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eXistenZ review

I love David Cronenberg movies. I don’t necessarily like some of them, but I love all of them.


You see, Cronenberg is, to me, a shock artist. A man that pushes things a bit further with each film. Pushing at the ‘allowable’ limits until they are permanently stretched. And I love that.

His films are fiercely bizarre and intelligent, they are strange and provoking... And no matter what, they are not like anybody else’s films.

When I first heard that Cronenberg was being given an assload of money to make a science fiction film, I just squealed with joy. What sort of new vile and sick thing would he make me joyfully behold on screen. Ya know, just the very idea that these images of his get to be seen by a mass audience.... well, it’s just some damn wonderful.

I went into ‘eXistenZ’ thinking that I was watching it to be reviewed on SISKEL AND EBERT. I was sitting alongside my father, and together we were the only people in the theater. A rather scary thing... sitting in a giant empty theater... Just you and the movie. It feels a bit hollow, you have to imagine the audience. You have to create your own energy with which to respond to the movie.

I sat there, in my seat, and awaited Cronenberg to provoke a response from me. It’s how I watch all Cronenberg films. Will it disgust me? Will it enthrall me? Will I be turned off or on? What thoughts will course through me?

Personally, I can’t wait to see the ‘MATRIX’ crowd’s reaction to this film. In a lot of ways it deals with similar issues about ‘virtual reality’ but here... Your own thoughts, your own fears and beliefs enhance the Virtual Reality you are in... It moves the story forward.

There are so many things going on in this film that you can not pick up on the first viewing that it forces you to want to see it again. Right now... After I know what has happened in the film, I feel the strong desire to go see it again, to see how many layers there are. You know how in TIME BANDITS.... in Kevin’s room... nearly all the key images that take place over the course of his adventures are there? You know how in THE USUAL SUSPECTS everything is there in that interview room, if you can only piece it all together?

Well, after a single viewing, I think... but I am not sure.... that this entire film is teeming over with foreshadow and representations of motivations from characters throughout the entire film. To fully appreciate this film, I think it is going to take further study.

HOWEVER, that being said, I really believe this is a wonderful Cronenberg film. My favorite theme expressed in this film is the idea that virtual reality is a masturbatory fantasy of constant ejaculations. It really is beautiful. When you see Jennifer Jason Leigh cooing and begging to ‘plug in’ and the umbilical cord-like interface into the fleshy unit (which if you look closely is actually an evenly colored representation of a breast, a nipple and... ummmm... other clefted areas and scrotum-like images) that pulsates as she strokes it ever so slightly. While ‘IN’ she seems to be having a constant flow of micro-pleasure spasms... But... this whole ‘virtual’ world is really just a scuzzy version of their already pathetic lives that they are getting off on.



The story of this film is very complex, and finally done with an extreme amount of intelligence. The gore is top of the line. The gross-out factor is in tilt. And the weirdness level is pure Cronenberg.

About the time you see one character lick their finger then insert it and pump it a couple of times in and out of the other person’s DATA PORT... And then you realize the film did get just an R rating, then you can celebrate along with me that CRONENBERG IS A GENIUS! You see... Those folks at the MPAA had to be going around in circles pulling their hair out trying to find a way to give this film an NC-17 for that scene... BUT THEN COULDN’T!!! Hhahahahahahaha

Way to go Cronenberg! I love it when one of the good guys can get away with murder by using their ol noggin. It’s kinda like watching films like THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, and you realize that this movie came about at the height of the RED SCARE, and is truly criticizing the mass hysteria over communism. And the film and Robert Wise... Got away with it.

Here Cronenberg is getting away with some very graphic images that then cry out for us all to wonder... “If he can get away with that... Then why can’t Kubrick’s EYES WIDE SHUT get an R?”

You see... It’s important that filmmakers are given the full latitude to express whatever is in their mind’s eye... And that is what Cronenberg celebrates. Whether it be head explosions in SCANNERS, giving birth to a giant maggot in THE FLY, the phallic stretching of the gun from the lower abdomen in VIDEODROME, the licking of an open wound in CRASH, the sucking of a Mugwump’s seminal head penis in THE NAKED LUNCH and so on. He is absolutely one of the most important genre filmmakers working today. He tells intelligent stories with verve and refreshingly unique angles. He can provoke a reaction from you that... well... leaves a life long impression when the screen goes dark.

If you want to see a film unlike the other virtual reality films (Johnny Mneumonic, Tron, Matrix, The 13th Floor, etc...) this one really makes you think about what we are trying to accomplish in this kind of ultimate wet dream universe. Should we really be trying to create an all encompassing simulated reality that we can exist in? I mean... for all the times STAR TREK played with their holodeck.... Other than Barclay and that Geordi episode... Did we ever get into what this was?

If you didn’t have a job or a girlfriend, but you had this little unit you could plug into... and suddenly you could be Mr Stud with Betty Sue and her best friend Kooshie.... Well... Would you come back to reality?

The best film for dealing with this sort of thing for me was SOMEWHERE IN TIME, where Christopher Reeve... well, you know what happens, but... There are a lot of issues here that are touched upon. If we were in an emersive environment of total reality... Could we deal with the actual reality in which we lived? I do not know.

And neither does Cronenberg, but ya know... He does ask us the question. He does show the ugly side of it. And God bless him for it.

This is a movie I’ll be seeing again.... and again. Enjoy...

Oh yeah... I forgot in all the hub bub about Cronenberg to talk about the acting in this film. Kudos go out to Jennifer Jason Leigh, who really did deliver a wonderful character. Aside from all her cooing, she just nailed the whole, "I'm a computer goddess" thing to a T. Her hair was fantastic! Now I know that sounds weird, but it's something I don't usually notice (except in STAR WARS trailers) but Jennifer's hair style is pretty damn kickass. I loved it. Makes ya just wanna... Nevermind. Jude Law was surprisingly quite convincing... and as a matter of opinion, he was very good. In fact, I loved his character. However, my fave character was Ian Holm.... next to the SPECIAL at the restaurant and the wetting of the finger... The next thing I took with me was his character. Oh... oh ... oh yeah, I almost forgot! Willem Dafoe was fantastic as the mechanic. Ya know... the film is filled with wonderful performances throughout... but like I said, keep your eyes peeled in this film, and never put your brain on neutral. There's all sorts of cool things afoot if you look for them (and even if you don't!)

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