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David Cronenberg

Stereo + Crimes Of The Future * David Cronenberg (1969/70)

In a nice ‘digipack’ two of the very early films of David Cronenberg: Stereo and Crimes of the Future. Both films are about an hour and both play in a remote concrete institute inhabeted by weird characters. “Stereo” is about a group of people who are artificially made telepathic and who are isolated for the sake of experiments. “Crimes Of The Future” is about a student of a “mad dermatologist” who has discovered a strange illness. “Stereo” is completely silent, save for the voiceovers, almost the same goes for “CotF”, but that film has ‘enlarged’ (by lack of a better discription) sounds here and there. Both films can be described as experimental art-films with a liking for scholarly language and strange futuristic visions. I quite like “Stereo”. It is extemely slow and minimalistic, but I kept wondering what was to come. “CotF” is less interesting in my opinion. It is an interesting watch, but a bit too little happens in it to remain interesting. However the films are presented as “two early films by the master of body horror”, you should not expect horror, however the films might give you an idea of how Cronenberg developed towards his masterpieces “Videodrome” (1983) and “Naked Lunch” (2001), there is a lot of material in between that I have not seen though.
So, I guess this box is for people who like experimental art films and for people who are interested in Cronenberg as a director and since this box is quite well available, I suppose there are enough people for that.

Eastern Promises * David Cronenberg * 2007

Directing veteran Cronenberg has made a nice drama/thriller that opens with a peek into the Russian community on London to slowly shift towards the Russian maffia (or rather Vory V Zakone). The very naive Anna (Naomi Watts) wants to find the family of a young woman who died in childbirth on her shift in the hospital. However Anna is of Russian descent, she fails to recognise the swamp she walks into. The film seems to give a nice idea of the Vory V Zakone and in total is a nice watch. Too bad about the thin ending! The film has some quite brutal scenes by the way.

Videodrome * David Cronenberg (1983)

It has been many, many years since I saw this film, too many. For some reason a magnificent classic like this isn’t shown on TV very often either. Maybe because of the fact that my girlfriend recently bought “Naked Lunch”, another classic from the same director, but also because of the many references to this film (samples, titles, etc.) by the French noise-act Propergol I really wanted to see “Videodrome” again. And thus happened!
“Horror” is the genre of “Videodrome”, but not the gory splatter kind of horror (however in a few scenes Cronenberg thought he had to live upto expectations), but a magnificent dense atmosphere does the trick. The story is great too. TV is getting too much influence on the minds of men and “The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears in the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.” A provocative idea, but not entirely grapped from the air. How many people will confuse the lifes of soapstars (and the way they look) with real life or think that ‘real live soaps’ are real? “Videodrome” goes even further. Signals have been put under the images to influence the viewers (this actually happened in the 1950’ies), but in this case, the signals are put under extreme sexually violent images because these images open the human receptors so the signals ‘get in easier’. I suppose that is not how far contemporary experimentation has gone, “but I still think it’s hard to imagine a more thoughtful or accomplished series of investigations into the dark side of the modern day.” (quote).
A film with a great atmosphere, a philosophy (“and that’s what makes it dangerous” Masha says about Videodrome in the film), a few flaws and poor scenes, but heh, this is a classic that you have to watch (again) if you asked me. -13/5/06-

Naked Lunch * David Cronenberg (1991)

About a year ago I was visiting friends in Canada. In the nights we watched a few Kenneth Anger films and this one (among others). Me and my girlfriend were still suffering from a serious jetlag even though we had been in America for a week, so consequentally we fell asleep during every film even if we found it enjoyable. “Naked Lunch” we watched in two parts, one at night and one in the morning. Now a year later we got a our own copy in order to watch it without jetlag.
I am not too fond of David Cronenberg, but I really need to get his other masterpiece “Videodrome” on DVD some time too. Like that film, “Naked Lunch” has the weirdest atmosphere. Peter Wellers marvelously plays Bill Lee, a bug exterminator who gets addicted to the usuage of the powder as drugs. Then Lee pops in and out of a strange world with the weirdest hallucinations. With his poker-face and too low voice, Wellers tells what he experiences when running into taling typewriters and intergalactic secret agents. The film shows the imaginary world of Bill Lee, sometimes mingled with ‘the real world’. Strange creatures, superb dialogues and the oddest atmosphere makes this film a must-see for anyone who likes strange films with curious atmospheres. -14/11/05-