Today in Movie History: April 23

Two films released on the same day mark a quiet April 23. We’ll start with Existenz, David Cronenberg’s exploration of virtual reality, mass culture, and the ability to form a functioning firearm out of dinner leftovers. It stands as one of the director’s stranger efforts — and that’s saying something — but also eerily prescient in its exploration of online media and shared social space (Ready Player One is a more accessible variant on the theme.)

Alexander Payne’s Election, a spot-on satire of the copious flaws on the democratic process as filtered through a high school election. Reese Witherspoon scores a nearly career high as the smarmy, ambitious student angling for victory, with Matthew Broderick as the hopelessly outclassed teacher trying vainly to stop her. It seems almost quaint by today horrific standards, but its points remain no less pertinent.

Both films opened today in 1999.

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