Those who are thinking of catching AFIFest screenings of Antonio Campos‘s Simon Killer on 11.5 or 11.7 might want to consider my review of this bleak, nihilistic film, which I posted during last January’s Sundance Film Festival:

“Late this afternoon I suffered through Antonio CamposSimon Killer at the Eccles. It’s an empty, meandering audience-torture film about sex and nihilism and stupidity in Paris. Brady Corbet (the slightly dopey-looking guy who briefly boffed Kirsten Dunst on the golf course in Melancholia) plays a grungy-looking dork who seems ‘normal’ at first but then things turn dark and deranged as he morphs into a psychopathic dork.

“There are no resonating echoes or metaphors that add up in this bleak nihilistic film. Corbet is a recent college graduate who’s distraught about a breakup with his girlfriend of five years, and is visiting Paris to…whatever, hide out and do nothing for a while. Paris is a good town to do that in, but the appeal of Paris plummets if you’re stuck hanging out with an asshole.

“Corbet’s primary trait is that he’s obsessive. I saw him as a whiner with little cash and nothing on his mind except jerking off and fucking and money and extortion and hurting the women who like or love him. One of these is Mati Diop, a drop-dead beautiful cafe au lait girl who works as a prostitute and eventually lets Corbet stay with her because he’s broke, and who lets him goad her into a half-assed ‘john’ blackmail scheme.

“I didn’t relate to Corbet or get what he was about or anything. I hated his unshaven cheeks and chin and neck. I just sat there and watched…and watched…and nodded off for a few minutes…and watched a bit more. And then Corbet finally flew back to the States and it was over.

Approaching Park City shuttle outside the Eccles following this afternoon’s screening of Simon Killer.

“I thought I might at least enjoy a few shots of Paris, but Campos and cinematographer Joe Anderson are very careful to show us nothing recognizable whatsoever. When Corbet is roaming around the camera is always focused on the back of his head and the rest is always in soft focus.

“The most memorable thing that happened during the screening was when I nodded out for five minutes. I was holding a half-filled can of Monster, and as I dropped off the can slipped my grip and hit the floor…clahk!…and rolled out of my aisle and into the next, dribbling green Monster juice as it went along. Attorney Linda Lichter and L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan were sitting next to me, and I’m sure they wondered what the noise was. I avoided looking in their direction out of embarassment.”