On bodies, ‘Crimes of the Future’ with David Cronenberg


Much of the work of director David Cronenberg is about the connection or disconnection between one’s body and the world around it.

The 79-year-old Canadian auteur has long been fascinated by what’s in our bodies and what we put in them. His latest film, “Crimes of the Future,” which opens in theaters Friday, stems partly from his interest in the ubiquity of microplastics.

Cronenberg, who sat for a recent interview at the Cannes Film Festival where “Crimes of the Future” was premiering, first wrote the film’s script in 1998. Sensing it had grown only more relevant, Cronenberg unearthed it for his first film in eight years, and, he says, didn’t change a word.

It revolves around the performance artist couple of Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen) and Caprice (Lea Seydoux). In a near-future where plastics have changed human biology, they artfully remove tumorous organs from Tenser in surgical performances. It co-stars Kristen Stewart as a bureaucrat turned super-fan after witnessing a performance.

Art as an organ cut out and displayed is a fitting metaphor for Cronenberg, whose early films (“Videodrome,” “The Fly”) made him a master of body horror. The director is simultaneously auctioning an NFT of his recently passed kidney stones. Mortensen, who’s starred in Cronenberg’s “A History of Violence,” “Eastern Promises” and “A Dangerous Method,” calls “Crimes of the Future” Cronenberg’s most autobiographical film.

“Each time when I watch one of his movies,” Mortensen says, “I see more.”

David Cronenberg poses for portrait photographs for the film “Crimes of the Future,” Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (AP)

For Cronenberg, the layers of “Crimes of the Future” were a way to probe both the nature of being an artist and the way our increasingly unnatural environment is transforming our bodies – not to mention seagulls. It’s an evolution that doesn’t frighten but excites Cronenberg. He marvels at how scientists are already working on whether plastics might be made edible – and maybe even taste good.

“That’s actually happening,” he says. “It’s not sci-fi anymore.”

Speaking to Associated Press (AP), Cronenberg said one of the things that brought him back to moviemaking was Netflix and the idea of ​​streaming and a streaming series. “I tried to make one. I thought, well, this is not really movie making, but it’s still cinema. It’s a different kind of cinema, seriously different. I think theaters are dead. I think they’ll be a niche thing for superhero movies. I haven’t gone to the cinema for decades. You know, I just prefer to watch it at home. And the TV sets have gotten so good, the sound systems have gotten so good that I defy those who say that you can’t have a true cinematic experience at home. I completely don’t agree.”

In the years the director has been making films, technology has increasingly entered our bodies. Amazed by this, Cronenberg told: “Well, I just had cataract surgery. Basically, they’re destroying the lenses in your eyes, sucking them out and then putting in plastic lenses that unfold and become your eyes. I’ve been looking through my lenses for my whole career as a moviemaker. And now the reason I’m wearing sunglasses is because I get more light in my eyes because of the cataracts being gone. Everything’s brighter. The colors are different, quite different. I joked with my director of photography that we’ll have to recolor the whole movie now that I have different lenses in my eyes. That’s pretty intimate. Technology in your eyeballs. I’ve got hearing aids. I’m totally bionic. Years ago this would be all be problematic.My career would have ended a lot sooner because if you can’t hear and you can’t see, it’s hard to make movies, do you know?”

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