Crimes of the Future – David Cronenberg
Eight years after his slept-on masterpiece, Maps to the Stars – an autopsy of the malaise of Hollywood stardom – David Cronenberg is back with Crimes of the Future, not to be confused with his homonymous 1970 film. The new outing sees the pioneer of body horror return to his aesthetic sensibilities: anatomical malformation, transgressive mutation, spectatorship and fetishism.
In a sunken futurescape, “accelerated evolution syndrome” has deprived the human body of pain.
If the film is tactile, fleshy and perverse, meaning it maintains the director’s signature lo-fi yore, it feels a bit flat. Those familiar with the director will recognise his broad strokes: in a sunken futurescape, “accelerated evolution syndrome” has deprived the human body of pain. Viggo Mortensen is a surgery loving performance artist who grows strange new organs to be removed by his partner in public. Misjudged in parts, Kristen Stewart turns in her most sensually coy performance since Twilight, taking the film to an unintended place of silliness. All in all, Crimes of the Future is a deliciously decadent spectacle. But it’s a somewhat regressive step for a director of Cronenberg’s innovative ilk.
- Crimes of the Future ★ ★ ★ Starts Nov 10 D: David Cronenberg (Canada, 2022) with Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux
Anatolian Leopard – Emre Kayiş
Also from the cinematic ballpark of Toronto comes Anatolian Leopard, winner of the FIPRESCI critics’ prize at the International Film Festival. Emre Kayiş’s sombre debut is a quiet gem. Its mixture of solemnity and dark comedy lends its heavier narrative undercurrents – the fragility of history, loneliness and perpetual decay – a lightness of touch.
It follows the story of a melancholic divorcé, played by Uğur Polat, who leads a muted but dedicated life working as the director of Turkey’s oldest zoo in the somnolent capital of Ankara. An absurd charade is set into motion as he attempts to hide the death of the zoo’s oldest inhabitant, an Anatolian leopard, from uninterested foreign investors. Kayiş’s film is a pointed indictment of the contemporary Turkish administration. Though the sad spectacle drops its potency in the second half, it reaches moments of grandiose profundity and mournful surrealism that recall Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty and Angelopoulos’s Landscape in the Mist. The cinematography is a triumph with each shot having a static, painting-like quality infused with otherworldly crepuscular hues.
- Anatolian Leopard ★ ★ ★ ★ Starts Nov 24 D: Emre Kayiş (Turkey, 2021) with Hatice Aslan, Uğur Polat, Ezgi Gör.
The Menu – Mark Mylod
Another pick from the TIFF is Mark Mylod’s The Menu. Part of the new wave of films that tap into a well of antisystemic anger – see Parasite, Triangle of Sadness and Bodies, Bodies, Bodies – Mylod’s work reflects the increasing appetite for exposing and satirising the huge gaps in wealth and status. This razor-sharp comedy horror puts the culture of haute cuisine through the mincer. Think Bret Easton Ellis meets Michelin-starred restaurant: Ralph Fiennes is excellent as chef Slowik, the pathological marriage of Gordon Ramsay and Patrick Bateman.
This razor-sharp comedy horror puts the culture of haute cuisine through the mincer.
Using the age-old setup of strangers, isolated locale and sinister intention, a handful of affluent people are invited to Hawthorne Island – a self-contained paradise of exclusive eats. This, too, is a graphic affair. But unlike Crimes of the Future, the gore on offer is more suggestive than savage: a horror flick for those who can’t normally stomach the genre.
The performances are a real hoot, the setting a veritable delight and the camerawork playfully ominous. The writing is great fun, too, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. With unapologetic rock throwing at low hanging fruit and the use of inventive intertitles, The Menu is a well-seasoned, juicy slab of meat to be carved up and enjoyed with friends.
- The Menu ★ ★ ★ ★ Starts Nov 17 D: Mark Mylod (US, 2022) with Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau.