Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cronenberg? Extreme? Recommended!

Yes, yes it is. In a fairytale time known as "1997," when Osama Bin Ladin had already tried to destroy the WTC once, there was a BBC documentary about David Cronenberg. Entitled "Cinema of the Extreme," it couldn't have a better name attached. It's on youtube, and I certainly hope it's a legal upload, as the BBC has put a lot of material to the biggest video site ever.

I'd feel a little guilty, on both names' sake. But I looked on Amazon Video and IMDb and if this isn't with permission, it's stepping on highly inactive toes.

In case you don't know my feelings already: David Cronenberg is a superb director, a titan among even the greatest sons and daughters of Canada. Not only wouldn't I consider his success with Viggo in "Eastern Promises" as a sell-out, I'd consider any rise in his status as a positive development.

There's so much more, I'll use ditto marks (" = same word as before) to condense. A Cronenberg movie looks great. " " " will have an unusual and engaging story. " " " that shows violence, often shows violence so realistically that you actually don't want to see it anymore. " " " tends to have certain themes and concepts that are important to David, because he's a gen-u-ine artist.

In essense, the difference between a real artist and someone who's sort of "lucky" is that a real artist has a theory. Even artists who aren't classically-trained can meet the qualification: It can present as a thesis, as in "a point that the work expresses or drives toward," or as certain stylistic choices are intended to produce some effect.

Maybe Cronenberg doesn't tell stories you want to know. One is about a genius inventor who blunders into completely destroying his body, mind, and soul. Another is about a pair of twin gynecologists with extreme personality problems and a path more desperate than "Leaving Las Vegas."

You probably know the name of DC's infamous project about various LA residents who are so turned on by accidents and car wrecks that oh my christ I'm watching this in a theater and James Spader is supposed to be "sexing" a longtime wound on Rosanna Arquette's leg and oh god oh god oh god why why what the hell is wrong with you people??!!?

So given my response, it should count for something when I write: even if DC put some emotional or visual element in a movie that revolted me, I would understand that as not being his personal taste - he's not human slime like Andy Dick!.

Offensive elements of Cronenberg films are present perhaps because he thinks an audience shouldn't glamorize violent acts. Or because he's telling a horror/scifi story and he's interested in the idea of people betrayed by their bodies - like "what if syphilis made ravenous teeth grow on your forearm" or something nasty like that.

Even in the rare case that I want to give him a "lower" grade than usual, DC is always worth the time and (if it's required) effort. Rather than using the grotesque to generate interest, it's to some purpose or reflective of what he wants to show the audience, or how he wants them to react/feel...

The Canadian auteur is skilled and thoughtful enough that I have faith that he's going somewhere with whatever he shows me. It's a surprise because I revere David and I still completely "disagree" with his 1996 movie, "Crash," which is what that Spader reference is about. Yes, kiss my !@@, Dillon! This is what I think of when I hear that title! And, oh I wish I could un-watch it.

As such, I strongly advise you to listen to the words of a highly-creative, highly-talented, well-studied master-class film artist. F you if you don't want to hear Akira Kurosawa talk shop - you should feel ashamed if you won't hear DC in English.

David Cronenberg and the Cinema of the Extreme, a BBC doc. Heaven, if there is a heaven, probably gets great BBC reception. Maybe Beeb On-Demand or something...

By the by, this is going to be the "short week" for June - so only two entries for now, but there will be 3 apiece in the weeks to follow.  I'll see you all then!

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