Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SWTX PCA/ACA Conference

I am off to Albuquerque, NM to present a paper on fundamentalism and the loss of self in Firefly focusing on the character of Shepherd Book. Kj and I would be more than happy to share the paper with anybody who would like to read it, in fact we would appreciate any feedback. There's always the thought that we will go to a journal to try and get it published. We're really proud of it and looking forward to present on Thursday.

From Albuquerque, I will be flying to New York for an interview at Columbia University for the MFA in Dramaturgy program within the Theatre division. So, there is much to be excited about this week!

With all the preparation I've been doing for the trip, I haven't had time to sit down and post my thoughts on the second episode of Dollhouse "The Target", but I will be sure to do so as soon as I can. I want to watch it again to pick up things I may not have caught the first time. In short, I liked it even though it followed the structure of "The Most Dangerous Game" to a predictable degree. While I liked the back story depicted in this episode, I wanted to linger for a little while longer in the mystery of it all. I can't say I wasn't on the edge of my seat though and again, the episode made me anxious for more.

Come to Iceland

This video brought great warmth to my week.

Kristen Wigg-many props to you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Big Wins for Slumdog and Milk, Lisa Rinna not so much

Lisa Rinna looks like an owl exploded on her head after clawing her lips until they were all swollen and disfigured.

I think if I had seen this on the red carpet last night, I would have felt the need to have several more glasses of champagne to wipe away that image. Aren't you glad I've passed it on for your viewing pleasure?

Thankfully, I was mingling at a big Oscar party at SoDo Park in south Seattle right up until Hugh Jackman did his opening number. I thought his first performance last night set the perfect tone for the night. I appreciated the different creative decisions that were made this year in regards to presentation and entertainment. Presenting the nominees for best song as a medley was nice and I think the old way of doing it-individually-just spread out the evening unnecessarily so. I also liked the actors and actresses presenting the nominations for Best Actor and Best Actress respectively. It added another personal touch to the evening. Did anyone else think of Battlestar Galactica's reveal of the Final Five at the temple in Season 3 when the five actors stood up against the "pillars" in the background? I could have done without Beyonce's act later in the show, but I enjoyed the choreography at that point. Overall, a definite improvement of the awards show from years past.

As far as results go, I'm happy Slumdog Millionaire did as well as it did. It deserves every one of those awards. While I was rooting for Milk to win best picture, I had a feeling Slumdog would take that one in the end. The acceptance of Heath Ledger's posthumous award for Best Supporting Actor by his family was somber but well-deserved, not just for The Dark Knight, but his career. I suppose there's always a chance he will be recognized for his talent again when Terry Gilliam's, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus comes out-which will officially be Ledger's last film role.

I could not have been happier about Dustin Lance Black's win for his screenplay for Milk and Sean Penn's award for Best Actor. Two great wins that mean a lot for so many people in this country and around the world.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yeah, That's Right...

Dollhouse, my friends, is the number one television download on iTunes.

The Trilogy Meter

Dan Meth has created a table representing his feelings about movie trilogies. According to him, it is based "purely on [his] enjoyment level...and nothing else." For the most part, I'm inclined to agree with his "ratings." I love that The Lord of the Rings trilogy received consistent marks-a result of being filmed back to back, maybe, or because they were born from a wildly creative and talented team of people. Star Wars was really one of the first trilogies that was self-contained-it has the highest overall marks. Prequels-I'm not counting you.

There are a few series that I am less qualified to rate as I haven't seen them all or even in part-Rambo, Mad Max, Rocky, Die Hard or The Godfather (I know, I'm terrible). Still, it is interesting to see how many sequels are considered better than their predecessors. Third film in a trilogy? Not so much.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dollhouse "Ghost" 1.1

If you have nothing else to say about it, you can’t say Dollhouse isn’t intriguing. Thankfully, throwing my hat into the ring of reviews, I have more than plenty to say about my first introduction to the Dollverse. It was even better than I espected. I found it to be immensely compelling-if not weighed down in brief moments by too much exposition. I have in mind the opening sequence in which we are introduced to Caroline-a bit early to see that moment for my liking-and chief of security Laurence line to Boyd about “ex-cop heroics.” The pilot, “Ghost” which replaces the previously filmed first episode, “Echoes” is well framed, beautifully shot and a delectable tease of what is to come.

In general, the episode brought up more questions for me than at any time in the long months of anticipation. What are the parameters of the actives’ programming? What kind of “treatment” do the personalities think they are getting at the end of their client’s contract? What makes them seek it out? How many actives are there? In my book, I relish in all these queries and whatever “loose ends” there appear to be for audiences now do not bother me in the least, but, like the character of Paul Ballard, drive me to keep watching for answers. Not to mention, the potential for this set-up and these characters are endless.

I was very anxious to see the opening credits and by "anxious" I mean giddy. The sequence is quite a bit more subdued than any of Joss Whedon’s previous series and it does away with the convention of portraits and subtitles of all the primary actors. Eliza Dushku is really the star of the credits and plays to her role as “doll” while pulling up her lace tights. The music is certainly more subtle as well which seems to fit the direction Whedon intends the show to go-this will not be a no-holds-barred action fest. The bells at the end of the credits as the glass panels cover up the actives as they go to sleep also reinforcing the idea of viewing these people as dolls-which is a morally difficult one to subscribe to. At the end of the night, these men and women go back in their toy box.

One of the issues I had with journalistic criticisms of the show was the question of how people could become invested in the show if they had no central character to “root for” since Echo essentially had no personality. This, to me, says they haven’t watched the show, because what we’re rooting for, is for Echo to regain her personality! If that’s not a prime motivation to watch the show through this first season, I don’t know what is.

As a sidenote, I watched the episode with captions as we had a gentleman with a hearing impairment with us, and it was interesting to note that even when Echo was programmed as the carefree-girl-with-the-short-skirt in the beginning of the episode or Eleanor-not-Ellie-Penn, the captions still referenced her as “Echo”. Although I doubt that was an intentional commentary, it made me think about how Echo might still be in there, no matter what persona fills her body and mind.

"...all those terrible memories these men put in your head. Why would they do that?"
-Gabriel Cristejo

Other than the aforementioned moments of blatant exposition-most likely a product of the re-tooled pilot and studio demands, I thought the dialogue was extremely well-crafted. “Ghost” is replete with double-edged dialogue like the line above and Ms. Penn's "I don't have any hobbies." There is a depth to the writing however simplistic of conversation it covers that reinforces my faith in how this season will continue to develop in fascinating ways. Whedon is well-known for having Shakspeare readings with the casts of his shows in his home and he has said that he is aware that he writes lines that quote Shakespeare maybe too often. It did not surprise me, then that Fran Kanz’s character, Topher quotes two lines of Shakespeare if I’m not mistaken, almost back to back. On that note, of all the characters, I found Topher to be the least convincing; his dialogue seemed forced, though sometimes out of necessity when he speaks to Echo as a child without so much compassion. As it is early in the season, there could very well be a reason for this.

Another instance of intertextuality came when Davina’s father, Gabriel Cristejo, mentions Edward James Olmos as a fatherly figure. Not only does Tahmoh Peniket have a role on Battlestar Galactica which airs the same night as Dollhouse-at least until the end of its run in five weeks-Whedon is a self-proclaimed Battlestar fanboy. I thanked Whedon out loud for that surprise reference!

As much as I knew about the show and the pilot specifically before going in to Friday’s premiere, I was surprised about how much had not been revealed in interviews and reviews of “Ghost.” I was aware that the writers on Dollhouse would play with the notion of human trafficking, but what I was not expecting was the explicit references to that issue. I had no idea Paul Ballard would be working on a Russian trafficking case. Perhaps this plot point is introduced early on in order to underscore the parallels to the Dollhouse as a veritable human trafficking estate? Paul encounters Enver Gjokaj’s character whom promotional images and the show’s opening credits have pinned as an active. In this first episode, is he playing a member of the Borodin family? Could he be helping the efforts that possibly put him into this existence? And could Paul be a former active himself, driven by memories from his time in the Dollhouse?

Other points of intrigue for me involved firstly the care that those running the Dollhouse have for their actives-not as people but tools. Adelle DeWitt has a line about the protection of the actives being of the utmost importance-not the situation. She says “the actives are not robots,” but how different do they treat them? Second, Paul’s line about the imprinting process being akin to murdering a person is striking. Seeing Sierra victimized at the Dollhouse early on and then turned into a killing machine in the climax of the episode was a chilling contrast.

I’m so glad Whedon cast Amy Acker in the show and in such a promising role. There is something very mysterious about the way her character, Dr. Claire Saunders, moves about the Dollhouse, half-hidden behind the door in one scene. Her reaction when Echo asks, “who takes care of you?” is haunting. I already feel empathy for character. I so desire to know the reason for her pain physical and otherwise. I expect Dr. Saunders and Echo to share much more meaningful time together as the series unfolds.

The episode ends with what could be this season’s Big Bad, a figure whose face we do not see in a room with several bodies watching a video tape of Caroline. A rogue active? Is this Alpha?

Through in through, “Ghost” is a worthy first episode that draws the audience into a world similar enough to our own world, that it creates a gripping morality play where we the viewers are not always on the side of good. While we eagerly watch every episode play out and hope that Echo successfully completes every engagement as an active, we too, are the perpetrators of her imprisonment. Her success means another day trapped in the Dollhouse.

This Friday, Echo gets involved in another engagement gone awry-but this time not as a result of her programming in episode two, "The Target." For future and repeat viewing, you can watch Dollhouse on Hulu.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tonight, the dolls come out to play.

The Slayer
March 10, 1997

The Vampire
October 5, 1999

The Independent
September 20, 2002

The Doctor
July 15, 2008

The Doll
February 13, 2009

Why, how snapdragon of you.

Illustrator Jason Logan gives his take on modern floriography-the practice of attaching meaning to particular specimens of flowers in a simple painting series at the New York Times.

Eight more illustrated definitions from the collection in "The Sweet Smell of Semantics".

If you're interested in the full list of flowers and their meanings-something I've always found interesting, but like horoscopes, only think about them occasionally when they strike a chord-you can peruse an extensive selection here.

So, you may want to think twice before getting me that bouquet of orange blossoms and Queen Anne's lace for Valentine's Day this year. I would take it to mean that you want my babies. Or, okay, maybe you might want that. I don't know.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Summer Glau and Eliza Dushku will be hosting this Friday's duet of premieres from the set of CEO Catherine Weaver's ZeiraCorp office in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. T:SCC returns this Friday with new episodes along with Dollhouse. The action starts at 8PM on FOX.

"Is that it? Am I done?"

Before a pre-production meeting at Taproot the other day, I went to Dreamstrand comic book store in Greenwood and picked up a copy of Angel Spotlight: Doyle. The comic chronicles the few days before Doyle's initial encounter with Angel in "City Of." The writing is actually pretty good and next time I'm there I will likely get the one-shot of Illyria. It made me realize how much I miss Doyle and really how much of a tragedy it was to lose not only his character but the actor who portrayed Allen Francis Doyle, Glenn Quinn. I would have really liked to see where he-they-went.

On using his Irish accent in Angel, Quinn said, "It was like putting on an old pair of shoes. It's bringing my soul back to life." He, like myself, also collected Star Wars memorabilia.

I've been toying with the idea of doing some work on the character in the future.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Said: Joss Whedon

“I believe the best way to examine anything is to go to a dark place. You can't be a storyteller and a speechwriter at the same time.”

Joss Whedon

More beautiful shots of the Dollhouse set, filming and crew at the LA Times.

Friday, February 6, 2009

CW Bites Again

Almost five years ago to the day-February 14th 2004-the WB television network decided to cancel Angel. David Fury, the head writer of the show has said that if Joss and the crew had not been so adamant with the Head of Entertainment about getting an early renewal for the show that the show would have definitely been picked up for a sixth season. He also stated "The WB has since recognized…I believe Garth Ancier at The WB said that it was a big mistake to cancel Angel."

Any way it happened, it makes the news that the CW has just picked up a pilot for a new series entitled, "Vampire Diaries" all the more bitter to taste. "Vampire Diaries" is based on L.J. Smith's four-book series of the same name originally published in 1993 which as the Variety article states, the CW made clear was before Stephanie Meyer's publication of her Twilight books. But with all the vampyric media these days, it is no surprise that HarperCollins ordered three more books with the first new novel-with the unnecessary multiple-part title: The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Nightfall-coming out on Tuesday.

"Vampire Diaries" revolves around a young woman whose torn between two vampire brothers. The The brothers - one good, one evil - are battling for her soul, and the souls of her pals, family and the small town where they live.

What makes the news even more difficult to bear is the fact that this show will be birthed by writers and producers from such quality work as "Gossip Girl," "I Know What You Did Last Summer," "Dawson's Creek" and "Privileged."

Someone should point out that some vampires just suck.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rainbows & Unicorns

Press this button to make all your fantasies about rainbows and unicorns come true:


Keep clicking and you'll thank me and its inventors.

Beautiful. Brilliant. Bedazzling.

Dr. Horrible on my Doorstep

I finally scrounged for $10.50 and ordered the DVD of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Amazon. I came home yesterday to find that it had arrived on my doorstep!

More than re-watching the film, I look forward to viewing it with Commentary the Musical featured on the DVD. I've heard good things about it and if you don't yet have the DVD, much of the Commentary is available on YouTube. Whedon has said that it actually took twice as long to make it than the 45 minute piece itself!

Williams Talks Dolls

This interview with British actress Olivia Williams, who plays Adelle Dewitt the "madame" of the Dollhouse in the upcoming show of the same name, has made me more excited about the show than any trailer, review, or picture that has been released til this point. Her dedication to and intellectual investment in the role are made quite obvious here. Williams is so eloquent and particular in her responses and she completely opens up the mythology, intrigue and potential of the show in a way that no promotional material or interview has done for me. Excerpts below.

About her character, Williams says:

[The challenge in playing Adelle] is the combination of playing someone who’s trying to grasp on to moral explanations for her behavior while dealing with abject loneliness. She’s lonely and has great empathy with people who are prepared to pay a vast amount of money for a date. Which means she’s completely morally corrupt ultimately. It’s just such a great double-edged part and you know we actors love the subtext, darling. Joss got me with the subtext.

And in response to the question about what she would tell potential viewers of the show, Williams assures the reader:

It will pay off. It will pay off if you stick with it. The first episodes have got the action and the glamour and set up the premise: What if you could buy whatever you wanted? But then you find yourself in a moral haze. “OK, is getting what I want good for me? Is it going to make me happy? Where does it lead morally and what are the implications of creating a fake personality? Do we have souls? If our brains were being wiped, is there anything in the soul that could survive?”

I think the people who are there to see [Eliza Dushku] in a bikini –- which is a great thing-are going to find themselves with a moral dilemma that they might not expect.

Dollhouse premieres one week from tomorrow at 9PM on FOX. Also, TV Addict reports that the second episode, "The Target", is even better than the premiere.

Said: Clive Barker

The extraordinary thing is this: that the moment you make a story or create an image that finds favour with an audience, you’ve effectively lost it. It toddles off, the little bastard; it becomes the property of the fans. It’s they who create around it their own mythologies; who make sequels and prequels in their imagination; who point out the inconsistencies in your plotting. I can envisage no greater compliment. What more could a writer or a film maker ever ask, than that their fiction be embraced and become part of the dream-lives of people who it’s likely he’ll never even meet?

Hellraiser, Book 1 Introduction by Clive Barker, December 1989

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

February Features Part II: Were the World Mine

Timothy is a gay student at an all boys private school. As would be expected with such a premise, he is taunted regularly, but one boy, Jonathon begins to take on a protective role. When the exuberant drama and literature professor hands Timothy a flyer for the upcoming Senior student production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, he takes it reluctantly but soon finds he has talent if not in the world of sports like his peers. Timothy’s interest in the play takes another turn when it becomes clear that since the production is being stage at an all boys school, some will have to take the parts of females as they have done historically. While the majority of the rugby team is far from enthused, Timothy smiles at the prospect of getting a chance to be closer to Jonathon. Cast as Puck, Timothy’s musical daydreams and investment in the role intertwine with reality with comedic and heartfelt results as Timothy pursues the rugby-jock amidst Renaissance pop/rock and chaos. The film is a remake of director Tom Gustafson’s own award-winning short film, Fairies from 2003. Otherwise relatively new to the director’s chair, Gustafson, is a veteran in the film industry having been involved in casting for several Hollywood productions.

Were the World Mine starts off slowly and in fact, stumbles a bit in its exposition. Characters at the onset are too broadly drawn and there is not even a clear sense of who the main character is beyond being a gay high school student at a private school, notably those on the Rugby team. His relationship with his mother, at times referenced as an important one, should feel more essential than it is portrayed on screen. It is a situation that would not necessarily be resolved my more screen time, but screen time of a higher quality. The scene in which the mother is introduced is awkward at best, clearly intended to possess important subtext, but one not tactfully integrated therein. This would seem to be a result of casting choice stemming not from the inability of the actors as individuals but their chemistry together. A few other relationships suffer from the same problem. The film meanders for about a third of its running time, which is unfortunate, but not catastrophic as the groundwork is laid well enough and there is a smattering of character exchanges that will be necessary later on. As an audience member, my perception of the film’s first act could be skewed by the fact that I was anticipating more music and at that, music sooner in the film. There are teases to that end in the beginning but nothing so fleshed out as a musical number until almost halfway through.

When that musical number does materialize one realizes how much of the story that had come before is so woven into the narrative on the grander scale. I would also add that this scene is arguably the best in the entire movie. It’s too bad that other songs in the film rarely achieve the same quality and ambiance of this one-a beautifully shot, artistic, imaginative encounter between Timothy and Jonathon. As in Shakespeare’s play, all things begin to change when Timothy reaches the part in the book about “Cupid’s love juice”-wordplay not lost on the mostly gay audience members. His prop, as Puck, is a long-stemmed purple flower and with it he wields the same power to sway the hearts of men and women alike begging the question uttered in the film, “if you could make someone love you, would you?” and whether he will use that power to ensnare the boy of his own dreams. Once the music starts, the boys and girls start dancing-but especially the boys-and the town becomes swept up in Puck’s spell, the laughs come more quickly and there is a joy and anticipation in all of it that make the trip to the film’s warm conclusion all the more worthwhile.

If there were one criticism I would make of the film, it would be toward the its lack of consistent, if not faster, pacing. This ties in to my notion that despite the film having a sound structure, it was that the structure was too visible. Given the subject matter and lighthearted tone of the film, there are bound to be contrivances, but the film could have been more fleshed out and tighter in its execution. More music for example, would have been appropriate, especially as the film has been marketed as such. There is a lot of room here for further display of choreographing and musical artistry interlaced within the narrative. Finally, the film would have benefited from character interactions and dialogue that evoked a higher level of emotional significance. While the character stakes could have been amplified, I can certainly understand the desire to keep it on the playful side. Still, we have seen musical and textual poaching at play with great emotional depth across a well-constructed narrative in musical films like Moulin Rouge where it works together fantastically. I would have liked to see the director take his work more in that direction.

On the whole, Were the World Mine is a welcome addition to the plethora of remakes and interpretations of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As such it brings the worlds of literature, gay cinema and the Broadway musical together in a new and innovative fashion. Even if not perfect, Were the World Mine, in the same vein as Hedwig and the Angry Inch, is a film that rises above typical portrayals of gay and lesbian characters and expresses the lasting potential of Shakespeare’s work especially in its use of different media. These aspects are promising to the world of gay cinema, but also to that of alternative and independent film.

Adieu, Oscar Wilde

On March 29, 2009, our nation's oldest gay bookstore will close its doors due to the ailing economy. The news article and a statement from current owner Kim Brinster comes via The New York Times City Room blog.

This past October, I made a special effort to visit The Oscar Wilde Bookshop in Greenwich Village where I bought an out-of-print art book. I had searched everywhere online before coming here and even once when I placed an order-the retailer later refunded me when they realized it was out of stock. I kicked myself for not buying it when I first came across it in the Castro District in San Francisco over a year ago. The owner and her partner both help in the operations of Oscar Wilde and it probably was Kim who sold me my prize after my long quest to re-find the art collection.

I've said it before, but it's incredible to think about all the history that has gone on in just a few blocks in New York-something one might say about any neighborhood in New York. Just down the street from Oscar Wilde is The Stonewall Inn, the location of the Stonewall riots that took place in 1969-which The Oscar Wilde predates by two years-when police raided the establishment, a sobering reminder of where we were then vs. today and how far the gay community has yet to go. This winter, Milk, too gave us a glimpse of the tumultous journey individuals and communities have embarked upon for the benefit of simple human rights, never able to fully grasp the long-lasting implications of their struggles.

Even if I was there for just one afternoon, I'm glad to have experienced the legacy, landmark and refuge that is The Oscar Wilde Bookshop. And I'll always have the book I had to go all the way across the country to get on my shelf.

Kim's full letter appears here on the bookstore's website with the quote:

"There is no truth comparable to Sorrow.
There are times when Sorrow seems to me to be the only truth."
-Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Why hello, birthday!"

Our favorite fashionista icon, Brenda Dickson, turned the big 6-0 today. Remember her?

I was just thinking that it had been a while since I had last visited the home of our ostrich-feathered,red-leathered 80s soap diva. And I really couldn't let this opportunity pass by without posting this once more:

Deven Green has created a few more "Welcome To My Home" parodies since the first one that had over 2 million hits, but the original above still takes the cake. The most recent video came out a couple months ago and you can view it along with the rest, including another goodie, "Welcome To My Face Off", at Green's YouTube channel.

Nikki and Ryan, am I right in my recollection that about 75 percent of our conversations at Slayage had something to do with either Buffy or Brenda?

I'll take partial credit for introducing the latter to the great city of Toronto. :)

"Why hello, amorous, congruous stick! You know what's good in my mouth? This carrot. Never met a carrot I didn't like. Except for this one!..."

Super Sunday

This is what my Super Bowl Sunday looked like: (Times are approximate)

9:50 Wake-up. Text Keith, "brunch?" Keith: "Yes." Me: "Grocery store. 15 minutes."

10:45 Coffee. A big plate of biscuits & gravy, eggs.

11:00 Angel Season 1, Episode 1, "City Of"

12:00 Keith: "Want to go to the gym." Me: "No." Me: "Actually, yes."

12:30 Gym. Elliptical. Weights. Balancing thingy. More weights. Abs. Shower.

2:00 Keith: "Mecquet wants to watch the Super Bowl." Me: "Oh. Okay." Mecquet: "Well maybe we don't actually have to watch it." Me: "Well, we can have it on while we do other things like filling out my FAFSA and doing Taxes." Mecquet: "I win." Keith & Mecquet: "Let's get beer and chips." Me: "Okay."

2:15 Grocery store. Walk to Keith's.

3:00 Super Bowl

3:05 Open computer. Start taxes.

3:15 Ooh, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra teaser trailer. Looks like it could be mindless summer fun. Directed by Stephen Sommers-who did The Mummy flicks.

3:16 More taxes.

3:30 Me: "Mecquet, what's a 'turnover'?" Tom: "It's like a baked crisp, apple desser-" Mecquet: "It's just when the other team gets the ball." Me: "Oh. Okay. Cool."

3:55 Ooh, new Star Trek trailer. Definitely awesome with tons of new footage.

4:00 Finish taxes.

4:05 Eat chips.

4:10 Finish beer.

4:11 At this point, I'm feeling very American-all with the taxes, beer and Super Bowl.

4:12 Start FAFSA. Not too hard now that I'm no longer an undergraduate and my taxes are done.

4:30 Ooh, Land of the Lost trailer with Will Ferrell. Does not look very good. At all.

4:50 Finish FAFSA.

4:52 Open a new beer. Surf online and come across Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen Super Bowl teaser trailer-which at this point has not even aired during the Super Bowl. I have no idea how that happens. The internet is magic. Me: "Mecquet, I found the Transformers trailer online that you've been waiting all afternoon to see." Mecquet: "I hate you. Then this whole afternoon of watching the Super Bowl has been pointless. I'm waiting."

5:15 Mecquet: "Okay if the Transformers trailer hasn't come on during this commercial break we're watching it online."

5:17 Me: "No Transformers." Hook computer up to big TV. Watch Transformers trailer on the internet. Apparently the scenes in the trailer are just from the first 20 minutes of the movie. It should make for a thrilling theatrical experience.

5:45 Transformers 2 trailer finally airs on the television. High definition one is better than the YouTube version, obviously.

6:00 Randy calls. Randy: "Car got broken into. Nothing stolen just a smashed window. Do you want to drive to the movie?" Mecquet: "I'll drive."

6:05 Pick up Randy and Lacey.

6:20 Eat at Chipotle. Delicious. Since I stopped living in the University District, going to Chipotle is always such a treat. This week I was spoiled. I went twice.

7:10 Walk to The Varsity theatre on the Ave.

7:15 Sit down in the theatre. See Were the World Mine. Trailer here. Review to come.

9:05 Leave theatre. Drive home.

9:30 Eat Trader Joes Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich. Oh my gosh. So good.

10:00 Bedtime.

Gym Poem

I recently started going back to the gym and it feels totally good. Speaking of which, I need to stock up on some protein for my shakes...

More witty comics by these guys over at Left-Handed Toons.

Monday, February 2, 2009

February Features Part I: Serenity

For the first time in several months, I went to see a movie in the theatre two nights in a row. Now that I have weekends free-though offset by severely early mornings the rest of the week-they have recently tended to be filled with gut-wrenchingly hilarious game nights, satisfying writing sessions and movie screenings. Lately, I seem to have been watching a fair amount of depressing films or those filled with a high level of discomfort inducing content-see particularly, Towelhead, or don’t see it if you’re like me and thought that you couldn’t be so disturbed but quickly bowed to the effects of a narrative primarily concerned with pedophilia and childhood sexuality. Thus, I have been shifting my choices a bit to more light-hearted fare to get me out of that rut. There is, of course, a place for darker films, but I occasionally prefer my movies to be of a relaxing nature.

Which brings me to this weekend. I was thrilled to see that featured on this week’s midnight movies at The Egyptian a few blocks from my apartment was Serenity. The fact that I sat down to watch it on Saturday night in January and came out of the theatre in February a few weeks away from the conference where I would be presenting on it was exciting. That and I had been writing about it all day. A great opportunity at an opportune time. I love this movie.

I had never seen it on the big screen before and while I knew it would be a dramatically different experience, I really wasn’t prepared for it to be so deeply affecting again even after so many repeat viewings, including those with commentary. I cried at parts I had never cried at before-specifically when Simon is cleaning the blood off of River’s face after her "activation" on Maidenhead. River is crying and says "It isn’t mine. The memory. I didn’t bring it and I shouldn’t have to carry it, it isn’t mine." To Simon, she nearly begs, "don’t make me sleep again." When watching this scene, I realized the significance of River’s innocence and the burden she bears. The image of a young woman who has been taken advantage of is a powerful one. The comparison that I thought of while watching-and it likely reaches farther than analogy-is that River has been raped. Her body, but of more consequence, her mind, has been invaded against her will and the Alliance has placed things there that are foreign to her. In the wake of those events, River is reeling from the psychological damage that has been inflicted upon her and the desperation to recover. To see that tragedy play out on screen is utterly heartbreaking.

As other characters were torn, slashed, and shot during the film and I discussed it later with a friend who saw it then for the first time, a simple thought came to me. I think one of Whedon’s core principles which makes his work so successful is that he hurts people-his characters anyway. I would say that Whedon isn’t afraid to hurt people, if not for the fact that I believe he is afraid to hurt his characters-as would anyone who cares for someone-but sees it as necessary for their growth and the impact of the story unveiled on screen.

I left the theatre with an enormous satisfaction about my experience with Serenity in the theatre. Rather than watched it, I feel like I experienced it which should be the case with any movie you see in the theatre vs. DVD, but when you watch Serenity on that scale, enclosed in the dark, it’s special. To me, the screening opened up my eyes to the emotional scope of the film and how different Serenity is than so many other movies of that genre, but also how different Serenity is from anything because it transcends genre as a text wrought with meaning. Have I mentioned that I love this film? The phrase "character-driven" is overused, but with Serenity, it rings true. These characters could be placed in any number of situations and the beauty would not be in the set pieces, effects, or the burning afterglow of a Firefly engine, but the manner in which these characters interact and most of the time, love each other.

And the Browncoats gained another member as my friend-who stayed up late to see it-with no previous Firefly experience loved the movie and looks forward to his introduction to the show and sometime soon, another "different" tome, Buffy.

No More Masks

A nifty concept poster for Watchmen.

And because you haven't seen enough Watchmen awesomeness yet, a newly released still from the film featuring Dr. Manhattan in a bar brawl of the supernatural kind:

I am so excited for this movie.