4:00 PM September 7, 2022
Future crimes (18)
The crimes are future, but the author is historical. Cronenberg will turn 80 on the next birthday and gave it the same title as his feature debut.
The Second Crimes is a tale of insurgent evolution and a vision of the future as a deserted, out-of-season coastal village where the few remaining characters roam the decaying Mediterranean architecture. Advanced evolution eliminated pain and infection, while many people began to grow new organs.
Saul Tensor (Mortensen) is a famous performance artist who grows new organs which are then extracted in front of the public by his partner Caprice (Seydoux.) Various government groups – New Vice, the National Organ Registry – attempt to track and suppress that . Considering there seems to be hardly anyone around, you would have thought they would be easy to find.
After two decades of relative respectability, it’s Cronenberg’s return to the body-horror projects that made his name, full of organic mechanics, tactile software, and sensual, invasive surgery. It’s kind of like a greatest hits collection, new releases of footage you loved (or pushed back) from Shivers, Videodrome, eXistenz, and more.
Mortensen’s camouflaged, hunched figure resembles Jeff Goldblum’s Brundlefly, but rocks on a steady keel rather than heading into a terminal decline. Overall, it’s perhaps the closest to his movie version of Naked Lunch, full of seedy, disreputable doctors and dry, dark humor. The oppressive atmosphere acts to disguise and sharpen its basic lightness.
One of the laws of the future seems to have been the prohibition of traditional narrative structure. Even at their most commercial iteration, the Cronenberg films moved at a majestic pace, but after about 20 minutes of that, your inner narrative clock, that instinct that tells you roughly how far in the story you are, will be completely discarded. There is tension, threat, subterfuge and danger but in an anesthetized state: like the organs of the performance, they have been extracted from the main body and set aside in display cases.
The film drifts off and then stops just as it seems to be reaching its climax. As a Cronenberg fan, I loved being in the grip of these images, still the same but a little different. I have to admit though, if you’re not predisposed, this can all seem like an indulgent game of art and trial.
Directed by David Cronenberg. With Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman, Welket Bungue and Don McKellar. Duration: 107 mins.
See how they work (12A)
London, 1953, during the early months of The Mousetrap, when Dickie Attenborough (Dickinson) played the lead role: the perfect location for a behind-the-scenes whodunit that lovingly sends Agatha Christie convention along while adding plenty of twists self-reflective.
See How They Run features a murder mystery. While what’s done to Mark Chappell’s witty, inventive, literate, devilishly clever script isn’t quite murder, it’s a complete mystery why so much in the narrative dies.
Who to accuse? First director George (This Country on TV), whose various little Wes Anderson assignments never quite pay off? Perhaps the star cast, none of whom manage to master their roles? The failed central detective double act between Rockwell and Ronan?
Casting the hulking Dickinson as little darling Dickie, when he looks a foot too big and looks like Tom Courtney playing Alan Bennett? The twist is that while nearly everyone has a bit of blood on their hands, it’s ultimately a draw: After a painful opening, the film rallies and staggers to the final curtain as passable entertainment. This is the script they couldn’t kill.
Directed by Tom George. With Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Rita Wilson, Reese Shearsmith, Harris Dickinson and David Oyelowa. Duration: 97 mins.
Body, body, body (15)
This comedic thriller, a decadent but not too bawdy modern take on Agatha Christie’s country house murder mystery crossed with teen slasher horror, could be called Seven Little Snowflakes.
A group of wealthy kids gather at one of their parents’ lavish home for a hurricane party. But, when the electricity goes out and one of them is murdered, relationships break down in surprising and dramatic ways.
It would be awkward to call it satirical, but much of the film’s humor pokes fun at their progressive pieties and coping strategies that don’t work. It’s very funny, well acted (a highlight of Davison’s career) and although none of the characters are at all likable, the film isn’t insensitive towards them.
If we nitpick, you have to say that’s not exactly the edge of your seat, but it makes up for it with the rather old-fashioned virtue of having a really strong plot. About halfway through, you’ll probably realize that the screenplay, by Kristen Roupenien and Sarah DeLappe, offers the possibility of a new and satisfying resolution, and the film delivers on that perfectly.
Directed by Halina Reijn. With Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davison, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott and Lee Pace. In cinemas. Running time: 94 mins.
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