A City on the Thaw

By Freeman Fletcher (FILM ’18)

Keanu Reeves, star of John Wick 2, shocked to find out that he is indeed Canadian. (Courtesy: dlisted.com)

The other night, I went to see John Wick: Chapter 2, the sequel to one of the better Hollywood action offerings of the last decade. The sequel is even better. My feelings towards the film aside, one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had at a movie theater unfurled before my eyes. There is a scene when the titular Wick (Keanu Reeves,  a native Canadian) is beset upon by a female assassin who moonlights as a street violinist. It’s a lot cooler in the movie.

What follows is a good, fun, neck-snappy brawl in a cool, colorful, stylish hallway; lots of back-lighting and changing LEDs. But you know what the best part is? I LIVE WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF IT. Yeah, the scene is SUPPOSED to be set in New York but it was shot in Montreal’s very own Place des Arts, a block away from where our student residence!

I’ve never seen a movie where I could say that. I’ve walked down that hallway many times. It was so surreal that  it made me wonder what else has been filmed in this big ol’ city I never knew about. It made me want to explore again, an urge that has recently been tempered somewhat by the cold these last two months. But now that the city is thawing (slowly, but surely), my urge to wander is back in full force; to see what else this large place I’ve been pent up in has to offer, now that my snot may or may not turn to icicles precariously dangling from my nostrils every time I go outside.

LightEmotion is the Montreal company that designed the  Place des Arts concourse’s lighting environment. (Courtesy: lightemotion.ca)

If you’re like me, when you see something new or even just interesting, you immediately think about how to capture it on film. Or on a canvas. Or how you would describe it with words. And that’s how the romantic, creative juices start to flow. Big cities are practically tailor made for imagination and Montreal is no exception. It is old, it is large, it is fresh, it is arctic, the seasons change dramatically, and it is a canvas. Can’t figure out how to do something? Take a walk. Look up. There will always be something to inspire you or entice you or motivate you in Montreal. From the architecture to the pubs to the endless eclectic restaurants and shops to the waterfront to the neighborhoods to the underground; THIS is a city just begging to be photographed or painted or written and you could very well see a part of it the next time you go to a movie or museum or library.

As I hope you remember (but you probably don’t…), I’m from a small town. Discovering this city bit by bit has not only been an experience for discovery but one for broadening my mindset. You only have one imagination and it’s begging to be exercised. You city folk probably already know all of this but if not, again I urge you, take a walk. Look up!