“Indeed, Cronenberg is not only Kubrick’s heir as the most experimental narrative filmmaker at work today but the most provocative and consistently original North American director of his generation.
Granted, Martin Scorsese’s quartet of “Mean Streets,” “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull” and “The King of Comedy,” all with Robert De Niro, is an accomplishment without parallel in post-‘60s Hollywood cinema, and, yes, Steven Spielberg is a pop-culture virtuoso as well as the most influential commercial moviemaker of the last 35 years. But despite his gifts, Scorsese has never returned to his early form while, for all his ambition, Spielberg’s supreme achievements remain his pure entertainment machines (“Jaws,” “E.T.,” “Jurassic Park”). Two other contenders, David Lynch and Brian De Palma, have each made brilliant films (“Blue Velvet,” “Blow Out”), but more often than not their experiments have blown up in the lab; scanning the horizon, the tallest tree is Paul Thomas Anderson.
Cronenberg’s career-long consistency is unmatched. Of the dozen movies he directed in the course of the near-three-decade run that began with “Videodrome” in 1983, the only clinkers have been “Dead Zone” and “M. Butterfly.” That both were Hollywood productions suggests that, like media theorist Marshall McLuhan and the comic geniuses who developed “SCTV,”Cronenberg benefited from a particular aspect of the Canadian condition — attuned to American popular culture but necessarily distanced from, and never entirely immersed in, it. Unlike a Jim Jarmusch or Todd Haynes, Cronenberg is not opposed to the mainstream but simply outside it."
Provocative and original. Not sure about the “most” part.
Yes, I assumed it was hyperbole just based on the headline. However, I’m not nearly familiar enough with the work of Cronenberg to offer an informed opinion. I just thought it would make for an interesting discussion, and I would be curious to hear from the supporters of Cronenberg who may want to defend this position.
Gaspar Noe imo.
The guy who makes movies where people get their heads bashed in with fire extinguishers in extreme close-up?
At any rate, it’s probably a stretch to consider Cronenberg (69) and Noe (48) as part of the same generation . . . even if we extend the claim beyond Hoberman’s long-standing assertion that Cronenberg is, as he put it in a previous piece “the most audacious and challenging narrative director in the English-speaking world.”
By generation i thought about nowadays and i named Noe just because Cronenberg is also making movies at the same time than him.
I doubt my post is directly addressed to the article, but it pretty much annoys me when others, whetehr journalists, historians, or regular people, call a particular director as the next Stanley Kubrick or any other notable filmmaker from the past.
With all the respect to many well-known filmmkaers of present days, I doubt the cinema will ever witness an advent of the so-called Stanley Kubrick 2.0. Kubrick was one of the most extraordinary and masterful filmmakers of his years. He was great and he had his time. There is no need to claim anyone else as ‘another Kubrick’, as this, in spite of all the enormoty behind his name, is disrespectful to the filmmaker himself. This is just a label, a media buzz trick, and nothing short of it. Directors have to stand on their own feet, with their own names pronounced. It’s just my opinion, but, if I ever to become a famous filmmaker, I wouldn’t like anybody call me as Kubrick II or new Bergman. Instead, I would want my name to be remembered.
I think Cronenberg is a thoughtful and good director. He’s definitely an auteur. Having said that, and I might get in trouble, I want to use the world “minor talent” when I talk about him—specifically the technical aspects of his filmmaking. For example, the Kubrick comparison has been brought up, but in terms of technical aspects of filmmaking, Cronenberg doesn’t seem to be in the same league as Kubrick—and I probably wouldn’t put him in the same class as Scorsese or Spielberg in terms of filmmaking talent. Cronenberg definitely has interesting ideas and a vision, which I appreciate. I’m not the most perceptive when it comes to technical or formal aspects of filmmaking, but that’s how I feel.
Btw, who would be other filmmakers of his generation?
I’ve seen two recent films by him. Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method. Neither one struck me as a stunning work of cinematic art. Good, but not great. Both quite disposable. He may be original and provocative, but perhaps something else is missing in the equation.
I wasn’t impressed with either, too, Bobby. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that EP and History of Violence are much more than what’s on the surface. I’ve been meaning to re-watch the latter, at least. (Greg X has some interesting comments on the film.) I don’t get the sense that ADM has a lot more going under the surface, though.
He is too spotty to be considered one of the greats but he is a real bonafide autuer and is almost always interesting, with few exceptions. e.g M Butterfly
He excels at making genre films that arent really genre films.
“who would be other filmmakers of his generation?”
Cronenberg started making shorts in the mid-60s, so Scorsese, Spielberg, Coppola, Lynch, De Palma, Spielberg, Lucas, Woody Allen, Bogdanovich, Michael Cimino, William Friedkin . . .
" I don’t get the sense that ADM has a lot more going under the surface, though."
Oh, I think the Method is almost entirely under the surface.
Well, if he’s of that generation…I was going to say that I wouldn’t choose him as the best filmmaker, but the question is most original and provocative. But strictly those criteria, he’s not a bad choice.
You mean, psychoanalysis?
FWIW, I pretty much agree with everything you said.
I think his films, particularly his later, more classically constructed films, tend to be deceptively simple in their construction. It’s like 3:30 in the morning here, though, so I’ll have to come back to the specifics some time when I won’t embarrass myself trying to string coherent thoughts together.
^^agree to a point, but they have also become tame and much less interesting overall.
I prefer ‘radical’ Cronenberg. I get the shift from the body to the mind but there is something lacking for me, even though i liked Eastern Promise.
That’s what I thought, too, but I get the feeling something else is going on—and Greg’s comments made me think that even more.
^^you can say that about anything thoug
I don’t agree with that.
The people that write PHDs on Britney Spears diagree with you. :-)
Anyway my point is that the surface of Cronenbergs films now is not interesting enough for me personally to excavate further, and since there are better film makers around than him, i dont think it is a wise investment of my time.
H.O.V was a bady acted.film with a lot of awkward and laughable moments imo. i was shocked at how seriously it was taken.
I liked D.C more when critics liked him less. Since Cosmopolis appears to be getting mixed reviews, i’m holding out for that one hehe
I’d like to go back to old Cronenberg and fill in the gaps. The only ones I remember seeing are The Fly, which I love, and Dead Ringers, which was also interesting.
Right, but to be fair, I probably wouldn’t agree with them, either. :)
Anyway my point is that the surface of Cronenbergs films now is not interesting enough for me personally to excavate further, and since there are.better.film makers around than him, i dont think it is a wise investment of my time.
That makes sense, but, fwiw, I feel like I might not fully understand the films. Based on what I see on the surface, the film seems to be about very little, but, again, there are indications that there’s more going on. For example, that shower scene in EP. I think it’s obvious that Cronenberg is saying more with that scene that advancing the plot by adding an action sequence, let alone titillate the female viewer. The character is naked for a reason and Cronenberg positions and shoots him a purposeful way. Right now, I think he’s pointing to the primal roots of aggression, particularly in males (while the film might suggest the maternal instincts being primal forces in females—as we see in Naomi Watts’ character). Whether this is accurate or not, and whether Cronenberg is saying anything meaninging and interesting about these things, I’m not sure. But I have a strong feeling it’s not just about a superficial crime/gangster film.
I think his Crash is really interesting. Videodrome is pretty interesting as well, although I think I the former is his best film I’ve seen.
" The character is naked for a reason and Cronenberg positions and shoots him a purposeful way"
Perhaps too strategic for its own good. More testicular action would have arguably worked in his favour.
After all, they are just hanging there, by a thread. Is it not the perfect metaphor for corporeal fragillity and masculine identity?
What a missed opportunity!
Wait, first you complained about too little on the surface to explore the film further, and now you’re grumbling that about missed opportunities in the subtext. So you agree that the films might have more under the surface than you first expected?
^ i was only being half serious with that comment jazz hehe.
I have never denied the films have more going on under the surface. I’m just not that interested in digging too deeply, that’s all, and a lot of it seems obvious to me anyway.
Can’t speak for Dangerous Method though because i fell asleep during it.
H.O.V seems to be delving into many of Cronenberg’s usual obsessions like duality, identity and violence. i just didn’t find the film particularly interesting, that’s all.
Well, if we ever start/restart threads on HoV and/or EP, I hope you’ll share your thoughts about what’s under the surface. I have my ideas—and, like you, I thought it was obvious, but I need to analyze the films a bit more before I arrive at that conclusion. (FWIW, I’m sort of looking at the best films of the 2000s with a few friends, and these two films are on the list, so I’m probably going to analyze them at some point.)
BOBBY: You should probably watch a few more. I’d suggest Videodrome, Naked Lunch and Crash if you have already seen The Fly and Dead Ringers.
I can support the statement that Cronenberg’s films are sometimes weaker on the surface and more interesting under the surface, so that’s a definite similarity with Kubrick. Here I’m not talking about comparing their scope and we are yet to see if Cronenberg’s status will grow over the years as Kubrick’s did. I believe technically Cronenberg is quite good and his technical abilities are definitely more interesting to me than Spielberg’s for example.
More interesting as in better? Again, I’m not really sensitive to and knowledge of filmmaking techniques, but my impression is that Spielberg is more talented in terms of the technical aspects. Maybe Cronenberg’s smaller budgets—and I assume they’re much smaller than Spielberg’s—have something to do with this, too.