Monthly Archives: March 2009

eXistenZ

So I finally watched a David Cronenberg film that didn’t blow me away. Actually, let me rephrase that. It blew my mind – like all Cronenberg movies – but I just don’t think it really worked.

A little background: ever since watching Crash a few years ago I’ve been steadily working through his catalog. He is one of those rare directors that makes intelligent, bizarre films that seem to work on all levels: writing, dialogue, performances, cinematography, awesome Howard Shore scores (if you only know Shore from the LOTR scores, check out music from Crash and Videodrome). On my recent trip to Portland I came upon a wonderful little store called Strange Maine, where I found a bevy of cheaply-priced VHS tapes, which I ravaged, walking away with a sackful ranging from Don’t Torture a Duckling to Sunday in the Park with George. I also picked up eXistenZ, which was at the top of my list. It had a killer cast, promised old-school Cronenberg mind-bendingness, how could it go wrong?

Well, here’s how. From the beginning, the acting and the dialog across the board is as stunted and cartoony as anything from Scanners (which I tend to forgive because it was early in its career). The opening scene features a cheering crowd of extras that look and sound like they’re from a badly dubbed anime. In fact the performances are so silly that some have questioned if it were intentional, reflecting the dubious-nature-of-reality-theme in the film, but I think that’s a bit too convenient of an excuse. This weighs heavily against the typical Cronenbergian imagery in the film; the pulsing fleshy game controllers, technologically-constructed bodily orifices, and horrific mutant animals become more ridiculous than intriguing when framed and elucidated by awkwardly-delivered lines. It becomes camp and, even if it were intentional – which I doubt, it is not good camp.

Edelstein notes that eXistenz came after a series of “calamitous receptions” to such films as Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly, and Crash, which is why the film seems to be some sort of Videodrome-lite. I don’t know if I’d characterize those films as “calamitous”, since Naked Lunch and Crash quickly developed cult-status, but I understand his search for a reason for this film. The film is still adventurous, it is still complex and provocative, but it quite simply doesn’t hold together, even with the added touch of there being fourth wall commentary on the feebleness of the plot, and its lack of cohesiveness, which acts as a lazy deus ex machina.

eXistenZ an oddity in an otherwise near-perfect oeuvre, made even the more odd by its normally-stellar cast. You just get the sense throughout the movie that they don’t know what in the hell they are supposed to be acting about, and one can hardly expect the audience to be sold on it if the actors are not.

Mafoo’s one-line sum-up review:

eXistenZ is a good movie to get baked, watch with a group of friends, and then compare to the Matrix afterwards.

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Noon Links

Jim Webb is doing the Lord’s work.
Torture is not torture when we are the torturers torturing. Get it?
Watch Mos Def slowly unravel with a few delicate jabs by Christopher Hitchens.
Tiny synth, MIDI controller, sequencer, sampler, onboard fx, built-in mic, motion sensor, and a freakin’ FM radio? I can’t wait for the price so I can cry myself to sleep…
I wanna be a baconographer.
Bushy eyebrows are back, finally

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Protected: The Little Death: Vol. 1 (FOR PRESS ONLY)

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Sensible Marijuana Legalization Debate on CNBC


(via RB)

For the record, I don’t smoke pot, but I have – like our last three presidents – in the past. I do, though, see it squarely as a civil rights issue. Obama’s glib dismissal of the will of the people really pissed me off. There is no reason for the law to be on the books, and there is a wonderful opportunity here to help ease the massive strain of the recession. Wake up man!

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Weekend Carnage

What’s going on America??

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Little Death Show and Subsequent Mini-Vacation

I just returned last night from Mell and my post-Little Death vacation to Portland, Maine. I’ll include some pics here from both the show and our trip, as well a link to the full album. Enjoy!

The Show:
(thanks for the action shots Marbot!!)

“Something… happened…”


“You’re like… God!!!”


“to… me…”


“And you know Jesus is my best friend!”


“Pe-ne-traaaa-tion!!”

The Hang:


After-show glow

Dinner at Sammy’s with the Folks:


Mystified by the seltzer


Mell in her Linda Richman shirt.


Steak it up Wil!!


We found ourselves in the midst of an impromptu bat mitzvah!

Trip to Maine:


You know you’re out of NYC when the truck stops have NASCAR romance fiction…


Lobster cages in Portland


At J’s, drinking an Amber


I look like I’m trapped in an ad for either beer, eyeglasses, or eyebrow tweezers…


Delicious oysters on the half-shell


More drinkin’. Yummy Bloody Marys!!


Melly, unsure of her first escargot endeavor


I’ma gonn eat you Pinchy!


This is how you pull the head off of a steamed clam.


Our adorable hotel.

Here’s the link to the full album or you could just view the slideshow:

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The Little Death Vol.1 Reminder!!

Just a reminder to come check out my opera, The Little Death Vol.1 this Friday and Saturday night, 9:30 each night.

Here’s that info again:

The Little Death Vol.1
March 20th and 21st, 9:30PM
@ The *NEW* Tank – 354 West 45th Street (in between 8th and 9th Ave.)
Tix are $10

Check out songs from the show here

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