Friday, February 19, 2010

Coming soon to a theatre near you: Repo Men

I choose today to write about Repo Men, a science fiction film to be released on March 19th.  I had the good fortune to be in the audience of a test screening of this movie about a year ago, back when it was still being called Repossession Mambo, and became very excited.  As it turns out, I was able to strike up a bit of a correspondence with the director, one Miguel Sapochnik.  He answered some of my questions about the movie, his freshman effort, and I hope to be able to share some of those answers with you my readers in the near future. I do, however, have his blessing to share just a few of his quotes with you, which I hope will give some insight as to why if you're reading this you should definitely go see it. 

It's a very smart, very slick film that reminds me a bit of such science fiction classics as Robocop and Brazil.  It's a film that never condescends to its audience.  You can see the unrated version of the trailer, which is slightly NSFW.  The basic premise is that The Union has perfected artificial organs.  If you need a new heart, liver, whatever, you can get one, but you'll need to pay for it.  If you fail to pay, the repo men will literally seize their property, virtually always resulting in the death of the debtor.  The protagonists are a pair of repo men, an interesting choice to explore a pretty dismal vision of the future.

One aspect of the movie that struck me as particularly creative were the advertisements which peppered the film.  It was a great window into the environment that Remy & Jake, our main characters, inhabit.   

"We worked with an advertising  company called Goodness Manufacturing who treated us as a regular client and wrote a number of great ad scripts to really identify the world in which our movie would take place, from Union ads to local commercials for deodorant. It was about using the commercials to sometimes subtly and sometimes not so subtly reflect the state of this future world." -Miguel Sapochnik

Alas, Miguel informs me that these were cut from the final film, but you can find them by navigating around the official corporate website of The Union, which is itself a real hoot.

The timing of this movie couldn't be better.  With healthcare reform stalled in the legislature and the economy still on shaky ground, a movie that looks at a possible nth state of each can be deeply resonant. The societal job of science fiction, good science fiction at least, is to ask questions about where we're heading.  Given how long movies take to go from start to finish, that timing helps point to both the prescience of the original vision and perhaps a bit of luck on the side of the filmmakers.  

"Even one year ago I was worried that by the time the movie came out the real issues facing our global economy and this country's healthcare system would no longer hold the same currency. I could not have been more wrong." -Miguel Sapochnik

I hope all this doesn't come across as too corporate.  The truth is, I immediately fell in love with this movie.  I walked out of the theater after having been challenged as only a really well executed film can.  I don't want to go into an in-depth review of the film here, but suffice it to say  that the film was a very sharp, very dark examination of a real problem facing the world.  It's about as far from escapism as a movie can get.  If you liked Brazil, or Gattaca, or A Clockwork Orange, I urge you to go out and see the film on opening weekend.  It's the kind of film that's hard to market, so I hope to help get the word out a bit.  If you go see it and hate it, you can give me a punch on the arm at BotCon 2010.  I don't anticipate many lumps.

"My current thinking is that I believe that you create your own reality, but shit happens. This is not a contradiction, more a paradox. This movie is neither pessimistic nor optimistic. That is in the eye of the beholder." -Miguel Sapochnik

UPDATE: The interview is now live, so you can read it in full.


frenzyg1 said...

So, you obviously didn't see this movie 2 years ago:

Unknown said...

See it? No, but I'm aware of the 'controversy' surrounding it. Essentially, my research indicates that there is none. The writer of the script had spoken publicly about this concept before the Opera was around. The director of the Opera has stated that there's no issue. Heck, when I asked Miguel about it he told me that both creative teams had a lunch and had a good laugh about it.

So, yeah. It's a non-issue. If there is room in this world for Unforgiven and Paint My Wagon and The Magnificent Seven (or, hell, The Magnificent Seven and The Seven Samurai,) there is room for a musical and a non-musical examination of this kind of story too.