Max Barry

Syrup

Is it possible that all of your likes, your dislikes, the very tastes that you feel define you as a human being, aren’t really choices that you’ve made for yourself at all, but ideas that have been sold to you by slick, suit-wearing predators who pride themselves on being able to tap into your ego and insecurities in order to brainwash you into believing whatever what they want you to believe? Are you such a mindless follower that you’ve bought your entire identity off of a billboard? These are the heady questions at the center of Max Barry’s debut novel “Syrup,” which is a satirical tale set in the world of product marketing. And they’re the heady questions at the center of director Aram Rappaport’s new film adaptation of the story, which stars names like Shiloh Fernandez, Brittany Snow, and Amber Heard.

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Most of us are going to have to wait until next year to read Australian author Max Barry’s next novel “Lexicon,” but one man who got an advanced copy is Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn. Deadline Broken Hill reports that Barry’s agents sent a copy of the book to the director, and he gave it pretty much the most glowing review possible by coughing up enough of his own money to option its movie rights. Barry’s books are generally thrillers that satirize marketing and big business, and according to Deadline’s description of “Lexicon,” it seems to be sticking to those themes. Apparently it takes place in an alternate reality where words are powerful weapons. In this world there’s a secret cabal of people who have been using the power of language to manipulate the public into submission and promote their own positions since the beginning of time. The wrinkle in the story comes when a young member of the secret organization breaks one of their primary rules and falls in love. As we all know, love ruins everything.

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The man who brought us Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, The Fountain, and the forthcoming Black Swan isn’t known for his sly humor. However, his next project sees him moving out of his wheelhouse a bit in order to deliver an adaptation of Machine Man – the serial and soon-to-be novel by satirist Max Barry. Aronofksy is an interesting choice for director because he has almost exclusively done thrillers and dramas, but Barry’s writing (which I was introduced to through “Jennifer Government” and the addictive, interactive game the book used as an early form of online marketing) is known for calm sarcasm and a near-constant smirk when telling tales of modernism and our new role in the corporate structure. In Machine Man, an engineer replaces his weak, fleshy limbs with strong metal ones, but it turns out other people might want to use that sort of thing for evil. Being called an “amped up pop thriller,” the novel still has that trademarked tongue in cheek attitude of Barry’s writing (or, at least, the amount of it that’s already currently online does), and it’s always exciting to see a director try something new – especially before delving back into the world of gritty drama and Wolverine. [THR]

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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