I had an extraordinary weekend. I watched films that no one in their right mind should be watching. Films that made me as Tupac memorably worded it, want “to bow down” and worship. I did something better. I rewound and rewatched. Again and again. To make sure I was not being taken in. like I was by the Godfather films where Marlon Brando is not. Or the Shaka Zulu films. (A quarrel for another day). I was not being fooled here. I was not being fooled. It’s hard to turn me on, I get bored quickly and my attitude to many things is fuck it. But these films did not bore me, they turned me on and often they had me scrolling through the end credits carefully.
Crash, a David Cronenberg film
James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elia Koteas, Deborah Karr Unger and Rosanna Arquette
Before this, I had never watched a David Cronenberg film. I had heard of David Cronenberg but nothing I heard had made me want to see any of his films. Something snotty in the expositors’ voices suggested Cronenberg would not be a pleasant cinematic experience. Cronenberg, the name, pharmaceutical sounding, did not entice much either.
So Crash was a total head on collision. Crash, in a few minutes, convinces you that you are not merely watching another hour and a half of filled film but something more. And it’s not just because Crash begins with an attractive married woman having sex with a man whose face she does not look at in an airport hanger and when the camera pans away from her we discover her husband’s head bobbing up and down between the thighs of one of his actresses. Crash is not just about the sex though I have to confess seldom has sex been more sexily filmed to be more arousing for the viewer.
Crash is about a jaded film director and his wife who discover through his nearly fatal car accident a society of car accident enthusiasts. Not as in simply sick pervs who relish rushing to accident scenes to take pictures but who also meticulously plan car crashes they can be involved in. This meticulousness is not aimed at ensuring that they survive the accident to feed on the thrill, the thrill is in dying in the most horrifically smashed up automobile. It is after the crash, with the thrill of the crash still coursing out of their bodies through cuts and gashes that they experience the best sex, death and life entwined.
Crash also does something very important. It sharpens the watcher’s sensory urges. Crash makes you want to touch things. Let me rephrase that. Crash makes you want to lingeringly run your hands over the surfaces of objects, feel their shapes and surfaces damaged and undamaged with every inch of skin on your fingers reading in the dents and hard body messages of wordless perfections. I washed plates, cups, saucepans, spoons, forks, socks after watching Crash because Crash leaves you aching to touch. Urging you to touch. And only when you slide your fingers along the hard edge of your table until your tip toeing fingers suddenly come to the rough dip of the corner of your table do you understand that as James Spader runs his fingers along the fresh scars of Holly Hunter, Deborah Karr Unger, stops and probes nearly pulling out the stitches in Elias Koteas’s chest wounds that the definition of beauty is changing here. Beauty is no longer in the Photoshop flawless skin, beauty is in the healing tears inflicted on the skin in the act of living and these scars are the proud war wounds of the survivors.
Damn it, I have to go for a meeing. Will talk about the other three later.