into a trap she doesn't even say much. The real star of the show is Stephen Spinella as Lieutenant Chad, the world weary law-man who is convinced it's all a show and that the movie would be over if the audience just went away. He's opening monologue, direct to camera, is a work of twisted genius.
Spinella's opening monologue in fact sets the tone for the whole movie. Right off the bat you know that this is not a straight-forward horror, it's actually more satire or comedy than horror truth be told, with Spinella announcing that the movie exists "for no particular reason". Dupieux has managed to make a film that harks back to Kentucky Fried Movie and Airplane, without being a spoof, and has a cinematic quality that would be totally at home in a western. His framing of Robert is such as to make a viable character from an inanimate object. The decision to ignore the fourth wall, by placing the audience in the movie itself is a brave one, and mostly it works. It provides an aside to the central story, which is sadly lacking in legs, and imbues the entire movie with it's sense of oddness.
Inventive, stupid and completely unnecessary yet offering something completely different Rubber is one that will confound and titillate in equal measures.
Which two words would you, and hopefully any other reasonable human
being, use to describe a movie with a plot synopsis like this: an
ordinary rubber tire comes to life in the middle of the Californian
desert, quickly discovers that he disposes of dangerous telepathic
powers and goes on a murderous stroll. The tire violently blows up
people's heads left, right and center while a cinematic audience
follows his joyful escapades from a safe distance through binoculars.
Well, most likely but completely justified you will use the words
"absurd" and "random". The most clever gimmick about this film,
however, is that it actually points out the randomness before you even
have the opportunity to ponder about it. "Rubber" opens with an
extended spoken monologue by one of the characters and he repeatedly
emphasizes the fact that everything in this film happens for absolutely
no reason at all. Even more so, "Rubber" is an hour and a half long
homage to randomness. Robert the tire comes to life for no reason. He
can make small animals and human heads explode for no reason. He chases
a cute brunette girl around for no reason. A group of bizarre people
observe him like it's a real life movie for no reason. You get the
One could claim, of course, that writer/director Quintin Dupieux' approach is innovative, courageous and humorous. This is true, in fact, but sadly just for a very brief period. The first few images of a seemingly half-drunken tire rolling through the sand and causing cute little bunny rabbits to explode are undeniably hilarious (if you share the same twisted sense of humor, that is) but it becomes dull and derivative enormously fast. The "no reason" gimmick quickly loses its panache and general fun-factor. Okay, so there's a psychopathic tire on a rampage and it doesn't make any sense. We would have understand that after five exploding heads instead of fifty as well. If "Rubber" had been a short feature, it would have been equally effective. Perhaps even more. Also, and this might be a purely personal opinion, I don't really like it when director hide themselves behind the randomness excuse. Everyone can think up a story that makes absolutely no sense. It's too easy like that. Obviously I think there are several good things to enjoy about "Rubber" as well, otherwise I wouldn't have given the average rating. The desolate filming locations and complementary references towards older movies are fun to spot. It was also tremendously cool to see former B-movie star Wings Hauser ("Night Shadows", "Vice Squad") in a prominent role again after so long. The special effects and make-up art look adorably cheesy and the electro/experimental soundtrack is quite awesome. The latter quality shouldn't come too much as a surprise, since writer/director Quintin Dupieux is primarily known as a musician and scored a humongous hit in the late 1990's as Mr. Oizo with "Flat Beat".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Rubber is a collection of scenes on film, held together by duct tape and bubble gum. The idea may have seemed great on paper but falls flat. From the start it tries to be clever and fails. However, stupid people will find the film clever and they will take pride in discovering the "cleverness" of it. When I say stupid people I'm not talking about high school drop outs or the guy working at the Shell station that has to count out forty cents to make change. I mean college educated adults that think they are cinema rebels. The kind of guy who screams about Michael Bay on a forum but stills pays to go see Transformers 2 three times. I will not call the movie stupid or horrible because its not. This movie is nothing, I mean it N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Could it be something, maybe, it could be a waste of time, it could be a "cult-hit" but in three years no one will even give it a second thought. Why I am writing this review, I can't really say other than I don't have a reason...
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