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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, October 2, 2014 - Edition No 917 

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SCHIZOPOLIS

SYNOPSIS:
Fletcher Munson (Steven Soderbergh) works for a Scientology-like organisation known as Eventualism. When a colleague dies, he is promoted to speechwriter for T. Azimuth Schwitters (Mike Malone II), Eventualism’s founder and figurehead. While Munson labours over his first assignment, his relationship with his wife (Betsy Brantley) is deteriorating into domestic ennui. Then he makes a surprising discovery: He has a doppelganger – successful dentist Dr Korchek (Steven Soderbergh… again) – with whom his wife is having an affair. Meanwhile peculiar local pest exterminator, Elmo Oxygen (Mike Malone II), is starring in a violent and sexual cinema verite production.

"The blurb on Schizopolis’ video cover attributes the following quote to writer/ director/ star, Steven Soderbergh: "… all attempts at synopsising the film have ended in failure and hospitalisation." And despite the intrepid attempt above, it is true that succinctly describing Schizopolis’ narrative is a forlorn endeavour. Steven 'Sex, Lies and Videotape' Soderbergh has cast aside all mainstream convention to produce a slice of low budget cinema that fluctuates between scathing satire, slapstick silliness and strident surrealism. Owing a little respectively to Richard Lesters’ Beatles movies, Monty Python, Luis Bunuel, Marcel Duchamps and the Dada movement, it is a dizzying montage of seemingly unrelated sequences rich in word play, one-off jokes and social commentary. But there is more cohesion than is at first apparent – and considering its running time (96 minutes) there would want to be; the extreme surrealism of Bunuel and Dali’s Un Chien Andalou, for instance, is only effective as a 17 minute short. The fractured and elliptical narrative does make for tough going at times but viewers who hang in there are duly rewarded with moments of true inspiration. Soderbergh has clearly been self-indulgent; dotted throughout the rambling, recondite sequences are highly accessible sight-gags, parodies and witticisms that suggest a more conventional yet just as irreverent product could easily have been forthcoming. Instead, Soderbergh has uncompromisingly delivered an ambitious, audacious and abstruse abstraction (if you’ll excuse the alliteration). The result is undoubtedly clever but is it good entertainment? Not for everyone, is the answer… and no doubt Soderbergh intended it that way."
Brad Green



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

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SCHIZOPOLIS  (MA 15+)
(US)

CAST: Steven Soderbergh, Betsy Brantley, David Jensen, Mike Malone

DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh

PRODUCER: John Hardy

SCRIPT: Steven Soderbergh

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Steven Soderbergh

EDITOR: Sarah Flack

PRODUCTION DESIGN:

RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Siren

VIDEO RELEASE: August 9, 1999







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