A while back I heard of a book The Film That Changed My Life: 30 Directors on Their Epiphanies in the Dark by Robert K. Elder. Elder sits down with 30 different directors and lets them each talk about a film that changed the way they looked at films and, in some cases, made them want to be filmmakers.
I believe that this epiphany isn’t restricted to filmmakers. With this feature I want to interview bloggers/people from all reaches of the internet and let them talk about that movie that made them first realise that movies was going to be this big thing in their life.
Here’s a feature I’ve been holding for a long while, apologies. A little over a month ago I sat down with Ryan Helms and we spoke about Glory and three weeks ago I sat down with Aiden Redmond from Cut The Crap Movie Reviews (follow him on twitter and on facebook) to talk about one of the movies he loves, The Matrix. Check out the conversation below:
Me: This week you wanted us to talk about The Matrix. The film first came out in 1999. When was the first time you saw it? Did you actually see it in the theatre at that point?
Aiden: I did see it in the theatre. I was in seventh grade. My dad and I went to visit my grandparents and they went to bed early and we had nothing to do so we went and watched The Matrix. I must’ve been around 13 or 14, and I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was rated R and I was too young to see it so I was excited. It was one of those mind blowing experiences.
That’s the thing about The Matrix though, not a lot of people saw it when it was actually out in theatres and so I kept plugging it and telling everybody to go see it, and no one saw it until it came out on DVD and they thought I was the coolest person ever because I discovered it back when it was actually in theatres and I dragged my Dad to see it that one time, then I dragged my Mom to see it because I convinced her that it was like the Terminator movies so she took me and she wasn’t that enthusiastic but ye. It was just wild; partly it was the action, the whole thing was just new. It was eye-opening. I never know was cyber-punk was before and my whole science-fiction knowledge kind of boiled down to Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey and those I didn’t even get, but this was a total milestone for me. The whole idea that the world we live in is just this manufactured existence and to wonder what that’s really like was really cool.
Since the first time I saw it, I got the movie for Christmas the next year on VHS and I must’ve watched it 30/40 times. I’m not even exaggerating. If I watch it again I’ll probably watch it 2 or 3 times. But I was hooked on that movie, it’s like when you see Memento for the first time and you’re just like “I gotta see that again” and I can tell you that it all just soaks in since there’s so much there.
Me: The whole idea of this series of articles is that this is the movie that made you realise that movies are more than just popcorn fun, so how did this movie affect your view of films at that point?
Aiden: Well I was pretty much the target audience. The video game junkie, 13-year-old boy who’s obsessed with that kind of stuff to begin with; but by the same token I felt like there was a certain thing to be expected in movies. For a long time my favourite movie was Braveheart and it was big but at the same time not affecting and it was this big real life story, like that there’s a certain structure to be expected and I felt like The Matrix completely rewrote that. These days I feel it’s remembered more for the “bullet time” and Keanu. But it was really all the ideas that floored me. These were ideas that came completely out of left field, this is stuff that after going through movies like Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner. I’m also just reading a book called Neuromancer by William Gibson and that’s just like reading The Matrix and all these inspirations that came before it that tie into a whole. It’s crazy that it keeps going back to The Matrix for some reason in my mind.
It’s hard to say what it was about the film, but it just blew me away. It was just completely new and it wasn’t that it was like this or that movie that I’d seen before, so that’s why it sticks out. I knew then that I had never seen anything like this before and I will gladly watch this another hundred times if my parents keep paying for the ticket price.
However, by the same token the movie set the sequels up for failure but that’s always a debate I keep having with people.
Me: I’m a forgiver of the sequels because I enjoy them as action movies but they don’t hit the philosophical level that the first movie does…
Aiden: That’s a good point
Me: and the thing about it is that I can imagine in 20 or 30 years in the future someone will look back on this film the way we look back on movies like Blade Runner, where a lot of people look back and just see a really focussed element which people discovered in that movie and ended up influencing a lot of movies after that and just not liking the film on the whole and saying “that’s where it came from”. That’s what I think about The Matrix in that the “bullet time” technique was rehashed into every science fiction action movie you could find…
Aiden: Oh my god! They milked that. I felt like the same thing with “bullet time” with every movie after The Matrix. The thing with that is that even with Reloaded and Revolutions they did it. They took the same scenes, actions, techniques from the first movie and were just going “oh, let’s do that again since people liked it so much.” I only saw Revolutions once and they had a scene where they go into a night club and they’re fighting people then she does that same kick from the opening of the first movie and I was just thinking “that’s not cool anymore”
Me: It was basically a call back to just three years ago, and we remember that.
Aiden: Ye, and the wonderful thing about The Matrix was that it was something you had never seen before let alone something I’d seen in a previous chapter of its own franchise.
At the same time I think you might’ve actually hit the nail on the head, the first movie had so much there and I wonder how people are going to look back on it. Like is it going to just seem trite even though it’s the thing that started the trend? But ye, the substance that was in the original just wasn’t present in any of the sequels for me. But then again the highway chase scene in Reloaded was awesome.
Me: As I said, the action in those sequels is still great.
Aiden: Ye, but it just wasn’t enough; and then they got The Architect and I was just thinking “what the fuck?” Maybe if I watch it again I’ll understand it a little more, but I watched that like four times after it came out and each time I told myself to focus and listen to what this guy is saying and every time I just couldn’t get him. Then came Revolutions with the whole “Neo is Jesus Christ” thing and the fight scenes look like they’re from Dragon Ball Z; it was just too much.
Me: There were definitely moments where they felt like they were writing to be clever and overly philosophical too much…
Me: but it’s kind of like someone loved Sorkin too much and decided to write a Sorkin-esque script and just went way too far.
Aiden: It’s that the technology is just so good in the first film and put to such good use and the ideas are all there and all they’re all supported. Then the second one is just “let’s try that again” but they end up just confusing people more and pawn it off as being smart, then the third one is just trying to end it all and out to make more money, or … I don’t know.
I remember I saw the third one in theatres with my friends in High School. Every once in a while we would all go out to a movie and one time we say Kill Bill Vol. 1 and we said “we should do that again”, then we say The Matrix Revolutions and I remember we all hated it except for this one kid who was saying “I really liked it” and eventually we got into such an argument that it he said “you know what, you guys can go home, I’m not going home with you guys” and we were his only ride so he had to call his mom who would come in like two hours. But you know what; it was the The Matrix so you had to see it. But then you heard all this build-up on MTV for it, and how they asked Keanu something like, “why is this the best Matrix movie yet?” the only thing he had to say was how The Wachowski Bros. spent months creating showerheads with bigger holes so that the rain could be bigger and if that’s the one thing you have to say about this movie that’s sad.
Me: Sticking with the first movie. It’s been twelve years since it first hit theatres. When you look back on it you definitely look on it with a positive light and as this moment in your life where you thought that you’re going to love movies forever. Do you look back after all of the movies you’ve seen up to this point in your life and developed certain criticisms of films in general do you remember things in The Matrix that you would have not liked if you were to have watched it for the first time today?
Aiden: I think I’d be a little bit more critical of the acting. I mean, it’s Keanu. But by the same token it totally works. What’s a better place to put Keanu outside of Bill and Ted than having him act in a robot world where he can act like a robot the whole time? It totally works.
But, it’s hard to be critical of that movie. I still think if I were to watch it for the first time today that I’d say it’s F-ing amazing. I still think the technology holds up.
Wait, one thing, I’m dead tired of action movies that use slow motion to do action scenes. To be honest one of the reasons that bugged me about Watchmen was the slow motion ballet choreographed hallway fight scenes. I think it takes away what I think is cool about fight scenes. It’s why I liked that scene in Oldboy, the uncut hallway one against thirty fight scene in that movie is the best fight scene of the last decade. I just hate it when fight scenes are over stylized like that, but at the same time I think that’s a direct result of The Matrix. People started doing that once they saw The Wachoskis do it so F-ing well, and that being the lobby shootout.
Me: Thinking more about the technology and how this movie broke ground with film technology and thinking of the idea of the movie being made today. I was re-watching the movie and I remember seeing the same Lobby Shootout scene and it came to me that if this movie were to go into production today we would have James Cameron on hand producing and it would be in complete 3D. What do you think about the 3D meshing in with the whole technology background of this movie?
Aiden: Oh my god that’s a whole other conversation man. It would absolutely be in 3D and it would be a bigger cash cow than the sequels. That’s a sad thought man. I wouldn’t be surprised if down the line every TV comes with 3D and buying one without 3D is like buying a VCR without a DVD player in it. If that happens then it’s eventually going to be in 3D and they’re going to re-release the trilogy or something, but it’s stupid.
As is, that’s not why it’s so stunning. It’s everything other than “wow it looks like the bullet’s going to hit me in the face”. It’s everything else that you’ve never seen before in a movie.
Me: So, out of curiosity, eventually when they re-release this in 3D will you be at the cinema?
Aiden: Ye I probably will be. I’m not going to lie. I’d hate it, but I totally will be there. It’d just be totally awesome to see it on the big screen again and I feel like a lot of people did not see this on the big screen, at least the first one. But, fuck 3D dude.