Saw Spider last night. Interesting movie. It’s by David Cronenberg, and I’ll pretty much see anything from him on spec. Some parents had brought their kids (perhaps expecting Spiderman–children should never be brought to Cronenberg movies).

The movie, like its protagonist, moves very, very slowly. A madman sent to a halfway house in his hometown gradually recollects (and partly re-invents) his childhood, and the events that caused his madness, or were precipitated by it and exacerbated it–the movie is not clear which. The storytelling was very affectless–I don’t quite feel as if I got inside the character’s head–but is very atmospheric. Ralph Fiennes did an excellent job in what I’m guessing must have been a very difficult portrayal of the title role.

6 thoughts on “Spider”

  1. Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t know this was out… looks like a must-see for me too.

    Did you notice that the lead character’s name is Clegg, and the female lead actress’s name is Miranda? Certainly a coincidence, but I couldn’t help thinking it was an elaborate John Fowles shout-out.

  2. Haven’t yet seen Spider. One thing you can say about Cronenberg though, he will always make you think. While recoiling in horror perhaps, but. I liked his Naked Lunch and Existenz.

    I still can’t figure out if Crash is brilliance or bullshit. Probably an uneven mixture of both. It did make me go read some stuff by J.G. Ballard though, and I liked a lot of it. Though some of his stories make “Deprave Dave” look tame by comparison. (“Why I want to fuck Ronald Reagan” is particularly memorable)

  3. J–Never heard of John Fowles, though now that I search on him, I discover I’ve at least heard of his work.

    K–I read Crash long before the movie came out and was nonplussed. I thought the movie did do an excellent job of capturing the mood of the book as well as the story.

    But for me, the quintessential Cronenberg movie remains Videodrome. Existenz was basically a less-gross remake of that with newer technological conceits.

  4. Well, Videodrome was interesting, as far as it went…but in some respects it perhaps didn’t go far enough. (never thought I’d say that about Cronenberg!)

    For me, the central idea of VD was that information (in this case, a video recording) can have more than just a superficial effect on the viewer–it can function as, say, a kind of disease. (The old Monty Python skit about the world’s funniest joke, causing people to laugh themselves to death, also comes to mind. I can’t help thinking I’ve recently seen some other flic which riffs off this concept….)

    However, after developing the idea, he doesn’t do much with it. The virtual-reality aspect takes over, and is interesting enough, but I thought the pernicious-impact-of-information approach was more promising.

  5. Clegg and Miranda are the lead characters in Fowles’ disturbing novel “The Collector” — a novel with heavy references to “The Tempest”, one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.

    The only Fowles/Cronenberg link I know of is that Jeremy Irons starred in Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers”, and also played the lead in the screen adaptation of Fowles’ “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”.

  6. For me, the appeal (if that’s the right word) of Videodrome isn’t just intellectual, it’s visceral. It’s one of maybe three movies (the other two being Brazil and, oddly enough, Altered States) that have had a physical effect on me.

    I thought he did a brilliant job with the layers of unreality being stacked and unstacked, leaving the viewer almost dizzy.

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