I find it
kind of serendipitous that the release of “The Assassination of Jesse James by
the Coward Robert Ford” takes place in the midst of the growing controversy
about the Jena Six. As you probably know, several thousand people have marched
in that small Louisiana
town protesting the draconian punishments meted out to African-American high
school students goaded by racial harassment (including a noose hung from a
tree) into assaulting a white classmate.
As the media gratefully takes a pass on Iraq, the election or anything else
of depressing substance for the golden opportunity for endless inanity presented by the new OJ case, the
success of the upcoming spate of War on Terror related movies seems in doubt. After all, don’t people go to the movies to escape the troubles of
the world rather than be confronted with them? And when the news itself
doesn’t even want to think of all that bad stuff, what chance does “In The
Valley of Elah” (which I think is a crock, but that’s not my point) have
against, say, “Good Luck Chuck?”
the Cronenberg interview, a few notes on synchronicity, Soviet motorcycles,
nepotism, Martin Amis and some gratuitous references to Russian literature.
PK: Have you
had that happen before in other films, where the theme or some other elements
of the film suddenly became reflected in real life.
studio films in a row, is Cronenberg selling out? It’s not the kind of question
you want to ask even when he’s three hundred miles away on the phone. Note
above how I failed to follow up on asking him whether his films have influenced the trend of the “Saws” and “Hostels” (chances
are, however, that his answer would be “no.
Terror can be good for you, or so might argue David Cronenberg.
He should know, having made some of the most terrifying films of the last
thirty years or so, such as “Shivers/They Came From Within” (1975), “Rabid” (1977) , “Scanners” (1981), “Videodrome” (1983), "The Fly"(1986),
"eXistenZ" (1999). He’s moonlighted lately
in the gangster genre with his last two films, "A History of Violence "(2005) and
"Eastern Promises," in the gangster genre (though Cronenberg has said the former
is more of a Western).
As we continue our conversation, Mr. Gordon ponders the
relationship between gaming and filming, how Secessionist Austrian
art can help shape a film about Donkey Kong, the value of teaching as a profession and the sad fate of Mr. Awesome.
Q. There have been a lot
of changes in the Mitchell/Wiebe situation since movie ended.
Labor Day brings up reflections on how the American
Dream, the myth that hard work and talent will result in success, is often undermined by
treachery, deceit, entitlement and greed. I haven’t seen many films that have
probed that dichotomy as entertainingly as Seth Gordon’s “King of Kong,” which
follows the heated quest of Steve Wiebe, an unemployed man of the people with
extraordinary but otherwise apparently not very marketable gifts, to wrest the
title of Donkey Kong champion from insufferable hot sauce entrepreneur, Billy