East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Monday, October 24, 2005

A History of Violence: Blood simple [movie note]

Written by Josh Olson, from the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke
Directed by David Cronenberg

Cronenberg lacks real ideas about real violence: if violence is in one's genes it's inescapable blah blah. There may be something deeper--a recognition that the American West, like all civilisations, is founded on violence--but it's never more one of many clashing undertones. But though he's unable to implicate as citizens, he sure can implicate us as moviegoers. For what he knows is movie violence, and though this isn't as interesting, he's damned good at it. It doesn't take long before we're able to estimate fairly accurately how many more fight scenes there'll be, how many corpses to expect. Cronenberg serves these up with masterful choreography, then makes sure we see the shotgun-blasted faces afterwards. Cronenberg is interested in our range of reactions to screen bloodshed--when do we cheer? Laugh? Recoil? At my screening, the audience did all these things. Cronenberg wants us to know the difference between these responses isn't as great as it appears.

Those of us who prefer laughter should be glad he bothered to include a few jokes this time, the best of which involves Maria Bello dressing as a cheerleader. Cronenberg, surprisingly, does have real ideas about real sex. Viggo Mortensen's and Bello's two scenes are perfectly stylised to bring out their debauchedness, their mischievousness, and yes, their violence. One can only hope that "A History of Fucking" is one of his future projects. If he wants to adapt another graphic novels, well, I hear there's a lot of Japanese stuff out there... A MINUS


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