Sunday, May 24, 2009

"The Crazy World of the Not So Crazy David Cronenberg"

Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities
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Film Discussion Series: OSU PhotoCinema Alumni & Friends Group, Facebook
Clay Lowe, programmer/host with special guest co-hosts
Venue: Landmark's Gateway Theatre
Meeting-screening room, 1550 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio
All invited, free admission

"The Crazy World of the Not So Crazy David Cronenberg"

Week One
Date: April 29, 2009
Time: 7:30 PM Wednesday evening
VIDEODROME (R. Universal. 90 min. 1983)
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: James Woods (Cable TV programmer)

In a bizzare demonstration of truly interactive TV, the Videodrome network unleashes its hallucinatory powers upon its unsuspecting viewers, such as Max (frantically played by James Woods), and literally sucks them into its own reality world of violence and passion. So what else is new . . ? The film's powerful and terrifying special effects. They dramatically heighten (psychologically and physically), the impact of Videodrome's violent images upon everyone who approaches the alternative reality world that diabolically lurks within its screens. Like no other film it vividly demonstrates, in extremis, how TV shapes the images that we create within our minds. A highly intelligent critique of television; but be forewarned, it's best to avert your eyes during its most difficult scenes, or you too may become one of its victims. -Clay Lowe, The Movies on Media Handbook, 1997

Guest co-host: Jennifer Ntiri, Actress-Dancer, Arts Psychology

Week Two
Date: May 6, 2009
Time: 7:30 PM Wednesday evening
The Fly (R. Twentieth-Century Fox. 100 min. 1986)
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis
Gruesome. yet witty, science fiction horrorfest that leaves the viewer simultaneously choking with laughter and gagging with nausea. The movie is blessed, fortunately, with acting talents that match the eye-catching special effects. Goldblum is perfectly cast as the somewhat nerdy, but ultimately macho, scientist leading man. Davis adds credibility as the inquisitive journalist who becomes Goldblum's lover. Her dedicated concern for him mixes well with her trace of a newsperson's quest for truth. -Wayne Miller, The Movies on Media Handbook, 1997

Guest co-host: Melissa Starker, Alive

Week Three
Date: May 13, 2009
Time: 7:30 PM Wednesday evening
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt, Ed Harris, Ashton Holmes
Soft-spoken man (Mortensen) who runs a small-town luncheonette is suddenly confronted by two violent strangers--and is more than ready to respond. His actions lead to questions and repercussions. Sexually potent, harshly violent story based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke is arresting entertainment that means to hit us right between the eyes. (R-98m.) -Leonard Maltin, Movie Guide, 2009

Guest Co-host: Vicki Anne Bennett, Artist/Photographer, Novelist

Week Four
Date: May 20, 2009
Time: 7:30 PM Wednesday evening
CRASH (NC-17 Canadian. 100 min. 1996)
Director: David Cronenberg
Based on: J. G. Ballard novel
Starring: James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas, Roseanna Arquette
When ....Crash'' premiered in May, 1996, at the Cannes Film Festival, some people fled the theater. The movie has played in Canada and Europe to widespread controversy, inspiring polemics both pro and con. Ted Turner, whose studio, Fine Line, is distributing the film in the United States, has said he hates it. Certainly it will repel and disgust many viewers. It's like a porno movie made by a computer: It downloads gigabytes of information about sex, it discovers our love affair with cars, and it combines them in a mistaken algorithm. The result is challenging, courageous and original--a dissection of the mechanics of pornography. I admired it, although I cannot say I ....liked'' it. It goes on a bit too long. Afterward, I found myself wishing a major director would lavish this kind of love and attention on a movie about my fetishes. (NC-17-100m.) -Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, 1997

Guest co-hosts: Hope Madden & George Wolf, The Other Paper

Week Five
Date: May 27, 2009
Time: 7:30 PM Wednesday evening
EASTERN PROMISES (R. Canadian-British. 100 min. 2007)
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Sinead Cusak
Viggo Mortensen's glower power is on full blast in David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, in which he plays the taciturn chauffeur of a London-based Russian crime family. Naomi Watts is fetchingly fretful as the midwife who gets caught in the mobster trap after discovering a potentially incendiary diary. The stars are fine but the movie doesn't quite align: Cronenberg's Organizatsiya saga has moments that are clearly the work of a singular talent, but it frequently plays as melodrama. Dirty Pretty Things screenwriter Steven Knight endeavours once again to present London as a teeming hive of ethnic and ethical tensions, but the questions of cultural dislocation – of old and new worlds in conflict – seem cursory. There's more meat, much of it flayed and abused, in the material about Russian-prison tattooing practices, which strikes a rich metaphorical vein. The theme of the body as a kind of brutal canvas culminates in arguably the greatest set piece of Cronenberg's career – and one of the great recent movie set pieces, period. Breathless, brutal and disquietingly funny, this scene further entrenches Cronenberg's reputation as a grisly virtuoso, and unfortunately exacerbates the weakness of some of the surrounding bits. (R-100m.) -Adam Nayman,, September 13, 2007

Guest co-host: Melissa Starker, Alive

Also, special thanks to Deep Blue Edit for links posted on Facebook's Cronenberg Events invitation.

Programmer-host: Clay Lowe
Emeritus faculty, OSU Photography and Cinema
Formerly: moderator, World Film Classics, Educable TV-25; producer/co-host, Columbus Museum of Art Film Series; producer/co-host, "It's Movie Time," WCBE 90.5 FM. Currently: occasional guest film panelist, "Open Line Weekends," WOSU 820 AM.

Note: The dicussion series is intended to be an exploration of Cronenberg's views on violence rather than an exploration of his work as a whole.

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