Cronenberg. Cronenberg emerged from the creative burst the horror genre produced in the 1970’s to become one of the greatest auteurs on the planet in the modern era. Cronenberg’s great strength is the quality of his films 1-6 and the consistency of his oeuvre (and I mean hell I love Spider and that’s his #8 film). His 6th film matches up very well with Lynch, Malick, and clearly PT, Wes Anderson and Tarantino (though they are much younger).

Best film:  Dead Ringers It is icy, perverse, and utterly brilliant. Jeremy Irons gives one of the best performances of the 1980’s in this ambitious masterpiece. Cronenberg’s work is intellectualized, unsympathetic and haunting- and this is all of those things.

total archiveable films: 16

top 100 films: 0

top 500 films: 6 (Dead Ringers, Crash, A History of Violence, Naked Lunch, The Fly, Videodrome)

top 100 films of the decade: 7 (Dead Ringers, Crash, A History of Violence, Naked Lunch, The Fly, Videodrome, Eastern Promises)

most overrated:   Videodrome–on TSPDT. I’m fine with the #292 ranking- that’s not overrated by much (I’m at #444)–  but I don’t think it’s his best film.  It’s still a magnificent film that has grown on me since seeing it a decade ago for the first time.

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incredible visual here from Videodrome

most underrated: Naked lunch. Clever and deliriously funny- it’s a brilliant adaptation of Burroughs yet stands on its own and is obstinately Cronenbergian (thank god). It should certainly be in the top 1000 of all-time (which it isn’t for the TSPDT consensus). It’s #364 for me.

gem I want to spotlight:  The Fly.  Pop-art at its finest, a horror/sci-fi representation and meditation on AIDS. Any way you slice it this is an absolutely absorbing film.

stylistic innovations/traits:    Cerebral, cold and destabilizing. Cronenberg is much more than just “Dave Deprave” (Scorsese’s nickname for him) and the inventor of “body horror”. As a stylist his work varies. Crash is immaculately edited (those shots in the car showing discomfort and obsession).  A History of Violence starts with a breathtaking tracking shot. As much as I like his collaborations with Viggo—his best work was from 1983-1996 there’s a definite dark/sterile lighting/mise-en/scene combination (dark blues, greys and blacks) that is distinctly Cronenberg. Clear architecture as character in Spider. Thematically the body mutation is in almost every film. In some the transformation is closer to a baptism (Viggo’s work),  rebirth or evolution—– heady stuff.

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body horror/transformation comes in many forms– the powerful baptism scene in A History of Violence

top 10

  1. Dead Ringers
  2. Crash
  3. A History of Violence
  4. Naked Lunch
  5. The Fly
  6. Videodrome
  7. Eastern Promises
  8. Spider
  9. Scanners
  10. The Dead Zone
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from Spider- background architecture as character- his web– this is genius- straight out of Ozu’s Hen in the Wind or Antonioni’s Red Desert

By year and grades

1975- Shivers R
1977- Rabid R
1979- The Brood R
1981- Scanners R
1983- The Dead Zone R
1983- Videodrome MS
1986- The Fly MS
1988- Dead Ringers MP
1991- Naked Lunch MS
1996- Crash MP
1999- Existenz R
2002- Spider HR
2005- A History of Violence MP
2007- Eastern Promises HR
2011- A Dangerous Method R
2014- Maps to the Stars R

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives