About, oh, 2 weeks or so ago I suppose, I went to see the Matrix Revolutions . I was really hopeful that it would rescue the trilogy from the rather lower plane it had reached after Reloaded. I thought that a lot of Reloadeds faults might be excusable when it was seen as part of it's whole. Unfortunatly, my hopes were dashed. Reloaded wasn't a blip it was a trend. There were a couple of pretty scenes, but overall the whole thing was pretty awful. And they stole the plot of Return of the King (or at least partly, it ends differently, I'll grant). Trinity's death scene was *awful*. Far too long and over sentimentalized, although it's gets one less point away for refering back to her previous death scene. They didn't do anything interesting with the fact that Neo now has magical powers in the real world too - that could have been really interesting instead of just a plot point. I enjoyed Niobe driving the spaceship, but felt that both that and the fight for the dock went on too long. It's just a shame really. I really liked the original Matrix because it dramatized an interesting idea and did it well (although even then, I thought the lobby scene was too long). At the end, Neo has a zen moment which allows him to fight better. It's just a shame that they chose to develope the fighting aspects rather than the zen/ideas for the later films.
The Matrix trilogy I suppose points up the way that I enjoy films differently to most people that I know. I liked the first Matrix because it was about an interesting idea and portrayed it well. I wasn't particularly impressed by or interested in the fight scenes and the special effects except in their capacity to illustrate the ideas or move the story along. Unfortunatly, as the series went on the ideas got thinner and the dialogue got worse. The special effects were still there and still impressive, but for me, that does not an interesting or a good film make. It's boring. I want to engage, either mentally or emotionally and I didn't really with Matrix 2 and 3. I did want to see how this story, which had started out so well, ended but I don't think there's really any other reason to watch those films.
Changing style completely, at a party I had many moons ago (possibly last new year) someone left a videotape marked "Totoro". I asked in a desultory fashion at the pub but no-one claimed it so it's been sitting on my video shelf waiting for me to watch it ever since. Then I had a weird dream in which I did watch it and it contained a home video of someone murdering someone else (although you couldn't see the murderers face). It was all very traumatic and I got lots of hassle from the police because I couldn't remember when I got the video. So I thought I'd better watch it, you know, just to check. Fortunatly, it was much more prosaic content. Despite having seen quite a lot of Studio Ghibli stuff, thanks to a season at the Phoenix a while back I'd never got round to seeing My Neighbour Totoro. In the event, it was very much what I expect of a Ghibli production. A beautifully drawn (in all senses) fairy tale. A glimpse into a moment in a familys life where something magical is happening. I like the fact that there's not really a particular plot so much as a sucession of loosely connected events. As often happens with these I found myself wondering if I was watching the creation of a new fable or whether Totoro is part of Japanse liturature in the way that Puss in Boots (say) is part of ours. A very soothing way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
After Totoro, we let the tape run on (just to make sure) and discovered that it also contained Papa Panda, which was a slightly more bizarre piece of anime. Mimiko, on her own while her Grandma is in Nagasaki, comes home to discover a little panda, who is soon followed by his father. Mimiko adopts the little panda as her baby and the father as her Papa. And shows her knickers a lot. It's charming in a weird as hell kind of way. It also lead to Alex suddenly realising that the tape was Adrians, so now I've had to give it back. If there was a murder after Papa Panda, we didn't see it.
And, last but definitely not least, the West Wing. I always thought that the West Wing sounded really interesting, but I missed the start, and I decided that I didn't want to try to pick it up part way through so up until now I haven't seen it. coalescent, my trusty supplier of good TV, lent me the DVDs of the first series which Alex and I have been watching in chunks over the past week or so. We're now just over half way through and it's an amazing show. It's beautifully acted, scripted, directed, shot. The characters are real people (Alex can even remember them all, so you can tell it's good) who you care about and whose passion you can share. It's very much a drama about a fantasy America though. A White House staffed by idealists and good guys, loyal to eachother and focused on what an important thing it is they're doing. Trying to run the world *right*. I haven't seen a single mention of big business interests and they're happy to go with the policy they believe in rather than the popular one. Maybe that's what Americans really believe politicians are like - after all, we're always being told that they're much less cynical than us. Still, in fantasy America I can really be on their side. You see them doing their very best, besieged by the other side and the media and so on and you really root for them. Occasionally it gets a bit over inspirational but they're mostly on the right side of that line. Unfortunatly, I've only got another 10 episodes of the season. Fortunatly, when I do run out, I've got 24 and 2 seasons of B5 borrowed from my brother. Should keep me going for a while.