David Cronenberg

April 7, 2011

David Cronenberg

Did you know one of Cronenberg’s producer in the early days was Ivan “Ghostbusters” Reitman? It’s true. What’s also interesting is the Canadian films used to be subsidized by the government (they might still do it). So it’s kind of amusing that movies like Shivers were partially government funded. In America, money is taken away from arts & education and given to bankers who take all your money. In Canada they pay for movies about parasitic slugs that turn people into sex maniacs.

Rabid – Ivory Snow girl Marilyn Chambers has something in her armpit for you.
Fast Company – Interesting because it’s nothing you’d ever expect from Cronenberg. But he’s actually a gear head in real life.
The Brood – Dave’s response to his divorce. I think someone needs a hug. This is Dave’s first outing with former Saturday Night Live bandleader, Howard Shore (and they’ve been together ever since).
Scanners – Why is there still no Criterion of this? Why does Michael Bay get the Criterion treatment before real filmmakers? Yes, I know Criterion threw Cronenberg a bone already, but directors of true merit deserve to be at the head of the queue. I don’t wanna hear that “distribution rights” crap either.
Videodrome – I think it’s his best early film, with some wacky work from Rick Baker. Jimmy Woods and Blondie do good jobs too.
The Dead Zone – This was his first Hollywood job. Still don’t like Brooke Adams though. Produced by the late Debra Hill (Carpenter’s former producer/girlfriend/script supervisor).
The Fly – His biggest money maker up that point (might still be). Goldblum’s greatest role. He shoulda been nominated. Chris Walas did win for makeup though (whatever happened to him?). Last movie Cronenberg did with D.P. Mark Irwin.
Naked Lunch – The unfilmable book is finally filmed (well, in name only really). Dave’s 2nd outing with new D.P. Peter Suschitzky (he shot Empire Strikes Back), and they’ve been together ever since. Cronenberg wanted to shoot in Morocco, but his budget was slashed and he changed his approach (that’s why certain sets are used as New York and Morocco. It sort of fit into the main character’s drug addled mind). Next time you’re in a bar, order the Mugwump Jism.
Crash – No, not that P.O.S. Paul Haggis movie. This is from the J.G. Ballard novel (read it in college as part of my Contemporary European Novel class) about sex and car crashes. It’s not a particular favorite of mine, but it’s historically interesting for winning an award at Cannes that was specifically created for it. Coppola was president of the jury that year, and I believe the award was for “audacity.” Plus I think it has one of the better Howard Shore scores over the opening credits. As with Naked Lunch, Dave seemed to be trying to shake off the “horror” label he’d had for 20 years. Ok, maybe he started trying to do that with Dead Ringers, but I never cared for that movie. But what’s interesting about Cronenberg, is he makes the films he wants to make, and they still feel Cronenbergian no matter what subject.
eXistenZ – Dave goes back to his early days with this one. Pretty good. This may have been Dave’s first try at cgi critters (with that little salamander looking thing). The one scene that always sticks out for me is when Jude Law is worried about his “port” getting infected and Jennifer Jason Leigh demonstrates it’s quite possible to have an open orifice on your body without it becoming infected (no, you pervs, she just opens her mouth wide). Sarah Polley (from Munchausen) has a small role (and actor/writer Don McKellar, who you’ve seen in a bunch of Canadian stuff too).
A History of Violence – Actually not as gory as I was led to believe. Of course, after you’e seen the guy’s head bashed in with a fire extinguisher in Irreversible, nothing’s ever quite as gory again. Viggo does really good in here and Maria Bello once again “gets her kit off.” I’m a little confused why Billy Hurt was nominated for his 5 minutes of screen time. He was good, but not Oscar good. Completely different ending from the graphic novel, so purists, don’t be upset.

Eastern Promises – Remind me not to attack Viggo in a bath house. Is Armin Mueller-Stahl ever a good guy (not counting his taxi driver in Night on Earth)?

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