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Re: Cronenberg's Spider

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  • Yoel Meranda
    Peter, Thanks for your comments on Spider. I saw some of what you mentioned while I was watching the film. I personally feel that your comments still confirm
    Message 1 of 11 , Aug 1, 2003
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      Peter,

      Thanks for your comments on Spider.

      I saw some of what you mentioned while I was watching the film. I
      personally feel that your comments still confirm that Cronenberg
      really knows how to tell a story visually. The fact that Spider is
      alone on the streets or the fact that he is out of focus on some of
      the flashbacks are observations more about "the content" of the
      images.

      What I usually look for in films is a formal expression that has some
      kind of relation to the content of the image. An example in North by
      Northwest can tell more about what I mean than hundreds of pages of
      theory:
      The film starts in the city with strong verticals all over the place
      (skyscrapers, humans, etc.), Cary Grant character being one of them,
      so you feel he is a vertical line just like any other (as opposed to
      being an individual). Of course the other verticals also serve to
      protect him (the scene in the terminal is a good example) because
      thanks to the crowd he is "lost" both for the cops and the
      audience.
      This goes on for the first half of the film. When he is left alone
      defenseless in the fields, it's the first time in the film there are
      no verticals. There is a very dominant horizontal line and only one
      vertical line, that is Cary Grant. This change in the visual rhythm
      makes you "feel" the loneliness of the character.

      Obviously, I'm not saying this is the only way you can express
      loneliness. But it is just a great example of what I look for in
      films. The compositions in Spider make me "understand" that
      he is
      alone. Something like North by Northwest makes me feel it.

      I saw his Crash three times and in all of them I found new things
      about it. In the last viewing, I realized that the green grass he
      uses at the last shot is the first time in the film that he uses a
      non-metallic, "non-distancing" color, which was some kind of
      redemption for my eyes. The story reflected that too, in the sense
      that the characters were being true to themselves and each other for
      the first time.

      What do you think about his other films, about Existenz (that I
      hated) for example?

      Yoel
    • ptonguette@aol.com
      Yoel, Your example of the sort of formal expression Hitchcock utilizes in North by Northwest is a great one. What s going on in Spider is surely less
      Message 2 of 11 , Aug 1, 2003
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        Yoel,

        Your example of the sort of formal expression Hitchcock utilizes in "North by
        Northwest" is a great one. What's going on in "Spider" is surely less
        subtle, though I still think quite sophisticated in that Cronenberg actually
        utilizes space to tell his story; he doesn't set the camera down and let the
        screenplay do it for him. The shots and editing are engaged in an interplay with the
        writing which creates a very particular context in which the story is told.
        Admittedly, it's not Hitchcock, but I did love it.

        I like the early Cronenberg's very much, especially "Shivers" and
        "Videodrome." "Dead Ringers" is perhaps his best film, pace "Spider." I think Zach
        makes a case for some of the more recent stuff, including "eXistenZ," so perhaps I
        should give the floor to him.

        Peter

        http://hometown.aol.com/ptonguette/index.html
      • Zach Campbell
        ... including eXistenZ, so perhaps I ... EXISTENZ is actually the only post-DEAD RINGERS Cronenberg I ve seen, unless parts of CRASH on cable (before I
        Message 3 of 11 , Aug 1, 2003
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          Peter:
          > I think Zach
          > makes a case for some of the more recent stuff,
          including "eXistenZ," so perhaps I
          > should give the floor to him.

          EXISTENZ is actually the only post-DEAD RINGERS Cronenberg I've seen,
          unless parts of CRASH on cable (before I became interested in the
          director) count. And I'd be happy to defend EXISTENZ if I could see
          it again, but my memory of it is just shaky enough to discourage me
          from trying (I saw it twice about three and a half years ago). I've
          found an old review I wrote for my own pleasure on my hard drive, but
          it's awful enough for me to roll my eyes and not even finish reading
          it. So there's no way I'd post or rephrase it here. Suffice it to
          say that I think EXISTENZ is a very strong film and have no reason to
          think I wouldn't be positive toward it on another viewing.

          --Zach
        • Dan Sallitt
          ... I actually prefer early Cronenberg (SCANNERS and before) to later. I must confess that I do not understand what everyone else in the world sees in DEAD
          Message 4 of 11 , Aug 2, 2003
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            > I like the early Cronenberg's very much, especially "Shivers" and
            > "Videodrome." "Dead Ringers" is perhaps his best film, pace "Spider." I think Zach
            > makes a case for some of the more recent stuff, including "eXistenZ," so perhaps I
            > should give the floor to him.

            I actually prefer early Cronenberg (SCANNERS and before) to later. I
            must confess that I do not understand what everyone else in the world
            sees in DEAD RINGERS, which I recently revisited - it seems to me very
            flawed indeed. I do love NAKED LUNCH, though, which followed.

            My take on Cronenberg is that he is not particularly inspired either
            with visuals or with actors, but that he has a gift for telling stories
            that fuse theme and plot in the most interesting ways, and an
            intelligence about when to deploy naturalism to counterpoint fantasy.
            SHIVERS, which is still something like the ultimate Cronenberg film, is
            quite clumsy in almost every way but is nonetheless completely in
            command of its bizarre narrative and where the audience is positioned
            relative to it. THE BROOD was a high-water mark for me; after SCANNERS,
            his craft improved (probably due to money), but he starts to lose me.
            VIDEODROME is a very smart film in some ways (Cronenberg is his own best
            dialogue writer), but the connect between plotting and subject matter
            starts to slacken here.

            - Dan
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