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A History of Violins

Tuesday 10/18/2005 8:21 AM

So Sunday I saw A History of Violence, the new Cronenberg flick starring the guy who played Aragorn (the king) in The Lord of the Rings.

It was pretty good... Hitchcockian storyline that gets a lot of mileage out of a simple question (is Tom Stall really the ruthless Joey from back in Philadelphia who, among other things, ruined a man's eye with a piece of barbed wire?), nuanced acting all around, and William Hurt's best performance since Kiss of the Spider Woman. I went to see it with my friend Ron and I don't think either of us quite knew what to expect from director David Cronenberg (best known for The Fly and The Dead Zone), who's films usually run from the fringe (Dead Ringers) to the bizarre (Videodrome) to the disturbing (Crash) — or all three (Naked Lunch).

Apart from a handful of minor editing and/or continuity errors, the movie was pretty good. There was one point where I turned to Ron and whispered to him, "I have no idea where we go from here." He whispered back, "Me either," and we sat back in our chairs puzzled as to what was going to happen next.

The thing that struck me most about A History of Violence was that fact that it was clearly an adult movie. This movie earns its R rating, but not in any exploitive or titillating manners. Yes, there is sex and, yes, there is most definitely violence, but none of it displayed in a gratuitous fashion. The themes are very adult and it reminded me of the way the movie Closer handled its entirely different subject matter as well.

I saw another movie recently... the superbly crafted Crash (not to be confused with the aforementioned Cronenberg flick with the same title). I wanted to see Crash in the theatre, but never made the time (my loss). Great movie. Easily one of the best of the year.

Crash tells the stories of about a dozen different people in Los Angeles over 24 hour period at Christmastime. All of their stories interlock, some tightly, some barely, some unexpectedly. And all of the stories demonstrate how people's perceptions of each other (predominantly racial perceptions) can, at best, cause them to act in unexpected manners or, at worse, create traps for themselves.

Fascinating movie. Streamlined script. Powerful acting. Scintillating cinematography. I guarantee you that rare is the movie that can create tension in the variety of ways as Crash.

Dare You Not To Squirm At Least Once!

File Under: Movies
Music: Mark Isham "Crash"

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