Sunday, April 16, 2006

Crimes of the Future (1970)

David Cronenberg's second feature is far superior to his debut Stereo. Cronenberg's stellar command over the filmed image is fully developed here, and his thematics are stronger as well. There's some interesting concepts being bandied about. The film centers around a disease called Rouge's Malady, and the particulars of the disease are stunning in their psychosexual implications. Cronenberg, one of cinema's most sex-phobic directors, shows us a future where sex is deadly yet irresistible, and its functions have perverted into unrecognizable forms. (Cronenberg prefigured AIDS! Who knew?) For instance, Rouge's Malady causes secretions from the ears that, while repulsive, are also alluring and apparently quite tasty. The characters in the film know that giving in to their impulses can be fatal, yet they do so anyway and in doing so take steps towards mankind's next evolution. What that is, Cronenberg can't say. There are many possibilities abound, most interesting of which is a gentleman who has developed extra organs in an expression of a 'helpful cancer'. This is pretty radical stuff, as you can see. It is then a crying shame that Cronenberg, at this point in his career, still hadn't managed to make any of this interesting to watch. The film lacks the urgency and the lurid punch of Shivers or Rabid; the impression given off is that of a staid university professor who buries his good ideas in an landslide of monotonous lecture. Worth seeing for completism's sake, but still obviously the work of a developing artist rather than an actual one.

Grade: C


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