Director: David O. Russell
Year Released: 2004
I think it can be safely said that any film that tries to say everything within a 120-minute time span will end up saying absolutely nothing. This is the core problem with Russell's film, which describes itself as an "existential comedy" but falls short on both ends - its "existentialism" is closer to Dadaism and its desperate attempts at comedy (Naomi Watts wearing a bonnet and overalls, Jude Law with tits, Isabelle Huppert getting her head dunked in mud) produce more groans than pure joy. There aren't even proper set-ups for all this garbage to provide context of any sort - I spent a significant portion of time figuring out what all of these people have to do with each other on some deeper level and wondered where the scenes that 'shape' the random material fell to in the editing room; what remains is insultingly long-winded and (ironically!) phony. To make matters even worse, the whole venture - that of Jason Schwartzman searching for meaning in his life - is really a Charlie Kaufman rip-off (not that Kaufman has a monopoly on the meta-genre but he is its best known cinematic proponent) and I'm not even that confident the Being John Malkovich scribe has his own Escheresque kinks worked out just yet. This gives the few-and-far-between intelligent movies Hollywood releases a bad reputation.