Canadian auteur David Cronenberg has known his fair share of criticism over the years. Frequently dismissed as gross-out cinema played for exploitation kicks, his blood spattered films pack enough freakiness in to permanently put you off the candy counter. Roger Ebert once famously referred to one of his films as “reprehensible trash.” Despite the detractors, Cronenberg has continued to mature and develop his vision as a filmmaker, becoming one of cinema’s most beloved cult directors. His reputation as a voyeur with an analytic mind is ultimately his greatest strength; it’s a trait that facilitates his exploration of shocking subject matter without hesitation or judgement, resulting in films that skip the sentiment while remaining strikingly human. Read on for 5 essential films from one of modern cinema’s most distinct voices.
Continue reading David Cronenberg’s Top 5 Films
This movie has everything: Strippers! Mobsters! Racial Slurs!
Throw in a big ol’ bag of cash, some fast cars, and just a sprinkle of stabbing some guy in the eye with a fork, and you can see why Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn is tagged with Tarantino comparisons ad nauseam. Well, why not? Both directors are genre nuts (especially Tarantino) and both are frequently mired in controversy (and by that I mean that they say and do controversial things, not just that their films are controversial). Seems like a just comparison. At any rate, we’ve come to expect an open love letter to the exploitation genre every couple of years, each new release decked out in as much misogyny, sexual brutality, and revenge as these two men can muster. Their personalities are unmistakably wrapped up in their directorial output (remember all those Tarantino cameos? Remember Refn likening himself to a pornographer?) and you come away with the distinct impression that both men use film to act out their own personal desires and/or fetishes.
Continue reading Nicholas Winding Refn Part 1: Drive
For much of its running time, it’s hard to tell where Roger Eggers’ slow-boil debut film, The Witch, is leading us. The bleak but beautiful nature shots of colonial America and the attention to period piece detail established early on are superficially reminiscent of The Crucible, but marketing for The Witch paints the film as horror, not drama. So you’d be forgiven for expecting a fair amount of hysteria, lots of blood and gore, a little satanic panic, and maybe even a twist ending. In truth, the film is more anti-Crucible than Blair Witch, and those that go into The Witch thinking it will spike their adrenaline levels through the roof are grossly underestimating this film. It willfully defies expectations at every turn, refusing to use jump-scare tactics, instead accomplishing the much more difficult task of surrounding you with deliberate, ineffable tension before bringing the hammer down. It is both alienating and engrossing, aggressive yet restrained, heavy on the questions and light on the answers. In short, The Witch is an arthouse horror, emphasis strictly on the arthouse part of the equation.
Continue reading Which witch is the witch?
Someone casually mentioned to me last week that John Hughs’s seminal work of teen sudsiness, The Breakfast Club, is over 30 years old this year. I’m generally indifferent to Hughs’s work, partly because it’s so consistently predictable, and partly because I can never keep track of whose panties ended up on whose lawn.
Continue reading We’re all pretty bizarre, some of us are just better at covering it with a makeover