ANTIVIRAL's Brandon Cronenberg: The CFQ Interview

Caleb Landry Jones and Sarah Gadon share a virulent form of fame in ANTIVIRAL.
Caleb Landry Jones and Sarah Gadon share a virulent form of fame in ANTIVIRAL.

ANTIVIRAL is set in an alternate-but-not-too-alternate universe where fame is everything, and the grand bulk of the economy seems built around markets in steaks cloned and viruses farmed from celebrities. The film marks the directing debut of Brandon Cronenberg — son of David Cronenberg — and while its biologic creepiness demonstrates a clear blood-line (we can’t keep away from these metaphors), its clinical ambiance and dark humor are all its own.
I got to sit down with Brandon to discuss the promises and dangers of being gifted a distinctive legacy, and how this first feature throws a stark light on our present-day cult of celebrity. Click on the player to hear the show.


Star Wars Re-Re-Redux & The Infectious World of Biothrillers: CFQ's Black Hole Ultra-Lounge 2:35.2

After discussing the goods & bads of Steven Soderbergh’s CONTAGION, Lawrence French and Dan Persons take a few minutes to debate George Lucas’ motivations for constantly revising his STAR WARS saga and continue to explore CONTAGION’s place in the highly virulent universe of biothriller films. Click the player to hear the conversation.


Sense of Wonder: Videodrome Remake – Re-Live the New Flesh

Videodrome (1983)Call me crazy, but why would anyone want to remake VIDEODROME? The 1983 original is an ambitious – but only partially successful – experiment that failed to wow general audiences and even put off many of David Cronenberg’s fans. Whatever it’s strengths and weaknesses, VIDEODROME is pure David Cronenberg – an expression of the distinctive sensibilities of the writer-director. It is simply not a marketable franchise that should be turned over to Hollywood hacks hoping to make a buck.
And yet, that is precisely what has happened, according to Variety. Ehren Kruger will script and produce a new version of the film, which will be distributed by Universal (which also released the original).  David Cronenberg, who is preparing THE MATARESE CIRCLE for stars Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington, is not expected to be involved.
The Variety article informs us:

The new picture will modernize the concept, infuse it with the possibilities of nano-technology and blow it up into a large-scale sci-fi action thriller.

The term “blow it up” seems weirdly appropriate – as in “reduce the project to a pile of worthless rubble.” Kruger has made a ton of money rehashing other people’s good work (scripting SCREAM 3, adapting THE RING for American consumption), but his more recent original screenplays have yielded weak box office (THE SKELETON KEY, THE BROTHERS GRIMM, BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE), and I don’t see evidence in any of his films of a sensbility qualified to take on Cronenberg.
If this sounds a bit like an anti-remake rant, I guess it is to some extent. But there is nothing intrinsically wrong with a remake – Cronenberg himself proved that with his 1986 version of THE FLY. What I find dubious is the current penchant for taking fairly distinctive original works – films that, for better or worse,  had some sort of unique artistic sensibility – and turning them into fodder for the studio factory machine. When an artist as distinctive as David Cronenberg comes along and wants to remake VIDEODROME, then I’ll get excited.
Till then, I just have to shake my head and wonder why.

Cronenberg & Shore “Fly” into Hollywood; Meyer & Favreau comment live; Gulager "Feasts" on the "Living Dead."

Advertising art for the opera version of THE FLY
Howard Shore’s opera The Fly, based on the 1986 film directed by David Cronenberg (itself a remake of the 1958 film starring Vincent Price and Al Hedison), will open in Los Angeles next month. In honor of the event, the American Film Institue is hosting a screening of the film in Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome on Wednesday, September 3 at 8:00pm. This will be a brand new print of the film, and Cronenberg and Shore (who are in town for the opera) will be on hand to answer questions before the screening.
The film is part of the AFI’s Director’s Screenings. The AFI’s page aptly describes this film:

THE FLY is an extraordinary example of Cronenberg’s particular brand of “body horror”; flesh transformed by disease. Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is an eccentric scientist, whose experiments with teleportation go awry, leading to one of the horror genre’s most disgusting and gory physical transformations. Ultimately, David Cronenberg’s version of THE FLY – based on a short story by George Langelaan and the 1958 film that starred Vincent Price — is a dark romantic tragedy about the wasting away of a brilliant man who mutates into an insect as his loved one looks on helplessly.

The ArcLight Cinema’s Cinerama Dome is located at 6360 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood CA. You can purchase tickets for the screening at the ArcLight’s website.
Other upcoming events around Hollywood include:

  • Live, in-theatre audio commentaries by directors Nicolas Meyer and Jon Favreau on their films TIME AFTER TIME and IRON MAN, respectively. Both film screen at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica: TIME AFTER TIME on Friday, September 5 at 7:30pm; IRON MAN on Saturday, September 6 at 7:30pm. Read more here.
  • A Grindhouse Film Festival tribute to actor Clu Gulager, featuring a double bill of FEAST and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. The double bill screens on Wednesday and Thursday, August 27 and 28 at the New Beverly Cinema. The festival continues on Friday and Saturday with a double bill of THE KILLERS and THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. Gulager will be in attendance at all screenings to discuss the film. Read more here.

You can keep up on the latest Fantasy Films, Mystery Movies, Halloween Horror & Sci-Fi Cinema Events in Los Angeles by checking out the Hollywood Gothique website.