David Cronenberg, Pt. 4 (‘Cosmopolis’ / ‘Spider’)

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Our resident favorite filmmaker, Canada’s own David Cronenberg, has been busy lately. We got his Freud/Jung historical biopic A Dangerous Method less than 12 months ago, and he’s already back with the sure-to-be-divisive Cosmopolis. a very talky Don DeLillo adaptation starring Robert Pattinson as a multi-billionaire on a path of self-destruction. Ricky D and Simon Howell, flying solo like the olden days of the ‘cast, tackle the new flick, along with a personal favorite of Ricky D’s, 2002’s gloomy, cerebral Spider.

[powerpress]

Check out our previous Cronenberg shows here, here and here.

Playlist:

Music for Money – “Parfum de Glace”
Primal Scream – “Blood Money”
Lifeguards – “What Am I?”

7 Comments
  1. Sasa says

    Why do you keep talking about the digital look? In 2013 there is no “digital look” any more. The digital look is something that came from the restrictions of the medium in the past when the technology was still developing. Today if you work with digital, you get the look you want. Do you want the 24p cinema look, the 16mm grainy look, or the the dogma look? You can have it.
    I work a little bit with digital and belive me, you can do amazing things even with a HD capable 1000$ DSLR, a couple of cheap lenses and a laptop, not to even mention pro equipment.
    Just look on youtube under “film look” and you’ll be surprised.

    1. Ricky says

      There is no digital look anymore ? I don’t even know where to start in responding to that comment?

      There are few filmmakers who have used digital to their benefit – meaning that the look of the film elevates the picture in many ways. Fincher and Boyle are prime examples whereas Peter Jackson’s Hobbit suffered tremendously.

      Technology is ever evolving and for the best. Filmmakers can now make feature films with a much smaller budget. I don’t deny that digital has benefits. Once Upon A Time in Anatolia is one of the most beautiful films of 2012 and it was shot in digital.

      I really wanted to like Cosmopolis but I just didn’t. I was really happy it made our staff wide list of best films of 2012. I think it belongs there but I couldn’t honestly vote for it. Every year there are about two critically acclaimed movies that I just did not like.

      However, I always give a movie I didn’t like a second glance. I’ve watched it since and apart from the final scene, I felt this movie was lesser Cronenberg and thus a disappointment for someone who is a huge fan of his work.

      1. Sasa says

        I agree, it is probably the worst movie made by Cronenberg.
        With the digital look I just wanted to say that with digital you get what you want. If Cosmopolis has that look, it is because the director wanted it to look this way.
        I just wanted to say that you can easily simulate the 35mm look with digital. You can even add the grain and the scratches.
        The thing is that people don’t realize how much did digital improve over the last 3 to 4 years.
        The biggest problem was of course the dynamic range, but with the recent developments this is not an issue anymore if you use pro equipment. Of course you have to grade it correctly and use the right framerate.
        I was wrong in stating that there is no digital look, but today this look is more a choice than a technical limitation. You can choose. If you want the 35mm film look, you can have it and most people (even critics) wont notice the difference.

        If you don’t belive me check the Zacuto shootout on youtube or some of the Fenchel & Janisch film look tutorials.
        The future is in digital and there is nothing wrong with that.

  2. Mario in Philly says

    Having heard your review and lots of other negative buzz, I’ll find it hard to stay away from a Cronenberg film. But, as Simon mentioned, I think I’d want to go to the theater when Cosmopolis is playing just to see the Twi-heads’ reactions too. Sounds like fun.

    I saw Spider when it was released and I think I need a return visit to it. When I saw it I remember thinking it was great filmmaking but more so for Ralph Fiennes’ performance. He’s totally amazing and engrossing and I thought I read he created his own language for the character, but I can’t find anything written online to corroborate that.

  3. Chips says

    Had to read Cosmopolis twice to get it. Haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll see it multiple times on the big screen & buy the dvd. Packer’s personal arc mimics the exterior of limo arc. Brilliant.

  4. nikki says

    With all respect but I can’t disagree more with Ricky (was it him?)’s negative view on Cosmopolis.
    I am not familiar with Cronenberg’s work but I know he’s very respected and is considered a master. A master remains a master, even when he’doing stuff you don’t like. So how could someone like him agree with poor editing? I’ve read a lot of Cronenberg’s interviews and everything in Cosmopolis is the way he wanted and he had a clear, interesting vision on why he wanted it to be like that. There weren’t a lot of takes, Cronenberg is known for not rehearsing and making many takes. The final scene has been shot in one long take. So I don’t think the editor had that much stuff to cut.

    I have read the novel too, 4 times. The story is layered and the protagonist, Eric Packer, is such a complex character that you can’t ‘get’ the book unless you read it at least twice. And still: each reader has his/her own opinion about the themes and Eric. Countless online discussions have taken place between readers which makes the novel the more fascinating.
    Fact is that the book is written in a cold, affectionless, distant style, just as its lead character is in the beginning of the story. DeLillo works with quotes, one liners, many of them brilliant. I think Cronenberg had to copy these dialogues or it wouldn’t have been Cosmopolis. They are a kind of poems with a certain rythm.
    I was afraid too, when I went to see the movie the first time that it would sound weird, but IMO these dialogues worked very well once you got used to them. It’s like a Shakespearian stage play or Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.
    More: I was pleasantly surprised that the actors delivered the lines as natural as possible, knowing how stylized they were written in the book.
    For me, the adaptation exceeded my expectations. Some critics even wrote that the film was better than the book.
    David stayed true to the novel and I liked to see the movie as I had imagined the story while reading the book.
    What could he have added more, as the story itself is already complex enough? I don’t know anything about cinematography, but again: why is Cronenberg called a master if he wouldn’t be good at that this time?
    What I do think is an issue for people, not familiar with the book and DeLillo’s typical writing style, is that in the book you can read sentences again and again until you get them. In the movie, once they’re said, the words are gone. No button to pause and rewind in theatre. But it is known that Cosmopolis isn’t an easy watch and it doesn’t have to be. It gets people talking, even when they don’t like it, that’s what matters.
    I have seen the movie 3 times now and I belong to those who call it a masterpiece. It is so different from other indie movies, even from other Cannes movies, but it makes you scratch your head and think about it (De Rouille et d’os f.e. was a beautiful story but that was it).
    I understand people not liking it at all. I have more problems with Cronenberg fans not liking it, I even feel the need to defend him though I was never a fan of him in the first place. He did a wonderful job with this project, but it’s a tough one, a movie that apparently needs an introduction before the showing begins.
    Though many reviews were mixed, most (about 80-90%) of the critics praised the acting of Robert Pattinson, many of them called it very good to brilliant. IMHO he did a superb job. He didn’t ‘recite’ the lines, it was ment to be as Eric is a detached character, not supposed to have any empathetic, emotional connection with anybody. As the movie progress he shows more his vulnerability and growing insanity. FYI, Pattinson had memorized the whole script before they started shooting.
    When Rob said in interviews that he didn’t get what it was all about, he was right as you can’t get what it’s all about after one read of the script/book. David then knew that he had his actor.It’s not that Pattinson hadn’t any idea of who Eric was and what the story was about, he is known for being an intelligent man. No, he realized how the complexity of his character would provoke different and controversial POV’s of the readers. He played Eric as I had imagined him while reading the book. Though I know Colin Farrell is a talented actor, I didn’t find him right for the role. Too old to begin with, not that level of charisma, but that’s personal. If he had performed Eric in a more active way, he would’ve done a bad job. As a viewer you weren’t supposed to feel something for him, to connect with him.
    Eric was ‘dead’, long before he met his executer.

    Sorry for eventual mistakes as English is my third language.

    1. p says

      I want to thank you for your comment , i couldn’t have said it better myself. finally someone who understand the challenges in the making of this film .And i get it had to read it twice myself…lol…Didn’t see it yet can’t wait.

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