Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I enjoyed the Judeo-Christian-Zen-Buddhist-sci-fi epic The Matrix as much as everyone else did, but I think some of the performances were actually quite shabby, and parts of the script are just beyond lame. eXistenZ uses a similar gimmick, but in the form of a multi-player virtual reality video game. And instead of waging a kick-ass proxy war against some evil, real-world force while humanity hangs in the balance, the players explore some of the more nuanced issues that come up when dealing with ultra-real virtual worlds, and the question of whether what we are seeing at any given moment is really happening or not (and what that question even means) becomes increasingly difficult to answer. This turns out to be a lot more fun than watching Keanu Reeves learn Kung Fu. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Allegra Geller, the impossibly attractive video game designer who guides Ted Pikul, a marketing trainee played by Jude Law, through the mysterious plot of the game. They have great chemistry and writer/director David Cronenberg somehow manages to make the act of hooking themselves up to the game something that is strangely erotic. As much as I want to play a game like eXistenZ (strange casing because "isten" is the Hungarian word for God) or hang out in the holodeck from Star Trek, I seriously doubt the technology will ever get that far. But if it does, then I hope no one ever has to ask: "Hey, tell me the truth... are we still in the game?"