Self/Less

The Newly Middle Class But Formerly Rich Writing about The Rich Making Movies About The Rich Being Nice To The Poor Will Always Be with Us


Could have been good. It just needed the quotes.
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Reported on 21st of August, 2015

Self/Less, other than being a title tailor-made for tweaking via critical reviews, is a film about a rich guy who buys a poor guy’s body but totally didn’t know about it. If the film was good, that sentence would have read ‘a rich guy who buys a poor guy’s body but “totally didn’t know about it”‘. Renaissances (as it was confusingly re-titled in French), could have been good. It just needed the quotes.

Self/Less

30 July 2015 @ The Gaumont Rennes


or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 

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Thus the experience of this banal mid-level Lifetime movie (remembering that Big Driver was actually better than most released films) was not entirely unpleasureable). Why? Because one cycles through all the movies it should have been. Like They Live or Surrogates, the premise is so solid that it deserves to be remade, the execution so pedestrian that your brain does exactly that while watching it. As experiences go, it’s not unfun.

Even if one has made a deal with the devil, one's obligation is, first and foremost, to contract law.

What, asks the brain, about a comedy about the marketplace of buying and selling your body? A thriller about the male friends of the dead guy (it couldn’t be his wife. She’s a gggggiiiiirrrrrlllll), trying to find him and get him back. There’s the Good German parable about the rich guy who kinda knew all along, and how easy it is to pretend that he didn’t (the one in quotes). My favorite version, flashing before my eyes around minute 55, was a Wodehousian chamber piece of manners, where a Jeeves type explains to an increasingly bug-eyed Wooster type that even if one has made a deal with the devil, one’s obligation is, first and foremost, to contract law.

Other than the re-titling, it's sad that all my tickets will heretofore appear the same.

Other than the re-titling, it’s sad that all my tickets will heretofore appear the same.

What doesn’t work, narratively or otherwise, is the surprise that Poor Guy donated his body and hence his body because of Sick Daughter, and Rich Guy is off to discover the mystery. Mr. Kingsley’s character (soon to be Mr. Reynold’s character) has reached the top of some vaguely defined business that makes money, seemingly kept vague so that we would dare not imagine the noogies and swirlies he may have given along the way to the top. You’re in trouble when the real world is more extreme and dramatic than what you’ve imagined for a conventional Hollywood thriller. If there was a news story that someone has probably murdered someone else for a better collagen injection, you’d believe it. For a body? You’d do it yourself.

Instead, the film comes off, because it is, as a rich person’s fantasy (with the inclusion of About Time and This is 40, now a genuine genre unto itself) that they would totally be nice to poor people as soon as they make the shocking…SHOCKING…discovery that the poor are in any way oppressed. Whatever Marxian implications, the asshole honest rich guy is just a better movie character. It’s believable, it has weight, and it’s potentially fun to watch, largely because the characters have human motives, and yes, even our own fantasy: that we might take their place for a moment. You know, that insignificant speck that drives all society.

Ultimately, this version is just counterproductive. If the 1930s have anything to teach us besides the Lindy Hop wasn’t really practiced in the 1930s, it’s that rich people make movies about how rich people are evil, so poor people won’t kill them. Or, even better, movies about evil rich people keeping poor people in line with movies about evil rich people. Or, as they may prefer it ‘poor people.’

Profits!

As mentioned, the interior writing of the other films was kinda fun.
$2.00
Say what you want, Mr. Signh seems to have some visual instincts….
$2.00
Total Profits
$4.00

Losses!

…that in no way translate to story instincts, or even picking stories.
$3.00
Total Losses
$3.00

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