Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Congress

The real meat of this narrative hangs on an old but incredibly fruitful frame: is an artist's work or their persona ultimately of value? The pop-cult of personality certainly points in the direction of the mask. She is offered the opportunity to sell the mask to Miramount studios, and go on her merry way. Live her life, but never act in anything ever again. They own the mask.

Robin Wright acts in her own narrative gonzomentary,
and does it with the gravitas of a fallen angel.



This film sets up an incredibly tight first act, and then veers in an entirely unexpected, psychedelic direction from there.

As at-times interesting and surreal as the rest of the movie is, it could've been done in a way that was more consistent with where the movie seemed to be going, although that course change isn't so joyfully pointless as Tarantino's Dusk Till Dawn. Vampires and crotch cannons don't suddenly appear in the middle of a crime drama. Rather, you're dropped into the middle of Waking Life, with a bit more Matrix revolutionary zeal and a bit less philosophical speculation.

Might consistency have bit deeper and bled a bit longer? Maybe. That depends on your tastes.

But whatever flavor suits you, this film hearkens to a time, now lost to the haze of distant memory, when movies sought to make us question our culture, and our place in it. (I think it might have been the late 90s.)

Pop-art often employs repetition of the mask or container. (Think Warhol.) The Congress, in its way, can be considered a part of this tradition. In a movie that seeks to analyze an industry that functions only by cannibalizing itself, and doing so often off the flesh of its talent, the only tools available are a pastiche of what has come before. This is a sense in which The Congress is deeply postmodern, in a more than passing sense.

Its inveigh against Hollywood uses self-referential bricolage as a device for their own deconstruction. Tropes from nearly every genre available to Hollywood are used toward that end. Pointillism, bricolage, etc. are only useful devices to the extent that they relate back to a single thread. In this case, that thread is not a single narrative, not plot or resolution, but the theme of alter-ego as product. The alter-ego as icon, as obsession, as the lure painted over the heavens when the Gods of old will no longer do.

How much can you drill down into a single theme, how many fourth walls can you break, before the sublime turns into the redundant?

That line is seriously tested through the final act, but not, I think, ultimately broken.

All It Takes Is The Right Story. Mythos Media

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