Tag Archives: movies

Spoilers (none contained)

Okay, this isn’t going to be some revolutionary insight. More the domain of stating the obvious. But still.

If you know me, you probably know that The Matrix is my favourite movie. Like, ever. I can’t imagine ever liking a movie more. I love it for so many different things and on so many different levels, that it would take an entry of its own to point them out. When Alqua & Colt were here and the conversation crossed The Matrix, I surprised them by pointing out a little design detail about the movie which they didn’t notice before – and that’s the thing, you don’t notice it (unless you’ve seen it as often as I did), but it all adds up to a whole. Oh my. I feel the urge to watch it again just from writing about it.

Oh, and don’t ask me which of the three I mean. There was only one. Then there was some Matrix-themed ad-lib fan fiction which was accidentally released as full feature movies. Let’s not talk about them. Or, let’s, when I finally remember to post that translation (from German original) I made of an excellent recension of the “trilogy”, which really put up the three movies (no-no, there was only one!) against each other. I already spent two paragraphs talking about The Matrix when it totally wasn’t what I intended to talk about. Happens every time. But now you have an idea of the passion I feel for that film.

You may also know, that roughly from 2000 to 2008 I was a very avid filmgoer (apparently, that’s indeed a word). Almost every Saturday night I’d be sitting in a cinema with a friend, watching some new movie. Or, in some very rare cases, watching a movie we’d already seen, again. Yeah, we were that crazy. Now don’t mistake me for some French-arts-“the black lamp shade in the background symbolizes concealed feelings” type. I was, and am, always happy to ride the blockbuster-/entertainment-train. Like most people, in fact (that’s why they’re called blockbusters, doh) – most people just won’t admit it. If the movie turned out to be crap, all the better, we’d rip it apart sitting at Burger King until 3AM. If it was great, we’d … basically do the same, only with a positive connotation. Or rip apart another one, that failed to be as great. You get the picture.

There was one thing I came to hate during that time, and that is movie trailers. You see, we’re slowly edging closer to the topic. I was fine with teasers – a few disconnected frames from the upcoming film followed by a release date to, basically, just notify you, that something is coming up. Great. But then the release date would come closer and we’d get into the domain of trailers. And not just the sort that gets shown on TV, but those full fledged 2-3 minutes long (sometimes even longer…) previews, which could technically rather serve as a review. And as a regular filmgoer, you’d have to watch them over and over again, especially in the last few weeks/months before the advertised work would hit the theatres.

It’s the nature of the medium trailer, that you have to pick the best stuff from what you’re advertising. You want to lure, and you lure with cake, not with bread. So, essentially, by the time you’d pay for the ticket, you’d have seen all the best scenes and heard all the best jokes several times already. All that’d be left for the actual movie, was putting them into the right order and filling the gaps with .. the stuff they thought themselves wasn’t really that hot. And then the actual plot. See, pretty much every plot, no matter how intricate, can be summarized in 2-3 minutes. Yes, even Lord of the Rings, if you try really hard. And that’s what trailers do. They try really hard. You’d know who the good guys are, who the bad guys are, what they’re conflicting about, what the problem to solve is. Of course, the resolution would be left out (usually). But that doesn’t really make things better. The resolution rarely is the gem of the plot. The interesting part is the problem itself, the setting, the setup, the conflict, the history, the riddles and the hurdles. All things trailers happily give away to wet your mouth. The resolution mostly boils down to “hero wins”, and although he might do that in an original, clever and spectacular way, or sometimes not even win at all, this is not what drives the movie. We don’t sit down for two hours for the sake of the last five minutes. We want to enjoy the entire ride.

And now the two, so far apparently disconnected topics discussed here join together. The Matrix (1999) was the movie that started off my passion. It is what made me into a filmgoer in the first place. Which means, I wasn’t going to cinemas before. Which means I haven’t seen any trailers. All I saw was a TV teaser in which Neo famously dodges a bullet followed by “What is the Matrix?”. When I first sat down in my cinema chair to watch it, I actually didn’t know what the Matrix is! Every line of dialogue, every action scene, every special effect were provoking a “whoa, that was AWESOME!” response in my brain.

Today I visited YouTube and it recommended me to watch The Matrix Trailer. And I did (and instantly desired to see the movie itself again). While being who I am I’ll of course point out, that The Matrix contained so much awesomeness, that there is still a metric ton left unshown, I can’t but wonder if I’d liked it as much as I did, had I been bombarded with that trailer beforehand.


The cygnet asked me questions

Visit her and she might ask you 5!

1) What led to your interest in basket ball?
There are several perspectives to it. In either case, it’s important to point out, that I have become a rather calm sports follower. I embrace the positive. I acknowledge the negative. But I don’t go over the top with either. Used to cry about tennis and football results when I was younger .. much younger .. it’s just not worth it.

The historical:
In the mid-90s, I found myself in a school where my classmates were mostly basketball-interested. As usual, to be able to stay in the talk, I read up a little (without internet – ugh!) and picked a favourite team – the Miami Heat. No one else was particularly into them, they had a cool logo (burning ball through a ring), players with cool sounding names (Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway) and a hot city to originate from – what else can you ask for!
I played a little myself, but was never really gifted. Unsuited hands.

The qualitative/comparative:
The great quality of basketball, from my point of view, is how much and how directly success relies on individual and team effort. Both. At the same time. The greatest superstar won’t win anything without a team to support him. The greatest team won’t win anything without a superstar to build around. Neither will succeed if they are not determined enough.
In basketball, the team that mails it in, loses. Invariably. You can’t win on a lucky goal, because you will be 30 behind by the time it happens, if you don’t compete from the start. If you don’t give effort. All your talent won’t win you a thing, if you don’t put your heart into it.
The separation in roles isn’t as stark as in many team sports. Everyone needs to defend to some significant extent. Everyone needs to be able to make a shot when it matters. And, this is what’s wonderful, it matters all the time. You can watch a wonderfully exciting football game with many fantastic actions that lead to nothing, and it will be decided by an awkwardly shot free kick which caroms off three random people and somehow rolls over the line.
A basketball game consists mostly of plays that succeed, rather than of those that lead to nothing. That includes defensive plays, which can actually succeed, too, because gaining possession in basketball is great in itself. In football it means nothing, because opponent possession doesn’t mean anything either. Through basketball’s high probability of scoring, the act of successfully preventing the opponent from scoring becomes much more significant. Defence isn’t just a bulky obstacle in front of a theoretical chance, but an active component.
Plus, and this is highly subjective, I find basketball to be highly aesthetic. We’re talking NBA-basketball here, mind you. Which leads us to…

The informative:
I love statistics. And NBA-basketball offers lots of statistics, which, you know, actually say something. And that’s important, considering most of the games I never get to actually see due to time zones and network availabilities – a paid service I’d only get to use half a dozen of times would not be a good deal. So, it’s really good, that the NBA, ESPN and others (South Florida Sun-Sentinel for example) offer such deep and exhaustive coverage for things that were, things that are and some things, that have not yet come to pass. All the information, commentary and highlight blocks make it that much easier to follow things without actually being able to watch things.
As a side effect, reading all that also helped and helps a lot in improving my English.

2) So the servers are down for a good week…. and you enter a library full of every type of book you can imagine, fiction and non-fiction. What sort of book do you opt for – and in what language?!
“How To Fix The Servers”! Ahem .. no, seriously…
There’s so much I feel I missed/miss out on, a week would not be enough. Especially since I’m not a fast reader. Not because I can’t read fast, but because I tend to re-read passages I found well written.
I’d like to read all works by Tolkien, just because. All the (popular science) books by Stephen Hawking, because I find it fascinating and extremely interesting. A few writings by Asimov at least, because he’s supposed to be awesome, but I have not read anything from him. Orwell, same reason. A thing or two from Robert A. Heinlein, to see if “Starship Troopers” was a one-hit, or if he has other, equally pointed looks to offer, too. Would not turn down a book or 10 on programming languages, programming guidelines and the likes, either. And then re-read everything I liked!
The language is easily chosen. If the original work is in a language I know, that is, German, English or Russian, then, please original language. If it has to be translated anyway, then I’d rather have it in German (a mistake I made with “Simulation and Simulacra”, tackling it in English – struggling with dated metaphors and intricate ideas in a still-foreign language the original wasn’t even written in was a bit too much in the end).
Oh, and bringing the servers down won’t be enough. You’ll have to cut my line and every line I could get access to. Otherwise, I’d just program and read about basketball *grins*

3) The red pill or the blue pill? Why?
Huh. That’s a hard one. Of course, xkcd offered an answer recently. And of course, you are expected to jump up and yell “red, of course, I want to know the truth!”. But if a sentence contains two “of course” already, it’s obviously too easy a way out.
All Morpheus is “offering, is the truth, nothing more”. Do I want to know the truth? Do I want to know every truth? The whole “no one can explain what the Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself” deal is only a metaphor for the fact, that once you learn about something, you can’t just unlearn, when you find you don’t like it after all. So, do I take the risk?
Of course, in Neo’s case it’s rather trivial. He spent his entire life looking for this, searching for this. He’s been a semi-outlaw, he had a run-in with authorities, just yesterday, because of that. He’s been living for the sake of coming to this very point. Now, when Morpheus offers him “I’ll tell you what it’s all about, or I won’t – your choice”, it would have been rather comical, if he said “oh, never mind, bring on the blue”.
So, ultimately, I think it’s not the question what I seek, but where I come from. Will the truth give me anything, or will it just take away? Am I happy with what I am, where I am, how I feel, how things develop? If I feel I know enough, do I need to know more? Maybe it’s blue then …. but then again, how to know if what I know is enough? How to assume to know enough without descending into the ignorant hypocrisy we’re all quick to condemn in others?
What am I doing here in the first place? I wouldn’t have come to ask, if I didn’t think I need to hear the answer. Back to the above, I can’t unlearn. If I know there’s something to know, can I stop thinking about it, because I choose to? If Neo takes the blue pill, he will forget the evening, their meeting, but he won’t get rid of his continuous discomfort.
When I have that nagging feeling, that “splinter in your mind, driving you mad”, then, there is no other way than to run the gauntlet and face the truth of the red pill. Maybe it will make things better, maybe worse. But if I don’t, I’ll never know. And I’ll know, that I don’t know.
So, in the end, it’s red again. If I’m at the point of being asked, I’m there for a reason. And the reason can’t be any other than that I wanted to take the red pill from the very beginning. Just like Neo.

4) What would be your perfect meal and in what setting would you choose to consume it?
Ah, here I’m going to take the cheesy (and the easy) way out and say that it’s all about the company. The taste won’t make it. The view won’t make it. The ambience won’t make it. They might ruin it, but they can’t make it. What will make it, is the other person, or the other people, who sit at the same table.
That’s it. Some answers are short.

5) If you could change just one thing about yourself what would you opt for?
Discipline. That’s really the one thing I’d like myself to be better at – significantly better.
Make no mistake, there’s lots of areas I could wish myself to be better, or different in. But then I wouldn’t be me any more. I wouldn’t have had the life I lived so far. Hey, maybe it would be better. But I wouldn’t know. It would be another guy sitting here, reasoning about things now. Not me. I am the sum of all my traits, all my experiences, good or bad. And I don’t wanna miss a thing.
Except, discipline. Discipline makes everything easier. Everything. No matter what you dedicate yourself to. I know, being more disciplined would, of course, also have shaped me and my life in a different way. But that’s such a great gain, that I’d take the risk. Just this one risk. The red pill of self shaping.


There are movies you like for the actors who were in it. And then there are actors you like for a movie they were in.