Three Businessmen (1998)
Three Businessmen (1998)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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Critic Reviews for Three Businessmen
It was a film that pleasantly brought to surface odd moments and was filled with quirky comments.
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Audience Reviews for Three Businessmen
It's interesting that "Three Businessmen" is credited as "An Exterminating Angel Production," because the film's debt to Luis Bunuel is obvious -- particularly in light of "The Exterminating Angel" and "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie," Bunuel's two masterpieces about mysteriously interrupted activity. "Lost in Translation" fans also will see some familiar turf here. Directed but not written by Alex Cox ("Repo Man," "Sid and Nancy"), "Three Businessmen" was shot in five different locations including Liverpool, Rotterdam, Hong Kong and Tokyo. But you may not notice the transitions (after all, so many cities have Asian districts). A motley cast drifts in and out of the frame, but most of the film's scant 80 minutes rest upon just two actors: Cox himself and Miguel Sandoval (who has appeared in most of Cox's projects). They play art dealers who happen to meet in a posh Liverpool hotel. Bennie (Sandoval) is a restless, overly friendly sort who strains to charm people with smarmy nicknames and comic accents. His part is somewhat overwritten, and this is the film's worst flaw. Meanwhile, Frank (Cox, quite solid as a performer) is the straight man who's a bit impatient and irritable. He likes to carefully tear articles out of newspapers. We don't know why. The two are frustrated with their hotel's lack of restaurant service, so they trek into the surrounding streets to find a meal. Their attempts to eat ("discreet" attempts, perhaps?) are repeatedly thwarted and they soon lose their bearings. They have many conversations along the way, though -- some intriguing, some dull. And wherever they go, they see posters advertising someone named Daddy Z. We don't know why. Stick around, even if the lack of plot irritates you -- there's a clever, absurdist ending that perfectly wraps up the story. And rest assured, the film's title eventually will make sense.
I didn't care much for this at first, but it's stuck out in my mind over the last few weeks. Miguel Sandoval and Alex Cox meet in a London hotel, and discover that as chance would have it they are both art dealers. They decide to go out to get a drink, but in "Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie" style they can never seem to sit down because of a series of absurdities that plague them every time they get close to eating. "I'm terrified of abundance!" Along the way they have "My Dinner With Andre" type conversations about life, death, the universe and everything. "If you want to get computers to work better, to have human like artificial intelligence, you have to teach them to suffer. As soon as they learn to suffer, they will feel guilty and want to work harder." The further they walk the less recognizable the neighborhood seems, and it becomes clear to the viewer though the characters continuously deny it, that they have impossibly wandered into different countries. By the end of the night they have traveled around the world, but instead of seeing China, they concede "Okay well we must be in China Town now". I sense a subtle critique of globalization, the way a single city could possibly represent every place on earth, an idea explored more thouroughly in the melancholic and more than ocassionally dull "Shijie(The World)". Its pleasant and amusing throughout, and the variety of cities at night recall a modern update of "Night On Earth". My favorite scene is of Sandoval, whose character is at turns, annoying, charming, and inexplicable, has a montage of reading books on his bed, titles like "The Multi-Orgasmic Man", which become increasingly complicated as the montage goes on. A minor example of man's search for meaning if ever there was one. There is also a twist at the end, that I wont give away, which may seem tacked on to some, but so much of the movie is stitched together, it doesn't seem too far out of place. After "Death And The Compass" I assumed Alex Cox just got lucky with his stroke of brilliance in "Repo Man", but "Three Businessman" proves he can still pull out a fresh trick or two. A unique and odd comedy, that allows a fine actor Miguel Sandoval to showcase his skills. Here is a man who is terribly typecast and minimized in his other roles. Also his business is actually based out of San Pedro, my home town, (which wins browny points from me). Especially since a film about the entire planet and coincidences, managed to zero in on my particular small corner of it, if only for a second. This is the best moving about traveling businessmen, uprooted from their homes and slowly but surely reality itself(or perhaps into the hands of a fate greater than themselves), since "The Big Kahunna". Sadly Robert Wisdom (who was awesome in "Storytelling") doesn't turn up until the end of the film. I guess you can't always get what you want, but sometimes a brisk walk and some fine coversation is just enough.
What a film! It's so ridiculously off-beat that you can't look away. I don't even really know what it meant or even what I watched, but I loved it.
Three Businessmen Quotes
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