The Fly David Cronenberg, 1986
An icky film, duh. Also a really funny one. Also a really sad one. I don't think I have to explain the reasons why it’s an icky movie, but I’ll go ahead and do so anyway. The special effects work is particularly effective. Cronenberg doesn’t shy away from all the gory details that make up Brundlefly’s deteriorating body – Goldblum’s body one of decay, nothing but swollen skin, rotting nails, vomit and sweat and hunger and mania and a metaphor for my daily existence. So, yeah, it’s gross. So gross. The concern with the body and intrusion and flesh and all that stuff from Videodrome gets carried over to here, as we witness the fragility of our existence and our bodies and all that stuff, and for some reason it made me think that I should totally watch The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes. There’s also the whole thing about actually watching someone you love die and decay and be reduced to something that’s barely recognizable from the person you loved. But it’s also funny and kinda ridiculous. All those scenes where Brundefly is all hell yeahs about his newfound powers and abilities are hilarious. Geena Davis can’t handle the Brundlefly’s all-day sexytimes marathon! All in all, a hugely impressive film; one that manages to ratchet up the tension and the melancholy and the gross stuff organically and wonderfully until it all blows up at the end. Great film.
Crash David Cronenberg, 1996
A more formally impressive film than The Fly; Also one that kind of rides a fine line between being about the monotony of the actions it depicts and actually being a dull, numbing experience. I thought it fell more in the sneakily hypnotizing camp side of things than anything else. Cronenberg’s camera constantly fetishizes the metallic sheen of cars, Rosanna Arquette’s leg brace, scars, wounds, disgusting gaping and weirdly CINECAST!able open gashes in the skin (gotta admit that made me laugh). It almost even takes on the structure of pornography, but except that any time the film shows a coupling, none of the seeming “eroticism” that’s supposed to be there shows up, only a clinical, distanced version of such (because who could possibly find that sort of thing erotic? Besides roujinesque figures out in the landscape, of course). This is just a weird, heady tonic of a film; it’s more of an atmosphere than anything else, like a less visceral and dreamy and poetic Trouble Every Day, but approaching something like that. It’s completely fascinating.
A Dangerous Method David Cronenberg, 2011
It seems like a costume drama and it acts like a costume drama, but what struck me the most about the film is how it’s completely about the most basic instincts and drives that fuel our most passionate actions. Knightley’s character learns to channel her impulses thru the talking cure or whatever, learns to control that which drives her body. But even then that’s not what I found interesting or fascinating about the film. To be frank, I just found Cronenberg’s classical staging deeply moving, climaxing with two shots: the beautiful reverie of Fassbender and Knightley on the boat (the one moment where Fassbender truly seems to have completely lost himself, given up control) and the incredible final conversation on the bench, where a lot of the conversation takes place with Fassbender facing away from the camera, the internal struggle and shattering of his persona taking place privately (and then moving into the perfect back and forth setups between the participants). So, yeah, it’s very impressive on that front. Not that its ideas and its subject isn’t fascinating by itself (it is), but I admit that I don’t know very much about it at all, and even then, I found that the film dramatized most of its conflicts and situations thru its mise en scene (although, yeah, it’s a talky film). Wonderful film!