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“A Dangerous Method,” reviewed

“A Dangerous Method,” reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the New Orleans Film Festival.

Here is a director talking about a subject he’s covered many times before in a totally new way. The filmmaker is David Cronenberg and his topic is the mysterious world of sexuality. From “Videodrome” to “Dead Ringers” to “Crash,” Cronenberg has repeatedly returned to the mysteries of the human body and its basest urges. But where those earlier works were all luridly and wonderfully heated; “A Dangerous Method” is cold and dispassionate. The film takes its cues from its subjects, the pioneering psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, who appear to be quite coldly dispassionate themselves. Like Freud and Jung, “A Dangerous Method” approaches sex from a distinctly clinical perspective.

Jung, played by Michael Fassbender, is the focal point. As the film begins he acquires a new patient named Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a young woman prone to uncontrollable physical and verbal outbursts. Using the so-called “talking cure” pioneered by Freud (Viggo Mortenson), Jung uncovers the roots of Sabina’s mania: a combination of childhood abuse and masochistic sexual desires. At the start of their sessions together, Sabina tells Jung (between grunts and moans) “I’m vile and filthy and corrupt. I must never be let out of here.” Two years (and just a few brief scenes) later, though, her condition has improved greatly. Sabina enrolls at a local academy and studies to become a psychiatrist herself while Jung becomes more of her mentor than her psychiatrist (he also becomes more and more attracted to her, forcing him to consider an affair behind the back of his wealthy but uninteresting wife). Meanwhile Jung’s work brings him to Freud’s attention, and the two begin an ongoing dialogue about the nature of their field. The more traditional Freud wants to keep psychoanalysis rooted in science; Jung believes a more free-thinking and possibly supernatural strategy may be required.

Those hoping the triangle between Freud, Jung, and Spielrein might lead Cronenberg down some aggressively kinky paths will be disappointed by “A Dangerous Method” which, a few S&M tinged sex scenes between Fassbender and Knightey aside, is a fiercely reserved look at the nature of sexual desire; the camerawork and the narrative are as immune to wild, florid gestures as Jung and Freud. Cronenberg based his film on a play (and screenplay) by Christopher Hampton, but instead of “opening up” the drama he seems to have closed it off even further; whole sequences are built entirely out of back-and-forth montages of increasingly catty letters sent between Freud and Jung as they grow increasingly disillusioned with each other’s attitude and behavior. The buttoned-up characters and their diagnostic conversations (or one-sided monologues) about topics like “the self-annihilating nature of the sexual act” rarely make for dramatic fireworks; don’t expect a movie full of rat-a-tat therapist-and-patient dialogue a la Tony Soprano and Dr. Melfi. “A Dangerous Method” is much closer to Martin Scorsese’s “The Age of Innocence,” another film about a man bound by the rigors of society to reject his sexual desires on behalf of familial responsibilities. Pulling off that sort of ultra-restrained melodrama is no easy feat, and requires the work of actors capable of conveying characters with inner lives totally separate from the words coming from their mouths. Fortunately, Cronenberg’s cast is beyond capable, they’re exceptional; particularly Mortensen, who nails Freud’s haughty dismissiveness perfectly.

Like its repressed characters, “A Dangerous Method” is often about the things that are left unspoken. Though the film follows the rivalry between Freud and Jung I think Cronenberg isn’t really making a movie about who was ultimately right or wrong, but rather using their squabbles to illustrate the fact that psychoanalysts are just as nuts as the rest of us. Some of us may look more composed than others — not all of us have crazy twins or guns growing out orifices in our chests — but we’ve all got something to hide. The coldest, most dispassionate exteriors often disguise the most wildly emotional souls. Look closely and you’ll see “A Dangerous Method” works exactly the same way. If you see just one movie this year about psychoanalysts writing snippy letters to one another, make it this one.

“A Dangerous Method” opens in limited release on November 23. If you see it, tell us what you think. Leave us a comment or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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