Recommended: MindFuck Movie "Cypher" (2002)

From: "Rev. Ivan Stang" <>

Date: Sat, Apr 17, 2004 12:54 PM

There's been a string of movies with this theme:

Everything you know is wrong.

In some of them, the guy one day finds that all of reality has, all
along, been a completely different thing than he ever suspected. In a
variation, the guy wakes up to find that, while reality is still the
same, HE is actually somebody else, and HIS life has been completely
faked up to that point.

A partial list:

They Live
Total Recall
Dark City
The Truman Story
The Matrix
Yellow Sky
The 6th Day
Fight Club
Jacob's Ladder
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

There are others that I'm not thinking of. There are related forms of
reality-bending movies like "Altered States" too. I haven't seen
eXistEnz or however you spell that.

Anyway, I saw one last night that I'd never heard anything about:


Apparently unreleased in the US!

We got a very good DVD-to-DivX copy from our mischievous British
circle-making adopted son, and as soon as I figure out how to make up a
fake name, I'll find someone nearby to post it on monter.

I was about to supply a capsule description of this unexpectedly
KICK-ASS movie, which is more Phil Dick than any of the Phil Dick
movies so far, but when I looked at the IMDB for details on it, I found
these already done, all of which I pretty much agree with.


Andrew Leavold
Brisbane, Australia

Date: 16 April 2004
Summary: CUBE director returns with a more paranoid "What Is Real?"
A virtual paranoia conspiracy thriller that outdoes the entire rash of
Phillip K Dick adaptations (imagine Total Recall without the Arnie
bluster) and the resulting Dickian Matrix trilogy minus the biblical
gumph and obnoxious arcade visual gymnastics. Corporate agents and
double agents abound in Vincenzo (CUBE) Natali's cold, gray, metallic,
overtly symmetrical world imbued with the existential cyber-angst that
only the new Century could predict. Lucy Liu turns in a remarkable
emotion-charged emotionless performance as the conduit between virtual
and grim reality, but Jeremy Northam carries the entire film on his
"Who am I, and how many am I?" predicament. Almost too cool for school;
John Woo, I hope you're taking notes.

London, England

Date: 11 April 2004
Summary: Well worth watching
If you want to see an intelligent, stylish espionage film (with a
touch of SF), this is a must-have DVD. Utterly engrossing, and with
superb visuals and performances (especially from Jeremy Northam), it's
worth watching several times (and I have!)- on each viewing, more
little hints and details become apparent. Some people are not keen on
the ending, but I had no problem with it myself- it ties up everything
perfectly well (which works in this film, just as the lack of
explanation in Natali's Cube worked perfectly for that film given it's
themes). While some scenes and plot devices will be reminiscent of
other films, this never detracts from enjoyment of this film. Michael
Andrews' score also deserves a mention, perfectly matching the moods of
the story and visuals.

rennes france

Date: 26 March 2004
Summary: a post-modern thriller
I was rather disappointed after watching CUBE also directed by
Vincenzo Natali. But CYPHER is much less awkward. The credits moment is
graphically perfect, the photography really cold and the plot rather
complex and intelligent, not to mention the sound engineering and the
music which fits the global aesthetic: cold electronica sounds and
synthesizers. This is a perfect illustration and fictionalization of
the post-modern theory of information. One data for a thriller: power
is linked to information. The one who holds information holds power.
Hence this data traffic with a lot of decoys, lies and delusions.
CYPHER is aesthetically coherent and really clever. Watch it and try to
guess how it ends.


Date: 26 March 2004
Summary: Vincenzo Natali follows up the best science fiction movie of
the 1990s with another stylish and intelligent mind blowing experience!
Vincenzo Natali's feature debut 'Cube' was in my opinion the best
science fiction movie of the 1990s. By "science fiction" I'm not
meaning Star Wars style space opera aimed at 13 year olds, but mind
expanding storytelling in the tradition of Philip K. Dick, Robert
Silverberg and William Gibson. Or movies like 'Bladerunner', 'Brazil',
'Dark City' and 'eXistenZ', and yes (just in case you think I'm a
mindless Lucas basher) 'THX 1138', a movie which Natali incidentally
cited as an inspiration for 'Cube'. It's been a long wait but 'Cypher'
is certainly worth it. This is a very stylized and cerebral film which
Natali describes as being "Kafka meets James Bond", and he's not
joking. There have been a few Philip K. Dick adaptations in the last
few years but they always seem to lose the quirkiness and intelligence
of his work and degenerate into big expensive action movies. 'Cypher'
isn't actually based on a PKD story but in many ways it's the closest
thing to his fiction yet seen on a movie screen. Apart from the two
leads the cast is made up of Canadian character actors, which gives it
a freshness missing from many contemporary Hollywood productions.
'Cube' co-star and long time Natali friend David Hewlett has a
memorable role as the creepy Vergil Dunn, keeper of The Vault. He gives
one of the best performances in the movie. Incidentally, also keep an
eye out for a brief cameo by Valerie Buhagier, star of Bruce McDonald's
cult favourites 'Roadkill' and 'Highway 61' in one of the conference
scenes. The main stars are unusual picks. Brit actor Jeremy Northam has
appeared in a few big American movies but is still pretty much unknown
to most audiences. He uses this to his advantage and gives a terrific
performance. I honestly can't imagine anyone else doing this difficult
role any better. Lucy Liu plays the femme fatale part to perfection.
Maybe she's just trying to get indie cred by appearing in 'Cypher', but
who cares when she gives a good performance in a great movie. Plus she
looks damn fine! 'Cube' has already become a cult favourite, and
there's no doubt in my mind that 'Cypher' will do the same. I think
audiences will be discovering both movies for years to come. Vincenzo
Natali is shaping up to be one of the most exciting genre directors
currently working and I'm really looking forward to what he comes up
with next!

Da Cunha 11
Cornwall, England

Date: 10 February 2004
Summary: Intelligent, devious sci-fi at its best
Cypher is a little know sci-fi that when released in the UK, didn't
appear to get much further out than the M25. Which is a real shame, as
it's a genuine, intelligent film with a fantastic, '24' like twist and
turn story line. Set in the near future, in a world of corporate
espionage and the value of data being the most important thing of all,
we follow the lead character, Morgan Sullivan, played by Jeremy
Northam, into a world of mind numbing, and later on, mind bending
conferences. Where he keeps bumping into an intriguing fem-fatal,
played by Lucy Liu, who appears to hold the answers. While the film has
a slow start, and you may find yourself wondering why this man who has
signed his life away to the corporations, is going to conferences about
perfume and cheese sale in Midwest America, things soon develop into
something you really don't expect.

The film is punctuated by extremely effective, blasts of noise and
images, that the audience experiences along with Sullivan. Giving
clues, and leading to the conclusion of the film which presents itself
as a truly thrilling sci-fi. You wouldn't expect it. Intelligent,
devious sci-fi at its best. 9/10

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