7.28.2006

bad review

We're hardly seeing any movies right now, even less than we usually do during baseball season. In New York, since we hid in the air-conditioning all summer, we'd watch movies on off-nights or before west-coast games. Here, with less oppressive temperatures and a backyard, we're more likely to sit outside, drinking wine and talking, or to go out in the neighbourhood.

Last night, however, we finally did watch one of the DVDs from Zip that have been sitting around for months: David Cronenberg's "A History Of Violence". Thumbs down!

It won the Palm D'Or at Cannes, and a truckload of film festival awards, including the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Canadian Film. Incredibly to me, William Hurt was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Canadian critics raved about this movie, which forces to me wonder if Cronenberg gets a pass because he's Canadian.

Allan and I both thought "A History of Violence" was obvious, predictable, trite, extremely poorly written, and above all, horribly, horribly acted. Viggo Mortensen, the lead, was not bad, but the supporting cast was dreadful, most notably Maria Bello. She's beautiful, but if this is the best she can do, she should stick to TV or modeling. When Bill Hurt (who I normally like) showed up at the end, we literally burst out laughing at the ridiculous accent he was using. A cartoon Mafia man would have been more convincing.

Nothing about this movie worked for me. It was supposed to be a thriller, but I knew all along what would happen. It was supposed to comment on our violent society, and how we cannot escape our pasts, but it never rose above a slightly violent melodrama. Much is made of Cronenberg linking sex and violence, but a fight between a married a couple that turns into passionate sex is hardly an original or interesting statement - especially when you see it coming before it happens.

I've seen a few other Cronenberg movies, and haven't liked any of them. Now I'll go back to not seeing them.

19 comments:

Lorna said...

Thanks for the heads up. The only movie that I ever walked out of was a Cronenberg. It was Dead Ringers and most of the problem was that I was probably too young to see it when I did, however the experience stuck with me and I've avoided him ever since.

A movie that I would recommend is 'Overnight'. It's a documentary about a guy that gets a film deal and his ego gets out of control to the point that he f&*('s it all up. Such a train wreck but you can't look away.

James said...

Canadian critics raved about this movie, which forces to me wonder if Cronenberg gets a pass because he's Canadian.

I don't think so, since the film got lots of good reviews in the US. After all, the Palm d'Or isn't a Canadian award. :)

James said...

It was Dead Ringers and most of the problem was that I was probably too young to see it when I did

I can see that being a problem with just about any Cronenberg film. :)

BTW, Videodrome is one of the few large-release films made in Toronto that is unapologetically set in Toronto. James Wood's company, Civic TV, was based on CityTV.

L-girl said...

I don't think so, since the film got lots of good reviews in the US. After all, the Palm d'Or isn't a Canadian award. :)

Yeah, I thought of that. :)

I should have explained that more. I meant that Cronenberg is written about a lot more here, seems to be a much bigger deal, hailed as a much greater director, than he is in the States.

But in general, it's amazing to me that this movie won top prize at Cannes.

L-girl said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Lorna. :)

Alex said...

I have to disagree with you - I didn't find the film predictable at all. I do agree that William Hurt's performance was over the top - but it worked in the film.

L-girl said...

Judging from the reviews people wrote on Zip.ca, I think most people will disagree with me. That's why I posted my own review. :)

htrouser said...

Okay, please turn in your Canadian permanent residency! Disliking Cronenberg is simply not an option. There will be no dissent.

I for one am annoyed that the recent film "Crash" has eclipsed Cronenberg's much better film of the same name.

So there!

L-girl said...

Disliking Cronenberg is simply not an option. There will be no dissent.

I already don't love Rick Mercer. So I am on thin ice.

I for one am annoyed that the recent film "Crash" has eclipsed Cronenberg's much better film of the same name.

I loathed Cronenberg's Crash. Loathed. I didn't see the more recent Crash, as it didn't look interesting to me.

htrouser said...

That's okay, I've always thought "Air Farce" was crap. So I guess we're even!

L-girl said...

Oh no you don't, I don't like Air Farce either!

Do you like Corner Gas? Maybe you've never seen it - I think you were out of Canada when it started.

redsock said...

I already don't love Rick Mercer. So I am on thin ice.

Not really. Most everyone backpedalled like mad on that one.

(he's great ... well, he's good ... he's outspoken ... well, it's not what he says but how he says it ... he's funny ... well, he's funny some times ... he used to be good ... listening to him is better than having your arm chewed off ...)

lucie said...

I absolutely agree with you on that one! I heard so many wonderful things about that movie that a friend and I decided to go see it in spite of my initial reluctance (I don't really like violent movies). My friend and I both hated this movie and everything about it. I'm glad to see we were not the only ones...

About the new Crash, I don't think it's the most wonderful movie in the world but I did like it (more the second time than the first time). It's well done and the plot is very smart and even funny, at times. And it's a very relevant topic today, too.

htrouser said...

Sorry, didn't mean falsely accuse you of liking Air Farce! For some reason I thought I'd read somewhere that you did. My apologies.

Still, my Cronenberg comments stand. At least give Videodrome a chance. It's brilliant.

L-girl said...

Apology accepted. :)

At least give Videodrome a chance. It's brilliant.

As brilliant as Crash and A History of Violence?

I'll never see another movie this man makes. Life's too short.

htrouser said...

Yes, even better than the excellence of Crash and History of Violence. So there. And while you're at it, give Xistenz a go. :P

L-girl said...

Htrouser, I wish I knew what director you hated so I could recommend a few films of his or hers. :)

Wrye said...

Most everyone backpedalled like mad on that one.

Yup. Just like those Beatles and Rolling Stones fellers. Really used to be something, back in the day.

Lone Primate said...

I loathed Cronenberg's Crash. Loathed. I didn't see the more recent Crash, as it didn't look interesting to me.

Oddly enough, that was actually one of the few movies by Cronenberg I did like. Like most of his pictures, his characters in that one too are largely unapproachable. But at least this one was grounded in reality. I found the scene with the re-enactment of Jimmy Dean's death oddly compelling. And James Spader's one handsome Jake to start with. :) It's nowhere near my top ten, but I did buy a copy of it from the Blockbuster delete bin, and every so often when I'm in the right psychic space, I left it ride.

You know what I think I like best about it? And I've just realized this... Pretty much all the dialogue is delivered sotto voce, calmly and deliberately... almost like freeform poetry. In that aspect it's an oddly soothing movie, juxtaposed against the violence of the theme.