At first, this meta-production about the process of artmaking is both breakneck and funny. Resnais seems to be skewering the fact that each actor can’t simply experience a fresh perspective on their work without taking back control of their “characters” and overpowering their peers with a louder staging. As each actor inhabits their original roles, they become more immersed in the spotlight of performance, more gleefully obsessed with reimagining their past. Resnais’s fluid camera, faux digital backdrops, and jarring editing flourishes (split screens, vignetting, and quadrants abound) further illuminate the artificiality on display, and for a while the film plays brilliantly.
But You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet is no satire. The darkly comic tone of the opening scenes turns self-congratulatory rather quickly, becoming a veritable hangout session between Resnais performers selfishly reinvigorated by old material. The final act is especially vapid, celebrating the talent of A-listers and ignoring the upstarts in desperate need of attention. What matters most to You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet is the death's-doorstep reaffirmation of importance, a final pat on the back before the house lights dim. This is Resnais’s Ocean’s 11.
Obviously influenced by the elder Cronenberg’s much explored themes of body horror and deterioration, Antiviral is a nasty bird. The antiseptic white mise-en-scene is often splattered with blood that seems to darken in color as the film progresses. Fleshy horrors abound, like the growing herpes patch on a key character’s face, or the edible celebrity cell steaks harvested from star’s DNA. As a commentary on the escalating fetishism of celebrity culture, Antiviral smartly incorporates the most ghastly details in the narrative background, markers of a society slowly eating itself. Cronenberg shows his age in the film’s second half, twisting the narrative so much that it takes away from the brilliantly disturbing mood. But there’s plenty of talent on display in Antiviral, and not simply because the younger Cronenberg has nicely merged his own messed-up world with that of his father’s.
Zeitlin has a brilliant eye for set and costume design, establishing a dynamic sense of a place that feels like it could split apart at any second. But the heavy-handed symbolism and militant ideology are off-putting from start to finish, simplifying a 99-percenter's perspective into an angry and reactionary stance. Some have labeled the film Malickian, which has unfortunately become a safe way for a critic to describe anything lyrical or poetic. But Beasts of the Southern Wild is no The New World, lacking Malick’s understanding of grace.