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Inside the Keanu Reeves-Inspired KeanuCon, the First Keanu Reeves Film Festival

Inside the Keanu Reeves-Inspired KeanuCon, the First Keanu Reeves Film Festival

It’s a Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland, and sitting upstairs in the city’s Centre for Contemporary Arts is not Keanu Reeves, but Death itself. A black robe shrouds his body; his face is piercingly white and a scythe is perched next to him. He’s challenging me to a game of Connect Four.

This will sound familiar to those acquainted with the 1992 classic Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. In the film, Ted Theodore Logan (Reeves) and his best friend Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) are murdered by their evil robot selves. To return back to Earth, they must defeat the Grim Reaper in a game of their choosing or be banished to hell for eternity.

“No one has ever won,” the Grim Reaper tells Bill and Ted with a devilish smirk on his face—and true to his word, I lose. It’s taking part in the game in the first place that counts, though, in this version of limbo. “What would you watch in the afterlife?” asks Death, as he reveals a pile of prizes. All of them are films starring Keanu Reeves. I choose Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Strange things are afoot at the CCA.

This is KeanuCon, the world’s first Keanu Reeves film festival. For two days, the bravest and most resilient of stans were entrenched in all things Keanu with a 10 (and a half) movie-long marathon out of the actor’s 64-film strong oeuvre. The festival was organized by the independent exhibitor Matchbox Cineclub, known locally for their Nicolas Cage festival, Cage-a-rama.

There’s a group in front of me waiting to receive their passes. “Are you here for the dance class?” asks Megan Mitchell, one half of the duo behind the festival.

“No…” they reply perplexed.

Mitchell laughs. “Good, because this is KeanuCon.”

Naturally, KeanuCon starts at the very beginning: Keanu’s first on-screen role in the National Film Board of Canada funded short One Step Away. Keanu plays a recalcitrant teenager who lands his mother in financial trouble after he’s caught stealing from a neighbor’s apartment. It has the vibe of a PSA, though there is no discernible social issue to advocate against apart from delinquency. To be honest, it’s not very good—but Keanu’s idiosyncratic screen presence is already recognizable. There’s a vulnerability in him that’s masked by perfunctory fits of rage. That dichotomy of sensitivity and recklessness is a common theme within Keanu’s filmography.

As much as his detractors like to argue the opposite, no two of his roles are the same. He evolves; he’s constantly reinventing himself. To quote KeanuCon’s website, he grows from “babe to baba yaga.”

There’s the angst-ridden teen Keanu. His wide eyes are framed by his delicate features. His walk is uncertain, as if he hasn’t quite gained full control of his lanky limbs just yet. He doesn’t listen to authority. He’s erratic and impulsive. He’s a dreamboat. You can see it in his early roles: Permanent Record, My Own Private Idaho, even Bill & Ted to an extent, though his performance is foregrounded by an aloofness that makes him endlessly endearing.

Then there’s the everyman Keanu. He’s leaner, fitter, athletically exceptional. There’s a confidence in his demeanour. He is the voice of authority. He’s selfless and ambitious. But there’s still a humility within his hero persona that suggests even you can be special. It’s the average man-turned-Chosen One in The Matrix, the friendly neighbourhood cop in Speed, the grieving husband willing to kill 84 people for a dog in John Wick.


via DMT.NEWS, Iana Murray

May 7, 2019 at 11:07AM