Friday, 30 December 2011
Many reviewers and much of the literature cite David Cronenberg's Videodrome. I must confess I'm not sure why. I appreciate that the film is nearly 30 years old, but it has little to offer with an incoherent story line, hammy acting and the ability to seamlessly co-locate Toronto and Pittsburgh! What it does offer is an exploration of the 'what if' variety: What if watching TV changes your perception of reality?. What if the very act of watching and the subject you are viewing are able to change your brain so that hallucinations blur reality and what is being watched becomes real? The film also makes real the sleaziness of cable TV companies and their search for salacious material to expand their audience numbers. It has nothing to say about creativity, art or morality in a constructive way.
The film is Debbie Harry's full feature debut at about the time her group Blondie were 'riding high' in the charts. I hope that much of the story was told with an ironic slant - why else would one of the main characters be called Brian O'Blivion? The special effects are laughably of their time but owe more to Saturday morning kids TV than anything more serious.
The film does provide a look into the world of BDSM (more here) and snuff movies (and here) and this provides the initial interest for the main character Max (James Woods) and is certainly what turns his girlfriend Nicki (Harry) on. However, it only ever serves as a hook and there is a real sense in which the film fails to explore and examine this kind of perverse cinema. I wish there had been a Director's commentary on the disc.
At least I can now say I've watched the film so that when it crops up in another review somewhere I'll know what they are talking about. To be honest - I'm not sure of it's merit beyond that. I know it's a genre of film that isn't my natural habitat and in watching Videodrome this feeling has only been reinforced. To be fair, other reviewers have said that you need multiple viewings to begin unlocking it's hidden treasures. I'm afraid that with so many unwatched and more worthy films on the shelf, I may simply not get around to it. I'll give it 5/10.