I don't know what it is, but it took me till now to realize that The Brood is one of my favorites out of Cronenberg's filmography. I don't think I ever got around to responding to your post demonrail (sorry, been busy) but I understand completely about you finding his work to be cold and whatnot. I'm just not sure if he's truly a great director or anything. I find the themes he explores fascinating... especially with something like The Brood. He does a solid job when he's illustrating some type of illness that emanates almost unwittingly from the person's body. I thought the special effects were usually impressive in his films and the womb that was attached to the woman's body towards the end of The Brood (I believe this was done through the "psychoplasmics" mumbo jumbo that the film deals with) looked genuinely disgusting and real. Well, her biting into it and licking the fetus was the part that was a little gross. But anyways, nice little movie. I wouldn't say it's that special but one I wouldn't mind watching again (keep in mind that I had already seen it numerous times. I'm not sure why but it grew on me a little more with each viewing).
And obviously he has changed now compared to what he was doing in the 80's. I think Cosmopolis certainly distances the viewer. I find that Cronenberg has something in common with Stanley Kubrick in that they either glorify violence or simply aren't aware that their films seem to do so. A Clockwork Orange indisputably does so, despite being a film I admire for many reasons. Apparently, Anthony Burgess was given a special invitation to see the film and he walked out! apparently he said it missed the point of his novel. I suppose it depends on how sensitive one is. I understand it was a controversial film at the time and I think even today seems like something out of this world. It still looks as though it's from the future. That's what makes it brilliant to me. But I find that from a human level, these two directors may just lack the ability to pull every character together if that makes sense. They seem to get carried away in that world or something. I'd have to watch Cosmopolis again to get a better grasp though.