You've got two pretty interesting options for double features this weekend at The Belcourt, and both of them involve one of the season's most hotly discussed movies, David Cronenberg's adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel Cosmopolis, opening tonight. You can take the auteurist route and watch it as a warm-up for tonight and tomorrow's midnight shows of Cronenberg's genre-confounding 1983 freakout Videodrome.
Or you can watch Cosmopolis with another current release that takes a different slant on the corruption of the moneyed elite: the financial thriller Arbitrage with Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. As if underscoring the connection, Steve Erickson reviewed Arbitrage for this week's Scene and recently interviewed Cronenberg about Cosmopolis for The Atlantic. A sample from their lively talk:
I remember reading the book when it came out. I had forgotten when it was written. Today, I checked the date and was surprised it was written as early as 2003. I thought it had to have been written after the financial collapse of 2008.
In fact, if you look up some early reviews of the book, some of them say the idea of people protesting against Wall Street is absurd and not convincing. I know from talking to Don DeLillo that his interest started with limos. He wondered, "Why would anyone want a car that long in Manhattan, which has these short, cramped streets? Who's in these limos? Where do they go at night? " He started off by exploring those ideas and then constructing a character who would be inside such a limo. That's really how it began for him. The fact that the book ended up being so prophetic is accidental. But as an artist, maybe you have antennae that are a little bit more sensitive than other people's. You pick up things in the air other people don't notice. Even if you don't intend to, you can predict the future. For example, I had that happen with Videodrome. A lot of people feel that movie, in retrospect, anticipated the Internet and interactive TV. If you watch it now, you can't deny that connection, but I was just observing the moment.
Do you think at all in terms of genre when you make a film? Do you say "this is going to be an art house film, this is going to be a genre film"?
There used to be a genre called the Art film, with a capital "A," in the days of Bergman, Fellini, and Truffaut. Now it doesn't exist, and you're left with horror movies, thrillers, and romantic comedies. I don't really think in terms of genre at all when I'm making a movie. No matter what kind of movie you're making, you're either fulfilling, denying or deliberately subverting your audience's expectations. For me, genre is more of a marketing question than an artistic question.
Jason Shawhan's review of Cosmopolis in this week's Scene is a rave: "Once again, Cronenberg, a master of adaptation, has taken an 'unfilmable' novel (see also Crash, Naked Lunch) and made it his own ... [Pattinson is] good enough even to make the viewer see past his teenage-superego legacy." Sounds like an investment worth risking.