Saturday 27 January 2024

Streaming on SBS On-Demand (+ Stan, Amazon Prime and others)- Barrie Pattison re-acquaints himself with David Cronenberg CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (Canada/France/UK/Greece, 2022)

SBS doing a double of David Cronenberg’s
 Crimes of the Future and Spider has directed my attention to him one more time.

I can’t help remembering how much more satisfying it was to hunt down his entry level trash horror movies in Drive-Ins and Fantasy Festivals - Rabid, Shivers & The Brood. That was before his re-make of The Fly became the first big exclamation point in shocker film after the Seigel Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Cronenberg was more fun, cheap and nasty than as a bridge between exploitation and art film.

He seems to like the “Crimes of the Future” title, having used it on one of his plotless early black & white silent underground movies. Here he’s given it significance deploying black actor Welket Bungué as a policeman tasked with such matters in a vaguely futurist era where pain has all but disappeared and Accelerated Evolution Syndrome is all the go.

Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux

We kick off with the idyllic scene of mother Lihi Kornowski calling her pre-teener playing on the beach, shortly before he starts eating the waste bin and she smothers him. One of the things the new film has going for it is that all this graphic material connects up by the time we get to the end.

Next up we get to Viggo Mortenson as a performance artist whose act is generating organs which his ex, trauma surgeon Léa Seydoux, (getting to be our current favourite naked French lady – a wide range of choice) removes for an audience of cocktail sipping socialites. Surgery is sexy we learn. This brings him to the National Organ Registry, whose director Don McKellar's assistant is mousey Kristin Stewart, who gets a scene pursuing off-put Viggo round the office – the least convincing thing in the film. She seems to have been recruited to add a celebrity name to the credits.

It all turns out to be part of a vast evolutionary conspiracy. The plot – if you can figure it out – is of course less significant than the constituent elements, many of which we’ve encountered in the director’s previous movies – Jeff Goldblum’s external digestions from The Fly, the road accidents of Crash or the graphic surgeries from the particularly yukky Dead Ringers. All of this takes place in bleak, striking locations – beached ships, deserted streets and run down industrial sites relatable to the Greek funding sources. Throw in the sinister sculpture “digestion chair”, Mortenson’s womb-like bed or the sarcophagus operating table. Did I mention execution by twin electric drills in the cranium after the illicit autopsy that Scott Speedman has been promoting?

There’s no doubt about the proficiency of the makers. Douglas Koch’s camerawork and Carol Spier‘s design hold attention. Howard Shore’s music cues us in on the required response. The superior cast bring a straight faced gravitas, which gives events a necessary conviction.

Question remains is all this A-list talent actually doing anything we should worry about.  Tell you the truth, I can’t decide. The schlock films, of which Crimes of The Future certainly is not, were fun,. The Fly and Existenz convinced as having substance. I didn’t like this one enough to want to probe it for that.

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