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cosmopolis

2012-09-14 - 7:21 p.m.

We met up with a different book club the other day to see the film version of Cosmopolis so I re-read the book. It had been awhile. Perhaps if you have not read this book, and want to, you should stop right here because of

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In it, the once-brilliant billionaire currency trader indulges in various acts of masochistic wretched excess that include gambling away his fortune on the yen, performing a variety of degrading sex acts such as getting a prostate exam in front of his finance director and getting tasered by the noob on his security staff, moving forward to gambling away the money of the blue blooded wife too high-falutin' to have sex with him until they're literally rolling in the street naked with hundreds of other people in the middle of an art happening, and eventually it all culminates in the destruction of a fine limousine, his security chief, his hand, and (one presumes) his life.

The question never quite answered is whether his hyper-sensitive assassin ever bothers to actually shoot him or if he prefers to talk him to death, and the erstwhile billionaire is reduced to shooting himself to put an end to the misery. Or maybe he just bleeds out while Mr. Sensitive is still explaining why his life can have no meaning if he doesn't kill our self-destructive hero.

It is needless to say a very sad story. He moves through the day closing all his doors, and, of course, once he shoots the security chief, there is no way back anyway. He doesn't feel like starting over, and he can't. The narrative is death.

So this is now a movie by David Cronenberg. The funny thing is that he took great care to preserve the dialogue but otherwise he makes some really odd choices. If you can't get inside of somebody's head the way you can in a book, and you keep pulling back on the action, such as not really quite showing the burning man, not showing that he succeeds in getting the lady security guard to taser him, not showing the art installation with all the naked people, not showing where he thanks his wife for offering to help him by gambling away all of her family fortune -- how does that look to someone who hasn't read the book? It makes no sense.

I was waiting to see if Cronenberg cared to take a guess at whether or not the assassin bothered to assassinate our Mr. Packer -- he too left it open but he had some more fine shots of Rothko paintings at the end -- but when the lights came up, we realized that the rest of the book club had slipped away. And, stupid moi, I forgot the name of the place where we were supposed to meet for the discussion. Oopsy! If I had known we weren't going to the bar afterward, I would have pushed the magical red button to have the waiter bring me a drink. Yeppers, they have become one of those movie houses where you can push a button to have waiters bring you appetizers and $11 whiskey sours.

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