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Smoking Causes Coughing

Smoking Causes Coughing

Only a pedant and a bore would complain that the last word of that title should be "cancer". The phrase's childlike naivety and irrelevance, apparently taken from an obsolete era when smoking was considered bad in the sense that eating cream cakes was bad, is a hint of what you're in for: a fantastically silly and magnificently inconsequential comedy from French film-maker and former DJ Quentin Dupieux. For the life of me, I can't think of another director right now who wants (or is allowed) to do just straight comedy for theatrical release, without having to buy the right to do so by also being unfunnily dark and disturbing.

Dupieux has put together something chaotic, disparate, entirely negligible yet oddly gripping and also funny. For all that this is very French, many points of comparison seemed to me Anglo-Saxon. "Smoking causes coughing" is like one of Tristram Shandy's opinions. Dupieux is renowned, or notorious, for his throwaway zaniness and adventures in surreal whimsy, and has collected a fanbase along the way for movies such as Deerskin and Incredible But True. Smoking Causes Coughing is I think his best yet, and the fact that many people are going to find it intensely annoying is in fact one of its comic effects.

The film has got some Python, Douglas Adams, Charlie Kaufman and also John Waters and Ed Wood Jr in it; it's also possible that Dupieux has seen Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in Stanley Donen's Bedazzled. You might find yourself thinking at one stage of the crew aboard the Nostromo in Ridley Scott's Alien, or even Tony Soprano's haunted relationship with Big Mouth Billy Bass, his malign talking fish. And yet this film is also entirely distinctive. Perhaps, like Adam McKay, Dupieux will move away to more solemnly intended material. For now, thankfully, he's keeping it immature.

— Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Smoking Causes Coughing

Thu September 28, 2023, 7:30 PM, VAC Basement Auditorium (1B20)

France, 2022, in French, 77 min • official site

Director: Quentin Dupieux, Writer: Quentin Dupieux, Cast: Gilles Lellouche, Vincent Lacoste, Anaïs Demoustier, Jean-Pascal Zadi, Oulaya Amamra

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