I really hated "The Comedy," so I'm a little baffled to have rather liked the director's followup, which is basically more of the same hilarity-and/or-torture-of-the-brutally-unfunny stuff. But while his prior film just seemed annoying and smug in its contrariness, this time it felt like he'd actually located the 9th circle of Hell or something like. The movie is like an unending nightmare in which you can't escape the hopelessness, negativity and humiliation of a universe in which you (or rather the stand-up "comic" protagonist here) are on the perpetual receiving end of a joke you're not even in on. Our "hero" is some sort of victim, yet we can't even feel for him--in fact, we kind of wish more of his unhappy patrons would throw things or beat him up.
It's hard to imagine who to recommend this movie to, but it's sort of like a Beckett play: Uniquely, repetitiously desolate, with occasional content that suggests humor, but which perversely and very deliberately refuses to prompt any actual laughter. It is an expression--or analysis, or both--of pure self-loathing and existential despair. If you are in the mood for something grotesque, minimalist and defiantly unpleasant, "Entertainment" will fill that need. If you need a punchline, you can always dwell on choice of title.
I'm not sure where this director can go from here--few movies have so vividly defined their own dead end in terms of artistic intent and "message." I'll almost be disappointed if he picks himself up off the floor and makes another movie. The next logical step would seem to be suicide. The bleakest statements by folks such as Lars von Trier or Gaspar Noe still have more filmic energy than this rather elegantly crafted movie that dares you not to kick it to see if it's still breathing. Yet I can't say it was boring--there's something compelling in its sheer masochism.
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