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The Dream Machine --- The Imagination of the World Wide Web
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Sleazy TV executive Max Renn is looking for cheap, exciting programming for his fly-by-night channel when he stumbles across a fuzzy satellite feed. This shows torture, punishment, and possibly murder. A conspiracy is afoot as two competing groups fight for the 20th century's soul, using airwaves as their battlefield. Renn searches for the truth, while obsessed by an on-air chanteuse. David Cronenberg didn't only direct. He also wrote the screenplay, which is quite obvious as the plot itself has his fingerprints all over it. This is a very odd story, but it has a message behind it all. I see a story line that shows the danger of television, exploitation of violence and sex, as well as the human curiosity we all possess. Some viewers may see the violence and sex to be nothing but meaningless 'torture porn', but it's much more. It may be disturbing, but none of it is for absolutely no reason. Everything seen on screen has its purpose in the film and is necessary to the plot. The entire purpose of this type of horror/thriller is to make the audience feel uncomfortable and engross them in the insanity unfolding in screen. Videodrome accomplishes this from start to finish. There's quite a bit to dissect here and could easily result in multiple views from this alone. David Cronenberg has created a film that actually makes one think and actually have to use one's brain. The movie truly messes with our minds and makes us question what's real and what's nothing but a hallucination. If only there were more pieces of cinema that utilized such a mentality.
As the insanity occurs, the leading man James Woods does quite well. Not all of the dialogue is top notch, but Woods fits as Max Renn. Not only does he look the part, but is rather convincing. I didn't watch Videodrome knowing very much about it and it was a surprise to witness James Woods in such a film. Alongside Renn is the sex interest, Nicki Brand. She's performed by Deborah Harry. She has been a very talented artist for many years. She does well in Videodrome, as well. The audience doesn't get to learn about her character in depth much, but she certainly displays a certain charm that nobody else could have fulfilled as Nicki Brand. Similar to the screenplay, the acting isn't perfection. However, it fits the atmosphere of the film and it works.
David Cronenberg's Videodrome is an incredibly raw flick. From the acting, to the writing, to the atmosphere. This gritty look fits the visuals as the sex and violence occurs. This leaves the audience feeling a very unsettling feeling. No matter how good technology becomes, I will always enjoy the visual effects seen in film such as this one. I will always prefer it over excessive use of CGI. Those who are familiar with the style of Cronenberg should know exactly what to expect as far as the visuals go. Videodrome is provided with solely a LPCM Mono mix. While the audio won't immerse you this track is solid. The dialogue is very easy to hear and I never noticed any distortions throughout. Those who are interested in the Blu-ray release will be very pleased with the Criterion release.
Those who have seen and enjoyed other films by David Cronenberg and enjoyed them are sure to have a blast here. However, if this isn't your type of movie and you haven't seen one of his flicks, this might not be for you if you aren't into odd filmmaking. Those of you who are interested in seeing something different and extremely strange are in for one hell of a ride. It's not perfect, but it's a very creative entry into the Cronenberg library and Criterion Collection. Videodrome has a very specific audience, but those who enjoy David Cronenberg's type of filmmaking are sure to be pleased with the results.