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The best David Cronenberg movies, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

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The best David Cronenberg movies, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re Canadian auteur David Cronenberg, purveyor of oozy body horror, psycho-sexual titillation, and all manner of other subversive content, it’s hard to imagine better pre-release hype around your new film than numerous reports of nauseated audiences fleeing screenings. Of course, this was the Cannes Film Festival, where people enjoy walking out of movies for virtually any provocation. And the movie, Crimes of the Future, once widely reviewed, proved to be not quite as repugnant as those early reports described, despite its graphic depiction of organ removal surgery as live entertainment.

Still, the fact remains that few filmmakers alive could stir up such pre-release controversy. Even after not having made a feature film since 2014 — and not one in this vein for several decades — people knew exactly what they were getting into with a David Cronenberg movie. (The horrible goop mutants in the animated comedy series Rick and Morty are called Cronenbergs if that gives you some indication of the associations conjured by the man.) In celebration of the master’s return to the splendidly sickening, we list his best films according to Rotten Tomatoes.

10. Scanners (1981) – 70%

Michael Ironside stars in Scanners.
Filmplan

Exploding heads! Well, one exploding head anyway. At least that’s what people typically remember about Scanners, Cronenberg’s first mainstream success in the United States (it grossed over $14 million on a $budget of 3.5 million) after a decade of making films and television for Canadian audiences, including early body horror films such as Shivers and Rabid.

The movie shares its basic premise with X-Men, The Boys, and any number of other sci-fi stories about evil corporations that try to control and weaponize “special” people — in this, case individuals who possess both telepathy and telekinesis (the ability to move objects with the mind). This isn’t surprising, given that Cronenberg read comic books as a boy. Critics found the movie uneven, but appreciated the director’s exploration of themes of social control and human biological evolution that he would develop throughout his career.

9. eXistenZ(1999) – 74%

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law star in Existenz
Dimension Films

One of four films that Cronenberg made in the ’90s (following Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly, and the notorious Crash, about people who become aroused by car accidents), eXistenZ was the last movie in which the director would explore themes of body horror and biotechnology (here including “organic pistols” that resemble pieces of KFC extra crispy chicken) until Crimes of the Future. Cronenberg also found an opportunity to push his concerns about corporate media control and loss of individual subjectivity into the realm of virtual reality.

eXistenZ stars Jennifer Jason Leigh as a VR game designer who, with the help of a publicist (an absurdly young-looking Jude Law), enters her game in the hopes of saving it from sabotage. The movie shares a number of narrative similarities to The Matrix, also released in 1999, especially in the use of “bio-ports” to connect humans to the virtual world and the blurring of fantasy with reality. Although it doesn’t remotely match the stunning aesthetic of The Matrix, critics found its exploration of classic sci-fi themes, just as thoughtful, if not more so.

8. A Dangerous Method (2011) – 78%

Keira Knightley stars in A Dangerous Method
Universal Pictures

Along with Cosmopolis (2012) and Maps to the Stars (2014), Cronenberg made A Dangerous Method during a stretch when he appeared to have left behind the graphic body horror material of his first few decades, and even the more standard violence of his twin noir crime films, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises (both ranked below).

His preoccupation with psycho-sexual drama (in movies like Crash and Dead Ringers) remained, however, in this period movie starring Keira Knightley as a woman who suffers from “hysteria” and gets turned on by spanking. Who better to unpack all this for her than eminent doctors Freud and Jung, who — as played by Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender, respectively — were evidently way hunkier than history ever taught us! Some critics found the film a bit dry by Cronenberg’s standards, though many singled out the performances as exemplary, particularly Knightley’s.

7. Videodrome (1983) – 79%

James Woods and Debbie Harry in Videodrome
Universal

Videodrome stars James Woods in gonzo mode (wait, is there any other James Woods mode?) as the head of a Toronto UHF station who agrees to broadcast a snuff film before trying to track down the film’s mysterious origins. The movie is a commentary about the pernicious persuasive power of television and was among the early Cronenberg films to establish the director as an enthusiastic emcee of body horror fantasies.

Though securing decent reviews, particularly for the special effects, Videodrome was a bomb in theaters. How could it not have during a movie-going era that prized shallow spectacle? But, along with Scanners, it is one of the films that secured Cronenberg’s reputation as a cult auteur. Given its status as the early work of a master, as well as the visionary cautionary material about how we consume and interact with media, it remains much better remembered now than much of the disposable dreck from 1983.

6. Dead Ringers (1988) – 83%

Jeremy Irons stars in Dead Ringers
Warner Bros.

Jeremy Irons famously thanked Cronenberg when he won an Oscar for Reversal of Fortune two years after the release of Dead Ringers, as if to say, “this is the film I should have won for” (he wasn’t even nominated). It’s hard to argue the point. Almost 35 years later, his dual performance as twin gynecologists who spiral into drug addiction and madness stands as one of the great feats of movie acting. It’s not just that Irons makes Elliot and Beverly Mantel so convincing as separate characters — Elliot is imperious, composed, and sociopathic, while Bev is fickle, volatile, and tender — but how committed he is to depicting their behavior in all its creepy revulsion.

The movie suggests that the twins may have been conjoined at some point, and although they were separated physically, they never detached from each other psychologically. When they finally begin that process, it rips them asunder all over again. Irons’ cold, clinical precision is matched by Cronenberg’s approach to the direction, which holds the horror at arm’s length as long as possible before completely surrendering to it.

5. Spider (2002) – 85%

Ralph Fiennes stars in Spider.
Sony Pictures Classics

With Spider, Cronenberg revisited the realm of the psychological thriller he mastered in movies like Dead Ringers and Naked Lunch to tell the story of a schizophrenic man, Dennis “Spider” Cleg (Ralph Fiennes), who is released from a London mental institution into a halfway house. There, his mental condition deteriorates again quickly, precipitating his tumble into a well of traumatic childhood memories that include his murderous father (Gabriel Byrne).

Spider was well-reviewed upon its release — Film Comment even named it one of the best films of all time — with critics singling out Fiennes’ performance, even while finding the movie a bit slow overall. Unfortunately, the movie is not currently available to stream and it’s hard to find DVD versions as well, as no Blu-Ray edition has yet been released. Given that it’s considered among the best work of both Fiennes and Cronenberg (and a labor of love, for which they earned no salary), it seems likely that the film will find its way to viewers again before long.

4. A History of Violence (2005) – 87%

Viggo Mortensen stars in A History of Violence
Warner Bros.

Cronenberg earned rave reviews for this foray into the crime genre that would begin his transition into more conventional fare (at least for him) for the next decade and a half. The movie stars Viggo Mortensen as a small-town family man, Tom Stall, whose quick thinking during a robbery gains him national attention as a hero. Unfortunately, his new visibility brings some bad men to town who think he used to belong to a Philadelphia mob family. Tom must stave off this threat while keeping the secrets of his past from his unwitting family.

Critics appreciated Cronenberg’s taut direction, as well as his thoughtful exploration of how human beings are simultaneously repulsed by, and attracted to, violence. Reviewers also praised the performances by Mortensen, Mario Bello, Ed Harris, and especially William Hurt, who earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor with just over 8 minutes of screen time.

3. Eastern Promises (2015) – 89%

Viggo Mortensen stars in Eastern Promises.
Focus Features

This one might have been called “A History of Violence, Russian Edition.” Mortensen again stars, this time as Nikolai, a low-level driver for the Russian mafia in London who tries to help a midwife, Anna (Naomi Watts), locate the family of a baby whose teen mother has died giving birth to her. As Anna’s investigation leads her deeper into Nikolai’s world of crime, he must decide if his loyalties lie with her or his bosses: The lethal head of the Russian family (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and his sniveling son (Vincent Cassel, in classic sociopath mode).

Critics praised Cronenberg’s fluid filmmaking and beautiful cinematography, which conjures rain-slicked London streets and the richly burnished back rooms and restaurants where the mob operates. Mortensen got the Oscar nomination this time, for Best Actor, while the movie became known for its classic fight scene between naked men in a bathhouse — the bronzed flesh and crimson blood in stark contrast to the gleaming white marble of the bathhouse floor.

2. The Dead Zone (1983) – 90%

Christopher Walken stars in The Dead Zone
Paramount

Cronenberg got the job directing the adaptation of Stephen King’s best-seller after the success of Scanners, though it’s a much less funky picture. In fact, given the pedigree of weird working together here — Cronenberg, King, and Christopher Walken — The Dead Zone is a very earnest picture. Walken plays a man, Johnny, who wakes up after five years in a coma only to discover that he has developed the ability to see people’s past and future. Now, of course, everybody wants a piece of him, including a local cop (Tom Skerritt) who needs help ferreting out a serial killer. When Johnny comes into the orbit of a crooked politician (Martin Sheen, doing his best Nixon impersonation), he must decide how far he’s willing to go to ward off a potentially catastrophic future.

Critics appreciated the story, Cronenberg’s unobtrusive direction, and Walken’s strong central performance, even if they were a bit surprised that this movie is more sweet than strange.

1. The Fly (1986) – 93%

Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis star in The Fly.
20th Century Studios

The Fly is still probably Cronenberg’s most famous film, one of the rare remakes which has eclipsed the reputation of the original, a 1958 chiller with Vincent Price. Of course, this is largely to do with the special effects, which remain among the most stomach-churning and inventive in all of horror cinema. As with John Carpenter’s The Thing, this kind of freaky human-engineered prosthetic goop simply cannot be replicated with digital FX.

The movie stars Jeff Goldblum as a scientist who invents a teleportation device. When he tests it on himself, it appears to be a success, but only later does he realize that a fly had buzzed into the chamber with him. The ensuing complications…well, even people who haven’t seen the movie are probably familiar with the gross-out makeup that transforms a man into a fly. Critics praised The Fly as one of the most successful visceral and elemental of Cronenberg’s body horror scenarios and acclaimed Goldblum’s performance along with that of Geena Davis as a sympathetic journalist and love interest. The Fly remains Cronenberg’s most, um, buzzed-about achievement.

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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