Saturday, April 1, 2023


Nepotism is an interesting subject when it comes to film. People love to conveniently pick & choose who they criticize. Sofia Coppola is often used as the definitive case study for “nepo babies” while her cousins Nicolas Cage & Jason Schwartzman go relatively uncriticized for having the same lineage (to be clear - I'm not saying it isn't common knowledge that they're in the Coppola family. It just doesn't come up as much in comparison to Sofia). Everyone loves Jeff Bridges & Jamie Lee Curtis while Margaret Qualley & John David Washington’s legacy is so weirdly downplayed. I understand that folks like Sofia Coppola & John David Washington haven’t made the impact of folks like Nicholas Cage, Jamie Lee Curtis or Jeff Bridges, but there’s got to be some kind of consistency. Folks claim to hate all forms of nepotism yet give a select group of “nepo babies” a pass.
And if we're being honest - Sofia Coppola's nepotism is what makes her (few) good movies work. Who better to make something like Somewhere or On The Rocks? Both are stories of successful men told from the perspective of their daughters. She's the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. She knows these types of people better than the average person.

The criticism of nepotism is also strange because people seem to associate nepotism with just the entertainment industry or the office world which is pretty silly. Nepotism is literally everywhere. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a good thing. I just wish folks that are critical of it would show some type of consistency in their criticism…

I say all of this because while Brandon Cronenberg is his own filmmaker, his work still comes right out of his father’s playbook (body horror, body modification, sex, violence, science fiction, surrogate bodies, new technology, etc). Last year we looked at the strong similarities between the work of Brandon & David (click here to read) and not much has changed with Infinity Pool (a movie I enjoyed). 
I don't see this as a bad thing. I have no problem with one of the most influence filmmakers (David Cronenberg) rubbing off on his own flesh & blood. Everyone else “borrows” from David. Why not his own son?

The Death Of David Cronenberg /
Infinity Pool

Crash /
Infinity Pool

Shivers /
Infinity Pool

The Dead Zone /
Infinity Pool

I highly doubt Brandon laid out these scenes in a calculated attempt to pay homage to his father. If anything he would probably try to avoid it. But the similarities are there even if coincidental.

Unlike the John David Washington’s of the world, Brandon Cronenberg doesn’t weirdly downplay who his father his. He doesn’t play it up either. He just casually acknowledges it in a matter of fact kind of way.

He’s my father, so I’m very influenced by him in that sense. We have some of the same genes, I grew up with him and have a close relationship with him – I’ve never rejected him as a means of rebellion. So he’s definitely influenced who I am and my interests, but I wasn’t influenced by his films or him as a filmmaker, because I just don’t have that relationship with them - Brandon Cronenberg (

If anything it’s the senior Cronenberg that does all the bragging like a proud dad…

After a tragic accident while staying on a resort, a couple with pre-existing marital problems find themselves in way over their heads in a world of violence, corrupt laws, and all around hedonism. Brandon Cronenberg also continues to explore the idea of surrogate bodies like he did in Antiviral & Possessor (Infinity Pool is a lot more in line with Possessor). This specific aspect of the movie comes right out of his father’s playbook. 
And the similarities aren’t super obvious but Infinity Pool would make for an interesting double feature with Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. From the masks to the orgies - it’s all there (I’m sure there’s an essay or think piece on the weird secret activities of the rich & powerful somewhere out there)…

Eyes Wide Shut/
Infinity Pool

Eyes Wide Shut/
Infinity Pool

Cronenberg also appears to pull from Kubrick during a home invasion scene that comes off exactly like a reworking of the home invasion scene in A Clockwork Orange...

A Clockwork Orange /
Infinity Pool

A Clockwork Orange /
Infinity Pool

A Clockwork Orange /
Infinity Pool

Perhaps there's some Argento influence in there as well...

Suspiria / Infinity Pool

Suspiria /
Infinity Pool

The general negative criticism of Infinity Pool is that it’s good until the final act where everything sort of falls apart and gets a little too “crazy”. The movie does sort of go off the rails but that’s what I liked about it. It’s about a downward spiral in to strange debauchery and that’s essentially what the film shows.

Infinity Pool might be the best film I’ve seen all year but I don't know if that’s because it’s actually really good or if there isn’t much to chose from these days. Either way this is a fun movie for folks that enjoy the recent/semi-recent films of the Cronenberg Family.


The basic story behind No Sudden Move is a layered robbery gone wrong. Set in 1955 Detroit, a pair of criminals (Ronald Russo & Carl Goynes) are hired by an unknown source to retrieve an important document and they soon find that they’ve been set up/used as pawns in a much bigger game. Now Russo and Goynes have to work together to figure out what’s going on all while still trying to make a nice score. From the rarely mentioned Underneath & Lucky Logan, to The Ocean’s films, Soderbergh is at home with the crime caper (as you can imagine - there’s lots of double, triple and quadruple crossing at every turn in the film).

To my surprise, there were a decent amount of (subconscious?) Tarantino-esque moments. From the stacked ensemble cast to specific scenarios - this is the kind of post-Reservoir Dogs/Pulp Fiction movie that would have come out in 1996.

Inglorious Basterds /
No Sudden Move

Reservoir Dogs /
No Sudden Move

It also appears that Soderbergh is tipping his hat to Bill Duke's role in Get Rich Or Die Tryin...

Get Rich Or Die Tryin /
No Sudden Move

At the end of the day this movie is "fine"(?) overall. There's just one aspect that I haven't been able to shake for the last two years...

I don’t know if this is good, bad or a combination of the two - but I saw shades of myself in Don Cheadle’s Goynes. Not the homicidal killer aspect. The just the part about “gettin’ what’s mine” (a phrase he uses throughout the film). I’ve always joked about how if I ever had to turn to crime in order to get money I wouldn’t get too greedy. Just one or two safe scores and then I’m out. A decent amount of momentary life-changing cash to stretch for a while and I’m good. By the time No Sudden Move ends, we learn that was Goynes’ plan all along (at least that’s how I saw it). 

That’s the good part about my relation to Goynes. The bad part is the selling oneself short. By the end of the film Goynes makes $5,000 dollars out of a potential $400,000 dollars. $5,000 in 1955 is a nice chunk of money but $400,000 is obviously better. No matter what year it is. But to get this $400,000 dollars you have to take part in an elaborate risky plot. The thing is - I’m not a risk-taker. Even in 2023 if there was an opportunity to make $5,000 in a low risk situation versus $400,000 in a high risk situation, I’m going to go with the low risk option. That’s just how I am. Part of that has to do with wanting to live. I don’t want to die (the stakes in No Sudden Move are very very dangerous). The other part of my non-risk taking personality has to do with me being a worker bee. A lot of people like to say they’re a “boss” or a shot-caller because they took out a PPP loan or started a small business. But not me. Take my work record. I have no interest in working for myself or being my own boss. I’m a salary guy. A lot of folks won’t admit this but my way of thinking represents a nice-sized majority of people in this world which is essentially what the film is about - giving “regular” folks crumbs to do the dirty work to get someone else rich. This isn’t a revelation. That’s the way of the world.
At first glance, No Sudden Move is a crime caper. Beneath that surface it’s a light commentary on the racial tension/divide in 1950’s Detroit. And beyond that it’s about regular folks being used as pawns and being happy to get scraps (like Goynes). These days any movie about money is going to be dissected as some kind of commentary on capitalism but in the case of No Sudden Move it’s truly warranted (the heavy-handed final scene/climax of the movie just solidifies this).

This would make a nice double feature with Army Of The Dead in that both films are semi-recent stories of pawns (that don’t necessarily know they’re pawns) used to carry out a mission with ulterior motives that goes horribly wrong. In both No Sudden Move and Army Of The Dead, the main characters/pawns think they’re getting a good deal when they’re really just getting crumbs at the end of the day.

Both films even have the pawns playing each other…

Army Of The Dead / No Sudden Move

No Sudden Move is set in Detroit so the name “Goynes” had to be a nod to the Michigan crime writer Donald Goines. The intentional slight change in the spelling of the name has been done before. In Nicolas Refn’s Fear X, the main character, Harry Cain, is a nod to Orson Welles’ characters in both Citizen Kane (Charles Foster Kane) and The Third Man (Harry Lime). Refn just changed the spelling of Cane.

This is also wouldn’t be last time Refn tipped his hat to Welles…

Mr Arkadin / Drive

Any Soderbergh heist movie will draw comparison to the Ocean’s films but if you’re familiar with his (large) body of work, you might be reminded of something like his under-appreciated The Underneath.
The end of No Sudden Move is actually a huge nod to The Underneath (it isn't shot for shot identical but both movies end with the femme fatale thinking they're getting away with the loot only to have their plan thwarted. 

Actually maybe it's time for me to revisit that...



I made a recent appearance on Wrong Reel to take about Harmony Korne's Gummo. Click here or the image above to go to the episode.



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