During the opening scene of Rubber, the film that first brought French filmmaker Quentin Dupieux to the attention of most movie fans, Lieutenant Chad (Stephen Spinella) delivers a monologue which states that “All great films, without exception, contain an important element of no reason”. This monologue sums up Dupieux’s work and style of filmmaking perfectly – no reason. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in most cases. Everything that he has done has, at the very least, contained some element of “no reason”, from the palm tree that inexplicably becomes a pine in Wrong, to a crooked cop selling drugs stuffed in duct-taped rat carcasses in Wrong Cops, to… well, all of Rubber, really. It’s all absurd, it’s all bizarre, it’s all surreal.
The thing with Quentin Dupieux is that he doesn’t try to just make things weird for the sake of being weird – there’s reason behind no reason. Drawing influence from much earlier French filmmakers, he goes beyond surrealist, and celebrates that in absurdist style. Unlike classic surrealist filmmakers like Buñuel and Cocteau who were so darkly serious, Dupieux’s films are instead darkly humorous. Wrong Cops, for example, feels like Reno 911! on the surface; a film about crooked, bumbling cops. Instead, it plays a bit more like David Lynch directing one of the Police Academy films. On a bad day.
See, it’s not that Dupieux is a bad filmmaker, I just think that he’s not quite as good as he thinks he is. There’s a pretty logical reason for that, though, which stems back to his beginnings as a recording artist. Recording under the name Mr. Oizo, Dupieux released his first track, Flat Beat, to huge success. The track supposedly took him only two hours to produce, and it’s just a repeated bass loop and a drum sample from another song. When you get that sort of quick, easy stardom, it’s easy to let it go to your head. Considering that there was the same sort of response to Rubber, I think that’s what has happened here. A huge response to something that, in my eyes, was not quite so huge response worthy. Sure, it’s different, it’s a unique concept, but is it a good film? Not necessarily. I know a lot of people love it, but a lot of people also love Nickelback, so there’s that.
In the grand scheme of things, Quentin Dupieux’s filmmaking career is still in its infancy, really, and like I said, I don’t think that he’s a bad filmmaker. There are definitely elements to all of his films that I’ve liked, just nothing as a whole. Wrong came very close, but Wrong Cops was a bit of a step back. Of course, nobody is perfect, and there are bound to be missteps along the way. One thing is certain, no matter whether or not I happen to like a particular film of his – Quentin Dupieux is definitely doing something different, something that makes you think a little bit more than your standard movie fare, and you have to at least appreciate that.
Quintin Dupieux’s newest release REALITY screens for FILM CLUB at the Alamo Drafthouse on Wednesday June 17th at 7pm. Tickets can be ordered by clicking here!