Tuesday, November 3, 2009


(David Cronenberg, 1969)
Cronenberg's first feature is a bizarre, distended thing, whose real star is the location. I'm guessing we're looking at York University campus; regardless, every obscure tableau he stages is self-consciously dwarfed by the forbidding institutional architecture that houses it. The sporadic voiceover that occasionally rises from the silence suggests that we're watching a narrative about a sexual telepathy clinic whose mandate goes seriously awry. If you concentrate, you can see how this relates to the onscreen shenanigans in a linear and probably even preplanned way - it's not just precious mannerisms, although it is that as well. The film makes the most of its visual material with a special thing for fisheye pans, and it runs free love through a dystopian sci-fi wringer in a way that will be familiar to fans of his later work, even including a giveaway throw to "Scanners". But after a while it does get tedious, and while Cronenberg's iconoclasm remains enjoyable and felt, minimalist sci-fi on no budget was always easier to pull off in print than on screen.

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