Author Topic: David Cronenberg: The Master Genre Bender  (Read 1004 times)

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David Cronenberg: The Master Genre Bender
« on: October 31, 2004, 10:03:23 AM »
Ah, David Cronenberg – director, screenwriter, and sometime actor – yet another man in Hollywood who went from being an indie upstart to one of the most audacious and interesting filmmakers of our time.

Sure, there have been countless independent filmmakers who have caught the public’s interest at one time or another, including Spike Jonze, David O. Russell, and Gus Van Sant, just to name a few; however, few of them have the track record of David Cronenberg. After making nearly 20 films throughout his career, Cronenberg has yet to have a real hit, but still steadily makes films within the Hollywood system. Now, generally, after about your fourth flop, at most, you’d think a man would be hard pressed to find work; nonetheless, Cronenberg keeps at it and continues to make mind and genre bending films.

Sure, Cronenberg is rooted deepest within the science fiction and horror genres, but he proves that he can stay within those realms and create other entire genres based around them. Up until “Scanners,” he was pretty much within the mold of Tobe Hooper or George Romero. However, in 1982, he dished upon the audience “Videodrome,” and that’s really where you could see his warped views take hold. “Videodrome” really started out as a mystery-thriller that turned into science fiction-horror that turned into an action film that really was all a commentary on society's obsession with media and violence. Whew, now that sounds like quite a handful, but Cronenberg structured it perfectly and all under 90 minutes.

Unfortunately, he went right back into the Romero mold by adapting Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone.” While it was a mostly successful adaptation, it was a little dry and slow at times for it to be a really effective horror film.

Next, though, Cronenberg would hit it out of the park with four straight amazing outings. This string would begin with “The Fly,” which is probably one of the most affecting and deep ‘monster’ movies of recent memory. After the success of that film, he was awarded a lot of freedom and then shot “Dead Ringers,” which is another successful film that might be just as affecting as “Silence of the Lambs.” The film really takes hold of what Cronenberg does best, by melding elements of science, horror, and the psychological into a singular picture. He would then go on to pen “Total Recall,” by far one of the best ‘Ah-nuld’ movies. Finally, he kicked off the ‘90’s with a bang, with “Naked Lunch.” This is one of those few ‘inadaptable’ novels that turned out to be an actual triumphant attempt.

In turn, I’d like to use “Naked Lunch” as my prime example of Cronenberg’s melding techniques. If you were to ask me what exactly “Naked Lunch” was about, I couldn’t give you a real explanation rather than, maybe, what is on the case of the DVD. Anyone who does try to explain it would be much more successful, and accurate, if they were just to answer that it’s ‘indescribable.’  Since the novel, itself, was already just a collection of surrealistic blurbs based on the author’s life as a bisexual, drug-addict, Cronenberg could do nothing with the source material that it already was not. Therefore, he cut up the novel, spliced it with Burroughs’ real life, and came up with this surrealist, erotic drama with elements of horror, science fiction, and comedy thrown into the mix. (Hey, I told you I probably couldn’t explain it to you, successfully.)

While I view “Naked Lunch” as David Cronenberg’s high point in his long career, he made a number of films before and a number since that have been just as effective and just as imaginative as the day he started in the business. Cronenberg has been in the director’s chair a long time, and made films that only he could make; thus, he certainly should be discussed here (if just for the fact that we need some explanation on his movies)!


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David Cronenberg: The Master Genre Bender
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2004, 10:08:12 AM »
under the paving stones.


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