Mar 9, 2012
My David Cronenberg mini marathon continued with "A dangerous method" and I was pleasantly surprised, for I saw some interesting differences between his earlier movies and this one.
First of all, the beginning was much more intense and its pace helped get into the story very quickly and start understanding the characters and the situation right away. But, I still knew it was a Cronenberg movie when I realised 16 minutes have passed, but it felt like an hour- how does he do that?
Second of all, the script was better and more diverse, featuring some very introspective and thought-provoking subjects, as expected, since the movie is about the evolution of psychoanalysis. I loved the conversations between Freud and Jung and the experiments, and it was nice to see the interaction between the two doctors, especially when they realised they have opposite opinions, which of course, led to friction and interuption of their friendship- Jung wanted to move forward and research daring topics, whilst Freud never dared to question the wonders of the world around him.
One of the highlights of this film, for me anyway, was Vincent Cassel- his character, Otto Gross, was, by far, one of the most complex and interesting, and his charming presence made the story even more fascinating and appealing. Otto had a great take on monogamy, as he considered it to be a stressful concept and his motto was "Never repress anything" (case in point, his suicidal patient); he also comes up with the brilliant explanation of why Freud is obsessed with sexuality ("He is not getting any"). But, some great things never last long, so he dissapperead rather quickly.
Viggo Mortensen, as Freud, is good, and surprisingly unrecognisable; I wasn't very keen on his performance, mainly because his character doesn't evolve, and his strict mind holds him back. I thought Michael Fassbender was great, but I never stoped to analyse him or think about what he is doing- it felt like he was a driver for the story and for the other individuals, and maybe that is a very good thing. As for Keira Knightley, I still don't know what to think of it- was it exceptionally good or bad? I can't really tell, but overall, she delivered and it fitted the situation; special mention goes to Jung's wife, wonderfully played by Sarah Gadon.
"A dangerous method" is a good movie and one that raises many interesting questions, and for people interested in psycology and psychoanalysis, it will be a treat, but I think most will think of it as being quite boring. I don't recommend it to everyone, but if you have the patience and the willingness to see a movie about these topics, go for it!
Mar 6, 2012
Eastern Promises, my second David Cronenberg movie in a week, is a drama about a midwife who discovers the shocking story of her recently-deceased unknown patient, who gave birth to a child after being raped by a Russian mob man.
To help explain this film, let me just talk about a cake. Just imagine a cake with many layers to it. The first one, on top, doesn't look to good; the colour is too bright, and its taste is rather dissapointing, like they put too much vanilla or rum in the syrup. You get to the second one and it's better: the taste is normal, but still a bit boring and not that good. As you get to the third layer, you find the chocolate, and suddenly you are interested and you want more. The center of it, the caramel, just melts your heart. "Eastern Promises" is very similar to the experience of tasting a cake- the beginning is slow, the English-Russian accents are just plain hilarious and bad, the acting can be over the top, in some situations. Then you get to meet Anna and Nikolai and you start to care, but still it doesn't feel comfortable. When you discover Tatiana's story and Nikolai's actions to spare the uncle or save the prostitute, you understand you are witnessing a character development and the story is becoming more and more interesting. In the core you encounter delicate subjects and shocking revelations, and you start to care about Anna, and the baby and you hope for a happy ending for them and even for Nikolai.
"Eastern Promises" has flaws, even more than "A history of violence", and, as expected, they are similar in some aspects. Both have a running time of less than 2 hours, but seem to last to at least 3 and 1/2. The start is slow and it drags in the middle, but when it hits, it does with such power and shock, that it knocks you down (case in point, the fighting scene in the bath). Both feature strong character, but some of them seem so out of place, so caricaturized, that I don't care as much (Fogarty and Cusack in HoV and Kiril in EP). The obvious flaw that I couldn't stand in "Eastern Promises" was the accent- that is not how Russians talk or act (I know a few); I know it is a movie and they are dramatising the individuals, but it seemed so fake and laughable at times (I liked it more when they were talking in Russian, than the English-with-a-Russian accent conversations).
That being said, some great performances were delivered. Viggo Morgensen was, yet again, very good, and although I did find it hard to believe he was Russian, he embodied Nikolai so well, with such calm, restraint and darkness, that you cannot take your eyes off of him and you even start to care about what happens to him by the end. Another standout was Armin Mueller-Stahl as the head of the family- the sweetest man turned out to be the most ruthless villain and I thought he was brilliant (the only believable character in that story). I didn't empathyze or like Vincent Cassel's character until the very last scene of him, near the water, and I thought he was overacting in most scenes, but I understood him in the end, and sometimes, that matters more than what happens in the first 80 minutes.
"Eastern Promises", is a good movie, but would I recommend it to everyone? Not really, I don't think most would like it. There are too many misses, to really appreciate and love the hits. I liked "A history of Violence" better than this one.
It seems I am in a little Cronenberg marathon, so the next movie I'll see will be A Dangerous Method!
Mar 4, 2012
David Cronenberg's 2005 movie is interesting. It has its strong points, but some weak ones, as well, but overall, it is good film and projects a cool attitude and very strong characters.
It follows the story of Tom Stall, a small town guy who's peaceful life is disrupted by an act of violence he is forced to do, in order to save the people from his diner, when two armed men try to rob it. After this event, he becomes the hero of the town and receives unwanted attention, one that eventually leads Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris) to him, insisting that Joey Cusack, the man Carl thinks he is, comes back with him to Philadelphia.
The beginning was a little weak and, at times, boring, as it took its time to set up the story and the characters, going from scene A to scene B to scene C almost automatically. It also gave it a sense of predictability- I knew something bad will happen to the family or to Tom, and I had a feeling it will go down in the diner. I did like the progress of the story after the act of violence and one of my favorite scenes has to be the shooting in the yard. Viggo Mortensen comes in and out of character, switching from Tom to Joey with such ease and roughness, that I am left shocked and a little bit creeped out by the character and what he is capable of- just the way his expression and his eyes change from second to second, channeling Joey just enough to save himself and the family (the way he looked at Jack, his son, after he shot the man, was so intense and scary).
That being said, one of the best things about "A history of violence" are the characters- these are strong, complex, real, tough individuals that give the story and the situation more substance and a much more accute sense of reality. Viggo Mortensen as Tom/Joey gives one his best performances to date and Maria Bello shines as his innocent wife, who tries to protect her family and her hisband. Ed Harris is appropriate as the mob guy who tries to scare Tom, and William Hurt (Joey Cusack's brother) is just as tough as Harris, but with more background relevance and a scarier attitude; I also thought Ashton Holmes, as the son, was good and I can see potential there.
Coming back to the beginning, my weak points refer to the lack of music and the slow pace of action in some places, although it seemed extremely well-thought and with many layers to the story and the people involved.
Overall, I thought "A history of violence" was a good movie, with chilling performances and good action! I would recommend it! Next in line: Eastern Promises, with the same David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen!