Quentin Dupieux

review wrong

Note: Rob Hunter’s review originally ran during Fantastic Fest 2012, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in limited theatrical release. Weirdness has its place in cinema. It can be a fun element in everything from comedies to horror films or used to add a lighter texture to serious topics, but the one thing it can’t be is the only thing. Quentin Dupieux‘s first feature, the innocuously titled Rubber, is one of the most absurd films of the past several years. Its core plot follows a tire that comes to life and begins exploding peoples’ heads via telekinesis, but it’s also an extremely smart commentary on consumer and audience expectations. The goofiness just makes it funnier. Dupieux’s follow-up is equally weird with random character dialogue and actions that make zero sense, visual gags that go unexplained and plot story threads that go nowhere in particular. A man wakes one morning to find his beloved dog is missing. His search for the pooch brings him in contact with neighbors, gardeners, policemen and more, and all of them without fail act incredibly weird. Why? No reason.

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WrongCops2

The Sundance Film Festival programmers who select the New Frontier and Park City at Midnight films have long relished in the fact that they get to choose some of the most bizarre movies for their venues. These are movies that don’t fit the general Sundance mold and instead go above and beyond the call of Robert Redford. Last year, we had Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie as a tentpole for these types of movies, burning the “Shrim” scene into our brains forever. This year, one of the New Frontier “films” is an episodic series of shorts glued together by director Quentin Dupieux, who previously gave us the Fantastic Fest favorites Rubber and its followup, Wrong. While shooting the latter with actor Mark Burnham, Dupieux had the idea to make Wrong Cops as a project to highlight the music he creates under the name Mr. Olzo. So, they got a camera and shot the thing in three days. The result, which the filmmakers refer to as “Wrong Cops: Part 1,” is a mishmash of sketch and situation comedy that leaves you feeling like you’ve just watched a rehearsal for an unfinished skit.

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Wrong

If you don’t recognize the name Quentin Dupieux at first glance, you may better know him as the totally strange film director who made Rubber, a movie about a car tire that could kill people with its mind. The last time we heard about his latest film, Wrong—which appears to be a movie about a character played by Jack Plotnick losing his dog and discovering more than he was bargaining for during the quest to find him—it was wowing people after playing at Sundance, but it had yet to find itself a North American distribution deal. Now the film is back, and not only does it have a VOD premiere date of February 1 and a limited theatrical release date of March 29, it’s also brought along a fancy new trailer that makes it look a little less like an abstract art film like the first one did, and a little bit more like an absurd though hilarious romp instead. But maybe romp isn’t putting it strongly enough. This trailer takes the rhythms of Plotnick’s character’s experiences and mixes them into a funky electronic beat that’s likely to make you wiggle in your seat while you’re watching it. That’s just fun.

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Dolph Springer (Jack Plotnick) is as regular a guy. He goes to work everyday, at an office from which he was fired months before and where it rains indoors all day. He has a best friend who is moving away in order to drive to the edge of the world. One morning Dolph wakes up to find his dog is missing. To distract himself from the anxiety, he calls a new pizza place and inquires at length about the metaphoric accuracy of the logo. It’s about this time that his gardener informs him that the tree in his backyard has impishly transformed itself from a palm tree to an evergreen. Soon after that, he meets Master Chang, a spiritual and self-help guru who believes in pet telepathy. Tired old story, right? Wrong! However, anyone who has seen Rubber knows this is par for the course when it comes to Quentin Dupieux. His films are experiments in unbridled absurdity. The man crafted an entire film around the conceit of a sentient tire who kills people via telepathy. As if that weren’t enough weird for one movie, he also created a bizarre Greek chorus that both observed and commented on the actions of said tire; breaking the fourth wall at will and lending a self-aware vibe to the insanity. Obviously, this kind of abandon of traditional narrative, as well as all semblance of logic, is a recipe for a limited fanbase. Understandably, Dupieux is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I loving […]

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With his last film, Rubber, French director Quentin Dupieux proved that he could make a movie that has an inanimate object serving as its main character and have it not only refrain from being completely ridiculous, but actually turn out kind of moody and interesting. His tale of a serial-killing tire wasn’t exactly high art, but it wasn’t the sort of non-self-aware schlock that you might expect from a film with such a ludicrous plot description either. So it’s interesting to see that his new project, Wrong, takes a completely mundane plot and seems to inject it with more craziness than you could shake a stick at. On its surface, Wrong is the story of a man (Jack Plotnick) who loses and then goes on a quest to recover his dog. But, if the film’s new trailer is any indication, said quest doesn’t go at all how he imagined it would. What results is a mind-bending mixture of comedy and thriller that doesn’t seem like it should work on the page, but which looks interesting enough that you have to hope Dupieux has what it takes to pull it off.

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The Best Short Films

Why Watch? Seeing Rubber was a highlight of 2010. Quentin Dupieux proved his fierce, uncompromising imagination and a flare for nihilism which made the strange journey of a murderous tire ingenious. His follow-up was Wrong, which hit festivals a while back, but he’s now premiered a short at Cannes that’s not a sequel. He’s just lazy with titles. Wrong Cops, hilarious in its towering self-confident commitment, features the kind of sleazebag authority figure that would make Harvey Keitel smile. Just kidding. Harvey Keitel never smiles. Still, this short is like exploring a place you’ve been before and finding something different. Insane and wondrous, it also asks a profound philosophical question that demands several minutes of contemplation: does Marilyn Manson want a picture of your dick? What will it cost? Only 13 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s your hero. It knows what movie and entertainment news you need, and it delivers in the nick of time. That is, if the nick of time is late at night. If your nick of time happens at any other time, you’re out of luck. We begin tonight’s very art-heavy edition of News After Dark with a piece of a piece of art by Scott Reifsnyder, a tribute to Pixar’s The Incredibles. That’s just an impressively fun movie about heroes.

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Wrong. The titles serves as both mission statement and admonishment, as Quentin Dupieux‘s latest project exists in a world where the irrational and irregular reign, where clocks tick over from :59 to :60, where the concept of “appropriate” behavior doesn’t seem to exist to anyone, where palm trees turn into pine trees overnight, where typical horror film clangs and bangs ring out at the most odd of moments (giving everything a strange sense of danger). But the world of Wrong is a more focused one than fans of Dupieux might be used to, and the film has more of a standard plot than Dupieux’s previous film (2010’s new classic Rubber), though it’s still unreservedly absurd. The film ostensibly follows Dolph Springer (Jack Plotnick, ever-engaging and just plain game), a somewhat reserved young gentleman whose best friend is his dog, Paul. When Paul goes missing one morning, Dolph falls down the sort of cinematic K-hole that only Dupieux could create. Dolph’s already very strange world suddenly becomes populated with a lovestruck pizza girl (Alexis Dziena), an inept French-Mexican gardener (Eric Judor) who is incapable of explaining what happened to that wacky tree, and a private investigator (Steve Little) whose reasons for being terrible at his job might be less his fault than meet the eye.

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Noomi Rapace in Prometheus

What is Movie News After Dark? If you have to ask, then maybe it’s not for you. We begin this evening with a shot of Noomi Rapace in Prometheus. The former Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is going interstellar for director Ridley Scott, whose return to big sci-fi has made my own 5 most anticipated of 2012 short list when I delivered such picks on this week’s Reject Radio. It seems a fitting start to the final News After Dark of the week.

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Culture Warrior

Last week, as I watched Quentin Dupieux’s Rubber, I noticed that the trailers on the rental Blu-Ray were all of titles sharing space at the top of my queue: titles like Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins, Kim Ji-woon’s I Saw the Devil, and Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun. All, I quickly realized, had been released by the same studio, Magnet Releasing, whose label I recalled first noticing in front of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. After some quick Internet searching, I quickly realized what I should have known initially, that Magnet was a subsidiary of indie distributor Magnolia Pictures. The practices of “indie” subsidiaries of studios has become commonplace. That majors like Universal and 20th Century Fox carry specialty labels Focus Features and Fox Searchlight which market to discerning audiences irrespective of whether or not the individual titles released are independently financed or studio-produced has become a defining practice for limited release titles and has, perhaps more than any other factor, obscured the meaning of the term “independent film” (Sony Pictures Classics, which only distributes existing films, is perhaps the only subsidiary arm of a major studio whose releases are actually independent of the system itself). This fact is simply one that has been accepted for quite some time in the narrative of small-scale American (or imported) filmmaking. Especially in the case of Fox Searchlight, whose opening banner distinguishes itself from the major in variation on name only, subsidiaries of the majors can hardly even be argued as “tricking” audiences into […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? When it was first being written tonight, it was going to be a very silly column. Then some serious (and seriously awesome) links were found and you were saved from a fate far more ridiculous than usual. We’ll save that for another time. In this moment, on this night, Movie News After Dark presents you with all kinds of interesting things, words and doo-dads. But most of all, there will be fun. Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg are just around the building, ready to do something that will undoubtedly lead to hilarity in Ruben Fleischer’s 30 Minutes or Less, the film that will combine pizza delivery with the plot concept of Speed. Doesn’t that just make you urgently hungry? This new look is part of a slew of Entertainment Weekly magazine clippings found over at The Playlist.

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The new film Rubber tells the story of an inanimate tire named Robert (love that name) that suddenly, mysteriously springs to life and starts killing people. Yes, that’s correct. No, it’s not still April Fools’ Day. This very real flick from French techno musician/filmmaker Quentin Dupieux is an audacious meta-experiment. Rife with Brechtian allusions that call attention to the moviemaking apparatus, filled with broad philosophical musings about Scopophilia and other stalwarts of film theory, it sometimes feels like the narrative version of a long-winded film studies class tinged with a love of grandiose conceptual absurdity. Still, the movie offers plenty for the 99.999 percent of us (myself included) that don’t spend your free time debating the relative merits of feminist film theory or devouring Christian Metz. The picture thrills in large part because the filmmaker so gleefully indulges in the craziness of the conceit, mirroring the tire’s deadly advance across a barren American desert with the plight of onscreen spectators perched on lawn chairs, binoculars in hand, devouring the spectacle and debating what it all means.

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Comedy. Drama. Thriller. These are the three words that the Apple website uses to describe Rubber, but you could add to that list, Horror, Psycho-Satire, Meta-Parody and a few other made up words. Rubber is a hell of a movie. It’s a ridiculous film about a killer psychic tire (named Robert) that shows that some filmmakers out there still have the stones and creativity to make something truly new under the sun. Directed by Quentin Dupieux, the movie now has a trailer for you to enjoy/decipher and a sweet release date of April 1st.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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