image: still from Videodrome
via NYTimes, September 18, 2005:
David Cronenberg's Body Language
By JONATHAN DEE
At the Cannes Film Festival this past May for the premiere of his new film, "A History of Violence," the director David Cronenberg got into some trouble for announcing that with this, his 15th feature film, he had sold out. "I've been waiting for years to sell out," he told a scrum of journalists. "It's just that nobody offered me anything before now." He was joking, of course, but over his 30-year career, the director of "The Fly," "Dead Ringers," "Crash" and a dozen other profoundly disturbing films has accrued the kind of hyperdevoted fan base that tends not to find that kind of talk funny at all. The news that the 62-year-old Cronenberg had apparently broken the compact never to change in any way caused his fans to light up the Internet with cries of mourning and condemnation. "You have to watch what you say," he admitted to me recently, "just because they're so passionate. If nobody cared what you said, then it wouldn't be an issue."
But what if he wasn't joking? [...]
[...] it should come as no great surprise that Cronenberg's "History of Violence" - an expensively-made studio film, adapted from a woefully simplistic graphic novel full of vigilantism and explosions and organized-crime vendettas - turns out to be a lean, suspenseful meditation on whether our will or our past determines who we are, a fusion of Max Frisch's great novel of identity, "I'm Not Stiller," with the broad-stroke urgency of a comic book. It's a more substantial movie, somehow, than it has any right to be. Some artists are so gloriously, compulsively themselves that they couldn't sell out properly if they tried.