Archive for Rabid

Ladies and Germs

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on February 24, 2015 by dcairns

rabid_01

There’s a commercial showing in UK cinemas right now for some kind of anti-armpit treatment. It’s mostly quite bland, but there’s a shot of an inflamed pink CGI surface that’s supposed to illustrate the concept of When Armpits Go Bad, and if you look in the upper right corner (as Fiona and Alex both did, separately pointing it out to me) you can see a caption superimposed that reads “Artistic Dramatisation”.

Over at Electric Sheep Magazine, I look at the Blu-Ray of RABID, which is another artistic dramatisation of an armpit, in this case that of Marilyn Chambers, who has a very dramatic armpit indeed.

When I first became aware of Cronenberg, it was through Scorsese’s praise, and at that time, RABID seemed to be his second film as director. A little later, we became aware that STEREO and CRIMES OF THE FURURE were actual real productions, and could even be seen if you were lucky. We didn’t learn about FAST COMPANY until quite a bit later, because the filmmaker himself wasn’t anxious to talk about it. Now, the IMDb lists RABID as something like his twentieth project, making Cronenberg one of the most retroactively prolific filmmakers I have encountered. If we wait long enough, it seems like he will eventually have made more movies than Raul Ruiz, not by actually making further films, but by the far simpler route of turning out to have made more movies than we previously knew about. I wish I had that ability.

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The Primal Scene

Posted in FILM, Politics, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2012 by dcairns

Freud’s primal scene beautifully captured in this surviving fragment of an early ALICE cartoon by Walt Disney. Seemed appropriate as we’d just seen Cronenberg’s A DANGEROUS METHOD. Disney, of course, is even spankier than Keira Knightley’s character in the latter film, probably as a result of his German-American background.

As for FREUD VS JUNG IN THE WORLD SERIES OF LOVE, I need to see it again, but I enjoyed it — an intelligent, even intellectual love story. You might expect Cronenberg, the rationalist, to side more with Freud than with the mystic Jung, and in that one respect, maybe he does, but on the whole, Jung emerges far more sympathetically that his master — and Sabina Spielrein more sympatetically that either.

Glenn Kenny, in this illuminating interview with Cronenberg, makes the point that the film relates back to RABID, with its vision of female libido running amok and threatening society. I was reminded of SHIVERS too (THEY CAME FROM WITHIN, that film’s alternative title, might make a good alternative for ADM too) — the clean, sharp-edged world of Control and Civilization disrupted by wild, animalistic behaviour. It’s interesting that in Cronenberg’s early films he seemed to suffer from the problem of The Hero With Nothing To Do — since the aberrant, monstrous characters were the ones that really interested him, his straight protagonists were left to run around and always arrive too late, and to hear about the climax via a telephone call. Only in SCANNERS, when he located the monstrous within the person of the hero, did this problem find a solution (and even then, Stephen Lack’s, well, lack as leading man kept the film from fully realizing this radical solution).

It’s interesting that Cronenberg has never made a film truly about a female protagonist  — Geena Davis is a major POV character in THE FLY, arguably the lead, but not quite — Cronenberg has too much love for his evolving monster. Jennifer Jason Leigh in EXISTENZ has to share all her screen time with Jude Law. And here, Sabina is a catalyst for Jung’s voyage of discovery.

Yet, as Fiona reminds me from time to time, if you want to talk about body horror, women have FAR more experience of that than men — you only have to look at childbirth, but you don’t have to look that far.

Maybe, Cronenberg is relocating body horror into his male characters because THAT’S his phobia — so there’s the latex umbilicus connecting the two Jeremy Irons brothers in DEAD RINGERS, the squishy bits of raw liver that go into and out of the orifices of various characters in SHIVERS, and Jude Law’s lumbar-region penetration by Willem Dafoe in EXISTENZ  — this stuff is, in the real world, natural enough, but by transmogrifying it and masculinizing it, Cronenberg is exploring its capacity to disturb. And from his own, male, viewpoint.