On Reviewing The Matrix

Honestly, I love movies, but I’m not much interested in writing film reviews. Not that they’re not worth writing – just that there are plenty of that kind of writing to go around. If you think of any movie, someone out there has described it, told you whether you should like it, and we’ve all moved on with our lives. There are millions of writers who can do that better than I can.

I’m more interested in talking about movies…or talking about life through movies…or talking about movies through my life experience. Doing this in a way that is of any interest to other people…well, that’s the trick that I’ll probably spend my life trying to get right.

So, let’s take The Matrix as an example. In my personal pantheon, The Matrix is up there as a certified classic. A postmodern tech adventure; a new spin on the superhero movie; a philosophical consideration on the nature of reality itself. There’s a lot of depth there. Not bad for a movie with Keanu in a long coat shooting the hell out of anything and everything he can see.

But, for me, it’s about a banjo.

Don’t worry; there isn’t a banjo in The Matrix. At least, not as far as I remember. But there is a link. Let me explain…

I was recently bragging emptily to a friend about how I was maturing enough to know my limitations. So, when I am tempted to believe that this year I will finally learn to play an instrument, and start looking at the shiny instruments on eBay, I can stop myself from buying a banjo – because experience tells me that I will soon lose interest and I will not in fact ever learn how to play it.

And then I think of The Matrix. The scene, specifically, where Neo has a skill implanted into his brain and realizes: “I know kung fu.” So, while living in the matrix is a dream world created by the machine intelligence, living in this world is still kind of incredible. Neo and Morpheus can fight it out in virtual reality, both of them super-powered kung fu masters.

And sure, I see the downside of life outside the matrix. The constant threat of being hunted down and killed by machines is no doubt a lot to put up with, stress-wise. But sometimes, when I watch someone really good playing a beautiful shiny instrument, I wonder if it might be worth it. Just to have the skills downloaded into my brain then wake up, surrounded by crew mates on a ramshackle space craft, and say: “I know the banjo.”

In real life, my friend suggested that maybe I don’t need to know how to play one. If I think they’re so attractive, maybe I could hang just one on my wall?

And now, here I am: searching for antique banjos on eBay. Not my fault.

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