Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Stereo (1969)

David Cronenberg's first feature is interesting from a historic standpoint. It shows that the cool, unflappable rigor that marks his filmmaking style was fully developed within him from the moment he started making movies. Also, the film's thematics anticipate a number of Cronenberg's later works -- plot strands and themes from Scanners, The Brood and Dead Ringers can be traced back to this film. (There's also an incident mentioned in the film's voiceover that shows this to be a stylistic and thematic influence on Darren Aronofsky's Pi.) History's about all this film has going for it, though -- it's a lot more interesting to think about and write about than it is to watch. Stereo is a ponderous, incoherent future-shock film in the guise of a documentary about sexual experimentation on telepaths, and it inhabits its faux genre all too well. If you've ever watched a goverment-issue documentary on... well, on anything (classroom filmstrips, anyone?), you'll know how boring this is when I say that Stereo is indistinguishable from the kind of film that gathers dust in a lonely corner of a government archive somewhere. What's more, the voiceover narration (there is no diegetic sound) is overburdened with unintelligible psychobabble to the point where, if there was any trace of humor in Cronenberg's setups, it could be considered parodic. It's only an hour long, but that's one long freakin' hour.

Grade: D


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