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  April 2, 1999
The Red Pill

Yesterday, I was introduced to The Matrix.

I had seen a few commercials throughout the past two or three weeks for the new Keanu Reeves action flick, The Matrix. The special effects resembled those "Jump, Jive, Wail" GAP commercials where a gal leaps over a guy's head and the action is paused, while the camera pans around them and continues their action. I've learned this technique is called "350 degree filming", where the actors are placed into a circular green screen room with several cameras peeking through holes in the green walls. All the cameras run at the same time, giving the filmmakers a complete perspective of the action. At points, the action can be frozen and a computer can morph one camera's angle to the next. So it appears that the action is frozen as the camera pans around the scene.


I heard that the special effects in this film will be revolutionary and will influence special effects and action flicks in the same way that Star Wars did in the mid 70s. I've recently learned that many Star Wars fans will be camping out in front of the theaters for 25 days before the Premiere in order to get prime tickets and seats (no advanced ticket sales, Constant Reader, for the first two weeks). I'm probably not going to see it on the first day. This irritated me, primarily because I'm not that much of a fan to do this. I decided that I had to see a newly released movie in order to make me feel not so irritated.

Enter, The Matrix.

The start date had moved from April 2nd to March 31st. I wanted to see a on a weeknight and this would be a good choice. After all, it's been quite a long time since I've seen any SF in the theater (the last Alien film with Winona Ryder being the last one that I can recall) and I also wanted to see my friend, Christine. I had just seen her this past weekend when she went to see Life is Beautiful with Steve, Mike, and I (I'll write more about that later, Constant Reader) but we really didn't chat too much one-on-one in the same manner that we've done when we do a girl's night out. So, I asked her to come see The Matrix with me, along with dinner.

She came to see me after work. I was going to buy the tickets online, but couldn't find my credit card and was worried that I had lost it. I called the card company and they informed me of an "unusual purchase" from Texas that day. I had not used my card since the weekend and that just became a huge flag that there was something wrong, so I cancelled my card by reporting it was stollen. Much to my chagrin, I found it later buried in my check book. So, I wasn't able to purchase tickets online... which meant we had to go to the theater.

But first, a stop at DV8, a fetishwear store that Keith (my piercer) has set up shop. I haven't seen him since a month earlier when I got my eyebrow ring removed. Yes, Constant Reader, it's gone. It had been migrating out and bleeding, but that's another story for another time. We sat around and chatted about Christine's new interest, tensions in the online boyart community, and the web. It was a short but entertaining visit where I got caught up on most of the gossip.

We walked from DV8 to Union Square, where we found the theater and discovered that the only showings left for the evening were the 10pm and 11pm ones. Yuck! I thought that since most movies are less than two hours, I figured that it would be okay and we purchased 10pm tickets. That gave us a couple of hours to kill, which we spent at the Chat and Chew (good, wholesome cookin' where you won't get weird looks for ordering a pop) and at Virgin Records (I am the proud new owner of the Life is Beautiful screenplay and "The Battle of Brazil: Terry Gilliam v. Universal Pictures In The Fight to the Final Cut" by Jack Matthews which outlines the struggle between a director and the studio for a film). Around 9:40, we entered the theater to see The Matrix.

The theater was large and packed and we took two seats in the fourth row. The screen filled my vision, even my peripheral vision. This was one of those special THX theaters and the sound was incredible. I was enveloped by the film. Lost in its sound and vision. I couldn't turn my head and avoid the film, like I do sometimes when the action gets too tension-filled. The crowd was typical New York, loud and free in its commentary. After each preview, the crowd would vocalize their approval (or disapproval). Once, the screen blanked and the faint outline of "Lucasfilm" started materializing. Catcalls and claps from the audience. The second Star Wars trailer is fantastic. I remembered my disappointment thinking about how hard it would be to see the movie on the first day. I bit it down, determined to enjoy myself with The Matrix. Then the movie begun...

What a whirlwind! I don't know where to begin to talk about how spectacular I thought the movie was. The concept behind the film was interesting (how the reality that we know isn't really reality and how we are slaves to this system -- the Matrix has you). The special effects are phenominal -- better than I had expected. The acting is okay. I really liked Laurence Fishborne in the role of Morpheus and the woman who plays Trinity has one of the sleekest, desirable female bodies I've seen in a long time. She's got very androgynous features, which is very attractive to me. I don't think Keanu Reeves is particularly attractive, but after seeing this flick, I think he's quite yummy. The action sequences are the gems of this film. Their use of wire supports allows the stars to walk on walls and do flips and float in air is amazing. I also like the technique they used of speeding up and slowing down the action. Amazing.

Most importantly, The Matrix is inspiring for me.

There's a great scene in the film where doubting Thomas (a.k.a. Neo) meets Morpheus for the first time and Morpheus propositions him. The blue pill will continue his existance. The red pill will open his eyes to the truth. "Like Alice, I'll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes."

So, here I am. I've taken the red pill with Thomas and have been introduced to a much larger world. It's a fantasy world, but it has inspired me. I've got a half dozen fictional stories swimming in my head set in a Matrix world. I haven't been inspired to write fiction in such a long time. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why this movie turns me on so much. A number of future entries will look like this one, where I've stepped into the world of the Matrix and tackle one or two of the questions the movie supposes to its audience.

I've followed the white rabbit into Wonderland, Constant Reader. Indulge me in my occasional exploration of The Matrix.

Border graphics from The Matrix Screensaver from The Matrix website
© Copyright 1999, Eileene Coscolluela