Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monsters University... A Prequel?

I for one am a huge fan of Monsters, Inc. I have always wondered where the story was heading once Sully finally got that last splinter and revived Boo's door. It's clearly years later and the possibility of Boo being older and remembering Sully from this crazy adventure she never told anyone about is too interesting for me to just let go.
Okay, so the real situation: The Monsters, Inc. sequel is now a Monsters, Inc. prequel... Monsters University. Now this is coming out of the mouth of a true Pixar believer, but until I see Cars 2 and truly believe it's good... news like a prequel rather than a sequel is only freaking me out!

I'm excited for Brave. It looks like it could be cool, but that's just from preliminary sketches. And up to this point I have enjoyed every Pixar film (less so for A Bug's Life which may be the weakest script in review), but nothing would hurt me more than to be let down by the studio because they weren't brave enough to challenge themselves with a new Monsters film where kids are aware of these things that live in their closets and like to make them laugh at night. How well do the kids take to the experience? Could children, just as with fear, become harder to tickle (metaphorically, not literally) over time?

I guess what I'm really afraid of is Pixar trapping themselves with a story that we have already imagined just from the original. I love Mike and Sully. I love Boo... and I think Randall is a great villain. Slimy but not too intimidating. A brain who requires someone with real power in order to be truly affecting. It's those tiny truisms of the universe of Monstropolis that get me so attached... but we've already seen what it was at its most intense and I for one would like to see what happens next.

I still love you Pixar. But I'm not so naive. I can admit I'm scared. Sometimes with success comes arrogance. And sometimes once great directors/producers decide that they can get away with anything. It happened to Spielberg once upon a time (1941). He turned it around right quick, but I guess I'm saying I don't want to go through three years of disappointment with what Pixar has offered me. Cause that's a looong time. If Cars 2 is bad... Brave is meh (which it won't be)... and then Monsters University is disappointing... I would weep. Weep.

Still... that's a lot of ifs. So here's to hoping.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Favorite Films: Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

In 1966 the world was introduced to a new and great talent, a man named Mike Nichols. He started here... with Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? the film of the great Edward Albee play. And dare I say, he made it better. In fact, there's really not much I can say about this film... it really speaks all for its self. But I will try.
Every day is a struggle... in marriage, in love, in life. Sometimes, just to continue on, just to keep surviving, people can transform their worlds. Just in their head. But that new perspective can affect oh so much. So when it all becomes a game how does one play with another? Where can a fantasized relationship end up? Will the love really be there if the two in question no longer know how to play by the rules? How does one even lose such a game?
*Of course, it is sad to see passion laid to rest, and I want to take this moment to say farewell to Elizabeth Taylor who tore up the screen and showed us what we can accomplish without inhibitions. And while I'll remember her for just a few performances, her credits are massive in their splendor and their grace. With Richard Burton gone so many years ago it's tragic to rewatch this film and feel such epic pain. The hope of course is that in real life they were far happier people... yeah, they must have been. This is a spiraling entry, but I am truly choked up. We grow relationships with the people we see on screen and when they're gone... well that's it. No more fun times with Liz. No more Angela or Katharina or Cleopatra or Leslie. And no more Martha. I will miss her.*
The pure malice of this film is enough to rock generations. It was a classic when it debuted, it is a classic now, and it will certainly be a classic in another hundred years.

The List So Far:
1927 - Metropolis - Fritz Lang
1928 - Steamboat Willie - Ub Iwerks
1931 - M - Fritz Lang
1932 - Tarzan, The Ape Man - W. S. Van Dyke
1933 - King Kong - Merian C. Cooper +
1934 - It Happened One Night - Frank Capra
1957 - Funny Face - Stanley Donen
1966 - Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? - Mike Nichols
1984 - Brazil - Terry Gilliam
1986 - Labyrinth - Jim Henson

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wet Floor: It's Called A Cliché

It's been a very slow season since the Oscars. Not a huge surprise. This seems to be the trend every year. Studios give up on these months between the awards films and the summer blockbusters... but there's no real excuse for this. If you release interesting/good movies people will come out to see them. That's assuming studios actually have interesting/good movies to show. Which lately doesn't seem to be the case.

Battle: Los Angeles
The most interesting scene in the entire flick.
What a mess! My roommate aptly described it as Battle: Two Blocks in Santa Monica. This movie could have had epic presence and high concept. But it really just failed. No... it didn't fail. As military propaganda it thoroughly succeeded. And yeah, I respect our Marines, but they're still people. (Spoiler Alert) And they didn't already have breakfast! You don't go through what these people went through and not take a break for an hour to eat. They're gonna die. They're gonna go back out and get themselves killed because they haven't rested up. (End Spoiler) That's just an example of annoying moments in the film... the most prominent one in my mind at this moment. But this thing is riddled with cliché after cliché. And the utter lack of action or purpose is sadly apparent from the outset. The coolest events are glazed over in news reels and then we're stuck... with this movie.
Genre: Mediocre Sci-Fi/Same Old War Film.

The Adjustment Bureau
An accurate depiction of what happens in the movie.
Dark City Light. If you like Dark City (and I love Dark City, the director's cut specifically) you will likely hate this movie. The sad fact is, this movie doesn't even hint at interesting concepts... in fact, it's not even Sci-Fi. Though the PK Dick credit sure wants you to think it is. Biggest complaint here, there's no mystery. Everything turns out to be exactly what you'd expect someone to come up with who is writing a "high concept" script for the first time. It's not the performances here... it's the writing. The stakes are low and the ideas are completely missing.
Genre: Lame Religious Fantasy.

Maybe the worst thing ever. This movie isn't even trying to get you into the theatre by its own merit. It's hoping you liked Taken just enough to come out one more time and see something completely unrelated but for the leading Actor. It's a veritable who's who of bad performances and poorly planned plot turns... that aren't really plot turns. (Spolier Alert) If he was really a secret agent that lost his memory but for his false identity... that he had also been memorizing for a year... so they could get into a conference and blow it up... which they apparently didn't need to do after pulling the files from a computer... which is what they needed to do in the first place... Ugh. And characters die in the most ridiculous ways. (End Spoiler) Suffice to say, I hate this movie.
Genre: Anti-Spy Thriller.

I did however love Rango! Everything about this movie seemed to be aimed at people like me. It's another Scott Pilgrim situation where a very specific group was bound to find every little thing a pure delight, while many others may be left in the dust wondering what they just saw. It was intended to be a film for kids, though it seems to connect with Nickelodeon's tradition of not talking down to the young of age (ex. Rocko's Modern Life, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Invader Zim, etc.) which makes me love it all the more. Far too often kids are subjected to pointless, wacky movies that don't improve their minds or activate their imaginations. And when you're young, all you have is your imagination... the kids that don't have one become boring adults with no flair for life or recognition of how strange the world really can be. If more movies like this came out I think we'd see a rise in grades from elementary schools to middle... and maybe even above. That's just a theory, but I believe in it personally. Interesting movies, like Rango, inspire further consciousness.
Genre: Psychological Western For People Of All Ages.

So, with only one out of four in the green, this season's a bit of a bore. But Jane Eyre looks quite promising and one can only hope the summer will step it up after a decidedly weak season last year. It does look promising.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Avatar: Fears And Hopes

So it's finally happened. We're getting a new season of Avatar... sort of.
The Last Airbender:Legend of Korra? I sure hope they change the name.
And I'm very hopeful/excited/scared. One of the great qualities of Avatar is that it was a truly serialized series with a well thought out beginning middle and end. The characters had emotional depth and individuality, and the writers weren't afraid to hit you in the gut when they had to. So to rephrase, Avatar never pulled its punches. Each season finale showed interesting and sometimes painful new growth from each character... and that'd be just normal if it weren't for every episode in between that took the same care to keep us interested in the story.

The thought that we will be getting an Aang-less Avatar is sad and that's only the beginning of my fears. Aang as a character was complex and interesting at nearly every bend.
He's not just some main character that's glossed over to save time for the rest of the gang. As we watch his journey we consistently see him mature emotionally and discover the meaning of right and wrong, and that's why it's so scary when we watch him make one mistake after another. We know that he feels worse than anybody about his incompetence at BEING the Avatar. And when he finally does something right, we cheer. And that ending... that ending sews it all together quite perfectly. After a shaky season one finale wherein Aang cannot control his powers and basically becomes what he sees as the lowest form of being and an even more frightening season 2 finale...
Aang discovers that there is another way. He has choices and some of them are actually more moral than he ever could have realized by himself.

The Last Airbender, M. Night's movie was a travesty.
"Are you planning on telling me something I need to know?"
And it's so ridiculous to think that such good material, which only needed to be pulled from the episodes and refilmed in liveaction, could be torn apart and destroyed so carelessly.

I am passionate about this material, and I know millions of others feel the same way as me.
They feel like family.
So here's my hope, that this new series (The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra) be just as specifically thought out and molded as the original series. If it's the same show runners, then I have faith. And, it's only a 12 episode miniseries... so I can assume this is the case. In any event, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

I am hopeful I am excited I am scared... in love with Avatar.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

There Must Be A Single Truth

Lately I'm seeing that nothing matters quite so much as happiness. Though it can be a fickle thing, we're always in pursuit... because as human beings we have nothing else to go on. If we're happy at least we must be doing something right. If we're angry or sad or a veritable emotional mess, we're clearly not where we planned on being in our lives. And the most confusing thing about this is, it's the stupid little things that make us happy or sad. It's just that one perfect moment with another person, and maybe it gets messed up and maybe we lose touch of reality for a second because we thought this thing was actually right... which it was for the moment... even if it seems lost forever. That's a harsh statement.

I'm gunning for a future that so few can make and I sometimes wonder if it would help to have someone to help me along in that journey. But I'm too much of a mess for anyone (I feel like I've been saying that a lot lately). It's not that I'm falling apart or anything like that. Nor am I truly unhappy. I just keep glimpsing the things that I will have to miss out on in order to succeed in my path.
Such a stupid joke...
I still don't completely understand why I am meant to lose what I am or why when those moments come along they can't just stay for a short while... just a week, a month even. When people meet me they say I am always smiling. No one's as smily as I am. Because I have a path and I'm willing to believe in my own future, whatever that may be. But everybody has to deal with their life. Everyone must go through the danger room at least six or seven times in their lives.
And it doesn't always end well. But it is usually in search of that single white truth... How happy are you today?

There Must Be A Single Truth:

1. Man Of The Hour - Norah Jones
2. We Bought The Flood - The Books
3. As The World Falls Down - David Bowie
4. Never Comes The Day - The Moody Blues
5. Strangers - Portishead
6. Funky Kingston - Toots & The Maytals
7. I've Seen Enough - Cold War Kids
8. Take Me Higher - Mellow
9. Jesus Loves Me - CocoRosie
10. Hallucination - Trevor Jones
11. Windows Blues - Band Of Horses
12. She's A Jar - Wilco
13. It's Almost A Trap - Architecture In Helsinki
14. Going, Going, Gone - Stars
15. Ballad Of A Thin Man - Bob Dylan & The Band
16. Arrival - Alan Price
17. Solitaire - Wilco
18. Big Booty Woman - Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears