The Matrix

Drinking Games

This past spring marked the thirteenth year since the release of the groundbreaking cyberpunk actioner The Matrix. This seems a bit arbitrary, but if American Pie can have a reunion of sorts thirteen years down the line, why not take this opportunity to revisit one of the true game-changers in cinema history? If you’re brave enough, follow this white rabbit of a drinking game through all three films, though we don’t recommend you do them in quick succession. It’s going to be tough to get through that first Agent Smith playground battle in The Matrix Reloaded as it is. Still, it’s a great time to pull out your VHS, DVD or Blu-ray of the original The Matrix and enjoy watching it from the desert of the real. You just might start to believe that you are not in Los Angeles in 1999.

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The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: The Matrix (1999) The Plot: At the tail end of hacking being considered cool, a cool hacker is approached by other cool, smartly dressed hackers about fighting the man. But seriously now, Neo, a whipsmart hacker, is recruited by an underground movement only to realize his entire existence has been lived inside of a machine. Foreseen to be “The One” who will free humanity, Neo must master himself within the virtual world to topple the evil computer overlords.

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Culture Warrior

Most dystopian science-fiction narratives feature stories in which a protagonist experiences a process of ‘waking up,’ transitioning from a state of blind ignorance to one of newfound enlightenment. The protagonists of The Matrix (1999), Brazil (1985), and the ur-text for dystopian futures, George Orwell’s 1984 (and its numerous film adaptations), all feature primary characters who transition from a state of passivity and complicity in an oppressive and manufactured society and transition to a newly critical, empowered state of being in which they are able to see beyond the veil of ignorance and witness the world for what it ‘really’ is for the first time. These protagonists are made capable of seeing beyond the structures of propaganda and carefully constructed illusion that they previously accepted to be objective reality and develop a political impetus in direct reaction to their previous state of complicity and ignorance. As someone previously uninitiated to the world of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (I hadn’t read any of the books prior to seeing the film), what struck me most about Gary Ross’s adaptation is the spin it puts on the typical ignorance-to-enlightenment narrative of dystopian science-fiction.

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Hunger is the reason mankind first decided to kill – one imagines. Surely, the first time someone domed a boar with a stick they didn’t do it just to be a dick about it. This is why when a movie does food right the result is extremely powerful; you can close your eyes and try to forget a sad or scary scene in a film, but if a scene makes you hungry there’s no going back from that. Here are some scenes that you’ll no doubt wish you didn’t watch – scenes that make you hungry, no matter your preference, because sometimes food just looks good.

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The Film: Fight Club (1999) The Plot: Our nameless Narrator (Edward Norton) works for a major auto manufacturer, investigating fatal crashes caused by product defects and running cost-benefit analyses to decide whether it’d be more expensive to recall the deadly cars or to pony up settlements in future class-action lawsuits. Sound like an amoral, soul-murdering job to you? Our Narrator agrees and embarks on a fumbling quest for peace. He gets a hearty shove down the path toward enlightenment when a) his apartment full of “versatile solutions for modern living” mysteriously explodes, b) he strikes up a love/hate relationship with the morbid nihilist Marla (Helena Bonham Carter), and c) he joins forces with soap entrepenuer and terrorist mastermind Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) to found the Fight Club movement.

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Alec Baldwin: Coffee is for Closers

Monologues are to actors what analogies are to bullshit writers who have no idea how to start their list article about monologues. What I mean is that every actor should have a really good understanding on how to perform a monologue – at least I assume so considering that they are the most common tools for auditioning for a part. To someone like myself, who couldn’t act even if Hitler’s death depended on it, I really have no idea what goes into a monologue – however I do know what comes out of a good one. So when I judge the talent of these I’m really just judging how effective they seemed to be, not necessarily the amount of artistic effort that was put into it. Simply put, these are some terrific monologues.

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Culture Warrior

When I purchased my ticket for the Thursday night midnight show of Twilight: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, I had no idea what I was in for; not because I hadn’t seen any of the previous Twilight films – I have, in fact, seen them all – but because I had never seen a Twilight film in a theater before, much less on opening night. The Twilight subculture befuddles me, as I’m sure it does any non-initiate of the series. Having seen all the films, I still feel like I’m viewing them from afar, like it’s some strange anthropological project of a phenomenon whose worth and value I will never fully understand. Twilight seems to encapsulate the drastic changes that have taken place in big-budget event filmmaking in the last thirty years. Rather than a film made with the intent of mass appeal (like franchises ranging from Indiana Jones to Jason Bourne), the Twilight films play almost exclusively to a specific – but dedicated – demographic. Of course, one could make this argument about many film franchises. Everything from Star Trek to The Dark Knight certainly have rabid fanbases at their core, but the audiences for these films seem to be “filled in” with a significant amount of casual fans. For example, I once viewed the Harry Potter films similarly to the way I now approach Twilight – not in terms of filmmaking quality, mind you, but in terms of being a cult phenomenon surrounding a fictional narrative that I […]

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Awesome Camera Rigs

It’s hard to get excited about something as technical as that thing that makes cameras not fall down on film sets, especially these days, when you can make a successful film without even going through the effort of picking up a camera at all. Even if you are shooting a live action film, thanks to the realism of CGI, computers are now able to put a lens wherever you need it to be – this is why I think we need to take a second to celebrate some of the hard working pieces of lightweight metal that were behind a few of the more bitchin’ shots out there. These rigs got the shot done, computers be damned!

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With the Wachowski siblings in the midst of filming segments of the massive Cloud Atlas adaptation, it looks as if Andy and Lana are ready to jump back into the Hollywood machine in a big way. Warner Bros. is reportedly setting up a new project for the pair (unfortunately, not their long-discussed hard-R Iraq War homosexual romance drama) that will see them back on a familiar ground. The new film is called Jupiter Ascending, and while little is known about the project, we do know that it is an original sci-fi idea from the pair, and that the studio is already ringing the “franchise” bell. They are looking for a spring production start, which means that the buzz now revolves around finding an A-list star to lead the project. The Wachowskis’ previous original sci-fi franchise, The Matrix, was not only a huge financial and popular success (making a staggering $1.6b worldwide), but the first film is also one of the best-rated and reviewed sci-fi films of the past couple of decades. We won’t talk about Reloaded and Revolutions here (not a fan). But what the franchise proved was that the Wachowskis are adept at conceiving of and executing a large-scale sci-fi concept that can appeal to both critics and moviegoers. If Jupiter Ascending is of the same mold, everyone is in for a treat. Now, if we could just get a logline on the project (I’m already picturing an epic battle between the actual planet of Jupiter and everyone else […]

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With the entire original run of The Twilight Zone available to watch instantly, we’re partnering with Twitch Film to cover all most half of the show’s 156 episodes. Are you brave enough to watch them all with us? The Twilight Zone (Episode #40): “A Thing About Machines” (airdate 10/28/60) The Plot: Your machines are going to kill you. The Goods: This season is quickly shaping up to be the one where Rod Serling played around with the structure of science fiction and the self-aware nature that writing in the genre can start to form week after week. If season 2 is seen as the sequel to season 1, Serling took to commenting on his own work (and the work of the other writers of course). So what does he begin his tale of conspiratorial machinery with? Why, a broken television set, of course.

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Culture Warrior

That the final Harry Potter film became the biggest opening weekend of all time seemed only natural and inevitable. Something so monumentally culturally pervasive could have only gone out with a loud bang. After all, it is – as I’ve been repeatedly reminded – the most successful movie franchise of all time, adapted from a series of books whose sales history rivals that of The Holy Bible. Yet unlike some head scratch-inducing huge opening weekends of the more uninspired entries of blockbusting franchises who rival Harry Potter in their monetary intake but not their longevity (Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) and the former reigning champ whose buzz was accompanied by fascination with the untimely death of a star (The Dark Knight), the mass participation in the cultural event that was the release of Deathly Hallows Part 2 won’t likely be rivaled anytime soon. The Harry Potter films simultaneously represent the inevitable logical extent of franchise filmmaking as much as it is exceptional and anomalous in this same regard.

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My guess is Zack Snyder is a pretty kinky dude. 300 and Watchmen were dripping with over-the-top sexuality and you know somewhere on the cutting room floor of Legend of the Guardians is a steamy owl mating scene, but it wasn’t until the trailer for Sucker Punch collectively melted our brains with sensory overload that we realized Snyder was into some crazy, whacked out stuff. School girls, burlesque dancing, samurai Swords, copious amounts of leather — was this a Hollywood blockbuster or a feature-length Suicide Girls video? Few people have seen the finished film, but if anything is to be assumed, it’s that Snyder made the movie he wanted to make — and that’s cool. That abashed commitment to personal taste makes Sucker Punch unique…and, perhaps, borderline fetishistic. Here are seven other films that we imagine were crafted with that same burning, unconventional passion:

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The Week That Was

With every week that passes, it feels like things just keep getting better and better around here. It’s becoming increasingly easy to put this very column together. New writers and very soon, we’ll have some new columns to tout. There’s a reason why the tagline “The Cure for the Common Movie Blog” now graces our homepage. Because if we’re anything around here, it’s uncommon. And you can find out why with the links that I’ve strategically placed after the jump. It’s all part of a little game I like to call The Week That Was.

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The internet has struck again, this time making the feeble attempt to make more Matrix films seem plausible. The tip came apparently straight from Keanu Reeves as he made an appearance at the “London school of performing arts university,” which doesn’t exist. However, the London International School of Performing Arts does exist, and a representative of the school confirmed to Screen Rant that no such appearance ever happened. Besides, even if there were inklings of a fourth and fifth outing for Neo, the Wachowskis (and Reeves) already have a ton of projects ahead of them in the near future – meaning they’d either be starting production in a few years or that they’ve all purchased a time turner from the same internet that made up these rumors. However, since the internet has thrown out the idea of more Matrix movies, it probably has the Wachowskis thinking about them. Stay tuned a year from now when they announce they’ll be going back to the barrel to see if there’s any more story or money to dump out of it.

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You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at editors@filmschoolrejects.com. What character do you see yourself the most in? Thanks. – Donald B.

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The release of Catfish, a movie that will cause you to be beaten to death by the internet if you even mention its name, brings to mind a few movies of the recent past that we couldn’t talk about. These films were more than just big twists. They were entire experiences that audiences, in rare form, decided were too incredible to spoil for anyone. It seems we’re getting farther and farther away from that here in the Information Age, but Catfish (whether or not the hype is deserved) is a great reminder of films that gained mystique because you “had to see them for yourself.” Here are a few of those films.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr celebrates the summer tent pole season with Christopher Nolan’s Inception, eager to watch the movie again and fall asleep just to see what happens. He also takes his kids to see The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and shows some love for Disney’s family adventures, even if they are a bit silly.

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From where I’m sitting, this internet meme of throwing together the same quote one hundred times in a single clip began with Sawyer (Josh Holloway) from Lost and his catch-phrase, “son of a bitch.” Now it’s branching out into cross-platform, cross-property clip mashing for phrases that permeate entire genres.

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Andy Wachowski and his brother sister brother Larry, creators of The Matrix, have been working on something new. A wartime drama set in Iraq that includes some ‘Hard R’ man-on-man action. Yep, it’s like that.

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So it turns out that Alice in Wonderland isn’t that wonderful. If you need some actual wonder in your life, check out these 12 films and put on a record by the Oneders.

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published: 12.23.2014
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