Sunday, October 16, 2005

History of Violence

“A History of Violence” may be the least David Cronenberg-like David Cronenberg movie, with the exception of maybe his previous film “Spider” and certainly “M. Butterfly” (his most anomalous work). The only real overt hallmarks of his past works are the jolts of humor, the grizzly gore and, of course, the two sex scenes, which Cronenberg reportedly added to the story (adapted from a comic) and which add a lot, thematically, to the film.

If the majority of Cronenberg’s movies deal (sometimes metaphorically) with fear of reproduction and the uneasy interaction between humans and technology – and in particular the potentially destructive, dehumanizing and alienating effects of the latter, so prone to abuse – “History of Violence” has themes more directly applicable to everyday life. Particularly the tenuous threads that hold families together, the way violence leads to more violence, lies beget more lies and basic moral issues of right and wrong. It also works as a sneaky satire of the big lie that is the American Dream. This makes the movie possibly Cronenberg’s most thematically rich to date, or at least since “Dead Ringers,” and likewise his best made.

[Though come to think of it, there's a steady stream of alienation running through all his films, with technology or biology simply often the vector, unlocking something uneasy or disturbing but probably innate in humanity - Cronenberg remains nothing if not an adamant Darwinian, which in his world always leads to bad things. Funny how primal acts are almost always equated with negativity, as if a smile is somehow less primal. But I digress.]

It’s also the first Cronenberg movie Alma has seen before me, oddly enough.

She also saw “In Her Shoes,” which has gotten nothing but positive notice but little in the way of box office draw. I can’t say what may be going wrong – I haven’t seen it yet – but I’ll probably catch it later this week along with “Wallace & Gromit.”

Friday night I caught Richard Thompson live, acoustic, paired with fellow legend Danny Thompson (of Pentangle and Nick Drake fame, among many, many credits – Talk Talk, The The, even a few acts without repeated words). D. Thompson always has the tougher job in these duo settings, since every bit the virtuoso as Richard it’s a lot harder to show off on upright. The showing off was left to Richard, who is of course and international treasure and without a doubt the most tasteful virtuoso on the planet. Always interesting as well to watch a guitar hero who’s hardly indebted to the blues, at least the blues beyond “Be-Bop a –Lula.”


Post a Comment

<< Home