The weather in New York may delay this afternoon's scheduled conversation with David Cronenberg at the Museum of the Moving Image, but as of this writing, it's still on for 2 pm, i.e., in just a few hours. Chief Curator David Schwartz plans to chat with Cronenberg about "the themes and motifs of his films, from his early experimental works and horror films to the accomplished, adventurous adaptations of recent years." And yes, there will be clips.
The conversation launches a retrospective that'll run through February 12, the occasion of two new pieces at Moving Image Source: "Of course, as Cronenberg and monster movies show, it's usually the body that thinks before the mind," writes Gina Telaroli, introducing her video essay. "So with a found-footage, montage-movie, I found myself with the same issues of any shit-grade horror filmmaker collapsing traditional hierarchy of thought/action, mind/body, inside/outside, in which the latter is nothing but a symbol of the former."
Also: "Not since Busby Berkeley's undulating tunnels of bare legs and Judy Chicago's labia dinner plates has there been an artist as yonic-centric as David Cronenberg," argues Miriam Bale.
Nathan Lee hardly ever passes up a chance to write about Cronenberg, one of my own favorite directors, and he always does so with zest and insight. Here he is this week at Alt Screen: "[William] James's caution against 'symbolism' haunts the project — the method — of this essay: a reconsideration of the 'Cronenbergian' in light of 'late' Cronenberg. By late Cronenberg I mean the post-eXistenZ oeuvre, a quartet of films that forego certain modalities of the speculative and grotesque that have long characterized his signature. This isn't to say that Spider, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises, or A Dangerous Method lack ideas (ruptured personalities) or images (ruptured heads) that wouldn't be out place in the other films. Yet Spider is a different kind of movie than Shivers, and the nature of that difference bears examination."
Do read on and, in the meantime, as more pieces tied to the retrospective appear, I'll be making note of them here.
At the Playlist, Jen Vineyard has extensive notes on the conversation with Cronenberg at MoMI. Among them is a bit on the novel he's been working on. A few years ago, Penguin Canada got in touch: "'And before I knew it, I had sold this novel everywhere in the world, Russia even.' Despite the preemptive sales deals, he's far from completing a draft of the story, which will partially take place in Toronto and will share some of his film's surgery themes. 'They're still waiting,' he laughed nervously. 'I hear novelists are often very late, so I'm banking on that.'"
"It's dangerous to be an artist. That's what we talk about in Naked Lunch — and it's dangerous on many different levels. Politically it can be dangerous, but psychologically it can be quite dangerous too." Cronenberg has a lot — a lot — to say to Jonathan Penner in the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Update, 2/4: "In films like Naked Lunch (1991) and Crash (1996), adaptations of novels once regarded as unfilmable, Cronenberg approaches the problem of adaptation from a different angle," writes Joshua Land at Moving Image Source. "One of these films closely follows the story of its source novel and one does not, but both could be described as successful — and even, after a fashion, faithful — adaptations."
Steve Rose interviews Cronenberg for the Guardian.
Update, 2/6: An Alt Screen roundup on Spider (2002).
Update, 2/7: "Has David Cronenberg turned tame?" asks Tom Huddleston in Time Out London.