Quick Takes: Fast Company, The Fly, Dead Ringers

fastcompany_1Fast Company (1979)
threehalfstar

Starring William Smith, Claudia Jennings, John Saxon, Nicholas Campbell, Don Francks, Cedric Smith, Judy Foster, Robert Haley, George Buza, David Graham, David Petersen
Directed by David Cronenberg

Just a few months before unleashing The Brood, Cronenberg released this love letter to drag racing. It is easily the least “Cronenbergian” film from him I’ve seen, but even if I didn’t go into it knowing he loved cars, Fast Company would’ve told me as much. The film’s cinematography is superb, capturing wonderful, wide vistas of the Canadian roadways, as well as close-up shots of gleaming engines, smoking tires and all kinds of other machinery. I was especially taken by an intense close-up of a spark plug gap being checked. Also of specific note is an in-car shot of a complete funny car run, with a timer on-screen to further add to the wow factor. I’m not an experienced fan of drag racing, so I was quite impressed with the speed and the precision with which everything is carried out. The film’s story is relatively cliched, and it gets super campy — AKA Fun! — as it goes along, but during the racing segments it actually feels closer to a documentary. It is real cars with real drivers doing some real racing, after all. I think it would be a fine choice for a rumbling double feature with Mad Max: Fury Road. Plus there’s a Springsteen-like theme song, what more can I ask for? Anyone that loves cars, specifically when they were hulking beasts of steel and thunder, should check this forgotten gem out.

theflyThe Fly (1986)
threehalfstar

Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, Leslie Carlson, George Chuvalo
Directed by David Cronenberg

As I worked my way through Cronenberg’s films, I was eager to re-visit his take on The Fly. It was the first Cronenberg film I saw (as a kid sometime in the late ’80s), and all I remember from that viewing was that I thought it was really weird. I didn’t know how to comprehend or process it. Then I watched it again about 10 years ago, and while I liked it a lot more that time, it still felt kind of emotionally cold and I couldn’t get into it completely. When I look back on these experiences after this most recent re-watch, I’m shocked at myself. The Fly is one of Cronenberg’s greatest achievements, and the FX work that slowly transforms Jeff Goldblum into the Brundlefly is absolutely exquisite. My journey with the film is a testament to re-watching films at different ages; the Brundlefly may evolve rather quickly, but it takes much longer for a human such as myself. Sometimes you see a film too early for it to resonate, and thankfully when I watched it this time it felt exactly right.

deadringersDead Ringers (1988)
threehalfstar

Starring Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold, Heidi von Palleske, Barbara Gordon, Shirley Douglas, Stephen Lack
Directed by David Cronenberg

Dead Ringers is an interesting film for Cronenberg to make directly after The Fly. Where that film went hard into the grotesque, Dead Ringers is reserved and intensely psychological. I must say that I prefer the methods of The Fly, but Dead Ringers succeeded in winning me over despite this. Jeremy Irons plays twin gynecologists, and it’s this absolutely riveting dual performance that glues you to the screen. Irons manages to create two distinct, believable characters, and Cronenberg somehow managed to often include them in the same shot without any hint of optical compositing or other visual trickery. It’s really something to see. Definitely a weird movie, though, so I don’t know who I’d recommend it to other than people who are already Cronenberg fans.

Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)

Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)
AKA Cube²: Hypercube

Starring Kari Matchett, Geraint Wyn Davies, Grace Lynn Kung, Matthew Ferguson, Neil Crone, Barbara Gordon, Lindsey Connell, Greer Kent, Bruce Gray

Directed by Andrzej Sekula

Expectations: Super low. It’s gonna be dumb.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


I had many issues with the first Cube, but the overall experience was an enjoyable one because it felt like the movie was building towards something. Even though Cube 2 contains a fair amount of revelations about the cube and its purpose, it is never — ever — building towards anything. I think it’s a fair assumption to go into Cube 2: Hypercube expecting something dumber than the original Cube, but the level of inane bullshit here is out of control.

Cube 2: Hypercube takes many of the things that defined the original film and throws them out the cube door (and presumably into some other cube where a different, hypothetical Cube movie was being made… I wish I has seen that one.). Remember the iconic cube itself that inspired instant love from me and radiated goodwill right up until the end of the film? Here it’s redesigned to be bland, boring and without character. The colored rooms that gave Cube much of its texture and visuals? Gone as well, as every room in this cube is the starkest of whites. Not only does this make for a visually boring movie, it makes for one that runs together. Going from one room to the next holds no weight. I understand why the rooms are all white now from a story standpoint, but that doesn’t make them any less boring. This cube also looks like a set, and the fact that the rooms don’t change colors only helps to solidify the thought that instead of Cube 2: Hypercube, I’m watching Cube 2: On Broadway, or perhaps as my girlfriend suggested, Cube 2: On Ice.

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