I was very excited to discover that David Cronenberg has a new movie out. In college, I earned a tremendously valuable "Certificate in Film Studies," and the capstone was a long paper I wrote analyzing the films of David Cronenberg. Videodrome is one of my all-time faves. Loved The Fly, Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers, eXistenZ ... appreciated Scanners, The Dead Zone ... wasn't crazy about Crash (1996, not the one last year that rocked), but everyone is entitled to stumble.
I was horribly disappointed in A History of Violence. What happened to David Cronenberg? It's one thing to stumble, and quite another to dive off a roof. History is the most tedious film I've seen since Signs. The first scene is the slowest and most boring I have ever seen in a film. The story unfolds about as fast as a fern frond, revealing itself to be a string of dismaying mobster cliches. Has he never even seen The Sopranos? There are no surprises -- the viewer has guessed everything up front -- except for the one in which such an established director could think this dreck was good enough to distribute. The acting is stiff. The ending is a groaner -- obvious, premature, perfuctory. The whole movie managed to even look boring. And there is an irritating Howard Shore score that doesn't fit the action -- I can't remember the last time I was actually angry at the music in a film.
Granted, David Cronenberg is not the most stylish or deft director around -- in fact, he's often downright clumsy -- but at least his films have always been interesting. But this dog ... I simply can't explain. It lacks any of the bizarre, gruesome, and radical ideas that are his hallmark. Why? Moreover, it was based on a graphic novel -- which means it came into his hands already storyboarded -- and he still either missed that the graphic novel sucked or screwed up in the relatively simple transfer. Where is Frankenstein, his long-rumored magnum opus? He could sink his teeth into that. He was born to direct that. My boy is seriously off his game. Avoid.