David Cronenberg and the state of the world

The 25 August update (posted 80 minutes late because of lack of WiFi on the road) was supposed to be this, but the shambolic advert Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter was just too easy a target not to use immediately. And then there was doubt as to whether this genuinely deserved another mention, but then things got freakier and freakier… so in order to be a bit comprehensible, let’s start on square one.

David Cronenberg is no stranger to having his films hijacked by the media. In the 1990s, his controverisal movie Crash sparked such a debate the BBC even had a programme dedicated entirely to whether films like Crash should be forbidden or not. Cronenberg was no longer a director, he was the devil in disguise. Compared to that, the hijacking of his latest film is something of a completely different order: the star of the film is one Robert Pattinson, the former beau of Kristen Stewart (who’s apparently the 2012 embodiment of the devil in disguise). Pattinson is now promoting Cosmopolis, a film with such a limited release in the US that the actor joked on The Daily Show that the Twilight fans should all stack up on each other’s laps in order to give the film a decent opening weekend. Most of that interview consisted of Pattinson and Jon Stewart eating ice cream in a pastiche of two girls getting over the loss of their lover. According to some gossip ‘journalists’, the interview was Stewart’s sneaky way of getting Robert to talk about the break-up. According to those journalists, “pastiche” is probably a colour.

But the very next day this happened…

That’s right, the star and the director of Cosmopolis are ringing the bell of the New York Stock Exchange. This incredible honour is of course reserved for the biggest stars (such as, erm, the Muppets), but the oddest thing is that Cosmopolis is about a guy losing millions in one day. The film doesn’t paint a rosy picture of the stock market, so it’s at least peculiar to see that.

Equally surprising is watching the film’s poster at the end of the movie. Compare that to the European poster you can see in the Avenue’s 400th post and you’ll see a name is missing. Well, not exactly missing, if you take a magnifying glass you can still read the name of author DeLillo (barely). What is that about? It’s almost as if the American market has given up on the intelligence of American viewers. “Oh no, it’s a book, our viewers will get confused if they’re confronted with this ancient medium.” For any American readers, I’ll explain what a book is: it’s a series of words which are printed on paper and if you read them word after word, your imagination will make those words come alive. I’m sorry, what did you ask? What “imagination” is? Well, …
All kidding inside, it’s hard to think of another market in the world that’s so condescending to the intelligence of its inhabitants as the American one. And after the banking crisis and the bleak picture of the market portrayed in Cosmopolis, it’s odd – and in a way even perverse – to see the NYSE being opened by Cronenberg and Pattinson, even though I love the Canadian director and I wish him nothing but the best and as much promotion as he can get.

Which brings us to another thing about the American market, the movie market to be precise… what’s it with all these remakes? Many say Hollywood has run out of ideas, but remakes have always been part of the movie and theatre history. What made the theatre adaptations different, is that the director tried to give his or her personal touch to his/her adaptation. That is sadly what’s missing from a lot of remakes: more money and CGI effects are often the only additions and that’s why they suck. A movie like Wiseman‘s Total Recall is different from the Paul Verhoeven movie, but as Wiseman said, they went back to the Philip K. Dick story the movie was based on and used that as the basis of their version. There isn’t too much wrong with that sort of remake and even reinterpreting a film can be a dangerous enterprise. Say what you like about the quality of The Wicker Man‘s remake, but in the vision of Neil LaBute and his views on how women are treated, it’s not an odd movie out. Whether it was good or not, at least there’s a reason for that particular movie to be remade. (Another Brit cult movie from the 70s, Get Carter, was also remade around the same era. Would anyone care to enlighten me as to what the reason for the reboot was?)

Why is all of this mentioned in an article on Cronenberg? Because Hollywood has come up with the marvellous plan to remake – oh, I forgot to warn you: it may be best to take a seat if you don’t already know – Videodrome. Once you’ve picked yourself up again, there should only be two questions in your mind: “why?” and “who?”. The remake will be directed by Adam Berg, who up to this point has only directed commercials. Now there’s nothing wrong with that in itself, David Fincher‘s filmography up to Se7en wasn’t impressive either. However, Fincher debuted with a classic and not a remake of a classic. Still, let’s have a look at two of Berg’s commercials:

Compare that with the Dulux commercial (which you can catch here) and all signs are pointing in that direction again: it does look flashy and full of effects. But will your brain be fed? Or in another words: why? I’m struggling to find a good reason to think of a Videodrome remake and honestly, if it’s completely different from the original and set in this day and age, confronting us with our modern problems, then there’s the tiniest of chances we will end up with a good film. And it’s not as if Berg is in there on his own, somebody will also write the movie. That script will be penned by one Ehren Kruger, whose latest efforts are Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Oh dear, and with the addition of earlier movies like Blood and Chocolate and Scream 3 we’re in for a ride. But in case you’re relieved because at least Kruger has never made a mainstream version of a foreign cult classic, guess who was responsible for the American version of Ring

So let’s sum up, the stock exchange is opened by the people who’ve made a movie that doesn’t exactly flatter the financial world (this movie taught me having a finger up your ass will give you better insight into the foreign currencies) and Transformers guy and ‘paint ad’ guy are remaking a classic. That’s the state of the world. Yes, you’re allowed to feel sad about it, but don’t dwell on it too long. There will be an extra update on 1 September, the first of three reviews of movies I’ve seen on my recent citytrips to Berlin and The Hague. All three movies (one classic and two recent ones) will score at least 8 out of 10. There is always hope.

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