Friday, November 06, 2009

scanners (cronenberg, 1981)

Cronenberg gained notoriety with this 1981 feature - it's the one where Michael Ironside uses his mind to make a guy's head explode. But that's not all you need to know about it: while he never tops the scene's "did that shit just happen?" effect, the main experience to be had here appears to be the complete sterility of the action narrative. Practically all that happens in the story is that two young lovers hit the road as they try to escape the clutches of a very powerful villain, and it's almost as if it doesn't matter whether or not the path of destruction that pursues them is their responsibility. Flight, landing, chaos, bloodshed, flight again. By draining a conspiracy/humans-with-special-powers thriller (a bit like Stephen King's Firestarter, which was published the year before) of its "juice," or any sense of pulpy excitement or titillation, Cronenberg focuses our attention on composition, which is angular and boney-shouldered, and color, which is pale and earthen. In the film's second-most memorable image, an agent of Ironside's shadowy corporation is propelled (via telekinesis) into a massive piece of artwork, which shatters beneath him.

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