Thursday, October 16, 2003

Fun With Baseball

After their defeat last night, I'm trying not to watch the Cubs play now and trying not to get excited as the score keeps turning over. I don't want to watch. I just want to know when it's over.

Went DVD shopping today and picked up Quills for $5.99. I've wanted to see this, not only for the prospect of Kate Winslet in little or no clothing, but I also heard it was a fairly good movie. I also got some tripe called The Matrix Reloaded. When I saw Matrix in the theater, I remember thinking how awful it was. Utter crap. Then I saw it again, and it wasn't quite as bad. Still bad, but not as bad.

Which is really funny, since I liked the first Matrix quite a bit.

Here's my take on Reloaded. It was too aware of itself. The first movie, like the first Star Wars film, was a shot in the dark - a "let's make something totally different and see how people respond to it." Most of the time, films like this are regulated to cult status ("Rocky Horror" comes to mind) or become obtuse cultural phenomenon, something that happens once and then goes away ("Animal House.") Occasionally, the directors and writers and studio producers and bean-counters all get together and say "hey, we can turn this into a good money mill!" Because films that make money are good, films that mean something are better, and films that manage to combine the two are the best. So when they have a commercially successful film of artistic Quality, they jump on it. Athletic women in tight spandex doesn't hurt, either.

And that's what happened with Matrix Reloaded. They knew people were going to come see it, and they knew what those people liked about the first movie. Wire-fu action mixed with pseudo-philosophical and pseudo-religious flavors. So what to they do? They have to top the first movie by creating even more wire-fu action and adding more philosophical and religious stuff. And that is where they failed (this same train of thought can be applied to the Star Wars trilogy and its prequels as well). Because when people aren't watching and aren't paying attention, you don't have to pander to that audience - you can be experimental and make the film you want to make. You can add as much religious thought as you think fits into your little world. When they like it, you can't just do the same thing in the sequel (well, I think you can, which is why I'm writing this in the first place) - you have to give them more. So you get religious-orgy scenes that carry on far too long, and Eurotrash guys with strange accents rattling on about stuff covered in a Freshman philosophy course.

And it all falls apart on itself, because it's so self-aware. And those of us who didn't just come for the guns and spandex are disappointed, and don't necessarily want to watch the third movie. I'd much rather see Return of the King. Am I going to be there anyway? Sure. I'm a tool, I admit it - because I'm intrigued enough to show up and see how it ends. Am I excited, am I going to dwell on it and talk about it around the water-cooler with my friends? Nope.

So I guess they end up happy - after all, they got my money. But you'd think that people would have enough pride to attach their names to a quality product, especially when they know that so many people are going to watch it. If I was in their position, I certainly would.

Maybe that's my fault - because I do care what others think about my artistic work.

Bah, the Cubs are down by 4. Stupid Cubs.

What I'm reading: still haven't found a book yet.
What I'm listening to: Bic Runga - Sway
What I'm going to watch tonight: Either An American In Paris or Matrix Reloaded.

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