02/25/15 8:00am
02/25/2015 8:00 AM |

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Vivacious Lady (1938)
Directed by George Stevens

Jimmy Stewart excels in everyman mode in Stevens’s nimble RKO rom-com as botany professor Peter, who marries Ginger Rogers’s nightclub singer within hours of their meeting. The newlyweds’ weakness for each other (a near-kiss at a microscope eyepiece stands to make one feel self-conscious) adds a pre-coital high colour to the amusingly wholesome motive that motors the film: monogamy. What’s holding them back from being husband and wife is the backdraft of their secretive, ill-conceived schemes to have Peter’s reproving, provincially influential father approve the precipitate match. Rogers’s economy of movement becomes the fast-talking, farcical form, while Stewart, whose Peter gets drunk during class, hones his well-known Philadelphia Story routine. Thirza Wakefield (Feb 25-27, 1:30pm at MoMA’s “Acteurism: Ginger Rogers“)

01/21/15 11:00am
01/21/2015 11:00 AM |


eXistenZ (1999)
Directed by David Cronenberg
Staging an interdisciplinary war between the Realists and the gamers, Cronenberg is at his finest here since Videodrome, coalescing the hypersexual, the grotesque, and the visceral. Jennifer Jason Leigh is Allegra Gellar, a designer-on-the-run, and Jude Law is Ted Pikul, her cagey bodyguard—who just happens to be one of the few people without a MetaFlesh Game Pod, which hooks directly into your nervous system. Ted gives in, plugs in, and is empirically thrust into the game—an amniotic sac pulsating with absurdist hyperreality. Cronenberg’s characters are aware of their own characterhoods; it’s a collaborative reality. The game-urges and the effect of virtual life on our real lives are so cleverly simulated and boundlessly relevant nearly two decades later. Samantha Vacca (Jan 23, 24, midnight at IFC Center’s Cronenberg series)