Rubber

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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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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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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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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This Week in DVD

Three good to great films we first enjoyed at last year’s Fantastic Fest are making their DVD debut this week, and they’re all worth a rental or a purchase. Rubber and The Housemaid are both automatic purchases in my book, but there are plenty of other releases this week worth a look including the Coen Brothers’ very funny True Grit, Adam Sandler’s ever so slightly better than usual Just Go With It, the James Cameron-produced disaster Sanctum, the LARP filled thriller (?) The Wild Hunt, the Le Tigre concert film Who Took the Bomp?, and many more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Rubber A discarded tire gains sentience and discovers a taste for murder when it rolls into a small desert town and begins using telekinesis to blow up peoples’ heads. And then the movie gets weird. Normally when people dislike films I love I know it’s because they’re most likely utter tools, but with Rubber? Well, I completely understand it. It’s an absolutely absurd comedy that goes the meta route to comment on films and audiences alike. It’s laugh out loud funny and very smart, has a great score, and features some of the best remote controlled tire work you’ve ever seen. Check out my full review here.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we celebrate the end of an era, talk to a first-time writer/director, discuss the fine art of short film creation with a seasoned hand, and hear from movie icon Wings Hauser. Wings Hauser, people. Max Winkler hit the festivals hard with Ceremony, his coming of age story starring Michael Angarano and Uma Thurman. Now it’s seeing a limited release, and he’s stopped by to discuss the benefits of getting your heart broken and the wrong way to crash a party. We featured the short film The Candy Shop on the site recently, and director Brandon McCormick was nice enough to share his production methods, talk about working with Doug Jones, and tell listeners how they can help fight sex trafficking in their own backyard. As if that weren’t enough, Wings Hauser joins us moments before a special screening of the 80s classic Vice Squad at the Alamo Drafthouse to talk about the confusing, wonderful nature of his latest co-starring role in Rubber and to generally be a badass. Plus, Erik Davis of Movies.com and Eric Snider from Film.com fight to the pain in our Movie News Pop Quiz (and join Scott Weinberg to talk about the end of Cinematical (as we know it) and what happened with HuffPo/Aol). Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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We realize that you’re probably sitting at home right now, chewing your own nails off and wondering what movies are coming out this month. Maybe you’re even wondering why no one on the entire internet has said anything about them. Strange, we know. How will you know what to watch this month? Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of March, taking naps, playing tether-ball, and researching movies at the last minute to keep you informed about what’s coming out in April. You watch movies, so this guide’s for you.

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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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The Reject Report

It ain’t Easter, right? It ain’t Easter. It ain’t white rabbit day. Don’t tell Universal that. They’re looking to bring in the golden egg with the seasonal Hop, and there’s a very good chance of that happening. Duncan Jones’s second film, Source Code, and the new horror film from the guys who brought us Saw – thanks, guys to be named later – may have something to say about that, but whatever that is will probably fall on deaf bunny ears. See what I did there? Well, see some more this week with the Reject Report the hollow chocolate bunny edition.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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The Week That Was

Like sands through the hourglass, these are the weeks of our lives. Two points if you know what soap opera that’s from. Minus one point for knowing what soap opera that’s from. As if thematically appropriate, this week was a lot of high drama here at FSR. Big casting news was abound, big editorials were written and one of our biggest yearly events, the Sundance Film Festival, kicked off. If you’re a regular reader of this site, it was a great week to be visiting us. If you’re not a regular reader of this site, here’s a list of all the great stuff you missed.

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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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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Rob Hunter drops by to help us countdown our favorites of 2010 while looking forward to the New Year’s Resolutions the filmmakers of the future should adhere to. Out with old, in with the old. Plus, we would have found time to review the releases of the week if there were any. We can’t wait for the executives to get back to work, either. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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As I expressed earlier in the week as our 2010 Year in Review began, I take it as a great honor that I am able to put together my list of the Best Films of the Year as part of my Editor’s Picks entry. And while I’m a massive fan of my own perspective and opinions, I’m an even bigger fan of the writing and ever-diverse tastes of the Film School Rejects reviewing staff. These are the folks who, through their sensational (and often divisive) review-writing, keep you coming back for more each and every day. They travel the world and brave the crowds at festivals, conventions, preview screenings and special events to bring you some of the industry’s sharpest, most honest film coverage. And I for one am honored to have them all on this team. Just as I did last year, I couldn’t wait to see which films each writer would put on their Top 5 lists as the best films of the year. And just as they did last year, they didn’t disappoint with their unique, ever-fascinating selections. So read on dear reader, as we present the crown jewel of our 2010 Year in Review: The Staff Picks.

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Welcome to my list of the best foreign films of the year! In case you’re wondering why certain films appear to be missing there are a few factors to take into account. First, films like Mother, A Prophet, The Good the Bad the Weird, and The Secret In Their Eyes are movies that made previous lists. Second, I haven’t seen everything that was released this year. And third, your favorite foreign release from 2010 may actually have been a piece of shit. I kid. But seriously, these are my picks for the ten best foreign language movies of the year in alphabetical order. As a bonus I’ve added in the five best English language foreign films for you as well. I know. You’re welcome. (Full reviews for all of the titles below can be found via our Reviews database, and my weekly excursions into foreign films can be found here.)

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Being a heavy horror fan is a tough gig. Most producers look at horror as a quick buck genre, a franchise to be used, abused, ridden hard and put up wet to make a profit. They don’t really care too much about putting out quality product, instead they just opt for product. Or at least that’s how it seems. 2010, to me at least, felt like one of the weakest years on record for horror. I thought last year was bad, but then the past 350 some odd days happened. I’m pretty confident I could say that this is the worst year for horror since the birth of Film School Rejects. It felt that bad. Regardless of my own disappointment in the movies this year, and in myself for missing a few releases, I scrapped the bottom of the barrel barren and plucked out ten (plus one!) [that means 11] horror movies that aren’t complete wastes of your time. Then again, you might just be better off buying all the Roger Corman Cult Classics for sale from Shout! Factory.

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