Today was a busy day at the movies, It began with the restored Ben Hur at the New York Film Festival (a few thoughts will be posted tomorrow), continued on with The new HBO documentary on George Harrison (look for John to post a review soon) and it ended up with a 90 minute talk between David Denby and director David Cronenberg as part of the New Yorker Festival.
When it was over Denby was talking to several people waiting in line to get out and he remarked that Cronenberg was probably the most intellectual and smartest director he's ever met. Having listened to him speak I would agree, but I would add he is also one of the funniest.
Beginning with Cronenberg's latest film, A Dangerous Method, about Freud, Jung and the woman that came between them, and working backwards (kind of) this was a free form discussion of the films and the things that interest the director.
Because it was free form its kind of hard to talk really explain what was said, I'll have to see if this was recorded and put on line streaming. However I can give you some random highlights of the things that stuck with me.
-Cronenberg discounts the supernatural and religion and he said that the way he made the Dead Zone work for him was to view the Christopher Walken character as kind of psychotic.
-He has not discounted doing another horror film. He said that the problem was that the film scripts he's been offered have only been reworkings of things he's done before and he refuses to do that.
-He said that after Spider no one wanted to hire him. He said that being more or less an independent filmmaker allowed him to continue on.(He also said that he has been trying to sell out for years but no one will give him any money)
-He was condemned for making Shivers with money from the Canadian government, however it was the first film that they financed to ever show a profit.
-No one would talk either lead in The Fly or Dead Ringers. He said that with The Fly everyone was afraid of acting through all the make up, while with Dead Ringers everyone was afraid of the subtly required for the twins.
-Cronenberg said all of his films have elements of comedy and are very funny if you click with the humor.
-He said that he doesn't use storyboards and has no idea how a film will look before he's shooting. He said he will rehearse a scene with his actors with out the crew and then bring the crew in and show them the piece of theater they have created and then work out how to shoot it from there. He's always asked if the film looks as he thought it would and he really can't say yes because he doesn't know what it looks like until its done.
There was a great deal of discussion of the new film, however I'm hoping to be able to get into the film this week so I'll leave any discussion of that for when and if we run a review.
When the 90 minutes expired there was a general feeling of sadness. There was simply too much to talk to Cronenberg about and simply not enough time. All I can say is that if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, or better yet hang out and talk to him, jump at the chance. He is truly amazing.
It appears they didn't record the Cronenberg piece (officially). However there are other talks available for viewing on a pay per view basis. They can be found here.