David Cronenberg Reunites with Don DeLillo to Star in ‘Body Art’

As one could have foreseen, confounding writer Don DeLillo and director David Cronenberg are melding worlds yet again. But this time sans Robert Pattinson. After their creative success with last summer’s perplexing and guttral, Cosmopolis, the two are collaborating once more to bring another one of DeLillo’s acclaimed works to the screen. Cronenberg will star in the cinematic adapation of The Body Artist, reports Variety. At the helm will be Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, whose incredible keen sense of authentic, subtle dramatics and beauty brought us the richly powerful I Am Love. He will also be penning the adaptation, now titled Body Art. The film will center around Isabelle Huppert (recently seen in Amour), as well as the man of many faces, Denis Lavant (who just gave one of the best performances of the year in Holy Motors). 

DeLillo’s novel is a phantasmagoric story that explore’s the abnormal grieving process of Lauren Hartke, a performance artist whose husband has recently commited suicide. Described as a "ghost story" due to the engimatic presence of a figure that appears to be living in the upstairs room of her home, DeLillo’s complex tale provides the perfect vehicle for Huppert’s raw, visceral, and always slightly strange acting style. She will take on the leading role with her male counterparts in their respective parts in what sounds like material these actors were made for. With this storyline and this cast, one can almost envision myriad variations on the film now—lurking between the worlds of Michael Haneke, Leos Carax, and Cronenberg himself—which is truly a delight for the imagination.

Shooting is said to begin this summer and don’t worry, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this one. So here’s a video of interviews from 1983 on Videodrome to indulge in your Cronenberg passion for the day.

‘Cosmopolis’ Guarantees Some Huffy Walk-Outs

Maybe this is naked metropolitan bias, but I’d thought the audience for an art-house David Cronenberg flick at Lincoln Center would know what they were getting into. Not true! A good handful of moviegoers shelled out $13 for a ticket to Cosmopolis on Saturday night and ran for the hills halfway through. There are a multitude of factors to consider in such a decision.

First of all, the exquisite oddity of hearing dialogue by Don DeLillo, who authored the short novel on which the film was based, out loud. It sure doesn’t sound like how people talk, and unless you give yourself over to its strange, deadpan, techno-plastic cadences, it will ruin everything. If you accept this manner of speech, however, the script is actually quite funny, and people were laughing all over, even those who mentioned in front-lobby whispers that they hadn’t read the book.

They laughed, that is, until some outburst of INTENSE CRONENBERGIAN VIOLENCE. You had to know these were coming, right? Watch out, a dude gets stabbed in the eye. Repeatedly.

This is intercut with a lot of "action" set in the interior of a limo (the ultra-rich protagonist is attempting to get across town for a highly meaningful haircut on a day of apocalyptic traffic, to say nothing of his own self-destruction), meaning there’s not a lot to look at except Robert Pattinson’s forehead, which my wife kept pointing out regardless. Compound this with the weird and processed digital shots—rumor has it Croney will never shoot in film again—and you realize you might have done well to wait and watch on Netflix Streaming.

Still, you have a creepy, challenging, high-wire act of a film, one that moreover touches the third rail of data-saturated global capitalism like the a throbbing, painful nerve that it is. You may wail, as did a woman sitting behind me, “What is wrong with this guy?!” after every bit of erratic on-screen behavior—but at least you’re asking the right question.

David Cronenberg Hates Batman

Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg’s adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel, opens today following weeks of a post-cheating scandal media blitz that has blown up in its leading actor (and BlackBook cover boy) Robert Pattinson’s face. He’s hurting! He’s confused! People are forcing him to eat on camera! And everyone forgot about poor David Cronenberg, the beloved director behind cult hits like Scanners, Dead Ringers, Videodrome (and also the unfortunate A Dangerous Method, but we’ll let that one slide). What’s a critically acclaimed director to do in order to get people to pay attention to him? Well, bash Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, of course.

In an interview with Next Movie, Cronenberg is pretty frank when it comes to his feelings about the artistic merit of superhero movies, in which he finds absolutely nothing to gush over:

David, you’ve done drama and horror. Some fairly formidable directors have branched out into superhero movies pretty beautifully —is that something you would consider doing?
DC: I don’t think they are making them an elevated art form. I think it’s still Batman running around in a stupid cape. I just don’t think it’s elevated. Christopher Nolan’s best movie is Memento, and that is an interesting movie. I don’t think his Batman movies are half as interesting though they’re 20 million times the expense. What he is doing is some very interesting technical stuff, which, you know, he’s shooting IMAX and in 3-D. That’s really tricky and difficult to do. I read about it in American Cinematography Magazine, and technically, that’s all very interesting. The movie, to me, they’re mostly boring.

Do you think the subject matter prohibits the elevated art form?
DC: Absolutely. Anybody who works in the studio system has got 20 studio people sitting on his head at every moment, and they have no respect, and there’s no…it doesn’t matter how successful you’ve been. And obviously Nolan has been very successful. He’s got a lot of power, relatively speaking. But he doesn’t really have power.

So that’s a no.
DC: I would say that’s a no, you know. And the problem is you gotta… as I say, you can do some interesting, maybe unexpected things. And certainly, I’ve made the horror films and people say, "Can you make a horror film also an art film?" And I would say, "Yeah, I think you can."

But a superhero movie, by definition, you know, it’s comic book. It’s for kids. It’s adolescent in its core. That has always been its appeal, and I think people who are saying, you know, Dark Knight Rises is, you know, supreme cinema art, I don’t think they know what the fuck they’re talking about.

Well, now my dreams of watching The Riddler’s head explode in David Cronenberg’s Batman’s Back have been DASHED AGAINST THE ROCKS. Friday mornings, man. What a bummer. 

David Cronenberg’s ‘Cosmopolis’ Gets an American Trailer

When David Cronenberg’s repressed psycho-sexual snoozefest A Dangerous Method was released, I was disappointed to find the only presence of his signature fascination with body horror was limited to Keira Knightley’s jutting jaw. For a moment there, I felt saddened that the man who gave us Videodrome and Dead Ringers and is known for visually-striking and mind-melding thrillers had ventured into the world of the cerebral in a way that seemed stifling, as if he left himself behind and made someone else’s film. However, when I heard he was adapting Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, my cinema-sense perked up and I thought this was something he would really be able to take a bite out of. 

The film tells the story of young millionaire, Eric Packer (played by the pale—but for the moment, alive—Robert Pattinson), as he rides around in his limo on a mission for a haircut that evolves into an odyssey when he is derailed by a series of traffic jams and his world begins to unravel around him. And finally: an American trailer was released last night, and it’s clear that some dark themes dominate the film: the seduction of death, the threat of murder, and the thrill of the world shattering. What more could one ask for?

If it is a true return to form for Cronenberg, all the tween Twilight fans rush to cinemas with their adult companions are in for a real treat. 

What To Watch At Cannes

Today the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival kicks off, meaning gorgeous people are spending time watching movies and frolicking on French beaches while you sit in the office and read about it. Glamorous, no?

Say what you will about the celebrity industrial complex, but at least the Cannes fest does feature some excellent films—and is always good for an unscripted moment—that will eventually make their way to a cineplex near you. But what to watch?

Cosmopolis: How could a Don DeLillo book turned into a David Cronenberg movie go wrong? Starring an increasingly serious Robert Pattinson as a Wall Streeter whose world collapses on a drive across Manhattan, the movie is giving us shades of American Psycho but with something like the Batmobile. Sold!

On The Road: The Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles takes on Jack Kerouac’s legendary book with the help of, uh, Kristen Stewart. Sure it’ll probably glamorize the Beats and have some sort of moral, but all of this naked driving looks worth the price of admission.

Rise of the Guardians: One of the festival’s opening pictures, Dreamworks’ Guardians is about an Avengers-like team of Santa, The Tooth Fairy, The Sandman and The Easter Bunny who team up to save the planet from evil. The movie will be released stateside around the holidays and is sure to grace every plastic soft drink cup you purchase toward the end of 2012.

Rust and Bone: From the director of 2009’s big-deal film A Prophet, this French flick delves into the bond between a homeless man and a whale trainer played by Marion Cotillard.

Lawless: Guy Pearce, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Shia LaBeouf star in this Prohibition-era tale about schemers, bootleggers and lawmen during the Great Depression.

The Dictator: There’s also Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest, The Dictator, for which he reportedly paraded a camel down one of Cannes main streets as a publicity stunt. It might not be brilliant, or even close to as funny as some of his older work, but there will be a laugh or two. And you might as well embrace it, avoiding this will be difficult.

Robert Pattinson Gets Debauched in David Cronenberg’s ‘Cosmopolis’

You wouldn’t expect Twilight‘s Robert Pattinson to star in a David Cronenberg movie, no? And yet, here he is, indulging in such Cronenberg-ian excesses like shooting a gun through his hand, stabbing someone in the face and having angry sex with a string of beautiful women. What better way to cast off the shackles of tween-dom? Adapted from a Don DeLillo novel (!), Cosmopolis follows a multi-millionaire for a day as he makes his way around Manhattan, having all sorts of adventures. (If you squint your eyes, it has some loose parallels to James Joyce’s Ulysses.) The trailer is slightly NSFW, but the images flash so quickly that you can probably get away with it. 

This might not supersede Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers as the most unlikely tween star vehicle (that one has Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens), if only because everything about Pattinson screams that he’d leap at the chance to go authentic as soon as the heat had cooled on the Twilight franchise. But if this is what he’s getting up to before Breaking Dawn Part 2 is even out, we can only wonder what will follow. Basically, he’s going to out-Franco Franco in the quest to give as many prosthetic blowjobs as possible. Who better to aid that journey to artistic fulfillment than David Cronenberg? Cosmopolis doesn’t have a release date yet, but keep an eye peeled.