Showing posts with label cinematological. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cinematological. Show all posts

Friday, April 27, 2007

Who needs Jack Bauer anyways, we've got a exploding man to stop!

Since I caught the first season of 24 on DVD I have been a devout fan of the show. The intense, machivellian nature of Jack Bauer in the face of ridiculous odds is terribly attractive. For the first few seaons, the dichotmy of Jack trying to protect the world and save his family made the drama even more intense and that much more personal. Season 2 remains my favorite season (other than Kim and the cougar) but the show has suffered some serious missteps. Season 3 was an absolute right off as meandered from plot point to plot point with no clear vision of its intent. Seasons 4 & 5 were good, with last seasons "kill all the supporting characters" mantra and go for broke portrayl of a corrupt President.
Season 6, while starting with a bang is ending with a whimper, a virtual scene by scene repeat of the missteps of season 3. The autistic kid was the end in my eyes, this show has officially run out of ideas. So disappointing at 24 and CSI were my only "appointment" television--
Having had the opportunity catch the entire season to date of Heroes, I can only say that I am extremely impressed with this show. Though it works hard to downplay the comicbook traditions with the"super-heroes in the real world" aspect of it, too many of the genres conventions are in full force. While it does suffer from the mocking of the genre in some instances (Nathan's cynic questioning whether he should "put on a costume and patrol the city") it fully embraces the mythological aspects that are the lynchpin of comic books.
The creator's insistence that he has never read a comic is patently false if only because the content of the pilot alone, written well before the series was developed is replete with comic book references and conventions. That said, this show is extremely well written in a pure chararacter sense, with real people dealing with suddenly being extraordinary. The depiction of violence in the show is quite horrifying, bringing an aspect to the sense of what unbelievable power could do in the wrong hands.  While exploring the credo "absolute power corrupts absolutely" it also explores the concept of inherent nobility and self-sacrifice in the face uf such horror.
One of the few flaws I find in the show is the constant reference to  "destiny" as a way around hoary plot holes and coincidences. Virtually everyone in the show is linked to everyone else in some manner or another, and while it lends itself to the X-files like conspiracy mythology underpinning the plots, it grows tiresome quickly. That being said, unlike 24, this show clearly has a vision and a destination, though it may become distracted along the way (Hope & loathing in Las Vegas for instance).
I love this show.
Some thoughts that have percolated during my marathon viewings:
-Sylar eats their brains to get their powers, as Chandra advised him in the flashback episode (one of the weaker ones in the series), if the soul exists, it exists in the brain.
-Claire's biological mother was really just a lame plot point to get Claire linked to Nathan, and the potential ickiness of a crush on Peter.
-Easily one of the most expensive shows on TV and it looks it. I am very impressed with the SFX.
-Why didn't Charlie recognize Hiro when he returned before her death, even though he clearly didn't recognize her? Because Hiro hadn't changed the past yet, as evidenced by his appearance in her birthday photo.
-Time is immutable, Hiro cannot changed or affect the past, he can only observe and interact. The minutia may change, but the course of history will not. Counterpoint is Issac's ability to see the future, but will it be changeable? Or it time truly immutable? the flash forward episode seems to present the idea that time is unchangeable, that there is a destiny and one must see it through.
I am really looking foreward to the next few weeks

Monday, April 16, 2007

If a movie plays in a empty theater does it make a sound?

I saw Grindhouse on the weekend, the 3 hour epic homage to the titular "Grindhouse" movies of the 70's and to a lesser extent, the "video nasties" of the 80's. Quentin Tarentino and Robert Rodriguez team up on this film, with other well-known genre contributers such as Eli Roth (hack) and Rob Zombie (hack) creating trailers to fill the space between the main features.
The absolute fidelty to the experience of the grindhouse is remarkable, down to the missing reels, burnt frames, scratched footage and sound that pops in and out. Concession stand trailers and ad-slides for local BBQ houses only added to often pathetic experience of watching a film in a rep theater.
However (and with me there is always a however, except for Star Wars)the film fails its intent to pay tribute to the low-budget, schlocky explotation films of the past. One can scratch the film and use other "weathering" techniques to age and destroy the print, but when the content uses big-budget digital SFX to makes it point, it's lost sight of the goal.
RR's "Project Terror" is a ball's out bear-hug of lovin' to the straight-to-video days of Corman and Golan-Globus. When a bio-chemical weapon is released into the populace, they become drippy, pulsing goo-monsters that crave human flesh. Only a go-go dancer namer Cherry Darling can save the day (reluctantly, of course) alongside her ex-boyfriend Ray, who co-incidentally carrys a high-powered military assault rifle (including nightscope) in his tow-truck. Perhaps Ray has a past he is trying to escape hmmmmm?
One of the movies best moments is during a reconciliation sex scene that just as it gets good, the film stutters to a stop, the frame burning, followed by a "reel missing" leader. When the film starts again,A LOT has happened and the character's reference the missing moments often,extending the joke.
This opening half of Grindhouse exemplifies the biggest issue for the film and one of the easiest explanations for its lack of spark at the box office. Without the inherent knowledge of this less than sparkling part of film history, the average filmgoer may not get that this movie is cheesy and over the top ON PURPOSE. Therein lies the rub. However, unlike the second half of the film, it does serve its goal well, celebrating the entertaining-despite-itself joy of grindhouse genre films.
"Death Proof" is Tarantino's contribution to the film and is ripe with all the QT trademarks one either loves or hates. Personally, I find him to have a remarkable ear for dialogue but is entirely incapable of creating anything truly original. His films are ecstatic in their referencing and blatant stealing from other films, but he never exceeds that worship to make something new.
"Death Proof" is the story of a serial killer named Stuntman Mike, played by Kurt Russell in what might be the performance of his career. Mike uses his car, a massive black balls-out american muscle car to kill women via brutal highspeed car accidents. Because the car is tricked out and reinforced to be a true stunt car, it becomes a weapon that does virtually no damage to the driver while demolishing other vehicles.
Like "Project Terror" the budget and talent on display virtually invalidates the intent, however "Terror" overcomes that with its way way over the time gore and melodrama. "Death Proof" is quite simply a Tarantino movie with a big car chase at the end. The circular dialogue, fetishes with women's feet and a love of 70's R&B are all present. In perhaps the only daring and original thought in the film, it plays out to a climax midway, literally stopping the film dead (no pun intended). Bridged by an exposition scene ripped right from the end of Psycho,the film basically starts all over again, with the introduction of new protaganists facing the same jeoprady. The outcome is the direct opposite of the first half, and while thrilling, is eventually empty. "Death Proof" falls in that no-man's land of not being bad enough to be good, and too good to be bad. It just simply is.
All in all I would call this project a labour of love that is a grand failure

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pumping and Blowing

Nostalgia is a powerful thing though perhaps it is better to leave the
past in the past. Recently given the opportunity (via a gift certificate
from my cel phone provider for staying with them) I purchased a
nostalgic movie from my childhood. A movie that has not been available
for rental or purchase since its release in 1982, a movie better left in
my memory.

That movie?

The Pirate Movie with Kristy McNicol.

A contemporary 80's reimagining of Gilbert and Sullivin's The Pirates Of
Penzanse, this movie engaged my lactose intolerance to its limit but the
latter half is strangely enjoyable as it gets more and more absurd.
Essentially Kirsty McNicol is Mabel, an outcast tomboy visiting a
pier-side pirate demonstration for tourists. The ultra hunky Christopher
Atkins invites her for a ride on his boat, only to be left behind by a
bikinied bevy of babes, who virtually kidnap poor Chris, who really
wants to hang with Mabel. Mabel then rents a small sailboat to chase
after them only to fall overboard and wash unconscious on the beach.
Here the movie really begins as we enter her unconscious mind that has a
penchant for pop culture and singing out loud.

The movie is mediocre drivel for the most part, but the spunky and sassy
Kristy occasionally makes sarcastic comments to the camera, allowing the
audience the moment to revel its crappiness. The singular stand out song
is the titular Pumping And Blowing which plays during a sequence where
Chris is searching underwater, his only air coming from a diving helmet
hardwire to a hand pump. Kristy, of course, tirelessly works the pump
and sings the song, pausing as she gets caught up in the emotion of the
moment, choking the air off. Cartoon fish sing the chorus as the scene
apes a prototypical Disney moment, however, the lyrical content of the
song and its double entendre nature add a very adult layer to the scene.
The movie is filled with many such moments and I was surprisingly
reminded of how raunchy movies ostensibly for kids used to be. There is
simply no way a song called Pumping and Blowing would make it into a PG
movie in today's hyper conservative environment.