David Cronenberg has spent the past fifteen or so years milling around with Hollywood credibility and narrowly avoiding losing himself to the ether. He’s too fundamentally personal and fascinating a filmmaker to ever make an out and out boring film, but he sometimes seems like he’s trying. Maps to the Stars probably ought to be more of the same (the anti-Hollywood Hollywood tale is not exactly fertile ground anymore), but Cronenberg has selected Maps to the Stars for letting his hair down. Rather than a burst of Old Hollywood prestige with all the i’s dotted and the t’s dashed in squared-off fashion, he’s given us a burst of New Hollywood trash, a conglomerate of messy fluff and corrosive melancholy that flops around when it should push and throttles forward when it should relax. It’s not sensible, nor is it entirely reasonable. It’s the sort of film you’d expect from a New Hollywood affiliate losing themselves to their personal inhibitions at the expense of rhyme or reason, or an unformed young gun with ambition and passion to spare (neither of whom are Cronenberg). Either way, it’s not the work of a classically refined filmmaker. In fact, it’s much better. Continue reading
David Cronenberg is and probably always will be at his most passionate when flesh is falling off the bone and limbs are no longer limbs. That much is certain, and it is a shame that he’s spent the past decade wallowing away in prestige picture land, something never more true than in his 2011 would-be biopic A Dangerous Method. Good God, it is a turn of the century costume drama when all is said and done. And the absolute last thing we need is David Cronenberg making costume dramas. Continue reading
Update mid-2018: A delirious and truly tragic portrait of egomaniacal scientific rationalism, David Cronenberg’s The Fly still earns any and all comparisons to Shelley and all others who have traced the contours of modernity in the Dark Romantic tradition, from the summit of intoxication all the way to the pit of self-inflicted abjection.
David Cronenberg has made a career out of abstracting science fiction and horror even as he corrodes it through pure, grotesque, bodily flesh. He produces cautionary tales about humanity rooted in oppressive, caterwauling imagery, films that directly appeal to the unconscious rather than the rational. What his films lack in traditional narrative, they often make up for in a wild-eyed aura of bodily mutation and a dense shroud of omnipresent atmosphere that strangles us and arouses monstrous life in his world. Continue reading