Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Matrix (5 Stars)

30 films to watch before you die, #22

A few days ago one of my friends complained to me, saying "Dancer, your reviews never say much about the films you watch". I could write a whole essay in reply to that complaint, but I'll try to restrain myself to a few short comments.

First of all, I object to the word "never". Sometimes I do write lengthy reviews. If you look back over my posts of the last five years you'll find that I'm very erratic. Sometimes I write a lot, sometimes a little, depending on my mood.

On the other hand, it often happens that I don't say much about a film. As I've often pointed out, this blog isn't a film review site, it's a film diary. It lists every film that I've watched since September 2010. If I watch a film five times you'll find five posts about it. That's not something that you would find on a serious film review site. The result, in my case, is that after watching a film five times I run out of things to say. I don't want to repeat an old review verbatim. What's the point of that? My latest post might just pick out one short thing I've noticed for the first time, or I might tell you that it was snowing while I watched the film.

My reviews this month are probably shorter than most, on average, That's because I'm going through my list of 30 essential films for everyone to watch, and I've watched almost all of them (28 out of 30) in the last five years. It should have been all 30, I'm ashamed of myself for missing the other two!

Apart from that, when I watch a film in the cinema I try not to give anything away. My review is usually restricted to telling the reader what a good film trailer would say. Not all trailers are good, of course. Many trailers give away the whole plot. Some trailers are works of art in themselves. I'm sure film students have written doctoral theses on the subject of film trailers. The trailer of the French film "Breathless" ("A bout de souffle") is better than the film itself. The trailer of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope" is a prequel to the film. And the trailer of "The Big Sleep" shows Humphrey Bogart deciding whether or not he wants to accept a role in the film. Those three trailers are all from films that are at least 50 years old. Don't people put any effort into making artistic trailers any more?

And of course, as you noticed in my first sentence, my friend called me Dancer, identifying her as one of my old friends. Most people used to call me Dancer, it's a name I like. My new friends call me Mike. I've been through different phases with different names in my life. At school one of my teachers called me Ken, and the name stuck. At school all my friends called me Ken, which I absolutely hated. I was glad when I went to university and made new friends who called me Mike. But then I went to Berlin and introduced myself as Frank. It seemed cool at the time, but looking back now it was stupid. After that I worked as a D.J. and I called myself Eric. That was a stage name, and it didn't really stick. For years after that I was Mike, until I got my first Internet account in 1995. My screen name was Dancer, and even today, 20 years later, it's still my name in chat rooms and online forums. Sometimes I use Dansator, the Romanian word for Dancer, as a variation. That's the name of this blog.

The friends I've made since moving to Birmingham all call me Mike, but I wish they would call me Dancer. That's the name that best expresses who and what I am, even though I no longer dance as much as I used to. It expresses my attitude.

Now, true to form, I've written a whole page, almost an essay, without saying anything about "The Matrix". That's what you have to expect when you read my blog. I don't stay on topic. That's not the way I am.

"The Matrix" is a film about reality. Does what we see really exist, or is it an elaborate show put on to fool us? After watching it you will never look at the world around you the same way again. The film successfully puts a doubt in our minds. What if.....?

"The Matrix" could have existed as a standalone film. It reached a tidy conclusion and didn't need to be continued. However, two sequels were made a few years later. Both films have been criticised by fans as being not as good as the original, but I would like to defend them. While I agree that the first film is the best, I still consider the sequels to be excellent. If you check my blog you'll see that I gave them both five star ratings. They succeed in expanding the world of the Matrix, and the twist concerning the prophecy in the third film is awe-inspiring. It's worth watching all three films back to back, if you haven't already.

Apart from the sequels to "The Matrix", I can recommend these films which deal with the topic of alternate realities:

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