Say it with me: “Ow.” I hurt my back sometime Wednesday or Thursday. Ow. No, it wasn’t doing that, I’m not seeing anyone right now. Unless it was a mighty powerful dream. Ow. Mid-lower-back, right side, pitched just there so it clamps when I turn and yanks when I raise my arm. Ow. Putting on my shoes is a multi-ow task: ow ow ow. Comfy Skechers loafers, don’t fail me now.
And it’s cold. We had rehearsal call at 10 a.m. today, which is downright inhumane. It might have been a total loss of a daylight, but Gheree (“Jerry”), one of the actresses, brought in apple cider AND cups AND an electric warming crockpot, all without being asked. This is a degree of Saturday-morning organization and kindness aforethought that leaves me mesmerized. If I’ve got shoes, socks, and pants all happening below the waist before noon on the weekends, I figure I’m ahead of the game.
Friday, back aflame and every move a potential Yowtch, I discharged my cinematic obligations and saw The Matrix Revolutions. This movie has been savaged pretty attentively without my help. I will say that if your back hurts (ow), it is a lot of peaceful fun to sit through this in the comfy cinema chairs. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would, which makes the experience pretty much the opposite of The Matrix Reloaded. Make sure your local plex has stadium seating.
The scariest part is right at the end, when the Oracle meets a little girl with strange baby teeth (introduced earlier, in one of the better sequences, in the very clean Mobil Ave. subway station). “Where’s Neo?,” asks little Sati. “Oh,” says the Oracle, “he’s off catching a wave or gazing at himself in a mirror.” <– That might not be quite right, I wasn’t taking notes. “Will we see him again?,” asks little Sati. “Oh, I don’t doubt it,” replies the Oracle. “Oh NOOOOOO!,” comments the Audience. Sequel City. What next? The Matrix: Green Screen of Death. Or The Matrix Spams. Or The Matrix Has Performed an Illegal Operation and Will Shut Down.
In other news, Larry (or Lana, or Laurence) Wachowski is “probably not” getting a sex change operation. I know you were wondering.
Seriously, the picture isn’t half bad. The SFX powerhouse scene is much more interesting than the freeway chase monster from the last one was, and the Neo-preen and Smith plot, well, go ahead, you guess who wins. Yup. Lovers die, though love does not, and so forth. Excellent olive-chewing by Lambert Wilson as the pretentiously-named Merovingian*. But if you’re going to have someone as luminous, frisky, and delightful as Jada Pinkett Smith in the movie, why waste time on wooden Neo and pinched Trinity? You bore me, no links for you! <– Soup Nazi voice. Still, it’s a fun spin, especially at $6 matinee prices with comfy chairs. Ow.
A few nights ago, when my back was still in one piece, I caught the Director’s Cut of Alien (the web site is fun, if you like that kind of thing). Maybe that’s how my back snapped in the first place. You should know that Alien is probably not as scary as you recall it; the 26,000 films since then that have slavishly aped Ridley Scott‘s formula and innovations and ideas, most of which were in turn purloined from the hack films of the 50′s, have ground down the experience of the Monster Suspense Flick into the experience of the Oh-This-Reminds-Me-Of-Alien flick, and the ground here is so well-walked that it’s hard as coal.
Still, Alien has that special something, and it’s also got Sigourney Weaver, who looks about 18 in the movie and was actually 30 when it was released. Women’s Studies faculty take note – she does not have top billing in this picture (that goes to Tom Skerritt as Captain Dallas). Alien is a scary enough journey, full of personality where most screamers are full of hotties, and masterful in manipulating sound and compressing space. The monster is just some stunt guy in an Alien suit wearing a big shiny head, except in careful Gigeresque close-up. The supporting cast runs rings around the material, which you don’t often see in the genre. But this is a star vehicle as sure as Nostromo is a plodding factory ship: Weaver and Scott rule everything about your life for the two hours they’ve got you in hand.
* If you’re not a link-clicker: the Merovingian is haphazardly named after an ancient European dynasty, which often keeps paranoid company with the Priory of Zion, the Illuminati, the Knights Templar, the sang real Grail Family bloodlines sprung from Christ via Mary Magdalene, the Masons and the P2 Lodge, and so forth. You can have a lot of pointless fun reading about this stuff on the World Weird Web.
Pierre, who was repairing the damage done here by my inspired use of control characters in the text, adds this:
FYI the Merovingian dynasty was the first Frankish dynasty, about 450 to 751, centered over Belgium and northern France. Most famous king was Clovis, who converted to christianity at the urging of his wife, Clotilde, and helped consolidate his power by co-opting the mostly christian Gallo-Romans. He defeated the Alamans, Wisigoths, and Burgundians, and pretty much reigned over all of present-day France and Belgium, but his kingdom was split between his four sons, and not reunited until Charlemagne. To be more precise, Charlemagne was a Carolingian, the dynasty that followed. Named after his grand-father Charles Martel, who stopped the Arab invasion at Poitiers.
I knew this, of course. Because I saw Pippin in high school.