A new David Cronenberg film is always an event. Even if it winds up being a comparatively tame affair (A Dangerous Method would have been daring if made by another director), there’s always something interesting to latch onto and think about for a long time afterwards. I still have random flashes of scenes of Eastern Promises pop into my head even though I was a bit underwhelmed when it was released.
Cosmopolis, the senior Cronenberg’s new film, opened to mixed reviews at the Cannes Film Festival this year. The main complaint seems to be an acting/dialogue conceit that is entirely hit or miss. The entire story, a sort of modern day odyssey about a young billionaire journeying across NYC for a haircut, is designed with a level of artifice in mind. Human speech is labored and quite elaborate and the slow moving plot will most likely alienate some viewers.
Still, it’s a new Cronenberg, and the trailer promises a return to his darker body horror roots. Come for the all star cast, stay for the shock of what Robert Pattinson starts doing with a handgun.
Not only has David’s son Brandon entered the filmmaking arena, he debuted his first feature at the Cannes Film Festival. Sure, he wasn’t up for the big awards, but his film was screening in the same venue as his father. You don’t earn that privilege on name recognition alone.
Early press suggests that Brandon Cronenberg is exploring the same body horror territory of his father in new, sick, and exciting ways. The conceit of Antiviral is a future world so obsessed with celebrity that people will pay top dollar to acquire a celebrity illness for their own discomfort. Obsession trumps safety as agents steal blood samples to sell for dangerous dispensation.
In other words, there is a new Cronenberg in town insisting on your psychological discomfort, only this time around, the violence is real. The first trailer, released yesterday, is very disturbing. It’s borderline NSFW and as thrilling as can be.
I’m not predicting Cosmopolis or Antiviral will be box office sensations. The subjects are too off-putting to crossover to mainstream success. What I am suggesting is that it’s nice to see stylish directors go after the mind through very physical films. These two pictures look adventurous and uncomfortable in the best ways possible.
Cosmopolis opens in limited release next Friday, 17 August. Antiviral will come later, as there is no official release date yet. I think the online trailer was a way to gauge interest and (surprise, surprise) film blogs have been going nuts over the younger Cronenberg’s debut.
What about you? Plan on seeing Cosmopolis or Antiviral? I’m down for both, but I’d be lying if I said I was more excited for Antiviral. Sound off with your own thoughts below.