Richard Crouse
Contributor, CTV News Channel and CTV News Digital


This image, published by Warner Bros. Pictures, shows Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in a scene from “The Matrix Resurrections”. (Warner Bros. Images via AP)

These days, movies are regularly re-shot, restarted, reinvented, and re-emerged. But none of these terms describe how Warner Bros brought back one of its most famous and groundbreaking franchises.

The new Keanu Reeves movie isn’t simply a return to the Matrix – the simulated reality created by intelligent machines to calm people down and steal their energy – it’s a resurrection. After 18 years, Neo was raised from the dead by Lana Wachowski in “The Matrix Resurrections” and is now playing in theaters.

The last time we saw Neo (Reeves) he made the ultimate sacrifice in giving himself to create peace between machines and humanity. His death would enable people to finally free themselves from the virtual world of the Matrix.

In “Resurrections” it is 20 years later. Neo now bears his real name, Thomas A. Anderson. He is the “greatest video game designer of his generation” with an ordinary life, save for the visions that haunt him. “I had dreams,” he says, “they weren’t just dreams.” His analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) put him on a constant diet of heavy therapy and blue pills to suppress the strange delusions.

Anderson’s normal life is turned upside down when his business partner Smith (Jonathan Groff) announces that their company will make a sequel to their most popular game, The Matrix. While his team is working on the new game – “It’s a mind bomb!” – his memories intensify and he soon has difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction.

When people from his past, such as the computer programmer and hacker Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an alternative reality version of the heroic Matrix hovercraft captain, the Neo first appeared for “The One” stopped, Thomas feared losing his mind.

Things are getting clearer – or are they? – when the new Morpheus Thomas / Neo offers a selection of pills. The blue ones will maintain the status quo of Thomas’s mindset. However, the red ones will lead him through the rabbit hole into the heart of the matrix. “Nothing comforts fear like a little nostalgia,” says Morpheus.

Popping Pill, the simulated world opens to reveal a dangerous place in need of a hero. Together with a group of rebels, Neo fights a new enemy and secrets are revealed. “The matrix is ​​the same or worse,” says Neo. “And I’m back to where I started. It feels like none of this matters. ”

“The Matrix Resurrections” is perhaps the most confident film of the year. No episode of “The Matrix” will ever match the Whiz Bang excitement of the first film, and “Resurrections” knows it. It comments on itself and consistently winks at its legacy.

“This cannot be a retread, restart or burping,” says one of the video game designers from “Matrix”.

Like the plot of the film, the film itself seeks to blur the line between the reality of the story and the actual act of viewing the film. It’s self-deprecating and cynical at the same time. It’s okay to have a bit of fun with the story, especially given the oh-so serious tone of the previous “Matrix” films, but when Thomas meets Trinity at the Simulatte Café the jokes have grown thin.

The core of the story, the search for the truth, is the engine that keeps the film going, but the endless representation, a torrent of words, seems to be the fuel that keeps things going. When a character says, “That’s what makes stories so special, they never end”, it’s hard to contradict, as the film sinks into mythology and world structure.

It becomes a drudgery without enough of the trademarked Wachowski action scenes to quicken the pace. When the film delves into bullet time and the action that made the original so memorable, it feels like a pale comparison. There’s not much new – “I still know Kung Fu,” says Neo – just frenetic action and nostalgia for a time when a ball in slow motion made our eyeballs dance.

“The Matrix Resurrections” tries to recontextualize the existing mythology. This time around, the all-you-need-is love story between Neo and Trinity is spiced up and there are some up-to-date social comments on control, be it from the government or a virtual reality machine, but, and there’s a big but so Much as I wanted to enjoy another trip into the Matrix, I found it too meta, too long and yet not ambitious enough.

“Licorice Pizza”, the new slice of the life of director Paul Thomas Anderson that is now showing in theaters, is a very special film. It takes us back to Los Angeles around the 1970s. Nixon is president. In Hollywood, Tail o’the Cock restaurant is the place to see and be seen, and gas stations are facing fuel shortages across the country. But against this special background comes a story full of revealing charm, nostalgia and universal themes.

Cooper Hoffman, son of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman, is Gary Valentine, a cocky 15-year-old actor with a prosperous career and a back pocket full of quick plans. During the photo day at his high school, he discovers photographer assistant Alana (Alana Haim). She is 10 years older than him, but he’s lucky and asks her out on a date. She agrees, but says it’s not a date, just dinner. He takes her to the Tail o ‘the Cock hotspot and tells her at the end of the night: “I won’t forget you. Just like you won’t forget me. “

It’s the beginning of a mostly platonic relationship in which they drift into and out of each other’s lives, start a waterbed business, and navigate to maturity. “Maybe fate brought us together,” Gary tells her. “Our streets brought us here.”

“Licorice Pizza” (the name refers to a disbanded Californian record store chain) is not a film that is overly preoccupied with the plot. Instead, it relies on the characters to keep things interesting.

That’s exactly what newcomers Hoffman and Haim (she plays guitar and keyboard in the pop-rock band Haim) do. Everyone is a magnetic performer in themselves; It’s full of sinister intensity, he has a youthful boast to the tee – “I’m a showman,” he says. “That’s what I’m meant for.” – but when you put them together, the sparks fly. From their first exchange in the high school gym to the film’s closing moments, they convince us. In the film, the characters experience the first blush of friendship and love. In the audience we experience another premiere, the debut of two new, promising actors.

Later, after the movie, I found myself daydreaming that maybe we could revisit her every 10 years or so like the relationship trilogy “Before Sunrise”, “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight”.

Some classic cars can also strut their things. Sean Penn plays a riff on die-hard actor William Holden with equal parts mischievous and charming, and Bradley Cooper pulls out all the stops to bring Hollywood barber and movie mogul Jon Peters to a vibrant, excessive life.

It’s an evocative rendition of a specific time and place, but it doesn’t all fit. In its 1970s re-edition, director Paul Thomas Anderson features two scenes with John Michael Higgins as Jerry Frick, owner of the first Japanese restaurant in the San Fernando Valley, The Mikado. In both of his scenes, in conversation with his Japanese wives, played by Yumi Mizui and Megumi Anjo, he speaks with an exaggerated, goofy Japanese accent. Both scenes stand out like a sore thumb. I imagine they’re supposed to represent the causal racism of the time, but they break the film’s magical spell with cultural insensitivity that doesn’t add anything to the story but a cheap laugh.

“Licorice Pizza” is like leafing through a diary. Some details are intense, some glossed over, but everything is relevant to the experience being written about. Like diary entries, the film is episodic. Each episode that goes by allows us to get to know Gary and Alana a little better and, most importantly, to remember what it means to be young and in love.

The rigorous and theatrical “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” which hits theaters on December 25th and streamed on Apple TV on January 14th, feels like an upscale horror film in its exploration of ambition and violence.

The storyline is familiar from high school English lessons. Three witches (all played by Kathryn Hunter) prophesy that Macbeth (Denzel Washington), a heroic general in King Duncan’s (Brendan Gleeson) army, is on his way to glory. He will be called Thane of Cawdor, it is said, and one day, when he has the backbone, King. It is welcome news for the ambitious warrior and unscrupulous Machiavellian wife, Lady Macbeth (Frances McDormand), who are fueling her husband’s rise to power by devising a plan to kill the king.

In their bloody coup, the popular Duncan is murdered, which triggers Macbeth’s accession to the throne. The couple’s lust for power leads to a reign of terror that includes the mass murder of the family of King Duncan loyalist Macduff (Corey Hawkins) and a civil war.

The crown sits heavily on their collective heads. The new power couple will soon be overwhelmed by insomnia, festering paranoia, and feelings of guilt. “By stabbing my thumb,” says one of the witches, “something bad comes here.”

Adapted for the screen by director Joel Coen, he works for the first time without his brother Ethan, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” combines theater and cinema in a seamless and powerful way. The expressionist sets and the minimalist soundtrack look like something out of the theater, while the beautiful, clear black and white photographs and charismatic performances are pure cinema.

Washington is quietly powerful while its immorality grows. His appearance, a brave step out of the fog straight to the camera, establishes his film star credibility. His letter-to-letter line readings, adding meaning and emotion to even the most intimidating passages of Shakespeare, prove that he was born to say those words.

McDormand plays Lady Macbeth as her husband’s equal. She captures her ambition, but dampens performance with notes of desperation.

The legendary stage actress Kathryn Hunter is also striking. She plays all three of the prophetic, strange sisters in a physically transformative way that bends them into shapes that look almost supernatural.

All of them are backed by an exemplary cast, including Gleeson, Corey Hawkins as Macduff, the Thane of Fife, Bertie Carvel as Macbeth ally Banquo, and Harry Melling as Malcolm, King Duncan’s elder.

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” is accessible without ever downplaying the audience. Masterful filmmaking mixes and combines the text with captivating imagery and wonderful performances to create a new take on the Scottish play that is both respectfully and fearlessly fresh.

In these films, The Kingsmen are a secret espionage organization whose members have manners that would make Henry Higgins proud and gadgets that James Bond would envy. You were the subject of two films, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” and now comes an origin story that takes us back to the early part of three films in the espionage franchise from director Matthew Vaughn Century and the confusing beginnings of these modern knights.

Now showing in theaters, The King’s Man begins with a tragedy that leads the wealthy and powerful Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) to reject the colonialism and violence that are the bedrock of his family fortune. He wonders why he was killing people trying to protect their own country. “With every man I’ve killed,” he said, “I killed a piece of myself.”

As World War I approaches, a gathering of the world’s most hideous tyrants and villains working for an evil mastermind with plans to rule the world hatches a plan that could lead to genocide.

With the lives of millions at stake and his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) going to war, the Duke realizes he cannot rely on politicians to do the right thing. In order to save the world, he gives up his pacifist ways. With the help of his most trusted colleagues, the swordsman Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and the sniper Polly (Gemma Arterton), he goes into the fray and lays the seeds for the establishment of The Kingsmen, an organization that uses violence to achieve peace / p>
The first two “Kingsman” films were overloaded, but had a certain lightness. Unfortunately, “The King’s Man” lands with a thud. A mix of fact (well, almost real stuff) and fiction – real characters like Rasputin, the Mad Russian Monk (Rhys Ifans) are woven into the imaginative story – the movie is everywhere. It’s a spy story, a must-have story, a slapstick comedy, an action film, a broken fairy tale about world affairs.

Some of the action scenes are pretty funny and Ifans eats so much scenery it feels like he’ll never go hungry again, but the story takes way too long to get going.

“The King’s Man” feels like it’s splintering in all directions, like three films put together into one bloated, messy sequel story.

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