Saturday, December 22, 2007

Eastern Promises Unfulfilled

Is there anyone left in the world today who knows the difference between form and content or style and substance?

Ordinary viewers and critics alike rant and rave in ecstasy about one movie after another because...why? They got a shot of adrenalin during the Kill Shot? They fell in love with the owl in the tree? They were inspired by the little girl on the raft?

Last night I rented David Cronenberg's film, "Eastern Promises."

After 35 minutes or so, I took the DVD out of the machine and watched 2 Seinfeld reruns.

In the opening scene, a man is executed in a barber shop. From the opening beat, we know what is coming. Everything is telegraphed. The only surprise is the utter viciousness with which the murder is filmed.

The boy doesn't simply cut the man's throat. He basically saws the man's head half off with a small straight razor. Blood spurts in great orgasmic rushes. The man fights crazily, hopelessly in his death throws.

Later, out hero, our star, Viggo Mortensen, collects the corpse from a freezer and calmly snips off the ends of five fingers.

Soon, hero and friend are in a private brothel with drugged teenage girls.

Friend insists that Hero defile one of the girls now and before his and our eyes to prove that he "isn't queer."

I stopped the disc as Viggo was doggy pumping a naked girl in full view.

If I want to watch porno, I'll do that on my own time, thanks.

When I rent a movie or go to a cinema, I'm expecting something a tad better.

Now, Mr. Cronenberg is a much celebrated artist.

"Scanners," "The Dead Zone," "The Fly," "Dead Ringers," "Crash," "A History of Violence."

Now it's one thing to be a Master of the Bizarre or the King of Mayhem or some other adorable sobriquet.

But this man is sick.

And all of the people involved in financing and distribution and promotion and adoration are suffering from an advanced case of "The Emperor's New Clothes."

Like Tarentino, and often Scorcese, Cronenberg is about blood and bad sex. If he weren't making movies, he'd be a petty criminal or the local bar sleaze.

Basta. Enough.