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copyright ©1999-2000

flick pick | eXistenZ 1999
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Willem DaFoe
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:
action-packed, artsy-fartsy, disturbing

Plot synopsis Sometime in the future, human beings actually elect to have bioports – think a big ethernet connection – inserted directly into the bases of their spines. These bioports allow them to plug into virtual reality gaming pods (pulsating, fleshy, creepy hybrids of living creature and machine). Allegra Geller, reclusive hotshot game designer, has invented the ultimate VR game, eXistenZ. At a focus group test run of the game, a fanatic sneaks in and opens fire at Allegra. She manages to escape, along with a young marketing trainee named Ted who, in the chaotic confusion, gets assigned as her bodyguard. The would-be assassin isn’t operating alone, though – it seems that Allegra’s been marked as a target by a secret underground anti-VR group. As the two flee, plugging into and out of their pods in an attempt to understand what’s going on, the line between reality and virtual reality becomes increasingly blurred.

Review Cronenberg makes really weird movies (Crash, Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers). eXistenZ (that’s pronounced EGGS-iss-TENS) came out in the theatres just after the Matrix, and, in an attempt to bank on that other sci-fi cyber-thriller’s box office success, was marketed as its indie alternative. There’s no comparison, really; while the Matrix is, at heart, an adrenaline- packed action movie boasting stunningly choreographed fight sequences, eXistenZ is an intellectual’s film, art-housey to the core, with little in the way of fancy special effects (it relies on excellent acting, a tortuous plotline, and beautiful camerawork instead). And while the Matrix depicts technology/virtual reality as stylishly cool, a slick product of metal and machine, the VR world of eXistenZ is, in fact, remarkably organic. Messy, teeming, and oozing, it’s a place where machines throb and beat like living things, and humans can plug-in to them via umbilical-cord-like connectors. What's living? What's not? What's real? What's virtual? And what's the difference? This is a movie that plays mindgames – with the characters as well as the viewing audience – and because the constant plot twists are truly unpredictable, you’ll be sure to be entertained. But all the while, you’ll work your mind overtime trying to get a grasp of exactly what’s going on, and what it all means.



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