The unruly brain and bad habits of a writer, artist, and grilled cheese sandwich-enthusiast.
“Anonymity is no excuse for stupidity.”
– Albert Einstein, letter to close acquaintance (1948) – as collected in the book Albert Einstein: The Human Side (1979)
As I mentioned in my review for The Photograph, it’s been interesting reading about how relationships have changed during COVID lockdowns. Well… maybe “disturbing” might be a better word, considering the levels of reported domestic violence. Being trapped in a relationship from which there appears no escape is troubling in even the “best” of circumstances. When you and your tormentor are forced together due to a worldwide pandemic, it seems like a higher power actively working against you.
The Invisible Man begins with a scene in which Cecilia (our protagonist, played by a too-good-for-this-shit Elisabeth Moss) finally escapes from her physically and psychologically abusive boyfriend. In their remote seaside home somewhere in Northern California, she slips from his bed in the dead of night with nothing but the clothes on her back and some items in her bag. The scene is filmed like an intricate prison break, but the fact that it’s a liberation is all the more rewarding.
This scene is quiet and intense – the minimal ambient noise forcing us to pay attention to each and every micro-noise. With almost no dialogue (she tries to shoo away the dog when it wants to escape with her), both the cinematography and Moss’s physicality tell us all we need to know. When Cecelia accidentally kicks over the dog dish, the audience catches their breath as much as she does. This scene promises a film that will realistically engross its audience as it keeps us on the edge of our seats.
Then it all goes downhill.
The Invisible Man is one of the dumbest movies I’ve seen in quite some time, and that’s saying something. It’s not just stupid, it’s insultingly stupid.
It’s a sci-fi flick that’s at least a decade behind-the-times on actual science. It’s a flick with a tin ear for human speech and a complete misunderstanding of human intelligence. It’s a wannabe “Grrl Power” flick written and directed by a cis dude who takes way too much pleasure in how his female characters are tormented and/or murdered during the movie’s running time. It’s every negative thing anyone has ever said about a Blumhouse Production that wasn’t Get Out or Us, and Elisabeth Moss was actually in the latter.
Most of all, it’s a movie that left me with a lot of questions – not the least of which was “Why the fuck is this flick so highly rated on Rotten Tomatoes?!” (I was tempted to attribute it to RT and Universal both being Comcast subsidiaries, but as a professional critic myself, I know that the world doesn’t work the way DCEU fans have deluded themselves into thinking it does.)
No, my questions included, but were not limited to:
We may never truly know why so many PoC just voted for an unapologetic racist, and we may also never know the answers to the questions above.
Now, there’s one good thing about this movie aside from its opening scene, but it requires that one be in a specific state of mind when watching it. The only reason I don’t grade this movie a solid “F” is because there are moments and sequences – smacking the daughter, invisible fighting with guards, the floating fucking knife – where this piece of shit goes from being an insult to one’s intelligence to the most laugh-out-loud comedy you’ll see this year. It was made to be skewered on RiffTrax. (And if you think they wouldn’t do it because it’s a Universal Picture that’s been critically acclaimed, remember that This Island Earth fits that same description to a “T”.)
Knowing that these elements exist in the film, one would be tempted to think that it actually was planned that way – that the creator of the Saw series (writer/director Leigh Whannell) was given a major studio budget to create a movie about technology that is equally ignorant of both the central tech and Bay Area setting in which the story takes place (the movie was shot in Australia, save for Bay Area exteriors). But The Invisible Man has inexplicably proven popular at face value, so it’s unlikely that Whannell would make a belated “satire” claim (a la Tommy Wiseau with The Room, R. Kelly with Trapped in the Closet, or anyone stupid enough to think Showgirls is high art).
With a sequel already in pre-production, Whannell has no reason to learn any lesson from the mistakes of this trainwreck.
And that’s exactly what this is. With a pandemic-ravaged Hollywood unable to figure its next step, The Invisible Man is being touted as the (moderate) box office success that proves the industry still has relevance; the bird that flew whilst Tenet floundered. That means that Hollywood is taking the wrong two lessons from the runs of these movies. The first lesson, which should be obvious, is that no film should be attempting a proper cinematic run whilst the coronavirus still rages out of control.
The second lesson is that an artist or entertainer shouldn’t try to pass off their work as half-assed allyship when the work in question takes so much glee in how the marginalized person suffers just so they can get back at their tormentor in the end. This movie’s about as Feminist as a Bill Maher guest spot on Family Guy. It’s a movie that assembles a genuinely talented cast and has them all portray characters who should be nominated for Darwin Awards (something made all the worse by the fact that Blumhouse produced that stupid Darwin Awards movie).
If anything, I’d like for the movie to mimic its title character: I’ll always know it’s there, but I never want to see it again. Not sober, anyway.
Silly, sexy fun
Our family’s journey navigating this thing called colon cancer
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o ---------- art of Hannah Birch Carl
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Holy Crap, we're moving.
"Theatre for People Who Didn't Know They Liked Theatre"
Love lover, writer, voiceover artist, actor, mama, wife, Hufflepuff Prefect, Bachelor franchise junkie, the ultimate fan of dipping foods in other foods.
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the creative writing of Barbara Jwanouskos