Friday, March 20, 2009

What to Expect...

I'm going to try to blog more often than I have been. There's always a bit of fatigue that comes after the Oscar race, at least for me. Plus, a lot has happened in the last couple of weeks.

1. I found out I was accepted as a screenwriting fellow into the American Film Institute Conservatory. I'm incredibly exciting and it still has not sunk in yet.

2. I've pretty much wrapped principle photography on my film and am now moving into the editing phase, which means that one way or another, this is about to get finished. It kind of snuck up on me.

3. I've finished a new screenplay, which was probably the most difficult thing I've ever had to write.

That's all I'm going to share. I don't want to get too personal. It's not my style. What you can look forward to in the next coming weeks (I'm talking of course to the few people who actually read this blog) is a lot of retrospective reviews and film talk. Some new recurring series. I'll also be publishing a running list of my 100 favorite movies. Thank God for Netflix. I have so much stuff to watch and re-watch for the first time. I'm rediscovering old loves. Like Ang Lee's The Ice Storm, which I re-watched today...such an amazing film. Where was Sigourney Weaver's Oscar nomination for that one? Agh...

To anyone actually reading this blog, I'm totally open to suggestions/comments about how to improve. I'm going to start up the "Can We Talk About" series again, which I really enjoyed doing. However, I did one on Kristen Stewart last year and in the wake of the Twilight fatigue, which subsequently revealed what an entitled dumbass she is, I kind of want to take back every nice thing I've said about her...

Peace, Love and Pretension.

Who's Watching the Watchmen?

According to second-week box office sales, not many people apparently. What a dip...I'm about to make myself sound like an enormous nerd by admitting that I saw Watchmen twice. Once in IMAX and once in regular-max (I'm here all night people). I must say that part of the experience, at least the first time, was convincing myself that I liked it a lot better than I did. It has receded very much in my memory as a totally forgettable film. Maybe I was initially just pleasantly surprised that it wasn't the total embarrassment that 300 was. Whatever the case, one thing is clear. In the wake of The Dark Knight, every comic book movie released from here on out is going to try to reinvent the wheel and few will succeed. It's debatable whether The Dark Knight itself succeeded. Watchmen does not on most levels. My initial review as a B. Now it's lingering in C/C+ territory after a second viewing.

I have never read the graphic novel and I saw it with three other people who had never read the graphic novel. But from what I gather from my brother (who read the comic and disliked the film), the Republican undertones of the graphic novel were much more tongue-in-cheek and subtle than in the film. I obviously can't judge that aspect, but I have a hard time imagining it NOT to be true. The whole "clever" playing with history thing seemed almost childishly obtuse on one end and frighteningly earnest on the other (if that makes sense).

To call Zak Snyder a visionary (which many people are) is kind of ridiculous. He's VISUAL, certainly. But a VISIONARY? I totally understand why he's the go-to director for stuff like this, but I would have liked to see how someone like say Ang Lee, who has actually proven himself a visionary AND an actor-driven director, would have handled the same material. Of course, that would never happen because the reaction to the first Hulk movie was so ridiculous and unmeasured, so much so that we're forced to pretend it doesn't exist at the behest of the new one, which wasn't even as financially successful.

Expect to see more comic book films attempting similar feats. Trying to appear daring and edgy, all the while saying "See! We can be dark like that Batman movie was!" It's already happening. The Superman movies are going to have a re-imagining in that vain, which I don't get. Superman was never a dark comic book in the way that Batman was, so that doesn't even make sense. I'm not entirely sure what they'd even do there. Even Fantastic Four is going to have a tear down, starting with the firing of Jessica Alba. I think this is funny for several reasons. It assumes that Jessica Alba was the biggest problem with those films. I personally don't want to give her that much power. And in the blandness department (we're talking about talent here) Alba's got it in spades...but she's got nothing on Malin Ackerman who is pretty much the first candidate out the gate for a Worst Actress Razzie. Not that it's entirely her fault (like I said before, Snyder is NOT a director of actors). That fact considered, Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach and Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl do the best considering the bad material they're railing against. It's nowhere in the same ballpark of greatness as the last project that Wilson and Haley did together, but Patrick Wilson is always watchable...always. After the great year he had in 2006, it'd be nice to see him in a project that's worthy of him.There's nothing else really to say about Watchmen except to point out a nice bit of irony. Billy Crudup plays a man who leaves his more mature companion for a younger, but less interesting and blander woman. Anyone who knows about his personal life will find this little bit of life imitating art very amusing.

Grade: C+

From the Horse's Mouth...

"It's funny because I love this fucking dude dearly. I would die for this fucking dude. He's my brother. But, by God, we are so into our fucking women it's ridiculous."
-Ed Westwick of "Gossip Girl" regarding rumors that he and co-star Chace Crawford are lovers.

"I can't help it. I'm a womanizer sometimes I know, but I just think that bringing a woman home and getting some hot poon is about the greatest thing in the world."
-Mr. Garrison of "South Park" who has since come out of the closet, gotten sexual reassignment surgery to become a women, and then gotten sexual reassignment surgery to become a man again.

What a coincidence. When I'm panicking/scrambling/lying, it brings out the profanity in me as well. Laughing off gay rumors TOO hard and getting all bent out of shape about them to the point of legal action are just two sides of the same coin, in my opinion. Insomuch as it usually means you're gay. Isn't it funny that in denying rumors about his alleged homosexuality, Westwick used the expression "fucking dude" twice? Plus "we are so into our fucking women it's ridiculous"? I'll agree about the ridiculous part. I thinks the lady doth protest too much. What do you think?

Here's what I think: To paraphrase Dwight Schrute, I think they could both do better.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Unexpected Bit of Sympathy for the Palin Family

About a week or so ago, reports were beginning to surface that Bristol Palin, 17-year-old daughter of former US Vice Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, has broken up with Levi Johnston, the father of her three-month old son. And apparently now it's time to laugh?

I am by no means a fan of Sarah Palin. As underwhelmed as many seem to be with Obama's presidency thus far, I think this country is better off than it would be had McCain/Palin won the election. I actively disagree with pretty much everything she stands for, but I find the glee with which some media outlets are reporting Bristol's split with her fiancee to be a bit much. Schadenfraude is not becoming, people. Am I the only one who finds this situation to be utterly sad for any number of reasons? Bristol grew up in a family, a home and a culture that teaches young people (especially women) that their sexuality is taboo, to be glossed over and not discussed. Because of politics and ideologies championed by people like her mother, her pregnancy was very likely (at least indirectly) caused by lack of information. She picked a guy who's obviously not going to be getting a McArthur Genius Grant anytime soon and she had unprotected sex (I'm assuming) with him. Her opportunistic snake of a mother accepted the VP nomination knowing this, thereby putting her in a position where she was forced to keep the baby. And now, after her mother's party loses the election, she's left with a baby at seventeen, who she will likely have to raise alone. When it's all laid out there like that in plain language, it's pretty hard to see the funny, right? I mean, isn't Bristol Palin a cross-section of what's wrong with the social politics of the religious right? Doesn't she represent the absolute failure of the Republican Party's stance on sex, sexuality and how it should be taught (or not taught) to our nation's youth? Isn't it incredibly sad that if it were up to Sarah Palin to make our policies, her grandson would very likely do the same thing to some poor girl seventeen years from now? It's sad and I feel sad for her. Still stupid, yes. But I do pity her. I know it may sound insensitive, but I look at Bristol Palin and I see the ultimate failure of the past eight years's policies and practices summed up in one perfectly broken little hockey family.

Rest in Peace Natasha Richardson (1963-2009)

I don't really have much to say. I'm surprised by how saddened I am by this. I guess it's rare that a famous person passes away whose work I genuinely admired and respected as much as hers. Make no mistake. This is a tremendous loss to the world of film, theatre and television. My sincerest condolences to the Redgraves, Neesons and the Richardson family. This is unbelievably shocking and upsetting news.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I Heart "American Dad" (Shut Up)

I'm ready to finally have it documented that I watch "American Dad!" Yes, it's created by Seth MacFarlane, the man responsible for "Family Guy." I actually like "Family Guy" (yes, I know) but I won't defend it, if that makes sense. It's an incredibly guilty pleasure for me. And what's interesting is that a lot of what people despise about "Family Guy"--the random cutaways, the way it rips off "The Simpsons" (a show that's long past it's shelf-life. Let's be real) and the way you can almost taste Seth MacFarlane's smugness and sense of self-satisfaction in the writing--most, if not all of those things are pretty absent from "American Dad!" It's pretty tightly written, it doesn't feel like a redux of any show out there, and its overall premise feels very pertinent in a post-9/11 and now post-Bush administration America. It's far and away a better show than "Family Guy," which will obviously be what Seth MacFarlane is remembered for, if he is remembered at all. "American Dad!" "30 Rock" and "Flight of the Conchords" are the only shows on television that make me laugh loudly and obnoxiously when I watch them. I remember the days when "The Office" would do that for me, and now they're lucky to get a chuckle out of me.

And Roger the Alien is one of the funniest characters ever. If only because of this line:

"You wouldn't let me get that Gael Garcia Bernal poster! His eyes are green and he's Latin! I need it!"

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Few Thoughts...I'm Re-Vamping

Now that Oscar season is officially over, I've noticed how many of my posts have been dedicated exclusively to the topic. Not that I'm making apologies. I've long admitted that I'm a fanatic. Now 'tis time to talk of other things. I saw Watchmen last night and will post some sort of review within the next couple of days.

I will say a few things about certain topics which I don't feel need to be discussed. So in a way, I'm going to be part of the problem. But it's my blog, so suck it.

I've long avoided making any comment about the Chris Brown/Rihanna situation for any number of reasons, but here are my thoughts on this matter, which is being shoved down my throat as our generation's Watergate at every turn. This is going to sound incredibly insensitive, but hear me out. I don't care that Chris Brown allegedly beat the crap out of Rihanna. I'm sorry, but I don't. Let me clarify. I don't care about Chris Brown beating up Rihanna any more than I do about the legions of people who are physically abused by their spouse or partner every day. I know they're famous, but I don't subscribe to the school of thought that one's fame makes their uniquely painful or upsetting because of said fame, if that makes sense. I guess that's why I'm me and not Nancy O'Dell. And the uproar that people are feeling now that she has supposedly taken him back...I will just say this: Even if I was someone who cared deeply about this celeb-saga, that bit of news would make me stop caring. As someone who has lost family members to domestic violence, I feel that for someone like Rihanna, with all of her money, fame and resources, to re-enter an abusive relationship is kind of fucking ridiculous. Seriously. People who are deeply obsessed with Rihanna's well-being should commence hand-washing right about now, dontcha think? I'm not blaming the victim. I'm simply pointing out a situation in which only the victim can save him or herself. That's all. (An aside: doesn't she kind of look like she could take him anyway? Just saying...)

Regarding this whole "Octo-mom" thing. I luckily have NOT been following this story (I'm so proud.) The words "Octo-mom" are about all I know of what's going on. But by granting her this kind of pulpit (she's fucking everywhere, right?) isn't the media sort of fueling the same thing they're condemning her for? They say that she only had this many babies for the attention. Okay, fine. So don't give it to her. But that would be too difficult, wouldn't it? Such is the power of schadenfreude that people would sooner see her face plastered all over the place, rather than leaving her alone to contemplate the incredibly selfish, short-sighted mess she's created for herself.

Peace, Love and Pretension.