Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The King of Comedy

A film on crazy stalkers that scare the shit out of you is a very relevant film in our times of the Social Media reign. Facebook, Twitter and the like makes every one of us feel a bit like a star to a certain extent; we can all have stalkers nowadays, but back then only idols had this privilege. Celebrity worship is still around, I guess, but is anyone getting hysteric, like it was the case for Liszt, The Beatles or Michael Jackson? It seems to me that the feeling of "proximity" to Stars and their deeds that the Internet and later on Social Media platforms brought as a result made us less obsessed with them, which can only be a good thing -if my observation is correct.

"Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime." a loudly-dressed guy named Rupert Pumpkin was saying, and it was quite right in his case. Where was he going with that name, anyways? He succeeded to make his Pumpkin turn into a horse carriage and he became a brave, but quite insane Cinderella for more than a night, after all, due to his obsession, his impermeability to hardship and negation and his absolute belief that he was worth it. 

Rupert Pumpkin is The King of Comedy (1984), which sounds great, doesn't it? The only problem is that nobody actually gave him the title; he invented it himself. He doesn't even know if he has what it takes, and most probably he doesn't. He never tried to work as a stand-up comedian in front of a real audience to try it out; his paper, immobile audience on his bedroom walls looks entertained and applauding, and that's enough. His favourite hobby is collecting autographs; his best ones are from dead actors -they probably worth a fortune. His other hobby is adoring Jerry Langford, a truly great comedian, with his own TV show and a bunch of crazy fans and stalkers annoying him, especially one girl called, Masha, who is totally falling for him; not the flattering way, rather the spooky one. Going to the Cinematheque tonight to watch the King of Comedy was not initially a very enthusiastic outing. I don't exactly adore Robert De Niro, and all these over the top characters he portrays on Scorsese films sometimes get on my nerves. Rupert Pumpkin was not the case, even though I was prepared for it. His delusion and silly day-dreaming that go hand in hand with his determination to succeed no matter what, make him an almost fragile and human character. 

De Niro's acting is great as always, I had no doubt he could pull this off, he is used to it. Credit to the artistic department, as well; he is absolutely fabulous in his cheesy outfits and his Colgate smile, that does not leave his face, even when the situation is the most unpleasant. A tough nut to break; and he breaks many people's balls in the meantime. Jerry Lewis or Langford is the comedian in question, the one who is sorry  to have ever met Mr Pumpkin. He is walking down the street and greeting people, with an extra joke as a special treat to the ones who deserve it. The utterly cool guy, solid and classic in his vestimentary choices and a contrapuntantal character to the manic looks and ways of Pumpkin -the scene where obsessed fan Masha, a hilarious Sandra Bernhard, makes him try on a red sweater she's knitting for him makes a comment on that opposing force between them.

But, wait, maybe I exaggerate a bit on the funniness of the situation. They say it's a black comedy, they call it a weird film; not for me. Being after the era of Big Brother and similar reality TV shows, imposing yourself to the audience and fame is something we can understand much better than back in the eighties. It is also interesting to note that The King of Comedy was the first film Scorsese shot, after some real shooting took place; that of the assassination attempt against President Reagan. Notably, from a guy who wanted to imitate the Taxi Driver protagonist. After some negative associations were made against Scorsese -who also features in a very clever scene in the movie, as the director of the TV comedy show- it is said that this film can potentially be his answer to the incident, some kind of defence speech on the media and their power.

The audience received the film it quite well for a classic, dark thing, laughing out loud more than I expected. They seemed satisfied when leaving the room, and they were many of them! Half-full salle on a Tuesday, that is great news for the Cinematheque. There are good news for you, too: one more screening, which you'd better not miss.

AGENDA: The King of Comedy, 29/02/2012,  18:30, Cinematheque Luxembourg

Watch the trailer:

No comments: