REVIEW: Crash [1996]

I somehow find myself driving again. Writer/director David Cronenberg opens his J.G. Ballard adaptation Crash with a sex-crazed couple engaging in the act with people other than their partner before meeting back home to share their extra-marital affairs and ultimately arouse themselves yet again to finish the job their flings couldn’t. They get off on talking about the act, but the real impactful details are the ones where they explain how easy it would have been for them to get caught. That danger sets them off more than a desire…

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REVIEW: Shivers [1975]

Poor birdy. You almost want to say Dr. Rollo Linsky (Joe Silver) is on to something when telling Dr. Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton) about his latest scientific experimentations between bites of his pickle. He and the late Dr. Hobbs (Fred Doederlein) have been funneling grant money into a project that hopes to put parasites to work for humanity. The pitch is as follows: Which is better? A faulty kidney? Or a working parasite? If the latter cleans your blood without needing to wait for a new organ, doesn’t it…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: Disappearance at Clifton Hill [2020]

We grew up there. Every lie told takes us one step closer to burying the truth forever. While this often applies to current events like with Aesop’s fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” wherein a community is numbed to a boy’s warnings enough to let a tragedy occur under their noses, director Albert Shin and co-writer James Schultz reveal how it can also hold weight for the past and perhaps prove victim to the opposite effect. Because what happens when the truth comes before the lie? If a child tells…

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REVIEW: Last Night [1998]

Would it hurt you to play along just once? The cause might be unnamed, but the fact it’s still sunny at midnight guarantees the giant star at the center of our solar system is going supernova (whether or not physics deems it possible). Because all life on Earth will cease in a predetermined instant, you can bet the entire world thought about where they’ll be and what they’ll do when it happens. Maybe a newscaster takes it upon himself to stay on-air and guide viewers while your local DJ compiles…

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REVIEW: Videodrome [1983]

“Better on TV than on the streets” To watch David Cronenberg‘s Videodrome today is to acknowledge his clairvoyance as far as technology’s capacity to control via (mis)information. He filmed this body horror classic about subliminal messaging in mass consumption in 1983: years before the political firestorm in 1992 revolving around ubiquitous violence in videogames via Mortal Kombat, the 2007-08 television writers strike that spawned the proliferation of reality TV, the 24-hour news cycle that transformed real-life tragedies into entertainment, and social media placing false content at our fingertips with an…

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REVIEW: Maps to the Stars [2014]

“… Liberty” There are many versions of Hollywood I would never wish to live within—including the real one—but it appears those crafted by Bruce Wagner might be the most nightmarishly hedonistic, vile, and depressingly pathetic. A man who grew up in Los Angeles via Wisconsin and probably experienced many of the selfish acts of depravity he cynically puts to paper first hand, it says something about his artistic merits that he was able to write and direct two films (both based on what must be a sprawling novel I’m Losing…

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REVIEW: 뫼비우스 [Moebiuseu] [Moebius] [2013]

“Whole body is genital” If the whole “you’ll go blind” line doesn’t detract your kid from masturbating, controversial writer/director Ki-duk Kim has the solution. Just because the son in뫼비우스 [Moebiuseu] [Moebius] attracts the ire of his mother specifically due to his coveting the woman his father is having an affair with doesn’t lessen its impact. I assure you. The effect of watching said mother slice off said son’s penis remains the same. Well, at least until he discovers the sensual pleasures of pain. Hell, that might cause him to sever…

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Toronto International Film Festival 2014 Preview

We may have two consistent film festivals here in town showcasing small releases and restored classics, but you might not realize how close we are to one of the biggest in the world. Most “in the know” will center on five events when thinking about the best of the best film festivals and while Venice, Cannes, and Berlin are an ocean away and Sundance is across the country, The Toronto International Film Festival is less than a two-hour drive via the QEW into Canada. Even better than proximity, though, is…

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REVIEW: Dead Ringers [1988]

“Don’t make me dream that again” The last line of David Cronenberg‘s Dead Ringers is on the nose and yet still disturbingly surreal. Jeremy Irons (playing twin gynecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle) phones his lover Claire (Geneviève Bujold) only to hear the telling reply, “Who is this?” While we too find ourselves uncertain which is on the line, his inability to answer shows the disturbing truth that it may be both or neither. Ellie and Bev have been inseparable from birth, challenging each other and working together to gift the…

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REVIEW: Antiviral [2012]

“Celebrities aren’t human. They’re group hallucinations.” Like father, like son—Brandon Cronenberg has been paying attention. Even though a credit as Special Effects Technician on eXistenZ is the only one of David’s films he’s attached to in a professional capacity, it would be hard to believe he wasn’t at least on set for a few others. And if watching Brandon’s debut feature length Antiviral conjured memories of that virtual reality reality flick alongside a taste of Videodrome like it did to me, you know the body horror gene was passed down.…

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HOTDOCS13 REVIEW: Tales From the Organ Trade [2013]

“In some countries you can pick up a kidney for the price of a laptop” With a name like Tales from the Organ Trade and its interesting casting selection of body horror maestro David Cronenberg as its narrator, I’m not sure one could blame me for expecting gruesome, unsanitary, back alley surgeons assisted by frightfully personalized scalpel sets straight out of Dead Ringers‘ repertoire. Doesn’t the logline—“A look into the underground world of trafficking human body parts”—conjure images of shady black market employees traveling the world with an Igloo cooler…

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