Friday, December 15, 2023

Go with the Flow

Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World (2023) - Jude Screen Shot 2023-12-14 at 8.54.14 AM Screen Shot 2023-12-15 at 10.56.40 AM Screen Shot 2023-12-15 at 10.46.01 AM Screen Shot 2023-12-14 at 8.35.58 AM Screen Shot 2023-12-14 at 8.44.45 AM Screen Shot 2023-12-14 at 8.44.58 AM Screen Shot 2023-12-15 at 8.49.07 AM Screen Shot 2023-12-15 at 11.27.55 AM As with his previous film, Bad luck Banging, Radu Jude's new film Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World is unsparing, uproarious satire that implicates everyone in this needlessly complex society we live in. And it's loads of fun. It's a frenetic, 'moving' picture as we take the passenger seat in a van driven by Angela, a hard-working production assistant of a PR firm, Forbidden Planet, hired by Austrian furniture company. Angela's Tik Tok filtered alter-ego is known as Bobita, a bold headed, thick unibrow and bearded dudebro who spews the vilest, sexist, racist rant with six thousand followers. She spends most of her time in her car driving because her job requires driving and interviewing potential workplace accident victims, one after another, who could be featured in the company's safety promotional video. And every chance she gets, she becomes Bobita anywhere.

Angela's hectic daily routine is intercut with an early 80s Romanian melodrama called Angela Moves On, about a wholesome female taxi driver and her life, as she drives from place to place in Bucharest. The film juxtaposes the changes in the streets and neighborhoods from Ceaușescu era. Many anecdotes, and musings of all the characters concern the reality today's Romania and of the world.

Jude's playfulness is infectious. The actress who plays Angela the cab driver makes an appearance as the character in the film. She plays a mother of a man on a wheelchair who was chosen to be in the promotional video. The man plays himself who was a victim of the workplace accident that is obviously the fault of the company for its negligence.

German Actress Nina Hoss plays the Austrian boss Doris Goethe (yes that Goethe), whose furniture company is leveling Romanian forests, Uwe Boll, the German b-movie director also makes an appearance as himself, directing a monster CGI movie in the green screen backdrop.

However hilarious, the film is not all laughs. In the middle of its 2 hrs. 30 min. running time, he devotes a good 4 minutes to feature a silent segment composed of hundreds of crosses that are strewn about along the highway which Angela describes as the 250-kilometer highway with 600 crosses, while giving Doris Goethe a ride to the hotel. Puzzled Doris asks what it means. It's a one-way road that has a very narrow emergency lane, but no one follows that. They use it as if it's two-way roads. "That's very stupid." Doris responds. "We are!" Angela responds. Nothing works the way it's supposed to. Corruption is everywhere. In the EU, Romania is the poorest country, she says. Maybe except for Albania. They are primitives, Angela utters.

Biting and thought provoking, Do Not Expect Too Much is a perfect survey of the state of our lives right now. Jude, along with Assayas and Bonello, is a master chronicler of ever changing, ever so complicated world we can't make sense of anymore. It's fun, it's tragic. All we can do is go along with the flow, like Taoists saying.

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