The film breathes exhilarating life into its tired premise, thanks to some dazzling action choreography, stylish visuals and–most importantly–a vintage anti-hero performance from Keanu Reeves.
Editor's note: To give you a chance to get to know our writers better, we've asked them to respond to some questions. In coming weeks, we'll be posting their responses, which will always be available as a link from their contributor biography page. Here's Glenn Kenny.
Where did you grow up, and what was it like?
I grew up in Northern New Jersey, and it was largely unpleasant, but it certainly helped me build really unhealthy culinary tastes.
Was anyone else in your family into movies? If so, what effect did they have on your moviegoing tastes?
My mom liked movies, and she helped me get into them by asking five-year-old me to stay up with her and keep her company to watch "The Haunting" on network television around 1965 or '66. Changed my life!
What's the first movie you remember seeing, and what impression did it make on you?
The legend is "Psycho," at the age of one, sitting between my folks at the drive-in. But of course I really don't REMEMBER that. I DO remember seeing the drunk-driving-off-a-cliff business in "North by Northwest" from the back of my folks' car at a drive-in some time after that, so I guess that's the thing. It made an impression, but not enough of one to positively effect certain future life decisions.
What's the first movie that made you think, "Hey, some people made this. It didn't just exist. There's a human personality behind it."
I honestly couldn't tell you. I do remember when I was about seven (around 1966 or '67) I asked my mom why she thought the French director Jean-Luc Godard wore tinted glasses all the time and she answered, "It could be an affectation."
What's the first movie you ever walked out of?
John Derek's 1981 "Tarzan, The Ape Man," starring Bo Derek. I left during Richard Harris' death scene, but I couldn't stay walked-out 'cause I had attended with my pals. So I came back in after what I thought were 20 minutes and Richard Harris was still doing his death scene.
What's the funniest film you've ever seen?
What's the saddest film you've ever seen?
Leo McCarey's "Make Way For Tomorrow"
What's the scariest film you've ever seen?
Roman Polanski's "Repulsion"
What's the most romantic film you've ever seen?
"Manhattan." Just kidding! Probably McCarey's "An Affair to Remember."
What's the first television show you ever saw that made you think television could be more than entertainment?
"Monty Python's Flying Circus"
What book do you think about or revisit the most?
John Barth, "The End of The Road," or Kafka's "The Metamorphosis and other stories" in Michael Hoffman's translation
What album or recording artist have you listened to the most, and why?
Some amalgam of John Coltrane, The Beatles, and King Crimson.
Is there a movie that you think is great, or powerful, or perfect, but that you never especially want to see again, and why?
What movie have you seen more times than any other?
Either "Alphaville" or "Psycho."
What was your first R-rated movie, and did you like it?
"Frenzy," and since I duped my grandmother into taking me to it when I was twelve, it was a distinctly awkward experience.
What's the most visually beautiful film you've ever seen?
Who are your favorite leading men, past and present?
Who are your favorite leading ladies, past and present?
Claudette Colbert, Scarlett Johansson.
Who's your favorite modern filmmaker?
Who's your least favorite modern filmmaker?
What film do you love that most people seem to hate?
Most people despised Garrel's "Frontier of Dawn" a few years back but I think it's awesome.
What film do you hate that most people love?
"Hate" is a pretty strong word but I have very little use for "The Artist"
Tell me about a moviegoing experience you will never forget—not just because of the movie, but because of the circumstances in which you saw it.
"Frenzy". See my answer above to "first R-rated movie".
What aspect of modern theatrical moviegoing do you like least?
So much to choose from! That said "stadium seating" is a fraud on several levels (a properly designed theater doesn't need it for the sake of sightlines).
What aspect of moviegoing during your childhood do you miss the most?
The ability to ingest huge amounts of candy with physical impunity.
Have you ever damaged a friendship, or thought twice about a relationship, because you disagreed about whether a movie was good or bad?
Not really. A couple of times it seemed like that, but there was always a deeper root cause behind whatever rift resulted.
What movies have you dreamed about?
Not as many as you'd think.
What concession stand item can you not live without?
It's more a question of all the concession stand items I ought to live without. But I do love the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines popping up in theaters these days. Pibb power!
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