Spank You Very Much, Film Comment

The results of Film Comment‘s Readers’ Poll of the best films of 2011 are in and, predictably, The Tree of Life has come out on top (just like it did in their Critics’ Poll). I’m grateful to the magazine, the best in the English language, for publishing my remarks on some of these films for the third year in a row, even if they did misidentify my place of residence as Boston (shudder). Interestingly, I sent them commentary, much of it erudite, on at least ten different movies and what did they choose to publish? My tongue-in-cheek reference to the spanking scenes in A Dangerous Method and one sentence devoted to Lee Chang-dong’s Poetry!

For the record, my comments, a modified version of remarks already posted on this blog, were:

A Dangerous Method (#11):

Some critics have acted incredulous that Cronenberg, who gave us exploding heads and human VCRs in the Eighties, would opt for such a “classical” approach to this material. But I found this to be a surprisingly witty, genuinely erotic (and not just because of the spankings) and, yes, intensely cinematic experience. Keira Knightley’s brave performance came in for criticism in some quarters for being “mannered” but I think she’s the heart of the film; I can’t imagine a better physical embodiment of Cronenberg’s central idea of sexuality as a disruptive force.

Poetry (#21):

For most of the running time I forgot I was watching a finely wrought morality play, until the final scenes when the cumulative force of the previous two-plus hours hit me like a ton of emotional bricks.

If you don’t subscribe to Film Comment, you should. Full results here:


About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

13 responses to “Spank You Very Much, Film Comment

  • Zach

    That’s awesome that a professional magazine takes interest in your work.

    And I think the fact Cronenberg is doing so well with more dramatic films just proves how talented he is.

  • Susan Doll

    I once did a “man-on-the-street” type interview with a suburban newspaper. The reporter caught me as I was leaving the Skokie Library and asked me about the first president Bush in the upcoming election. I was very articulate about issues, etc. She put her notebook away, and informally noted that I didn’t seem to like Bush. I smarted off with, “If Bush is re-elected I’m moving to Canada,” as a joke. Guess which part of my lengthy interview they printed. I wondered later if it was all a set-up to get reactionary-type remarks.

  • michaelgloversmith

    Zach, even though I like almost all of his films, I actually prefer Cronenberg’s recent work. His last four movies (SPIDER, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, EASTERN PROMISES and A DANGEROUS METHOD) are my favorites.

    Suzi, that story is hilarious.

  • jilliemae

    Wow, TWO comments in Film Comment! You’ve officially made it to the “big time”. I think it’s time for me to quit my jobs and let you support me for once.

  • Ben Herzberger

    Remarkably, I was (literally) about to write “Uh that is a very provocative photo.” I would never ever want to be in that position ever.

    I very much want to see Tree of Life; I dug Days of Heaven and the New World, especially the cinematography.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Provocative? I only included that photo as an illustration of Ms. Knightley’s excellent acting. I think her performance in A Dangerous Method was the best performance of 2011 and if I ever meet her I would love to bend her over my knee and tell her so.

      Let me know your opinion of Tree of LIfe when you’re done.

  • david

    What your view on Cronenberg’s early films? Like Naked Lunch,Videodrome,Crush etc.? I prefer them to the latest ones like A history of violence and Eastern Promises.

  • Ben Herzberger

    OK update so I actually started watching Tree of Life .. it seems very intense.

  • Ben Herzberger

    So I didn’t watch Tree of Life, a little too intense for the moment. I watched Midnight in Paris instead — I liked it. Thought the ending was quite happy.

  • Dan

    Love that image from A Dangerous Method! 🙂

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