Welcome to Fan Service, a new, typically sporadic (#onbrand) feature in which I feed the hungry beasts / wonderful humans of Patreon by focusing on a subject of their choice. (As with most things, this is borrowed from Nathan Rabin, though in fairness, for all his accomplishments, I’m not sure he can technically claim to have invented “taking requests.”) We start off with a request from Patreon subscriber David “No, Not That David Simon” Simon, who asked that some of our attention be briefly directed at Elmore Leonard adaptations; specifically, the very fun, snappy Get Shorty, which he enjoys, and its significantly less fun, strikingly snap-less Be Cool, which he does not.
It’s a platitude to say that emerging technologies inform our fiction. How couldn’t they? The raw material of everyday experience – our buildings, schools, livelihoods, family structures, routines, modes of communication – has always weaseled its way into cultural production, realist or speculative.
There’s a particular type of movie, the kind that depicts bourgeois capitalist decadence and excess, usually in the art world, or more specifically in the film world. La Dolce Vita is the iconic example, and all of the followers reference it; the recent examples I have in mind are The Great Beauty and Knight of Cups.
Today, we take a break from esteemed feature films like Scream, Blacula, Scream to look at something even more curious: the once-banned, entirely odd Disney production The Story of Menstruation, a 10-minute animated short from 1946 “presented with the compliments of Kimberly Clark.”
Reportedly the first screenplay to include the word “vagina,” it’s a time capsule that’s both frank and admirable while still being completely weird and off-putting on several levels.
Is there any living director who’s had a weirder career trajectory than David Cronenberg?
After carving out a very specific niche as a low-budget horror director fixated on technology and the body (Shivers, Rabid, The Brood), he moved on to bigger, more sci-fi oriented projects that maintained this focus (Videodrome, The Fly).