Sam Strange Remembers: COSMOPOLIS

Movies by the robots, for the robots, of the humans.

I've said this a million times, but filmmakers underestimate the potential power of the future robot film market. By making films that appeal to machines, you can ensure the movies you make today still live on tomorrow. And just think of the accolades, the legacy, the highly detailed and perfectly sculpted statues they'll put up in you're honor.

This isn't just some kind of crazy theory I have. I know it. Don't ask me how, but I have proof that there are robots in the future rather than humans and that they have movies. Ok, I'll tell you how I know: Because I'm so future famous, the robots broke their #1 We Have Time Travel Now But We Must Never Use It rule to send me a copy of their biggest hit film, Cosmopolis, in an attempt to get my opinion.

So, in case you skipped the first two paragraphs let me sum up: I did not actually make Cosmopolis. It was made by futuristic robotic robots. I only got to see it because I'm the guy who made A.I.

But no one will ever know that. Instead of giving them an opinion regarding Cosmopolis, I put my name on it and released the film into theaters. Now the robots think I made Cosmopolis and sit around wishing they had the talent to do create something so awesome.

Cosmopolis may seem symbolically labored and artificial to us, but this was the robots' best attempt at capturing human life as they interpret it. The film stars a robot designed to look like a mashup of every handsome actor ever. And despite the overly pale skin and eyeballs that seem to extend beyond the sides of his face, this "Robert Patterson" does a decent job of looking desirable.

Robert Patterson is a really rich guy who lives in a limousine. Robots don't have money, so their ideas about it are a little strange. In Cosmopolis, people pay for things with rats. This is because the robots found so many rat skeletons left over after they dropped their bombs on us. Surely, money, the most powerful force in our art and culture, would be the only thing we have strong enough to withstand a nano-storm attack.

So rats are everywhere in the film. People throw them in delis to pay for their lunch, people carry signs with pictures of rats in hopes of using them as counterfeit currency, and the presidents of all the banks are rats forced into little three-piece suits.

We meet Robert Patterson on a very special day. See, Robert Patterson has just wagered his entire rat fortune against the Yuen, a form of currency personified by a human sized rat. This sounds like stockmarket talk, but it's not. All rat currencies in Cosmopolis are manipulated by a group of rats in a separate limo who are playing Russian Roulette with each other. The countries represented by the loser instantly fall into chaos followed by famine followed by an economic upswing thanks to all the rats the rampant death attracts.

The Yuen rat keeps winning. Robert Patterson has put everything on him finally losing. He wins again. Robert Patterson goes broke. He pulls down his pants, and all his rats run away.

I'm not sure robots get humor. There's a lot of "cute" stuff in this film that isn't actually cute at all. In fact, most of it's obnoxious. For instance, Robert Patterson is married to a blonde robot whose human acting is even less convincing than his. Regardless of where he is, she somehow turns up whenever he gets hungry. So they talk over breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, Snickers break, and guilty pleasure second lunch. Each time he tries to talk her into having sex. And each time she refuses because she can smell sex off him already (I edited out a scene in which she describes this smell as "Most spaghetti-like.") Then they get a divorce. I think we're supposed to be laughing our asses off at this. I think.

There is a weird bit of sex happening in Cosmopolis, though. From what I can tell, robots think we all have sex with our mothers or ladies we wish were our mothers. Rectal exams are also surefire aphrodisiacs. I suspect this has to do with future robot refueling practices.

The robots definitely don't know much about storytelling. They appear to be so satisfied with their facsimile of humanity that they forget to go anywhere with it. Robert Patterson simply rides around in his limo talking to various people, one at a time. Occasionally he shoots people in the head, shoots himself in the hand, or has a pie thrown into his face by French pranksters, but that's it. Nothing fun or goofy or life affirming happens like in my masterpiece, Holy Motors.

It does have an ending, though. Searching out death, perhaps the concept of most interest to these invincible machines, Robert Patterson visits the apartment of a guy who wants to kill him. Robert Patterson and this fellow are polar opposites from each other. One is handsome, the other is not. One is used to living high, the other is used to poverty. But they agree on a couple things: For one, they both like guns. And they would both really like to kill Robert Patterson.

This provides a connection strong enough to negate the other stuff. So Robert Patterson and this other guy spend the next hour of the film talking to each other through a mist of robot philosophy, which sounds like our philosophy but with even more bullshit and even fewer contractions.

They then drive around the world together, learning from each other how to live in another man's world for a bit. The other guy constantly smells like feces, so rats actually seek him out, helping them pay for their travels. When they finally return, they are both changed men. Then the other guy shoots Robert Patterson in the head. It really hurts, and he leaves with tears running down his face.

There's an post credits stinger in which the robots come and drop a bomb that kills everything organic. I imagine this had those future bots cheering like some Rocky shit just went down. I admit, I got a little caught up in it myself.

(three stars)

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