Sunday, October 26, 2008

Somebody has to kill the Babysitter

Over the course of this past thanksgiving weekend I had an opportunity to re-watch a cable TV classic (i would never actively seek the movie out but when it is on TV I will stop and watch).  The hilariously dark comedy Cable Guy was on and I stopped to watch.  Now cable guy might be my third or fourth favorite Jim Carey movie, behind 1. Dumb and Dumber 2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 3. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and I don't think it even has that many laugh out loud moments (the basketball scene, the medival times scene,  the karaoke scene  and the part where he pretends to walk down a flight of stairs).  The reason I like it most is not because it points out the hilarity of speech impediments and schizophrenia (Me, Myself and Irene is another hilarious film made by Mr. Carey that finds the hilarity in mental illness).  The main reason for enjoyment is that I know my mom hates it.  She thinks it is a movie making light of a sick person and his problems, she also feels awful that she took me and my friends to see for my birthday when I was like 10.  She thought it was terribly inappropriate and was upset that she exposed our young minds to such a grotesque comedy (she is easily offended).  Every time me and my brothers find it on TV she leaves the room and shouts at us from the other room every time she hears us laugh... "He's SICK!  its a SICK movie!".  This most recent viewing i think i picked up a subtle subtext to the movie.  I think there was a message buried under all the old TV references.  And it is this message i would like to relay to you this evening.

TV sucks.  Not all TV...there are quite a few exceptions to the rule but this might amount to 2-3 hours a week (4-5 when/if LOST and Battlestar Galactica return also this number might increase quite a bit if you get HBO).  Seeing as the week is made up of 168 hours of television programing and there probably 6-7 stations commited to producing "original" television (the rest focus on reruns, design shows, reality tv and reruns of design reality shows).  That is approximately 1092 hours of programming (i realize prime time is only a fraction of that but i'm trying to make a point).  The makers of televison get it right about 0.2% of the time.  This has probably been true for a long time and I am not the first to stumble across this.  I think the equation for crap has become increasingly obvious.  The makers of television have a fool proof system of making shows that will fail.  You start with a recognizable actor who is either looking to restart his/her career or springboard from one successful show to one of his/her own.  They play the part of a cop/doctor/crime scene investigator/secret agent/husband/wife and sometimes all at the same time. You add a sexy-talentless co-star and land a few important sponsors so your main character drives the latest american made automobile and uses the best Dell computer and the coolest cell phone that Verizon will give away for free in few weeks and it will look dated if the show ever gets to reruns.  sprinkle with a hint of sex.  then you can just sit back and watch no one watch.  The best shows are filled with actors you have never heard of before.  The story and characters were written well before casting ever began.  Famous actors are not necessarily the problem they are fine when they are on the peripheral and simply support the story (ie Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock and Tracy Morgan in 30 Rock...Tina Fey is just plain funny and she was obviously allowed to make the show she wanted.  that is why that show is a success).   The problem is assuming people will be lured into watch anything with a familar face on it (Oh look its the brother from "Everybody Loves Raymond" and the lady from that PI show that is often advertised but i have never seen it...oh and they are bickering about married life...what a treat).

anyway,  I was gonna try to delve into this deeper but i'm sure i am testing your patience as it and if you disagree with my ideas I would love to hear your exception to my rule.  I will gladly explain why your example a) is the exception that proves the rule or b) makes you an awful human being and you should never be allowed to have a Neilson's Ratings box attached to your TV. 

I am going to attempt a little experiment (its okay.  I'm a scientist)  I'm gonna watch TV only when I know there is a good show on (this may require a TV guide).  This will most likely make me feel like I am paying too much for cable and it will also free up some time for other things.  What are these other things?  I will tell you when I figure that will probably involve spending more time on the Internet seeing as winter is quickly approaching and outdoor activities are becoming cold.  A few moments specifically lead me to this decision i) I have a strategy for Deal or No Deal (but i do not see the banker as an adversary yet).  This is the equivalent to having a Rock Paper Scissors strategy but without the real world applications. ii) I successfully deconstructed the stupidity of celebrity reality TV(oxymoron?) while watching Brooke Knows Best.  The fact that i had to figure it out rather than just rely on my gut instinct that these shows are stupid...its pretty obvious...was most disheartening.

On a Completely unrelated note...I just saw that Vicky Christina Barcelona movie.  I did not realize it was a Woody Allen Movie.  It was pretty funny and made Barcelona look like a different planet.  I was mostly upset with the casting of Javier Bardem as a bohemian painter who seduces Scarlet Johansson and Penelope Cruz (very funny in this movie...i did not know she spoke spanish).   After he played that guy in No Country For Old Men he should be barred from playing the romantic lead FOREVER.   This is like Freddy Kruger being cast by John Hughes to play the part of Jake Ryan opposite Molly Rigwald in Sixteen Candles.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Lens

New Lens, originally uploaded by mmilway.

I got myself a new lens. I can't zoom at all with it and i have to manual focus everything. the shallow depth of field is well worth it. hopefully i will get a lot of use out of it and post more pictures that are slightly more interesting.  If you click on the picture it will take you to its flickr home.  make sure you click on the "All sizes" icon to see a bigger version of it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My attempt at reviewing things II: spoiler alert not required

Seeing as I have already mastered music reviews (thats right I just linked to my own blog!  google watch out) and this concept has spawned a whole cottage industry of websites, I figure I would retire from music reviews at the top of my game.  So in light of all this I'm gonna tell you what I think of the movie I just saw.  Movie reviews are always tough.  I hate reading them because they often give too much away and I will try my best not to do that.  I have chosen a movie that has been out for some time so if you wanted to see it in the first place you would have already seen it and my review will have no baring on your life or opinion.  I will however be short on the plot details because there are people out there who might want to rent it and I will be keep the praise to a minimum to keep your expectations in check.  If you never planned on watching it or are actively boycotting the movie I will try to balance my restrained praise with some vague criticism so you feel that a) you didn't miss out on a cinematic event and b) you feel good about avoiding a movie that you probably wouldn't have enjoyed.  So now that I have given everyone no reason to continue reading...

Hamlet 2 is a not-so offensive movie about an offensive high school musical.   Steve Coogan is funny, Cathrine Keener is good, Elizabeth Shue is charming and Robert Downy Jr. was not in this movie.  The writing was ok and there were a few laugh-out-loud moments that were not prominently featured in the trailer...but I won't give them away.  As a whole I thought the evening was not a complete waste of time.  I will probably not watch the movie again and may not think about it too deeply after I finish this post....But it was funny and not as offensive as I was expecting...mind you, I am a white, internet savy, man (kinda) who does not easily offend.  Would I recommend it? Yes and No.  Could I be anymore vague about why I may or may not have liked it? Kinda.  Did I just master movie reviews? Probably.

Right around the highly publicized big music number entitled "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" I thought to myself: this movie would be better if it made reference to the story/plot/characters/themes of the original Hamlet. (spoiler alert/vital plot information that is in the movies title and tagline: the main character tries to take the tragedy out of the original (prequel?) by giving Hamlet a time machine so he can learn from his mistakes and change the consequences of his actions (or lack thereof))   Then I realized I have not read Hamlet since like grade 10 and I'm not even sure if I finished it.  Back then I thought they made us read that stuff because Shakespeare wrote in a funny way and the only goal of the class was to decipher basic plot points.  I probably knew the basics of hamlet back then and only built upon that based on inferences from vague pop culture references and double jeopardy answers.   So the whole movie could have been incredibly insightful.  It may have even related the story and lessons of of one of literatures greatest works (so i'm told) to modern times.  It might be the perfect tool for high school english teachers (not catholic school) to show their students the beauty of Hamlet.  But it might not have, what do I know.

Why don't you watch it...or not.

Look out for my future reviews.  I am reading a book if I finish it I will let you know.  I'm also probably gonna give up on the whole movie reviews (they are hard!) and just review some of the latest movie trailers...that seems much easier.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008