I confess that I cheated a little bit this week. I had seen the first film in my selection, John Carter, in the theater but what can I say? it was one of my favorites of that year. I liked Andrew Stanton’s work in WALL-E and I looked forward to see how well he’d do at a live action film.
John Carter was a good adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original material. Which is to say it’s a whole lot of fluffy pulp with lots of non stop action . Of course in films like this what I like best is the creation of an alien world and culture for our heros to play in. In this respect they did very well especially with the Tharks (green Martians) who were well designed and animated and I was able to throw my suspension of disbelief to the wind. (Not so much about the “dog” Woola)
The other film on my lineup, The Tempest, was one I’d wanted to see for a long time. I’ve been a fan of Julie Taymor’s work ever since I read an article about her work in a the Smithsonian in the mid eighties and my appreciation has only increased since then.
The Tempest is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays . Along with Midsummer’s Night dream it is the play that most opportunities for a creator, and since it has the most theatrical elements the most challenges. I’m always fascinated about how different a production you get with just the slightest change of approach. Having seen multiple productions I’ve always been fascinated by how different a production can be. For me it all comes down to Prospero and Caliban.
I’ve seen Caliban done in every possible way from mere brute to brooding and bitter. Djimon Hounsou’s went closer to the bitter and sarcastic but with a nice balance of physical humor thrown him making simultaneously the “mooncalf” Shakespeare describes and a tragic victim.
For Prospero though, casting Helen Mirren as was fascinating. It was amazing how much of a difference the change of gender made. The most obvious being the relationship between Prospera and her daughter Miranda but made it all the more fascinating was how it changed the ending. Due to the role of women in the renaissance when Prospera gives up her power at the end of the play she is giving up far more than just her magic.
All in all this was one of the better versions of the Tempest I’ve seen and well up to Ms. Taymor’s high standards.
Great news Prospero’s Price, the Kickstarter Project my friends Aron and J were working on just reached their 3000 dollar target with 12 days to spare! Let’s see how far we can pad that number in the next two weeks. so show some love and click the Prospero’s Price Banner add on the bottom right side of this page.
Well I had a nice night at an Oscar party last night. (To be honest when I say Oscar party what I really mean is a regular dinner party where the Oscars just happened to be on in the background. The conversation was fascinating and lively.)
Usually I don’t bother with the Oscars. For the most part I consider them the industry’s night of self congratulation with the old boy’s club out in force with the occasional political statement thrown in for good measure. For the most part I usually don’t expect the best and most interesting films of the year to be nominated let alone win.
In fact this was the first year in a while I hadn’t seen a single film nominated. So I wasn’t even rooting for anyone this year.
But still it was fun. Watching all of the expensive gowns being paraded on the red carpet, watching Ellen DeGeneres hamming it up, being very confused when John Travolta got Idina Menzel’s name extremely wrong before she performed “Let It Go” (and while we’re on the subject of great performances Pink sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was pretty cool too. And most importantly the look of ecstatic glee on the face of someone who wasn’t quite expecting to win… PRICELESS.
Today’s sketch is another example of the ever fun activity of sketching moving targets with the local Empire of Medieval Pursuits group (or as a friend of mine who participates calls it, “Medieval Fight Club”) who practice over at Gasworks on Sunday afternoons.
For this week’s selection of film I went with two very strange, but very different love stories.
The first Miracle Mile, is a film I probably one I wouldn’t have watched when it came out in 1989. As a child of the cold war inevitable nuclear armageddon was a frequent subject of my nightmares and with a few notable exceptions, like Watchmen, I did not like being reminded.
Miracle Mile is very much a product of it’s time and is full of just about every cliché that the eighties and the nuclear war genre have to offer. Sometimes it almost feels like satire. What was the most interesting thing about it for me it wasn’t really about the doom of oncoming nuclear strike but the fear of it. As the hero desperately tries to find and rescue his love in time, he spreads the rumor that the world is going to end in the next hour and it snowballs causing chaos like an invasive meme. By the end of the film San Francisco is in flames even before the strike. In a way I would have been interested to see what the movie would have been like if it had turned out to be a false alarm instead of ending with the… well… end.
The next film Wristcutters: A Love Story is road trip comedy about love and suicide set in a bleak colorless afterlife where all the victims of suicides go, a place “just like here only worse”. Despite the fantastic premise Wristcutters is wonderfully low key and realistic to the point that you almost have to be reminded about the fantastic elements. It presents the feeling of otherness through a muted filter and other elements so subtle that they have to be pointed out to us by the characters. Even the most blatant magical bits like a black hole underneath the passenger seat in the protagonists’ car and actual miracles are taken in stride with the characters so you find yourself ignoring them with them. All in all a fascinating film I look forward to watching again to catch more of these nuances.