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Schizopolis (Criterion Collection) (1996)

Cast: Steven Soderbergh, Betsy Brantley, Dave Jensen, more...
Director: Steven Soderbergh
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Studio: Criterion
Genre: Comedies, Independent, Criterion Collection
Running Time: 96 min.
Languages: English
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After years of making movies in the fringes of the Hollywood system after his debut success sex, lies, and videotape, director Steven Soderbergh made Schizopolis as, in his own words, an artistic "wake-up call to himself." The result is a discombobulated, irreverent, comedic meta-movie, a cinematic hall of mirrors nearly impossible to describe. Soderbergh wrote, directed, photographed, edited, and even stars in the film as Fletcher Munson, a disillusioned paper-pusher assigned to write a deliberately meaningless speech for T. Azimuth Schwitters, an L. Ron Hubbard-esque self-help guru whose new book Eventualism is a bestseller. His heart isn't in it, however, so he spends most of his time either masturbating in the employee bathroom, avoiding calls from people who want to hire him as a company spy, or listening to the paranoid delusions of his office chum, Nameless Numberhead Man. Intertwined with Munson's attempt to write glib diatribes are numerous asides and subplots. Best of all is the story of Elmo Oxygen: an orange-jumpsuit wearing bug exterminator who appears to be sleeping with several of his customers, including T. Azimuth Schwitters' wife. At one point, Elmo is coerced into leaving Schizopolis, mid-scene, to join another movie. Convoluted and playful as the movie is, there is some method to Soderbergh's madness. The various plot threads, though loosely wound to the core, do in fact lead to some understanding of the disorders, communication problems, and frustrations at the heart of contemporary life. ~ Anthony Reed, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Two Audio Commentaries: Steven Soderbergh interviewing himself; Producer John Hardy, Casting Director David Jensen, Actor Mike Malone and Production Sound Mixer Paul Ledford
  • Maximum Busy Muscle
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

GreenCine Member Reviews

technically dazzling, also empty? by thomasadam September 2, 2004 - 5:26 PM PDT
6 out of 6 members found this review helpful
This movie is well made. This movie is well meaning. This movie is smart. The director is smart. The director feels we are living in a messed up non-sensical post-modern weirdness. So do I. Yet, after watching this movie I feel a bit let down. Really in the same way I felt after seeing The Limey, or Traffic, or Sex Lies and Videotape. I don't know. I can't really complain about anything specific, and the movie was very entertaining, but I just kind of liked it.
I say this movie is part Steve Martin's LA Story, part Fellini's 8 and a half, part Being John Malcovitch, part Office Space, and part Robert Altman.
ok. movie was pretty decent

Schizophrenic Entertainment at it's Best by joshcali November 8, 2003 - 2:29 PM PST
8 out of 8 members found this review helpful
In looking to understand this film, the title is the clue to this entire movie. "Schizopolis" is a highly intelligent, hilariously sarcasticm and very schizophrenic look at american society. It may seem disjoint, but the entire movie is actually promoting the theme and experience of living in a schizophrenic society, and does this very successfully.

There are various schizophrenic themes throughout the movie. To begin with, Steven Soderburgh plays the main character, and his own brother throughout this film. He even interviews himself for the commentary! The editing and story are very disjoint, and really conveys a sense of the random thoughts that all of us experience every day. For example, using different film grains to indicate when people are doing things that they are thinking about, but not really doing (like kissing that woman you are talking too).

How should the story be described? There's the office worker who's office is actually the support team, and speech writers for a new-age self-help guru. The workers are hysterically myopic, and are worried about being spied on by a mole planted by their boss, and are also worried about a spy from an outside company. There's exterminator who is involved with the houswives in the neighborhood, but is easily succeptible to becomming a superstar when his ego is stroked. There's a Doctor who goes off the deep end by expressing himself to an attractive patient who is actually named "Attractive Woman #2."

But the story is less important than the overall funny and schizophrenic theme of the movie. Look for great sarcastic touches, like characters talking in foreign languages when they're just going through the motions and not really talking to each other.

This is also the director of Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and this is the movie that seemed to re-launch his carreer which continued on to do movies such as Erin Brochovich, Solaris, Ocean's Eleven, and Out of Sight. Don't expect this to be as hollywood as the others, it is well done, but independant.

I highly recommend this movie for people who are not looking for standard hollywood fare, but really enjoy dark comedies, and introspective looks on society. Very funny if taken in the right mood.

The director is funny! by larbeck October 3, 2003 - 8:19 AM PDT
2 out of 6 members found this review helpful
I see this film at the South by Southwest film festival (SxSW) here in Austin, year ago. Steven Soderbergh is so *funny*, a very deadpan humor, somewhat like Steven Wright. Who, knew? It is so good to see this on DVD finally - maybe now it will find the wide audience it deserves. It is almost extremely weird. We like weird.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.06)
209 Votes
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