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Viggo Mortensen Goes Full Monty In Eastern Promises

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I saw Viggo Mortensen naked. Okay, so it wasn’t exactly face-to-face nakedness, it was in the movies. I should be happy about that shouldn’t I? I am not.

My brother and I decided to catch up on our Oscar movies, as we were a little behind schedule. Make that a lot behind schedule. We were still scrambling to watch them hours before the broadcast. Luckily Eastern Promises was on Pay-Per-View.

Then again, maybe I wasn’t so lucky. You see, I have a very strict policy against watching anything by David Cronenberg. It all started back in 1988 when I went to see Dead Ringers. On my way into the theater everyone from the previous showing came out shouting, "Don’t see Dead Ringers!” Did I listen? Of course not. I already had my ticket.

They were right though. The movie was creepy, and not in a good way. It was about twin gynecologists who had an inappropriately close relationship. If you haven’t seen it already I’ll just let your imagination run amok. Suffice it to say I was skeeved (although now that I’ve seen Kids and Happiness I realize that I didn’t know what skeeved was).

A few years later I forgot myself and decided to watch Naked Lunch. I got as far as the scene where the wife was mainlining pesticide into her boob before I instituted my non-Cronenberg policy. In all fairness, he did a pretty decent job as the shrink in Nightbreed, and he was absolutely stellar in To Die For as “Man at Lake”, but as far as his directing goes? Eww.

But back to Viggo. He was nominated for Best Actor for his role in Eastern Promises. He played Nikolai, the driver and all-around badass who worked for a Russian mobster in London. He meets up with Anna, played by Naomi Watts, and a fun time is had by all.

I figured, how bad could it be? Viggo is The King after all. And he’s hot. For the most part I was right. There was a pretty graphic scene of a woman giving birth, but all in all it wasn’t unbearable. That is, not until Viggo took his pants off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a hot guy getting naked. The thing is, Viggo went all full-frontal. It wasn’t a love scene either. He was getting the beat down by a bunch of gangsters in a steam room. There was blood. There was gore. There were snapping bones. And in the middle of it all there was Viggo’s johnson flapping in the breeze. It would have been one thing if it was a two second peek, but the scene went on for something like ten minutes. I didn’t need to see all that.

Yes, I understand that the scene wasn’t meant to be titillating. I imagine it was supposed to be some kind of metaphor — nakedness and vulnerability and all that. I don’t know, I’m not that smart. All I know is that if I’m going to see Viggo naked I should be in my happy place later.

I’m over David Cronenberg. Again.

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About Wanda Rizzuto

  • PlanetofJanet

    “…I’m not that smart.” Wanda Rizzuto

    ’nuff said.

  • http://www.wandarizzuto.com Wanda Rizzuto

    Thanks for stopping by PlanetofJanet. Tell your friends.

  • diva

    I’ve read beatings in books many times, and offhand I can’t remember any of them where the person being beaten was naked–and yet, I was able to comprehend the vulnerability of the victim! Perhaps Cronenberg was making a statement about the ability of his audience to perceive that?

  • herechilln

    “…I’m not that smart.” Wanda Rizzuto

    me either.

    But, I agree with Lewis B Hershey, who said:

    “Between a fellow who is stupid and honest and one who is smart and crooked, I will take the first. I won’t get much out of him, but with that other guy I can’t keep what I’ve got.”

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    Cronenberg is one of my favourite filmmakers. I find the ethereal experience of watching one of his films to be unlike anything anyone else does. Watching films for art’s sake makes one more in tune to the metaphors, etc., but watching films with a very surface attitude (“I saw Viggo naked”) can tend to allow more for missing the point.

    That’s fine if that’s what you do, but I’d hate to see you shun a particular director based on “yuckiness.”

    Besides, what would you have had? Viggo, the Russian, take the time to put on a robe before being attacked in the steam bath?

  • http://www.pandemonic.wordpress.com P. Demonic

    Damn.

    I’m with you, Wanda. I’m all for seeing Viggo’s johnson, but only in a positive way. Blood and guts aren’t positive, well, not to me.

    And you ROCK, W.

  • http://www.wandarizzuto.com Wanda Rizzuto

    Hi Pan!

    Point taken Jordan Richardson. What can I tell you? I’m sensitive. I’ve given Cronenberg a chance and he just doesn’t do it for me. (BTW, I wasn’t being facetious when I said I liked him in To Die For.)

    I think I would have skipped the steambath altogehter.

    Thanks for your comment anyway.

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    The steam bath sequence was pivotal in establishing his character and plays right into the little twist later on, though.

    There’s nothing more vulnerable than having absolutely nothing (in this case, no clothes on) and in engaging in mortal combat with two thugs hellbent on carving a new one on poor Viggo. The intensity in that scene was amped up because of the vulnerability of Viggo and because of the risk factor involved. Like the rather messy throat-slashing near the beginning of the picture, Eastern Promises (and most of Cronenberg’s films) was all about the idea of violence as being something threatening and surreal. To exclude the steam bath sequence at risk of offending a few ninnies in the audience would be to strip the focus of the film away, which is something that should never be done by any respected filmmaker.

    Cronenberg as an actor, on the other hand, doesn’t do it for me. He was terrible in most of the films he’s acted in, especially in Blood and Donuts.

    Have you seen Cronenberg’s Crash? Judging by what you’ve said here, I’d avoid it like the plague. :)

  • terry

    I will have to see it some night I am feeling strong. Cronenberg is always worth it in my opinion. Generally speaking I am almost always skeeved by his movies but I admire his ability to create an “entertainment” in the best use of the word and a lasting impression I carry away with me like a bad tattoo. Too many auteur movie-makers just don’t deliver on either criteria.

    Ralph Fiennes in Spider is the stuff of nightmares. I had them before I saw the movie and will have them after, but having seen that movie, I feel a new power over them that I didn’t have before.

  • http://www.wandarizzuto.com Wanda Rizzuto

    Thanks Terry.

    Jordan, is Crash the one where the couple gets their jollies by getting into car crashes? I haven’t seen it. Maybe I’ll bite the bullet and watch it. I’ll get back to you on that one.

  • http://tigereye.wordpress.com Tigereye

    Whew! I was afraid it was just me. I was too stunned by the violence of that scene to even notice what Viggo’s religion is — and believe me, I’d been waiting for a scene like that (well, not exactly like that) since Strider first approached a band of hapless Hobbits several years ago.

    (Maybe no one read the comment policy to that first responder.)

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    Wanda, that’s the one.

  • http://www.stevepeer.net Stevo

    I don’t want to see Viggo’s little Viggo. Thank you.

  • Aniko

    I haven’t seen the movie and I don’t have a planet of my own, so I’m probably not qualified to say much. I’ll just mention that I like the smart and humorous way you express your opinion, and the fact that on the comment thread you engage in an interesting and meaningful debate with someone who also intelligently argues a different position.That’s cool, I think.

  • Nanis

    Insightful article and intelligent comments. Well, except for one.

    Good job, Wanda.

  • http://corinajoyc.wordpress.com/ Corina

    I didn’t see Eastern Promises because I saw the trailer and knew it wasn’t for me. Not even an Academy Award nomination would get me to see it.

    I guess that makes me “not that smart” too. Oh well, at least I’m happy while being “not that smart” and better yet, I’m not smug or mean. So Wanda don’t worry about not being too smart. You’re in excellent company.

  • HermioneO

    I’m a Viggo fan (true confessions) so when he and Cronenberg first got together I got a bunch of DCs earlier films to get an idea of what their project (History of Violence) would be like. While I am a science fiction fan, I’m not really into the whole body horror thing and most of his early stuff was just that. I had already seen The Fly and the Dead Zone (one of my favorite films so it made me hopeful), but I barely got through Crash, Naked Lunch, VideoDrome, Existenz and Rabid and then I stopped. Actually, it was Naked Lunch where I stopped.

    As a result, History of Violence came as a nice surprise. Much more like Dead Zone than any of his other films.

    I also loved him in Nightbreed! Great psychopathic killer. And his killer in To Die For was totally charming with speaking Italian on the phone.

    Anyway, I can say I’ve enjoyed History of Violence and Eastern Promises more than most of his earlier work. Based on the critiques, I understand that almost all of his movies are explorations on identity so okay, that makes me look for stuff. I analyzed HOV more than any other movie I’ve ever seen but I don’t know if that would be a good thing or not. At least it was a new experience.

    As for Viggo getting nekkid – I’m always in favor of that. Doesn’t matter to me if it’s not in a sexual situation – I can change that in my fantasies.

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    #16 Corina:

    Actually, I’d say having the forethought to know that a film is not your personal taste is something that is very smart. Far too often, people go to movies and expect the artists, filmmakers, and performers to live up to their expectations. Instead of experiencing art, many people go to the movie theatre to get what they want instead of to experience what someone else has to say. Knowing that you don’t want to see or experience what is being said in a particular film doesn’t make you dumb or ignorant, it makes you self-aware.

    I wish more people took the time to think about what they want to see and experience. I think that would alleviate a lot of the childish critiques of movies that tend to exist.

  • Candel-abra

    The whole of Eastern Promises was to showcase Viggo’s bod, johnson whatever and sexual prowess. Same as History. Not that I didn’t like his johnson. He’s endowed.

  • Cait

    Fancy meeting you here, Wanda!

    I agree with you completely. I saw the movie recently also (though I can’t say I had much of an opinion on David Cronenberg one way or the other before I popped in the DVD), I gave the film a fair chance and it just wasn’t my bag. As for the fight scene, I was all over the map on that one. I didn’t know where to look. On one hand, there’s Viggo all nekkid and, as you so eloquently put it, ‘flapping in the breeze’ (bwahaha!), and on the other there’s blood spurting everywhere. I was conflicted!

    Then again, I think I do understand the reason for a fight scene like that, showing his vulnerability and all, but it was just a tad distracting for me to enjoy it as a real fight. Overall I enjoyed the movie, but it definitely isn’t on my list of favorites.

  • Movie Fan

    “I’m not that smart. ”

    Self-knowledge is a great thing.-

  • Laura

    If you want a more traditional full frontal of Viggo, see The Indian Runner, directed by Sean Penn.

  • http://www.wandarizzuto.com Wanda Rizzuto

    Cait! How’d you find me? It’s OK, you are always welcome to stalk!

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

  • John O

    I thought there was some sort of ruckus going on here…

  • randy

    it takes a real man with balls to really expose yourself in front of the whole world to see and on record to be played back many times. i would’nt do it if i were an actor even if i was as sexy as viggo, but that’s me. that scene was the most honest real fight sauna fight scene that ever was and he deserved the nomination if not the oscar itself. americans are so hung up with male nudity unlike in europe and latin countries. get over it. the body is a beautiful thing. i wasn’t even checking out his privates but was more concerned during that scene about the knives that would be penetrating my body if i was viggo. that was really scary and believable to me. well done indeed. now that’s what you call great movie making.

  • meriann julia alexia thompson

    i dont know how is the religion of viggo but:elijah wood is roman catholic and lucas grabbel is :baptist……….bye,bye and kisses for everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kelly

    I agree, the full frontal scene was TOTALLY UNECESSARY! He could have been wearing a towel during the fight scene or the camera could have stayed above waist level at all times. That scene WAS added there for titillation and to sell tickets to gays and piggish women. It was exploitave.

    Some feminist types claim that “it’s about time male actors showed it all”, but that is totally unfair! Female actresses never show it all, so why should male actors have to? Female nudity is usually just boobs, which is non-genital nudity and far different from showing a penis, which is full genital nudity. Even in the RARE cases when a female actress does frontal nuduty, her genitals can’t be seen since the vagina is located between her legs. When a woman is frontally nude, we only see her bush, not her genitals. The only equivelant of showing full-frontal male nudity, which exposes a man’s entire genitals, would be to show a female actress naked with her legs apart, thus exposing her entire genitals as well. So how come we never see that in a mainstream film? Whatever happened to “equality”? You can bet we would never see a female actress perform a nude fight scene and roll around in different positions so her genitalia is visible. If it ever did happen, the feminazis would call it “exploitative and degrading” and the MPAA would give it an NC-17 rating. What a croc! Movies shouldn’t show male genital nudity unless they’re equally willing to show female genitals. (and not just bush either) In any case, I didn’t need to see Viggo’s tiny penis and did not want to see it. It ruined his image as a “tough guy” since he has such a small, pathetic, laughable penis. I’m boycotting all films that show male genital nudity unless they also contain a scene with a naked woman letting us see her full genitals too!

  • Medusa

    As to the previous comment- ridiculous. First of all it’s a great scene, just thinking about him filming it is scary and the scene is very well-executed. You hardly see anything- there’s a few split-second peeks while he is twisting and turning all over the place. The camera couldn’t really stay above the waist at all times if you’re being thrown across the room. I can hardly make a towel stay on walking around- you think it would have stayed on AND kept everything covered in a scene like that? And a vagina is more intimate than a penis, seeing how a penis is an appendage. As for your childish and rude comments about him- that is a big reason why people applaud the fact that someone would do such a scene, when they know these sorts of comments will be made. He’s not erect so you really don’t know what size it is- some guys are growers. Regardless he looks great and it’s a hell of a fight scene. How the fact that he is willing to kick ass buck naked detracts from a tough guy image I’m not sure. I had no clue when I put the movie on that this scene was in it so that is not the reason I watched it, but if enjoying it makes me piggish well so be it. Maybe some people should stick with G and PG so you don’t have to get so upset.

  • Shut up

    It is just a penis. If you haven’t seen one… You probably should.

  • http://www.thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com cindy

    Lol