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  The Matrix Redacted
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A Surprising Cluster of Good Movies

Recently, there was an unprecedented run of good, original movies released by major studios. I still don't understand why or how this could happen. It could be that I've learned to detect and avoid bad movies, or it could be that I've been going in with low expectations, but I don't think either of those really accounts for everything. All I know to do is hope it continues.

The one that set the stage was The Matrix. I went just for fun, expecting to see some unremarkable sci-fi movie, and instead was completely blown away. Later, there were four that came out practically one after the other

American Beauty
Fight Club
Being John Malkovich
Three Kings

These movies were amazing to me for several reasons. First, the stories were unusual and unpredictable, and yet still had internal consistency. Second, when considered simply as moving pictures, the films were all beautiful I guess that's what you'd call cinematography.

Third, I was able to identify with the characters; their reactions and emotions felt genuine and familiar, not just cooked up according to convention. For example, in American Beauty when the parents are arguing over dinner, or in Three Kings when the villagers, the soldiers, and the Americans are all yelling at one another, there is real tension, not because the screenwriter said there should be, but because the viewer, in the same situation, would experience it.

This ties in to my fourth and final point. Because the characters weren't just conventional, the movies were able to touch on ideas and topics that were nonconventional, even taboo. Much of American Beauty, for example, revolves around the uncomfortable fact that men can still be attracted to teenage girls, even ones literally young enough to be their daughters.


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@ March (2000)