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Dupieux can't be the first person to re-inent the rubber tire.

  • Jul 14, 2012
Rating:
+3
*** out of ****

"Rubber" begins with a car driving through a California desert, obnoxiously knocking over and breaking chairs that are in its way while a skinny man with glasses and a briefcase watches. Out from the trunk of the car emerges a police officer (Stephen Spinella) who proceeds to list movies (such as "E.T" and "The Pianist") that supposedly contain elements of "no reason". The lieutenant then tells us that the film we are about to see is a homage to elements of no reason as well as films that apparently embrace those elements fully. It's not long before the skinny man with glasses shows up on-camera again with about a dozen-or-so pairs of binoculars, which he gives to a group of people that was most likely randomly assembled (since not one person in the group has a single thing in common with another). The man is credited as The Accountant (Jack Plotnick). And at this point, it's not even worth mentioning all the names of the people in the assembled group; although one of them in particular, played by Wings Hauser, reminds me of Clint Eastwood if he was wheelchair bound.

Why were these people brought out to the middle of nowhere (well, the middle of California to be absolutely precise) on this day? With the binoculars they've been given, they shall be viewing a "film". This is a not a film in the traditional sense either. We see it as it unfolds and happens. A black, brand-less car tire comes alive in a junkyard somewhere in the same desert and develops not only the ability to roll about freely but - more importantly - telepathy as well. It blows up bottles, bunnies, crows, and eventually the human head of the maid at a hotel on the side of the road that it decides to settle down at for a while. The tire was led there by a mysterious and beautiful French woman (Roxane Mesquida), whom he lusts after. A young boy notices that the rubber tire is very much alive and dangerous, but nobody will believe him until the thing decides to go on a killing spree.

The film is tricky in the way that it makes us reconsider which element of the film-within-the-film is ACTUALLY the film-within-the-film that it intends to be. Spinella's cop character constantly shifts between the movie that the onlookers are apparently watching, as a character within it, and himself as a commentator on the side. This is where the movie becomes a delightful little mindfuck for some and a tediously pretentious exercise for others. While obviously a homage to B-monster movies, the film can also be interpreted as a commentary on cinematic pretension, but to do that it had to be a little (or a lot) pretentious itself.

But I find it a strangely entertaining movie. Director/writer/editor/co-scorer (with the help of Gaspard Auge, one half of the band JUSTICE) Quentin Dupieux (perhaps better known by his stage name, Mr. Oizo) has a way with his absurdist humor that I really admire. He isn't afraid to go over-the-top and have his characters break the fourth wall. He's obviously been a fan of deadpan/absurdist humor all his life; and he brings what he's observed into his first feature length film. Its equal parts weird, quirky, and funny. Yes, it sacrifices character depth and a proper narrative structure in the name of comedy; but if you expected finesse in either of those areas when you read the plot synopsis for the film, why the heck did you even bother watching it? "Rubber" lets you know what you're in for within the first five minutes, with its epic and hilarious opening monologue, and if you don't like it, then it lets you know (politely) that it might be in your best interest to stop watching right then and there. Judging by some of the reactions, a lot of people didn't take the hint.

But that's OK. Movies like this, which are pretentious and whimsical, are not to be absorbed and enjoyed by everyone. But I know where I stand. I thought it was a good film with a handful of laughs and memorable sequences. It has the gore and ridiculous nature of the movies it is paying homage to, although even some of the hardcore B-movie aficionados will probably wish it was a bit more straightforward in what it's doing and what it's trying to accomplish. In that sense, it's a mess - a bloody, absurd mess -but I couldn't help but be entertained by the silly charm of it all. One thing I can say for it is that - love or hate it - you won't soon forget it and it probably won't bore you. Personally, I like to watch films like this and then look at all the others being made and wonder why people didn't think of such ingenious ideas before. Surely Dupieux isn't the first one to re-invent the rubber tire. I can't wait to see what's next from him.

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More Rubber reviews
review by . July 08, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I tend to watch a lot of off-beat and non-mainstream movies. When you do this, you'll come across as much garbage as there was in the trash compactor scene in the original STAR WARS. However, every once in a while you'll uncover a gem. Sometimes, you'll uncover a really unusual movie that's really not all that great, but is so unusual that the very oddity and absurdity of it makes it stand out and worth watching through. RUBBER is one of those movies.      RUBBER …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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