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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

10 years of Flick Filosopher: unfortunately no one can be told why ‘The Matrix’ is so appealing…

In that heady spring of 1999 when everyone was trying to figure out why The Matrix was such a phenomenon, Entertainment Weekly published a letter from me that echoed my review of the film:

But the real secret to The Matrix’s destiny as a box-office triumph and cult in the making is that it plugs right in to the fantasy of every intelligent, disenfranchised, socially inept, outcast SF fan, computer geek, and comic-book nerd (incidentally, that portion of the movie audience that drowns its misunderstood sorrows in repeat trips to the multiplex and the purchase of mass quantities of videos). “You have a problem with authority,” Thomas Anderson’s boss at the soul-sucking cube farm lectures him. “You think that you’re special, that the rules don’t apply to you” (like all of us who feel as if we were dropped on this planet by aliens). Yet it turns out that Neo — Anderson’s alter ego, his “secret identity” — is destined to save the world (just as the dork brigade has always suspected of itself). “You’ve felt it your entire life,” Morpheus tells Neo (though he’s actually speaking to the audience, with its clandestine understanding of how things really are), “that there’s something wrong with the world.” And even though they don’t know it, all the sheep — everybody who’s sleepwalking through life and paying taxes like a moron — they’re all about to be saved by Neo, even if they don’t even realize they need to be saved, the schmucks.

It generated a lot of new traffic to the site, and feedback from viewers who had a bone to pick with me…

review of The Matrix, posted 04.12.99

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