Nov 1, 2013

[Movies] Rubber (2010)

The movie industry is full of tropes and cliches - something that's pretty much inevitable at this point, whether intentional or not. So it's interesting when someone is able to take all those familiar elements and spin them around into something completely different.

Rubber turned out to be one of those really out there movies that definitely made an effort to be different by dipping into the pool of the downright bizarre. It's not quite a horror movie nor is it an outright comedy either. It's rather surreal at times and there's definitely a generous amount of 4th wall breaking.

Depending on how you take the movie, one might argue that Rubber is either amazingly brilliant and complex or it's ridiculously stupid and absurd. And such extreme reactions to a single film can speak a lot about its merits. At the very least, one has to admire the team for being brave enough to put the movie together in the first place instead of just sticking to what has now become typical or expected in terms of movies.

Synopsis: Rubber is a 2010 comedy horror film written and directed by French director Quentin Dupieux. The movie debuted at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival as part of Cannes Critic's Week.

We start with a group of people who have come together to watch a "film" - although watching consists of using binoculars to watch the main action in the movie as it happens elsewhere. The sheriff (Stephen Spinella) provides a brief narration of sorts about how the movie is ultimately a homage to "no reason" as a plot device, and this applies to both the in-movie audience watching the film and we as viewers watching the entire movie.

The actual "film" involves a tyre that appears to come to life in the desert. First it learns to right itself, and then it learns to move. And then strangely enough, it learns that it can destroy bottles on the road with some sort of a psychokinetic burst. Then tyre continues to experiment with its powers and destroys a few living things including a rabbit. One thing leads to another and its efforts progress to killing human beings by exploding their heads - a case that confounds the local police.

The movie follows the classic pacing of a horror movie for the most part - which means excellent use of silence and mood music. Then again, it's not like the tyre (that was actually billed as "Robert" in the credits) can actually talk. Although I have to give credit to the team that figured out how to manipulate the tyre - there are a few moments when it does feel like it's actually trying to convey emotion. And the fact that it can execute hard stops as needed - that was rather impressive for a physical effect.

But back to the horror bit, expect a lot of really cheesy blood effects. And given that the tyre eventually goes on quite the killing spree, you already know that this will translate into a LOT of dead bodies and exploded bits. And that's part of the fun.

The role of the in-movie audience is a weird one. Initially it just seems that they're present to voice the typical sort of movie viewer opinions that get whispered in the theater. Thus initially they do a lot to state the obvious or raise questions of interest. But later on there's the implication that the in-movie audience is responsible for the movie existing at all. Thus there's the theory of sorts that if you get rid of that audience, the movie ends and everyone can go home without resolving the story.

The movie is dressed up like a grindhouse-style b-movie and a really weird one at that given your killer is a piece of rubber rolling around the desert. You can leave the movie at that level and probably not enjoy it so much. But if you start trying to figure out why certain things are done in the movie such as the role of the in-movie audience or why they had to die or even why the sheriff is so against the entire story, well, then it can potentially become a lot more.

Rubber is strange - I totally concede that point. But at the same time it's also somehow brilliant. Or it's just stupid. Or it's amazing. And because of how the movie makes me feel so many different things all at once, I have to rate it as 4 people whose heads are made to explode out of a possible 5 just because I really want you to watch the movie yourself and tell me what you think.

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