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Entries in Dead Ringers (8)

Saturday
Jul012017

Bonne Fête, Bujold.

by Seán McGovern

Today we celebrate the 75th birthday of Québécoise actress Genevieve Bujold, one of the lesser-lauded Francophone talents. Apart from having a wonderful name to pronounce (dinner with Geneviève Bujold and René Auberjonois, perhaps?), she has more than 70 films under her belt. Instead of doing a retrospective of an actresses who not all of us might know or appreciate, consider this an introduction to some of her greatest work, including Anne of a Thousand Days, Dead Ringers and of course, not Star Trek: Voyager.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul112013

Best Shot: Dead Ringers, Conjoined in Shadow

Hit Me With Your Best Shot happens each Wednesday night and usually spills on over into Thursday morning. Next week (July 17th) we're all looking at the practically perfect "Mary Poppins." This week: David Cronenberg's masterpiece...

Dead Ringers (1988)

For the uninitiated Dead Ringers (1988) is the 'Saga' of 'The Fabulous Mantle Brothers,' twin gynecologists Beverly (Jeremy Irons) and Elliott (Jeremy Irons again) and the 'destructive force' Claire (Genevieve Bujold) that separates them. I've put the air quotes in the synopsis since that's how Elliott, the more theatrical and dominant twin, and the elder by a few minutes, describes the movies from its insides. I don't want to spoil the movie if you haven't yet seen it but if you haven't (*cough* 25 years later) get on that! If you ask me Jeremy Irons deserved the Oscar he wasn't nominated for for this career topping performance(s). 

My earliest favorite movie was The Parent Trap (1961) which I watched on television countless times as a child. Though I realize it's hardly a unique fascination, twins have always done it for me. There's so much to explore and even more to never understand about the possible psychologies of two distinct people who are, genetically, the same person. Though I've seen David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers about four times now I confess that I usually have trouble differentiating Beverly and Elliott. But not this time. Visually, the clarity of their separateness, even though they're loathe to experience it as such, was riveting. Even the old trick of dividing the same actor on two sides of a clearly divided frame doesn't even feel like a sad necessity but the point.

Cronenberg's direction is so assured that you can pick a corker of a shot in virtually every scene as the Best Shot participants have done. Any number of shots will reveal top notch production design (also robbed of Oscar attention) by turning half the spaces into something out of a medical illustration, with intricate lines, weirdly sterile immobility and sleek curves and flat color. But this time through the shot that resonated most was simpler. And I don't even feel like it's cheating that I've chosen twin shots, one of Elliott and one of Beverly, which I've displayed in reverse chronological order. 

These shots are close in proximity in the narrative and each features one of the Mantle Twins reacting to Claire talking to him about the other Mantle Twin. Elliott (up top) is angry that Claire has entered the picture and attempts to intimidate her and seduce her but she won't be cowed. Nevertheless he's too cool and too controlled to lose his composure. The shadow only augments his sinister handsomeness, like a flattering accomplice in seduction and plotting. But Beverly, more emotional and more fluid, who so yearns for separation that he hides Elliot from Claire until this very scene, is also terrified by it. In this simple but brilliant shot he has been found out. Claire has uttered Elliott's name. This shadow neither conceals nor flatters; it merely wipes out his identity. Who is he without Elliott anyway?

For 12 other takes on this movie, please check out the rich array of articles provided by this week's Best Shot club in the visual index

Wednesday
Jul102013

Dead Ringers ~ Visual Index

If you haven't been playing along with the Hit Me With Your Best Shot series, the idea is simple: a film is selected by your host (c'est moi, Nathaniel). Then he and any blogger who would like to join in watch the film do so and write up their choice for "best shot". It's a way to celebrate and mimic the collaborative beauty of motion pictures.

"You've cured me!"

This week's topic is David Cronenberg's 1988 masterpiece Dead Ringers (1988) which is a troubling complex movie and one that demands repeat viewings. I like it more each time I see it. We chose it for three reasons: first, it needs a bigger audience as one of the finest films of the 1980s; second, we like to correct Oscar wrongs in our imaginations and this film, which received zero nominations, deserved at least a handful of them and; third, this film plays a key role in "The Desiring Image", the first book written by our friend and brilliant critic Nick Davis.

After the jump see The 13 Best Shots from the film...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul092013

Coming Soon... Dead Ringers

Dead Ringers poster designed by Jay ShawDon't forget that Wednesday we'll be celebrating David Cronenberg's masterfully creepy Dead Ringers (1988) in Hit Me With Your Best Shot.

This film about twin gynecologists (Jeremy Irons) who fall for the same troubled actress is widely regarded as one of Cronenberg's very best. To kick off the episode, which is dedicated to Nick Davis's new book "The Desiring Image: Gilles Deleuze and Contemporary Queer Cinema", Nick himself has posted his choice for "Best Shot". As is my habit, I don't read these articles until I'm done with mine, so I'm excited to see what he's chosen. But, alas, I'll have to resist the curious urge for a few hours. But if you don't need to wait, click over now.

5 other early bird participants have already chimed in at: Antagony & Ecstacy, Amiresque, Fistful of Films, Entertainment Junkie and Film Actually.

Now back to your regular programming but join us late tonight as we pull out the speculum to investigate this mutant film together.

Thursday
Jun272013

An interview with Nick Davis, on "The Desiring-Image"

Tim here. Just in time for Gay Pride Month, sometime Film Experience contributor and generally terrific film writer Nick Davis had his very first book published, The Desiring-Image: Gilles Deleuze and Contemporary Queer Cinema. After having torn through my copy a little bit faster than the densely academic arguments necessarily deserved, I sat down with Nick to chat about some aspects of the book.

(Disclosure: not only are Nick and I friends, I make an appearance in the acknowledgements, as does Nathaniel, our host. But that’s why this isn’t a “review”)

Tim Brayton: Just to clarify: for you and for the book, “queer theory” and “queer cinema” is complementary to, but not necessarily the same as, gay and lesbian cinema.

Nick Davis: Yes. “Queer” both as a scholarly term, and a term that filmmakers are using for their work, is sort of bringing a more political edge to gay or lesbian or bisexual storylines, and doing so in such a way that it’s hard to talk about sexuality without also talking about other forces and other aspects of your social situation that impact who you relate to, how, what you know about yourself, whether you think you have a sexuality, or whether it’s something that changes or goes by another name.

TB: The book is an investigation into queer theory and the writing of Gilles Deleuze, using them to comment on each other. I gather that Deleuze is not somebody who crops up often in queer discussion very much, so what started you on this line of thought?

ND: Probably two moments...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun192013

'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' Returns on July 3rd

Our weekly group-look at essential visual moments in movies from all genres / decades resumes in two weeks so Queue these movies! Season Four has had wonderful turnout from great blogs so let's complete the season this summer with a robust party (bring all your friends!) every Wednesday evening through summer's end!

July 3rd American Graffitti (George Lucas, 1973)
 [Amazon | Netflix | iTunes]
"Where were you in 1962?" went the tagline for this hit which went a long way towards popularizing 'instant nostalgia' movies. I wanted something nostalgic for the holiday week but mostly I chose it because I've never seen it and its a gap in my Oscar knowledge (5 nominations including Best Picture). Legendary DP Haskell Wexler is credited as "visual consultant". If you know anyone who was a teenager in the 1960s, use them as "nostalgia consultant" ;) and if you're feeling really ambitious, I keep reading it makes a strong double feature with Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused (1993). 

July 10th Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg, 1988)
 [Amazon | Netflix | iTunes]
David Cronenberg's artful chiller about twin brother gynecologists (Jeremy Irons at his career best) and the vaginally, uh, complicated woman they both love. This week's choice is in honor of Nick Davis of Nicks Flick Picks. This film plays a key role in his first book The Desiring-Image: Gilles Deleuze and Contemporary Queer Cinema 

July 17th Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964)
[Amazon | Netflix | iTunes]
This year's December release Saving Mr Banks concerns the making of this movie. It's garnering much pre-release curiousity so let's revisit this supercalifragilistic musical fantasy starring the practically perfect in every way Julie Andrews. Trivia Note: July 17th is also the 58th anniversary of the opening of Disneyland! 

more titles tba... the season ends in late August