It takes a lot of great work over a long career to be considered a great filmmaker, but it could be argued that the true mark of legendary status is when your name becomes synonymous with an entire aesthetic or style, when enough people have attempted to do what you did first that you become the zero standard for those who follow. You hear it all the time: Spielbergian journeys taken by young people through lushly photographed locales, Tarantino-esque bursts of violence. But of them all, few are more uniquely distinct than the subset of films that come to mind when you talk about David Cronenberg.
The signature is “body violence,” and throughout his career there’s been no shortage of it. The filmmaker has worked heavily in the arts of repulsion and paranoia, those often informing one another, and has spent decades challenging the boundaries of popular art. His films engage with our bodies in ways few others do, both theoretically and in the literal sense of the nausea his films have the capacity to induce in audiences.
So, with his latest film, Maps to the Stars, debuting in limited release and via VOD platforms this weekend, we got to debating the best work of one of modern film’s most unique, perverse, and wholly distinct voices. Read on, and long live the New Flesh.