Friday, May 15, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Movies That Made Me (Part 19)


I have a very distinct memory of seeing The Matrix for the first time. We'd relocated across the country as Debs had taken a new job in graphic design, working in magazine design and layout. It was a cool job, one she couldn't pass up, but it involved uprooting from our home of eight years and setting down in a place that was twice the price to live in. We moved from renting a three bedroom terraced house to paying more for a one bedroom flat. It was so small you could sit in the bath and watch TV through the open door. And the bath and the TV were in opposite corners of the whole floorspace we had...

Anyway, Debs went off to her work, and I'd just shut down my comic publishing business and was looking for work. One afternoon, with nothing to do, I headed to the local Odeon and purchased a ticket for The Matrix. I knew nothing about it except for that cryptic commercial that appeared on TV. Going in without knowing the twist was the thing...

I'm not going to be as precious about spoilers for this one as I was with Dark City yesterday. After all, everyone's seen The Matrix, right?

If you haven't, stop reading now and just go watch it. Please.

I sat intrigued as Thomas Anderson was dragged into a weird plot involving a mythical hacker and his team, and strange federal agents hunting him down. There were some weird bits... I mean, Trinity and these agents could jump a long way, and there was some cool "bullet-time" effects as she escaped. But when Anderson was being interrogated by Agent Smith and his mouth disappeared... It was a bit of a shock - but that's fine, it was just a weird dream sequence, right? That perfect cut made it look like it was just a dream.

But then Anderson, (oh, let's just go by his hacker name - Neo) finally meets this mythical hacker Morpheus and the whole movie - as well as Neo - descends down the rabbit hole.

I kinda wish I could have filmed my face as I watched the information being revealed for the first time. As Morpheus explained what was going on, what The Matrix was, and the lie we'd all been witnessing... My jaw was on the floor. I was amazed.

Another 90mins of gun-fights and kung fu that reminded me of those amazing Hong Kong action movies I had gorged myself on after watching Hard Boiled for the first time, paired with the philosophical questions from those bizarre books I'd been reading. It just pushed all the buttons that I wanted from a film.

I staggered out and went to meet Debs after she finished work. Late as always, as she always seemed to be trapped doing unpaid overtime to ensure the magazine came out on schedule. As we walked home I gushed about how amazing the movie was, and how I was going to take her to see it at the first opportunity. And no, I made sure she didn't find out what The Matrix was until she saw it for herself.

I loved it the second time around too. And shortly after that, I got a job to help pay for the extortionate rent - working in that very cinema, as they needed extra staff to help when Star Wars: Episode I opened the following month.

We didn't stay in that city long. About 9-10 months. It was too expensive, and the Debs' job required far too much overtime. And the city itself was being advertised as the UK's answer to Ibiza, which is about as far from our idea of fun as you can get. I remember getting the minibus home after the midnight screenings of The Exorcist - the cinema provided them as the staff didn't get home until about 3am - and watching dozens of drunk revellers trying to tip a police van over outside a strip club (I remember the strip club because of the name - For Your Eyes Only). I think it was about that time we decided it was too much.

We relocated again, back across the country to somewhere a lot cheaper, where we could rent a house again. And The Matrix came out on DVD...

The Matrix was the first DVD we ever bought, even before we had a DVD player - watching it on Debs' Apple Mac so we could see the extra features, and follow the white rabbit in the menu options. (Closely followed by The Blair Witch Project).

Years later, I still love The Matrix. I love all of them. And the Animatrix. While I'm writing I'll often put the Matrix Jukebox on (originally a hidden feature on the documentary disc, now easily found on the bluray) for hours of Matrix inspired instrumental music - perfect background mood music.

I can't wait to see The Matrix 4, though I admit I'm apprehensive about what they'll do with the franchise.

The Matrix is one of the top 3 movies on my list, and currently holds the top slot (recently dethroning a couple of movies that are coming up later on this list)...

Please, Lana... Let The Matrix 4 be as awesome as I hope...

No comments: