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March 27, 2012

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On DVD/Blu-ray – A Dangerous Method (2011)

by NIR SHALEV

When David Cronenberg deals in the grotesque he’s more hit than miss with my taste, so when he decided to tone down his style and focus on a more realistic vision, following normal, everyday people, I grew slightly upset. That being said, A History of Violence (2005) is one of the goofiest films that I’ve ever seen and Eastern Promises (2007) is one of the best and most accurate (toward its roots) crime thrillers of its decade. Now comes his take on the birth of psychoanalysis and the end result is great.

Michael Fassbender plays Carl Jung, the famous Swiss therapist whose latest, surprisingly effective technique of communicating with his patients is to sit in a chair behind them and to simply talk to them. His latest patient, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) is tic-riddled and hysterical, and has masochistic tendencies. As Jung talks to her, uncovering the darkness formed within her psyche, and as the months, if not years, go by she improves magnificently. Sabina then becomes Jung’s personal assistant because she is a student of psychotherapy and eventually they become lovers. But secrets are seldom kept in elite circles.

Jung’s mentor and sort-of-best-friend Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) helps him wherever he can with the progression of his psychoanalytical studies, as well as love advice in regards to his wife and his mistress. Their brilliant friendship eventually crumbles due to conflicting interests.

A Dangerous Method is terrifically involving, intriguing, kinky, expertly shot, and terrifically acted. The cinematography alone is worth the price of admission (or in this case rental). Fassbender and Mortensen are excellent as usual, and Knightley brings tremendous talent to the screen (personally, for the first time). Her personification of the disturbed Sabina is both fascinating and melancholic; her ticks, screams, contortions, jaw clicks, and speech impediment are truly disturbing and are performed with great conviction.

Cronenberg took it relatively easy on us during the last seven years, although his odd and horrific-type films are making a comeback later this year. A Dangerous Method is a cross between a historical melodrama and a sleeping beast that’s not to be trifled with. You are afraid of what’s beneath the surface but once you open Pandora’s Box you can’t look away.

The DVD and Blu-ray special features are an audio commentary with director David Cronenberg; The Making of A Dangerous Method; AFI’s Harold Lloyd Master Seminar with David Cronenberg; theatrical trailers; previews; BD-Live (Blu-ray only).

Other new releases this week: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Richard Winters
    Mar 27 2012

    This movie sounds great and I’m going to have to see it. I’ve always considered Cronenberg one of my favorite directors and one of the most daring visionaries out there. Even his bad films are interesting.

  2. Mar 27 2012

    “Even his bad film are interesting” – that’s very true. “Dead Ringers” and “History of Violence” are far from good films but they’re definitely interesting.

  3. Richard Winters
    Mar 27 2012

    Actually I enjoyed ‘Dead Ringers’, but it has been awhile. I need to see it again. I remember I was impressed with how sexy and alluring he made Genvieve Bujold look in that movie, despite the fact that has never been her image, or a type of part that she usually takes, and for the fact that she was over 40, but didn’t at all look it . What did you think of ‘Naked Lunch’?

  4. Mar 28 2012

    I watched “Naked Lunch” once, way back when I was in my early teens and even though I had no idea what the hell was going on throughout the entire film I liked it. Don’t know if that feeling still exists, though…

    @Dead Ringers, the only actor in the film that I know is Jeremy Irons and I thought that he was as good as usual. It’s always a good thing when someone casts Jeremy Irons in their film.

    Jeremy Irons segway: have you watched “Margin Call”? That’s an excellent film.

  5. Richard Winters
    Mar 28 2012

    Thanks for the suggestion. Jeremy Irons is a great actor and if you haven’t seen him in ‘Moonlighting’ you should do so. Great Flick!

    I’m real surprised that you don’t know who Genvieve Bujold is because she was nominated for the Academy Award for her role in ‘Anne of a Thousand Days’. She also co-starred with Clint Eastwood in ‘Tightrope’ and is real fun in ‘The House of Yes’ with Parker Posey. Her best known role is starring in the thriller ‘Coma’ that was written and directed by Michael Crichton. Tom Selleck has his film debut here as one of the coma victims. I bet good money that Miriam has heard of the film and probably even seen it since it is a 70’s classic. Also, Genvieve is a fellow Canadian as she was born and raised in Montreal although you guys might not consider them a part of you since Quebec always seems to want to go off on their own silly tangents.

  6. Mar 28 2012

    I am unfamiliar with “Anne of a Thousand Days”, “The House of Yes”, and “Coma” but I have heard of “Tightrope”; I haven’t watched it, however.

    I don’t care what Quebec wants to do. I just don’t like the fact that their street signs are in French. And their version of French is horrendous. Quebec manufactures really good films but they’re very difficult to watch because their language is ugly. They really should imitate France’s French.

    And aside from Jeremy Irons always being awesome, he is also awesome as the bad guy in Die Hard with a Vengeance. :O)

  7. Aaron
    Mar 29 2012

    I hated “History of Violence,” and “Existenz” but I loved “Videodrome.” More often than not, though, Cronenburg strikes me as a slightly more pessimistic and grotesque Lynch.

    When I saw the trailers for this film, I was surprised, as a period drama such as this doen’st seem to be up his alley.

  8. Mar 29 2012

    Look at “Eastern Promises”; it’s a brilliant film and very low key for Cronenberg. And for the record, “Videodrome” is my favourite Cronenberg film.

    I’ve always much preferred Cronenberg’s work to Lynch’s because Cronenberg’s films always have something to say and they’re not difficult to decipher. While Lynch is a terrific abstractionist (is that even a word or did I just make one up?!) – or abstract artist – his films, I find, are seldom interesting. I like “Mulholland Dr.” and “Lost Highway”, that’s it.

    And I like eXistenZ; it deals with the concept of video games becoming more realistic than they should be and also with not being able to recognize false realities (like with really good version of virtual reality). Look at The Matrix, which came out to theatres the same week as eXistenZ (in which I find eXistenZ to be a better film, overall and one that actually has replay value even today, unlike The Matrix), Dark city, and Inception. :O)

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