Rubber - 8th May 2011

Possibly one of the strangest little movies I have ever seen but then it's immediately robbed of any kudos that title may give it because it so wants to be strange, it so wants to be different and it's just aching for people to ooh and aah at its zaniness. It's like the new kid at school who turns up wearing an extraordinarily loud shirt, with retro plastic 80s shades, carrying a stuffed mongoose. Weird for weirds sake doesn't make it interesting.
I am sure it tries to rock itself to sleep at night trying to convince itself it is bold, innovative and daring, that it ripped apart cinematic conventions and played with strands of narrative like they were the small, flaccid and unappealing member of a high court judge being wafted unenthusiastically through the glory hole in a downtown bathroom but I'm sorry Rubber, you didn't.

Ok, let me back up a bit and try and explain where all this is coming from. Last year Rubber was screening at the Cannes film festival and I heard something about it from a film journalist I like who blogged from there. Then a few months later, looking online, I came cross the trailer for this so-called 'killer tyre' movie.
Now it wasn't till I went back and watched the blogs again and realised this was the same thing that I thought, oh that looks right up my street, it could at least be interesting. A tyre that wonders the desert blowing peoples heads off, if nothing else it'll be fun to watch heads explode. Sometimes that's the way my mind works. Sometimes you just want to watch shit explode.

Imagine my surprise then when this film started with a desert landscape littered with chairs and a man standing before them holding a whole wedge of binoculars. Then a car turns the corner towards the camera and proceeds to swerve all over the place intentionally knocking over every last chair. It then comes to a stop, a cop gets out of the boot/trunk, is given a glass of water, which he then pours out all over the floor. He then looks directly into camera and proceeds to give a lengthy, nonsensical and incorrect, either purposefully or not who knows, speech about the nature of 'No Reason' in movies. Inane crap like 'why is ET brown' and so on. We then see that actually he is talking to a group of regular folk, I suppose they are meant to be us, each of whom are given a pair of binoculars, walk to the top of the hill and start to 'watch' the action from afar.

Right, I thought, that's a fairly pretentious and stupid way to open the film but ok, fine, you want to start your film in a quirky way to offset the fact we are about to sit back and watch a killer tyre movie, I can get behind that. It is ultimately irrelevant though because anyone with half a brain knows that by making it a killer tyre you are already commenting on the nature of stalk and slash films by saying that after all these years the killer may as well be a rubber tyre. I got that from the trailer but, whatever, let's continue.

We are then treated to the best sequence in the film where the personality and life of the tyre is actually born. We see it shift uneasy in the sand, struggle to move, then struggle to stand, the struggle to move forward etc. It is a great visual gag that allows us to personify the tyre in our minds and even maybe think of it as a baby, or a puppy, something cute and new. Then off the tyre trundles and slowly but surely we notice its destructive tendencies. From littered glass bottles to scorpions to finally a bunny rabbit, it destroys each one in its path.

Now we're off I thought, great! and yes you can read all sorts of crap into these actions, maybe it's saying that man is a destructive beast from the day we're born and the tyre is a way to turn a mirror on our own actions or maybe it's saying that our waste, like rubber tyres etc. are destroying the earth but ultimately, who gives a four fingered screw behind the woodshed, it's a bad ass tyre and it's out to kill all in its path. Annoyingly it has cut back to that crowd on the hill with the binos a couple of times and I had sort of hoped that they were just going to be a framing devise but ok, let's trudge on.

Very quickly then, the tyre kills a few people, heads off to a motel, peeks on someone in the shower, kills the maid and generally behaves like a serial killer, desert road psycho. I would be enjoying this if it didn't keep cutting back to these annoying bastards on the hill who keep commenting on what we're watching.
The next morning the police show up to examine the body of the maid and the folks on the hill wake up to find the guy with all the binos from the beginning coming up the hill. He hands them all a turkey which all but the wheel chair bound audience member, devour like a pack of ravenous wolves. It slowly drifts through my mind, "I don't care, why are these people still the focus of the film?"
It turns out the turkey is poisoned and all but the wheel chair bound guy die.
A) for some reason I saw that coming and B) why have this pointless set up, only to destroy it?
I guess, for no reason.
I suppose we are meant to remember the opening of the film where the cop talks about the nature of 'No Reason' in films and go 'aaaah how clever, yes, stop trying to fathom out why things are happening and just accept this because there's 'no reason' brilliant, yes brilliant... except, brainfart, if there's no reason then why do any of it? Why am I even watching it? or maybe that's the point, maybe that's why you killed the audience because you hate audiences and the way they ask too many questions, make demands on you like plot and characters and talk and eat through films. Maybe you think your audience is the girl who laughed at you in secondary school because your penis was too small and oddly coloured so this is all some big elaborate revenge!
None of it makes you clever by the way, it makes you an A grade, solid gold, highly polished twat. Anyone can do that, start a film with a big speech about 'No Reason' and then spend the rest of the film taking pictures of oddly shaped fruit, or combing a badger, or having a siamese twin hunchback play the accordian at a Dutchman's lobsters wedding anniversary! it doesn't make you a genius if that's all you have to offer. Without a story or at least something you care about, none of it has a point.

The film then continues think it's even more clever by having the police chief break down and say "right, we are all actors by the way, you can all go home. That maid is not really dead, this uniform is fake and this is all just made up for the benefit of those folks on the hill but they're all dead now so don't worry."
The trouble is they are not all dead, one is still watching, the tyre is essentially still alive and blowing peoples heads off, the maid seems to actually be dead and no one else but the police chief and the geeky guy with the binos knows this is all fake and part of some elaborate plan dreamt up by some elusive master, who we never see we just hear the guy talking to him on the phone.

Fuck me, we get it, you broke the 4th wall but only partly, you're trying to make a point but sadly you made the film too dull for the point to even matter and anyway, any minute now this is all going to get so 'meta' and 'knowing' and 'hip' that it's going to be sucked up your posterior like the feeble dribbly sputum it is.

It's such a shame too because contained within all this amateurishly surreal nonsense is some really good ideas, some funny jokes and the possibility to have made a great film about humans and their inept but comical attempts to capture or kill a serial killing rubber tyre called Robert. As it is they didn't have the strength of their convictions in the idea and instead filled it with all this half cocked, simplistic deconstruction on cinema.

Look, I like weird, I like funny, I am the guy wishing you actually HAD made a comedy horror movie about a serial killer tyre with a bunch of awesome B-movie conventions in it, like your trailer promised. I am the audience for that movie, I am also not a moron and I know that you had that whole 'no reason' bit so that if someone even remotely questioned or criticised your piece of shit film then the joke would be on them.
Well I am sure if you were ever to read this, which of course you never will, you are having a good old chuckle at my expense.
(nobody reads this, well they do but they sit on large boxes of specially harvested ostrich beaks high in the Andes playing a lime green tuba whilst wearing nothing but a copy of 'A Tale of Two Cities' strapped about their waste with the sticky and extended vocal chords of a one-eyed juggler boy)

In the end I had to ask myself the tough question: Why am I writing all this or hypothesising all this about a film I ultimately didn't like?
No reason.

4 out of 10 exploded rabbit sandwiches glazed with a hefty dollop of shut the fuck up!

Good Night and Good Luck - 10th May 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun - 8th May 2011