There are forgettable movies I can rewatch anew every few years. Sometimes I remember they forget Kevin at home, or that he’s alone in New York about to meet Donald Trump, but I don’t care, because I still laugh at Joe Pesci’s grimaces; what a silly burglar!
And then there are movies like the one David Cronenberg wrote and directed in 2022, called, unoriginally, Crimes of the Future. What a chilling unforgettable abomination! Imagine Lynch suddenly decides to make more sense, Bowie is in Berlin searching for the bluebirds, and the two hang together with Murakami and Koontz to write a novel and stitch some paintings together under the exuberant supervision of Ghenie. Everyone wants to shock the audience, but Cronenberg truly delivers. No, it’s not a masterpiece you potentially haven’t heard of, but this is not forgettable cinematography, I promise that. Some scenes are plain repugnant, and not suitable for a sensitive or unprepared audience. Why would you kill “Le vent nous portera” in reverse Oedipal ways?
(Spoilers ahead: stop reading the article if you prefer watching the movie)
The movie is about the future, it is murder. Society is tired, people are comfortably numb, pleasure is rare, and nobody feels it anymore. Pain is the only mechanism that keeps everyone alive, humanity is reduced to a flock/herd/swarm/colony/murder/exaltation/poverty of cenobites. The human body evolves at an accelerated rate, and new organs always appear, their functions unknown; no X-Men for today, sorry. Extirpating (or tattooing!) the appendices without any kind of anaesthesia in front of a live audience is the most popular form of entertainment society consumes. Degenerate individuals pay to see how “evolution is killed and mutilated” only to be regenerated a few moments later.
A State Ministry also deals with this newly extirpated genetic material. As you would expect, they are corrupt, and they lack digitalisation. There are no cloud providers in this future, and the biggest crime is the lack of smartphones; technology turned anarogue. What kind of future is that without touchscreens? At least the haptics are good, if not a little too sharp.
Meanwhile, in an eco-friendly twist, a secluded few have evolved organs to digest and nourish plastics.
And then there are torture chairs and dining tables (?) that are extremely sought after. There’s a scene rivaling the one with Keanu Reaves versus Coppola’s brides (of Dracula), but there are no brides, only a vintage sarcophagus that cuts deep and then hastens the healing process of two level 2 support ladies. They are the twins from Kafka’s Judgement, but experts in mechanical scalpels and scissors.
That’s it; after watching this piece of cinematography, I couldn’t think for an hour straight, wondering myself, wtf did I just see? The plot is convex, it doesn’t hold water; everything is slow, gray and oppressive by design. This is not Blade Runner, or the rain falling on Rutger Hauer’s body doesn’t shadow any synthetic tear, but somehow all sits together, like a classic progressive rock album boring at times, with sparks of genius and virtuosity hidden in 20-minute long songs.
Should you watch this, know how immune you are to absurd (but well-deserved) acts of violence, torture and Kristen Stewart, but let’s put it like this: I mostly blog about other stuff, and still… you are reading this. Cronenberg delivers with the ease of Nick Cave holding a rock in his hand.
(Did you know that 8 cenobites are called a cenobyte?)