Backlog

Page last updated: January 08, 2022


This is the page where I will attempt to catalogue everything (or almost everything... okay, I probably won't bother with, like, half of it) I read/watch/listen to from this point (evening of August 24, 2021) on. Expect spoilers, I'm not going to try to sanitize my thoughts for the sake of people who haven't read/watched the thing in question.

This is not so much a geniune desire to share my thoughts with the world as an experiment with a purpose to make me think about things I consoom a bit more.

Also, this page does not currently feature any "rating system" because I feel like rating things reduces them to the rating, and that'll be boring. I'll also have less motivation to write reviews.

I would appreciate any and all corrections (especially the grammatical ones - I'm aware my English is not perfect and imagine a lot of it probably sounds corny to a native speaker), expressions of [dis]agreement and so on. I'm not against talking (or writing) to the void here, but reading a message from a real person who has visited this page and found something new on it would help immensely. Maybe I should make a point about contacting and conversing with amateur website owners on a yet another page... But I digress. The contact details are on the main page of the website.


Currently reading:


08.01.2022

Movie: The Matrix Resurrections

Essentially, The Matrix Resurrections has a few awesome spots here and there, but ultimately, from the midpoint on, it feels like a movie that is conflicted about its theme, with a jumbled, uneven narrative and muddled main message, which I nevertheless will try to analyse in this review.
To give a basic overview of the plot, the movie starts with Neo being in a reality where he's just a game programmer and a tired aging geek who is, a few minutes later, forced to begin work on a new part of his famous game, named "The Matrix". People around him seem very keen on making a sequel, but Neo appears to be uneager and hesitant. Some minutes later after an annoying work meeting, in a cafe Neo - or Thomas Anderson - meets Trinity - or, in this reality, Tiffany - who is now a middle-aged mother burdened with a nagging family. After that, plotwise, the movie ultimately resorts to repeating what happened in the first part of the franchise: Neo has to be rescued from the matrix, he's presented with a choice again, he ruminates on it, eventually leaving the matrix, only to return to save Trinity. In the end, it turns out that Neo and Trinity are the One together; the movie doesn't explain how and why that works.
In my opinion, the movie begins quite well: it wittily makes fun of film studios churning out new and new sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, and so on, mocks the specific kind of people who find a confirmation of their ideology in every single work, ridicules the game designers who push for pandering to the lowest common denominator ("Matrix is for everyone!"). It shoots down the skin-deep, superficial interpretations of the first movie. All of it was quite exciting and funny to watch, and I also loved the brooding uncertainty the main character begins to fall into, confused between what is real and what isn't. At that stage, The Matrix Resurrections does look promising. Some interesting questions are posed, for instance, if it's possible to differentiate really wanting something and being deeply programmed - by the "architect" of the world or by society itself - to desire it. This section of the movie does try to say something.
But then all the ideas just fade away, and the film gets progressively worse after Thomas Anderson becomes sure that this reality is a simulation and gets rescued from the simulation by a cliché blue-haired rebellious punk girl. Questions of romance between Neo and Trinity are given an absurd amount of screen time, with all the characters taking ridiculous risks for Neo and Trinity to reunite. Even the action scenes are unremarkable and dull, and the comic relief characters don't work that well. Everything is somewhat predictable with the modern film fads the director just poked fun at repeated, effectively making everything as incoherent as possible.
The movie leaves an abundance of questions, and most of them are not a "good" kind. The narrative seems to be unintentionally confusing, with the segments just not coming together. It feels like a dragged-out meta-ironic joke, executed so well that most of the audience will miss the humor right until the ending scene with the villain being the voice of reason, and the main characters' duo just shrugging it off and behaving in silly ways. Nevertheless, I'm somewhat inclined to consider that the director did mean everything expressed in the second part of the movie: it's all acted out a bit too seriously to be a gag. It would also be quite easy to dismiss the movie as the mediocrity it is, and forget about any analysis, considering the possibility that even the director didn't know what the message of the movie was supposed to be.
First, I would like to underline that the first movie in the tetralogy is essentially about accepting the "cold, hard truth" and reality, breaking out of some system (and the system depends on a particular interpretation), and helping others to break out of it. Here, although helping "prisoners" of the matrix is still a theme, the narrative is not about truth but about feelings and romance: extra attention is given to the characters' feelings and intuitions, and especially to love: the central point is getting Neo and Trinity together. Now, the first movie did pay attention to the feeling Neo had too, but to me "a splinter in your mind, driving you mad" wasn't an inability to cope with the hardships of reality, or a desire to escape into a fantasy world, or to reform reality to be a fantasy world, but an unrelenting desire to search for the truth.
In this film, the matrix isn't seen as something inherently evil because it's all fake, and the heroic duo isn't aiming to destroy the machines' fantasy that is this reality. They just want to reshape it into something that would supposedly be "better". "Helping" "prisoners" of the matrix here means reforming the prison to have a rainbow ceiling.
In some cases, the matrix may even be seen as a potential environment for further self-expression; this is hinted at in the case of one of the main characters, the blue-haired rebel, who doesn't have her disheveled blue hairstyle in the real world, instead sporting a basic black undercut, with all the hair slicked back, making her look much more ordinary.
So, considering all that, what's the system to be reformed? The first movie left it as an unanswered question, making the audience ponder it endlessly. But here there are numerous clues toward what is the supposed "system" that is to be escaped or reformed.
All the interpretations are made fun of in the beginning, making the characters spouting them look, at best, parroting others, and at worst idiotic and self-contradictory, like the guy who annoys Neo with questions about the deep philosophical foundations of the franchise and his opinions on the answers, but later reveals that what he thinks is most important in the upcoming game is the "bullet time" visual effect. All interpretations - but one, that became more apparent in recent years.
That interpretation is the transgenderism theme. Now, I think it was quite hard to push that interpretation for the first movie because all there was to work with that somehow tied into the needed message were the red pills (similar to the estrogen pills transgenders take), partly the "feeling that something isn't right" (supposedly experienced by people who want to change their gender, but it could equally be applied to any other insecurity or complex, and the gender dysphoria interpretation feels like a giant stretch), and the transgendered-ness of both directors (even though they came out years later after the movie). It's all so far-fetched and not fitting with the rest of the story in Matrix 1: many more themes and undertones that aren't simply explained by some character being transgender.
But here it's almost like everything has been done to reinforce that interpretation: there is a focus on the "feeling", with the therapist supposedly playing "conversion therapy" and convincing Neo that it's all his imagination and trauma, the apparent ability to "reshape reality" (and encouragement to do so, even though the goals are very blurry and unprecise, and so are the means to do so; when the main villain confronts them about it, nothing of meaning is replied), or rather to reshape the collective fantasy (the gender system) of reality instead of breaking from it (which is a big point in the transgenderism's "philosophy": if you could break away from the gender stereotypes that are forced on you, you wouldn't need to artificially change your body to fit the imagined version that is forced on you by society due to perceived non-conforming to some other rule of it). The somewhat traditional family Trinity has is also portrayed as something unwanted, a part of some erroneous fantasy: Trinity even abandons her kids and husband because of some abstract "feeling".
Basically, the whole movie constantly beats you over the head with the "progressive" ideology, as much as it can with such an aimless storyline. Funnily enough, the directors used to deny that the series had a transgender agenda in mind, but decided that it did around a year before this movie came out.
To conclude, regarding the storyline, there weren't many innovations. I would even go so far as to say there were none at all, except for the first 20 minutes. Nevertheless, there was a new agenda introduced and some emphasis made on the fact that if you feel that something is wrong, you have to embrace the feeling and throw away as much of your life as needed. The main characters also choose to remain in the matrix, therefore still choosing to be somewhat "blue-pilled", instead of gaining access to reality.
The movie definitely isn't forgettable if you think about it deeply, and it does provide things to think about (although as for me, I don't agree with the main messages), but it still largely sticks to the tried and true, pandering to the current trends in terms of majority's opinions. The weak ending is expected, but is still quite a disappointment. If I was asked to rate it, I would give it a 4 out of 10.
20.10.2021

Book: Fritz Perls - In and Out the Garbage Pail

Fun. Kinda. Stream-of-consciousness style of writing, random ramblings, poetry inbetween haphazardly written autobiography bits, inner dialogue, and thoughts on gestalt therapy. Not structured, not planned, just text that follows author's train of thought as he writes the book. It's almost like a diary or a journal. By the way, never quite understood people who do public (as in "it's voluntarily posted on the internet") journals, or rather, I can see how that might be somewhat helpful but can't do it anyway. Maybe because most people I periodically write about in my non-public diary check my website quite often, and honestly I do not think they all need to know every random thing that comes to my mind related to them. Censoring anything related to the social side of my life sounds very insincere. Besides, would I have to maintain two diaries for when I have something private to say? Also, nothing much is happening in my life to write about aside from my feelings, thoughts or ideas, I go out max. once in a week or two and those ventures are also not something public (and I also doubt they'd be any interesting to anyone aside from a couple of stalkers, maybe, anyway). And all the other time is spent studying or thinking. Or consuming, and then trying to form an opinion about what I've consumed, which is this page is all about. I think I might benefit more from a stream-of-consciousness writing page (with some quality control of course), in comparison to a entry-for-each-day style blog. Am I going to do either? Nah, probably not. Ah well, I just digressed in the same way the author constantly does in the book I'm trying to review. Anyway, the book was hard to read, I've spent around a month on it, but in general do not regret it. Really hard to form a definite, short opinion about this one, though.

24.08.2021

Book: Kōbō Abe - The Face of Another

Awesome, I might've liked this one even more than The Woman in the Dunes by the same author.

The writing style strikes me as vaguely similar to Camus's (it's possible that the translation made it so), and the general atmosphere is somewhere between The Stranger, The Plague, and something else (can't quite catch it, maybe Kafka? I've never read many of his works, though, and what I've read I've forgotten), but with a Japanese edge (not like I know much about it, am yet to read the less obscure Japanese stuff). Kōbō Abe, being wickedly good at first-person narration, portrays an extremely intelligent and dedicated, but self-centered and needlessly, uselessly over-analytical main character, mixing complex philosophical ideas into the protag's thoughts/monologue/letters. The ending is even more impressive, and, curiously, with it being another character's perspective on what happened (and what happened was almost nothing, compared to what could have happened and how the protag described the events), it reveals way more of the character's "real" self than all of his own monologues, showing the whole novel in a distinctly different light. It might not have had such influence on me, though, hadn't I related so much to the protagonist in the way of thinking, suspending most of the criticism towards his personality and actions (with the book itself somewhat encouraging it, in my opinion).

24.08.2021

Anime: Elfen Lied

It's one of those things about which you think "wow, it was nice!" right after watching, but as you ponder more and more it feels more and more unfinished and poorly, carelessly done.

The lore just wasn't described and explained well enough (I've heard it was done a bit better in the manga, but I'm dealing with the anime now). I still have a load of questions left, about Lucy, about the love triangle (the protag is a dick!), about the virus, about the evil scientist governmental organization... The whole anime feels like a sketch of something bigger than what it turns out to be. Also, the opening is far too fancy for the story, I imagined that Lucy would turn out to be some enigmatic immortal creature, but nope, she's just traumatized and infected with a virus that nobody seems to care that much about.

I wouldn't say I dislike any character much, but none of them are especially likable or appealing to me. I thought I could get into liking Lucy-san/Nyuu-chan, but the split personality wasn't done too well either, and it was never explained why does Nyuu-chan regress to such intellectual state (aside from the fact that she was trying to repress her past, but acting like an animal is a bit extreme even for that). That might also be me disliking "stupid" characters.

The visuals and the soundtrack were awesome, though, and it was a delight to watch even despite all the shortcomings.

24.08.2021

Book: Kōbō Abe - The Woman in the Dunes

Unexpectedly good. I'm very much at odds with any books which argue that coercion or restriction of freedoms might, in any way, be beneficial to the person restricted (that whole idea is unacceptable and greatly disgusting from my point of view), but here I'm compelled to agree with the author's point (or what I perceive as one of his points): such "violent", sudden, apparently meaningless and unfair change of lifestyle the protagonist goes through is, in the end, for the best. It gives him first a conflict, a puzzle to solve, and then the "healthy", useful confines to define himself and to act within. What might've helped me swallow this pill is the fact that Niki Jumpei does find an interesting and fulfilling "hobby" in the end... I kind of expected a "The Myth of Sisyphus"-style ending (which I probably wouldn't be satisfied with).

sometime in the past, idc

Book: Max Stirner - The Ego and Its Own

The first part of the book is eye-opening and outlook-changing, but the second one feels somewhat like a reiteration and restatement of everything written in the first part.

Anyhow, this book influenced my own thought tremendously. I might write a more involved and thought-out review later.