Mike Malone

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Schizopolis Review


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Hovering somewhere among a botched experiment, a sneaky assault on modern-day life and cinema, and the greatest home movie ever made is Steven Soderbergh's Schizopolis. Made at the tail end of the indie-film part of Soderbergh's career (which started off with Sex, Lies & Videotape in 1989 and provided diminishing returns afterwards), and right before he banged into the mainstream with Out of Sight in 1998, it has a no-holds-barred kind of frustrated genius to it that, even though it doesn't always provide rewarding viewing, is definitely worth a peek.

As far as the "story" can be described, Soderbergh himself (in his only starring role) plays Fletcher Munson, who works for the L. Ron Hubbard-like New Age prophet T. Azimuth Schwitters (Mike Malone). A pale-faced wage slave, Munson haunts his cubicle, doing nothing, and occasionally nipping off to the office bathroom to masturbate and make funny faces in the mirror. Meanwhile, there's some strange goings on involving bug exterminator Elmo Oxygen (David Jensen), who darts about the city in his jumpsuit and goggles, romancing housewives and speaking entirely in seemingly randomly-generated, Rorschach-blot dialogue ("nose army ... throbbing dust generation ... beef diaper"). Then, Soderbergh shows up playing the other major character, dentist Dr. Jeffrey Korchek, who, to be quite honest, isn't nearly as interesting as Munson, who at least gets to write reams of meaningless babble for Schwitters to spout in public. This sideline with Korchek doesn't distract much, though, from Elmo Oxygen's rants, or scenes of office politicking with Munson's co-worker, Nameless Numberhead Man - both hilarious in a Theater of the Absurd sort of way.

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