by Dr Nick
Steven Soderbergh's "2nd first film" as he himself describes it, is as crazy as films come. With actors playing several characters at once, the dialogue changing between foreign languages, descriptive language as well as just randomly invented language, it's not for all tastes. But, if you want to see something fresh and different, then you're in for a treat.Soderbergh is a huge fan of Richard Lester, director of cult experimental films like A Hard Day's Night and The Knack, and it really shows in Schizopolis. The film is a homage to the free spirit of Lester's films and several tributes are paid to the director. One character, who curiously enough dies within the first couple of minutes, is even named Lester Richards.
"Do you hate people but love Humanity?"
There's no plot as such, and what there is unfolds in a series of repetitions and variations of scenes that have already happened. T. Azimuth Schwitters is the author of, and spokesperson behind Eventualism, a Scientology like new philosophy/religion that has taken the world by storm. Fletcher Munson (played by Soderbergh himself) is an office worker, who is being offered large amounts of money to reveal company secrets. He refuses and instead concentrates on his daily routine of masturbating in the men's toilet and making funny faces at himself in the mirror. When Lester Richards, Schwitters’ speechwriter, dies and takes his speech to the grave, Munson is given the challenge of writing a new speech. Meanwhile, his co-worker Nameless Numberhead Man, is fired after arising suspicion of being a spy, a mole, or both. Fletcher is married to a Mrs Munson (played by Betsy Brantley), but marital problems have led her to having an affair with Dr. Jeffrey Korchek (also played by Soderbergh) As she decides to leave Fletcher and shows up on Dr Korcheck's doorstep ready to move in, he reveals that he has fallen in love with one of his patients, Attractive woman #2 (played by, you guessed it, Betsy Brantley) While all this is going on, Elmo Oxygen, a pesticide man, is seducing the women in the neighbourhood, speaking a random language that makes no sense at all. He's eventually approached by the producers of the film and promoted to a bigger part, which involves attempting to assassinate Schwitters.
Hmm….that probably made as much sense as the film itself, but at least it should provide a glimpse of what's going on.
What's Schizopolis about? Well, I guess it's a criticism of rules, not just in filmmaking, but in society as well. Dealing with issues most of us can relate to, like the fear of losing the job you hate anyway, reaching dead-ends in relationships and being misunderstood by the opposite sex. It’s not all serious stuff, though. No, most of it is just complete random silliness, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Schizopolis is bursting with energy, and it makes you wanna go out and make your own film, incorporating every idea you’ve ever had. But, getting any funding for a project like this would be absolutely impossible, unless your name is Soderbergh that is. He once promised a sequel, called “Son of Schizopolis”. I sincerely hope that will happen soon. The world needs it.It's crazy, silly and doesn't make much sense at all, but still it's an absolute joy to watch.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6748&reviewer=345
originally posted: 05/05/04 04:13:18