I haven’t watched a movie in two weeks.
Naturally, I would like to watch more movies. But that’s what happens when you have a day job, a commute to and from said day job, and the litany of little things that constitutes a home’s upkeep; movies fall by the wayside, like that pile of books I’ve been meaning to read or my Animal Crossing town that has surely gone to shit by now. I’m also generally too broke to buy movies, and too obscure of a writer to get them for free. But, you know, Netflix and libraries and movie theatres and generous friends exist, so I get by. Not watching movies has also cut into my writing, or so I like to tell myself. I’ve done myself a disservice by thinking that if I don’t write about movies, what’s the point of even writing? And so I’ve painted myself into a corner, it seems; I don’t write as often as I’d like, and when I do, I don’t write about anything other than movies, which can’t be good. My output has become a perverse zen koan: how little can someone write and still call themselves a writer?
This this is a concerted effort to curb that. Sort of.
I’m writing this in bed on a Saturday morning, after what has felt like the longest week I’ve had at work in a long time. My work is tangentially related to TV news, so any week with a terror attack in a city we’re covering is going to take a heavier psychic toll on me (spoiler alert: we cover London, England). This was also the week of the American Health Care Act clusterfuck and an entirely too-large amount of child murder in the Quebec-Windsor corridor (did you know that the local news cycle is cold-blooded and cynical?). But right now, I’m in bed, it’s still early for a weekend, and I’m flanked my most of my cats, and I’d like to talk about Keanu Reeves.
Point Break was the last movie I saw. It has been on several different watchlists since I started watching movies more attentively, and yet it took me until last week to actually get around to it. It had been propped up in the circles I run in as a superlative action movie, and not only did it meet the hype, it exceeded it. It’s a sublime film in the classical sense, people grappling with the awesomeness of Nature, engaging with realities they can observe and participate in but never fully understand. It’s about emotional engulfment, the thrilling uneasiness of being in over your head. But it’s also about Kathryn Bigelow’s crack direction (That Scene has to be one of the great foot chases in the history of the medium) and Mark Isham’s music, all sun-kissed haze and high drama. The cast is stacked and fully committed to their own section of the movie; Gary Busey, Patrick Swayze, and Lori Petty are all performing as if they’re in different movies. And then there’s Keanu, the perfect vessel for Point Break’s specific brand of sublime, crystallized in a joyous, primal cry of “I’m fucking surfing!”
There are those who think Keanu Reeves is a bad actor, and there are those who are right. I think what the former group of people mean is that he has a limited range, and that he has been miscast over the course of his career, but that does not a bad performer make. The major tools in Reeves’ arsenal are a doofy surfer-stoner slacker charm and, more relevant as he ages, a disarming, simmering stoicism. When used effectively, this makes bursts of emotion, menace and violence all the more resonant. The key to Reeves as a performer is that he’s in constant calibration of his emotions. He is the king of making blank slates (re)discover the ability to feel, a master of stilted exhilaration, one of the great under-actors one who, paradoxically, is willing to get very physical in his roles. Fuck I love Keanu Reeves.
The next time I do one of these, I will likely talk about Zardoz, so hold on to your butts.
Point Break; directed by Kathryn Bigelow; written by W. Peter Iliff; starring Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Gary Busey, and Lori Petty; 122 minutes.