(David Cronenberg / 2012)
Cronenberg's body of work has engaged with perceptions of reality that almost always make this concept a central point, that is, we are aware we are experiencing a film about the nature of reality (eXistenZ, Videodrome, Spider) or the nature of the self (The Fly, A History of Violence, A Dangerous Method) or usually a combination of the two. But with Cosmopolis we are not. It's unnerving, phoney, obviously unreal, but played out with the deadpan seriousness of a low rent thriller. Cosmopolis feels as simulated as an Ida Lupino or Fritz Lang noir, mutated by the technologies and sensibilities of the cyber age. But like great cinema about the unreality of existence and the reality of cinematic experience, it remains vague and allusive, disturbing your sense of self without the comforting knowledge that you've merely watched a film about such-and-such, a la The Matrix (a worthy experience to be sure, but not at all like this rarer type of film). Cosmopolis contends with a shift in perception of the self (and subsequently, reality itself); a neo-liberal cogito that professes I possess, therefore I am.
Everyone walked out of the screening of Cosmopolis except for my partner and I and a guy in the back.
The films relationship to current social-political anxieties shares a strange correlation with two videos to emerge in the last week. I've posted them here with no contextualization for interested parties. The first is Slavoj Žižek on the future of "anti-capitalist" thought and action, provocatively titled "Don't Act. Just Think" and the second is footage of the final night of The Burningman Festival where a massive effigy of Wall Street was set aflame. I cannot help but feel that Cosmopolis is simultaneously feeding off of and engaging with these ideas and sentiments while remaining uncertain: