Runtime: 1h 37m
Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ian Holm
Initial: I had been meaning to rewatch eXistenZ. David Cronenberg’s birthday last week was a good excuse.
What Did I Think:
I first watched eXistenZ back in 1999/2000-ish when it came out on video. At the time, I had watched and enjoyed a few of David Cronenberg’s movies, but I wasn’t strongly familiar with his oeuvre. It’s so much easier to be a film fan these days: with subscriptions to a few streaming services, I can watch nearly the entire body of Cronenberg’s work. In the past, maybe I could hunt down titles at my local video stores. If I lived in a film-centric town, maybe I could catch a retrospective. If I studied the TV guide, maybe I could catch something more mainstream like The Dead Zone at 1am on TBS.
I recall being somewhat underwhelmed by eXistenZ after that first viewing, mostly because I was judging it against its peers. Science fiction of the late ’90s/early ’00s were filled with alternate and dual realities. Against the likes of The Matrix (1999), Dark City (1998), or even Strange Days (1995), it doesn’t quite pack enough punch. And I still feel this way. eXistenZ isn’t quite focused enough to stand against those movies or the rest of Cronenberg’s filmography.
What is always interesting is the Cronenberg version of reality. The game eXistenZ is announced and introduced to its beta testers not in a darkened theater with Power Point slides, but in what seems to be a church basement, the name written on a chalkboard (not even a white board, the low-tech techie favorite). Who is Cronenberg’s world-famous game designer? Allegra Geller, a woman! Truly, we are in some sort of fantasy movie.