Does Russia ever want tourists to visit them?
The film follows and centres on the story of a London hospital’s midwife Ana (Naomi Watts) who witnessed the death of a young girl in giving birth on Christmas Eve and decided to search for her family and identity. The search leads her into the core of dangers of the underground sex-trafficking business operated by the London’s Russian crime community headed by Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen).
I’ve been covering David Cronenberg flicks pretty frequently now and I’m glad to say that I think I’m starting to understand him a lot more now. Actually, no I’m not. Just bring on the blood dammit!
After A History of Violence came out and sort of took the world by storm, Cronenberg was looking for his next big crime film that would do the same and he pretty much does the same thing here, except everybody is Russian. What I liked about Cronenberg’s direction here is that he allows the story to tell itself and rather than spelling everything out for us, simply gives us a back-story to all that is going on and what could possibly happen with all of these gritty sons-of-bitches. This means that there is enough time for all of the tension to build up, so when Cronenberg does unleash his killing spree for all of us to see, it really feels deserved.
There aren’t many of the scenes where Cronenberg just lets loose with his violence, but when it does happen, shit gets very crazy and gory. I can’t remember the last time that I actually saw a film with so many slit throats but instead of becoming repetitive and a boring way to off somebody, Cronenberg pretty much adds as much ketchup as he can to make it seem like every single blood cell this guy has, is coming right out of his throat. Sorry for all of the bloody detail but it’s something that sticks with you after you see this kind of flick, as well as a scene where a dude gets his eye-ball stabbed. It’s all fun and games with Cronenberg, with plenty of blood and murder to go around.
However, the one violent scene that I heard everybody talking about when this first came out, was actually the big-ass brawl in the bathhouse. Basically, the scene consists of Viggo facing off against two Russian thugs but the catch here, is that Viggo’s completely naked. And when I mean naked, I mean NAKED. You see everything that this dude’s got packing and as daring as it may have been from Viggo, it’s still a huge distraction from the whole scene itself. The choreography is pretty bad-ass and the violence itself is filmed well, with Cronenberg standing off to the side and not trying to add any flash or flair to it all, but it’s sort of distracting when you got Viggo on top of a dude beating the shit out of him and all you can keep staring at is his balls on the dude’s chest. Yes, it’s a pretty daring and different kind of action scene, but it”s also one that really could have been saved had Viggo decided to put some shorts on. Hell, he didn’t even really need shorts, he could have gone with something like spandex or just some sort of leg wear that would have gotten my eye-balls away from his…well..you know where I’m going with this.
Aside from the infamous scene that he took apart of, Viggo Mortensen is actually pretty damn good in this role as Nikolai and definitely deserved the Oscar nomination he got that year. Viggo is always one of those actors who just always seems like a bad-ass in just about everything he’s in, and he gets to show all of that here as a Russian gangster, except one of the rare ones that actually has a conscience. He’s rough, tough, and a dude that you wouldn’t fuck with but if you really feel like you could, you could probably even trust him as well. Great performance from Viggo and another extra kudos to him for going out and baring it all. Lord only knows I sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to pull that off.
Naomi Watts‘ performance here as Anna is fine but her story starts to really fall in the background by about the second act, and it’s such a shame because Watts seems pretty much one-note the whole time. I mean this is a chick who can make distressed and scared look perfect, but that’s all she is pretty much given here and as much as I loved seeing Viggo be cool as hell, I would have liked to see. more from Watts and her story as well. Playing two of Viggo’s crime buddies are Armin Mueller-Stahl and Vincent Cassel, and as good as they are, their fake Russian accents seemed a little forced and really took me away from the authenticity of the flick. I know I sound like a brat with that last statement but honestly, if Cronenberg was having such a problem with being able to get these guys to do legit, Russian accents, they should have just freakin’ called up Dolph Lundgren. End of story people!
Consensus: Eastern Promises definitely delivers on some solid acting from Viggo Mortensen, and a solid direction from David Cronenberg, but it also lacks in a story that can really draw you in and the last act or so, really starts to fizzle out.
Join Team Edward. You’ll get all coke, sex, and parties you want.
Set during a 24-hour period, Cosmopolis stars Robert Pattinson as Eric Packer, a 28-year-old newlywed billionaire who manages to lose both his fortune and bride in the span of one short day. He starts by doing one bad thing and keeps going on to the next; and you know what happens in the end? Nobody cares because he’s a little rich piece of shit.
This was a film I really wanted to like. It really was. Writer/director David Cronenberg hasn’t always been one of my favorites per se, but he’s got this unique vision when it comes to making his movies: his own ways, and I could at least respect that about him. That is, until now.
When I think about this film and what really pissed me off throughout it, I think about Cronenberg and how he easily could have made this one, crazy, effed-up wild-ride from start-to-finish. Problem is, it’s just as much the trailers’ fault as it is his. All of the teasers and trailers have been promoting this Cronenberg’s big return-t0-horror film, where R-Pat is going around, shooting guns, doing drugs, being a total a-hole, and effin’ ladies in the limo. But it’s not that at all! Instead, it’s just him going around and talking to people about absolutely nothing! Actually, I shouldn’t say that because they do actually have some conversations about the state of the world and where it’s going, but never did I feel compelled, never was I on-the-edge guessing what was going to happen next, and never was I thinking to myself, “Oh shit! All hell is about to break loose up in this bitch!”. Nope — instead I just kept dozing off and wondering when the hell it was finally going to fade to black.
That’s what really bothered me about this film: the non-stop talking. All these characters do is talk, talk, talk and that would have been fine had the script been a bit more Quentin Tarantino-, Aaron Sorkin-, or even Martin Scorsese-esque. But Cronenberg doesn’t add anything new or engaging to this script to fully keep me involved when everybody is just blubbering on about God knows what. It’s just way too dull and pretentious to keep me even somewhat intrigued. It makes me wonder if Don DeLillo’s novel was one of those situations where it looked good on paper, but when it came to be being brought-up on film, just didn’t fit. And since that’s what it seems here, it’s a real bummer because a lot of the material seems thought-provoking and very relevant if you think about how a lot of it is about the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer while encasing riots everywhere they go. Could have been so much more interesting if there was just something here to keep it going and alive.
One of the most intriguing aspects about this film that caught my eye way before I even saw a trailer for it, was the fact that Robert Pattinson was in the leading role as numb billionaire, Eric Parker. I’ll give Pattinson some slack, the kid definitely seems like he can act and actually has some skill to him, but he keeps on getting bogged down by shitty movie, after shitty movie and I thought that this was going to be his one light at the end of the tunnel. How wrong I was.
See, what Pattinson does here is exactly what he’s been accused of before: being way too dull. Eric Parker seems like one of those great characters that just wreaks of sleaze, where he doesn’t give a shit what happens to him, when it happens to him, and how, he just wants to live up his life with sex, booze, and money. That’s your typical rich dick-head that can sometimes make or break a movie depending on who’s playing them; I think it goes without saying that he breaks the hell out of this movie, in a bad way of course. I get that Parker was supposed to be a numb character that didn’t feel any sort of excitement until society has finally started crackling down into ashes, but Pattinson’s performance doesn’t bring anything else but that and by the end, it starts to feel one-note. So one-note, that even when his character starts to seem like he’s actually gaining some sort of edge towards the end, you can’t really feel it because he’s got the same type of delivery with each and every line. It was almost like Cronenberg told him to go out there and act like you’re in a zombie movie, but to be the zombie that can talk. Seriously, he’s that lifeless, which, in a way, could be the point, but it still didn’t work for me. I think this will stand as the moment where I realized that Pattinson may not have any talent at all, and is just that piece of brooding little shit that all of the dudes hate, and the girls love. Maybe that’s why K-Stew is getting so bored of him now. Heyyoh!
What’s even worse about his performance, is that when anybody else from this ensemble shows up on-screen, you barely even pay attention to him as everybody here gives it there all. The problem here is the same one that I had with Pattinson: so damn dull and lifeless. Each and every performance seems like they are just another annoying character that barely has any emotions whatsoever, and almost every supporting performance doesn’t last for more than 8 minutes on-screen. So really what you have here is a dull Robert Pattinson, running around the streets of New York (obviously filmed in Toronto), meeting up with even duller people, and at the end of it all, you’re supposed to look at the world we live in and realize something that CNN has been telling us for the past year: the economy is going way, way down-hill. Thanks Cronenberg! I really needed to wake-up and smell the cauliflower on that one!
Consensus: Cosmopolis may be a very thought-provoking and smart thing to read on-paper, but being adapted into a feature film just doesn’t cut it because of the dull performances from everybody involved, the uninteresting direction that Cronenberg goes for and succeeds in, sadly, and the ideas and insight into the world we live in that seem very current, but just don’t bring anything new to what we have already heard before.
I’m guessing Cronenberg doesn’t really like diners all that much.
Viggo Mortensen stars as Tom Stall, a man who leads a quiet, charmed life with his loving wife (Maria Bello) and family in a small town. But when an unexpected incident turns bloody in his diner and brings unwanted attention to him, Tom is forced to return to his secret past in order to rescue his family from peril.
Director David Cronenberg is a dude that I haven’t been so fond of (‘A Dangerous Method’) and other times I have been fond of (‘The Fly’). This is just one of those flicks that somehow stands right in the middle but is definitely his most accessible since we don’t have to do with people getting it on to the sound of car crashes here.
The way Cronenberg opens this flick up with a deliberately slow pace really sets the bar for the rest of this film because it isn’t your normal, average thriller. See, this is more like a thinking-man’s thriller that just so happens to be directed by a nut-job like Cronenberg. Then when the film switches over to the whole happy film thing that this flick tries to get over towards us, my interest with this film started to wan very early on. I don’t know what it was that just was bothering me here but I think Cronenberg is so used to doing weird stories that when it comes to a simple story about a family, he doesn’t bring anything new to the table other than a bunch of dull, slow, and somewhat mindless conversations that don’t really move the film forward. That is until, the actual killing in this flick goes down.
Right when the murder in the diner happens, then that’s when shit really starts to fly off the handle, and I mean that in a very good way. There are a lot of opportunities for Cronenberg to use his dark-style for this flick considering that it’s rated-R and all of the sex, violence, and gore that he brings to this story as everything starts to pick up, actually works. There isn’t that much action in this flick but when it does actually happen, it’s gory, bloody, and just freaking awesome and it was pretty cool to see how Cronenberg could make each and every little scene of action turn into something we did not expect in the least bit. It’s definitely not a film for the squeamish but if you can at least appreciate a flick that knows how to put in a very over-the-top action scene without seeming “too strange” then it’s definitely a watch in my book.
Besides all of the action though, there is a lot that Cronenberg actually brings up about the whole reason of violence and when it should, and should not be used. The message here isn’t very clear since it seems like Cronenberg is against violence but then the next second he’s showing Aragorn bust some guy’s nose off, but if you can sort of get past this you can see that Cronenberg is more about violence in the use of self-defense as I am as well. Cronenberg is also able to supply some subtle touches of humor here as well that is good for a surprising chuckle here and there but when he seems to be more intentional with it, then I kind of got a bit annoyed.
Viggo Mortensen plays the nice guy Tom Stall, who seems like such a good and kind-hearted dude that when he actually starts to show signs that he is a huge psycho behind all of those smiles, it’s pretty realistic and works all of the better because Viggo can play good and bad both very well. Maria Bello is also very good as his wife with a role that got more screen-time than I was expecting but the scenes she has are pretty impressive considering she is able to be this strong house-wife that still comes off as this real person who may be a little good-looking to be stuck in Indiana. But then again, I have never been there so I don’t quite know how the women down there look.
Ed Harris gives that predictable devious performance that he usually gives here as the gangster Fogarty, but his performance is definitely over-shadowed by the one dude that got a nomination for his work in this flick. William Hurt shows up out-of-nowhere by the end of the flick with just about 9 minutes of screen-time but absolutely owns it bringing out all of this humor, creepiness, and just downright devilish side to his acting that we all knew he had, he just never showed it before. Hurt is great in this role and I think that he should have gotten more roles after this considering he reminded me a lot of what Christopher Walken has been doing for the past 20 years. Show up for about 5 to 10 minutes, but be the best part of the flick. That’s the way you got to do it.
All of these performers are great on-screen and make each and every single one of their scenes memorable, especially Hurt, but when it comes to the two kids here, the film starts to really lose its tension. Ashton Holmes plays the moping son here who is such a geek that he can only win his fights through words but for some odd reason when he is actually pushed to the limits, he beats the eff out of these two dudes which seemed way too realistic for me. I don’t care what seed you come from, nobody can beat the shit out of two dudes like this kid did and it’s also even worse considering that this kid’s acting is pretty shitty in the first place. I can’t really say anything bad about the other little girl that this family had since she was like 4 but you get what I’m trying to say.
Consensus: A History of Violence starts off slow and has its rough patches, but it also shows Cronenberg having a lot of fun with this material and inserting all of his crazy sex, violence, and gore into a story that works as an intellectual thriller and as a character study with great performances from the cast.
Sir PSYCHO Sexy.
Viggo Mortensen stars as Sigmund Freud, whose relationship with fellow psychology luminary Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) is tested when Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), one of the first female psychoanalysts, enters their lives. It’s also even better that Sabina is a crazy psycho who just wants to bone.
I had a feeling that this flick was going to be a little strange, considering that it’s directed by David Cronenberg, but it really wasn’t, which now seeing this, I kind of wish it was more strange.
The overall subject matter of this film is pretty interesting because it’s showing the beginning days of psychoanalysis, and there is a lot of talk about the human body and all the types of limitations we may go towards. This all seems like something we would love to see and hear about but sometimes overly-talky films don’t produce anything great to watch, they can just be downright boring.
I think where this film mostly fails is the fact that there’s nothing here that’s really happening that kept me watching the whole time. This is really just a traditional love story with a bunch of cool-ass scientists, talking, and some spanking. Something just feels somewhat lost in the mix of the dramatic-whop this film was supposed to give off because there are times when the film had my interest, then others it just totally lost me cause nothing seemed like it was happening.
A lot of things happen here such as World War I breaking out, Sabina marries some other dude, Freud and Jung traveling to America, and they also have falling out between each other. This seems like it would have you shocked at every single turn but nothing adds up to much drama. It was almost like watching a whole series of vignettes that really never amount to anything, other than ideas that could have really done something if its material just had some sparkle to it. The film also starts in 1904 and ends in probably 1921 but we never know when the year changes and n0body ever seems to age, or even show a change of character as the time’s go on.
Regardless of the emotion that is not in this film, there is a great look and sound to it. The costumes, set pieces, and buildings all look very exquisite as if I was there right there with them in early 1900′s Switzerland. The score also comes in at good times where it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to make us feel anything, but all that is pretty much wasted considering the fact that I couldn’t feel anything with this story.
Michael Fassbender is good at bringing Carl Jung to life with this sort of buttoned-down and relaxed way to him that doesn’t get in the way of his character likability; Viggo Mortenson plays it pretty solidly as Sigmund Freud, who brings charm and wit to his role that only a seasoned actor like him could do and pull off so well; and Vincent Cassel’s short role as Otto Gross is pretty good but his character is not on for long, and it seems more like an extended cameo rather than an actual supporting role for this flick.
I’m still wondering if I could say that Keira Knightley’s performance as Sabina was terrific, because she does over-act quite a bit but at the same time, her character seems very real. I think she was supposed to over-act, which is something she does very good with but her own character starts to settle down by the end and she creates this very rich and innocent character. She goes from being totally off-putting to likable and I think she deserved to be in a movie that suited her performance better.
Consensus: David Cronenberg brings out good performances with his cast, but A Dangerous Method lacks an engaging story that brings about some interesting topics and happenings, but never amounts to anything other than being a total bore.
Talk about FLYing solo. Actually I have no idea what that term has to do with this film I just felt like being witty.
While testing his teleportation device, scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) accidentally merges his cells with those of a housefly. As his reporter girlfriend (Geena Davis) bears witness, Seth slowly — and quite disgustingly — morphs into an insect.
I’ve never really taken time out of my film-reviewing and looked at any of David Cronenberg‘s films but after seeing this one, I may just check out more because this guy’s crazy!
The one thing that Cronenberg does well is that instead of being just another dumb and silly gore-fest about a dude who turns into a fly is that he actually lets there be time for the story to actually build up to where we actually care for everything that happens. There’s a very smooth pace that Cronenberg brings to this film and one that seems like it’s more of just developing the story and characters rather than just being slooooow.
Another thing that Cronenberg does well is that he takes all of these different sides of the story, and puts them together well. There’s a little bit of romantic comedy stuff here, some sci-fi stuff as well, real human drama too, and then to top it all off a lot of scary stuff to keep people scared as well. It seems like a very goofy combination that wouldn’t work at all but somehow Cronenberg makes it work beyond belief. There’s a lot of people who said they saw a metaphor for AIDS in here too but I mostly just saw how people react to a disease all differently and how it can make some people never want to let go, but in some cases, you just have to no matter how much you love them.
The make-up and costumes are also pretty cool looking even though they may be incredibly gory and will turn many others away. We see how Seth’s body changes and transforms over time and to say the least, it’s not pretty but it actually looks very detailed and disgusting in a good way. In a world filled with CGI everything, it’s a huge relief to see an 80′s film that makes a dude who is turning into a fly, actually look like a fly with the power of some really cool-looking make-up and costumes.
My main problem with this film is that I feel like too much of it was a little too over-the-top just for the sake of being over-the-top. Granted, I liked how gory and disgusting these costumes looked but there were times where I felt like Cronenberg just wanted to shock people with what he was showing in Seth’s transformation and for me, it came off as a bit annoying.
One example is that Seth’s girl, Veronica, gets pregnant and she has no idea what’s in her. Is it a human, a fly, or a flyhuman? Nobody knows and neither does she but she has a dream that she actually gives birth to a little fly baby thing and she’s just yelling and screaming with this blood all over and to me this just seemed random and really forced. It was almost like Cronenberg just wanted us to see something we’ve never seen before by showing us a little fly thingy coming out of a woman and it seemed a tad forced and random.
The cast isn’t a real big one but with the people they have, it really is a treat. Jeff Goldblum is perfect here as Seth because Goldblum is such a goofy actor that to have him as this guy go through this total transformation works because he brings this sort of funny charm to his character as well. I was rooting for this guy even though he did go through this terrible transformation and how Goldblum plays him like a real, likable human being is also very sad especially when he starts to really turn into a fly at the end. It’s also rare to ever see him in a leading role and he does great with it. Geena Davis is also very good as Veronica, as she doesn’t lose sight of her love for Seth even as times get harder and harder. Their chemistry is great and how these build it up more and more as time goes on really adds an extra layer of heart to this film and works for the full product as a whole.
Consensus: The Fly is a little too over-the-top at points, but David Cronenberg perfectly mashes all of these different elements of romance, drama, and horror as well as a great leading role from Jeff Goldblum to give is a disgusting but emotionally well-told film.