28 August 2005

David Cronenberg interview in Toro

As I am working now to keep a more narrow focus on this site to pertain with, obviously, design, the occult, and a merging of principles from the two, I personally figure anything to do with director David Cronenberg will be pertinent in both cases.

For those of you living in my pants for the past few decades, "David Paul Cronenberg (born March 16, 1943 in Toronto, Ontario) is a Canadian horror and science fiction film director, who has also worked as an actor. He is famous for creating the genre of 'body horror,' exploring people's fears of bodily transformation and infection. In his films, the psychological is typically intertwined with the physical."

The new issue of Toro has an interview (link) with him and he's always been a figure of inspiration, à la Philip K. Dick, into the deconstruction of reality and the human condition. Here's a brief passage:—
Let's get back to [Cronenberg's new film] A History of Violence. It's about a man who has gone from a life of murder and practised violence — like you, he can kill a man with his bare hands — to running a restaurant in a small town; he's got a wife, a teenage son. All that dark stuff is behind him. Now, some critics would say that people don't change, that a bully in grade four turns into an adult bully, that an asshole in high school is still an asshole at fifty.

I know what you're talking about, but look at my children, for example. They surprised me. They have not turned out the way I thought they would at all. They changed while they were growing up. And if you thought you ever knew anybody, you thought you knew your kids, much more so than even your wife. But I also have the existentialist approach, which is that identity is a created thing. It's a willed and created thing, not just a given.


I can feel the assembly of my personality as I wake up each day.

But your mother tongue is still going to be English tomorrow morning. Your tastes in food and music and sex are going to be the same. How is that an assembled thing?

I'm choosing to assemble myself the same way. I could choose to assemble myself a different way. I think there are instances when people do that. Don't you ever find yourself saying occasionally, "God, he's really changed"?

I don't want to pry into your personal life but let me ask you this: Have you changed in any substantial way since you were in your twenties?

No. But that's because I like me.

1. Shivers (1975)
A gory and strangely erotic film about a parasitic worm that transforms the residents of a bland Montreal high-rise into priapic zombies. Lovely final shot as the building itself excretes larvae-like cars to go forth and spread havoc.

2. The Brood (1979)
Imagine giving birth to creatures who act out your rage on the people who have provoked it — a wonderfully nasty film with killers in little snowsuits. Watch for a chilling scene where one of them clasps a banister with bloody fingers and scuttles away. Reviled by critics who should have known better.

3. The Dead Zone (1983)
Cronenberg is one of the few directors to understand that Christopher Walken has more to offer than bizarre diction and weirdness. Here, in an adaptation from Stephen King's book of the same title, Walken plays a life-defeated man with such sadness, such tenderness that you cheer for him even when he's hiding in a church balcony with a loaded rifle.

4. Dead Ringers (1988)
An extraordinarily creepy story about twin gynecologists, one a smirking womanizer, the other a sensitive weakling (both played by Jeremy Irons). What can one say except that when a gynecologist slides into drug addiction and then madness, imagine, for a second, being one of his patients. Note the colour of the gowns in the operating theatre. That's Inquisition red.

5. Crash (1996)
Based on the book by J.G. Ballard, about people who are sexually excited by car accidents and the injuries that result from them. Crash appalled many people but won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Chicago critic Roger Ebert got it right when he suggested viewers should substitute their own sexual preferences for those in the movie. Not a film, however, for the faint of heart.

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