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Old October 31st, 2005, 03:23 PM   #1
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A History of Violence

This is a good movie and probably Cronenberg's best movie to date. No special effects, or fancy camera moves, it's story all the way.

Cronenberg builds the story very slowly, and there is A LOT of time devoted to character developement. The time spent is worth it, and Cronenberg delivers throughout the movie. I thought he could have ended the movie several times, but he just kept going, and it made the movie even better.

The movie is not perfect and has a few odd/flat performances that are characteristic of Cronenberg, but in the end, it just adds to the movie's charm. Like all Cronenberg's movies, it feels very independent, but, with some high profile stars who are wonderful in their roles.

Just gotta say, Viggo Mortensen is great as the lead character and I could watch Maria Bello for two hours baking bread, so enough said. Ed Harris rocks as usual, and William Hurt has a lot of fun with his character.

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The great surprises are Ed Harris and William Hurt, they get to play some great characters and it looks like they had fun playing them. William Hurt as a gangster, was a little weird, but he pulls it off and it's fun to watch. Ed Harris, just rocks as usual. Viggo plays his role like Clint Eastwood in an old western, and it is a pleasure to watch.
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 01:44 PM   #2
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***Spoilers***






A History of Violence is pretty good, but I just thought it was weird with the sub plot of the son who is getting into fights, and then he beats that kid up and that's it, didn't really need to be in the movie or really make any sense to me.

The sex scenes just made it feel like a Cronenberg film. Hey, also how is William Hurt such a bad shot, I thought that scene was kind of brutal, but whatever.

As for it being his best film, not even close, for me eXistenZ, The Fly, Naked Lunch, Videodrome are some of his top films. I love when he Writes and Directs, he comes out with great films like Videodrome and eXistenZ.

But anyways, getting off topic here. It was a good movie but I wish it would have went somewhere else in the story I guess.
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 01:54 PM   #3
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The scenes with the family, town and his teenage son's live were very stylized, almost as if they were cliches from a less sophisticated 80s film. The fact that the town is pretty much a cookie cutter mid-west town were, I believe, conscious choices.

The subplot with the son was to show that violence had pervaded his family's behaviour, particularly with his son. It crept into the man's relations with his wife, into their love-making (on the stairs, ouch!), and then culminated in how his wife entirely accepted what he had done at the end.

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The end scene is particularly important as it shows them just sitting down to a meal after he returns from killing everyone. They just sit down as a typical American family YET, everything has changed and you can see it in everyone's behaviour (except the little girl's). Cronenberg and the writer are saying: this is America. They've dealt with it. Violence is in their lives and in fact could never be kept out of it.

At least, that's what I got out of it.

When I saw that scene I recalled another dinner I had as a teenager. I was invited to a friend's family for dinner. Before going I learned that the man's elder brother (an adult) had been in prison for manslaughter. It was a typical dinner but to me at least there was a tension in the air that made me very uncomfortable. I'm not saying I peed my pants when he passed me the bread but afterwards I wondered what that family thought as they were going about their normal activities.

It made me think, there are lots of monsters or otherwise violent people out there who nevertheless have normal home lives. Hitler loved animals. People who run death squads may be loved by their children. Generals who order towns to be bombed are Rotarians. If their work isn't a secret, I wonder how people feel when they sit down and have beers with them.

There is another similar read of it in the newest Film Comment.
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 02:10 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Cory Cone
***Spoilers***
As for it being his best film, not even close, for me eXistenZ, The Fly, Naked Lunch, Videodrome are some of his top films. I love when he Writes and Directs, he comes out with great films like Videodrome and eXistenZ.
I'm glad you have love for eXistenZ. Most people I know thought it was mediocre but I thought it had a good internal logic and was enjoyable.

I think one of this best films was also the best Stephen King adaptation: The Dead Zone. It had a similar small town setting but of all of his films, his take on the protagonist was the most sympathetic. It was a good collaboration between Cronenberg and Christopher Walken (one of his top roles) to make what could have been a sterile character and make him human. Actually, I feel like going out and renting it right now.

And of course Dead Ringers must be mentioned. The "twin" scenes involving the one twin's faltering speech intercut with the botched surgery job was a masterwork of editing and composition. Cronenberg also managed to get a career-defining performance from Jeremy Irons.

I think both Irons, Walken and now Mortensen owe a debt to Cronenberg. To a lesser extent, Jeff Goldblum owes the same. He hasn't had a better performance since The Fly but his career since then has become mediocre.
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Old November 22nd, 2005, 02:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Keith Loh
I'm glad you have love for eXistenZ. Most people I know thought it was mediocre but I thought it had a good internal logic and was enjoyable.

I think one of this best films was also the best Stephen King adaptation: The Dead Zone. It had a similar small town setting but of all of his films, his take on the protagonist was the most sympathetic. It was a good collaboration between Cronenberg and Christopher Walken (one of his top roles) to make what could have been a sterile character and make him human. Actually, I feel like going out and renting it right now.

And of course Dead Ringers must be mentioned. The "twin" scenes involving the one twin's faltering speech intercut with the botched surgery job was a masterwork of editing and composition. Cronenberg also managed to get a career-defining performance from Jeremy Irons.

I think both Irons, Walken and now Mortensen owe a debt to Cronenberg. To a lesser extent, Jeff Goldblum owes the same. He hasn't had a better performance since The Fly but his career since then has become mediocre.
You're right about Dead Ringers and The Dead Zone, I love them both. I haven't seen a Cronenberg movie I didn't like actually. Cronenberg and Lynch are my favorite Directors, I've seen almost all of their movies, and love all of them.
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Old December 29th, 2005, 12:20 AM   #6
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I went on a Cronenberg Netflix spree and I decided I'm not a big fan of his cinematics or stories, but I am in awe of his incredible talent for getting great performances out of his actors. Every movie has actors really stretching out of their normal performances and playing some really quirky and off the wall characters.

Cronenberg almost seems to intentionally whitewash the cinematics and the story to highlight and pull out the performances of the actors.

In A History of Violence, I felt everyone managed to pull a great/good performance. Even William Hurt, who always just seems to play William Hurt as a <fill in the blank>, came out with a funny and memorable performance - and most importantly, I actually forgot for a moment that I was watching William Hurt.

I'm curious how Cronenberg would do with someone like Tom Cruise, the ultimate, hey this is me as a <fill in the blank> actor.
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Old December 29th, 2005, 10:42 AM   #7
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I liked "A History of Violence" so much I came back the next day and watched it again. But the best Cronenberg ever? Videodrome!
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Old December 29th, 2005, 01:38 PM   #8
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By the way, a lot of critics have "History of Violence" in their top ten, even their top rated film this year.

Another thing about "History of Violence" that is more about Cronenberg the director. The opening scene was just thrilling. Not thrilling as in car chase thrilling, but in the way it set a mood and set up the violent act that didnt even occur on screen. I don't want to spoil it. The pacing was the key.
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Old December 29th, 2005, 03:21 PM   #9
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After reading the reviews online, i figured it was safe to go watch A History of Violence and expect a good movie. I was sorely dissappointed.

The performances were good, the mounting tension that led up to the scene where Vigo's character kills the bad guys was very well done and of course the character development was interesting throughout the movie.

What i hated was the script! 2 things in particular come to mind.

1) The second sex scene... The first sex scene made sense, it furthered the story and the character development. It established the nature of the relationship as well as its past. But the second sex scene?? "You lied to me for all these years! Let's have sex on the stairs, but not before you grab me by the throat.". Uhhh... WHAT??? It's interesting to look at how people behave when in the presence of someone who is clearly violent, but the decision to have sex after one's entire marriage was a lie AND being assaulted does NOT make any sense! I felt the characters took a seriously wrong turn there.

2) Vigo had absolutely no trouble killing people. That's a serious problem when i'm supposed to care about his survival as well as his family's. What do i have to be afraid of if i already know he's gonna kill all these people almost effortlessly? I realize that this was not the emphasis of the movie, but since it's such an important part of it, why not make it more tense? Why not make me feel like it's going to be hard for him and his family to get out of the mess alive?

These two, especially the second issue, really killed it for me.
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Old January 19th, 2006, 09:04 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Raji Barbir
1) The second sex scene... The first sex scene made sense, it furthered the story and the character development. It established the nature of the relationship as well as its past. But the second sex scene?? "You lied to me for all these years! Let's have sex on the stairs, but not before you grab me by the throat.". Uhhh... WHAT??? It's interesting to look at how people behave when in the presence of someone who is clearly violent, but the decision to have sex after one's entire marriage was a lie AND being assaulted does NOT make any sense! I felt the characters took a seriously wrong turn there.
I actually laughed out loud in when I saw this scene because it's "so Cronenberg." It's not like they didn't have feelings for eachother, and probably still do. However, I agree it's a little much to think they would just have sex on stairs in real life, but hey this makes perfect sense for a Cronenberg film.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raji Barbir
2) Vigo had absolutely no trouble killing people. That's a serious problem when i'm supposed to care about his survival as well as his family's. What do i have to be afraid of if i already know he's gonna kill all these people almost effortlessly? I realize that this was not the emphasis of the movie, but since it's such an important part of it, why not make it more tense? Why not make me feel like it's going to be hard for him and his family to get out of the mess alive?
I never really thought Vigo would die in this movie, his character was way to good at killing people. Which is why I don't think I liked it that much it was just a story that kind of unfolded and didn't really go where I didn't expect it to go, with the exception of a couple scenes.

Don't get me wrong this movie has good parts and I do like it but David has done much better.
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