The Matrix — past, present, future.

So, The Matrix 4 (The Matrix Resurrections) is on its way (possibly before Christmas?!?) and it seemed like a good time to go back to the past and revisit 1-3.

The Matrix (1): Quite possibly the best movie ever made. I could watch this every day until the end of time and still enjoy it every time. (I watch it at least a few times a year, still.) Kysa and I saw it 18 times in the theater when it came out (a number of those at that old cheap theater on 51st or 52nd [NYC], where people brought like whole meals in with them). It still holds up. The story is fabulous, the filming is fabulous, the… EVERYTHING ABOUT IT IS FABULOUS. Also, Keanu is just such a stunning specimen of humanity. Trinity kicks so much ass in this flick. Cypher is such a perfect (AWFUL) idiot. Morpheus is just the right amount of mysterious and not downtrodden by the horrors of this world. I know the entire plot of this movie like the back of my hand and STILL: the fight scenes are fantastic, some of the drop dead moments (Trinity’s hand on the phone booth as she vanishes while a truck inches away; the moment she sees the homeless man turn on the platform) are still SO satisfying even though I know they’re coming. “YOUR OTHER LEFT!” How hilarious that they even use an old TV trope like that one. Neo’s glee at learning karate. When he HOLDS THE HELICOPTER UP. The gun reveal in the lobby. Tank and Dozer. Gaaahhhhh there’s so much about it I love, I could write an entire book about it.

Matrix 2 (The Matrix Reloaded): Wow, so bad. How is this even made by the same people? The scene where Neo fights like 400 agents = looked SO INCREDIBLY FAKE. It basically seems like suddenly the same people who made brilliant, unbelievably wild fight scenes in the first movie just can’t use technology anymore?!? The sex scene seemed basically gratuitous. The Neo worship and prophecy doesn’t really seem to make sense here. If he’s meant to change things, and he’s here, then… where’s the change? All the spooky illogicalness of the first movie is just sliding down a slippery slope here. I remembered bits and pieces of this movie, but it was so awful, I’m pretty sure I only saw it right when it came out and then never again.

Matrix 3 (The Matrix Revolutions): When you thought Matrix 2 couldn’t get any worse… The whole plot with the Merovingian seems ridiculous both because it makes no sense and because of the ridiculous acting. The ghost twins seem to only use their power sometimes–there’s a whole bunch of times in that highway scene, they could have materialized into another place and ended the entire situation. The explanations by the keymaker and the oracle and the architect and all the other bajillion random people explaining the Matrix to us did not make any sense whatsoever. A lot of the stuff in Zion also makes no sense. The grody bug machines seem to kill off at least 2/3rds of Zion, at least most of its army, and yet the dance sequence at the end could have (probably did!) used the same strip of film as the one at the very beginning–no visible decrease in Zion’s population whatsoever. I remembered almost nothing of this movie and I CAN SEE WHY. It sucked.

So…. fingers crossed for part 4?!?!?!?

Big Screen: No Time to Die

Not your typical James Bond movie. Far darker and insidious than those movies have been in the past–despite the evil, rule the world, kill everyone mentalities of the villains, which has always been there. This time it felt more like Bond had joined them in their vendettas, as well as other members of MI-6, and it was pretty unsettling.

Definitely felt like Daniel Craig said “I’m going out and Bond is going down.” I read an interview where he said he had always tried to portray Bond as someone who realized that he deserved consequences also, that he (as Bond) realized that he himself had done some pretty unscrupulous things in the pursuit of annihilating other unscrupulous people.

It felt a bit drawn out to me. I don’t think Bond movies are really known for their editing, and I think they could have lopped off a bit of this one.

I would recommend you watch the last (prior) installment before going to this–I really didn’t remember the girlfriend from that movie very much and she’s a huge part of the plot in this one.

My favorite part was Bond’s wall-less, somewhat modular (unattached rooms?) home in Jamaica. I know the presence of bugs would drive me INSANE to live in a place like that, but man it was really visually stunning.

Big Screen: French Dispatch

I did enjoy some things about this movie. There are some hilarious, very typical Wes Anderson, moments. The physical spaces, the way the sets were used, was really cool. There were lovely little performances by a bajlllion different actors.

But ultimately I felt like it was aimed at such a teeny tiny subset of the population: the overlap between 1) Wes Anderson fans and 2) fans of the New Yorker and other magazines of that ilk, (and writers such as E.B. White and others on the long list at the end of the flick) when they used to contain long meandering social interest articles. (Do they still? I feel like maybe the focus of that magazine, among others, has shifted a bit, but what do I know, I don’t read it!)

I did not feel as drawn in to its world as with other W.A. movies, such as The Royal Tenenbaums, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, or Moonrise Kingdom. In a sense, you could argue it’s not quite as twee as those. And it’s not as plot driven, all the set pieces are really their own things.

Big Screen: DUNE

Dune was a very pretty movie–I mean if you find deserts pretty, heh. The performances were great. It was fun to see Timothy Chalamet and Oscar Isaacs playing someone entirely different after just seeing them in other movies. Other actors did compelling jobs. The costumes were cool, if slightly unexplainable. It definitely had that “this is an epic story, hold your breath and strap in” feeling.

BUT

  1. I did feel like if you didn’t know a few things about the plot going in, it might have been hard to follow. The movie basically did no world building to start the viewer off–it just jumped right in. I went with someone who’s read the series and she felt this movie only got about halfway through the first book. Also she was able to explain some background stuff that I think the movie really just pretended viewers didn’t need to know. Sure, sure, keep it mysterious.
  2. The sound mix was a mess–the background music was crazy loud and the dialogue was so quiet, it was incredibly difficult to hear what people were saying. I don’t know if that was specific to the theater where I saw it, or if that was just generally true of how they put it together, but the mix was off.

Also, assuming sequels are made, this is going to be one of those series that just burns through actors as they already killed off a lot of the most recognizable ones in this first installment.

Big screen: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings

Things I liked about this movie in order of liking them the most:

  1. Katy.
  2. The soundtrack. (Mostly the rap.)
  3. Xialing.
  4. The floating lanterns scene.
  5. Auntie Nan, Mom, and eventually Shawn’s fighting style.
  6. The “animals” we’ll call them.
  7. The videotape dude on the bus.
  8. The grandma at the beginning.
  9. The almost complete lack of food scenes (they eat twice in the entire movie?).
  10. The archery instructor.

As you can see, this movie was very badly titled since that character is not even in the top 10 reasons to see it. It’s most definitely just as much Katy and Xialing’s movie / story / journey as it is his. So while Marvel is getting maybe a little less racist (I mean, a little, there’s miles yet to go), they’re really not getting any less sexist. (This really goes for all movies, right?)

ETA: I must also point you to this New York Times review and say while it was an enjoyable way to spend two hours with a headache on a Sunday afternoon, this movie did not greatly improve my general thoughts about Marvel movies, superhero movies, cultural appropriation in Hollywood movies, or anything else. Heh.

À la Super Eggplant, currently I am…

Watching: The O-G CSI. I started back at the very, very beginning. HA. It’s wild how many episodes I’ve randomly seen surrounded by others I don’t remember at all. The joy of rewatching an old show like this is the constant popping up in the extras–people who are NOW famous who often were no one then. Oh wait–Voodoo Tatum! OMG a young Blake Lively! Oh look it’s the grandpa from Everwood. I mean, you always know that person is going to be either the killer or the victim. Also I am SO EXCITED to be back in movie theaters and last week I saw the quite odd, definitely disturbing, yet oddly compelling The Card Collector.

Reading: I am really burning through books these days now that I’m back on the bus AND modeling 15 minutes of silent reading for my students in three different classes. I’m up to 104 for the year, already past my annual goal. Some recent hits (linking to my Goodreads reviews) are Ladyparts, The Second Rebel and The Women of Troy. I’m also WAY back into poetry right now.

Listening to: I was listening to tunes every morning on the bus, but my latest refurbished iPod decided to die so I’ve been bereft for about a week. However, until that point I was REALLY into the new Big Red Machine, an EP by a band called Pronoun, the latest Liz Phair, lots of singles/EP releases from Yoke Lore, and I am also currently, bizarrely obsessed with the song “If I drink this beer” by Will Chase (as Luke Wheeler on Nashville, which I rewatched all of in July/August).

Writing: Lesson plans. Wasting time spelling out the 97 steps I already know how to do to teach what I need to teach. What a waste of veteran teacher time. I will admit, I think they should be required of new teachers. Lesson plans were very helpful to me the first few years, especially if I needed ideas to fill extra time (paralyzing!), or really know what I was going to teach. And if you had a mentor teacher, they gave you a base to start from. You could use them for reflection: what worked, what didn’t, Now I already know how to do all of that and it’s so stupid to have to write them out, especially when it’s become very clear that NO ONE is actually reading them.etc.

Cooking / Eating: Mid-school year, the cooking gets to be such a drag. I do it every weekend so that I keep adding to the options for my lunches, rotating through the freezer, but it’s so much more drudgery than it feels during the summer! Here’s a couple yummy recipes I added to the rotation in 2021. Also I have become OBSESSED with Magic Spoon cereal. I have all the but the newest flavors. My favorites are: 1) Fruity; 2) Frosty; 3) Cinnamon; 4) a tie between Blueberry and Strawberry; 5) Cookies & Cream. I did not like the peanut butter which kinda bummed me out but OH WELL I will just eat peanut butter on toast. Heh.

Drinking: I’ve gotten really into V-8 over the past week. Huh.

Sewing: New masks. I have a few other things cut out but I haven’t gotten to them.

Quilting: Thinking about it, but not doing it.

Knitting: Ditto.

What’re YOU up to? 🙂

Stuff Ya Wanna Watch

Here are some shows you should watch!

  • The Looming Tower — (Hulu) One season! I don’t 100% understand why all the salacious details of John O’Neill’s life were such a focus (and no one else?), but I really enjoyed this. All the acting was pretty great. Also, gee, I guess if we need to blame anyone for the breakdowns that led to 9/11, it’s pretty clear from this series which agency was at fault! (HINT: It’s not the FBI!)
  • Giri / Haji — (Netflix) Only one season, but I have my fingers crossed for more! Two Japanese brothers–one becomes a cop, one becomes a gangster. The cop is charged with going to London to apprehend his brother. There’s a sweet English lady detective (HA that cracked me up to write, so I will ignore the sexism for the sake of the laugh) that gets involved. It was so good. I loved it.
  • Episodes — (Netflix) Five seasons, but they’re only 7-9 episodes each (so basically one weekend, AM I RIGHT). This series is hilarious for any number of reasons, including the main theme which is Americans take everything British and then mess it up. Also: Matt LeBlanc is SUCH a better actor than a Friends’ fan (or a Friends’ hater) would ever know and it’s a DAMN SHAME that he has not been in really anything else of notice. He’s fantastic here.
  • The Unicorn — (Season 1 on Netflix; season 2 on Paramount Plus) Is there anything Walt Goggins can’t do? It’s a little sappy, a little predictable, and maybe a little annoying if you don’t give a shit about little kids, marriages, couples that are friends, etc. BUT WALT GOGGINS IS SO GOOD. Also his fellow-Justified alum Natalie Zea shows up in the second season and she’s just as fabulous and electric here as she was there.

ENJOY!

À la Super Eggplant, currently I am…

Watching: Every old episode of NCIS–ha! I started at season 1 at some point in December and now I’m up to season 11. I’ve got to say the post-Ziva episodes are…not great. But I had forgotten about Ellie Bishop and I really like her, so we’ll see.

Reading: I am in my usual “attempt to read every book that will be in the Tournament of Books in March” flurry of January reading. I had already read “Sharks in the Time of Saviors” by Kawaii Strong Washburn (LOVED IT! Mythic) and “Transcendent Kingdom” by Yaa Gyasi (didn’t love it, recommend her previous book “Homegoing”!). I have now also read “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride (so good! lots of slapstick while still going super deep) and “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (fabulous). I started “We Ride Upon Sticks” by Quan Barry last night. It’s entertaining but a little uneven.

Listening to: I am re-listening to every single piece of music I bought in 2020 because I KNOW you are eagerly anticipating a report back on my favorite albums. I think I’m in March right now because I keep getting distracted. But it’s on my list to finish up this week!

Writing: Lesson plans. 2021 intentions poems. Not much really. 🙂 Heh.

Eating: I’m still cooking at TON from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbooks (Cravings and Cravings: Hungry for More). I like the second book better, partly because I got it first, and partly because of the font/layout (HA!, seriously). This weekend I made Jok Moo already and am whipping up some scalloped potatoes in a bit.

Drinking: Lots of bubbly water, which means…at least I am finally drinking water?* I still don’t love it but I probably drank 8x as much liquid in 2020 as in any year previously. Mostly I’m drinking mini-Cokes to help with my tummy which is in a bit of disarray. *For those who are unaware, I detest the taste of water. And yes, it has a taste.

Knitting: I just redove into a sweater that I started in January of 2018 (Lemongrass by Jojo Locatelli) using some Rowan Magpie yarn. Maybe 2021 will be the year I finish it! 🙂 The back and front are both done and it’s time to start the sleeves.

Quilting: I made a mini quilt for my mom’s bday, and I am finishing the binding on four mini-friendship log-cabin quilts for Secret Club. Feeling kinda productive quilt wise, frankly, since I also made six placemats (very mini quilts) for a friend in December!!

Sewing: I have the fabric ready to be cut out for three more Farrow dresses. But I want to finish up my quilts in progress first!

Focusing on: Trying not to freak out too much about how my job is planning to force us back to F2F teaching before we can get the virus… Trying not to focus on my impending death by coronavirus contraction via public transit as I have a 45-minute bus ride each way… TRYING.

There’s a lot going on around here, despite not leaving the house for 11 months at this point and being very miserably alone for 99.9% of the pandemic. What’s up with you????

Favorite Movies of the Decade

Sadly, oh so sadly,my moviegoing has seriously declined in the past couple years. So exhausted from working at school all week AND then working Saturdays. Lost a couple of my main movie-going pals and yes, yes, I know, I DO and WILL go to the movies alone. But when you’re already doing EVERYTHING ELSE ALONE, sometimes also going to a movie alone is just too. much. OK?

2009:
2009 was the summer of Hurt Locker (here and here), a masterpiece, District 9 and Inglorious Bastards. I also really liked Whip It! and The Young Victoria, both have which I have rewatched a million times at this point. I also loved Up in the Air, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Crazy Heart.

2010:
Winter’s Bone = fabulous and heartbreaking. The Town = oh wow, I have watched this movie SO many times. Love it. Rare Exports = best xmas movie ever.

2011:
The Guard (!!), Tree of Life (surprisingly b/c usually I hate that kind of crap) and Red State. (Here is where I ranked all the stuff I saw that year.)

2012:
Dang, a lot of good movies that year! Scanning that list now, I’d say the ones I remember as the best were Silver Linings Playbook (and I detest Bradley Cooper!), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (masterfully cinematic), Anna Karenina (the staging was SO cool), and A Separation.

2013:
All the good movies this year were INtense: Zero Dark Thirty, Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, but probably my very favorite was the Joss Whedon black & white Much Ado About Nothing. Utterly charming. Oh and of course I can’t forget to mention Fast & Furious 6. Duh.

2014:
Hands down, the best two movies of 2014 were Only Lovers Left Alive and Words & Pictures. There are images from those two still utterly imprinted on my mind. Stunning. (But here’s a long list of what I liked that year.) I’m still a sucker for Begin Again as well.

2015:
I saw The Danish Girl on the last night of the year and looooved it. I love both those actors so much. Spotlight was also fantastic movie making. Iris!! Clouds of Sil Maria was surprisingly lovely. And OF COURSE FURIOUS 7. RIP Paul Walker.

2016:
This is when my record keeping started to get really shady. The Arrival. Stunning.

2017:
OMG Atomic Blonde. FANTASTIC. The clothes, the sets, the FIGHTS. It was sooo good. Also Get Out. Wow.

2018:
BlacKKKlansman should have won the Oscar. Don’t even try to argue, no other movie from 2018, let alone many others years, can hold a candle to that masterpiece. I also loved Puzzle.

2019:
My favorite movie of 2019 was, hands down, Booksmart. Funniest, smartest movie possibly ever. I’ve got nothing but love for you, Booksmart. Also If Beale Street Could Talk was heartbreakingly fabulous.

Hoping to get my butt back into movie theaters in 2020 in a big way.

À la Super Eggplant, currently, I am…

Watching: I just finished a rewatch/watch of One Tree Hill (I had only seen some of the first few seasons) and now I’m rewatching Firefly, which as you may know will hardly take any time at all. 🙁 I can’t figure out what I’ll watch next!

Reading: I’m about a third of the way through “Theft” by Peter Carey, which is definitely fun so far. I read quite a bit of Peter Carey back (BACK) in the day.

Listening to: Completely bingeing on Maggie Rogers “Heard It in a Past Life”, but also really obsessed with J.S. Ondara‘s “Tales of America.” It’s so good!

Writing: Sexy daydream poems on the bus, in the duplex form created by Jericho Brown (whose poems I’m obsessed with!).

Eating: Suddenly finding myself in sammy mode, I’ve been making nice big fat ones with ham, turkey, provolone, pickle slabs, roasted red peppers, giardinera, tomato, spinach and a little mayo. Oh yum they’re so good.

Drinking: So much lemonade I think it might be giving me acid reflux. Ha!

Knitting: Ah, nope. 🙁

Quilting: Also nope.

Sewing: Just made another tunic! And two more cut out. Let’s keep that momentum going…

Focusing on: Not spending any unnecessary money. Not bringing work home. Not staying at work beyond the hours I get paid for.

What’s up with you? 🙂