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THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 1:37 pm
by max314
Matt Irvine Interviews THE WACHOWSKIS


The Wachowskis’ interviews are as rare as they are fascinating and funny.

This one is especially spectacular. It sees Matt Irvine of DePaul University interrogating every aspect of their careers; he even gets them to spell out the key themes of the allegedly opaque Matrix sequels. Their latest film, Jupiter Ascending, is out February 6th.

A special thanks to Prince Kabala for bringing this to my attention.

For your convenience, I’ve taken the trouble (you’re welcome, assholes!) to split the 90-minute interview into digestible chapters:

00:00:00 – Introduction: Beyond Business and Being On “The Timeline”
00:02:19 – Rosetta Stone: From Graphic Novels to Graphic Cinema
00:06:42 – Industrial Rage: Questioning Paradigms and The Problem With Virtual Reality
00:10:19 – Artificial Intelligence: Bound to Breaking Ground
00:14:20 – Systemic Scarring: What Assassins Could Have Been
00:16:54 – Cash Flow: The Struggle to be “Bankable”
00:20:00 – Group Dynamics: How and Why to Work Together
00:22:29 – Aesthetics: The DNA of Art
00:33:27 – Aesthetic Shift: Pushing Boundaries with The Matrix
00:37:51 – Aesthetic Terrorism: Exploding Boundaries after The Matrix
00:58:42 – “Jordon Won The Championship During The Dojo Scene”


01:02:59 – Creating Performances in the Edit
01:06:16 – Why Not Direct V for Vendetta?
01:08:14 – Disagreeing with The Directors’ Interpretation of The Matrix Sequels’ Themes
01:13:57 – How to “Make It” in Hollywood
01:19:37Plastic Man and Other Unproduced Scripts
01:23:12 – Writing as Writers Vs. Writing as Directors
01:24:08 – Directors who Inspired Them

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 1:45 pm
by so sorry

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:36 pm
by Ribbons
Awesome max. Thanks for the work. I will watch this video when I'm taking my nightly bath.

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:16 pm
by Fievel
I will have to revisit this when I have more time.
And man.... I haven't had a bath in about twenty years. Totally jealous.

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 3:11 pm
by Spandau Belly
That interview was quite enjoyable. I really dig the Wachowskis and look forward to JUPITER ASCENDING.

I tend to agree with the consensus that JA will be their final big budget outing. Hopefully they'll find ways to continue making movies on a smaller scale.

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:44 am
by TheBaxter
Spandau Belly wrote:I tend to agree with the consensus that JA will be their final big budget outing.

judging by this weekend's box office returns, that's probably a safe bet.

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:16 pm
by TheButcher
How the Wachowskis became George Lucas
DARREN FRANICH wrote:In 1999, 16 years after Return of the Jedi, George Lucas released The Phantom Menace. It hit theaters a couple months after The Matrix, a film that turned the Wachowski siblings into superstar directors. The Matrix was not The Phantom Menace: R-rated and ultraviolent, dense with French philosophy and chic andro-goth fashion. And yet somehow, 16 years later, the Wachowskis have now released Jupiter Ascending, a movie that looks and feels an awful lot like The Phantom Menace. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A lovable every-person prole protagonist with a dead-end job gets plucked out of obscurity by a space warrior, who reveals that the protagonist is actually some kind of chosen one.

Elaborate bureaucracy ensues: The Phantom Menace stages some thrilling parliamentary debate, Jupiter Ascending glories in the wonder of intergalactic estate planning. Half the movie is shot on a greenscreen: Because the backgrounds are so beautiful and because the actors have been instructed to stand still and show zero emotion, the cumulative effect is that the actual human beings look like stick figures painted onto a Hieronymus Bosch postcard. Both movies look “interesting,” insofar as it’s interesting to consider that a spacefaring civilization will reach a point of pointless peacocking decadence when every spaceship has sails and/or Roman columns.

I enjoyed Jupiter Ascending way more than The Phantom Menace, mainly because I enjoy hilariously bad movies much more than numbing mediocrities. And Jupiter Ascending is hilarious, and bad. You can feel the Wachowskis trying to come up with a visual idea half as compelling as bullet time—and what they land on is Channing Tatum’s sky-boots, which don’t so much allow him to “fly” as roller-skate through the air. Close to two hundred million dollars, and the Wachowskis came up with Space Xanadu.

Jupiter Ascending did horribly at the box office, and there’s already a lot of talk about how its poor performance is “bad” for Original Movies. There’s also the notion that Jupiter Ascending is somehow impressive purely because it is an original movie. Given the chance, the Wachowskis will take the opportunity to toot their own horn. “We’re sort of oddities in that we keep making original movies” is what Lana Wachowski—director of two Matrix sequels and the movie Speed Racer—told the LA Times. She got a bit more precise in an interview at Buzzfeed: “People who write about movies are obsessed with derivative material in a way they never were before. And they crave it. They hunger for familiarity, and they actually have a suspicion of originality.”

In the same interview, the Wachowskis bring up an interesting idea—that somehow, the horror of 9/11 and the ensuing terror decade sent people retreating into the safety of unoriginal stories. That is a fascinating notion, much more fascinating than literally anything in Jupiter Ascending, a movie that argues that the universe is run by evil British vampire rich people, that the most important thing in the world is family, and that calling someone “Jupe” is a wholly acceptable thing that normal people do all the time.

With all due respect, the reading of Jupiter Ascending that resonates most strongly with me comes from star Mila Kunis, who described it thus to The Times: “This is like diet Matrix…The movie is about entitlement. It’s about the fact that we, as a society, have a sense of entitlement and greed.” This is an interesting thing to say, not least because it forces you to retroactively consider all the Wachowskis’ films in the context of Coke products. (V for Vendetta is Cherry Matrix. Cloud Atlas is Black Cherry Vanilla Matrix. Bound is Matrix and Rum. Speed Racer is cocaine. The Matrix Revolutions is terrible.)

But it’s also interesting, because in a weird way, Kunis is locking into an idea that should be central to the Wachowskis’ movies—except that it’s an idea they seem to have completely forgotten they ever had. With the maybe-exception of Cloud Atlas, all of their movies have the same basic structure: Normal person discovers that their society—indeed, their whole world—is actually ruled by a shady corpo-political-robot cabal. The normal person–Neo, Evey, Speed, Jupe—learns all this hidden knowledge from a mysterious man (always a man) who lives outside society’s normal rules: Morpheus, V, Racer X, Space-Tatum.

Every movie circles through a narrative that vibes simultaneously of ’60s radicalism and ’90s indie-movie individuality: V for Vendetta is clearly a political statement, even if that statement is “Don’t trust presidents who look like Hitler,” while Speed Racer is clearly an aesthetic statement, a movie that argues that racing is an “art” and that art is only true when you’re racing for yourself and not for a major corrupt corporation.

Speed Racer cost one of those corporations over a hundred million dollars. Corporate-sponsored anticorporate messages are nothing new. (Evidence: Like, any commercial.) Yet there is something weirdly disingenuous, after a decade and a half of this. The Wachowskis clearly fancy themselves outsiders, and the work they are doing is clearly different from, say, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Wachowskis clearly read a lot of books: Have you heard of that guy Baudrillard? But they are also people who, with one exception, have spent this era of cinema making digital-effects blockbusters paid for by Time Warner, a company which currently ranks 102 on the Fortune 500.

I was a Time Warner employee for about five years. Like all corporate worker bees, I have spent some days struggling with the realities of working for a gigantic corporation; there are also plenty of days when you just shrug and move on to worrying about things that are actually important. Not everyone works for a corporation, of course. George Lucas will always consider himself an outsider: A man who openly despised the Hollywood system, who did everything in his power to ensure that he never had to leave the Bay Area. I am from the Bay Area; it is a place that attracts outsiders, and a place that attracts insiders who think they are outsiders. Much has been made about how, in the Star Wars prequels, Lucas attempted to become openly political in a way that his early films only hinted at: Revenge of the Sith is about how tyranny rises out of democracy.

Much has also been made about the central paradox of Lucas’ career: He made movies about the glory of rebellion, but he ultimately became the head of his own Empire. And so Revenge of the Sith is a stultifying portrait of the birth of rebellion, where the rebels have become so boring and vanilla. The question isn’t: “What are you rebelling against?” The question becomes: “Don’t you realize that you are what people want to rebel against?”

And I think something similar is happening to the Wachowskis now. Jupiter Ascending returns to a central idea from The Matrix that normal everyday human beings are just fuel for the Elites. In The Matrix, dead human juice is battery power for the machines; in Jupiter Ascending, dead human juice is botox ambrosia for the evil space-British sex addicts. Both movies come down boldly against dead human juice…because darn it, it’s wrong to kill people! How true that is!

But just like Lucas in The Phantom Menace, the Wachowskis can’t really conceive of why the system is broken. When Neo and good ol’ Jupe discover that they are, essentially, gods, their reaction is Messiah-perfect: They only want to help people. The end of Jupiter Ascending even implies that Jupe is going back to scrubbing toilets: She’s the queen of the world, but she’s also one of us! Aw, shucks! There’s never any danger that Neo and/or Jupe might use their newfound powers for anything but absolute good. The bad guys are the baddest of the bad: Evil computers and Eddie Redmayne swanning around a throne room, his only friends gigantic lizard people with wings.

This Manichean worldview gets violated occasionally, usually by “bad guys” who are actually the most interesting people in the Wachowskis’ movies. Cypher in The Matrix decides that, all in all, he’d rather be comfortable within the system then frustrated outside of it—a character arc that feels oddly revealing, when you consider that the Wachowskis followed up nominally “independent” failed passion project Cloud Atlas with a movie that at one point was considered the first entry in a PG-13 sci-fi trilogy. But there isn’t really a Cypher character in Jupiter Ascending—the closest we get is Sean Bean as Bee-Man, who betrays the heroes but then un-betrays them and anyhow he’s just doing it all for his daughter. Just like Lucas in the later Star Wars sequels, you can feel how much the Wachowskis want to say something, but all they can really say is that nice people are nice and mean people suck.

Does this come with the territory? Is it impossible to make $200 million corporate products about how big-budget megacorporations are evil? Perhaps wisely, the Wachowskis are retreating to the new corporate frontier of streaming content, developing a new TV show for Netflix. I’m excited about Sense8, even if the plot basically sounds like Everything Is Everything, I’m Down With That: The Series. There was a time when Lucas talked about a move to television, ordering scripts for a Star Wars series set in the scuzzy darker corners of the galaxy. Lucas also spent most of his post-Star Wars career talking about how he just wanted to get back to smaller independent films. You wonder if the Wachowskis want that, too. But you also wonder if they even think they need that.

The tragedy of George Lucas is that he always thought he was Luke Skywalker and didn’t notice when he became the Emperor. Is the tragedy of the Wachowskis that they buried themselves inside the Matrix?

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2015 12:12 am
by Ribbons
I can't say I agree with the bulk of his argument. V for Vendetta, Speed Racer, and Cloud Atlas were all expensive movies, but they were risky movies made within that system. It's not really analogous to George Lucas saying he wanted to work more and then not doing anything for 20 years. Whether the Wachowskis are capable of going back to smaller non-blockbuster fare is still in question, but as Christopher Nolan accurately pointed out when asked why he's only made mega-budget epics since Batman Begins, when a studio is offering you a lot of money to make whatever you want, you take that money until they come to their senses. I'll see what Sense8 is like before I start doomsaying.

(And I certainly don't want to take the position of Jupiter Ascending apologist, but the bureaucracy in that movie was supposed to be satire, not riveting space-drama like the federal blockade in Episode I. If you found its byzantine complications "hilariously bad," congratulations, you're in on the joke.)

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2015 8:38 am
by Spandau Belly
I share some of the writer's annoyance. Listening to filmmakers pity themselves about how hard it is to sell an original sci-fi film to the public gets a big eyeroll from me. I see this all the time. The media and the filmmakers keep tooting this "support original sci-fi" horn like we're saving the rec centre or something. I also might feel that original sci-fi was getting a bad deal if the movies were consistently better. I mean, I've been passably amused by stuff like PACIFIC RIM, but it's hard for me to see it as some great tragedy that these films weren't embraced as masterpieces by the whole world. The reason there's so much money on the table to produce giant sci-fi flops like JUPITER ASCENDING is because the huge financial success of original sci-fi films like AVATAR and INCEPTION has proven that these films can make big money.

It's especially bizarre to hear the Wachowskis talking about how audiences are scared of originality and flock to established properties when considering that their biggest hit was an original sci-fi film and their biggest flop was an adaptation of a cartoon show.

However, like Ribbons, I think the comparison of the Wachowskis to George Lucas is a pretty big stretch. Their careers don't really have much in common.

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2015 2:35 pm
by TheButcher
Landon Palmer wrote:But I side with Alex Pappademas in that I also “hope people keep on giving them giant piles of money to burn in foolhardy high-concept ways.” In a Hollywood in which most grand-scale ambitions only create a superficial spectacle en route to a familiar result, we need the uniquely earnest, messy, and inventive Wachowskis’ brazen lack of restraint.

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:44 pm
by Fievel
Other Sibling is Transgender Too

Their lives are like some bizarre soap opera anime....except for real.

Re: THE WACHOWSKIS – A Rivetting and Revealing Interview

PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:22 pm
by Ribbons
But how does max314 feel about all this?