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 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 4:40 AM   
 By:   First Breath   (Member)

I saw the film yesterday. Cronenberg never disappoints.

I don't think I had even heard of this film before I saw it. Wasn't it a big success, or what is the story here?

Opinions on the film?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0278731/combined

 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 5:02 AM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

I saw it in the theater in 2002 and it caught me a bit off guard back then, I'm a huge fan of 'Existenz' which he did prior to this (as well as his older movies) and Spider to me felt like a departure of his more thriller/horror storytelling to almost straight drama. The family scenes did leave an impact but it was hard to grasp or get a connection with the Ralph Fiennes character. I would like to see it again as well as hear Shore's music for it.

 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 9:51 AM   
 By:   nuts_score   (Member)

This is the Cronenberg film which lead into his more "straight faced" drama and genre films, the most successful of which was (in my opinion) A History of Violence. Cronenberg is very effective at treading this new-fangled ground with Spider (given he was rather unsuccessful nearly 10 years earlier with M. Butterfly). Spider is a quiet and absorbing film, and I find it rather underrated due to the strength of Ralph Fiennes remarkable performance (WHAT AN ACTOR!) and the remaining cast including Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne, and John Neville is no slouch. It's easy to see why this movie was "lost," so to speak -- it is so quiet and in a way insignificant in Cronenberg's oeuvre compared to what came before and after (being eXistenZ and A History of Violence).

First Breath, despite you coming late into the film's existence, I'm happy at the very least you were able to see it. I am a tragically-infatuated Cronenberg fan and I am more than elated to see when threads about even his most overlooked films appear on these message boards. Mr. Cronenberg -- on top of being a remarkable, incomparable director of actors -- is one of the greatest filmmakers who can continually mine the psychologically-invested character or chamber drama and produce new results when returned to the well.

Francis, I remember you stating before your admiration for eXistenZ, which is absolutely one of my favorite of Mr. Cronenberg's films. Have you been able to track down a Blu Ray of the film? There are actually multiple out there, including some being packaged with other, terrible Miramax releases from that late 90s period. A separate release came last year and I snagged it as quick as I could. What it lacks in a near-complete failure of capturing Peter Suschitzky's masterstroke of cinematography, it makes up with a complete lossless soundtrack and audio quality. There's some superb foley work and of course Howard Shore's score is simply sublime here. Apparently the earlier, "packaged-in" releases I mentioned earlier had better video quality despite sharing disc space with other films! Completely bizarre but I still hold hope that Criterion or Shout Factory or an equally good company will come along with a nice complete release including commentary and some interviews or making of featurettes. This was another of those films to get lost in "The Matrix shuffle" as I like to call it, and while Dark City has rightfully gained its appropriate cult classic status I have noticed a general uptick in appreciation for eXistenZ since the start of the 2000s. Cult classic it may not be, but it does have a nice and generous cult of followers.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 11:08 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Yes David;s impact on the cinema world has been very unique to say the least. I can't say any of his films were bad or weak but I do have some which I like better then others. They are a challenge for the popcorn crowd, they make you think and realize how much we don't know in our daily lives. For that alone his attempts at the very least is admirable. His intensity on character structure is great. On The other side of the coin I don't always agree with his lack of spiritual vibes[they are all meant to be downers[I remember KUBRICK, said something once, all genre films are optimistic] Well not with David's films, but he makes a great psychiatrist in the genre field.

 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 11:31 AM   
 By:   nuts_score   (Member)

On The other side of the coin I don't always agree with his lack of spiritual vibes[they are all meant to be downers[I remember KUBRICK, said something once, all genre films are optimistic]

I think this might be an argument of "eye of the beholder." To me, I find a good bit of optimism within the finales of his films like Crash and A History of Violence (though perhaps only these two, but Eastern Promises certainly concludes with both optimism and a foreboding "what next?").

In Crash, both James and Catherine Ballard unite in the finale to explore this strange fetish in the comfort of each other's married arms. Sure, they went through bizarre events, undesirable characters, and other-worldy sexual experimentation to reach "climax" but in the end they are still a happily married couple and now it seems like their sex life can reach an all-time high. Quite an unusual film, but I would say oddly romantic and pro-marriage.

A History of Violence returns Cronenberg to the setting of a turbulent marriage, this time one which begins the film as idyllic and perhaps flawless and the audience witnesses a complete collapse of that "nuclear" American life (this movie I always thought of as a neo-noir/Western take on Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life). These characters too inhabit a new violent and malevolent world once Tom Stall's truth comes out. But Stall takes agency with his past and decides the only way to walk away from it is to kill it. So he literally kills everyone who has ever known him as Joey Cusack and in a rather obvious metaphor (but still masterful sequence) "washes" himself of that persona in order to live on as Tom Stall. A History of Violence has this amazing finale that I think is rarely achieved in these types of stories: Tom returns home to his family, all in silence, and in the final seconds his young daughter sets his place at the table and finally Tom and Edie look into each other's eyes and she finds again the man she loves. A powerful sequence, amongst my favorite finales, and it would simply not have worked if Cronenberg didn't have the full trust of Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello. Yet another example of Cronenberg injecting a very subtle pro-marriage theme into his odd films. This itself is made ironic by the fact that The Brood is perhaps one of the most cautionary tales against marriage and having children -- a film he made while divorcing his first wife.

 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 1:08 PM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)


Francis, I remember you stating before your admiration for eXistenZ, which is absolutely one of my favorite of Mr. Cronenberg's films. Have you been able to track down a Blu Ray of the film? There are actually multiple out there, including some being packaged with other, terrible Miramax releases from that late 90s period.


I've got a HDTV rip of the movie that's ok, but I haven't gotten the blu-ray yet because of the bad reviews, I think I also read about the different versions and decided to wait for a proper label to tackle it. I love Existenz, not just because of the 'matrix' V.R. element, but also because to me it harkens a lot back to Naked Lunch with the whole interzone 'trip' and also Videodrome, I loved the gun made out of bones big grin). The score is prob my most listened to Shore (Crash another that gets a lot of play time). I'll definitely get a special edition blu-ray of Existenz if one is ever released.

Like you say, one of those movies that got lost in the Matrix shuffle, and I did enjoy the Matrix, but for me Dark City and Existenz easily surpass it. I'd love to see Dark City in a theater someday, especially the director's cut.

As for Cronenberg, I'm eagerly looking forward to getting the new "The Brood" blu-ray release, very depressing but good Cronenberg. I recently rewatched Scanners but from that period "The Brood" and "Videodrome" I connect with a lot more. The recent Cronenbergs, "Cosmopolis" and "A Dangerous Method" were ok, but "Eastern Promises" to me is his best recent movie and blew me away (especially Mortensen's performance).

But I'd still like to revisit Spider. I also saw there's a french blu-ray of Dead Ringers but apparently transfer isn't that good. The Dead Zone is also long overdue for a blu-ray release so still lots of goodies to come hopefully.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2013 - 1:33 PM   
 By:   Cooper   (Member)


Francis, I remember you stating before your admiration for eXistenZ, which is absolutely one of my favorite of Mr. Cronenberg's films.




Mine too. The most forward thinking and profound of all virtual reality films!

Haunting to think that Cronenberg may not have shown us who, or where anyone is. The "characters"--and audience--have had every confidence debased. How many layers down are we? I mean, help me out here: Are we still in the game? Cue that ominous Howard Shore...

Psychosis: The next, logical step in determined immersion in increasingly nuanced "unreality." The "game" becomes your whole eXistenZ!

I hope Cronenberg's got a few more, original screenplays left in him to direct. Can't beat that signature sound: "The Gamepod Goddess, Allegra Geller..." Great stuff.

 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2013 - 1:57 PM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)


I hope Cronenberg's got a few more, original screenplays left in him to direct. Can't beat that signature sound: "The Gamepod Goddess, Allegra Geller..." Great stuff.


Yes, Jennifer Jason Leigh is perfectly cast for that part (well for most of it anyway wink) also a shout out to

Willem Dafoe



and Ian Holm



Who steal every scene they're in!

 
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