Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Praise Of The "Semi-Sequel"

(The second part of my previous post will have to wait. My weekend got a little crowded and I have too much to say to do it justice for now, particularly given the latest episodes of Community and Parks and Recreation, which seemed tailor-made for that topic.)

Growing up, I can recall no criticism of Hollywood more common than the general disdain I and my friends had for sequels.  They were the hallmark of creative bankruptcy, a cynical cash-in that was invariably little more than a pale retelling of the original (usually with one or two B-list replacements to substitute for whichever iconic actor refused to slum with whatever gun-for-hire director they found while the original director moved on to another "serious project").  Any movie aficionado who didn't want to get laughed out of the room knew by heart the movies that you could legitimately count as watchable in their own right -- Godfather II, Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, Star Trek II and (with some small controversy) Superman II.

(For the advanced class, you could also discuss the certified short-list of acceptable remakes that improved on the original -- Maltese Falcon, Scarface, The Thing, The Fly, The Magnificent Seven and, perhaps ironically, Hitchcock's remake of his own The Man Who Knew Too Much.)

How times have changed.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Does Comedy Have To Be Funny? (part 1 of 2)

Fair warning upfront -- out of necessity, this post (and the blog in general) will focus heavily on the shows that take up the comparatively narrow sliver of time that I can give to watching any TV, let alone enough TV on a regular basis to form an opinion on any particular show.

This isn't out of principle, by the way, because I both love TV in general and also believe we're in a kind of Golden Age right now given all the high quality shows out there (see, e.g., Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Girls, 30 Rock, Bob's Burgers, to say nothing of the Christ-like return of Arrested Development from the grave), on top of the thousand-and-one different ways you can access content these days.  I'm nowhere near the 2.7 hours a day average that most Americans watch TV, apparently, so I can't go all A.V Club TV Club or TV on the Internet  about it - as much as I love those websites.  Professional writers likes the kind that post on those websites can do detailed comparisons of dozens of shows, current and classic, because it is their day job.   It's the dream, yes, but I have to work with the time I have.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Breaking the Fifth Wall: The Beginning

The genesis for this blog is - of all things - a scene from the otherwise thoroughly forgettable Ocean's Twelve, in which a key plot point revolves around the fact that the character Tess Ocean looks exactly like Julia Roberts ... because she's of course played by Julia Roberts.

To give an example, in this scene, Tess (Julia Roberts) has to fool Bruce Willis (Bruce Willis) into thinking she's actually Julia Roberts (Julia Roberts) in order to blah-blah-blah-I-forget-the-rest-because-who-cares-it's-Ocean's-Twelve.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Who brought the nightlight?"

Token Caucasian in a movie targeted at an African American audience .... um, progress?

What's so hard about imagining a truly mixed race cast?  Do studios still think it will throw people off if they can't box the movie into one demographic category or another?  Look at "Community" - a real mosaic of white, black, Middle Eastern and Asian cast members, and it has dozens of devoted fans out there.  Dozens!

(Oh, right ...)