Saturday, February 27, 2010

Where Have All The Good Films Gone?

I watched Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo. last night (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, for those of you who aren't fluent in Italian) and I was reminded again how few great films we seem to be seeing lately--specifically, in the 2000's.

Okay, so maybe my standards are too high, but seriously? The 50's had classics like Ben-Hur and 12 Angry Men, the 60's had 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and Psycho, and the 70's had The Sting, The Godfather (both worthwhile parts), and the birth of the Star Wars original trilogy. The 80's gave us a lot, including the Indiana Jones trilogy, Blade Runner, and the final two Star Wars movies.  And the 90's! Horrible decade to live in, but you had Quentin Tarantino at his greatest (Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs), a Stephen King interpretation widely regarded as the best movie ever made (The Shawshank Redemption), and Saving Private Ryan and Forrest Gump and The Usual Suspects and Silence of the Lambs and Schindler's List and Fight Club

The past decade (2000-2009) really failed for the most part, although near the end we had a rebound with The Dark Knight, Inglourious Basterds, and Up. Those are the only films, I think, from the '00s, which have a shot at becoming "classics".

Now the million-dollar question: "Why is this?"I think it has to do in part with commercialization and in part with laziness. In these times, effects can overshadow acting, so perhaps there is a declining emphasis on acting ability. For whatever reason, though, the 2000's seem to have been a weak decade in the "classics" field.

A final note: there were a lot of movies made in the 2000's which were "good" movies--entertaining, well-acted, well-made. Iron Man comes to mind. But these won't be remembered as "classics", in my opinion.

Discuss--I know you want to.

Long live Ludism!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Theatre Note

I usually don't do this.

Why am I doing this?

This is a web log--theoretically, I can post whatever I want on here. Like, I can post my inmost thoughts and feelings (provided I want to share said thoughts and feelings with the fabled "Internet"). But I really tend to focus more on opinion here rather than emotion. And I guess...well, screw it.

Here at my school, we have a theatre program, but no theatre major. Or even a theatre minor. We produce three shows per year, and we have classes, whenever enough people sign up to make them happen.

We can declare individualized theatre majors, or even individualized theatre minors, but that's a lot of work, and it costs extra. So what we end up with is a theatre community largely composed of people who will most likely end up in non-theatre careers. So why do people audition for shows? Why are we still doing shows here, besides because of the indomitable will of Doc?

It boils down to the fact that we have an excellent theatre community. People know they won't be going into theatre as careers, and yet they still audition, and we put on pretty good shows--last night's closing performance was the best theatrical performance I've ever participated in. Our theatre community is willing to do theatre JUST because they love it. Most of them aren't planning for Broadway.

Now, that is absolutely wonderful--basically, theatre is staying alive because people will throw themselves into it as a wholly extracurricular activity.

But here's the flaw; with this situation, the continued success of our theatre program depends absolutely on the good will, diligence, and dedication of a motley group of people who did theatre in high school. We have no major or minor--we have nothing to lure talent, and we have no practical reason for people to keep performing. If the well of good will dries up, where are we?

Do theatre productions still happen? If so, what sort of life will they have? What if nobody auditions?

I heard it said recently that we "are not a legit theatre school". I simultaneously agree and disagree. On the one hand, we are not known for our theatre program. We're not a big name--we don't attract a lot of great talents. (Nothing against our current theatre community; I just mean that high school theatre standouts don't come to our school because we have a great program.) However, because of this amazing outpouring of goodwill, we have put on some AMAZING shows, and even saved a few from disaster. (Alice, I'm looking at you.) And our instructor told me recently that a theatre degree is not required to go to theatre grad school, so that raises the question "What makes a good theatre program? Is it fine performances or is it a big-name-producing major program?"

I really don't know where this is headed, but I figured it'd be better to let it all out rather than try to disjointedly communicate it to various people and end up wallowing in a cesspool of misunderstanding. OH! I remember.

We have a great program here, but we have no direction. There is no future for our theatre program without a major or a minor, or both; we need to hire at least one full-time instructor, reinstate the major and the minor, and refurbish our space. If those don't happen, we are doomed.

So here's my challenge: theatre people (you know who you are), make yourselves heard! Speak out in favor of the reinstatement of the theatre major and minor. If we keep hoping that we'll "get some good freshmen in this year", we'll go into a long slow decline destined to end in ultimate failure. Be proactive, people. Keep theatre alive for the class of 2014, and 2015, and 2114, and 2115. It's on us; let's not let future students down.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Wolfman, Part Deux (To Whom It May Concern--This Is A Review)

I went to see The Wolfman over the weekend--as a matter of fact, on Valentine's Eve, which was to all intents and purposes our Valentine's date, because the day itself was one long homework session. But that's neither here nor there--this is a review of the film.

And I just can't figure out why the critics are so stupid. This wasn't trying to be a great epic edgy new-ground-covering superwin of a movie: The Wolfman is an homage to the original black-and-white Wolfman. There are so, so many examples of this relationship that I just have to detail some of them:

1. The opening title--heck, even the opening shot. SO 1941--SO not 2010. But there it is.

2. The characters' names, for crying out loud!

3. Danny Elfman's excellent score, which is atmospheric and moody and very 1940s-horror-flick.

4. Artistic direction; there's not a lot of color in The Wolfman. I mean, it's filmed in color, but the filters and the lighting are such that it ends up being a very black-and-white-looking film.

5. Related to the above, Del Toro's Wolfman looks like Lon Chaney's Wolf Man. The Wolfman has a very traditional look.

That's all I'll say for now, because I don't want to spoil it. Plot-wise, the story hangs together. I think the writers are to be praised for trying to build an interesting and fresh narrative that brings something newer to the table than "Oh deary me, I'm a lycanthrope! Whatever shall I do? I sure hope I don't maul my loved ones!" They succeed, for the most part--I found some of the dialogue somewhat stilted, and the characters behave illogically sometimes, but on the whole The Wolfman has an enthralling story.

Much has been made of Del Toro's understated performance as Lawrence Talbot, and I couldn't disagree more with the critics who call him wooden and flat. Sure, he's not over-the-top, but that's fine! Lawrence Talbot is a man accustomed to being someone else; as a tragedian (we get tantalizing glimpses of Talbot on-stage), Talbot is unparalleled. Then, after he is bitten, he has to get used to regularly transforming into something other than who he is. Given this duality in his personality, I don't think at all that an understated performance is a problem. For me, it made the tragedy of his life that much more poignant, that he confronts it so naturally.

Anthony Hopkins, too, and Emily Blunt, are absolutely amazing in their roles. I would have liked a bit more emotion out of Blunt, who seems strangely impassive about all this horror, but I can't complain. She delivers a complex and compelling character, and so does Hopkins. Famous for his static villain Hannibal Lecter, Hopkins gives Sir John a grotesque mystique that simultaneously repels and intrigues.

And now...Hugo Weaving.


The man is unstoppable. Will he EVER have a subpar performance? And as soon as I saw the cut of his beard, I knew what would happen to him at the end. He is utterly convincing as the Yard detective obsessed with solving this mystery. His character is intriguing, because of how it blurs the line between antagonist and protagonist. He's in full Agent Smith mode, but how can one blame him for his actions? He ends up somewhere in the middle, and it's as much a tribute to Weaving's acting as it is to the scriptwriters' ability that Weaving doesn't stray into straight-up villain territory.

Okay, rave over. The film is incredibly gory--verging on gratuitously so--and the transformations are especially disturbing. I recommend this film, but only to those with strong stomachs. I'll give it 8/10.

Long live homages!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Wolfman

Wait, wait, wait. What?

Benicio Del Toro is pretty cool, I guess. I mean, I don't like his politics, but he's a good actor, I suppose.

And you really can't go wrong with Anthony Hopkins--sorry. Sir Anthony Hopkins. He's been in some bad movies, but he has the chops.

Apparently the female lead, Emily Blunt, is no Megan Fox either, at least in terms of acting. She's acted as well as doing films--acted on-stage, I mean--and some of today's greatest actors are those that can cross from stage to screen and back, easily.

The thing is, I just can't stand another cliche-movie. I just can't stomach it. And despite these awesome actors, I wasn't planning on seeing The Wolfman.

And then I saw that Hugo Weaving is in it.

Now, I admit that this is a terrible reason for me to change my mind, but Weaving is...Weaving. He brings something amazing to every single role he plays. He's one of my acting heroes.

So...yeah. I'll probably go see The Wolfman.

Long live hero-worship!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fine. Whatever.

My agent keeps telling me that I need to satisfy expectations and the masses by posting my Super Bowl prediction.

Now, my agent knows best, so I suppose I need to listen to him. Fine. Whatever.

Colts win.

I don't know what the game will be like. I don't know what the score will be. Even more surprising, I don't want to guess what the game will be like or what the score will be.

I believe the word...apathy...yeah, that about covers it. I mean, w00t w00t for the Saints, getting to what I think is their first SB (I'm so apathetic that I'm not even going to look it up, though.) And w00t w00t for ol' Peyt, hopefully winning his second SB and surpassing Brent Favre in THAT statistic, at least. But frankly? I don't really care.

I mean, at this point in the playoffs I'm so desensitized--so heartbroken--so scarred from having made SO MANY WRONG PICKS, DANG IT, that I really don't care any more. What complicates this is that I don't absolutely love or virulently hate either team.

Of course, if I do watch the game, I will pick a side, subconsciously. This happened last year. Last year, I didn't really care. I mean, here's what I could have said last year: "w00t w00t for Arizona finally getting to the SB. w00t w00t for Pittsburgh hopefully winning their sixth Lombardi. But frankly? I don't really care."

I could have said that last year, because that was what I was thinking. But then I watched the game and found myself rooting for Arizona, all of a sudden. Weird.

I'm not even sure I'll watch the game, but...for what it's worth, I'm picking the Colts to win.

Which, with my luck, means that the Saints will win.

Also, xkcd:
Long live apathy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

You Know What Time It Is...


Okay, that was much creepier than I expected it to be.

Whatever. I'll be posting my SB prediction sometime soon (read: hopefully tomorrow when I have more time)--and for the record, I know I fail at predicting games. I know that I have made 17 predictions this postseason, and I also know that only 6 of those predictions were correct in some way. So...maybe you want to consider reading this post and not the next one. Then again, if you're one of those who likes to watch people fail loud and hard, then go ahead, read my Super Bowl prediction, and laugh your...head off.

Wouldn't it be awesome if I actually DID predict the SB right?

But I digress. The time of year is Super Bowl Week, and that means that Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner. That means that the Super Bowl will be on TV, and do you know what they play during the Super Bowl?

You're right! Super Bowl commercials!

Now there's some win. Eh?

Here are a few goodies from last year. I'm embedding again (it makes me feel like a real blogger) but I know that some--perhaps most--of my readers experience this on Facebook, where embedding is not possible. Or if it is, I don't know how. So I'll also be putting in a link to the page.

With no further ado, Doritos:

And who can forget Alec Baldwin as the evil mastermind bent on world destruction?

Oh, and this movie was pretty well-recieved too:

All in all, last year was pretty good for SB's hoping this year is even better!

Long live tradition! (But only the good kind of tradition...)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Reese's Pieces Are Liars

I won't even mention how I've been gone for 12 days--or rather, too lazy/busy to post. Suffice it to say that I am ashamed of myself.

Now, then.

So I was happily eating some Reese's Pieces--delicious, by the way--and I noticed a slogan-type thing on the back of the bag that said "Your Favorites, Now in Pieces!"

Well, that's all very well and good, except that Reese's Pieces were launched in 1980. So the word "now" is...very very strange, to say the least.

I feel betrayed.

Long live TRUE advertising.