The Matrix

Corey Phillips The Matrix Illustration

The modern art museum-worthy image you’re looking at is the result of averaging every frame of a movie — in this case Mr. Anderson learning to stop bullets — in order to find a tonal mean. It was created by coding hobbyist Corey Phillips, who wrote the script that does the heavy lifting and shared it with Reddit. “Film buffs, and increasingly also gamers, debate the significance of color filters that are applied in post-processing,” Phillips tells me when I ask what prompted the project. “For example, The Matrix was released with reasonably neutral coloring, then re-released with more dramatic coloring. I originally wrote this program to see just how much color correction changed the tone of a film. For films like The Matrix, that turned out to be a lot.” According to Phillips, the coding works essentially like a double exposure photograph with hundreds of thousands of photos (each frame of the film) layered on top of one another to create the final effect.

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Demolition Man

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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The Matrix Movie 1999

Want to feel old? Then consider the fact that The Matrix is 15 years old this month. This film was made before the turn of the century, before digital projection, before the 3D craze, and before any of the Star Wars prequels were released. It was a groundbreaking film, not just for its innovative action sequences but also for its brainy nature compared to many contemporary action films. One of the early releases on DVD, The Matrix was loaded with special features, including multiple commentary tracks. The original concept by The Wachowskis was to have two separate commentary tracks: one with philosophers who liked the movie, and one with film critics who did not. After wrangling with Warner Bros. a bit on this decision, those commentaries did not appear on the original release (though they are available on the Blu-ray and more recent DVDs for your listening pleasure). Two commentaries were recorded, including a music-only track commentary by composer Don Davis, and a traditional cast commentary, which has the most production information and trivia rather than analysis. This is what we’ll be covering here. However, I encourage fans of The Matrix to check out the additional commentaries on the Blu-ray for the philosophical and critical analysis that the Wachowskis originally intended.

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Andy

Movies and TV shows are fun to think about and discuss. Clearly. But as much as this is the case, there’s still a point past which we’re not talking about the movie or show in any meaningful way. One thing that becomes clear after doing any kind of serious critical work for any significant period of time is that, just because something’s there doesn’t necessarily give it meaning. True Detective is a great example: the best part about all those great McConaughey four-bong-hit college philosophy student monologues about nihilism is that they don’t mean anything with regards to the big picture. (Even with two episodes remaining, consider that an ironclad guarantee.) And sometimes people apply the same four-bong-hit college philosophy student mindsets to the movies and TV shows themselves. They lead Andy’s Mom to have a deeper identity, or for entire stories to shuffle off their context, so it’s always nice to have a reminder of what these theories really are. Here are some of the most beside-the-point “mind-blowing” theories about films and TV.

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cloak and dagger poster image

Considering I do these weekly lists of movies to watch in order to highlight new releases as gateways to older works, it’s particularly fun to focus on something geared toward children. Young people aren’t as familiar with a lot of movies, so they’re more in need of such recommendations. A lot of time, though, the allusions they should subsequently become familiar with are for an older audience. At least one movie included in this week’s list inspired by The LEGO Movie, for instance, is definitely not suitable for children at all. Others won’t be of much interest to them. Meanwhile, there are a lot of obvious, explicit movie references in The LEGO Movie that I didn’t feel necessary to spotlight, such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lincoln and any of the many DC superhero movies featuring some of the characters represented in LEGO minifig form. There are some fairly obvious titles included, though; the first half of the list is mainly movies that many critics have mentioned in comparison. And then there is the second half, which is filled with pretty obscure films, most documentaries, tied to LEGO in some way. As always, name any movies this one reminded you of as well as any you think we ought to check out next. Also as always, beware that there are spoilers for this week’s movie, so if you haven’t yet seen The LEGO Movie, you need to do so right now and then come back to […]

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3-Days-to-Kill-Super Bowl

One thing you have to remember about movie trailers aired during the Super Bowl is they’re out to appeal to a very mainstream audience. Many of us watch the game solely for the commercials, but that doesn’t mean advertisers are targeting anyone interested in movies and their marketing more than they’re aiming for those mass American viewers interested in football, cheap beer, blockbuster-size entertainment and a few laughs. That means first looks at big summer movies concentrating on their explosions and other promise of spectacle. Not everyone follows movie news regularly, so this is the time when the rest of the country begins buzzing about this year’s major tentpoles, and whether that’s positive or negative buzz determines anticipation, and that might even make or break some titles down the line. Leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, we present the teasers made available ahead of the game’s actual full-on spots. Join us after the game, though, for more of a ranking of which trailers worked and which didn’t. Additionally, you can find some neat movie- and TV-related ads down below, too.

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matrixtruth-1

Want to feel old? Consider that The Wachowskis‘ groundbreaking science fiction action film turns 15 years old this year. That’s old enough to start shaving and testing for a learner’s permit. Forget what you think about the polarizing sequels, The Matrix helped bridge the sometimes cheesy science fiction films of the 80s and 90s with the more modern, computer-dominated films of the 21st century. It wasn’t necessarily a new idea, but it was rather stunning how the Wachowskis presented it. It’s a staple of cyberpunk plots: man against machine. Still, as often as this device is used, watching the movie 15 years later got me thinking: Was the Matrix system even necessary?

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matrixrevolutions460

Ten years ago today, The Matrix: Revolutions was released in theaters. This is, of course, no monumental cinematic anniversary. It’s quite likely that nobody will ask you today, or any day for that matter, where you were the first time you saw the third Matrix film. At most, this revelation will be a reminder that you, like me, are getting older, and the space between decades ain’t what it used to be. But much has changed in studio tentpole filmmaking in the past ten years – in practice, if not, well, “quality.” On this rather unceremonious anniversary, the third Matrix film has a surprising lot to tell us about how studio franchises have developed since the early Bush era, and where they likely will and won’t go moving forward. The Matrix, a film series initiated by a late-90s cyberpunk sleeper hit that arguably overshadowed the return of f*cking Star Wars, by its final chapter came to be treated by Hollywood as a failed prototype never to be repeated again.

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IntroInterrogation

Any psychotic can smash someone’s fingers or beat a head to a pulp until they get what they want – and thanks to the spree of bizarre torture porn movies like Saw and Hostel, seeing people get cut apart is almost standard at this point. Still, filmmakers do manage to get creative every now and then, and from it we get a scene of brutality the likes of nothing before it. Shall we celebrate that? Oh, and warning – this is going to be painful.

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FILM JOCKEYS HEADER

What happens when a legendary film critic brings is geriatric crankiness to an internet movie show? Film Jockeys follows the adventures of Carl Barker, his far-too-young production staff, the filmmakers and the movie characters that inhabit their world. Written and illustrated by Derek Bacon, it’s the perfect webcomic for passionate movie fans who want to fly Tom Cruise’s space helicopter. For your consideration, Episode #19:

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IntroMundaneBadass

In reality, no job is actually mundane unless you make it that way. Washing dishes or delivering mail can be terrific if you’re happy, and you’re with people who make you happy. My point is – a job is whatever you want it to be. You can quote me on that. “A job is whatever you want it to be.” – Man wearing pajama pants Anyhoo – in the movie world this tends to be different. Very rarely do we see a character shuffling fries and acting completely content. The best however, is when a mundane job is used to juxtapose the badassness of the character – or better yet, the badass character just happens to have a mundane job attached to them. These are by far the best combinations of “boring” vs “badass” I could think up in a single afternoon while not wearing any pants. Shop smart, everyone:

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IntroResurrections

Because Jesus. Also, The Walking Dead hit its season finale on the same day everyone celebrated the most famous resurrection, so it seemed like the right subject for this week’s list. Everyone loves a good underdog story, and there’s no bigger obstacle to overcome than death, right? Coming back from the dead is a hell of a trick, and while there’s the usual reasons like a witch doctor or vampirism or converting into some kind of stupid blue ghost, sometimes an idea will come along that stands out from the norm – mostly because it’s a little silly in concept. That isn’t to say it’s bad. No, it’s just… not very profound. For example:

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The Matrix

We’ve lost something close to 3/4 of black and white films. It’s easy to imagine that we have all of them at our fingertips, and that they’ll be there forever, but that’s simply not the reality, and it’s a good reminder of what can happen if we’re not careful. That’s part of why the work of the National Film Registry is so vital. They ensure that a large number of time-tested films survive to test even more time. This year, as usual, they’ve selected 25 flicks to preserve including The Matrix, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Dirty Harry, and A Christmas Story (which will also be preserved 24-hours a day as long as TBS still exists). The Library of Congress has also saved Delmer Daves’ 3:10 to Yuma (1957); Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder; George Cukor’s Born Yesterday; Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own; Richard Linklater’s Slacker; the Laurel and Hardy comedy Sons of the Desert; Robert Epstein’s documentary The Times of Harvey Milk; Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop; a 1914 adaptation of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” that’s thought to feature the first leading role by a black man; The Augustas (which may be the Scott Nixon compilation of towns in the US named Augusta); The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight from 1897; Nathaniel Dorsky’s experimental Hours for Jerome Part 1 & 2; the Kidnapper’s Foil films; the Kodachrome Color Motion-Picture Tests (which you can see below); Robert Snody’s The Middleton Family at the New York World’s Fair; Kary Antholis’ holocaust documentary One Survivor Remembers; Rolf Forsberg and Tom Rook’s Christian film Parable, which imagines Christ as a clown and the world as a circus; Ellen Bruno’s Samsara: Death and Rebirth in […]

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Editors Note: The following interview was conducted in September 2011 but has never been published before today. It is finally seeing the light now because The Day is finally hitting DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday, November 27.  In an interview posted earlier today, director Douglas Aarniokoski and actors Cory Hardrict and Michael Eklund discuss the beneficially miserable conditions of shooting The Day, a post-apocalyptic thriller about a band of starving survivalists who go up against a group of cannibals. After talking with them, I sat down with Dominic Monaghan, Shawn Ashmore and Ashley Bell to talk about their own experiences making the film and developing characters they were given little background on. Monaghan and Ashmore also addressed aspects of The Day extra-diagetically relating to their work on Lost, The Lord of the Rings and the X-Men films, while Bell discussed her role as a kick-ass action heroine, which I’ll admit is the highlight of the film. Someone should give her a franchise besides the Last Exorcism films.

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The Best Damn Oscar Blog

If you can find a review of Cloud Atlas that doesn’t use the word “ambition,” I will give you a quarter. Everyone is talking about the sheer grandiosity of the project, an adaptation of a book that has been called “unfilmable.” More than simply the most obvious talking point, the movie’s vast scope is also a major point of division between critics. Those that love it seem to praise its ambition most of all, while its detractors claim that the Wachowski Starship and Tom Tykwer bit off far more than they could chew. I would argue for the latter, that while there are many excellent individual moments spread across Cloud Atlas’s six stories, the larger endeavor often gets bogged down in its own scope. However, that might mean nothing at all for its Oscar chances. Cloud Atlas is a great example of a group we might call “lesser epics.” These films tell broad, temporally extensive narratives that take up many years, distant locales, and well over two hours of screen time. They are often period pieces with meticulous detailing, gorgeous landscapes, and the occasional stunning special effects. Yet for whatever reason they don’t come quite come together in the end and they rarely make much money. At the end of the day, however, their ambition is often deemed enough on its own to garner a smattering of Oscar nominations. Cloud Atlas is nothing if not ambitious, but is that enough to impress the Academy?

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The Wachowskis

The Wachowskis haven’t directed a ton of movies. They also haven’t given a ton of interviews. If we can look at their output versus their impact (and in the case of Speed Racer, divisiveness), they look an awful lot like auteurs. There’s a number of themes they enjoy working with as well as a brand of visuals that seem conflicting movie to movie even as they share a kernel of The Future between them. At the very least, it would be easy to call them auteurs, but they completely reject the title and the concept. After Bound, The Matrix series, Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas and their non-directorial writing (most notably V for Vendetta), they’ve maintained a firm view of film as a truly, inextricably collaborative process. For them, that goes even above and behind the standard meaning. They’re a bit enigmatic, but that’s fantastic. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from two totally normal, crazy people named Lana and Andy.

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Rian Johnson’s new film, Looper, is a pretty awesome time travel flick, one with as many elements that are clever and original as there are purposefully derivative and influenced. It’s the kind of smart and stylish sci-fi cinema we expect every once in a while on the festival circuit, like Sound of My Voice (which hits DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday), rather than from a major Hollywood studio. Looper does fit the indie model, though, since Sony/Tristar picked it up for distribution only after it was done shooting, yet as Brian’s review of the film attests, we can still consider it a good sign for mainstream movies of this genre, and we can hope that Hollywood will see Johnson as the sort of directorial talent they need. But is it the best science fiction film since The Matrix? That’s a question posed in a headline from Time magazine yesterday, though its respective post doesn’t address such a discussion let alone attempt to answer the inquiry. Well, if we exclude superhero movies, animated features (Pixar, Miyazaki and The Iron Giant among them) and the Star Trek reboot, Looper is currently one of only two original studio films of its order to be battling for the status of best reviewed since the Wachowskis’ groundbreaking modern classic. The other is Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men.

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Matrix Origin

This content series is in partnership with smartwater. smartwater, good taste travels well. Click here to learn more. Where do movies come from? At the risk of sounding like Lucas from Empire Records (although “What’s with today, today?” is a perfectly valid question), there’s something genuinely incredible about the spark that leads to a multi-million dollar piece of art, crafted by thousands of people that a massive audience can enjoy. Someone reads a book or hears a story or finds an old family heirloom in a basement. Someone wants to recognize a figure that made a profound impact on our world. Someone stumbles across an old idea or has a Eureka Moment in the shower. It all gets put through the ringer and ends up as the only source of light in a darkened room. So, yes, there’s a magic to it all. Movies take their ideas from anywhere and everywhere (including other works of art and other movies). To celebrate that, here are five great films made just a bit more incredible by exploring where they come from.

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Sure, Quidditch looks like a whole bunch of fun until you take into account the fact that you’re probably not very good at it. Not to mention how exhausting it must be. There’s a reason you barely see anyone over 20 on a broom in those films. So what’s a lazy person to do in these fictional universes? Luckily there are options, some of which are arguably cooler than trying to balance on some stupid piece of custodial equipment.

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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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