September 15, 2014

Podcast Episode 30: ROGER RABBIT And Robin Wright At THE CONGRESS

The first 30-40 minutes of Ari Folman's The Congress is absolutely riveting.  Robin Wright plays a fictionalized version of herself, an actress who threw away her early stardom in order to take care of her young son.  Now, as the filmmaking process stands on the edge of a massive shift away from flesh and blood actors, Robin is offered one last contract by a studio who wants to digitally scan both her physical and emotional likeness in order to insert her into whatever film they see fit.  Folman and Wright clearly have a lot to say about the power of choice and the nature of control, and maybe it's just my love of Hollywood inside baseball but the whole thing is fascinating.

And then we jump 20 years in the future and becomes largely animated, and while the visual palate is both fun and stylish, the story goes somewhat off the rails here. I think it's mostly because the status quo of this new world is not very firmly established before the audience is dropped into a communal hallucination where it becomes difficult to distinguish reality from imagination. It's a visual feast to be sure and often quite funny, but it also borders on incoherent at times.  I was expecting to see Wright interacting with various incarnations of her artificially created self, but instead she gets embroiled in some kind of revolution before emerging into an apocalyptic nightmare in search of her son. 

Still, even in its weaker moments the film is always engaging, and in its stronger moments you cannot tear your eyes from the screen. You should watch this movie if only for the actual scanning scene where Harvey Keitel, as Robin's agent, delivers a heart-breaking monologue that will burn itself into your memory. 

And since we're dealing with blurred lines between humans and cartoons, we also talk briefly about Who Framed Roger Rabbit, although that conversation was ultimately cut short by my wife's insatiable desire to see college football. 

Jenna Gabriel joins us for all this plus a discussion of film vs digital projection, Tarantino's takeover of the New Beverly Cinema, the design of the newest Batmobile and the dubious merits of Space Jam. 

Next Week: In light of a possible fifth entry, we kick off a month-long rewatch of the Rambo series. 

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