Yes you are reading that right. This is a film by David’s little boy Brandon (well he is 32 but…) and it shows. I am going to go a bit cranky with this. I had heard about it being shown at Cannes along with Dad’s newest film Cosmopolis. So I was curious. People have been very polite about this movie I think so as not to offend David and it is clear that Dad pulled lots of strings to get Brandon some attention like getting into Cannes, hiring Malcolm McDowell to do a cameo role and so forth. The film harkens back to the early Cronenberg films like Shivers and Scanners but to my mind it is more like an amateurish version of those early films. This is a bad movie and I am particularly upset that it left such a bad taste in my mouth after seeing Great Expectations that morning.
The premise of the film is that celebrity worship has gone to the point where people are actually marketing the viral infections of celebrities and injecting them into fans so they can experience their favourite stars’ illnesses. Of course it all goes horribly wrong. At the Q and A after the film the sycophantic host asked the first question: “Like, How did you ever come up with the idea for this movie?” and Brandon in sharp contrast to the wit and intelligence of Mike Newell (see Great Expectations) responded; ” Like I got the idea at film school when I was like really sick see? And like I was thinking I have this flu from some other person like? Like I am sharing it with someone or something. And then I thought well what if like we actually gave people diseases of their favourite stars? Wouldn’t that be like the ultimate fan worship?” So this trivial thought was turned into a two hour ordeal.
I am paraphrasing this dialogue a bit but I should note that the average age of the 1500 at Great Expectations was maybe 50 and the average age at Antiviral was more like 30. In line waiting to get in I was just in front of four or five young film makers who were talking about their like script and like how they really wanted to get this guy to come to their party that night so they could like impress their producer right? It was driving me like mad right? When I got into the theatre however I was sitting beside a elderly gentleman, yes older even than me, and we chatted about the festival and the films we had seen and as the room went dark and the movie started, he fell fast asleep. Believe me, he had the right response to this loser film.
I attended my first film of the Festival last night and… well I left early. I left Werner’s last documentary last year Cave of Forgotten Dreams (see last year’s reviews)as well. I clearly have a love/hate relationship with this guy. I loved The Bad Lieutenant and Encounters at the End of the World but I really disliked this movie, the Cave and My Son, My Son, What have you done? The last two were at TIFF last year along with the Bad Lieutenant. Not sure what it is but I may not be able to stay away from his next film just in case it’s good.
Meanwhile last night we saw the premiere of his newest film at the Ryerson Theatre which is huge and was jammed with Herzogies. The man was there and got a standing ovation even before the film screened. The movie is a documentary about two men who commit three brutal murders just to steal a car for a joy ride. One is given a 40 year sentence and the other is on death row and is interviewed just a week before he will be executed. It is all set in Texas. In theory this is about capital punishment and Herzog introduced the film by telling us he does not believe in the death sentence and that he had no real argument for his position, only that he lived in postwar Germany and grew up with the Nazi legacy over his head. He claimed the Nazi’s had no problem killing people for trivial reasons as well as practice genocide and that no one of his generation, coming out of this history, would agree with capital punishment. He does interview the executioner who has killed 125 people in his career and points out that this man who clearly has no problem with execution, also has no real argument to support his position or his job other than that he does it.
This lack of argument or insight into one’s position echoes throughout this movie. The minister who stands with the executees, the family and friends of the murder victims, the police, the murderers themselves, no one has any insight into what they did, what happened to them or what is happening to them. The characters, who are all real, are from the more destitute and downtrodden members of Texas (American) society. I left the movie because it was clear that I would learn nothing about capital punishment or the human condition and I had this bad feeling that Werner (who conducted all the interviews) was quietly mocking the people he was talking to. The lives they lived were sad and pathetic and hopeless and Werner had the audience laughing at them and their answers. I am not sure Werner is a very nice man and this movie went a way to confirming that judgement.