Sorry to Bother You
Stars: Lakeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Danny Glover
Hip-hop artist turned writer-director Boots Riley’s hotly anticipated (in some quarters) political satire is just as unhinged and bonkers as mooted. The currently ubiquitous Stanfield is Cassius Green (think about it) an Oakland resident living in near squalor with his wacky performance artist girlfriend Detroit (Thompson). Advertisements everywhere talk up the new Worry Free Living work scheme, where the poor are provided with housing in exchange for work, an arrangement which looks suspiciously like indentured servitude, something pointed out by protest group Left Eye. In spite of, or maybe because of, getting caught out lying during a job interview Cassius lands a job as a tele marketer with encyclopedia-hawking company RegalView. At first he is unable to make any sales until a veteran worker at the next cubicle (Glover) advises him to use a ‘white voice’ when selling. The tip pays off and Cassius finds himself promoted upstairs with all the other power callers. His new highflyer status puts him in the orbit of coke snorting turbo capitalist Steve Lift, one of the main players in the Worry Free Living scheme. His new acquaintance causes problems for Cassius when it is revealed that Detroit is a Left Eye operative. When Lift unveils to Cassius his plan to increase productivity the film spins off into other genres entirely. In an era of contrived cult filmmaking Riley’s balls to the wall absurdism - imagine a dizzying melange of 70s underground pictures such as ‘Putney Swope’, ‘Office Space’ and Lindsay Andersons’ ‘O Lucky Man’ - feels like the real deal, and consequently is likely to inspire devotion and derision in equal measure. And beneath all the bizarre content, the anti-capitalist message feels all too vital and timely.