First time writer-director Sophie Barthes opens Cold Souls with a quote from French philosopher Rene Decartes:
“The soul has it’s principal seat in the small gland located in the middle of the brain.”
But I found my soul struggling to stay awake as the movie is billed “a soul searching comedy” and is apparently still searching. The movie centers around NY actor Paul Giamatti (Paul Giamatti) who while struggling with his role in a Chekov play comes across an article in The New Yorker about a storage facility for souls. Not knowing what else to blame for his shortcomings he further ventures to the storage facility (coincidentally located on Roosevelt Island substituting for Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum) and buys into soul extraction. While the script and sets are copied and all too familiar, the only original and refreshing part of this scene is Dr. Flintstein (David Strathairn) who is very convincing and reassuring when Giamatti finds out that his heavy soul is just a chickpea – which happens to be the best prop. (I hope my soul is a vinyl copy of side 1 of Zeppelin 4.)
Apparently Giamatti has no fear of being typecast and should maybe next play all the characters in Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author to further explore his persona and narcissism. But the real twist to this so-called metaphysical comedy is of course when Giamatti wants his soul back and finds it’s been smuggled to Russia’s black market where he then has to go and bargain with soap opera loving mobsters? and mules all the while wearing an ushanka.
Sophie’s quest for peace of mind is ultimately a shitty handheld study on Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It would of been spot on if when they extracted Giamatti’s soul Jim Carrey pops out with John Malkovich’s voice box.
Or even better…
“Explanations come to an end somewhere.” – Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (Philosophical Investigation)
Despite negative buzz, The Coen Brothers’ 13th movie, Burn After Reading, when compared to their other works may not be considered groundbreaking and original but given the high expectations following No Country for Old Men and the repeat summer comedies of Farrell, Rogen, Stiller, and Jack Black it at least makes you appreciate that there are still real filmmakers out there. This time around they add DC to their list of cities to expose where we find new quirky characters plotting and scheming with reckless and random abandonment. From the opening overhead shot zooming thru the clouds (accompanied by the usual mission impossible type soundtrack) and into the secret insipid interior of CIA headquarters we are instantly thrown into this spy movie spoof black comedy. There we are introduced to agent Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) and his superiors in the act of firing him for his drinking problem. We then follow his plight into the paranoiac espionage nature of DC and it’s scandal ridden sexual infidelities only to clash with bimbo Hardbodies employees, Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) when they accidently obtain a disk of Cox that was “just lying on the floor” in the women’s locker room and their subsequent involvement in blackmailing him to pay for Linda’s numerous cosmetic surgeries and liposuction. To add to these blackmailing amateurs, Cox’s marriage is falling apart as his wife, Katie Cox (Tilda Swinton), unbeknownst to him is having divorce papers drawn up and an affair with a married man, Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), who is a compulsive womanizer and sex toy inventor hobbyist and is also dating Linda. How the Russians get involved in this post Cold War circus is attributed by Osbornes’s disc which is what every spy thriller needs, the MacGuffin.
While the movie was marketed for it’s star studded cast, this cast proves to be more than just good looks. George Clooney caps off his Coen Brothers trilogy of playing an idiot with his boyish bravado of seducing women while Botox Brad and Frances, who literally lets it all hang out, pair up as a comic duo. But it is the meeting of the minds of Pitt and Malkovich that truly reveal the absurdity and comedy of this plot while Tilda Anteater Face continues to play the ultimate cold, stuck up bitch.
In the end, the Coen Brother’s have again succeeded in fighting the idiots we’ve been fighting our whole lives as they join the top of the box office along side these hollywood blockbusters that are consistently praised by retards.