Crimes of The Future (18)


The crimes are future, but the perpetrator is historical. Cronenberg will be 80 next birthday and has given this the same title as his first full length feature.

The second Crimes is a tale of insurrectional evolution and a vision of the future as a deserted, out-of-season coastal village where the few remaining figures wander around decaying Mediterranean architecture. Advanced evolution has eliminated pain and infection, while many people have started to grow new organs.

Saul Tensor (Mortensen) is a celebrated performance artist who grows new organs that are then extracted before audiences by his partner Caprice (Seydoux.) Various government groups – New Vice, the National Organ Registry – are trying to keep track and crack down on it. Considering there seems to be almost nobody around, you’d have thought they’d be easy to find.

After two decades of comparative respectability, this is Cronenberg’s return to the body horror projects that made his name, full of organic mechanism, tactile software, and sensual, invasive surgery. It’s a bit like a greatest hits compendium, fresh takes on images you loved (or were repelled by) from Shivers, Videodrome, eXistenz, etc.

Mortensen’s cloaked, stooped figure is like Jeff Goldblum’s Brundlefly, but bobbing along on an even keel rather than heading into terminal decline. Overall, it’s closest perhaps to his film version of Naked Lunch, full of seedy, disreputable physicians and dry, dark humour. The oppressive atmosphere acts to disguise and sharpen its basic levity.

One of the laws of the future seems to have been a prohibition on traditional narrative structure. Even at his most commercial, Cronenberg's films moved at a stately pace, but after around 20 minutes of this, your inner narrative clock, that instinct that tells you roughly how far into the story you are, will be completely thrown. There’s tension, menace, subterfuge and danger but in an anesthetised state: like the organs in the performance art, they have been extracted from the main body and put to one side in display cases.

The film drifts along and then stops just as it looks to be reaching a climax. As a Cronenberg fan, I loved being under the thrall of these images, the same again but a little bit different. I have to concede though that if you’re not predisposed, this might all seem like indulgent arthouse toss.

Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Lea Seydoux, Kristen Stewart, Scott Speedman, Welket Bungue and Don McKellar. Running time: 107 mins.

See How They Run (12A)


London, 1953, during the opening months of The Mousetrap, when Dickie Attenborough (Dickinson) was playing the lead: the perfect location for a backstage whodunit that lovingly sends up the conventions of Agatha Christie while adding plenty of self-reflective twists on them.

See How They Run offers a murder and a mystery. Although what is done to Mark Chappell’s witty, inventive, literate and devilishly clever script isn’t quite murder, it’s a complete mystery why so much of it dies in the telling.

Who to accuse? First-time director George (This Country on telly), whose various little Wes Anderson affectations never quite pay off? Perhaps the star-studded cast, none of whom quite nail their roles? The misfiring central detective double-act between Rockwell and Ronan?

Casting the towering Dickinson as little darling Dickie, when he looks about a foot too tall and sounds like Tom Courtney playing Alan Bennett? The twist is that though most everybody has a little bit of blood on their hands, ultimately this is a nobodydunnit: after a painful opening, the film rallies and staggers its way to the final curtain as passable entertainment. It’s the script they couldn’t kill.

Directed by Tom George. Starring Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Rita Wilson, Reese Shearsmith, Harris Dickinson and David Oyelowa. Running time: 97 mins.

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies (15)


This comedy thriller, a decadent but not overly debauched modern take on the Agatha Christie country house murder mystery crossed with a teen slasher horror, might be called Seven Little Snowflakes.

A group of rich kids gather at the lavish house of one of their parents for a hurricane party. But, when the electricity goes down and one of them is murdered, the relationships break down in startling and spectacular ways.

It would be heavy-handed to label it satirical, but much of the film's humour is poking fun at their progressive pieties and coping strategies that don't work. It’s very funny, well acted (a career-highlight for Davison) and though none of the characters is at all likeable, the film isn't callous towards them.

If we're nitpicking you'd have to say that it isn't exactly edge-of-your-seat tense, but it makes up for that through the rather old-fashioned virtue of having a really strong plot. By around the halfway point, you’ll probably have intuited that the script, by Kristen Roupenien and Sarah DeLappe, offers the possibility of a novel and satisfying resolution, and the film completely delivers on that.

Directed by Halina Reijn. Starring Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davison, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott and Lee Pace. In cinemas. Runnig time: 94 mins.

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