Saturday, 12 November 2016

Branded (3 Stars)

This is the 30th film starring Leelee Sobieski, made in 2012. I'm sorry to say that I've had to skip her 28th film, "Acts of Violence", because it hasn't yet been released on DVD or Blu-ray.

"Branded" is a very difficult film to categorise. It was marketed as a science fiction film, but it's more of a social satire. It's a Russian film, made with financial support from American studios, with the dialogue primarily in English. This isn't just to make the film understandable, it's relevant to the plot. The film is set in Moscow, but it involves international advertising agencies with American employees.

If you try to analyse it the film doesn't make sense. It's all about the message, not the story itself. Misha Galkin was struck by a lightning bolt when he was a young boy. He knew that this made him different. As an adult he studied history, after which he got a job in a kiosk selling vodka. By chance he meets an American advertising executive, Bob Gibbons, who offers him a job making television advertisements, as long as he spies on companies for which he makes the ads. Eventually he's allowed to produce a reality show about a fat woman preparing for weight loss cosmetic surgery. The show is a failure, because the women falls into a coma during the operation and doesn't wake up.

Misha flees to the countryside and becomes a farmer. One night he has a vision. He's told to rebuild the Jewish tabernacle and slaughter a red cow, which will strengthen him for an important mission. He returns to Moscow and sees that aliens have invaded the Earth. Everyone, even his girlfriend and his son, has an alien creature attached to his neck. Misha is the only one who sees the creatures, and when he tells people they think he's mad. The only solution is to get people to lose weight. He starts advertising campaigns using slanderous lies to damage the fast food companies and make people eat healthier food. This weakens the aliens and frees the people of Moscow from their control.

If you think that sounds confusing, watch the film and you'll understand even less. I wouldn't say it's a bad film, it's just difficult to follow. It's all about propaganda: anti-Communist propaganda and anti-Capitalist propaganda side by side. The director obviously has something important to say, but he could have expressed his thoughts a lot more simply.

As you know, I've been keeping track of the sexual stuff in Leelee Sobieski's films. This film has a scene where she has sex with Misha in a car stuck in traffic. It's not very explicit, but I'll include it in my total. That makes two films with simulated sex scenes and six films with only passionate kisses. That makes the percentage of films in her career so far to 6% with sex scenes and 27% with only passionate kisses.

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