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Posts Tagged ‘Jude Law’

(Part 28 of an Ongoing Series)

existenz03

You have to play the game to find out why you’re playing the game. It’s the future, Pikul. You’ll see how natural it feels.

Allegra  Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh)

Maybe The Matrix is King Shit of ’99 Mountain, but in some ways, eXistenZ totally out-1999’s it. Where The Matrix has a little Cronenberg in its human embryo battery baths, eXistenZ actually is Cronenberg, so its hardware throbs and squishes so intensely you can taste its disease. And while The Matrix is Philip K. Dick for the multiplex masses, drawing a stark new boundary between “reality” and reality?, eXistenZ is way more Ubik (perhaps the Dickiest of all Dick’s 438 novels), glitching the “reality”/reality? border so often the word “mindfuck” practically loses all meaning.

In one of its myriad meta-moments, a character claims to detect a strong “anti-game theme” within the movie’s virtual reality world. Yet although eXistenZ quivers with its own marrow-deep paranoia about virtual reality, ultimately it’s not above having fun with it. Instead of ending with a Matrix-like triumphant call to action, eXistenZ ends with a scream, a shrug, and a cackling middle finger.

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(Part 11 Of An Ongoing Series)

Don’t you just take the past and put it in a room in the basement, and lock the door and never go in there?  That’s what I do.

Tom Ripley (Matt Damon)

1999 was teeming with movies about people desperate to reinvent themselves (Fight Club, American Beauty, Boys Don’t Cry, Being John Malkovich).  Yet of all those movies, only Boys Don’t Cry was as heartbreaking as The Talented Mr. Ripley.

We sense early on that Tom Ripley’s awkwardness and duplicity mask much darker demons, but we’re still pulling for him.  Thanks to Anthony Minghella’s sympathetic vision and Matt Damon’s sensitive portrayal, we want Tom to find a place to fit in and a person to love him.  We’ll even root for a bromance between Tom and Jude Law’s stupendously charismatic Dickie Greenleaf, despite Dickie’s formidable douche-breath.

Alas, Tom smashes our hope with just a few strokes of a paddle.

Apparently this happens differently in Patricia Highsmith’s book, where Ripley commits a more premeditated murder.  But Ripley’s a vastly more fascinating character when his story turns on a crime of passion rather than one of cold-blooded calculation.  Here he’s not just a sociopath- he’s a sociopath wrestling with a lost little boy, and we see that fight in his eyes every time he’s threatened with discovery.

Ripley’s villainy, pathos, and ingenuity create a disorienting cocktail of emotions in the movie’s second half.  We want Ripley brought to justice, yet we want him to find peace, and we get off on watching him use his wits to weasel off the hook.  And when we see what he has to do when he finally finds someone to love him- when we realize this troubled young man will probably never become the person he wants to be- the amount of pity Minghella and Damon are able wring from our souls is utterly diabolical.

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I think I need some existential detectives in my life.

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