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Fabfunk’s Seen David Cronenberg’s EASTERN PROMISES!

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Fabfunk, you miserable slut. How did you pull this off? Man, if I’d known they were test-screening a new Cronenberg, I would have eaten a hobo on camera to get into the theater. Seriously. I love Cronenberg, and it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside to know he’s got a new film in the can. Here’s hoping we get at least a trailer in the very near future. Of course, I’m praying it’s great. What says the lucky boy who actually saw it?

Hey Harry and AICN, Fabfunk here... So last night, I’m pretty sure I was a part of a very special audience, the first ever to see “Eastern Promises”. It’s the latest from David Cronenberg, and I hope I wasn’t biased enough about the film being that Cronenberg might be my favorite director, but he’s been on fire for a couple of decades now- why isn’t he your fave too? Anyway, it was clear that his decision making would take a more commercial tone after “A History Of Violence” mixed arthouse ponderance and DTV action while dialing down the body horror and elaborating on Cronenberg’s still-evolving visual sense, and “Eastern Promises” is a very handsome, expensive-looking picture. Needless to say, he moves even farther away from the body horror stuff to craft what is a pretty immersive, low key story that will probably be ill-received by critics expecting an Auteur’s Spectacular. I would say it’s one of his weaker films, but even his least charitable critics have to admit that this one has a strong hold. I’m not sure how much it will evolve after this screening, but the film seems to tell dual stories. One tale involves Naomi Watts as a young nurse who ends up caring for the baby of as fourteen year old after the mother dies during birth. Finding the dead woman’s journal prompts her to try to retrace the dead girl’s steps, which lead her to the doorstep of a shady restaurant managed by Armin Mueller-Stahl from “Shine”. He’s a kindly old man who seems to operate a friendly business, but why is he dead-set on personally translating the journal himself? And who are the two hoods constantly walking in and out of his restaurant? Silly, those two men are internationally famous Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel. Cassel is the right hand man of what seems to be a sinister Russian mafia organization headed up in London (the film’s location), a loose cannon with no scruples about getting wasted or doing some wasting of his own in the middle of the street. Mortensen is more tightly wound, and as such is the main character of this divergent storyline, where he is an outsider, the “driver” looking to enter what appears to be a sinister criminal family of Russian criminals. He learns of the missing girl and soon realizes he may be in way more than he bargained for. These two storylines weave into each other in pretty complex, unpredictable ways, and what’s most interesting is that the story doesn’t hew to any conventions, particularly not that of past Cronenberg films. One of the questions on the post-questionnaire was whether it reminded me of other films, and I could not think of a single one. Like “A History Of Violence”, Cronenberg is exploring genre tropes and ideas that have long become clichéd. He digests the concept of near-incestual surrogate familial relationships between criminals, as he penetrates the criminal world through Mortensen’s tired eyes. Mortensen is scary intense in this, and while the film begins with Watts’ character, it ends with him as the primary protagonist, as he completes a fairly surprising journey. It’s disappointing that Watts’ story seems to be on the back-burner, as it’s never as interesting and it involves her being inquisitive but passive, but maybe there’s another cut somewhere that elaborates on her role. I don’t want to spoil any more than I have (there are several twists, but it’s fun to just watch the plot evolve) but I have to say, the movie’s got the scene of the year. This will be a quasi-Spoiler- Viggo is in a bathhouse when two thugs come after him, and suddenly this barely R-rated movie becomes something that will make the MPAA sweat. Not only is it a totally brutal one-on-one fight with Viggo’s fists versus two guys with knives, but ol’ Viggo takes them down through about five to ten minutes of bare-knuckled brawling while COMPLETELY NUDE. And there’s no dodgy photography or editing in this- Viggo’s balls are flying ALL over the place. There’s one moment where he lifts his leg to deliver a roundhouse kick, and I could swear Aragorn’s scrote smacked me in the face about six times. If anybody remembers that totally rough naked shower fight in “Get Rich Or Die Trying”, this one is about twelve times more brutal. Van Damme would never agree to that sort of ball exposure, and he’d never deliver the kind of ass-kicking that results from it. Anyway, those who are expecting THE BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME from Cronenberg will have to settle for what amounts to an interesting experiment of sorts, and a further evolution of his shooting and editing style. There are several crane shots here, and he retains the same interest in the cold, exterior surfaces of personality-less cities, in addition to an engrossing, unusual story. Also, Viggo’s massive, hairy balls. If you use this, I am Fabfunk.
Readers Talkback
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  • June 7, 2007, 4:27 p.m. CST

    1st

    by Faust_8

    nnn

  • June 7, 2007, 4:28 p.m. CST

    Spider

    by tehgreekhammer

    was crap, <p> HOV ruled though.

  • June 7, 2007, 4:30 p.m. CST

    I want to throw up!!!!!!!!!!

    by ludmir88

    Cronenberg Rules!!!

  • June 7, 2007, 4:32 p.m. CST

    Cronenberg 8,000,000 MySpace Friends and Counting....

    by greigy just wanted to say

    Can you compete Harry.....?

  • June 7, 2007, 4:33 p.m. CST

    I don't know about Cronenberg

    by ImFixingtoDie

    But Mortensen's Balls has 15,997 friends as of last night.

  • June 7, 2007, 4:33 p.m. CST

    Fabfunk you must be called Fagfunk!!!

    by ludmir88

    just saying..

  • June 7, 2007, 4:37 p.m. CST

    Cronenberg up to 8,000,001

    by greigy just wanted to say

    Gotta love THAT man..!

  • June 7, 2007, 4:38 p.m. CST

    What happened to Cronenberg's plastic surgery flick?

    by BillEmic

    I could have sworn that Cronenberg's post-"A History of Violence" flick was going to be about plastic surgery or some other kind of surgical procedure/hospital theme. What happened to that? As much as I enjoyed "A History Of Violence," I'd love to see him get back into the body-horror realm. He hasn't said all that he has to say in that genre, has he? Say it ain't so. I'd let him inject me with a genetically-engineered sexual parasite or something as long as he promised to make a movie about it.

  • June 7, 2007, 4:38 p.m. CST

    8,000,002

    by greigy just wanted to say

    No stopping the dude. Damn those Canadians.

  • June 7, 2007, 4:40 p.m. CST

    aww man....

    by RedEyeDistrict

    I don't want to see balls flapping around in the middle of a fight. Plus, why doesn't one of these hitmen just knock him in the nards. Fights over, roll credits, and the rest of the movie can be bloopers, Rush Hour style.

  • June 7, 2007, 4:41 p.m. CST

    Viggo Scrotumsen = Box Office Gold

    by El Mono

    I will see this movie as long as they trim the balls. Uh.... let me rephrase: I will see this movie as long as they edit out the man's wedding tackle from a goddamned fight sequence. Since when does anyone want to see cock-n-balls when watching a fight?? It was barely tolerable in the Dark Tower book when Roland fights a bunch of dudes when he's naked...

  • June 7, 2007, 4:49 p.m. CST

    Best Fight Scene 2008 award goes to...

    by andrew coleman

    At least it will win best fight scene in the next MTV movie awards. Stop lying to yourselves I'm pretty confident most of you guys are going to love that fight scene.

  • June 7, 2007, 5:08 p.m. CST

    "Viggo's balls" line is definitely funny...

    by killduhbassud

    ...with a close second place going to "Aragorn's scrote smacked me in the face about six times". Fucking hilarious. Oh, and some of you guys are so obviously in the closet; quit trying to draw so much attention to how "outraged" you are at the idea of male nudity, ya homos. No wonder movies are so sexist, with all you twinks-in-denial talking out the side of your necks. Smooch.

  • June 7, 2007, 5:12 p.m. CST

    Balls...

    by micturatingbenjamin

    Whew...Not a good 'great flick' to 'balls shown' ratio out there. I think it's clearly Piledrivers of Ass 12 vs. Color of Night. Balls of Aragorn. You know,that nearly fills out my 'INSANE BINGO' card. All I need to see now are Cate Blanchett's labia majora and Gollum's whithered scrotum as well, and then I'm officially cuckoo!! Yeah...I dunno about this...unless Aragorn's balls EXPLODE like the heads in Scanners, or he teabags a guy like Cronenberg eating that pair of scissors in Dead Zone. That would get my eight bucks. Man! There's something wrong with me...www.myspace.com/waitingplacedan/blog

  • June 7, 2007, 5:13 p.m. CST

    RE: Cronenberg's plastic surgery flick

    by godoffireinhell

    It was called PAINKILLERS and ultimately Cronenberg decided that it was just the same old same old and that he doesn't even want to film the script he wrote. So it won't happen. However, he's said he might hand the script to some other director and just act as a producer on the thing.

  • June 7, 2007, 5:14 p.m. CST

    El Mono...

    by micturatingbenjamin

    That was Eddie Dean...But yeah, I get yer point...Bleah.

  • June 7, 2007, 5:17 p.m. CST

    I was kind of hooked until you mentioned flying balls!!

    by football

    Needles to say I'll be giving this one a wide berth. Also agree with a lot of what AnimalStructure said above.

  • June 7, 2007, 5:17 p.m. CST

    Cronenberg!!!!

    by micturatingbenjamin

    Woot! Yeah, the real Torch of Gondor's the one swinging his taint around at guys while he beats the shit out of them! Tightly wound indeed! Smacking them with his bell end all the way to the Houses of Healing!

  • June 7, 2007, 5:20 p.m. CST

    Existenz

    by HeWhoCannotBeNamed

    Fucking tightness.

  • June 7, 2007, 5:36 p.m. CST

    Existenz

    by quantize

    agreed.. at first i thought it was wank..but he nailed that.

  • June 7, 2007, 5:37 p.m. CST

    More Cronenberg

    by barrylutz

    Oh, man. I can't wait. I love to see talented directors developing their trade. I love the body-horror themes, too, but damn - I loved History of Violence. His pieces have been part brainy, part visceral, and I can't wait to see an all brainy pic - because I think we all know he's got the potential. I'll be waiting in line. Do many Cronenberg fans camp out?

  • June 7, 2007, 5:40 p.m. CST

    It's Cronenberg, I'm there...

    by Sledge Hammer

    ...nuff said. Oh, and why the dick bending fuck isn't M Butterfly on dvd yet?

  • June 7, 2007, 5:42 p.m. CST

    Tango & Cash 2: Scrotum's in the bush!

    by Phillyflopper

    Maybe that has a nicer ring, no?

  • June 7, 2007, 5:43 p.m. CST

    History of Violence was

    by mr.underwater

    A Seagal movie with no Seagal. The only reason art-house geeks went nutz for it is because they've never seen a Seagal movie before.<br><br>Croenberg's in the dog house as far as I'm concerned. Let's see if this one lets him out.

  • June 7, 2007, 5:56 p.m. CST

    "Maps to the Stars" and "London Fields"

    by beamish13

    are either of those projects still in the pipeline? I'd love to see an Amis adaptation written by the man himself.

  • June 7, 2007, 6:01 p.m. CST

    Has anyone else seen Viggo's tail?!?

    by Lance Rock

    Swear to God, in A History of Violence, freeze frame the movie when he's on Diane Lane in the stairwell. The dude's got a little nubbin above his crack! Freaky.

  • June 7, 2007, 6:43 p.m. CST

    Viggo's balls have chosen Blu-Ray..., and here's why:

    by Pound Sand

    All three are blue.

  • June 7, 2007, 7:01 p.m. CST

    Oh, and where's the TB'er always ranting about taints?

    by Pound Sand

    This story freakin' cries out for you...,

  • June 7, 2007, 7:13 p.m. CST

    Mario Bello

    by HeWhoCannotBeNamed

    on the stairs. Not Diane Lane. I would have prefered Lane. Hotness. Nothing against Bello though.

  • June 7, 2007, 7:30 p.m. CST

    I like that cast but

    by CherryValance

    it seems like something I might forget about. I didn't enjoy AHOV. I don't know what everyone was so excited about. But I love Crash and I recently saw Spider which I thought was really quite good. So I dunno. I guess it depends on what else comes out that week.

  • June 7, 2007, 7:42 p.m. CST

    Is it going to be as boring as Crash?

    by The Dum Guy

    I'm talking about the Cronenberg one. Jeez, for a movie to have so much female nudity and yet be almost utterly boring is mind boggling. And Spider was slow, but alright in the end.

  • June 7, 2007, 9:09 p.m. CST

    Downward Spiral

    by MediaNerd

    Been a big Cronenberg fan for awhile, and he's still one of my favs for his earlier work, but I was left pretty cold from Spider and HoV to me was just an average movie that I think carried more wait due to the fact it was helmed by a man that normally wouldn't make it. He doesn't have to do body-horror themes, but both of those movies felt like they were missing his fingerprint/perspective. <br> <br> Naked Lunch though is still my all-time favorite and in my top 5.

  • June 7, 2007, 9:17 p.m. CST

    You have balls.

    by gorydon

    I like balls...Also that was a very nice review. I'm sure if Harry had reviewed it we would have gotten 2 or 3 paragraphs about getting married or his nephew or something having to do with vaginas.

  • June 7, 2007, 9:28 p.m. CST

    Thanks micturatingbenjamin...

    by El Mono

    ...i stand corrected. my feeble mind is failing me. all this talk of balls.

  • June 7, 2007, 9:31 p.m. CST

    HeWhoCannotBeNamed

    by El Mono

    I hope to God u meant Maria Bello. If not, I've been whacking off to one helluva tranny. Meh...life could be worse.

  • June 7, 2007, 10:19 p.m. CST

    AnimalStructure: Crash

    by MediaNerd

    Agreed, Crash is brilliant, beautiful movie. I can't think of any other movie off hand that expresses the feelings of emptiness, detachment and not knowing how to feel and recognize life. Pure nihilistic emotional state. That movie makes me feel alone, even if i'm with a crowd. To me it doesn't just show you those characters, it makes you one of them feeling it.<br><br> I only re-watch it maybe once a year cause its not necessarily a movie one enjoys, but you can't deny the art and craftsmanship.

  • June 7, 2007, 10:36 p.m. CST

    AnimalStructure: Lynch is NOT done! Are you, sir?

    by bswise

    Have you seen Inland Empire? One of the most original, intricate and refreshing movies I've ever seen. AND he wrote, shot, directed, co-edited, produced and distributed it himself. Who amongst us can do that?

  • June 7, 2007, 11:26 p.m. CST

    This Year's Little Miss Hairyballs!

    by Paulseta

    The big question is whether Viggo reads any poetry during the film. Cause if he does, I may have to not watch it.

  • June 8, 2007, 12:17 a.m. CST

    "Viggo's Balls!"

    by TORTURE PWN

    Soon to join the ranks of great exclamations in history such as "Great Caesar's ghost!","Odin's beard!","ByCrom!"& "This...is... SPARTA!"

  • June 8, 2007, 3:57 a.m. CST

    They filmed this across the road from where I work!

    by Call me Kenneth

    That's all I got...

  • June 8, 2007, 4:49 a.m. CST

    Talking about Viggo's balls...

    by Thomas Cromwell

    Are there ANY women who are AICN members (no pun intended). From what I read I reckon there are none. Anyone care to prove me wrong?

  • June 8, 2007, 5:40 a.m. CST

    Relax, lads, a bit o balls wont hurt you

    by BenBraddock

    This sounds like it could be a big hit with the ladies actually.. at least on DVD. Over to you, marketing dept.

  • June 8, 2007, 5:57 a.m. CST

    How do you have a one-on-one with 3 people?

    by raw_bean

    Still, sounds good. :^)

  • June 8, 2007, 8:03 a.m. CST

    I wonder how big Viggo's Mortenson is...

    by The Mighty Molecule

    seriously...

  • June 8, 2007, 9:43 a.m. CST

    I'm sold on the hairy balls

    by Faust_8

    Oh yeah, throw in some sausage and that pulls in the crowds ???

  • June 8, 2007, 10:18 a.m. CST

    What's Cronenberg trying to accomplish?

    by Lour Reed luvs Frank Zappa

    Anyone have any thoughts, musings on why he's diverted from the more overt gore/sex, almost avante-garde films to films like this and 'History'?

  • June 8, 2007, 11:40 a.m. CST

    Always worthy of attention...

    by FleshMachine

    Naked Lunch & Crash are 2 of my faves.

  • June 8, 2007, 12:09 p.m. CST

    Cronenberg at Comic Con

    by AssWhole

    I don't think he was bored...I think he was holding his breath, desperately trying not to breathe in the toxic B.O. from the hordes of slobby zombie comic nerds. I don't think it was a reflection of his attitude towards his own film. Not to mention, he was probably genuinely frightened of the overall scene.

  • June 8, 2007, 12:22 p.m. CST

    Can't Wait

    by nyhillbilly

    Loved History of Violence and have been waiting patiently for this one...bring it

  • June 8, 2007, 2:20 p.m. CST

    Why couldn't Watts be doing the roundhouse kicks?

    by Christopher3

    What a wasted opportunity.

  • June 8, 2007, 2:37 p.m. CST

    I'm there

    by Lady Sheridan

    Someone was asking if AICN had any chicks...well, I'm one. I hated AHOV but I'm still going to see this one, if only for naked Viggo. Incidentally, for anyone wanting a quick preview of The Sword Reforged, Viggo did full frontal in "The Indian Runner." I don't remember him being particularly well endowed.

  • June 8, 2007, 7:54 p.m. CST

    ::AnimalStructure::

    by The Dum Guy

    I'm under 25, but I watch alot movies so my taste are quite varied.

  • June 9, 2007, 6:14 a.m. CST

    AHOV is neither great nor terrible.

    by ImFixingtoDie

    It's a sold B+, mostly for Bello nudity and William Hurt's insanity.

  • June 9, 2007, 12:58 p.m. CST

    Cronenberg+Violence+Balls... I am so there!

    by Veraxus

    I'll watch anything by Cronenberg... even if it does have Viggo's huge, bloody balls.

  • June 9, 2007, 1:27 p.m. CST

    Great Review

    by bluebutterfly

    I was reading this and thinking what a great reveiw this is! Thanks! And thanks for giving us something to talk about on all the VM boards! ;-)

  • June 9, 2007, 10:07 p.m. CST

    25-30 age range

    by MediaNerd

    i think why there may be such a jump in acknowledgment of Cronenberg at that time frame was because horror went through a mini psychological phase during late 80s early 90s. You had Cronenberg's "hits", Jacobs Ladder, Altered States, The Thing, D Lynch, ect that attempted to scare you not through just shock or jumps, but through fucking with your mind. Personally I'm not a fan of slasher or "jump out" scare flicks, so i placed a higher value on those that truly attacked the mind.<br><br> I never found blood/body disgusting. so gore did nothing for me and jumps may shock for an instant, but carry no weight that will linger with you beyond that. Tapping into the psyche though will make you think and worry long after the movie has ended.<br><br> And I'm not saying that this was a unique period to itself, obviously Hitchcock, Polanski, and others have gone down the mindfuck horror route, but that brief period stands out amongst most of the scare movies of the late 70s and 80s and the current crop we have now.

  • June 23, 2007, 10:24 p.m. CST

    You left out videodrome....

    by jamazio

    And lynch isn't finished. Inland Empire was tough but in the best possible way. He doesnt really make films anymore- he makes extended dream sequences just like his debut eraserhead, so if anything he's going back to his roots. I liked HOV but prefer his earlier bolder stuff. Videdrome is the best of the bunch without a doubt. And crash is magnificent- a truly touching romantic story thats also one of the bravest releases ever. I think he's been looking towards dramas rather than body horror since he made dead ringers apart from a few exceptions. Would still have preferred an all out mind fuck fest like videodrome though.

  • June 28, 2007, 6:18 a.m. CST

    Loads of love for the Fly

    by Col. Tigh-Fighter

    And Videodrome. Like acid without the LSD