Posted in: by Robert Horton, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Film Reviews, Seattle Screens

Seattle Screens: Brandon Cronenberg goes ‘Antiviral’

Caleb Landry Jones loves his cultures in ‘Antiviral’

Robert Horton, curator of the Museum of History and Industry exhibit “Celluloid Seattle,” and Richard T. Jameson, one-time film critic of Seattle Weekly and editor of both Seattle’s own Movietone News and Film Comment (as well as frequent Parallax View contributor) will discuss Seattle’s lively film culture back through the decades in a free event at the MOHAI Café tonight, Thursday, April 18, at 7 pm. Details here.

Antiviral, the debut feature from Brandon Cronenberg, brings inevitable comparisons to his father, with its story of “biological communion” with cultural superstars via celebrity viruses, black market viral thieves (who use their own bodies to smuggle the cultures), and genetically-modified meat that borders on cannibalism. The rigorously austere, antiseptic look recalls Cronenberg pere’s earliest films and the fascination with disease and deterioration of the human body his later work, while its cultural fascination with celebrity and the physical desire to connect is right out of J.G. Ballard. Which isn’t to call it derivative, mind you, merely to place him in an evolutionary context. His approach is appropriately intimate and sensuous, physical yet disconnected, and there is something fascinating and disturbing in the way our ostensible hero (Caleb Landry Jones, perfectly creepy and almost inhuman) makes himself the viral petrie dish for every heist. He’s as addicted to this culture as any of his customers. At Grand Illusion for a week.

Oblivion, with Tom Cruise as the last man Earth (or so he thinks) patrolling the devastated planet from guerilla attacks by the remnants of an alien invasion, is as derivative a science fiction film as you’ll see. It borrows whole cloth from 2001 to The Matrix to WALL-E to Moon to Independence Day and just about every other alien invasion movie you’ve every seen. But director Joseph Kosinski, adapting his own graphic novel, sure knows how to make it look beautiful and evocative. There are plenty of digital effects but its Kosinski’s superbly-scouted and strikingly-photographed locations that give the fantasy a physical resonance. Cruise does what he does best here, playing the good, loyal soldier whose romantic streak drives him to bend the rules to feed his soul and satisfy his curiosity. The twists aren’t all that surprising, but they are nicely delivered. Multiple theaters


“It is middling praise to declare that The Company You Keep improves on Robert Redford’s previous directorial offerings, The Conspirator and Lions for Lambs, politically minded properties that seemed drained of life by their own unimpeachable good intentions.” Everett Herald film critic Robert Horton is now also in Seattle Weekly, and this is one of his first featured reviews here. Multiple theaters.

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