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Smoking Man goes gaga for THE HISTORY OF VIOLENCE!

Hey folks, Harry here... The ads on my site are driving me crazy. I absolutely can not stand the fact that I haven't seen the latest Cronenberg film yet. I watched the new DVD of THE FLY over the weekend - and the documentary on that disc - running 2 hours and 45 minutes may very well be the best geek documentary on the making of a major geek film in the history of DVD. I was just fascinated by the doc. Beyond all the make-up stuff - just the development of the material and the evolution of the film... it was fascinating. Needless to say, it has my Cronenberg 'gotta see more' buzz going, and though this film says it's opening this weekend - it isn't here in Austin yet! I see it this week though. ARGH!!!! MUST SEE NOW!!!

Hey Harry,

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing David Cronenberg's A History of Violence and I can't think of another movie I've seen this year, save Oldboy and Broken Flowers, that stands up to this massive gem of a film. With certain artists, it is obvious where they are going with an idea or concept, the allegory is implied plainly and for this their effort seems trite and the point is rendered powerless by their heavy-handed allegory. Not this film.

Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is a happy father and local business owner in a small fictional midwestern town where crime and punishment is not part of life. Personally, knowing this was a Cronenberg film, I had a shit-eating grin through every second of this calm-before-the-storm because I knew what was happening. This man, Cronenberg, was doing something that most directors aren't capable of. Not only is he setting up something ideal just to tear it down, he is taking his fucking time with it. Luckily, there is a point.

I knew before I saw this movie that it was an allegory for America. This character, Tom Stall, as the brilliant Ed Harris tells us in the trailer, is good at killing people. Really good, in fact. He had a shady past and it caught up with him. And about an hour into this movie you might think that David Cronenberg has made one of those films, one of those pieces of art, that is so obvious and heavy-handed that you have to disrespect him for his own sake, so that maybe he'll be more subtle with his theme next time. After an hour into this movie you will leave all that shit at the door because where this movie goes, and what it implies taking into account what we already know is its source of inspiration, is so fascinatingly complex it is of immeasurable importance that there is someone out there who is so gifted that they could boil down an empire into something so observable.

I know this film doesn't come out most places until next friday. But when it does run, don't walk. See A History of Violence.


Smoking Man

Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 25, 2005, 6:14 p.m. CST

    And how exactly is this cool news?

    by Garbageman33

    The film came out two days ago and virtually every critic in the country has already reviewed it. What next? The scoop on Star Wars: Episode 2?

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 6:22 p.m. CST

    We've already had Vern's word on this...

    by seppukudkurosawa

    ...listening to anyone else's is like licking a butter ice-cream cone.

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 6:57 p.m. CST

    Seen it already

    by TheAllSeeingEye

    It's not a bad film but it's not a great one either. Certainly has some interesting parts but alot of the time i found myself wondering why nothing was happening on screen. I mean, what exactly does 5 mins of watching Vigo Mortenson lick out his wife add to the story? That said, when it gets violent on screen it gets pretty gruesome, i can watch near anything and it made me wince. Anyway, cut to the chase; watch it and forget it, it's that kind of movie.

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 7:27 p.m. CST

    At least he didn't call him Aragorn...

    by Damer1

    That's a sure sign he's a fruity homer.

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 8:05 p.m. CST

    I can't...

    by Intellitoast

    wait to see the movie. Cronenberg is a master.

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 8:14 p.m. CST

    Say it. It was fantastic. So is Maria Bello I might add!

    by R.C. the "Wise"

  • Hell. Cronenberg is definitely a master film maker, so I'll put this on my to watch list. I met him 20 some odd years ago at a screening of Videodrome-and man has he aged badly. At least his work has aged well. Cheers!

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 8:53 p.m. CST


    by lush

    I'm sure alot of people who frequent this site respect Harry's opinion on movies (god help them) and want to read his take on a new flick. If you don't like it don't read it and don't bitch.

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 9:02 p.m. CST

    Violence is Cool!

    by sledgehammer5050

    yeah beavis

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 10:13 p.m. CST

    Radical Edward:

    by 3 Bag Enema

    You, sir, are a douche. Pearls before swine. Take this man's keyboard away.

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 10:35 p.m. CST

    Sorry Lush

    by Garbageman33

    If you don't trust any of the 69 critics who reviewed the film on rotten tomatoes and you're dying to hear what Smoking Man (not Harry, by the way) has to say, knock yourself out. Who am I to judge?

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 11:34 p.m. CST

    Hear Hear, Garbageman!

    by Nate Champion

    Apparently Harry doesn't understand the concept of LIMITED RELEASE. And lush, how exactly does this review encapsulate Harry's opinion of a film he's obviously not seen?

  • Sept. 25, 2005, 11:42 p.m. CST

    I actually predict this will garner Cronenberg a best director n

    by JackBurton

    He won't win of course, but he will get some long deserved (critical/award) recognition in the U.S. for once with this film, rather than just the usual praise and awards from Canada and Europe. And anything as far as either good (U.S.) box office or popular/critical reception stateside, which thus helps him get his projects more easily funded in future and leads to yet more Cronenberg goodness would be a welcome thing indeed.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 2:38 a.m. CST

    I must have seen a different film...

    by NetSlut

    ...because the one I saw was in no way complex or, indeed, fascinating. It was completely obvious and completely unsubtle. And the lingering sex scenes are just unbelievably heavy-handed (as is the completely gratuitous nudity -- Cronenberg does like his T&A). It isn't a *bad* film, it's just *not much* of a film. The plot is simply that the guy's past comes looking for him. No explanation about that past, no reasons behind whether he was really a good guy or did what he did for the right reasons, or anything like that. He just was what they said he was, and that was it. You simply waited for the next brief outburst before the film ended. Ideal if you have the attention span of a chipmunk, but otherwise, wait and rent (don't buy) the DVD...

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 3:47 a.m. CST


    by lush

    In my haste to make a point I neglected to give the review in question the proper credit. I apologize. The point remains, however. Whether or not it was Smoking Man or Harry or whomever, the point is that on this site it should be clear that there is cool news and there are reviews by those who administer the site. Whose opinion some of the readers no doubt value. That was all.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 4:21 a.m. CST

    that was not all

    by lush

    It was never a question of how many reviews a movie has recieved, only who is the reviewer of the film. Fuck rotten tomatoes. When I come to this site and see a posting that is obviously a movie review, I don't bitch when that posting is INDEED A MOVIE REVIEW. Whether it's Harry himself or a random contributor, you should understand what you're getting.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 4:43 a.m. CST

    3 Bag...

    by TheAllSeeingEye

    If you want to praise a film that is merely 'meh' then fine. Don't try to make out it's a well thought out intelligent film for people with high IQ's; it's not. You'll probably enjoy the special edition DVD of the movie which is presented in black and white, upside down and dubbed into swahili for the appreciation of more cognitive movie aficionados. Take this mans typing wand away.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 5:21 a.m. CST

    A Big Disappointment From Cronenberg

    by zoothorn21

    I love Cronenberg's films. Love 'em. And I felt crushed coming out of History Of Violence because I felt that he can and has done so much better. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't disappointed because tentacles didn't start sprouting out of Viggo's head, or that Ed Harris didn't have a gun that fired teeth. Cronenberg has tackled relatively 'straight' unsupernatural psychological drama before (most recently in the masterful 'Spider')to much better effect than here. I have a worried suspicion that lots of critics are going nuts about this as a way of saying "David's decided to make a grown-up film for a change, instead of all those silly films about flesh and rubber". Cronenberg basically invented his own language and genre in the 1980s, only to find himself often sidelined by critics who dismissed it as genre horror. I feel now that having made a straight thriller, and an ok one at that, said critics feel they can welcome him into their fold. Cronenberg can do so much better than this simplistic, often shockingly cliched piece of work. To have a gun go off and cut to a character waking up from a nightmare is one of the most hackneyed cliches in film, yet it is employed here, similarly the (SLIGHT SPOILER) 'missing child in the mall found with the bad guy looking after her' scene. I found myself frequently surprised and disappointed that Cronenberg had resorted to this. The film's climax is a mess of misjudged humour and silly action. Believe me, I didn't go in expecting mutations and monsters - I knew this was straight and I felt confident that Cronenberg had the immense skill to do whatever he wanted. But this is sadly a misfire. I wanted to enjoy it so much, but I came out feeling disappointed that the film I had just seen could really have been directed by anybody. Oscar noms are a certainty...

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 6:44 a.m. CST


    by Stosslova

    On the surface it's a simple tale, but as some of our smarter critics have pointed out, this film isn't just about some guy in an American backwater, it's about America. It's about our own history of violence and perpetration. They should show it in a double-bill with Fahrenheit 9/11 then you might get it more. America got into bed with crime and then pretended that it never had and sat filling itself with coffee and apple pie instead. Then the crime came back and hit it on the head, and however heroic it appears, its hands will never be clean.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 7:02 a.m. CST

    Just read the graphic novel.

    by comealive1288

    The damn thing is fucking predictable, but still riveting in the last chapter. Hasn't gotten a release near where I live yet, but I'm hoping to see it on the 30th.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 8:12 a.m. CST

    Sorry, did anyone understand this review?

    by DannyOcean01

    Because I'm lost...

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 8:15 a.m. CST

    When is someone going to get around to releasing 'DEAD MAN&#

    by workshed

    Best film in yonks.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 8:16 a.m. CST

    Do you want... talk about it?

    by Neosamurai85

    Yes, a talkback for a new film from a director best known for creating things like teethed vaginal armpits, car wreck fetishes, inside-out baboons, childlike sexless psychoplasimc manifestations, violating Barbara Steele in a bathtub with a leech/leech-like parasite, and getting Roy Scheider to be enthusiastic about mugwump jissum

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 8:22 a.m. CST

    Oh dear

    by Jaye_K

    To be honest, I agree with NetSlut - this film is total pants. Cheesy story, absolutely no depth, and no breadth either. What was Cronenberg thinking? If he's going to stray from his usual freaked-out weirdworld goings-on, he might as well make it worth our while. This film is a pile of shit, and wasted two hours of my life that I'm not getting back. Dammit.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 8:32 a.m. CST

    THAT was a review?

    by Karl Childers

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 8:34 a.m. CST

    "I can lay you out and fill your mouth with your Mother's fa

    by Trevor Goodchild

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 10:27 a.m. CST

    Saw it last Thursday

    by happybunny

    Awesome. David Cronenberg is a friggin' genius. Viggo and Ed are great in this one. I don't want to spoil, so I'll keep my mouth shut. But I'll see it again when it opens.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 11:51 a.m. CST

    "They should show it in a double-bill with Fahrenheit 9/11 then

    by Immortal_Fish

    Oh yeah. We're all just a bunch of evil bastards that have it coming to us. Boogah, boogah!

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 11:56 a.m. CST

    I'm intrigued by you fellows who said this is trite and pede

    by WeedyMcSmokey

    Because the film I saw was anything but. It's a compelling idea wrapped in a genre picutre (western). Cronenberg is totally painting a picture that deserves another look.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Tell me: Why should I watch this? The trailer told the whole sto

    by Ted Striker

    I'll see the movie because it sounds good - but I won't see it until I catch it on DVD. I'm sick of Hollywood ruining story plots by divulging everything in the trailer. What fucking moron decides this is a good idea to promote a movie? After I wait 6-12 months after a movie is released, I find I enjoy it more, as I'm not anticipating what happens based on the trailer. Yeah, I might be "wrong" about what I think happens based on a trailer, HOWEVER, the point of a trailer should be to build interest in a movie, not fill people in on the complete story arc for those who ALREADY plan to see the movie. It just turns most people off - but I'm sure the Hollywood Suits feel it brings in more money.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 12:45 p.m. CST

    Striker, cus it's Cronenberg and it's probably fair to s

    by TonyWilson

    Plus I hear the mystery is hardly a twist, just a story point. Cronenberg is smarter than some people are giving him credit for.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 2:27 p.m. CST

    President Evil

    by Tal111

    She spent the night at my place and if it's of any comfort-she feels bad. No, actually she felt good.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 2:36 p.m. CST

    Tal111: See History of Violence Talkback, Vern's Version

    by seppukudkurosawa

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 2:44 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Don Adams...

    by hipcheck13

    ...we'll miss you THIS much (holding open arms, and then some)

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 2:52 p.m. CST

    Inspector Gadget has finally pressed that button hidden in his s

    by seppukudkurosawa

    And it's taken him to a better place.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 3:33 p.m. CST

    Harry, yuo're bitching cos you haven't seen this yet?

    by Hamish

    Spare a thought for us down in New Zealand. I checked, and this comes out here on March 16th 2006!

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 3:43 p.m. CST


    by moviemaven83

    During an interview this weekend promoting Elizabethtown, Kirsten Dunst confirmed rumors that Thomas Haden Church will play Sandman and Topher Grace is Venom in director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3, opening in theaters on May 4, 2007. "We have really great people though as the villains in this film, Thomas Haden Church and Topher Grace -- Venom and Sandman," said Dunst, who plays Mary Jane Watson in the Spidey films. "Maybe I wasn't supposed to say that," she added before reversing her claim. "It's the other way around. You're right," she conceded to a journalist. Dunst has yet to receive a script for the third film that will begin shooting in January. "But I know the general story. There's a lot that they're trying to fit into this one."

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 3:50 p.m. CST


    by Hamish

    Haha, I just put this in the Goodnight tb.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 3:57 p.m. CST

    In other news, Kirsten Dunst confirms Elizabethtown villains

    by Garbageman33

    Apparently, Cameron Crowe plays the heavy-handed director and Orlando Bloom plays the completely out of his element actor.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 4:36 p.m. CST

    it's *A* History of Violence.

    by matrix69

    Not *The*. And the film is one of '05's best.

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 5:31 p.m. CST


    by jaxnnux

    It's been a day w/out any cool news. Hurry up and update the damn site!

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 7:47 p.m. CST

    That Venom/Kirsten Dunst thing is all over, Harold

    by Terry_1978

    Post some info about what you freaks think about this, consarn it!

  • Sept. 26, 2005, 9:45 p.m. CST

    This movie is flatulent like my butt.

    by Mr. Waturi

    That is to say, it makes a lot of noise at times, unfortunately in between are a lot of dull, awkward, and uncomfortable moments. My money would have been better spent on some Pepto-Bismol.