High and Low: Robert Pattinson and Dean Martin As Two Very Different Men-About-Town
Let’s kick off the new year with lady-killers of two different generations: Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson retains his seductive abilities in a very different kind of role, while Dean Martin gets embroiled in a 1960s sex farce. Both movies are thoroughly entertaining, but they’re also about as polar-opposite as it gets, making them the perfect antipodes for my first column of 2013.
WHO’S RESPONSIBLE: Written and directed by David Cronenberg, based on the novel by Don DeLillo; starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton, Mathieu Amalric, Jay Baruchel
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Wall Street whiz kid Eric Packer (Pattinson) just wants to drive across New York City in his thoroughly tricked-out white limozeen (as Dolly Parton might call it) to get a haircut from his childhood barber. But between a presidential visit, anarchist riots and mysterious death threats, Packer spends most of the day hosting an assortment of visitors (from mistresses to business associates bearing bad news) in the car, exiting occasionally to share a series of elliptical conversations with his sexually-frustrated wife over meals. Is he doomed? Is the universe coming to an end? Anything can happen in this moody mix of Last Year at Marienbad via The Bonfire of the Vanities.
WHY IT’S SCHMANCY: Cosmopolis would make a perfect double feature with another Cronenberg literary adaptation, Crash; they both revolve around cars (and the juncture of man and machine) and everyone speaks in that whispery monotone that either makes you cock an ear toward the screen or storm out in irritation. This new film may test your patience with its seeming indifference to things like plot, but if you stick with it, you’ll find that it does build toward something fascinating, helped along by a strong Pattinson performance that suggests he’s got a post–sparkle-vampire screen career.
WHY YOU SHOULD OWN IT: The Blu-Ray features cast and crew interviews, and both versions offer a “Citizens of Cosmopolis” featurette and a director commentary; among today’s filmmakers, Cronenberg ranks as one of the most articulate about what he does (albeit in a whispery monotone of his own), so his commentary tracks are always worth checking out.
WHO’S RESPONSIBLE: Written by Stanley Shapiro and Nate Monaster; directed by Fielder Cook; starring Dean Martin, Stella Stevens, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson