Cosmopolis An Interesting Topic For Any Film Studies Course

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

When one thinks of the term “artist” one’s mind generally leans toward images a painter.  While that image fits, the artist as painter is just one type of artist.  In the film world, writers and directors can be considered artists, too.  Instead of using a brush and a canvass, the director and writer use cameras sets, and script pages as their canvasses.  And just as the work of visual artists isn’t for everyone, nor is writer/director David Cronenberg’s new adaptation of author Don DeLillo’s book, Cosmopolis.  It would be lying to say that this movie is easily accessible by any means.  That’s especially the case for those who have not read DeLillo’s book.  And even for those who have read it, there are differences.  It’s both because of those differences, and because of Cronenberg’s own ambitious vision that this adaptation of Cosmopolis likely won’t appeal to all audiences.

While Cosmopolis does have its negatives, it also has its positives.  The movie’s cinematography is an example of both the positives and the negatives surrounding this art flick.  The camera angles used throughout the movie’s near two hour run time help to heighten the story’s tension in its more powerful moments.  Those more powerful moments also include some of Eric’s (Robert Pattinson) conversations with those individuals whom he encounters on his cross-city journey.  On the other hand though, sometimes, the quick cuts can be enough to leave some viewers feeling dizzy and confused as to what they’ve just seen.  So to that extent, the cinematography behind Cosmopolis is something of a mixed bag.

Just as much of a mixed bag as the cinematography here is the general story itself.  On the one hand, those who have read the book may be left wanting more in some cases as there were some elements of the book that were left out of the movie.  But in its defense, Cosmopolis isn’t the first movie to every make changes in adapting the written word to the screen.  This is always a delicate exercise.  There are those who are so hardcore about adaptations that even the slightest difference could lead to anger and outcry.  For those who have never read the book though, the movie’s general story may leave them feeling just as confused and dizzy even without its cinematography.  It may be confusing at points, but those who really give this story a chance will see that in essence, it is a commentary of sorts centered on everything that society in general has become.  Keeping that in mind, one will understand why this is one of those movies that takes more than one watch to really take in everything that it offers.  It’s one of those movies that really require a viewer’s full attention to fully comprehend and appreciate it at any level.  Given that chance, this art film will still remain very much a niche film.  But audiences will have at least a new understanding of it and this perhaps even a different take on it, too.

Water for Elephants is a “memorable” movie

Adapting books to the big screen is one of the oldest practices in the movie industry.  It goes back to the very birth of the motion picture.  Literary based movies have come a long way since that time.  Some are good, and some simply aren’t so good.  And then there are those that kind of wade about in the limbo between the two extremes.  Water For Elephants is one of those movies that is in the middle somewhere.  By no means is it the worst movie of 2011.  But it isn’t the year’s best, either.  The success of Water for Elephants is based more on the cast than on the movie’s story. 

The central story of Water for Elephants is based around a love triangle between  young veterinarian-to-be, Jacob (played by Twilight star Robert Pattinson), August (Christoph Waltz), the vile ringmaster of the circus that Jacob joins, and August’s wife, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon).  The point of conflict in the story is August’s insinuated alcoholism, and absolutely cold, cruel, and controlling personality.  August is cold and cruel both to his own workers, and the animals in his circus.  While Pattinson doesn’t exactly shine by himself, placed next to Christoph Waltz, the pair beautifully illustrate the heights of good and the depths of evil.  August is an absolutely horrible person.  He’s the kind of villain that audiences love to hate.  And that’s because of Waltz’s acting abilities.  His character of Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds (2009) was a good turn as a villain.  But this time out, he’s even more villainous.  If not for Waltz, the story centered on the trio would have been little more than just another forgettable romance/drama storyline.

Christoph Waltz single handedly carried his castmates in Water for Elephants, save for one in particular.  That actor…or rather actress…was Rosie the elephant.  Upon her introduction, Rosie wins over audiences without even trying.  Watching waht August does to her makes her that much more loveable, and him that much more despised.  As a note, no animals were harmed in the making of the movie, obviously.  That aside, scenes such as his brutality towards Rose makes it less than suitable for children.  Though there are some more adult moments, too, that aren’t exactly kid friendly.  Parents should be warned about this.

Water for Elephants has an applause worthy cast.  But the cast alone doesn’t make the movie.  Nor does the story.  The depression era backdrop is nothing new to the movie industry.  Plenty of other flicks have been crafted with a similar backdrop.  What makes the depression era backdrop so appealing to audiences this time is the circus train.  Yes, it’s something minute.  But there’s something really nostalgic about the circus train pushing on from one town to the next.  That nostalgic feeling alone makes the movie worth sitting through, despite the pacing problem. 

Other than the acting of Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, the only other true downside to Water for Elephants was the pacing.  It’s one more movie that despite having an interesting story, gets bogged down in itself a bit too much.  Thankfully the pacing problem doesn’t overpower the story, thus making it a movie that’s worth at least one watch, if not more.