what i'm watching: history of violence, two thumbs way down

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.

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