Well, kids, it’s almost here. The wide release on August 17th of Robert Pattinson’s latest vehicle, the David Cronenberg film Cosmopolis, is only days away, and if you listen closely, you can hear the eager squeals of anticipation from Bobby’s legions of fans. And now there have been brand-new stills released from the film, which we bring to you today courtesy of The Playlist. It never quite fails to fascinate just how these guys, these screen idols, continue to elicit such rabid devotion from so many. It’s not that I don’t understand or anything; after all, I’ve nursed quite a few celebrity crushes over the years and still do. And as we’ve discussed here before, Pattinson’s presence in this film will lead many to the works of his director and co-stars, many who may not have shown any interest in such otherwise.
Cronenberg, for example, has long been a darling of the cineaste set, and though he’s definitely flirted many a time with the mainstream, I don’t think he quite qualifies as a household name. Cronenberg really broke onto the scene in the 1980s with a string of visceral horror films that eschewed the blood-‘n’-guts approach of then-wildly popular slasher genre, yet still managed to be very twisted and gross. 1981’s Scannersdidn’t exactly boast a star-studded cast, the biggest name on the marquee being that of The Prisoner‘s Patrick McGoohan, himself not much known beyond his cult followers. Yet Scanners made quite the splash just for its daring take on science-fiction, especially during a time when all of the bastard sons of Philip K. Dick came marching home again, hurrah, hurrah. Cronenberg continued along these lines with Videodrome, featuring a then-rising star in James Woods. Woody is definitely not as well-known as he should be, but clearly the bigger studios wanted to get Cronenberg all the raw materials they could find him since his unique vision of the dystopian present/future was bringing in the dollars, if not necessarily at the box office, then definitely in the new cash-cow of home video rentals. Sleeper hits were now big business, so anything to hurry that along. For example, The Dead Zone with Christopher Walken, still going strong off his Oscar-winning performance in 1978’s The Deer Hunter, back when he was revered for his talents and not merely his own cult of personality.
But then after 1986’s remake of The Fly, which did quite well also, Cronenberg seemed to lose the attention of any mainstream audience. My personal theory is that the Reagan years created a general attitude of gloom-‘n’-doom that Cronenberg tapped into easily, likely without even really trying. But as the ’90s approached, people were kinda sick of being bummed out over morning in America and just wanted to go to lunch and gossip with their friends. Not to be deterred, Cronenberg forged ahead without missing a step, but his movies remained fairly unmarketable. I would not be surprised if his 1996 film Crash, where James Spader can only get off sexually through car accidents, often gets rented today by folks looking for the 2004 movie of the same name. Cronenberg’s eXistenZ, released in ’99, was pushed right alongside the surprise hit The Matrix, the trailers making that film look very similar to the Keanu Reeves vehicle, and you guess how well that strategy played out.
But suddenly, and even more apropos for our interests, Cronenberg hit on two new devices: the crime genre and one Viggo Mortensen.
It’s not exactly a huge surprise that Cronenberg began doing straight-up crime films. After all, as we know, the crime genre is one of the few that can truly encompass all the main dramatic elements: life, death, birth, love, money, and of course, murder. With very, very few exceptions, there is hardly a film out there that doesn’t contain at least some aspect of crime, even if it’s a minor transgression against societal law. It’s conflict, pure and undiluted. So whereas much of Cronenberg’s early material focused on breaking the law of God (for lack of a better term), to make the lateral move over to the laws of man couldn’t have been too difficult. Having said that, I probably wouldn’t have picked Cronenberg as the guy to make that move, however pleasantly surprised I was (and still kinda am).
And to attach his wagon to Mortensen’s star was another move I didn’t see coming bu was glad it did. Mortensen is, of course, most well-known for his turn in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, yet another major cultural phenomenon that did little more than bore me. But watching the guy play such bad-asses as he does in flicks like A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, I’m eternally grateful Cronenberg saw in him the level of talent I was too asleep during Lord of the Rings to really notice.
And such may be the case with Cosmopolis. I have yet to see any of the Twilight films, and I likely never will. But if Cronenberg says he can interest me in Pattinson, then I’m definitely all ears. I know that may not a be popular stance, especially with your average Pattinson fan, but hey, them’s the breaks.