Saturday, October 29, 2005

BUBBLE - An artistic sneeze

QUICK REVIEW: DO NOT SEE THIS FILM. LONG REVIEW: My review of this film is pretty redundant seeing as very few people will ever read it and even if they do, actually finding a theatre playing this movie is pretty hard. As far as I can tell, it only has a US release date - 26th January 2006 - and it is being released simultaneously in theatres, on cable and on DVD. Apparently this is because it is SO cool, cutting edge, "Sundance" etc., that it can shun the usual Hollywood premiere, critical attention hoopla. Translation: this is so pointless and unmarketable it is going straight to video. Feel free to dig BUBBLE out of your local Blockbuster bargain bin next Spring, but be warned - you'll never get those 70 minutes back.

To be sure, this movie is not Pure Cinematic Evil. It is NOT Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.
In fact, it has a lot going for it. The movie is directed by Steven Soderbergh, the man who brought you Erin Brokovich and the all new Ocean's Eleven. He shoots the movie on Hi-Def video but it looks as good as if it were shot on celluloid. This is no mean feat. Moreover, there is something admirable in the fact that Soderbergh has felt the need and the actually been able to go low-budget after the $110 million extravaganza that was Ocean's Twelve.

He takes us to Bumblef*ck USA. Meet Martha, an obese middle-aged woman who lives with her invalided father and spraypaints plastic dolls in a small factory. The only joy in her life is eating junk food and befriending the much younger Kyle. Kyle is a young kid who didn't graduate high school and works in the factory making the plastic dolls. He lives with his mum in a trailor. Into this mix comes Rose, a young single mother who romances Kyle provoking Martha's jealousy.

Soderbergh wants us to think he is "keeping it real". There are lots of loving still shots of various bits of factory equipment, and he has cast unknown "real" people who speak in "authentic voices" (translation: boring, whiny, repetitive, assine....)

Stuff happens to Martha, Kyle and Rose for 70 minutes and then the movie sort of stops, leaving the audience thinking "huh?!"* But what is the freakin' point?! Deuce Bigalow had a point. The Wedding Crashers had a point. They wanted to make us laugh. They failed, but the aim was admirable. Shit, even Pearl Harbour had a point. BUBBLE does not have a point. Indeed, the only tentatively provocative shot is at the end-credits when we see the rejected defective plastic dolls - arrays of mutilated plastic - a comment on society's obsession with superficial perfection?

What do I know? Not much. And certainly not a jot more at the end of Bubble than at the beginning.

*Beware any critics who tell you this is similar in intent and quality as movies like Elephant and Gerry. They didn't have to pay £12.50 to see it and are going to be less pissed than you will be by a truly experimental film.

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