What's On? 16/02/17
I am desperate for a big, loud, mindless film this weekend. I look at the great five-star movies on release, Moonlight and Manchester By the Sea, and I nod my head approvingly. I may even enter the cinema and at the last second take the moral high ground and buy a ticket.
Or I might buy a ticket for John Wick 2 instead. I missed John Wick (perhaps now known as John Wick 1) and I know it turned out to be much better than it sounds. Keanu Reeves playing a retired hitman; some gangsters kill his dog, so he goes on the rampage and kills everyone.
But I have a thing for Keanu Reeves. I saw him on TV in a movie that got completely panned, a low-budget New York experiment called Generation Um. The film was repeated a few times but I only ever succeeded in catching it halfway through. I really liked it. It is as melancholic and poignant a film as I've seen, about a group of late-twenties girls who are wandering through life, sensing an evening drinking wine in their apartment is as good as it gets, while Keanu films them, trying to uncover some kind of meaning to their lives and his, some kind of truth. There's a scene where Keanu's character eats a cupcake with heart-wrenching intensity, when he sits alone in his parked car at night, saying 'Happy birthday' to himself, repeatedly, trying to make it cheer him up and not just sound like a meaningless collection of sounds. Keanu turns up in the most interesting places, whether it's a key role in a thoughtful indie or a strange if slightly dull affair, like as the motel manager in Neon Demon; he was the best thing in that movie, along with the scary puma in the motel room. And of course, he'll always be Neo in The Matrix, a cool, kick-ass cypher for the Wachowski sisters' own artistic zenith.
To conclude, I don't believe in icons, but I believe in Keanu Reeves. Some people who age become like Robert De Niro and age badly - by our choices shall we be known, after all. And don't get me started on Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Others, though, make getting older like it's a new stage in our development, like Roger Waters or Angela Merkel or Keanu Reeves, and integrity and taste are not abandoned. Keanu, for this lonely forty-one year old, you and your art are what I aspire to be like, even if it means I'll be celebrating my next birthday all alone, eating a large cupcake in my cold apartment, and saying 'Happy birthday' to myself in the hope it'll somehow sound warm and uplifting. You are the kind of artist I would pay money to watch, even if it's a film where you're shooting everyone for killing your dog.