Friday, October 28, 2011

Random David Cronenberg

It's no secret that I'm a raving fan of David Cronenberg. I used to name Cronenberg as my favorite director (though I don't actually have a favorite director these days). It was Cronenberg who basically demonstrated the usefulness of auteur theory to me, and he was a director who simultaneously fed the adolescent sadist I used to be and the burgeoning film intellectual I turned into. Cronenberg films were formative experiences for me. So I'm always happy to see him show up in other people's movies. Whenever I spot him in films like Into the Night and Extreme Measures, I always perk up. My favorite of his appearances is as the assassin at the end of Gus Van Sant's To Die For, though I'll also admit that he's THE reason to see Clive Barker's Night Breed. I'm not sure how I missed Blood and Donuts (1995, directed by Holly Dale) all these years, but when I sat down to watch the film on Netflix Instant this week, I sat bolt upright when Cronenberg's name showed up in the credits. He plays a crime boss in this movie, and he's good at it. He always has a soft-spoken menace when he gets longer roles.

The movie itself? Wow, this feels like it's seven or eight years out of date. It feels like it should have been made in the mid 80s instead of the mid 90s, the use of Concrete Blonde on the soundtrack not withstanding. It has that feel. Maybe it's because it's Canadian. This follows a vampire who wakes up after 25 years of hibernation and how he affects the lives of a lovelorn cabbie and his girlfriend. The cabbie is in trouble with the mob, while his girlfriend works in a late-night donut shop. Frankly, the movie is kind of lame. It's not horrifying enough to make the grade as a horror movie, while its stab at comedy falls pretty flat. For the most part, it's a footnote. This comes down to its performances, which are uniformly stilted. Even Cronenberg. Cronenberg is a capable actor, so I can only assume he's been badly directed. Our vampire hero, though, seems badly miscast, with his shaggy hair and weird, sidelong line delivery.

Visually, Blood and Donuts is pretty drab. What interest it holds stems from the odd colors the filmmakers have painted all their sets, but, as I say, this results in a movie that looks as if it belongs a decade earlier. Maybe this is all intentional. Maybe, as a film about a character out of time, the movie aspires to feel like it's out of time itself. Somehow, I think that would be giving the thing too much credit. The end of the movie takes on a certain amount of the faux-tragedy that's been a part of the vampire myth since Anne Rice, much to its detriment.

I dunno. Maybe it's because I prefer vampires as actual, y'know, monsters that I have issues with this. I'm uncomfortable with the concept of the vampire as superhero, and I think that puts me off this film.

Current tally: 26 films

First time viewings: 24


Jenn said...

I'm a huge Cronenberg fan as well, but you're right, this is just drab. And outdated. And kinda just outright boring. I know it showed up in my Netflix instant watch recommendations and Sam and I eagerly sat down to watch it because of the Cronenberg factor and we were sorely disappointed and ended up talking through the whole thing.

Shame, really, since this does have potential.

Eric Wincentsen said...

Have you seen the Canadian film called "Last Night"? It has Cronenberg in a rather sympathetic and non-horror roll. The whole movie itself is rather interesting, but his part is one of the standouts.

Vulnavia Morbius said...

I haven't seen Last Night. Now I want to. After I'm done with October, I guess.