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Keith Keener's

Positive Movie Reviews

The Matrix - Loaded!

You know how there are days in your life when everything changes?. For George W. Bush, it was the day he put down the crack pipe and met Jesus. For LeBron James, it will be the day that he finally loses his virginity. For me, it was last Thursday, when I saw the CNN show Crossfire and first gazed upon the magnificent host, Tucker Carlson, and forgot entirely about my hunger strike to meet Heath Ledger. I should point out that my hunger strike didn't get as much attention as it might have because I mainly just skipped my late afternoon snacks.

I took a flight (Thank you, US Airways E-savers) from Appleton to Washington, DC, where I got a chance to see Crossfire live at its studio at George Washington University. GWU has also converted the main library into an Indian casino and its women's dorm into Martha Washington's Strumpet Inn and Massage Parlor in an effort to raise cash and distance itself from the boring stuff that most universities do. The school's catchy new slogan -- "George Washington Networked Here" -- really shows how far the school will go to make their students the best lobbyists in the country!

Anyway, there was Tucker on stage in all his cherubic glory, with his pink pants (sadly, hidden from the camera) and his bowtie. In the audience, we were encouraged to cheer for our favorite comments, and Tucker had so many sharp points to make at those liberal whiners that I couldn't stop screaming his name, including during the part when the two guards carried me forcefully out of the studio, and then for fifteen minutes out in front of the building. My throat still hurts, and I wish it was for doing something for Tucker other than screaming.

When I get in one of my moods, I think the best thing to do is to see a movie to calm me down, and what could do that better than a futuristic nightmare about the end of the world and kung fu fights against 1,000,000 robots who all look like the evil elf from Lord of the Rings?

Some of you may have heard of the first Matrix movie, which was sort of a cult classic that I think was about newlyweds who have a flat tire and end up in the house of a crazy scientist. It's most famous because people sing along with Keanu Reeves and the other people doing "Let's Sing the Time Warp, Again."

In the new installment, Keanu plays "Neo," also known as "The One," who flies in and out of a computer world where he has magical powers. It turns out that in the future, computers are angry at humans and are trying to send an important message about conservation. What's so frustrating and fiendish about the computers is that they are very passive-aggressive and often don't say things as clearly as they should. What do they want? Why are they so mad at Neo?

People are pretty much the same all over the world, in my opinion, and probably even deep inside of the world far in the future. So it's not surprising that people would do a lot of talking about what the computers want, how their lives have meaning, and that sort of thing. In other action movies, writers and directors will usually keep the chatter to a minimum, figuring that French debates about exigeticalentialism or whatever probably aren't all that important to a rampaging bunch of dinosaurs who realize that Steven Spielberg has given them some fat guys, lawyers, and black people to kill. But in the new Matrix film, the Flying Wallenda Brothers, who wrote and directed the movie, Load up a lot of great conversations.

Do we have choice? Or is everything predetermined in advance? Why do socks always disappear in the dryer? What's up with those airplane seats? And how come they call it "military intelligence"? Do we control machines, or do they control us? I can't have an orgasm unless I am watching a porno film, so are the actors unable to have sex unless they are watching me masturbate? It really makes you think.

Turning an action movie into a long series of philosophical debates might have been risky, if the two directors had not found such great actors to do the debates. But with Keanu Reeves, Monica Bellucci, Samuel Fishburne, and the other stars, it's clear that in addition to their acting ability, these people were chosen mostly because of their natural ease with difficult metaphysical questions. Keanu Reeves almost destroyed his career in 1992 for launching a spirited defense of Martin Heidegger, in spite of Heidegger's Nazi ties, during his Oscar acceptance speech for his leading role in Point Break. Three years later, however, Reeves made a public statement condemning Heidegger, largely because he had in the meantime become a fan of Edmund Husserl, which allowed him to see the consequences of anti-Semitism. Reeves was then given his second Oscar, for Johnny Mnemonic, and then gave a speech that spoke in general terms of his fondness for peanut butter and his wish that more news broadcasts would feature feltboards or puppet shows, to clarify some of the difficult issues, like who is higher up in the government, the President or the Vice-President.

The Wallendas and their fine cast weave philosophy into the movie using one of the most interesting devices this reviewer has ever seen. Whenever they reach an unresolvable point in one of their debates, they begin to fight. The dramatic high point comes when Hugo Weaving challenges Reeves's Wittgensteinian position regarding the primacy of language over substance in philosophical debates. Taking a neo-Popperian stance, Weaving multiplies himself several hundred times, announces there's ultimately no way to prove that there's only one of himself, and proceeds to beat the snot out of Keanu until he realizes that Keanu has superman powers and can beat to death all of the new Weavings with a poker.

Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) challenges the idea of the subject and argues instead that free-flowing discourses and narratives shape all; she ends up in a fight to the death with a madly powerful Jurgen Habermas (playing himself) who teaches her the meaning of intersubjectivity by randomly taking control of one person after another in a fiendish plot to destroy her. The philosopher Cornell West (also playing himself) has a rap duel with Eminem and loses badly, then moves back to the "amateur circuit" and is beaten badly by Joe Lieberman.

What's most disturbing about the future isn't just that the robots and computers control the surface of the world, and humans are underground. It's more that in the future, the human world has gone topsy-turvy, and that most of the people in charge are young black, Oriental, and Spanish people who do a lot of sexual dances to throbbing music. Because I'm a huge fan of Broadway -- a place I probably would have visited if it wasn't in New York -- I was very happy to see that the cast of Stomp survived the apocalypse, but I'm not sure I like the idea of them playing that sort of thumping tune for people basically to have sex to. Call me old-fashioned, but I don't see what was so wrong with Sonny & Cher.

Because this troubled me so much, I wrote in a question to Tucker on Crossfire for tomorrow: What part of the new Matrix movie do Republicans find scarier: a world not run by people, or a world not run by white people? I hope they use it on air and that Tucker winks at me!!!!

By the way, it seems that the apocalypse is all the rage these days. Last night, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had its last episode, and a couple of lesbians prevented the end of the world by opening up the underworld and using their friend vampire as a dupe to destroy himself and everyone else. A similar plot was in Smallville, which made me cry as it always does, because they always use some sad teen songs to show how much love can hurt, even when you are Superman. Then Clark puts on a red kryptonite ring and rides off on a Harley to destroy the world. To be continued? We hope!!!!! This is the way the world should end, with a bang, not a motorcycle ride.

While watching Monica Bellucci in The Matrix: Loaded I had wanted to, you know, take care of business, but I couldn't because of what I said before about why I need porno movies. So after watching Smallville, I took the picture of Monica Bellucci that I had cut out of People magazine and taped to the TV, then put in my video of Hung Wankenstein with Ron Jeremy. It was sort of weird, but that worked. Then I had a good night's sleep.

I predict that next spring, Keanu will pick up his third Oscar and will finally get to give that speech about Bertrand Russell and bong water that he's been saving up..

On a scale of four or five stars, I give The Matrix: Loaded both four stars and five stars, and neither four stars nor five stars. Makes you think, doesn't it?


Earlier Positive Movie Reviews can be found at home.earthlink.net/~dleheny