JSDC
Entry: Substituting for Courage
Official= Official Comment

From Sean Stubblefield
love the Herzog quote.
i gaven't noticed the caliber of movies "picking up", story-wise. attendance-wise, however, i suspect the increased appearance of quality will draw more people.
I've noticed, though, that much of the theater going audience
doesn't care jack shit about quality, they just want distraction (preferably mindless).
Jackass 2 was the top movie for 2 weeks? granted, there wasn't much else to see, but still, it's the principle. holy effing christ!
Grudge 2 and Departed beat out Man of the Year!? (great movie, btw, but just short of awesome)

Though I am tentatively looking forward to Prestige. i say "tentatively" because i've been so often disappointed. and i say "looking forward to" because the preview makes it look interesting (to me), it is directed by Nolan who did Batman which was an excellent film/ best movie Batman depiction, and it has Bale, Jackman and Johannson. i'll find out this weekend whether hollywood performs a prestidigitation. (get it?)
all the other offerings this weekend bore me.

also interested in Casino Royale (which will probably suck, but i like Bond, so i'll try it), The Fountain (which will probably suck, but the preview looks intriguing, i like Jackman and sci-fi, so...), and Conversations With God (i liked the books, and the preview looks good). i'm an optimist.

AND i am starting to dig Heroes. yes, really. i wasn't impressed at first, but it was ok and i love the concept, so i'm giving it a chance to develop some before i make final judgment, and Heroes "seems" to be getting better. still needs work, but i like the story.

so what do you see that's wrong with Heroes and Prestige? what did i miss? (stop spewing hate!) :-P
'cause hate leads to suffering. does so. Yoda said!
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From Curtis M Sawyer
Website: http://ussexcalibur.blogspot.com
I have not seen many movies in the theater since Loren was born last November. Probably 1-2 in the past 11 months. Everything I've seen has been through NetFlix, and my tolerance for a bad movie is higher if I am watching it at home rather than paying $10-11 to see it on the big screen. Only a handful of times have I actually stopped a NetFlix movie and returned it in the few years I've been using that service.

Of the list you presented, the only movie I am looking forward to is Flags of Our Fathers and that is because I am a sucker for war movies and I work with lots of former military folks.

But I cannot remember being super excited about a movie over the past year - not since LotR ended. We are talking about getting a baby sitter for this weekend and having a night out and Cheryl asked me if there was a movie I wanted to see and when I found myself saying, "No, I'm not even sure what is out right now" I realized that what used to be the summer of movie excitement has turned into the summer of movie ennui.

I'd rather spend time with my daughter anyway...

smile
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From Steve
Website: http://www.toicreative.com
The Good Shepherd and Stranger Than Fiction both look interesting. And despite lagging in the middle and a slightly disconnected soundtrack I thought The Departed was quite good. Man of the Year was horrible considering it's potential and seemed half assed in comparison to Wag the Dog. Heroes is a great concept but not a good show at all, and no amount of development can help something that started out so badly.
Flags of our Fathers and Conversations with God have potential. Any other opinion (except Stover's) is clearly not awesome.
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From Nathanael
Website: http://ignorantcritics.wordpress.com
I agree that Heroes started out horribly. After the pilot, I was ready to completely give up on the show- and that was my must-see pick of the fall, no less. But I see some potential in it, as soon as the producers get their act together and trim the storylines down from half a dozen to two or three.

The problem that Heroes had (versus Lost, for example) was that in the first two episodes, we didn't get a sense at all of what the show was going to be like. There was no overarching theme (the Indian prof's Search for Supers doesn't count), and everything was horribly disjointed. Heroes is taking way too long to build up, especially with several of the characters's storylines. I'd love it if they killed off the single mom and Jess's brother the politician; those two aren't doing anything at all to advance the story.

I will say this, however: I am absolutely loving Hiro. When's the last time that we have seen a TV character with such enthusiasm? He's the main reason I keep coming back every Monday (admittedly, it isn't much of a reason.)

I was disgusted after the first episode; and I think I joyfully overreacted to the second, since it was better than the first. Now, with four or five episodes under our belts, I'm holding a wait-and-see approach. There's potential here, but TPTB had better start showing it soon.
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From Dave Grant
Website: http://www.greatestblogeverwritten.blogspot.com/
I don't get out to the theatre as much as I used to, and like Sawyer, it's likely only going to get worse. I try not to get too excited about movie trailers anymore, because so often the movie doesn't live up to the hype. It's as though the PR and advertising has become the new art form. As long as you have a good trailer and can sell it, the quality of the movie is irrelevant. Unfortunately, trailers seem to be the only way to decide what movies appeal to us and help decide what to see. So....necessary evil? I don't know. I guess I've resigned myself to being dissappointed. Nonetheless....we're bombarded with these slick marketing tools and opinions are formed. Here are mine.

Flags of Our Fathers - I'm a bit of a sucker for war movies, especially when the focus is on the characters (i.e. The Thin Red Line) as opposed to the action. I also enjoy Adam Beach as an actor. This looks like it may have some potential.

The Prestige - I really enjoyed Memento, Insomnia and Batman Begins, and this next installment from Nolan looks interesting.

Marie Antoinette - I generally dislike period pieces of this era, but I've enjoyed Sophia Coppola's previous work. This trailer just didn't draw me in.

Babel - This could be very timely and well done, or very boring and preachy.

The Fountain - This is probably the upcoming movie I'm looking forward to the most. Arnofsky is known for being an innovator and an original. The trailer looks visually stunning, is an interesting concept, and seems like it would be a fascinating study of character and the human condition. I may brave the theatre for this one.

Children of Men - Perhaps the second most intriguing offering for me.

The Good Shepherd and Stranger Than Fiction both look like they may be worthwhile also.

Heroes - I admit it. I have been watching this show. I definitely feel it has potential, though it hasn't quite lived up to it yet. The character of Hiro is great, particularily after the teaser at the end of the last episode. The perma-cheerleader is a bit annoying. Do they actually wear those outfits around 24 hours a day? And the "creepy" father seems a bit forced and uninteresting. There's absolutely nothing bad about Ali Larter, though. Nothing. wink Hopefully the show grows as it progresses, but I definitely see where Jess is coming from though. It isn't as good as it could (should) be. I guess I'm just holding out hope for good things to come since I'm a fan of the genre.
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From Sean Stubblefield
i also don't go to the theater much anymore, for reasons i'm sure we're all familiar with.

regarding trailers: many in the audience have become so spoiled by our culture of convenience that they expect everything spelled out and handed to them in quick simple terms. because they have a short attention span and lack imagination, ingenuity & initiative. few people are willing or able to work for their story, to invest in and commit to a story, with either their time or attention. so we end up with simplistics and thoughtless movies... and trailers that tell you pretty much what happens in the movie, to the point where you don't really need to watch the movie if you've seen the trailer.
of course, many movies these days have only enough material to fill a trailer, but is stretched into a full-length. apparently producers generally aren't concerned with artistry, only with marketability and sales. they use deceptive marketing and hype to trick us into paying. as if once they get our money, they don't care or feel obligated to follow through on the exchange and give us what they promised. movies are often misrepresented by their trailers, positively and negatively. i believe the majority of them deliberately try to deceive us that it is better than it really is.
the word "fraud" comes to mind.
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From Stef
I love Heroes! I didn't see the first two episodes though. I've only seen the last two or three and I am addicted. It's not the best show on tv, but it's good.
If people want good tv, they really need to start watching Veronica Mars.

And as for movies coming out, I haven't seen one that has really excited me at all. I'm still waiting for this years 'Million Dollar Baby' type film that comes out near the end of the year and just kicks the asses of all other films that have come before it during the year.
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From Curtis M Sawyer
Website: http://ussexcalibur.blogspot.com
If people want good tv, they really need to start watching Battlestar Galactica.

Best. Show. On. Television.
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From -s
Website: http://salemfood.blogspot.com
Movies? What are those? I haven't had time to watch many in a long time, but I agree that trailers give away far too much. I think it would be interesting to see the original Star Wars trailers to see if they were doing it that way back in the day.

Don't watch Heroes either. Looks kind of hokey. The DVR list for us is Nip/Tuck, America's Next Top Model, Project Runway, Top Chef, Laguna Beach, and the NFL Cheerleader Playoffs. All top notch shows. The Military Channel can be fun too.
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From Sean Stubblefield
http://mark.hume.ca/EO/EverydayOrthodoxyVII.html

this article reflects my own thoughts and writing on the subject. it is long, but relevant, well written and worth reading. (no, this isn't mine)
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From Stef
Laguna Beach is a top notch show?

Hold on a second...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Ok. I'm done. No wait...

HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

I needed a good laugh. Thanks!
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From Curtis M Sawyer
Website: http://ussexcalibur.blogspot.com
Laguna Beach makes you laugh? Not the NFL Cheerleader Playoffs?
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From Dave Grant
Website: http://www.greatestblogeverwritten.blogspot.com/
I got a pretty good chuckle from the whole list. A celebration of vanity. All that's missing is Dancing With The Stars and The Bachelor. I'm hoping there was some tongue in cheek there.

wink
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From Stef
I didn't know there was a show about NFL Cheerleaders so I can't comment on that. I'm kind of glad that I've never seen it though.
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From Curtis M Sawyer
Website: http://ussexcalibur.blogspot.com
"-s" is my brother-in-law and I can tell you his entry accurately reflects what he watches on TV. I don't think it was intended to be tounge-in-cheek.
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From Sean Stubblefield
yeah, i was really tempted to say something about -S's TV list. but, i didn't have anything nice to say, so i said nothing. didn't want to risk creating a hostile environ. but surely something must be said. _Heroes_ looks hokey? but Laguna Beach, Top model and Project Runway are top notch. uh...
"Illogical. Illogical. All units relate, all units. Norman, coordinate."
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Official Comment From Jessica
Don't grade me on style: I'm tired and lacking time.

From what I saw of the end of this season’s Project Runway, I actually thought it was a decent show. The people weren’t annoying and overdramatic, those involved were making interesting art on a low budget and educating somewhat about simple rules of aesthetic, the judges and the host are classy, as is the production and the “confessional” style interview prompts didn’t seem as asinine as is typical... It wasn’t exploitive... Certainly, from the episodes I saw, Project Runway is the higher end of current reality programming.

Laguna Beach is an example of a bad idea (in terms of quality and culture) executed very well. Heroes is an example of a decent idea with potential executed poorly. As is typical,

The Prestige isn’t good. They marketed the film’s twist because they had nothing else to market save the cast, and that leads you to look for the twist, which you will see coming well before the third act. The characters are lacking. There are plenty of reviews to read. I’ll stop there.

As I mentioned, the trouble with Heroes is that it’s badly executed. It is quite often poorly written, acted and directed. That scene with the guy whose dad is the scientist where he and his sidekick (the girl from the Tampon commercial) debate and then he throws the laptop—False, false, false poorly directed which made the actors look terrible. Might have also been due to the script. I can hardly recall because the blocking was so akward and distracting despite the big-budget set and marketing that tells you that, clearly, this expensive show must be good, it was so distracting despite all of that, that I don't remember what they were saying, just that it was a fight so that he could look mad and throw a laptop and the key could be found when she-sidekick went to rescue said laptop (cliche). When the show has good ideas, they are badly executed. The Asian character is great and they have a cool sequence wherein he saves a girl from a bus… and then they follow it up with a cheesy, predictable Vegas scenes. The indestructible cheerleader (a.k.a. Buffy) wakes up to find herself mid-autopsy… then dashes out of the room (predictably) without much exploration, confrontation—

Nothing. The stuff she does at school is retarded. Bad writing. The father sub-plot is all right. A little over-dramatic. The score on those scenes is over the top. Bad storytelling.

So they’ve got that overarching storyline which is what everyone champions them for, but what the fuck? That is standard storytelling. Is the bar so low that we champion sub-par shows for things they should be doing anyway?

Heroes isn't the worst show; it is a mediocre show masquerading as high-quality. Maybe that makes it the worst show.

There was a great line in Studio 60 this week wherein the producer of the show says to Chandler Bing something like, “she’s making it work” (Chandler writes the script for the faux sketch show) and he responds something like, “I don’t want them to have to make it work, it should work when they get the script.”

So why should people have to wait 1/3 of a season, hours of their lives, for a show to hit any sort of stride?

The last two works I listed above also are missing an eye for detail, the minute things that don’t make sense. For a bad example (and not to spoil The Prestige for anyone who might see it), if you lost your cheerleading uniform after some guy pushed you and you fell on a stick that impaled your skull in a totally unbelievable manner, which also made you die (except later you woke up when the coroner pulled out the stick), if you lost that bloodied outfit, how the fuck would you get another one a few days later? Cheerleading uniforms are expensive, squads don’t usually have many extras if any, and most of the time you have to get them altered to fit that way (not to mention what a pain it would be to order a logo-ed replacement). I think that details like this are the difference between par storytelling and great storytelling. Also, please don’t tell me they wouldn’t fingerprint a Jane Doe corpse. I happen to also think the chances of a rich, white girl not having fingerprints on file are slim since the frequent, suburban fear campaigns of “get your child fingerprinted so that if they are kidnapped we can find them” lead to the majority of parents having their kids fingerprinted for free when they are children.

I have high standards because this is our lives we’re talking about and we have to have some self-control on everything we ingest, from food to story. Willpower. And what we all do affects one another—We’ve been through it at length. I’m going to attempt to tie up writing on this topic in this manner because I think we’ve explored it enough. Right? Time for new angles and different sorts of examples: Time for the next level. (We shall see what that means.)

My thought, or question, is, in the past the rule has always been, “Let the buyer beware.” But are we in a time when we accept so much, the bar is so lowered and we rely so much on other entities to regulate things, entities and things that we know nothing of, that, well, do you see where I’m going? What I wonder? Cheetos are safe by FDA standards, but won’t the quality of my energy be better with a balanced, organic diet? I’m not preaching ultimate strictness with no exceptions and thrills, I’m wondering what the level of awareness is, where the middle falls: The latter is what concerns me. I mean, half the shit I read is stuff to tell me what’s wrong with the world so that I can avoid said wrongness. For instance, Teflon pans have been linked to cancer and there are steps being taken to phase them out.

Great.

I apologize to anyone who expected greater detail on the TV and films above, but we’ve been through it with other examples. Mostly, I like to hear what you think at this point because I know what I think.

Here’s a last tip, if you aren’t sure about a movie you can test it and help develop your radar. For instance, switch the actors for faces you don’t know and see if you still care about the story. Watch the trailer with the sound off and you’ll notice all the effects employed. Take a look at the film poster…

You’re probably going to call bullshit on me, but from the posters for Prestige and Marie I could tell that neither hit the mark. That being said, I am very bad at identifying mistakes made while balancing my checkbook. So maybe everyone just has a different sort of radar. I tend to think that we’ve been so marketed to and inundated with story, however, that our bullshit detectors should be sharp.

Either that, or totally desensitized.

What else is on the list? I could tell from the Babel teaser trailer that the film is Syrianna + Crash = Babel. It might be a great film, but did we just see it? I wonder what drove this film into production. Syrianna and Crash were well liked, reviewed and rewarded. Last year. Let’s talk Flags. Iwo Jima was hugely vast and important, but Saving Private Ryan was a great film about WWII likely to be unmatched, (a great film that I never want to see again,) and despite the fact that we are in a war, does anyone care about Iwo Jima? Is it timely? My argument is that it should be because WWII is being used as an example quite a bit currently in the news and otherwise since Korea’s nuclear announcement, but I find that it’s not relevant. We are in a totally different time period, a totally different kind of war. That calls for new understanding. BSG is way more relevant. Syrianna is way more relevant. Both cost a lot less, too. And I'm not just talking about money. I like the two-film idea, it’s nothing that hasn’t been thought of before, but could it have been employed to better potential? And I dare anyone to tell me that this isn’t important to humanity because these posts get more comments from you, and quality ones, then nearly any other topic. And on a consistent basis. (Compare it to the entry below.) smile

I’ve been looking forward to The Fountain since Pitt first ditched it for Troy (good one), thus causing the wrath of the entire Australian crew as production shut down. I’d like to see Borat, too.

Anyway, does anyone know how the hell they shot Crouching Tiger for 17 million? Unless it's something to do with the exchange rate or someone getting majorly ripped off, I'm inspired.

From Dave Grant
Website: http://www.greatestblogeverwritten.blogspot.com/
Now that is a comment.
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Official Comment From Jessica
Had I more time, then it would have been shorter.

wink

From Sean Stubblefield
Jess, i agree with everything you said. except about Prestige. I thought this movie was a very clever, mostly well told and produced story. i was impressed how each act depicts the 3 stages of a magic trick. my only problems with it are the "Pledge" portion of the film (first act) was kind of slow and dull (but setups often are, and i accept that as representative of a Pledge), and they unnecessarily revealed the "Prestige" at the end (if you were paying attention you already knew).
i didn't leave the theater with that sick feeling i'm sure you are all too familiar with.
while i'm a fan of the stars, i think i would still enjoy it if other actors were used; depending, of course on the actors and their acting.

but one thought you wrote gave me particular pause for consideration: "Is the bar so low that we champion sub-par shows for things they should be doing anyway?" "But are we in a time when we accept so much, the bar is so lowered..."
indeed, have we've gotten so subdued and diminished by bad storytelling that we've come to expect/ accept it? and that average/mediocre story telling seems great by comparison? that we actually think it extraordinary when stroy telling does what it's supposed to do?
how do you judge a story that gets so much wrong, and yet so much right? or a bad show that has moments and elements of excellence?
I admit a large part of my liking Heroes is due to this factor. no, it isn't great; it has a lot of holes, but also has it's moments and a lot of potential. it becomes a kind of love/hate relationship.
"it SHOULD work when they get the script.” Yes, they, and we the audience, should not have to make it work.
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Official Comment From Jessica
As I've said before,

If you like something in the realm of "art," then don't let anyone take that away from you. smile

From Sean Stubblefield
Totally(x2?). I definitely don't want Jess & I taking anything away from each other, or anyone else. And I appreciate your disclaimer, Jess. However, since Jess and I have what seems to be the same storytelling philosophy/ passion, and most of the time my evaluations are consistent with hers, it confuses/ interests me when we don't agree. I wonder where the divide is, what we see differently. We're looking through the same lens, but seeing different things. I'm curious how her hamster spins its wheel.
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