08 December 2013

Is real artificial intelligence different from artificial real intelligence?


Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess is the most interesting film I've seen in 2013. What starts out in a faux-documentary style (I was questioning what I was getting myself into during the first few minutes but this "gimmick" is perfectly executed) turns into something deeper and more interesting by the end. 

Set over four days at a computer chess convention in the early 80's, the film looks at the social interactions and awkwardness of the characters and how they approach one another - from the perfectly portrayed cockiness of Michael Papageorge to Biston's shy and confused mumbling - while also asking questions about what it means to be human and the future of artificial intelligence. 

One of the best scenes is set up as a flashback, a story being told at the bar about a late night programming session with one of the AI. "What is the highest value?" asks the computer. Our programmer, Beuscher, struggles. Infinity? Love? Life? The computer doesn't understand, or does it? A discussion about the location of the soul follows before Beuscher gets frustrated and tells the computer that he is the one asking the questions. When the computer prompts him to ask, he responds with "Who are you". I won't spoil the answer here but will say that it sets up the end of the film perfectly.

The aesthetic of the film is also pitch perfect. It is uniquely shot. At times it feels like you're watching a video from that time period but then there are surrealistic flourishes, jump cuts, disjointed audio, and an hilarious color scene (most of the film is in B&W) just in case the viewer is getting too comfortable. 

Overall, Bujalski has created something both fun to watch and interesting to think about. It is the type of film that makes me exited about movies again. 

17 September 2013

Not Movie Stuff

John is bothering me on Facebook to answer this book quiz. So...


A-Z Bookish Survey

AUTHOR YOU’VE READ THE MOST BOOKS FROM:
Henry Miller. I think I've read everything he's ever written. It's been 5 or more years since I read anything by him though. I should probably revisit him soon to see how it holds up...

BEST SEQUEL EVER:
The Fall of Hyperion, which is another book I want to reread soon. Also, Angel's Game, the sequel to The Shadow of the Wind, was quite good.

CURRENTLY READING:
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (on my iPhone)
The Maze Runner by James Dashner - for my Teen Book Club at the end of the month

DRINK OF CHOICE WHILE READING:
Green Tea with Coconut and Ginger

E-READER OR PHYSICAL BOOK:
Physical book, though I've been reading a lot more books on my phone than I ever expected. 

FICTIONAL CHARACTER YOU PROBABLY WOULD HAVE ACTUALLY DATED IN HIGH SCHOOL:
Yeah, I agree, John. Silly question. The first character that popped into my mind is Naoko from Norwegian Wood. 

GLAD YOU GAVE THIS BOOK A CHANCE:
Recently? I guess The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman. I read it for the Adult Book Group at work and really enjoyed it.

HIDDEN GEM BOOK:
The Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje. This early work by him is largely overlooked and it's a shame. Also, I read a book called Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch last year. It was gruesome but really good.

IMPORTANT MOMENT IN YOUR READING LIFE:
Reading Johnny Tremain and Where the Red Fern Grows in 4th grade. Finding Dragonlance in 6th grade. John introducing me to some good comics several years ago. The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace exploding my head in college.

JUST FINISHED:
Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes 
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron (re-read)

KIND OF BOOKS YOU WON’T READ:
Those popular Amish books, Twilight, Nicholas Sparks, the Red Velvet Cupcake lady

LONGEST BOOK I’VE READ:
Infinite Jest

MAJOR BOOK HANGOVER BECAUSE OF:
DFW's Infinite Jest, The Broom of the System, and The Pale King 
Divissidero by Michael Ondaatje
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

NUMBER OF BOOKCASES YOU OWN:
6

ONE BOOK YOU HAVE READ MULTIPLE TIMES:
Just one? Okay...South of the Border, West of the Sun. It's not Murakami's best (or even my favorite of his) but for some reason I've read it multiple times.

PREFERRED PLACE TO READ:
I like reading outside. But any place will do...

QUOTE THAT INSPIRES/GIVES THE FEELS:
No. I'm not going through all my saved quotes for this (I save them both in documents on my computer and in notebooks). It will eat the rest of my night. 

READING REGRET:
Not finishing Infinite Jest when we attempted it in book club a few months ago. I want to reread it but I fear that I never will.

SERIES YOU STARTED AND NEED TO FINISH:
King's The Dark Tower

THREE OF YOUR ALL TIME FAVOURITE BOOKS:
The Politics of Experience by R.D. Laing
The Broom of the System by DFW
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
(probably going to regret these choices and with I made other ones as soon as I publish this...)

UNAPOLOGETIC FAN FOR:
Not sure. I don't apologize for anything I like. 

VERY EXCITED FOR THIS RELEASE:
Even though it just came out I'm going to choose MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood. 

WORST BOOKISH HABIT:
Starting and then giving up on books too early. I start and don't continue just as many books as I read every month. That's the benefit (or curse) of working in a library, I guess. 

X MARKS THE SPOT: START AT TOP LEFT AND PICK THE 27TH BOOK ON YOUR SHELF:
Strangely enough, a book I already mentioned: Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch.

YOUR LATEST BOOK PURCHASE:
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (kindle book)

ZZZ-SNATCHER BOOK:
Whatever I'm currently reading. I read before I go to bed and after I wake up for at least 30 - 45 minutes. Great way to start and end the day. 

09 May 2013

What I'm Looking Forward To...

I decided to put together a list of the films that I'm excited about in the coming months. I know I'm missing a lot. What's on everyone else's list?


  • Upstream Color (dir. Shane Carruth) - this is an opening weekend film for me. I've been waiting years of Carruth's next film.
  • Before Midnight (dir. Richard Linklater) - another opening weekend film. Can't wait!
  • Bling Ring (dir. Sofia Coppola) - Though I haven't liked any of her films as much since Lost in Translation, I'm still a big fan. 
  • Elysium (dir. Neill Blomkamp) - District 9 was just okay for me but I'm interested to see what Blomkamp does with this big budget. 
  • Star Trek Into Darkness (dir. JJ Abrams) - Abrams first Star Trek was good. I'm hoping this one is better.
  • Much Ado About Nothing (dir. Joss Whedon) - Joss doing Shakespeare? I'm in.
  • Only God Forgives (dir. Nicholas Winding Refn) - Slick looking trailer. I'm hoping for a better reaction to it than Drive.
  • A Hijacking (dir. Tobias Lindholm) - Lots of interesting talk about this one.

05 May 2013

Muddy

I had a great time at my first *official* CR5FC event yesterday. Thanks Jeff & John. Let's do it again soon. In the meantime...let's restore FC blogging to the glory of 2011. 

The real problem with Mud is in viewing it in comparison to Take Shelter. I think we are all in agreement here. I put expectations on Mud that I don't think it could meet. Take Shelter was an anxiety-inducing, almost-transcendental film. I loved it and consider it in the top tier of films from the last several years. So, I left the theater after Mud a bit underwhelmed - even though it's expertly directed, acted, and told. 

But overnight I've softened towards the film. The performances have been sticking with me and the themes (father/son relationships, meaning of love, growing up) get stronger and more poignant. I think that Mud and Ellis are so captivating on screen that I watched a lot of the film without much reflection. 

I would like to see Mud again soon. Right now it gets a solid 4 stars from me. But with more viewings and some more thought, I think it could creep higher. 



16 March 2013

Brandon's Quiz


1. What is the most overrated film of the past 5 years and briefly explain why?

Sorry everyone, but Drive springs instantly to mind. I would agree with Jeff about Shame but did that film really get much respect? There was a lot of talk around it but don't think the reviews were ever very positive. 

2. What are your favorite 3 favorite television shows currently running?

-Treme
-Game of Thrones
-Louie

3. Name one film and television show you are ashamed to admit to liking?

Film: Liberal Arts (I've watched it 3 times)
TV: I used to watch and enjoy The Real World

4. What do you look for in a film writer?

Critical but also empathetic. 

5. Name a great director (in your opinion) who also has enough problems to make you wonder why you hold him/her in such high regard. 


I'm going to put Aronofsky here. I think he's great and have really enjoyed most of his films. However, there are certain criticisms that I can't disagree with. 

6. What is your favorite film era and why do you think this era speaks so much to you?



Current. It's the one I'm most familiar with. Although, there are a lot of great late 50's/60's films that I like. 

7. Name your favorite five working film critics.


Matt Zoller-Seitz
Glenn Kenny
Roger Ebert

I occasionally read the NYT's but don't really know if I could call either Scott or Dargis a favorite.


I like the guys on the Battleship Pretension podcast too.

8. Name your five least favorite.


...don't pay enough attention to answer this

9. Name a few directors whom you have liked in the past that you are worried about and briefly explain why.


Duncan Jones. Moon was great, Source Code was meh. 

10. What actor and actress would make you watch an otherwise uninteresting film?


Jena Malone. I love her. Seriously. 

11. What director would make you watch a film with an otherwise uninteresting plot and why?


Malick, von Trier, Rohmer, PTA, Wes Anderson...

The Place Beyond the Pines doesn't sound that interesting to me but I'm going to watch it because of what Cianfrance did with Blue Valentine. 

12. What film did you feel the most intimidated to like despite some heavy reservations (be honest here)?


I like Chris' answer of Uncle Boonmee. I'd also include The Tree of Life, Certified Copy, and anything by Ingmar Bergman.

13. What is your favorite documentary?


That's tough. Recently, Prodigal Sons, Alamar, The Oath, Examined Life, Bombay Beach

14. Billy Wilder or Preston Sturges?


Sturges

15. Jean Gabin or Humphrey Bogart?


Gabin

16. Director you want to like more than you honestly do.



Ingmar Bergman

17. 5 most anticipated films of 2013?


-Before Midnight
-To the Wonder
-Upstream Color
-Spring Breakers
-The Place Beyond the Pines

I need to get a little better informed on what's coming out this year. I've been behind.

18. What is your least favorite current sub-genre or film scene?


Slasher horror, stupid comedies, terrible romances...

19. Name your 5 favorite unheralded modern day directors in a critical sense.


Kelly Reichardt, even though she's starting to get some attention. 

Aaron Katz

I just watched two films directed by Karpovsky. They were pretty good and I'm interested in his career arc. 

20. What top 5 or 10 list would you most likely do in the near future if offered by a handsome member of Film Club?


Do we have any handsome members of Film Club?

21 January 2013

"There's something attractive about a man who's sensitive to the agonies of existence."

It's been so much fun booing the last few days that Brandon and I have decided to take our Girls talk to the Boo blog. There is more to talk about in episode 2 than there was last week - like the way every single character creates a lie around themselves to mask less than perfect scenarios in their lives. Also, we get some interesting "race" talk between Hannah and Donald Glover's character. On the backdrop of last season's controversy over race it creates an especially interesting tension. But that's enough for now. I'll boo all that and more later.

I've mostly stopped my quest to watch all the films on the 2012 Hammer to Nail list. I still want to see The Comedy but haven't got around to it yet. Here are the few from the list that I watched since my last post.
  • The Wise Kids ****
  • Compliance ***
  • The Dish and the Spoon ***
  • The Color Wheel ***1/2
Of those 4 The Wise Kids had the strongest impact on me. It's a smart and (mostly) neutral approach to religion in the lives of teenagers in their final summer before college. In terms of their lives and their faith, they all turn towards different paths. But the film does not seem to favor one over the other. Rather, it takes a tender look at what each of them is going through and ends on an uplifting note. This is by far my favorite film from the list. It also made my 2011 Top Ten (HtN determines release date by US whereas I'm sticking to the International. Hence the discrepancy in years). 

Compliance had a few boos and some Facebook talk. John and I are mostly in agreement on the film. It doesn't quite work. 

Any film with Greta Gerwig in it is difficult for me to dislike. So, while The Dish and the Spoon was alright, in the end it is pretty forgettable. 

The Color Wheel is a funny and absurdist film. The final long scene is perfect and is sure to cause some controversy. I thought it was a really strong film.

I also watched To Rome with Love. Yes, Chris, I thought it was better than Midnight in Paris. It's funny and odd. I'll wait to see if anyone else is going to watch it before I talk about it too much. 

Right now I'm about 25 minutes into Bergman's Hour of the Wolf. I don't know why I decided to start it yesterday at 4:30 when I had to be somewhere at 5. I'm going to probably finish it up tonight. 

15 January 2013

Girls Season 2 Episode 1

Brandon and I have been agreeing on so many 2012 films that we decided to blog about each episode of Girls Season 2 together. It will culminate with a Girls-themed fondue party that John plans to live-tweet.

First, Brandon, I hope that I don't end up trying to defend this show all season long. I'm sorry, but I can't remember your opinions on last season. But you're watching it...so that's something...

Season 1 was mostly great. I'm not going to re-hash what I said about that right now. It's on the blog (or maybe Facebook) somewhere. I liked what it had to say if not always how it was said.

Season 2 is off to a shaky start. The first episode felt like it was a bit all over the place. This is strange to say when the episode brought everyone together in the same room for the lamest party in all of Brooklyn. There were several threads left from last season and it feels like this episode tries to grab a bit of each and push it forward without really getting there. Is the story arc supposed to mimic the floundering of the characters lives?

There are a few stand-out characters in this episode. The first is Donald Glover's character. Not because we see much of him but because what we do see is awesome. His arrival as Hanna's new "main hang" (borrowing Adam's term) puts her in a precarious situation with Adam that comes to an interesting confrontation towards the end of the episode. She gets to decide who to like and he doesn't have a say. I thought that scene was really well done. It's a not-unfamiliar conversation.

Also, when Hanna shows up for a late-night booty call and asks to borrow The Fountainhead is the only time that I laughed out loud during the whole episode.

Trishana remains an annoyingly adorable caricature of...I'm not exactly sure what. She's probably a little bit over-played but it's always for good laughs. Her conversation with Alex Karposvky's character was brilliant right down to their awkward, beer-spilling kiss. Oh, and she doesn't miss her hymen as much as she feels something is...missing, you know?

My favorite character and storyline of this episode centers around Marnie. I think that Allison Williams brings it to an entirely new level with this episode than any from Season 1. She plays the hot bitchy girl perfectly. How many girls do you know like this? I know several. They are so stunningly beautiful and just interesting enough (like they have a job in an art gallery or something) to fool you into an obsession where there really shouldn't be one. We see throughout the episode how self-obsessed and egotistical Marnie is. Hanna's new roommate is right when he says, "You know how hot you are. That's why you're such a bitch." Then they attempt to have sex. Then they take a moment to assure each other that they don't have to be someone they aren't.

I'm really curious to see where Marnie ends up as the series progresses. She seems poised for some sort of change and I hope it comes in a form other than returning to her ex-boyfriend and realizing that she was wrong about the "nice guy". How boring would that be? Let's see something substantive from Marnie. I think Williams is up for the challenge.

Other things of note:

We get to see more of Lena Dunham's chubby belly and tiny boobs. I'm not saying that in a mean way. I think her nudity and her body is part of a statement she wants to make about how women's bodies are perceived. I'm fine with that and more power to her. It's a worthy statement.

Hanna's new roommate (and old boyfriend) is stereotypically hilarious. The last seen between him and Marnie is pretty funny.

I'm curious to see what happens with Adam. We spent so much time learning to like him last season that it seems like a waste to take him completely out of the picture. Hanna probably isn't as finished with him as she says.




10 January 2013

"I take my bitch to the beach"

I knew this was going to happen. I get onboard with Letterboxd and already use it as an excuse to break my "return to Film Club blogging" resolution. The social aspect is not quite at the Goodreads level yet but it is still fun to see what everyone else is watching and to revisit some old Top Ten lists there. I'll continue to use it as a place to track when and what movies I watch so long as everyone else is going to stick around as well.

Film Club is now active in five different digital mediums. There are 8 individual bloggers, a 23 member Facebook group, 8 of use who use Letterboxd, and 5 of us who use Audioboo. What else can we add? Oh yeah, how about a 5 person Twilight Zone group blogging project!?

----------
Well, for posterity's sake, here's the films I've seen since January 1st accompanied by the now obligatory star rating:

  • Looper ****
  • Reprise ****
  • Killer Joe ***
  • Here ****1/2
  • After Fall, Winter **
  • The Loneliest Planet ****1/2
  • Green ***
I also finished watching Season 3 of Louie. It's a rare comedy that can be so funny, vulgar, and touching. 

I'm turning my attention away from films for the rest of the month in order to finish our Book Club pick. If I'm going to be done close to February 1st, I need to stop sitting in front of a screen and start inhaling some pages. 

----------

My Letterboxd profile.

02 January 2013

December 2012 / Year in Review (kind of)

I made 63 posts in 2012? That's a lot better than I expected and at least I beat Chris.

While 2012 didn't match the Film Club fervor level of 2010 and 2011 (at least for me!) there were still some good moments. I enjoyed John's recap. I apologize for bringing my girlfriends into the mix but loved seeing all the controversy they caused. I look forward to discussing Season 2 of Girls and Lena Dunham's new book in the coming year.

Other 2012 stuff

I recorded all the books that I read in 2012 HERE.

The Acoustic Blues station on Pandora and BB King's Bluesville on Sirius were my most listened to radio stations. My favorite albums from 2012 are by Fiona Apple, Jack White, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

I also listened to a lot of podcasts this year. Currently, I try to listen to most episodes of:

  • Star Talk
  • The Coode Street Podcast
  • Sword & Laser
  • Bookworm
  • Nerdist 
  • Philosophy Bites
  • Notebook on Cities and Culture
  • WTF
  • Free Speech Bites
  • Filmspotting


December 2012

I watched 18 films in December and didn't write a single word about them. Two got a quick Boo though. Here's the list and their 5 star rating. Most of the films that are worth talking about have already had lengthy discussions that I missed. If anyone wants to revisit any of them, I'm willing. My New Years Resolution (well, one of them anyway) is to rededicate myself to Film Club.

Film

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) 3***
  • Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2012) 4****
  • It Might Get Loud (2008) 3***
  • Ted (2012) 2**
  • Love (2011) 4****
  • Young Adult (2011) 4****
  • Plug & Pray (2010) 2**
  • Project Nim (2011) 5*****
  • Mansome (2012) 2**
  • Collision (2009) 4****
  • Vegucated (2010) 3***
  • Premium Rush (2012) 3***
  • Deadfall (2012) 3***
  • The Words (2012) 4****
  • Goodbye, First Love (2011) 5*****
  • Bonsai (2011) 4****
  • Cosmopolis (2012) 5*****
  • Oslo, August 31 (2011) 5*****
TV
  • 4 eps of Louie Season 3
  • all eps of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Season 8
  • all eps of Homeland Season 2
  • 1 ep of Star Trek:TNG (The Measure of a Man)


16 December 2012

I made some potatoes if you want some...

I just re-watched Your Sister's Sister. It's probably going to be my favorite film of the year. Even though 2012 wasn't a big year in terms of amount of new films watched, I am happy that it seems to be somewhat of a "breakout" year (really the last few years) for Mark Duplass. Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Safety Not Guaranteed and Your Sister's Sister are all Top Ten worthy. Funny and emotional, I loved each one of them.

I'm off to watch The Do-Deca-Pentathalon. 

I re-listened to the WTF podcast interview with Mark Duplass while walking earlier tonight. It's really good.


01 December 2012

We Drift Like Worried Fire

I just realized that there is a new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album out! Anyone else a fan? Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven is one of my all-time favorite albums.

Anyway, movie stuff.

Sorry for starting a bit of a Facebook dust-up over Lincoln. Even without seeing the film, I will stick to my belief that the Aaron Bady article made interesting (and important?) points about the choice of storyline.

Over the last few weeks I have caught a few films.

One of my most anticipated films for the year was Save the Date. Putting Alison Brie, Lizzy Kaplan, and Martin Starr in a movie written by Jeffrey Brown sounds like an idea that I'd dream up only in my wildest, geekiest, loneliest of fantasies. So, of course, I loved it. It was funny yet meaningful. Some parts were so pukingly Jeffrey Brown that it made me wince with the feelings that his comics always bring out. I think that if anyone reads Every Girl Is the End of the World For Me, they will understand. Well, maybe not. Nevertheless, Save the Date is a fun film and everyone should see it and support it. You can rent it on iTunes right now.

Another film that I was really looking forward to was Zoe Kazan's Ruby Sparks. Not only did she write it but she also stars in it alongside long-time boyfriend Paul Dano. It's a smart comedy that - without giving too much away because I hope someone else will watch it - is kind of response to the whole "magic pixie dream girl" trope.

I also watched the documentary First Position. Enough people at work were talking about it to make me curious. Surprisingly, I found myself getting pretty involved in the characters and the ballet world it depicts. This was a very well done and produced documentary.

Last on my list of recent watches is The Painted Veil. I inhaled W. Somerset Maugham's novel of the same name several weeks ago. Too bad the movie (even with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts) doesn't even come close in comparison. The film made some curious changes to the story that I didn't think added much of anything at all.

TV Club

Even though I haven't been watching many films I have been staying current with a few TV shows. I feel like this season has been particularly strong for all the series I'm following.

The Walking Dead, which I've had a like/hate relationship with since it began, really brought it this season. There is tension, people are dying all over the place, and the show has moved back to focusing on the human relationships - territory that I thought was strong and wanted to see more of in the first season and felt evaporated a bit in the second.

Similarly, Sons of Anarchy is producing the best season in a few years. It feels like it's building towards the end game and I can't wait to see how it turns out. One of the most surprisingly emotional moments in TV for me this year was (Spoiler Alert) watching Opie killed.

Homeland continues strong in the second season. I never see what's coming next.

I know that Jeff and Chris were both upset to see Michael Pitt's character depart from Boardwalk Empire at the end of last season but the show has remained interesting even without him. It's been fun to watch Richard's character become a stronger presence and to see him courting a girl. It's kind of cute, actually. Is anyone else still watching?

And now this brings me to Treme. Perhaps I'm just feeling extra opinionated about this because I watched the Season 3 finale today but...this is probably my favorite TV show were I forced to rank everything that I've seen to date. Well, Star Trek: TNG might give it a run but that's purely for nostalgic reasons.

Jeff's friend Matt Zoller-Seitz said this in his Season 3 wrap-up at Vulture:
Treme is one of the subtlest, most life-affirming, and defiantly life-size dramas on TV: a crazy quilt of modern urban life that’s not afraid of the lyrical interlude, the pregnant pause or the unresolved emotion.
Like when reading a really good novel, I sometimes I have to stop the show and just think to myself "well, shit."

I wish everyone would give this show a chance. It may be a little hard to get into at first but I think that's because, as Adam Kotsko says, Treme may be "one of the most radically experimental TV dramas ever done...on the level of form."

The first season can come off a bit "preachy" but it will totally be worth it in the end. I promise.


10 November 2012

Top 30 of the Aughts

I'm probably missing some from the early years but I know John is impatient to see the lists...

  1. The New World
  2. Lost in Translation
  3. Wendy and Lucy
  4. Before Sunset
  5. A.I.
  6. Candy
  7. The Fountain
  8. Waking Life
  9. Mulholland Dr.
  10. La Moustache
  11. Northfork
  12. The Best of Youth
  13. Half-Nelson
  14. Ink
  15. Children of Men
  16. We Don't Live Here Anymore
  17. The Fall
  18. There Will Be Blood
  19. A Single Man
  20. Examined Life
  21. Moon
  22. I Heart Huckabees
  23. Prodigal Sons
  24. Appaloosa
  25. Garden State
  26. Hard Candy
  27. Let the Right One In
  28. Requiem for a Dream
  29. Ghost World
  30. Antichrist

03 November 2012

Poems don't always have to rhyme, you know. They just have to be creative.

I've missed lots of stuff around Film Club over the last several weeks - horror talk, Booing, &tc. My time has been dedicated to moving and the new job, which means I have not been watching many movies. But I have seen a few and for posterity sake I need to list them before I forget. They are all 2011-12 films and they were all enjoyable. I'd recommend them all (but won't wade back through the Moonrise discussion that I missed). 
  • Liberal Arts
  • Sound of My Voice
  • Moonrise Kingdom


01 October 2012

25 years of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation had its 25th birthday last Friday. To honor the quarter century mark, Wired published an interview with screenwriter Ronald Moore (he also wrote on Battlestar Galactica). About a new Star Trek TV show and the re-imagined movies, Moore has this to say:
People have to understand that the Star Trek films are a different animal. And that goes for the original series’ movies, as well as those from The Next Generation, and from J.J. By their nature, the Star Trek films are much more action-oriented, with space battles, big villains, lots of running and jumping. The stakes for Earth and the universe are always enormous. 
But the lifeblood of Star Trek’s television shows is its morality plays and social commentary. It’s sci-fi that provides a prism on human society and culture. The movies are never really going to do what the episodes do, like split Picard into two in a transporter beam and then talk philosophically about the nature of humanity, which parts of our strength come from good and which from evil. The movies are never going to do that. Star Trek: The Next Generation was about those moral issues, about how societies grow and are differently affected. None of these are topics that the movies are going to tackle. 
To create Star Trek in the form that people are familiar with requires another television series, and I think it will be successful again in that medium. You have to spend some time talking about its form and structure, and how to update it again for a new audience. You still want the “boldly go where no one has gone before” part with a ship, crew and ongoing mission. That’s part and parcel of the franchise. 
But you have to be able to tackle big ideas, which are larger than chasing the villain of the week. That’s really not what the series was very good at. I mean, you could look back at the original Star Trek series or The Next Generation and find some cool action-adventure episodes with space battles, but the show is about so much more than that. If you were trying to do that flavor of Star Trek on television every week, it would just fail.

So I guess now would be a good time to link back to my Top Ten Star Trek:TNG episodes. Maybe some of the new film clubbers are Star Trek fans?


16 September 2012

What ever you think is helping you, I have a responsibility as your friend to tell you that it's not.



A few films, a few thoughts:

There is something a bit tiresome about Being Flynn (2012). I think it has to do with that venerable concept of well-developed, emotionally engaging characters. I am not sure if the book on which it is based is better, but it does have the better title: Another Bullshit Night is Suck City. So post-modern, angst-y and hipsterish. I still like Paul Dano though.

Trishna (2012) is enjoyable until the last 5 or 10 minutes when it fell into an ending it did not earn. Overall, I did like the movie. The introduction of the characters, the seduction, and the happiness was engaging and sensual. The last half was rushed and did not portray the desperation and humiliation that I think it wanted to. The cinematography is beautiful.

Your Sister's Sister (2011) is great. I wish I saw it earlier. There are some really funny moments surrounding some really emotional moments but never too light or too heavy. It is uncanny how much in that film Mark Duplass reminds me of my cousin - mannerisms, smile, drunken talk. I won't say anything else until John sees this (he's the only one interested, right?).

I had to watch Nobody Walks (2012) since I know that no one else in Film Club will support Lena Dunham. And, you know what? I'm glad that I did. It isn't a great movie but it is a serviceable indie drama with a good cast and fun sound editing.

Oh, I also re-watched all three seasons of Arrested Development over the last several weeks. Just an episode or two a night right before bed to ease the sting of the day.

Soon I'll post my most anticipated films for the rest of 2012 broken down by release date. I've just been incredibly preoccupied with stuff over the last month and half.