Browsing: David Cronenberg

Trailers maps to the stars

The latest from David Cronenberg has been popping up intermittently on the festival circuit. Talk started after its world premiere at Cannes where Julianne Moore…

NP Approved

Eastern Promises starts off with a gruesome murder on command, and it only spirals downward from there. A young pregnant girl named Tatiana is admitted to the hospital, under the care of a midwife named Anna (Naomi Watts). She dies giving birth, and Anna feels that it’s her responsibility to find the baby’s next of kin. Among Tatiana’s possessions are a diary that’s in Russian, and also finds a business card inside to a restaurant run by Seymon (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a nice but my serious man that shows great interest in the diary. At the same time his son Kirill (Vincent Cassel) and Kirill’s driver Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) are fixing up a nearby mess, and their actions collide with some startling truths reveled from Tatiana’s diary. With the Russian mob becoming more interested in this, Nikolai is sent into Anna’s world, and neither are prepared for the consequences to the actions that the diary put into motion. Anything, and anyone, mentioned in it must be eliminated, at all costs.

NP Approved Spider-2002

Memory can be subjective, self-serving, and unreliable even in the most stable minds, but when left in the tenuous grasp of a psychologically impaired mind, memory can be particularly untrustworthy. David Cronenberg’s Spider shows us the world through the wounded mind of Dennis Cleg (Spider) as he desperately attempts to piece together the unfortunate events that have shaped his life and placed him within the steam-damaged walls of a halfway house after being held in an insane asylum for an indeterminate amount of time. Spider is an alien in the world as he attempts to negotiate the labyrinthine memories that plague his thoughts in the hopes of reconciling traumatic events that live in dubiously static clarity in his broken mind. Spider frantically takes indecipherable notes as memories come flooding back as he explores the alleyways and drab townhouses that defined his youth. Those unreliable memories intermingle with reality to create untrustworthy sights and sounds that paint a fractured and ambiguous narrative from inside Spider’s broken mind. Are the faces of the past haunting his present or is his present redefining his interpretation of past events? Cronenberg leaves a veil of uncertainty that obfuscates the objectivity of Spider Cleg’s reality, and with Spider we are given the vantage of an emotionally and psychologically stunted man and are tasked with deciphering the meaning of an ugly world of cracked walls and mysterious foul smells through his flawed and tenuous grasp on reality.

Reviews cosmopolis_01

David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis (2012) is a very odd film. It mostly takes place in the back of a limo in New York on a crosstown trip from Wall Street to an outer borough for 28-year-old Wall Street whiz-kid Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) to get a haircut. Sounds simple, but it’s not. He conducts business from the back of the car and it is in these conversations where we get to know something about Packer.

Not only is he going across town for a haircut, he’s stuck in traffic because the President is in the city and there is a threat on his life, as well as a threat on Packer’s life. We get updates from his chief of security Torval (Kevin Durand) that are veiled and don’t really have much of an impact on Packer. Neither does the impending bankruptcy of his company. Many of his conversations hinge on his company’s betting everything against the yuan (China’s currency) from going up again. He’s losing hundreds of millions of dollars and his personal fortune of billions along with it and he doesn’t really seem to care.

Reviews history-2

David Cronenberg is an avid Darwinian. There’s a moment about halfway through A History of Violence, his 2005 investigation into man’s recessive psyche, that hints toward just what sort of movie it is. Jack (Ashton Holmes), son of main man Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen), incapacitates the sidekick bully with a swift kick to the groin and proceeds to pummel the ringleading jock-douchebag. Little in the high school conflict has changed between the earlier scene where Jack wards off jock-douchebag’s alpha-male aggression with quivering sarcasm and this ass-whooping that dares us to find catharsis.

TIFF Film Series stereo_01

Examining David Cronenberg’s first short feature, Stereo, offers a lot of insight for film enthusiasts. The film is difficult to take in as a pure entertainment, but as a relic of the auteur’s beginnings in the world of filmmaking it’s a fascinating piece.

The film has a loose storyline that centres around a group of young men and women who are housed in a research facility in northern Ontario. The purpose of this facility seems to be to examine the development of psychic abilities and extra sensory powers. The film flows through the architecturally interesting landscape of the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. The brutally modern approach to corporate and institutional construction in the 1960’s lends itself quite well to the science fiction tone that Cronenberg was going for. We follow this group of young psychics as they interact with each other and attempt to develop their powers. The voice over that plays throughout the film doesn’t necessarily reflect the action on-screen, but it certainly compliments it. We hear a series of jargon that sounds as though it was lifted directly out of a medical text book. This dialogue is delivered so convincingly that it’s difficult to distinguish the facts from the obvious fictions. By the end of the film it’s unclear as to whether the research has produced any actual results, but the audience is left satisfied having been taken on an experimental journey into a sci-fi universe.

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