"The Abs•Tract" is one of the stranger things we’ve been pitched at the Straight recently. When I sent an email to local writer-director-actor Brent Cooper describing the 35-minute film as “nuts,” he promptly replied, “I take that as a great compliment.”
It was a compliment, for the record. I thought "The Abs•Tract" was great; a sharp, wildly imaginative work of satire. That’s assuming I actually grok what Cooper is getting at with his self-financed film, which is largely made to look like an infomercial for the “philosophical fitness program” of the title.
Based “on a mystical treatise containing the core truths,” the Abs•Tract promises “massive gains in knowledge and understanding, all while getting ripped abs.” Cooper riffs on the idea with a deluge of high concept puns and sideways jokes, mercilessly lampooning everything from the self-help industry to Euclidian geometry to Star Wars.
In the end, it’s like watching an early Cronenberg short, but primed for our post-digital nightmare world and then filtered through Philip Dick, Godel Escher and Bach, and maybe the Church of the SubGenius. It’s heady stuff, but it’s probably the least we should expect from a man with a Masters in political sociology from the London School of Economics.
Cooper is holding a free screening at the Rio Theatre on Sunday at 1:30. It’s highly recommended.