Sunday, August 8, 2010

#2. eXistenZ (1999)

DVD Synopsis: Exciting stars Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dolores Claiborne), Jude Law (Gattaca), and Willem Dafoe (Speed 2, Affliction) challenge the boundaries of reality in this futuristic, critically acclaimed adventure thriller! During the first closed-door demonstration of an amazing new virtual reality game called eXistenZ, the system's brilliant designer, Allegra Geller (Leigh), is violently attacked by a crazed assassin intent on killing her and destroying her creation! Forced to flee into hiding, Allegra enlists a young assistant (Law) to help her in testing the damaged system ... by convincing him to join her inside eXistenZ! The action then explodes as their world's real-life dangers begin to merge with the fantasy of the game! If you're ready to play, it's now your turn to plug into this powerfully entertaining hit!

A few years back, I spent a couple of weeks delving into the films of David Cronenberg, a director whose body of work I was hopelessly unfamiliar with at the time. Of the six or seven Cronenberg movies I watched, eXistenZ stayed with me the longest. 

I think the reason why had something to do with those game packs that the film’s characters used to “enter” the game. In an intriguing twist, Cronenberg created gaming systems that were as alive as the players playing them; constructed from organic tissue, twitching and breathing as they themselves responded to the game play (at one point, Ian Holm attempts to repair Jennifer Jason Leigh’s damaged system using a scalpel and sutures). 

It was a fascinating gimmick, one that added another layer to an already slick and engaging story (which, I’m happy to report, loses none of its magic on a second viewing).


anthonyleecollins said...

"which, I’m happy to report, loses none of its magic on a second viewing"

I can attest to that, since I saw it four times in theaters and bought the video the day it came out. I reviewed it here:
(Click under the "spoiler alert" for more.)

Dave Becker said...

@Anthony: Excellent article! And the "Spoliers" are pretty intriguing.

Thanks for sharing it, and for the comment.

Jill Durocher said...

Had never heard of this movie before seeing it discussed here. Watched it and found the premise interesting, although some of the effects come off as quite amateur. Loved the ending.

Dave B. said...

Jill: Thanks for stopping by!

I'm glad you enjoyed the movie, and while I agree the effects are somewhat weak in parts, it didn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie.

Thanks again!

Juan Esparza said...

eXistenZ is such an underrrated movie. It's one of Cronenberg's best and one that not many fans of his know about. It was released a few months after The Matrix, so I'm sure that's part of the reason why it was so overlooked. Too bad it didn't have The Matrix's budget, otherwise it could've been a hit... or maybe not. This is much more complex than The Matrix.