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Friday, December 21, 2007

David Cronenberg

a Technohorrorgraphy

Inventor of technocratic bodyhorror, David Cronenberg reigns legendary while series of winters are passing silently by, truly a filmmaker who operates his unique inner vision through subtle, delicate functions. Although this mind is more than ready to operate as a bioforge spilling clever yet seemingly monstrous ideas at any time it pleases, the horror of Cronenberg still remains genuinely free of the tired techniques of shocking an audience by a pre-established intention to do so. His films are excentric renditions of the states of a quite feeble human image, a living entity who is most likely to end up in hideous dead ends through similarly hideous journeys. As an author and director, Cronenberg's artistic agenda is to communicate the unsolved enigmas - though I am not sure if I know the meaning of the latter - of human body and human spirit unto an unsuspecting, yet grateful fabric of shared reality. Let us observe together!

His work being witnessed and analyzed mainly by humans, - as far as we are aware of it, for the least - it is more than likely that a conscious choice we shall inspect in Cronenberg's artistic behavior, noticing how precise of an attention he poses to the transformable qualities of human emotional and physical nature. Through his interviews, and through of the incidental, yet gripping messages contained in his work, an unsatisfied vision of human condition unravels. Cronenberg clearly is not fond of the commonly reckoned, hypothetical boundaries and border potentials of human quality, rather, he poses a great interest toward the possibilities of new levels of consciousness, new sexual organs and emotional sensations, each that were never - though probably should have been, in the director's consideration - obtained or experienced before by humankind.

According to "The Record" - Cronenberg is supposedly somewhat of an atheist, yet probably a clumsy definition we end up here with, since this careful conviction of him seems to originate more from the fact that he keeps a steady distance from the various religious belief systems, and less from his personal inability to acknowledge the obvious correctness of the hypothetically given, "proper answers". The quotation mark justifies its contents, as Cronenberg did not yet find the proper answer, and this is definitely not a state that he is all alone in. And, although the majority of religions are indeed claim the basic stance of infallibility for themselves, Cronenberg is even more bothered by the human meta-image that is rendered by religion. "Religion despises your body." - that, he ponders, while at the same time he relates to the physical human form as a blatantly obvious manifestation of humankind's existence. Regards the body as a self-evident starting point to conduct inspections and observations from, being as well a superstubborn position, necessarily affecting one with/and in the human condition. A state one could not easily abandon while utilizing one's abilities to overcome these self-established and conditioned boundaries.

Cronenberg therefore accounts the human body as source, prime originator and container of all thoughts, emotions, religions and technologies - while of course it might worth to note that he seems to be fond of the layered model of human existence, separating clearly spirit, mind, and tissue - though the three being connected through this glue of human body in this form of existence we somewhat aware of, inspected keenly by our delicate subject matter, David Cronenberg, whom we herein inspect back with an increasing rate of curiosity, indeed.

That is how Cronenberg's film language chooses mere physical reality as primal building block to narrate personal observations, blending cunning thought and elegant metaphor unto sinister ponderings about mankind's potential to interact with its own inner and outer self, with keen attention maintained of how the surroundings might react to, or influence the rapidly evolving human form depicted. "I need to make flesh out of the words." - he describes his work method. His own ideas are usually dealing with various interferences affecting the human spirit, mind and body, and that is how the mere human condition could reveal and narrate as the effective operational field of horror in Cronenberg's work.

Winter kept us warm. A student film from 1965 by David Lecter, a significant work to enrich international cultural heritage, dealing with themes quite unusual to openly discuss in spite of the spiritual age it was created in, also being the first Canadian flick to attend the Cannes Festival. As classmate at the university Lecter attends to by the time, Cronenberg finds the film enthralling, turning his attention to motion picture as an effective medium of self expression. Conditions of destiny happen to be in a collectively cheerful mood at that time, therefore a new Corporation can be formed to awaken and refresh Canadian film making, this is the Canadian Film Development Corporation, abbreviated as CFDC. The Corporation recognizes Cronenberg's evident talent in the form of the pair of film shorts he is already made by those days, - Transfer, From the Drain - and a decision is shortly born to support further early workings of Cronenberg, giving him the fiscal background to realize his first feature films by the late '60s: Stereo, and Crimes of the Future.

Both of these flicks utilize a documentarist stance to conceal the yet-evident homemade characteristics of the final results, although we can easily say that the colorful, though somewhat timid input of fiction offered, combined with the retro age spirit necessarily conserved in them, certainly summons a movie experience that remains easy to tolerate, though it is unlikely that one ends up inspecting them over and over again. Nevertheless, a preview-projection of the later, mature Cronenberg dims through these works already, in the forms and concepts he operates these films out of. An irresponsible humanity, devastated by the dangerous chemical substances it greedily trying to exploit, university students with the apparent ability of telepathy, etc. Anyhow, it is certainly of note here that by this time Cronenberg already possesses the inventiveness to render sexual intercourses as scientific experiments, instead with the anticipation of viewers spilling saliva around.

A wider audience then have the chance to encounter Cronenberg's later works, films created by the director's own production environment this time around, and the results are radical and weighty enough now to chisel the director's name into the audience's remembrance. This period contains the movie Shivers, considered an essential station in horror history, - the main idea of Shivers being borrowed by Dan O' Bannon to write a script with the word Alien at the front page - and also this era gives birth to the movies Rabid and The Brood. It is the year 1975, the year Shivers is released when Cronenberg first has the chance to work under professional conditions, at the same time, this is the movie to define and all at once to legitimate the genre of Canadian horror. Shivers deforms the human physical buildup via its pre-facehugger parasites, then influences the contaminated host's behavior to act as a senseless sex maniac. The idea simultaneously reflects Cronenberg's influences of the time, - the parallels with George A. Romero's Living Deads are evident - and a later interest of him slowly, yet clearly starts to crystalize in the fabric of Shivers.

Human emotional nature. It is certainly not a coincidence that the zombies are fueled by the rampant urge to being engaged in sexual activities, one could say that "Freud-Calls-Out" from the film, as Cronenberg's human throws her/his personal and social inhibitions away, instantly and relentlessly claiming full enjoyment of the physical bodies others could offer for her/him. Offering of the body is the pawn of full intimacy and trust among humans, therefore, paradoxically, the zombies of Shivers are not only claiming sexual enjoyment, they also demand a full degree of intimacy and a full degree of their acceptance by all they choose to engage with. They take a detour from usual, social methods and channels to develop and maintain human relationships, instead cutting the chase right to a definite top-peak of possible human engagements - that being the act of sexual activities.

Through rampant assaults they justify this deformed sense of intimacy and shared privacy, radical concepts which are absolutely compatible with their altered bodies and minds, immensely affected and influenced by the parasite. It is worth to note that the mere concept of the story operates extremely well, since the parasite's main agenda evidently is to procreate, thus we witness a massively transformed state of human existence, and an alien life form which makes perfect sense on its own merits. Cronenberg's metaphoric message echoes Freud's basic assumption: that is what everybody wants and are after.

Shivers might be viewed also as a base of operations of ideas in Cronenberg's later creations, since many of the elements presented or touched in this movie will be subjected to further inspection by the director. These are: drugs, diseases, deformed bodies or minds via the results of mutations, art of gastronomy, and the possible reaction of the surroundings to this kind of evolved/deformed state of human existence.

The follow-up to Shivers, dated 1977 by the title Rabid should not yet been considered as a significant appendage to the prior installment, although Cronenberg certainly places greater emphasis on the physiological elements portrayed in the new film. Yet another smart parasite movie we are talking about here, in which the protagonist, Marilyn Chambers - a popular porn actress of the era - offers a quite convincing rendition of a deteriorating human mind and psyche. While Cronenberg delivers a decent routine-follow up to the self-established parasite horror genre with his work Rabid, the consecutive flick, The Brood from 1979 chooses to guide its viewers through new, interesting pathways. While physical mutation is presented as a mere side effect this time around, the main focus of the story is a radical potential of negative human emotions and thoughts, each strong enough to manifest in physical reality and to affect surroundings and other beings living in it. Sealing the era in question in an elegant and effective manner, it is to be added that The Brood is the first film in which Cronenberg directs first class actors, not something you could say about the earlier works, Shivers included.

A success of international proportion then follows, marked by Scanners, Cronenberg's 1981 effort with the paradigmatic head explosion effect included.

- before -

- after -

An exquisite acting performance by Michael Ironside, who firmly establishes herein his notorious bad guy arch-character that he will be known for in all future projects he participates in is also delivered. Loose, yet reasonable parallels we shall witness between Scanners and The Brood, as both films inspect human thought and emotion, though the '81 flick certainly imbues its body with a closeup look of the possible potential of human thought. "There are four billion people on Earth. 237 are Scanners." - the tagline broadcasts with a nice tint of secrecy. Scanners can hear everyone's thoughts, better yet, they are also able to take control of them. This extremely small group of people is a result of scientific experiments going awry, - a definite surprise story element from Cronenberg - therefore the leader of the Scanners, portrayed by Michael Ironside soon finds strict reasons and motivations to direct his flock of fellow Scanners against the irresponsible interests that were creating them in the first place.

Scanners offers a very interesting, shall even say: age-defining idea via the concept of mind blowing - nyehnyeh - thought power, especially when compared to the splatter horror genre, being so popular in the very same era that Scanners born in. The morose, intense concentration sequences Ironside exhibits before the scanning processes are deep and relevant retina stigmas enough to regard the piece as one of Cronenberg's most significant. The major portion of the film narrates a cat and mouse chase-around between the two protagonists, ended by a gory yet at the same time somewhat hilarious conclusion, with evident hints of a homosexual symbol system injected unto the final showdown. Interestingly enough, though: we seemingly left without a clue about the main message of the movie. Reason being: Cronenberg intentionally hid it by intentionally showing it all the time. Now is an excellent occasion to excavate the hidden message, with urges to take closeup looks of it.

Bad Hair Day, huh?

As scanners can't help but constantly listen to everyone all the time, the main agenda of media similarly is to overcome boundaries between its message and the receiver consciousness it aims at. An invisible world filled by the silent shouts of products eager to get consumed, eager to invade the privacy of all humans of all households. The scanners are gloomy, precise parodies of a humankind drowning in useless information, an endless stream of redundant data generated by itself. Cronenberg must have known something back in 1981 already, as human thoughts and value systems indeed are exposed to constant sieges these days. One careless mind might very well lose something out of its very own private sphere. (The movie has some sequels to it as well, released straight to the video market, although they have nothing to do with Cronenberg or Ironside, main parallel being the original concept of Scanners which the director chosen to license to the producers of these quite shallow installments.)

Following the 1983 release of Videodrome, Cronenberg decides to take a definite pause of inventing his own scripts, thus the period in question gives rise to quite a few film adaptations based on the works of famous authors. Dead Zone by Stephen King, The Fly by George Langelaan, Twins by Jack Geasland and Bari Wood, - by the title Dead Ringers in Cronenberg's adaptation - William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch, - probably the most riddling installment of both Burroughs's and Cronenberg's work - and Crash by J. G. Ballard.

Videodrome is a quite delicate and immense bite to deal with, one which also enjoys being stuck in one's throat. The movie presents the first occasion we shall witness a merging process of human and technology in, both through subtle, metaphorical and through fiendishly literal channels. Human, imprisoned by physical reality finds a self-evident and safe source of obtainable pleasure by stimulating his mind in a surrounding characterized by private intimacy. Television seems to be a comfortable solution for this particular stock-human image we are talking about here, since all the effort he is required to do is to eyeball the foam of projected events offered by the paradigma box. TV producer Max Renn - a portrayal of high end quality by James Woods - is quite aware of the fact that he needs the ultimate TV program to gain the upper hand in the competition for viewers. The titulous Videodrome is a pirate channel, broadcasting direct sequences of pornography and violence, without any further narrative content whatsoever. The cultural requirement level posed by the masses toward television is fully satisfied through these event foams of sex and violence, Cronenberg summarizes. According to Max Renn, furthermore: his summarization is correct, thus he decides to seek out where the Videodrome broadcasts are originating from, and hopes to settle an agreement with whomever he finds in the end to air the program for a wider audience.

Cronenberg's 1983 idea-spark is of the same age as the rapid growth of home video culture characterizing the era in question, yet the flick well beyond its second decade still demands a layered approach for a throughout analyzation.

One of the key focal points of the film is the voluntary act of letting a motion picture into our home and into our mind, thus necessarily and unavoidably creating a form of intimacy relying on the metaphysical fact of simultaneous coexistence and an interactive shared relation between film and viewer. Ah, how nicely it did turn out, one more time, hastily: One of the key focal points of the film is the voluntary act of letting a motion picture into our home and into our mind, thus necessarily and unavoidably creating a form of intimacy relying on the metaphysical fact of simultaneous coexistence and an interactive shared relation between film and viewer. As the viewer enjoys the amusement obtained through the inspection of the very film he chose, - the mere act of choosing has an intimate quality on its own - the motion picture effectively inspects back on the viewer, especially when observed multiple times, with increasing rate of evidence that it is enjoying a definite trust on the viewer's part. It is clearly beyond the boundaries of naked metaphor, since every input seen or heard by a receiver consciousness claims and finds its own place in the unfillable space of human psyche. This very process imbues the motion picture with a transcendental quality as it is inevitably becomes an undenyable part and content of the viewer's private reality with each frames shown. A fiendishly strong sequence Cronenberg shows herein at his magnificent piece Videodrome, through the famous sketch of displaying a television set with little more - do one needs more? - than female lips filling the screen, probably quite ready and willing for telling the viewer what the viewer wants to hear. The set depicts the human intellectual hunger for outer stimuli, satisfied by the chosen motion picture shown on the video, resulting in the formation of a sacred, spiritual connection between viewer and viewed, sealed and defended by secret intimacy. Technoporn. The motion picture we choose to tag along with us is a metaphysical phenomena, processed and analyzed by the psyche. The medium which is holding this particular metaphysical content whispers promises of the possibilities of widening and coloring our private realities. Technolove.

Max wants to be a viewer and wants amusement, also he wants to be a broadcaster and licenser of a program foam probably would be best if never seen and forgotten. This dangerous program foam quickly and irreversibly becomes an essential part of Max, as it clarifies as evidence that the man is eager to fill his reality by the intentional taboos offered and displayed by the program. Max watches the film, the film watches Max. They are influencing each other, thus Max's mutation is inevitable, turning into a bionic video tape recorder, capable to playback an intended series of events previously recorded unto a tape, and being also capable to alter the experience foam we witness and live as a shared, consensual reality by executing the actions recorded on the tape being played. He does play those back. He does alter reality according to events contained on the medium. A question of proper cassette, a proper mood and a proper agenda it is. The harsh narrative here but catalyzes the events shown herein, as Max is present in each moment of the film. The viewer is: Max.

- duuuude . . .

Cronenberg leaves little if any to coincidences, therefore he offers a strong narrative component to the Videodrome experience, via forms of well developed physiological touches. The Videodrome signal broadcasted by the pirate channel operates on a frequency which is able to mutate the human physical buildup, effectively creating a fresh, new hemisphere in the brain. The main purpose of the inventor of the show is to present the possibility of controllable hallucinations for the masses, offering an infinite source of pseudo experience which comes without any boundaries whatsoever. Reality being as much as we can perceive, or, according to Robert Anton Wilson, as much as we can get away with. No wars and no crimes, yet every human is free to create and maintain their own private heavens of existence. This is an extremely high-end stake, whoever controls the Videodrome broadcast, also holds a brutally effective tool of mass control in her or his hands. As we will see, this vision harmonizes nicely and cleanly with one of the later installments of Cronenberg, dated in the year 1999. Some interesting addendum we shall mention here as far as the Videodrome phenomena. Although Cronenberg hates storyboards at the first place, he did not even bring a finished script to shoot Videodrome, instead, he pondered the final conclusion during the work on the piece, coming up with the approved and implemented ending after quite a few omitted conclusion variants.

Dead Zone and The Fly are adaptations of famous written works by famous authors. While I skip analyzation of the Dead Zone since I did not yet have the chance to check that out, we should note that The Fly from 1986 is the first commercial success of Cronenberg. The director considers this as a result of the strict genre categorization that characterizes The Fly. Viewers were certainly aware that they buying their tickets to the ambitious movie adaptation of an ambitious sci-fi horror book, therefore all who happened to be fond of this kind of entertainment attended the movie. The Fly is a story and movie of pure mutation, a piece that relies on and portrays a radical reform process taking place in a human being. The protagonist conducts scientific experiments about teleportation, while during one particular gloomy day, some "bug occurs" in his professional equipment, and a rebirth we shall witness. Seth - portrayed by Jeff "what ping pong eyes?" Goldblum - slowly and surely starts to exhibit the organical and physiological structure of the fly that was unknowingly remained in a teleportation device during a key experiment. Cronenberg talks about a process of evolution. What seems to be extremely repulsive on the outside, might as well be a fuller, and more effective entity on its true, unbiased merits compared to the previous, original form of the scientist. The Fly remains a Cronenberg movie that is probably the easiest of his works to approach, while reflecting the director's key interests in a quite accessible fashion.

In the period of 1988 to 1991, Cronenberg turns to the inspection of excessive drug consumption, marked by the titles Dead Ringers and Naked Lunch. The written sources of these adaptations are significant ones indeed, especially considering the life history of Naked Lunch author William S. Burrougs, which is not of the same downs, heights and dimensions you could see in any moment, that we should safely say. As a slight deviation hommage to the mutations so keenly presented by the director, this very article now will undergo a mutation process, and will firstly analyze the movie adaptation of Naked Lunch, though being the latter when its release date is compared to of that of Dead Ringers.

Being a grandmaster-level roisterer who poses rejection against all forms of authority and against rule systems claimed to reign beyond the need of adjustments, Burroughs is also a writer who holds a possession of seeking out the means to perfect all kinds of self expressions whatsoever, a class in which writing is necessarily included, of course. His determination being a serious one, Burroughs gives a shot to all the kinds and forms of drugs one could get on Planet Earth and was known to mankind at the same time, with the notorious herbal by the name ayahuasca included, a quite popular artist drug in the late '50s, utilized by authentic shamans since ancient times ago. (Ayahuasca has blatant hallucinogen qualities to it when properly consumed, it is definitely not a coincidence that shamans are still quite ready to dance out the sum of the real deal for you.) Prior to the drug-maniac period exhibited by Burroughs, he suffers from a state of deep depression, as by the year 1951 he plays William Tell with his wife, a bottle of booze and a gun participating. A dangerous ritual being a common form of spending time between his wife and him, but he misses on one occasion, and shots the woman dead. A temporal calming down and peace he then finds in South Africa, where few if any is interested if a man is engaged in writing the definite-hit book, while consuming excessive amounts of ayahuasca during the creative process. The finished work goes by the title Naked Lunch, which seen a series of reprints already since first being published by the year 1959. Throughout the following period therefore, the book seen tons of eyes reading it - including the eyes of Cronenberg.

William S. Burroughs

Burroughs and Cronenberg knew each other, - Burroughs died in 1997 - and during their conversations an idea of seemingly absurd, jokelike qualities was born, an idea of a possible film adaptation of Naked Lunch. The book's bizarre main assumption, portrayed by the movie as well, that there are huge insects scrutinizing us, controlling our minds, thoughts and everyday lives, is a delusion which Burroughs was absolutely sure and convinced of during the peak moments of his drug-filled private adventures, journeys that seemingly were somewhat free of boredom, this much we should certainly say. Later, the writer accidentally came up with a successful delusion destroyer technique, which he called cut-ups. He took a particular sequence of text and randomized the word order in it, examining and eventually deciphering the chaotic results, and had the impression that the randomized words of a cut-up sentence were more capable to render the intended message carried by the originally written form. He believed that more precise renditions of thoughts and emotions are capable to manifest through these cut-ups, as the reader had to utilize a greater and more precise effort of intuitive cognition to realize the associations and relations of the randomized words with each other one, thus grasping a more proper sense of correct emphasis and intended meaning, functions of words present. The cut-ups therefore are resulting in the intellectual experience of a more delicately and precisely stated global message recognition than through of the original text, being genuine of portrayal of inner efforts that led to the original textual rendition, thus finally exhibiting the true meaning behind the original text sequence.

The other reason of Burroughs utilizing the cut-ups technique is specifically anti-delusional, and has a lot do with the thought controlling insects delusion he firmly believed in. The writer considered randomization as an equivalent of freedom. The insects have certainly no authority whatsoever over any randomized texts, the mere act of creating such a sequence signifies that the insects have been tricked, and have no power to control the phenomena of randomized textual content. We shall notice: the cut-ups technique is the brightful triumph of human mind and intellectual freedom! Sounds like drug-related logic? It certainly does, so there is little if any surprise present that the movie adaptation itself is imbued with blatant amount of drugs and related phenomena, too. Naked Lunch being first and foremost a book about drugs and stuff related, the film is definitely a film about drugs and stuff related. Cronenberg offers his own share to the motion picture rendition though, reflected in the portrayal of connection between a drug addict writer and his typewriter, a relation characterized by twisted sanctuary. The writer literally dwells in the deepest bowels of his typewriter, which is not but an object, but a living tool, willing and capable to manifest the writer's inner workings throughout the letters and sentences it is ready to record and manifest for a shared reality. This here typewriter is not but an object. This here typewriter is a living being, taking crucial part of the creative process.

The movie is filled with smart tributes to Burroughs's works, for example at one particular point in the film, the protagonist tells a short story included in the Naked Lunch book, entitled "The Talking Asshole". The brief writing accounts the case of a man who teaches his asshole to talk, but one day the butt starts to claim equal human rights to itself, and when rejected, it decides to take over its proprietor, becoming his primal and most essential organ. The man is changing - Yes! An assman he ends up as(s)! As we now clearly see, Cronenberg never does hide his influences away, since it's very likely that he would be glad to call this particular story his own. Anyhow, Burroughs seems to be a superhectic, extremely complex figure in American literature, it is definitely worth to check out his work. The original book Naked Lunch and the film adaptation are both pieces that one should inspect with a high curiosity, an open mind, and zero premade expectations, as the film is something of a twisted biography of Burroughs, presenting and documenting the peak experiences and delusions he had while attending the ayahuasca realms. The written form undoubtedly remains a work of unique quality. After finishing the book, and escaping death via a freshly developed cure, Burroughs is almost at the point of apologizing for the written texts in Naked Lunch, as in the foreword he further tells us, many friends he showed the work for reacted by explicit nausea to the text. Nevertheless, the motion picture collaboration of these two significant authors resulted in an extremely wicked and rampant output, one you could take very seriously and take as a story of bizarre humor at the same time, though there is no doubt present that the original, authentic form of Naked Lunch is embodied and kept in the written variant, and it is very likely that Cronenberg would be the first to admit this. As frightening parody and an unsettling tragedy as well, we are talking about a movie of unique character and significance, being among the films that are extremely difficult to approach, though.

We reached the Dead Ringers. This film from 1988 serves two significant compliments right away to actor Jeremy Irons, as he delivers the unpaired portrayal of a pair of twins here - what massive, nice disturbance of verbal images we witness here, yes? (Many believe that Irons should have walked away with an Oscar in his hands, alas, Hollywood might have frightened and thought they would have to give two.) This film slighty deviates from the classical Cronenberg methods of storytelling, as it does remain genuinely and ultimately human all the while. No trace of (or explicitly shown) mutations present, even the video recorder refuses to lick the corner of its mouth this time around, and even the twins won't fuse together during the film. Reason being: the twins are fused together already, long before the movie starts to describe their story. Dead Ringers marks one of Cronenberg's most professional image accomplishment, it almost seems unbelievable that the film was made in 1988, so fresh and living the vision remains to this day.

As we slightly hinted at previously, Dead Ringers is an easily approachable and quite beautiful Cronenberg movie, despite the evident sorrowfulness embedded at its very core. We witness a man whose feelings are painfully and deeply hurt, - woman, yes - and chooses to ease his suffering via the seemingly safe, forgetful place which drugs are promising to him. A profound personal deterioration we see here, one that grows quite fond of its prisoner and seems very determined to keep its victim and main originator for itself. The true operational field of the movie is the extra perspective offered by the twin brother of the protagonist. The physical existence of the twin and the emotional relation he is connected to his brother with gives a rare degree of interpersonal complexion and thoughtfulness to the narrative buildup, delivering an exceptionally smart movie experience. Those who chose to share everything - experiences, feelings, women - with each other, are still able to keep something just for themselves? Beverly - Jeremy Irons - has no time to frighten of a possible answer, as the question on its own frightens him at the first place, considering it somewhat of a betrayal against his brother, Elliot. This time Beverly would very much like to keep someone just for himself, but this particular woman he is so fond of hurts his feelings one day. The sensitive man escapes to radical stimulants, and his brother can't help but follow him unto this drug hell, as that is how he can measure and explore the depths he is to help Beverly - and bizarrely: quasy-himself - out of from.

The only Cronenberg element added to the movie is a set of doctor instruments, invented and used by Beverly by the time that he is beyond all accountability due to the effects the consumed drugs are tolling on his mind and reality. Oh, seems we did not yet mention: the twins earn a living by practicing as gynecologists. It is frightening to think of what one should/supposed to do with this dread inventions of thousand edges and spikes, physical manifestations that are once again clearly able to represent Cronenberg's vision on channels characterized by precise, thoughtful functions.

Since we have some experience about mutating an article already, now is the time to analyze Crash, Cronenberg's 1996 movie installment based on J. G. Ballard's book by the same title. Being harshly criticized and probably immensely misunderstood, Crash seems to be portraying people who have suffered severe car accidents and simply can't get off the traumatic experience, even to the point that they are sexually aroused when in evident danger. This here was the misinterpretaion of the message contained. Unfortunately, we might easily add, as the seeking out of evident danger with the wish to be in a shallow, rhapsodical limbo of life and death probably could have serve as a very interesting key element for Crash, but Cronenberg either refused or failed to notice this while working on it - instead he concentrates on the bodies modified and incapacitated as the results of the various accidents, presenting the phenomena as a possible way to redesign human flesh and skeletal structure.

One who holds debate against this here interpretation probably will acknowledge it after the remembrance of the peak sketch where actress Rosanne Arquette and partner make somewhat creative use of the wounds she suffered in her accident. Should we consider it repulsive? In my opinion absolutely not, as this sketch is definitely pure, genuine Cronenberg imbued with provocative thoughtfulness, a thoughtfulness without any respect toward redundant prudery which would definitely conceal such a delicate message when considered legit and utilized. In fact, the sketch of Crash in which Rosanne Arquette's new abilities are being explored is pretty much the only one to me in the movie that I regard as of significant interest, a pity in my opinion, that the idea of potential danger-freaks we hinted at not seemed to occur to Cronenberg. The essential buildup elements of the movie are firm and stable nevertheless, though we won' t likely get away with pleasant memories of the greatest character portrayals and global narrative accomplishment we ever had chance of witnessing. Deborah Unger has major trouble talking out of the Classic Film Noir Voice Register, - cigs included - something we might get way too much of during Crash. Deborah Unger is still a great actress though, this is a pseudo-flaw of the script and the mere character she portraits herein.

The movie M-Butterfly from 1993 and Spider by the year 2002 are deviating further from the directions usually explored by the director, and they are certainly enhancing the unfortunate trend of Cronenberg not coming up with his own ideas since Videodrome. M-Butterfly is the only Cronenberg movie I am not too eager to offer a thorough opinion about, as the film does not make any sense to me whatsoever, but I certainly realize that there should be a superbly hidden message present which I immensely fail to pick up on. Of Spider, I am equally not too fond of, I must say. A movie portaying pretty much all aspects of the despicable qualities one human being might project into reality, also documenting the results this behavior can cause in a child growing up surrounded by profound degree of excessive carelessness and ignorance. Synopsis: plumber daddy knocks the hoile spirit out of mommy via shovel when the woman accidentally opens a door on the man, who happens to be making it out with a hooker who just managed to drew a face for herself. The titulous child, Spider witnesses the murderous act and the cover up effort executed by the father and his new partner, the hooker. A repulsive and depressing journey we witness through Spider's grim past and his present, in which he not surprisingly must deal with severe mental problems.

Spider is a strong film beyond denial, yet being built directly on a profound display of human ignorance and emotional blindness, it is somewhat of an accomplishment if we manage to sit through it at once. The emotional exposition and vulnerability of the child is not only being presented but also being exploited for narrative purposes here, something I can not regard as a particularly creative approach of telling a story. It is clear though that Cronenberg had the intention to make a film that is unpleasant to watch, in which department he succeeds masterfully. Definitely not being your "typically Cronenbergian" installment, Spider is without a doubt a very strong visual and atmospheric accomplishment, a showing off of top notch skills and styles possessed by Cronenberg as a director. A movie to enrich the repertoire with a very nicely done, and very repulsive film that expects and anticipates effects toward itself on the viewer's part. And the effects it gets, indeed.

A relatively fresh installment we should account on before beginning to analyze Cronenberg's latest movie that operates on an original idea by the director, putting a stop to a workfllow method based on third party sources. This fresh installment from 2005 is History of Violence, a psychological thriller based on a 1997 comic by the same title. Featuring Arago.. featuring Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris, Cronenberg offers a nice summer psychological thrillaround for a wider audience, there is truly nothing to blame the film about, though seemingly not being an essential part of Cronenberg's far more interesting technohorror visions, hereby I recommend History of Violence to watch as a decent popcorn thrill, and also I ruthlessly take the position of skipping its analyzation this time.

Our newest and at the same time, last science-fiction time warping takes us right into the year 1999, the year Cronenberg comes up with a brand new concept after Videodrome, embodied in his movie called eXistenZ. The written form of the title accounts for the paradigmatic realization of the producers of the movie, whom are of Hungarian origins. Interestingly enough, the Hungarian word for God - "Isten" - is being incorporated by the English word existence. But an act of inventing a little riddle it requires to arrive at the semantic conclusion: eXistenZ. Therefore we found and all at once solved a great mystery of motion picture history, yes?

Unfortunately, eXistenZ did not came via the most beneficial moment of timing, as the first Matrix film which happens to be examining slightly similar themes as Cronenberg's eXistenZ, hits theaters at the very same year, and with its revolutionary visual effects combined with a pill-philosophy that is yet capable of lying about a massive intellectual content, certainly gives an impression for the awed audience that Cronenberg's fresh movie is not such of an important accomplishment after all. The majority of viewers being dazed of the action opiate Matrix delivers, Cronenberg's new installment initially fails to get the attention it deserves. It is from the clever base conditions the movie depicts we should start out investigating from, opposed the possible approach of merely following the actions taking place in the early segment of the film.

Cronenberg renders an unusual, yet clever - synonym for this: low-budget - future reality of Planet Earth, one in which he resonates the conclusions of quite a few gloomy yet disturbingly rational predictions offered by great solars to walk this Earh previously. At its surface eXistenZ is a clever variant on the themes and issues of virtual realities, a phenomena becoming realer and realer by the day, not necessarily via the levels of immersion and forms it can present itself through, rather because of the apparent desire and need of mankind for these virtual microuniverses. That is the real focal point of questions here, also the question Cronenberg poses central interest toward to in eXistenZ.

While he takes the factual processes of existence in a consensual reality and existence in a virtual reality to blend out a nice mixture of event flow characterized by an elegant urge to move forward and to offer smart twists in the narrative structure, the actual message is similarly seems to be hidden as we have seen - therefore seen not at first - in Scanners. Reason yet again being the fact that the main message of the movie is the sum of the quite thoughtful basic assumptions which the consecutive events rely and build upon. That is how through its ubiquitous ever-presentness the message renders itself as - paradoxically - something that is harder to touch on at first.

Marshall McLuhan, prime media philosopher regarded computers as tools to artificially enhance human consciousness, while Martin Heidegger, German thinker giant considered the phenomena of the ever-sophisticating technology the greatest danger posed to humanity, and thought that by the year 1955 already. According to his ponderings, the technology we are eager to amuse ourselves with might and likely will roll blatant obstacles between the understanding of our very selves and the understanding of each other. Technology do indeed offers a way that poses no requirement from the individual to think, in fact, technology made strictly to entertain should reign and conclude its full justification only when its user ceases to think indeed, and voluntarily choses to be engaged by the amusement technology delivers. Technology therefore offers a theoretically infinite stream of entertainment to intake, that being its prime function, and also being the requirement posed towards it by its user. The mankind portrayed in Croneberg's apocalyptic environmental vision had made its choice already. This mankind is ready, even eager to modify its body for the accessibility of State of the Art technology.

"I just plug and stay out of here!" - volunteers of the film should say, people who are ready to take part in the debut presentation of the brand new virtual reality game that is the hottest thing around. A stream of experience is offered, which is certainly as real as it can possibly get, also it equals to a splendid alternative compared to a supershallow consensual existence, which takes place through a gray flow on an immensely wounded and exploited Earth, now incapable to present the radical stimuli the virtual game is infinitely ready to supply its user with. On top of all that, the premise of the game is quite interesting to begin with, as one has to figure out the goal of each game one takes part in. Some critics tend to approach the film by the shores of existentialism, more precisely, by the shores of existentialism on which you spot the "Welcome!" sign on. They claim that the goal of the game shown herein is to find the goal of the game itself, and of course the gesture of drawing the parallel to real life can easily be committed. "Why do we live?" and "Why do we play?"

Though this recognition certainly does not seem to be out of place, Cronenberg exhibits the fortunate behavior of not drawing a third parallel line between reality and virtuality next to the one he hints at all the time, and next to the second, drawn by the viewer who noticed the first via exquisite awareness. Some very nice hommage to possible and ever present flaws of ancient game mechanics is depicted by Cronenberg by a hilariously and ruthlessly effective manner, stating clearly that he has no intention whatsoever to amuse an evidently lazy audience by giving them an equality sign of purest naive between reality and virtuality. The film instead points its metaphorical (and, by the way, blaming) index finger to mankind's suspected readiness of surrendering itself to technology. A quite evident sign of this statement shines through the narrative fact of using the human body as battery for the virtual reality device.

Cronenberg degrades human to a form of energy source fueling a bionic unit the human is emotionally incapable to exist without, therefore a twisted master and servant relation manifests, in which the user ends up as servant, first and foremost feeding the parasistic technology that lies and offers sweet realities for him, also with the guarantee that little if any remains beyond the endless consumption of the vivid, ever changing illusions delivered by the master parasite. A form of alternative human existence characterized by a quite clever and unsettling narrative compromise, visualized in a world where it is no longer worth not to game. Having no one who came up with simultaneous possession of proper question and proper answer, the ostrich policy of voluntary exposition to infinite stimuli ensures a safe though ultimately false place to hide from the dead ends of real life ponderings. The human of the future makes use of its own self as he learned to until the point of being a user of the game, from which point on he uses and stimulates himself according to whatever he considers usable and capable of being stimulated of him, a consideration formed of course by an imperfect filtering and experience of reality, though that being a deficit he probably could not care less about. All he exists by and with, he stimulates desperately, endlessly, having no further intentions to overcome the present degree of sophistication he represents as a living being. Cronenberg inspects and presents a dreadful realization and ultimate conclusion of notions and predictions given by the thinkers we mentioned, indeed.

The director did not turn the operational efficiency of the bioforge spilling monstrous ideas down, he did not do that at all, thus we have definite chances to inspect various mutants, though they are quite easy to forget this time. Main reason being that Cronenberg himself had set an unlikely high requirement as far as scary mutants and creatures go by presenting that genuinely scream-inducing libido monstrosity with the human ass in Naked Lunch. The mutants presented in eXistenZ only have a narrative, textual function to them, no further workings or relevance of them are exhibited, opposed to the case of the aforementioned blasphemy, which is absolutely all right with making it out with the native floor in a ridiculously disgusting manner indeed, prime factor of the astonishing repulsiveness of the creature being that it has truly no other agenda than just to do that all the time. And it is pretty damn good at it.

Cronenberg must have felt that content is somewhat shallow in eXistenZ as far as the mutant department goes, therefore protagonist Jude Law reaches the point in the narrative structure where he is forced to consume mutant beings served as meal, also we are to observe quite boring sequences of how the dissecting process of a mutant goes down in an alternate reality. These are the weakest spots in the fabric of the movie, even worse, though the phenomena being extremely rare, probably non-eXistenT prior to this occasion, even metaphoric overkill is committed by Cronenberg. What need should possibly be present for Ted Pikul - Jude Law - to put his tongue into the bioport plug on Allegra Gallagher's - Jennifer Jason Leigh - body, while one could easily access the hint on her/his own that the mere factual existence of the biopod plug on the human body might very well be regarded as key element of a loose, sexual symbol system. Yet another opening of the body with the capability to connect and being penetrated, also it is a slot that registers signals coming from the biopod, thus manifesting extremely delicate and intimate experiences in the host, those which are of emotional and intellectual qualities.

The film has no intention to bid against its own, quite dreadful basic assumptions via redundant scare elements, therefore Cronenberg creates and nicely exploits the chance to present a thoughtful, twisty ending through a rendition of virtual and real events capable of interacting with each other. eXistenZ is not particularly a high-budget movie, a circumstance which we strangely grow more and more grateful of during the viewing process, especially when giving the film the multiple eyeballing that it certainly deserves. Cronenberg fills the financial gaps by extremely skillful storytelling, narrative elements are present that we have little chance of noticing at first. The director utilizes elegant twists to maintain that generally high tempo which the film flows at, and successfully escapes all those hobby-philosophical question marks. No trace of an intentional and permanent urge to escape the questions posed is present though, since Cronenberg delivers an effective conclusion at the end, wrapping the movie up in a quite hilarious manner, while emphasising still how dreadfully real the ending sequence might be one day. But with an exceptionally hard dilemma we are presented with in the end, echoing to ourselves during the credit list. Should we throw away, or should we instead give a try for our slimy little biopod, making soft noises in the armchair beside us?

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Paul Gilbert - Get Out of My Yard

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Guitar Nine Records, 2007

Paul Gilbert is back with his latest studio release, entitled: I Still Have It, Baby, And You Know It. Nah, just joking. Gilbert's latest addition to extremely high-end guitar molesting goes by the title Get Out of My Yard, and I must say it features songs to impress curious ears and to blew unsuspecting speakers apart. A special occasion we have as well, and OH!, a special occasion it is indeed, as Paul accompanies the record with an optional instructional DVD this time around, showing off the musical and technical methods he utilized to create the album's songs. Well, He Still Has It Baby, And We All Knew It.

Paul Gilbert always was and still is one of the shredders we better look and listen out for, as he strolls on a wide variety of musical spectrums, while usually maintains that classic nuclear edge of All The Guitars That Electrified. What I truly dig in Paul's game as a listener is that he does not seem to be happy, not to mention being intimidated with and by hypothetical boundaries of musical languages established earlier, rather he chooses to take super-closeup looks of the actual style, with the quite defendable agenda to basically play the hoile crap out of them, THEN beyond.

He is clearly still quite fond of inventing and interpreting easily likeable rock melodies through the channels of sizzling guitar warfare, utilizing a nice tint of resourceful, brash blues language to wrap the majority of the new compositions up.

Gilbert still remains among the few who do with the guitar as they and what they please to though, so you will definitely have the moments and compositions here which are likely to truly amaze you with the sheer musical, and not the least, technical creativity embedded in them.

The short while very well balanced opening track is a definite "OMG!" here, a piece Paul performs with a Human Capo present, and urges you to do the same on the instructional DVD. A short and effective introduction filled with all the pathos you could possibly get out of a guitar with six E strings and a pair of necks we are talking about here. Yes, Paul Gilbert is a funny dude, according to fellow stringmaster Yngwie J. Malmsteen, for whom words we could relate without any hesitation whatsoever.

A humorous yet amazingly cheerful classical hommeage to german composergiant Joseph Haydn is also of note here, while the subject of my personal amazement is definitely the Echo Song, a piece Paul wrote with a smart delay effect unleashed on the relatively simple themes he is striking on the instrument, resulting in a genuine, wanderous sci-fi feeling that remained untouched and never shown until Paul Gilbert was kind 'nuff to share this unexplored musical dimension with us.

Paul Gilbert is an excellent teacher aswell, on his latest DVD he is not only introduces you to the individual musical paths and ideas he relied on to form the compositions, - a rarity indeed - but in the later section of the DVD he shares very useful information about the various concepts of advanced guitar molesting, including arpeggios, string skipping, how to play with rhh-iddddi-hhi-ccculous speed, and how to prevent being sucked into wild space on board a vacant space station invaded by hostile alien lifeforms. One of the methods mentioned above is not being subject of thorough discussion and demonstration by Paul on the DVD of course. Or at least I did not notice it at first.

To wrap things up, we can easily say that Paul Gilbert keeps unto his own promise, coming with the Get Out of My Yard production line. Seeing and hearing this, it is more than likely that:

Your guitar playing may never be the same!

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