A Dangerous Method (Cronenberg, 2011)

Soul Meets Body

The films of Canadian director David Cronenberg are a nasty brood, wildly divergent in terms of narrative yet thematically connected by the same obsession with the un(natural) evolution of body and mind. Initially known for constructing some of the 1970’s and 1980’s most harrowing and challenging genre films (ShiversScannersThe Fly), Cronenberg has since evolved toward a more classical, calculated form of storytelling in films like A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Despite this shift, Cronenberg’s brilliantly subversive obsessions remain the same.

With A Dangerous Method, a sly and smart examination of the tumultuous Carl Jung/Sigmund Freud relationship during the early 1900’s, Cronenberg reaches the apex of this auteurist progression. His thematic concerns (deformity, disease, repression), once so brazenly represented by external violence or sex, are almost completely internalized in A Dangerous Method, revealed meticulously through longing facial expressions, razor-sharp glares, and extended dialogue sequences. Fittingly, there’s much time spent on the process of relationships, the way people’s perceptions of each other change over time …

Read my full review at SanDiego.com.

War Horse (Spielberg, 2011)

Home Is Where the Horse Is

War Horse is a film of grand scope and of even grander emotions, an old-fashioned ode to a type of “aw shucks” sentimentality that could make you nostalgic for classic Hollywood or just downright nauseous. The titular steed at the center of Steven Spielberg’s laborious epic acts as the pure and unfiltered center to the various human experiences crossing its path, a familiar representation of home and comfort even during the darkest times. Examples range from acts of familial tenderness and sacrifice to the horrific violent specifics of trench warfare in WWI. These vignettes ebb and flow depending on the horse’s changing location, a problematic structure that favors broad narrative strokes yet lacks character development. Unfortunately, War Horse never stays in one spot very long, often rendering it’s drama inert and fleeting…

Read my full review at SanDiego.com.