May 17, 2003

The Matrix Reloaded

Big sprawling sequel. Wonderful in many ways, although I got a bit of "kung-fu fatigue" by the end. The second show was on the IMAX screen at the New England Aquarium. Great sound, and a screen so big I was counting every pock on Laurence Fishburne's face...

matrix2The EKW Review: I liked Reloaded very much, even though (d'oh!) I ran out to the ladies' room during Cornel West's cameo, dang. I loved the way they make references in simultaneously subtle and obvious ways, and how they change elements of the material they allude to so it fits the story the Persephone character, for one. That "death by chocolate/chocolate orgasm" joke was was the "Freud is God" Architect character...everyone else thought the Zion-rave scene was too long and boring, but I loved it. I would've cut out the conversation between Neo and that folksy-leprechaun-counselor guy, with the George Lucas-ian wardrobe. I loved the whole long sequence on top of the truck, such a great play on the stock "battle atop a speeding train". I just liked looking at the hem of Neo's duster, frozen in time.

N: I thought the French character (Persephone's partner, whose name I missed) was amusing, but his monologue made little sense to me.
Yeah, it was hard to pay attention with that Inspector Clouseau accent...he's The Merovingian, a reference that's both historical (post-Roman, pre-Charlemagne kings of France) and mythological (there's this whole story about how the bloodline is descended from god/jesus/atlantis, that sort of thing)...more importantly, I thought, his wife is Persephone, which would make him Hades, god of the underworld, who kidnapped Persephone and tricked her into eating six pomegranate seeds, etc., in greek mythology. In the movie, he's the liar and she's the truthteller (helpfully denoted by the respective all-black and all-white outfits, right?), which really throws off the whole question of what is "truth" in the Matrix, when everything may be preordained as part of the program, etc. The Merovingian is the one who yammers on about cause and effect, but of course in a preordained universe there is no choice and the chain of cause and effect can't be altered...anyway I think he is just an obstacle, a red herring, to throw Neo off the track, and then Persephone changes things by helping them...or maybe that was part of the plan also, who knows?

matrix3N: I didn't get the orgasm-via-cake joke at all.
I am really fascinated with the sexual imagery in this second movie...when I look back, the first film was filled with images of birth, or rebirth. this one is all about sex, and the double meaning of orgasm as "the little death." I predict the third movie will be, therefore, all death all the time. ;P the film opens with Neo foreshadowing Trinity's death while they are in bed, and then that same image returns as she "dies" in his arms...then of course at the end he saves her from death by literally reaching inside her, and then of course he "dies" (goes into this coma state) himself. the Merovingian scene with the dessert is a play on that same idea of the relationship between sex and death, and of course cause and effect -- didn't you think at first that the cake he gave that woman was poisoned? that he was describing how she was going to die from its effects -- pulse racing, etc? He seemed to be saying he could poison and kill her anonymously through the matrix code, an untraceable cause and effect. but no, in fact he manipulates her by giving her an orgasm from across the room -- that animated sequence of matrix code racing up her thighs (to the "door of light" -- give me a break!) totally blew my mind! I kept thinking, nobody else must get this or else this would be rated NC-17! well, that and the lipstick joke, anyway... >>:P

N: Ditto with the Architect-- I think I understand that the history of the resistance has been repeated six times - which makes it 600 years old instead of 100- and the machines allow Zion and The One to evolve each time as a pressure release for the minds which resist the Matrix? Does that agree with what you heard?
I have to see it again to understand what the hell's going on there...I was trying to look at the little TV screens in the background, plus I was chuckling over the fact that the architect looks just like Sigmund Freud, so I wasn't at my sharpest. What I took away from that scene was that everything about Neo is just part of the Matrix after all, I.e. the myth that he is the savior of humanity is a flaw that is getting worked out of the system, albeit a little less successfully with each iteration of the program. George brought up an interesting point, though -- is The One always Thomas Anderson/Neo, or a different person? If it's not always him, or maybe even if it is, it may be that his radical choice (the righthand door) will change things up after all...who knows, it's all about reincarnation and how hard it is to change your fate...

N: Everything you just said is relevant and interesting and true, but most people who see this movie have no clue about any of that.
Oh i disagree -- sure, not everyone cares about the subtextual references, but that's all they are, subtextual. on the surface, the scene is about manipulating others, and it underscores how Neo and everyone else are being manipulated. if that is too subtle, then you can just watch Monica Bellucci and next time go see Bad Boys II instead. >:P

N: When Persephone deliberately puts on lipstick before kissing Neo, I assumed the lipstick was "written" as some kind of poison as well.
Yeah i thought that too...BUT i didn't mean that lipstick joke, i meant when P. tells hubby "It was the lipstick," not the lipstick on his mouth, though...heh. maybe they're supposed to be like the Clintons or something!! :D

N: When the Architect gives Neo the "choice" of the 2 doors out of the TV room, I forgot which door was which-- secondly, was it Neo's right or the Architect's right? thirdly, it didn't help that the room was round and identical all the way around?
Yeah, like i said, that scene remains a little impenetrable to me...

N: Speaking of Neo's dreams of Trinity which begin the film-- They felt out of place to me. I bet the Wachowskis placed those action-packed scenes at the beginning, because if they were not included, the first action sequence would not start until 10-20 minutes into the film, and everyone would be itchy for something to happen!!
I think it's helpful to think of the movie as an animated (as in brought-to-life) comic would be cool to see a flash-forward like that on a comic page, and nobody would flip ahead in the book to see what the hell it meant...movies make us impatient because they keep spelling out the story, whereas print allows you to come up with your own ideas and then slowly reveals the story. that said, while i liked the Trinity sequence in the beginning, they did NOT need to revisit it identically later on, for the idiots in the audience, "Oh I see, that's how she drops the motorcycle on the guard station! Woah!" sheeeesh...m. (May 17th, 2003; Framingham Premium Cinema (with Kevin) and June 21st, 2003; IMAX Presentation at the New England Aquarium)