Somebody needs to send David Cronenberg a candygram or something, because it seems like the 70-year-old Torontonian director is a little bummed about his advancing age. In an essay for the Paris Review, he draws an elaborate analogy between becoming a septuagenarian and turning into a horrifying beetle in the manner of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Things get especially interesting when Cronenberg makes the obvious connection with his own 1986 body-horror film, The Fly, in which a scientist played by Jeff Goldblum inadvertently transforms himself into a man-sized insect.
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In a way, David Cronenberg put me in the hospital. Last January, I attended a screening of a documentary by the filmmaker Ric Esther Bienstock about the black market buying and selling of human organs, called Tales From the Organ Trade. Bienstock had asked Cronenberg to narrate because his own films traffic in what she called “intelligent discomfort.” His enlistment was a wink, a good match for the director known as the Baron of Blood. Cronenberg, with his nasally, Vincent Price pitch, guides the audience through gruesome images of organ-emptied torsos and desperately ill patients who rinse their blood in whirring machines while awaiting new kidneys. His looming presence, associated with films about the sexual penetration of open wounds (Crash) and talking half-alien typewriters (Naked Lunch) and TV screens pulsating like O’Keeffe vagina flowers (Videodrome), doesn’t exactly lighten the mood. I fainted, then vomited, then went to the hospital in an ambulance.
Cronenberg Filmography: how one Toronto director changed filmmaking and turned actors into megastars
Over a 40-year obsession with mutants, fetishists and freaks, David Cronenberg has transformed from avant-garde boy wonder into one of Canada’s most famous director (you can read our feature profile of him here). Below, a film-by-film guide that reveals how Cronenberg influenced filmmaking the world over—by turning actors into megastars, challenging ratings boards and earning Oscar nominations.
“The great thing about being an actor is that you play all these strange characters and it allows you to relate to almost anybody. I’ve played over 60 different people and seen life through their eyes. So when I see something like your mayor, I think, yeah, it’s a tough call, but you’ve got to deal with it.”
—Jeremy Irons, while being interviewed on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. The Oscar-winning actor was in town to discuss Cronenberg Evolution—the David Cronenberg retrospective at the TIFF Lightbox—but instead, he got Strombo to talk about the same thing everyone is talking about in Toronto right now: mayor Rob Ford. “The characters I played in Dead Ringers had many similar problems to the mayor,” Irons said of his dual role in the creepy 1988 flick, although “they were gynaecologists, not mayors.” It’s terrifying to think that one of Cronenberg’s most unsettling movies—about twin gynaecologists pulling bait-and-switch seductions on unsuspecting patients—may contain insight into the mayor’s current predicament.
To see the full interview, tune into George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight on CBC Television on Monday, November 18 at 7 p.m. or 11:30 p.m.
In this edition of The Weekender, the annual Royal Agricultural fair opens, the TIFF Bell Lightbox mounts an eerie David Cronenberg exhibition and three more things to do in Toronto this weekend.
David Cronenberg: Evolution Read the rest of this entry »
Fans of the Toronto-raised pioneer of body horror flicks get a chance to see props and costumes commemorating his extensive thriller film roster, from early short Stereo to his big break, Videodrome. See here for our sneak preview of ambitious, thrillingly terrifying exhibition. Nov. 1–Jan. 19. $9. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., tiff.net
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For over three decades, Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg has disturbed and delighted audiences with his uncanny knack for exploring (and exploiting) our most unsettling fears. Starting November 1, Torontonians can take a terrifying peek inside the mind that gave us The Fly, Dead Ringers and Videodrome. Cronenberg: Evolution, the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s first large-scale touring exhibit, tracks Cronenberg’s development from his initial big-budget flick, 1981 science-fiction film Scanners, to last year’s Don DeLillo adaptation, Cosmopolis. Divided chronologically into three sections, the exhibition includes over 60 props, costumes and artifacts (many of them salvaged from Cronenberg’s house and garage), including the hive-like telepod from The Fly and the six-foot-tall humanoid Mugwump from Naked Lunch. The exhibit is one of TIFF’s biggest, most ambitious and certainly most grotesque. Here, 15 photos from the delightfully chilling retrospective. Read the rest of this entry »
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Sarah Gadon lies motionless in a bed, luminous as a light bulb against a backdrop of crisp white linen. Her lips are painted a rusty red, her blonde hair frozen in perfect ringlets. Even with her eyes closed she radiates intensity. It’s a scene from Antiviral, the post-apocalyptic morality tale from Brandon Cronenberg (son of David), and Gadon is playing the biggest movie star in the world. The film is about a futuristic society in which obsessed fans buy diseases from ailing celebrities in a desperate attempt to connect with them. Gadon’s character, Hannah Geist, is the object of their obsession. The idea’s not that far-fetched—over the past couple years, Gadon has leapfrogged from minor Canadian TV guest actor (recurring roles on Murdoch Mysteries, Being Erica and The Border) to auteur’s muse and Cannes regular.
1. THE PENELOPIAD
Following last year’s acclaimed run, Nightwood Theatre’s production of The Penelopiad is back at Buddies in Bad Times. Written by Margaret Atwood as a response to Homer’s The Odyssey, this play’s all-female cast is led by Megan Follows (yes, of Anne of Green Gables fame), who stars as Odysseus’s wife Penelope as she waits for her husband to return home (an absence that stretches decades). Joining Follows is her Anne co-star, Patricia Hamilton, as well as a flock of actresses who form a dazzling Greek chorus. January 8–February 10. $37–$45. Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St., 416-975-8555, buddiesinbadtimes.com
I think celebrity obsession in our culture is a manifestation of a broader human impulse. If you look at, say, the saints, they were essentially elevated almost to the status of gods….I think that deification process and that fetishism is something that exists beyond our culture, this is just one manifestation of it.
–Filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg, director of Antiviral and son of David Cronenberg, talks celebrity obsession. [Grolsch Film Works]
Amid the cocktail swilling and celebrity gawking, eating can be an afterthought during TIFF. Good news: there are plenty of excellent restaurants that let you do all three. Here, the glitziest places to dine, drink, and catch starlets cheating on their diets. Read the rest of this entry »
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TIFF can be the most exhausting event of the year—10 days of near constant drinking, schmoozing and stargazing, all, ostensibly, in the name of movies. Choosing the best parties requires insider intelligence and expert planning. Here, a highly discerning look at the festival’s hottest hot spots. Read the rest of this entry »
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Single tickets for the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival go on sale this Sunday, September 2. And with a record 372 films being screened (146 of them world premieres), it can be daunting trying to figure out which ones are actually worth the $20 (or $40, for galas and special presentations) and hours in line. The solution: our guide to the 50 most talked-about movies at the festival this year, in which we scrutinize the advance hype (and the buzz from Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and Venice) to separate the must-sees from the flicks that only a mother could love.
Last year, Keira Knightley attended TIFF to promote David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, which quickly became one of the most buzzed about movies at the festival—as much for the action off the screen as on. The actress talked about her drinks of choice–both before (vodka) and after (champagne) her spanking scene with Michael Fassbender—walked the red carpet in a whimsical dress from Elie Saab and made an appearance at the festival’s hottest party. Naturally, we don’t expect a show of such glamourous proportions this time around. Still, we’re anxious to see whether she can do the title character justice in director Joe Wright’s version of Anna Karenina.
I don’t think they are making them an elevated art form. I think it’s still Batman running around in a stupid cape. I just don’t think it’s elevated. Christopher Nolan’s best movie is Memento, and that is an interesting movie. I don’t think his Batman movies are half as interesting, though they’re 20 million times the expense. What he is doing is some very interesting technical stuff…[but] the movie[s], to me, they’re mostly boring….It’s adolescent in its core.
—Director David Cronenberg in an interview with The Next Movie alongside Cosmopolis star Robert Pattinson. Later in the Q&A, the Twilight hottie is asked if he’d ever consider playing Batman. His answer: “I’m not buff enough.” [h/t Vulture]