David Cronenberg

consumed

With David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl opening Friday, the often fraught relationship between narrative cinema and written fiction is in the air, and has already produced an onslaught of comparison pieces between the book and the film. A filmmaker’s relationship to an author’s vision is a tricky one that is rarely assuaged by the author’s presence in the filmmaking process – difficult-to-navigate medium-specific capacities make difficult hurdles for even the most “cinematic” novels. But what happens when this process is inverted? And no, I’m not talking about novelizations, but the relatively rare instances in which established film directors publish novels independent of their cinematic output. No doubt, their cinematic output frames any readings of these books and – like the process of adapting a book to film – almost forces the reader ask about the artistic correspondence across medium. Sometimes, the intent in jumping across form is clear, as with Guillermo del Toro’s collaboration with Chuck Hogan for The Strain in hopes of turning that series of novels into a television show. Occasionally, a novel is a passion project of its own eventually adapted to the medium of the author’s origins, like Ethan Hawke’s novel and subsequent film of The Hottest State. But rarer still is the work of a filmmaker-turned-novelist without the plans of taking the work in reverse – the novel meant simply to exist as a novel. Two directors have seen recent releases of written work seemingly intended to never make it off the page: David […]

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The Nest Short Film

Why Watch? Typically we think of David Cronenberg‘s movies as grotesquely challenging our relationship to our own bodies. Mention his name, and the expectations are chest vaginas and goopy ears falling off their owners — regardless of his clearly displayed versatility and drama mastery. That’s a major reason why I love his new short film The Nest. Without any makeup fx or visceral transformations, he manages a discomfiting atmosphere that uses suggestion and unknowns to poison our imaginations. With disarming minimalism, the movie focuses on a young woman who wants to get her left breast removed because insects are living in it. So, yeah, that’s a Cronenbergian synopsis right there. It’s constructed as an unflinching POV shot of the young woman, resting entirely on and proving wholly the powerful presence of Evelyne Brochu (who some will recognize from Orphan Black). Simply put, this is a dull film without her intensity and calm insanity (similar to another of Cronenberg’s modern shorts). She sells a delusion to the point that we’re left questioning whether her garage-set surgical consult is actually the right course of action for a human wasp’s nest. Or maybe the doctor (voiced coolly by Cronenberg) is a mad opportunist taking advantage of mental illness. Or maybe a dozen other things. We’re left pondering a lot of possibilities, but it seems clear that no matter the reality, what’s going to happen next will be terrible.

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Maps to the Stars Movie

Canadian auteur David Cronenberg has a well-documented fascination with seeing social systems disrupted by chaos, whether they be romantic (The Fly), domestic (A History of Violence), psychological (A Dangerous Method), criminal (Eastern Promises), automotive (Crash) or technological (Videodrome, eXistenZ) in nature. Just as his suffocatingly stilted Cosmopolis set out to skewer the folly of capitalism in a long limo ride across Manhattan, Cronenberg’s latest, Maps to the Stars, seems explicitly crafted to serve as its West Coast counterpart, taking to task the wealthy, self-involved ranks that populate Hollywood. It may not be the sharpest of satires, but perhaps that unruliness is simply a matter of form reflecting content.

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Maps to the Stars trailer

Although you won’t see her in the first promotional trailer for David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, it appears (at least according to the film’s IMDb page) that Carrie Fisher is co-starring in the auteur’s latest film as herself (or, perhaps more accurately, as a version of herself). Whereas the rest of the star-studded cast is saddled with hilariously fake-sounding names (John Cusack is “Dr. Stafford Weiss,” with Julianne Moore set to play “Havana Segrand” and Robert Pattinson rounding things out as “Jerome Fontana”) that make everyone seem like they’ve been picked to play characters in a high-minded pornographic film, Fisher apparently gets to keep her own. It’s a fitting choice for Cronenberg to file in a “Fisher” amongst other roles that are stuck with names like “Azita Wachtel” and “Sterl Carruth,” because at the very least it adds a touch of actual veracity to his latest feature – which is about Hollywood itself. Even in a city steeped in stage names, there has to be at least one “Carrie” to normalize things a bit (and this Carrie is a real one!), though Maps to the Stars looks as if it’s gloriously unbound to the normal.

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3021398-slide-s-1-body-mind-change

Even if you love the work of “venereal horror” king David Cronenberg as much as we do, it’s unlikely you’ve ever said to yourself that you’d like to live inside the dark world of beta tape-eating chest cavities, grotesque human-to-fly transformations, and telekenesis-powered head explosions. But that’s exactly what the Toronto International Film Festival, the Canadian Film Centre, and installation artist/self-proclaimed “experience designer” Lance Weiler have teamed up to do. In connection with TIFF’s “David Cronenberg: Evolution” exhibit running through January, Weiler’s “Body/Mind/Change” seeks to recreate for the intrepid fan the experience of living inside a Cronenberg film. Particularly inspired by his celebrated Videodrome and its less celebrated thematic sequel eXistenZ, “Body/Mind/Change” looks like it will take the museumgoer through an extensive, interactive, tactile Cronenbergian narrative full of biotechnological paranoia and interactions with personalized (and possibly malevolent) artificial intelligence.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s not an actual couch, you guys. Seriously, stop it. Kristen Wiig may have walked away from her regular gig on Saturday Night Live to focus on her film career, but she would be insane to walk away from the chemistry she has with her former SNL cast mate Bill Hader; getting those two together is always a comedy goldmine. And though they’ve appeared together as a big screen duo before, they’ve never really gotten the chance to anchor a film together as the stars. That all changes now! Variety is reporting that the twosome have signed up for an indie comedy called Skeleton Twins, where they will play two estranged twins who reunite after both have near death experiences on the same day. Luke Wilson is also set to appear as Wiig’s husband, a character who is described as being a “nature frat boy,” whatever that means. Regardless, the results are bound to be hilarious.

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Contracting an illness is not something most of us long for. It’s often an unpleasant, uncomfortable, and incapacitating affair to be ill. For the highly-skilled technicians of the Lucas Clinic, disease is their discipline. Turning common cold into commodity, the Lucas Clinic offers fans the unique opportunity to become physically connected to their favorite celebrity by having the diseases of those celebrities injected into their own bodies. As if that wasn’t creepy enough, actual biological material from these stars has been reproduced into slabs of meat that are then devoured by the masses. Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) is one of the clinic’s most accomplished employees, but he’s bitten off a bit more than he can chew…and no, we’re not talking about a broiled pop singer steak. He’s injected himself with a virus from a particularly popular starlet, a virus from which she ends up dying. The clock ticks away as Syd struggles to make sense of her demise before death becomes a common bond between the two of them.

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Brandon Cronenberg

It’s never easy living the shadow of someone else, and especially to follow in the footsteps of greatness. For Brandon Cronenberg, that imposing shadow takes the shape of a giant fly, several killer mutated children, and scores of exploding heads. His father, David Cronenberg is a director beloved by genre film fans the world over. Brandon has made the difficult decision, under those circumstances, to become a filmmaker himself, and has come bursting out of the obscuring darkness with his debut film Antiviral. Though maintaining that the themes and imagery of the movie are not beholden to his father’s work, Antiviral’s plot, involving the consumption of celebrity biological material by obsessed fans, fittingly speaks to a common creative gene within his family that spurs an inclination toward body horror and social commentary. In our few moments with Brandon during Fantastic Fest, we covered everything from the intangible construct of identity, to hulking out, to forgettable David Spade comedies. As horror fans ourselves, it speaks highly of Brandon’s genuine personality and rich intellect that the subject of his father never came up once.

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“Movie House of Worship” is a regular feature spotlighting our favorite movie theaters around the world, those that are like temples of cinema catering to the most religious-like film geeks. This week we look at a currently relevant but always excellent movie house in Canada. If you’d like to suggest or submit a place you regularly worship at the altar of cinema, please email our weekend editor.  Name: TIFF Bell Lightbox Location: 350 King Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Opened: September 12, 2010, as the official hub and screening venue for the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as the home for TIFF programming and events throughout the year. The theater is located in and part of a newly constructed complex. No. of screens: 5 Current first run titles: For the past ten days, the 2012 festival has naturally monopolized the theater’s screens, but starting Friday, September 21st, there is Beasts of the Southern Wild, Tabu and the new Canadian releases Laurence Anyways and Rebelle.

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Culture Warrior

Warning: This article contains possible spoilers for Cosmopolis. At some point about halfway through David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, Vija Kinsky (Samantha Morton) informs young billionaire asset manager Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) that the chaotic protestors wreaking havoc outside the windows of the state-of-the-art, impenetrable limousine 2.0 they occupy subscribe to an anarchist philosophy that holds destruction itself to be a creative act. Implicitly citing the work of economist Joseph Schumpeter, Kinsky then points out (perhaps ironically, perhaps not) that capitalism is also a form of “creative destruction”: the market moves through cyclical ebbs and flows, older resources must be exploited in new fashions, the seemingly new is always replaced by the purportedly antiquated, and so on. This view of destroying the old as a means in of itself to produce something new also emboldens the work of productive critique, a practice in which Cosmopolis (as both novel and film) is heavily and centrally invested in terms of its narrative and intellectual preoccupations. Cosmopolis is no doubt a strange and unique film, a provocation as necessary as it is unwelcome in the wake of Hollywood’s stock cloning practices. That the film stars Pattinson, an actor both beloved and despised because his astronomical fame has been created by this Hollywood, highlights the film’s inevitably polarizing difference all the more. Cosmopolis is a sort of narrative “essay film,” at once a polemic without urgency, a manifesto that doesn’t design a way out, and an apocalyptic suicide note too disillusioned with and desensitized in the […]

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Paul Giamatti in Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis fits quite nicely in actor Paul Giamatti‘s wheelhouse. Like the over-the-top Shoot’Em Up, the ridiculously bloody Ironclad, and this year’s John Dies at the End, Giamatti is more than willing to jump into a world with no ceiling. Or, as Giamatti and the British say, to get “wet.” Wet is certainly what Giamatti gets in director David Cronenberg‘s Cosmopolis. Rarely does Giamatti speak a line which isn’t abstract or approaching any level of sanity in the film. Key point: Giamatti’s character’s towel and fungus. In the film, a sweaty and disgruntled Giamatti emotionally clings onto a dirty towel and speaks of a fungus between his toes urging him to kill. Countless interpretations could be applied to their actual meaning, but, clearly, Giamatti has his own explanations, explanations that even the actor wouldn’t fully discuss. Here’s what actor Paul Giamatti had to say about working with David Cronenberg, the film’s straight-faced wackiness, and why he won’t tell you what the towel means:

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Videodrome Remake

Back in 2010, when news of Ryan Reynolds-starring Deadpool feature was still interesting, Swedish commercials and music video director Adam Berg emerged as an unexpected candidate to helm the feature. Though Berg had never directed a film, he was lauded in the commercial and music video arenas, and had already earned the Film Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival for his Philips ad Carousel. While Berg didn’t get the job (it now belongs to Tim Miller), it seemed inevitable that he would eventually use his talents for a big, splashy feature debut. And how. Deadline Hollywood reports that Berg is currently in talks for that Videodrome remake no one saw coming that has somehow been penned by Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Reindeer Games scribe Ehren Kruger. Pardon me? While the involvement of Kruger and the reported plans to “modernize the concept, infusing it with the possibilities of nano-technology and blow it up into a large-scale sci-fi action thriller” are, at best, cause for concern (and, at worst, just totally wrong-headed), Berg’s involvement is just about the only heartening thing about this endeavor.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Music and sound are not just elements that underscore select scenes in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, they are each specifically discussed and used in the story itself. Cosmopolis follows 28-year-old billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) as he drives around Manhattan over the course of a day, trying to get from one end of the city to the other to get a haircut. A seemingly simple premise, but as any Cronenberg fan (or those who have read Don DeLillo’s novel) know, it does not stay simple for long. It is clear that Eric is incredibly rich and his wealth has caused him to become removed from (although still amused by) the general population – a point that is further driven home as he travels through town in a showy, tricked out, bulletproof white stretch limousine. The score, created by composer Howard Shore and indie rock band Metric, may start the film at a kinetic pace with “White Limos” (which almost echoes the opening to U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name”), but once Eric enters his limo it is not just the music that is suddenly stripped away, all noise evaporates once he is inside. We learn that Eric had lined his limo with cork to eliminate street noise and it is this lack of ambient noise that makes every move, breath, and grunt in his limo sound all the more intrusive and off-putting. Cronenberg does not let up with this complete lack of ambience, and it makes the expansive limo feel no bigger than […]

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Editor’s Note: This review originally ran as part of our Cannes 2012 coverage. Cosmopolis hits theaters this weekend, August 17th. Though it is faintly vulgar to talk of any actors in terms of only one project, who would have thought a couple of years ago that the two lead actors from Twilight would both feature In Competition at Cannes, starring in brave and bold adaptations of two iconic, but problematic American novels? Two days after Kristen Stewart’s next release – Walter Salles’ On The Road – screened in the Theatre Lumiere, the same screen played host to the Robert Pattinson-starring adaptation of Don DeLillo‘s Cosmopolis. The film follows Eric Packer (Pattinson), a young billionaire asset manager on a journey across a thronging New York City in his limousine, flanked by his head of security Torval (Kevin Durand) in order to get a hair cut. Along the way he encounters colleagues (Jay Baruchel, Samantha Morton, and Philip Nozuko), protesters (Mathieu Amalric), his wife (Sarah Gadon) and lovers (Juliette Binoche and Patricia McKenzie), all of whom contribute to unravel his cold, clinical world. It helps little that the New York he seeks to cross is in open revolt, with anti-corporation demonstrations making way for violence, and somewhere amongst it, an unknown killer stalks Eric.

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Today is a sad day for fans of manly movies about manly things, as it turns out two very different but very promising-sounding gritty crime movies have been put on the shelf. First up is Fox’s reboot of Marvel’s Daredevil character. Remember how Fox only has until October 10 to get a new Daredevil movie shooting before they lose the rights back to Marvel? The story is that they have a script that they like, which adapts Frank Miller’s fairly dark “Born Again” storyline from the comics, and they want Joe Carnahan to direct it, but they’re not really sure if they can get things developed before time runs out. Rumor had it that Marvel was willing to do some dealing to give Fox the time extension they would need to make the movie possible, but a new development is making it look like Fox refused to play ball and are likely to let the rights to the character lapse. The bad news comes from Joe Carnahan himself, who recently took to his Twitter account (as spied by ComingSoon) to tell his fans, “Think my idea for a certain retro, red-suited, Serpico-styled superhero went up in smoke today kids.” He then followed with, “We shall see. Time is NOT on anyone’s side.” The deal on the table was that Marvel wanted the rights back for a couple of its Fantastic Four characters in order to give Fox the extension that they need. Looks like the studio decided that maintaining their […]

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junfood Cinema. We break laws for meat. Column-owner Brian Salisbury is currently further North than the Northest of the Dakotas covering the Fantasia Film Fest in Montreal. If he knew what Canadians really did he might have rethought his trip. The most I know is that he was alive and well two days ago. Or do I? Canadians are weird and they harbor weird things. I know that because I’ve seen today’s movie that’s set in Calgary, directed by a famous author who writes famously weird stories and starring a famous director who directs famously weird movies in Canada and that makes me a certifiable expert on 1990 Canada. Everything else I learned about Canada I got from Dear Zachary and dammit things just got real and now I’m crying. But back to Canada being South of normal and North of Dakota, if today’s film is any indication as to the happenings of what goes on with the dead in that region of the world then, well, free healthcare is making a ton of sense. I know I’m supposed to plug something clever about how we integrate food in with the movie that we write about, but I just finished re-watching this movie and there is a big pile of man-poo-blob-cyst-slobber creature thing that resembles a Pod fusion between the Brundle Fly and a bowl of clam chowder. So, thank you Clive Barker and David Cronenberg, because appetite destructed. Now about this movie Nightbreed…

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David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg has made many types of films, but all of them are unmistakably Cronenberg. From B-horror movies to a beat literature adaptation to a film about the working relationship between Freud and Jung, the Canadian filmmaking veteran’s oeuvre exhibits a versatility of subject matter that somehow maintains consistency in style. Cronenberg’s films are known for their complicated portrayals of sex, in-your-face depictions of violence, and unmitigated explorations of human transformation, whether that transformation be from a human to a fly, a patient to a psychologist, or an east coast mobster to a Midwest suburban father. David Cronenberg got his start in underground experimental films, then made interesting low-budget B-movie horror features, and has since risen to prominence as one of North America’s most respected and revered auteurs. In August, the 69-year-old Cronenberg’s 18th feature film will be released, and he may follow it up soon with his first ever sequel. So here’s a bit of free film school from an experienced filmmaker hailing from America’s favorite hat.

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A while back David Cronenberg dropped the bombshell news that there were plans for an Eastern Promises sequel, Stephen Knight was already writing a script, and there was even some interest from Focus Features in getting it made. Instantly, fans of slicked back hair, tattoos, and vodka shot grimaces rejoiced at the possibility all over the world. But “script being written” is a long way from “actually being made” in the life of a potential project, so how’s the progress on this one going these days? Turns out, pretty dang good. Vulture is reporting that not only is the first film’s star, Viggo Mortensen, looking like he’s ready to come back and make the sequel, but French actor extraordinaire Vincent Cassel is currently in negotiations to return as well. Mortensen and Cassel teaming up for anything has to be seen as great news. Report that they’re working together on a straight-to-video Gone Fishin’ sequel and it would be exciting. But this? This could be one of the rarest things in the world: a non-superhero sequel that movie fans actually want to see.

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Criterion Files

David Cronenberg’s Videodrome is the Network of participatory media. Where Sidney Lumet and Paddy Chayefsky’s celebrated 1976 masterpiece rather accurately predicted televised sensationalism and infotainment, Videodrome’s ideas about media’s dissemination and our relationship with it continues to reveal its incredible foresight nearly thirty years after its initial release. Just as Network is now hardly satire, Videodrome seems less and less a work of science fiction. Sure, digital technology has brought many of Videodrome’s ideas into stark realization more so than the analog technology depicted throughout the film (a disconnect literalized by Criterion’s clever faux-Beta DVD packaging of the film), but the film’s many astute (and foreboding) observations about our evolving relationship to media technology is nothing short of profound.

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Simon has already weighed in on Moonrise Kingdom – his first Cannes film of 2012 – but we check in with him to see what 6 films he’s looking forward to the most. Plus, Movies.com’s Peter Hall faces off against Landon Palmer in the Movies News Pop Quiz, and we end up asking important questions about repertory screenings. Will the films of the future digitally last forever? Download Episode #134

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