Thursday, September 3, 2009
So me and a few business associates watched the film "Dead Ringers" last night. It's got Jeremy Irons showing everybody else how shit is done by playing twin gynecologists who slowly lose their grip on reality. It's quite good. Oh, and it's directed by Canadian mad scientist David Cronenberg.
David Cronenberg's films almost always deal with disfigurements and infections and bodily transformations and mutations, in other words they are extremely awesome. He kicked off his career with the low-budget and rare flick Shivers(1975) about a parasitic disease that is spread throughout a giant modern (by 1975's standards) apartment complex by a nubile, sex-crazed young woman. Yes. He continued this trend of being amazing with The Brood (1979), a film about a woman in a mental asylum who exacts revenge on all who've betrayed her by giving birth to small demon children who murder in gruesome ways. The ending has probably made a good portion of people vomit.
At this point he was off and running. Dropping successive hits like it was nothing. Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), The Dead Zone (1983), and The Fly (1986), probably his most famous film. What a track record! He followed up the The Fly with the film I mentioned at the start, Dead Ringers (1988). Now he was starting to change up the formula a little bit, focusing more on the psychological and the inner turmoils of his characters. Of course, the 'body horror' is still there, but you can tell this is where he started to evolve as a filmmaker. He tackled William Burroughs' pruportedly 'unfilmable' novel Naked Lunch, and the results are exactly like the book, that is, bat-shit insane. I mean that in the best way possible.
Cronenberg's most recent two films, A History of Violence (2005) and Easter Promises (2007) are by far his most accessible and most critically-acclaimed movies yet. They still retain his themes of bodily transformation, but in a much more subtle fashion. For instance, Viggo Mortensen's character in Eastern Promises, Nikolai, slowly transforms from a lower-level Russian Mafia flunky to a member of the top brass by receiving the traditional vory v zakone tattoos, his body changing into something new.
Now here's a tasty treat I was not aware of: David Cronenberg was originally slated to write and direct Total Recall. Yow! Is this common knowledge? Here's what he had to say about the experience:
"I worked on it for a year and did about 12 drafts. Eventually we got to a point where Ron Shusett (the producer) said, 'You know what you've done? You've done the Philip K. Dick version.' I said, 'Isn't that what we're supposed to be doing?' He said, 'No, no, we want to do Raiders of the Lost Ark Go to Mars.'"
Now, don't get me wrong, I love Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall. Absolutely love it to death. It is pretty much a perfect movie. But I can't help but wondering in awe at what Cronenberg might have done with it. Although, I hear they are looking to remake it, and now that he is cementing himself as a legitimate director who can wow the critics, here's hoping they offer him the job.
So, anyway, in summary, David Cronenberg is fucking awesome.