Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: The Mohawk Memoirs: Cronenberg Blogathon: Crash and Burn

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Mohawk Memoirs: Cronenberg Blogathon: Crash and Burn

by "Rooster" Clayborne

[Leave it to our very own mohawked contributor, "Rooster" Clayborne, to darken the celebration with our very first negative piece on the Canadian auteur.]

A few years ago while at my former place of employment—well before the mohawk sprouted forth from my head—I wandered into a water cooler conversation between two know-it-all cinéaste coworkers in a love-fest for Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan. Before I could get a plausible answer as to why Mia Kirshner exposed nary a breast while playing a stripper in Egoyan's Exotica, somehow the topic turned to David Cronenberg, another Canuck.

Now, two things immediately come to mind whenever I think of Cronenberg: (1) he directed The Dead Zone and The Fly—two bitchin' films I admire greatly, and (2) Crash, one of the more self-indulgent, tediously boring, mind-F's imaginable. For those of you who have luckily avoided rubbernecking to this cataclysmic pile-up, here's a brief synopsis: A TV director (James Spader) gets into a major vehicular accident, and as a result is drawn to a group of car wreck survivors who get sexually revved-up by the accordion crunch of cars.

What confounded me more than James Spader pruriently exploring scars with his male-probe, were these two Cronenberg devotees trying to articulate their lofty understanding and appreciation for the film's literary themes. Unfortunately, I was just an uncultured, software programmer at the time who—they assumed—never read the J.G. Ballard novel the film was adapted from. They were right. I hadn't. But I did read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which I found deliriously entertaining) and guess what, that film adaptation sucked too. Not all movies should be based on books, or songs for that matter. If you've heard "Warm Leatherette," by The Normal (also inspired by the Ballard novel), and likened it to a thrilling orchestration of industrial sounding beeps and oscillating urks, then please refrain from inviting me to one of your wine and cheese soirées, because I will undoubtedly talk like a robot while humping your refrigerator just to lampoon you.

Once the Dead Ringers twins were done mocking me for reading The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (which I did only at the urging of my wife, Maggie, who was reduced to tears after reading its conclusion), I sat in my cubicle, alone and annoyed by how irritating and condescending some people can be with their self-proclaimed astuteness for art house films. I was revisited by one of the two who then asked me for my opinion of Naked Lunch, Cronenberg's take on the William S. Burroughs' novel. Instead of answering my coworker, I closed my eyes into tightly pressed slits, shook violently as if going into a seizure, and imagined telepathically exploding his head in an homage to Cronenberg's cult classic, Scanners.

I haven't perfected that skill as of yet, but I'm still working on it. And in case you were wondering, evidently Sparks exploded my head with tears. Yeah, the movie adaptation did too. That bastard.

"Rooster" Clayborne documents his moviegoing experiences here pretty often in The Mohawk Memoirs.


James Hansen said...

No offense, but this can hardly be called a "piece." A rant full of statements with no actual argument (other than "people who like CRASH are fake-high minded and stupid), maybe. But a "piece," no.

Tony Dayoub said...

Oh James, don't be so hard on Rooster. Our resident curmudgeon just has a different take on things than some of us folks with more refined tastes.

Chris said...

As someone who unapologetically admires CRASH(and, to be perfectly honest, was underwhelmed when I re-watched SCANNERS a few months ago), that was hilarious.

Well done, Rooster. Well done, and DAMN YOU TO HELL!

PS - That was my first question after seeing EXOTICA as well.

James Hansen said...

Hey, I love a good curmudgeon! And I can certainly understand hesitations to CRASH (although it's probably my favorite Cronenberg). I'm just hoping for more reasoning amid the blogathon. But perhaps the point was head did almost blow up SCANNERS style. :-)

James Hansen said...

Agreed with Chris and Rooster on EXOTICA though.

Adam Zanzie said...

It's a funny piece, particularly that last paragraph, although like James I was hoping for more of an insightful criticism of Cronenberg, Robin Wood-style. This was just a brief collection of opinionated thoughts which, well... can't really be argued with.

Rooster Clayborne said...

With all due respect James, movies are like religion: I can give you a million reasons to prove why I think Crash sucks, but you won't believe me. And I respect that. I do. I respect everyone's right to praise crappy movies -- hell, I loved Career Opportunities and will defend it to the death: Jennifer Connelly and all her glorious teenage baby fat was smokin' hot in that!!!

For future reference I'm an observationist, not a critic. I leave the film arguing to the professionals, like my wife who rips on me over my Troma movie collection. Go Toxie!

shane013a said...

So I don't consider myself "fake-minded or stupid" and Crash is one of my all time rewatch movies and yes I did like...join the car crash set... this is one movie which touches on the do the unthinkable and enjoy. I was with civil defense for years and have pulled people from wreckage and I can say this movie could go further. So judge it or people who like it if that gets your rock off but I think it was right on the sweet spot for me!!!

Marcel said...

This guy who doesn't like Crash is American, no? Very typical for many Americans to be afraid of movies that deal very openly with sex. Over here in Europe Crash is seen as one of the best movies of all times. Different cultures maybe, I think.

But since M. Clayborne does not understand Naked Lunch as well, he might simply be too immature for these kind of movies in general. You maybe have to have certain age to find out what the movie is about, so he has to watch again when he has matured.

(sorry for insufficient English, I am still learning)

Rooster Clayborne said...

Marcel, if your intent was to make a blatant generalization that the "typical" American is an immature ignoramus, then I'd say your English is excellent. Yes, I fear watching movies that deal candidly about sex -- especially the ones that show very little nudity. Unlike you, my croissant eating friend, I refuse to make assumptions that all Europeans are as SUPERCILIOUS as you appear to be (sorry for my insufficient English... I meant to say SUPER SILLY).