And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Our review of Peter Jackson’s fourth Tolkien-inspired movie, a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and first part of a new trilogy, based on The Hobbit…a much, much, much shorter book.

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eXistenZ (1999)
Intimacy, Cronenberg style.

Know what could’ve made this creepier? A funk-a-delic porn soundtrack. Ah yeah! Cronenberg style, baby.

…yes, but, after M. Butterfly, and especially after Crash, writer/director David Cronenberg suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous critical fortune and the inevitable backlash from snobs. Either horror snobs scoffed at his Chinese Opera movie, or the art house snobs called his sex-and-car-crashes movie “pretentious.” And when the San Francisco Chronicle calls you “pretentious” you’ve either made it to the Absolute Height of North American cinema…or you’re in serious trouble.

Alright. Not too serious, but still…I can see why, after all that, he went back to the well for a refresher. Back to the ol’ Body Horror stomping grounds that were so good to him in the 70s and 80s. Back to the concerns and questions that haunt his entire career. Questions of identity when your biology runs riot. Questions of ethics and morality in a world of simulacra. Questions of humanity in an age that does its best to reduce, marginalize, and (should it fail in the first two) eliminate human beings.

When this film premiered in April, 1999, my only question was, “Has the well finally run dry?” Continue reading



Naked Lunch (1991)

"No, I swear: somewhere there is a crime happening."David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch is not William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and god only knows what the old gentlemen junkie made of this grotesque—where reptiles spill glycerin gel from the hollow tips of their vestigial head-tendrils—where fact and fiction recombine like RNA mixed in some unholy juice machine of a Canadian’s mind. Hard to find a mind so filled with the temptations of the flesh. Flesh stretches and squelches and screams through the smoke nights of Vancouver lights in the sky pink shale colors of rail and light and tonight we find David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch. No more feeling than a crab’s eye on a stalk.

This is a conscious pastiche—A love note to the dead—Dead and gone is Bill Burroughs—1914-1997—Fellow veteran of Missouri—Graduate, Harvard, Class of ’36—Migrant to New York City in 1943 where he met a pair of Columbia University students named Allan Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac through their mutual friend, Lucien Carr—Carr went on to stab a man to death and dump his body in the Hudson river—Gray flannel suit floating down stream to wash up on a toxic New Jersey shore amidst the Devils and the Smog Monsters—And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks—Kerouac and Ginsberg enjoyed better fates, dying young, but famous, their names written across the sky—Generations of hobos, tramps, beatniks and hipsterfucks following in the suede shoe footsteps.

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Alien (1979)

"Hi-ya! Howyadoin?"There are three films, more so than any other, that typify modern genre cinema. Ken Begg calls them “template” films, and while that’s a darn good phrase it falls short of describing the true end result of Hollywood’s slavish corpse eating. I hear “template” and I think of this massive assembly line, stamping its slow way to entropy. But the creative process isn’t quite like that. If it were, there’d be a lot more good movies out there.

Instead, for twenty years we’ve drowned in a seemingly endless barrage of rip-offs, plagiarisms, and bastardizations. It’s almost like a virus latched on to hundreds (if not thousands) of creative minds, churning out volumes of absolute shite that then go on to spread and mutate, each time loosing just a little bit more of what made the template what it was to begin with.

Alien is one of those movies you hate to review, but can’t bare to leave unmentioned, in favor of its dismal progeny. You fall into a cycle of Jesus, what could I possibly say about this that hasn’t been said? But that didn’t stop Dubbya, and look where he is now. I hope this will be interesting. Or at least functional. {More}