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I have no opinion on David Cronenberg’s career or his state of mind or anything else besides the handful of Cronenberg movies I have seen. Based on what I’ve seen, which like I said is less than a handful, I would say that his work is uneven and arouses no interest in me to seek out more. I don’t know whether Cronenberg is a “philosopher-director”, neither do I care to find out. His work leaves me completely indifferent as to his state of mind.

The only movies by Cronenberg I know well enough to have an opinion on are The Fly (tried to watch it once, only managed to watch half of it and I never tried to watch it again), eXistenZ which I’ve seen several times and can happily and readily watch all over again, and Crash which was his breakthrough movie in the Netherlands and is just an unbearable unwatchable creepfest with the creepiest actors, literally the only thing I like about Crash is that atmospheric instrumental guitar music over the simple but perfect opening credits which is a sequence of headlights in the dark of the night. Something is very wrong with your movie when everything else can be deleted but the opening credits. I had resisted watching Crash for years, but I finally forced myself to watch the Crash DVD that has been lying around in my house for years over several nights because the hype and myth around it did make me curious and I relented. I can’t believe I did that, Crash, to myself. What a waste of time.

I have a question for all you Crash fetishists: If Jacob’s Ladder, which came out in 1990, is considered a post-modern movie (a movie about someone dying being stuck between the state of being living and the state of being dead seeking release), what does that make Crash (a movie about people dying being stuck between the state of being living and the state of being dead seeking release) which came out in 1996? Late-by-6-years-post-modernism? Post-post-modernism? Oh, now we’re REALLY getting philosophical, aren’t we?! Does uncle Cronenberg the philosopher-director have the answer?! Or does he want you to “think for yourself”, and “to be an active participating viewer” (all the pomo cliches), since he knows you can’t be arsed to sit down and read the book (which is depoliticized in the movie, it was a book meant to ridicule American car-culture, by extension to decry American industrial consumer culture) because none of you read books anymore and even tend to forget that a film is at its heart a screenplay, a text you have to read to really understand all the visual candy dangled before you? I gave the seemingly unlikely example of Jacob’s Ladder up there because I do not feel like Cronenberg’s doing anything fundamentally different with Crash. These two seemingly different movies are really about the same thing: being stuck between states, which by 1990 was already a pomo staple. The only difference between them is that Jacob’s Ladder is about release in the metaphysical sense, and Crash is strictly objectivist/atheist with no metaphysical elements whatsoever, release being just a technical-medical matter of crashing your face straight into the windshield. Where is the advanced philosophy in that?

I tried to watch Cronenberg’s 2002 Spider one summer ago but it was such a sleep inducing bore, I couldn’t make it past the 5th chapter, I don’t even have the Spider DVD anymore. If I may venture an opinion on Cronenberg mental state, it was as if all the creepfests he’s been making over the years have completely dulled his senses, so he went and made Spider in a state of numbness. So watch out boys and girls in film-school, too much creepy will do that to ya!

drs. Efthimia Dilpizoglou

 

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