Friday, September 14, 2012

Fizzle Yield

A very loose collection of ideas - some of them clever - trying to achieve critical mass...

It arrived without any fanfare (rarely a good sign) or advance screenings for the critics (never a good sign) but the movie Branded nonetheless caught my eye and a couple hours of my time this week.  It features actors Max von Sydow, Leelee Sobieski, and Jeffrey Tambor.  Set and filmed in post-Soviet Russia this 2012 film is nominally a fantasy science-fiction story.  


In practice it's some sort of post-Communist allegorical - and phantasmagorical - screed aimed at the excesses of modern marketing, capitalism, corporate amorality, materialism, personal excess, and consumerism.  There are American spies using USAID as a front (like that would ever happen), Lenin as the inventor of scientific marketing, a gullible populace whose easily manipulated opinions are transmitted to them via reality programs and TV commercials (Pshaw!), traffic jams that transform Moscow streets into parking lots - and bedrooms (did I mention Leelee Sobieski?), a plan that turns "thin is in" inside out, a ritual sacrifice of the red heifer performed in the traditional Hebrew style, and an ambivalent marketing whiz who can perceive the spiritual manifestations of his own and his competitors' campaigns.  It was probably a brilliant short story.  As a movie Branded is a goofy, stylish, kinetic mess.