Posts Tagged ‘Philip K Dick’

(Part 28 of an Ongoing Series)


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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Shane Carruth’s first film Primer cost roughly $47 and might be the most realistic time travel movie one could possibly make, the way it spirals helplessly from banality to chaos. Now with Upstream Color and a slightly higher budget, Carruth’s captured what it must be like to peek inside the four-dimensional blueprints of evolution. Only this time the mood isn’t dominated by Philip K. Dick-ian existential techno-terror, although there’s plenty of that; now there’s also gorgeous strokes of Terrence Malick-ish cosmic awe, and a divine reassurance that, despite whatever frightening unknowns lie ahead (or behind, or above, or below), we’re not alone in this.

Primer was one of the few movies I re-watched immediately after my first watching, and I was tempted to do the same with Upstream Color. I got about 15 minutes into my second viewing, long enough for certain images to re-trigger new ideas and shed light on a few of the myriad mysteries. But I had to stop. I realized I could’ve easily been hypnotized, ending up in a loop constructing Möbius strip paper chains, emptying my bank account, and losing myself in Walden philosophy. And there’s only so much frightening majesty I can handle in one day.

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(Part 12 of an ongoing series)

What you know, you can’t explain.  But you feel it.  You’ve felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world.  You don’t know what it is, but it’s there.  Like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.

Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne)

Here was 1999’s most primal fears and profoundest hopes, blown up to mythic, millennial proportions.  Philip K. Dick’s “How real is this?” existentialism for the multiplex masses, jacked up a few levels from Blade Runner and Total Recall.

A summer blockbuster so horny to mindfuck the world, it couldn’t even wait for April to shoot its load.  Arguably, the most tech-savvy action that cinema’s ever seen.  (And to think, it “only” cost 63 million bucks.)  Sci-fi that feels soaked in sex appeal (despite the fact that no one ever gets past first base.  Must be all the black leather and late-90s electronica).

The dreaded sense that Big Brother’s already sucking our souls from within a digital fortress of illusion- but also the galvanizing faith that we can turn this very same fortress into our own sandbox of the gods.

There may be a select few movies from this year that I “like better,” but the truth remains: The Matrix is King Shit of ’99 Mountain.

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