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Believing Your Own Press

[ 26 ] November 30, 2007 |

Thers asks: “what does it mean that The Matrix, the first one, is a watchable movie, when the dialogue is so astoundingly stupid?” Well, it means that a movie can be entertaining even if poorly written and not very well-acted if it has other virtues. But it also means that some movies of significant entertainment value but limited aesthetic mertis — especially if they have a soupcon of pretension — get inexplicably treated as if they were Works of Profound Genius. And what’s worse is that the Wachowskis seemed to take the highest praise given their decent B-movie seriously, leading to the leaden-paced, interminable, suffused-with-Baudrillardian-wankery sequels. Sad.


Comments (26)

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  1. Shoe says:

    well they had that highway scene, that was cool.
    i guess
    and at least it lead to this

  2. Shoe says:

    ALL of those mirrors are broken. fuck.

  3. melior says:

    Down here that’s known as “breathing your own exhaust”.

  4. norbizness says:

    Next can he explain Tarantino? Start with True Romance and work forward.

  5. Jude says:

    You realize, of course, that the phrase “a soupcon of pretension” has more than a soupcon of pretension.

  6. witless chum says:

    I really, really like the “The Matrix Reloaded.” Seriously.

  7. Dan says:

    At least he didn’t spell it with the weird squiggly c.

  8. washerdreyer says:

    Bound is also good.

  9. NBarnes says:

    I maintain that the merits of The Matrix are very real and that the Wachowskis just got away from them in the sequels.
    Notice, for example, that there is no kung fu in The Matrix Revolutions at all. None. Pretty weird for a series where kung fu is a metaphor for enlightenment, eh?

  10. merciless says:

    I think it was DeMille who said that a great movie is one that has three good scenes and no bad ones. It works surprisingly well as a metric.

  11. Anderson says:

    Start with True Romance and work forward.
    Tarantino is a gifted writer-director of scenes. Just not whole movies.
    In TR, the scene where the killer comes for Patricia Arquette, and they both know it, and they’re both laughing even as she hits him with the phone, is just brilliant.

  12. hilker says:

    merciless, that was Howard Hawks.

  13. Daniel Nexon says:

    The last two films were classic “high concept” poorly implemented. I guess I feel like we have to give them credit for deliberately undermining the conventional messianic narrative of the first film, even if they couldn’t sustain it in the third.
    Or, in other words, Reloaded is actually a decent film, if one that suffers under its desire to “amaze”, its Lucas-like exposition, and its introduction of irrelevant personal conflicts. It only looks like a disaster in retrospect.

  14. DocAmazing says:

    “I kneau kung fu…”
    Come on, lines like that don’t come around every day.

  15. Ultima Ratio says:

    Given how vapid the Matrix series turned out to be, do all those kids who took college seminars on “The Philosophy of The Matrix” lose those credits now? Do they have to go back to school?

  16. Uncle Kvetch says:

    Next can he explain Tarantino? Start with True Romance and work forward.
    And when you’re done with that, you can move on to Todd Solondz.

  17. Lis Riba says:

    Have you ever really listened to the dialog in the original Star Wars?
    It’s a watchable movie, but even the actors were rolling their eyes at the words Lucas had written for them…

  18. Anonymous says:

    1. The Matrix was far better than its sequels. I wouldn’t say that it took itself less seriously, but it didn’t yet have the chance to retcon itself to death. Plus, there was some touchstone to contemporary society (Neo in Office Space) and cinema (the Kung Fu), that gave the viewers a deeper connection, that let us get by with the overall goofiness, and even made it seem cool.
    2. Star Wars bit balls, but The Empire Strikes Back was the single good movie out of eight. It was the one that Lucas didn’t direct. Maybe there’s something there.
    Margeret Atwood is far from my favorite author, but she’s spoken about the genius of middles. Beginnings tend to bore, endings tend to be harder to knit closed than it is to unravel the strands. One of these models fits, the other doesn’t.

  19. Keifus says:

    Godamnit. Love me, read my blog.

  20. They were rolling their eyes when they made “Casablanca”, too. Movies are different from literature, just like a poem is different from a song. There may be points in common– a song can be poetic, a movie can be literary– and both can still be good, or even great, but we should be evaluating the work for what it is, not what we think the form should be.
    For what it is worth, I’d put “The Matrix” on my top ten sci-fi movie list, and maybe in my top five. Keanu is perfectly cast– actually, everyone in it is– and it sucks you in even when you’ve seen it and know what’s coming. The sequels suck because they don’t match the originals comic book zeal.

  21. Karmakin says:

    The sequels are different movies altogether from the first one, and that’s the problem. The first movie’s focus was on pseudo-philosophy. The kung-fu was actually a metaphor for hacking as well as enlightenment. Which kinda made sense. And it had some really great scenes and a satisfying ending.
    The second and the third were hard sci-fi, much of the movies was going way too deep and obscure, as well as revealing the culture of the human civilization (which people REALLY didn’t like). Myself, I was watching the first movie and waiting for the next two.
    One thing that has to be realized is what they were trying to do with the latter two movies. They were channeling the “Final Fantasy” video game series, in a cybernetic theme. The problem is that the themes in those games can’t really be presented in 4 hours.
    Watch the last movie again, listen to the music during the final battle and everything. And listen to the music for the last credits. They were trying to match Nobueo Uematsu almost note for note.
    Mind you, I liked this. I wish they fleshed out Zeon even more, and the squiddie attack is my favorite scene in all 3 movies. But I’m into that stuff.

  22. Steve says:

    They were rolling their eyes when they made “Casablanca”, too.
    “Two cliches make us laugh. A hundred cliches move us.”

  23. witless chum says:

    “It’s a watchable movie, but even the actors were rolling their eyes at the words Lucas had written for them…”
    Harrison Ford is supposed to have said, “You can type this shit, George, but you can’t say it.”

  24. Tom Hilton says:

    Speaking of Star Wars, the one redeemable scene (Yoda vs. Dooku) in the otherwise execrable prequel trilogy turns out to have been ripped off from these movies.

  25. Karmakin says:

    BTW, if anybody wants to know what I’m talking about re: the music,
    One Winged Angel:Advent performed by The Black Mages.
    Actually, oddly enough, when I got home from work today my wife had Revolutions on, at least the ending. Yup. I really enjoy it. The ending is very satisfying to me.

  26. El Cid says:

    The Matrix Reloaded was a nearly identical remake of the 1st one, with everything bigger or more elaborate.
    Ha! They like when Neo fight Agent Smith? Now he fight many Agent Smith!!! How you like them apple?

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