Shirley Douglas

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Dead Ringers Review


Good
David Cronenberg is one of the few Western filmmakers to have carved out his own niche within a Hollywood system that is both intellectually bankrupt and box office driven. His films tirelessly span the gap between the avant-garde, edgy cinema of the 70s and the slick, huckster films of the '90s and '00s. Often mislabeled a horror film director, on account of his early films, Cronenberg is in fact a versatile non-genre craftsman: his pictures can sometimes resemble genre films but more often inhabit a gray netherworld between genres. From the parables of Shivers to the body obsession of The Fly, Cronenberg's cinema is the cinema of science. Not the science of progress and health, but the cold and remote science that boils humanity down to mere chemical reactions and molecular disturbances. And his most "scientific" film is undoubtedly the oddly recursive Dead Ringers.

Dead Ringers is based on the true story of two twin gynecologists, Steven and Cyril Marcus, who frequently switched places with each other, both at work and in their private lives. With their lives spiraling out of control, the brothers committed suicide together in their Manhattan apartment. The 1977 novel Twins by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland, dramatized the case, and Cronenberg's film follows suit. Beverly and Elliot Mantle (both played by Jeremy Irons) are twin brothers, both are emotionally detached and both grow up to become gynecologists. When Elliot, the more sophisticated of the two, beds movie star Clair (Genevieve Bujold), he invites Beverly to share her with him. As Elliot explains, the experience of one brother has no meaning unless it's shared with the other. Things turn ugly when Bev falls for the actress.

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A House Divided Review


Weak
At least it wasn't hideous... but this Beloved-esque tale of a white plantation owner (Waterston) in Lincoln-era Georgia who has a mixed-race daughter (Beals) by one of his slaves (Hamilton) is so dull it stifles what little energy there is in the story. When the big guy dies, his will -- which leaves almost everything to the daughter -- is contested. Will it stand up against bigotry? Ultimately, it's challenging material made dumb... you know, for Showtime.
Shirley Douglas

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