Wednesday, May 4, 2016

FANTASY HAS TOO MANY CHARACTERS: Yes, I found a new problem with the genre to complain about.



You know, I-, I have shit on the fantasy genre more on once over the years on this blog. Sometimes, indirectly, sometimes, very directly. I-eh, I really don't think much of the genre. I'm not-a-fan. Now, I don't typically think that about an entire genre, and yes there are exceptions to this, but, ugh, even at it's best, there's so much just, wrong, with this entire genre. There's a lot for my disgust of the genre. Tolkien, being the main influence is a big one. Yeah, I've made no secret about how I'm just disgusting and shocked that "Lord of the Rings" is considered good at all, in any form,- plus, the rules of the genre, well they're basically just, cheating. Basically the rules are, with fantasy that there no rules and anything can happen, which is dumb, becomes now you've allowed anything that can happen. So, A. there's no stakes, 'cause you can't care. If anything can happen-, it's like making your character immortal, you can kill him as many times as you want but, who cares, he's coming back to life, or whatever, anything can happen, there's no science in the world, there's just plot convenience. (coughs, Tolkien) and you know, now that I think about, much of it, isn't even that imaginative a genre. No really, basically, I mean, there's exception and subgenres of fantasy, but most of it, is basically influenced by eh, King Arthur-type literature (Which itself isn't particularly great most of it) and historically, it's all set in some re-imagined version of Europe, circa, Middle Ages, to the beginning of the renaissance. It's all about honor, and valor and an epic journey-, you know, if you're actually gonna be a genre where anything can happen, I'd like to see anything happen. Really go stream-of-consciousness crazy with it, if you're really gonna do it. You want, fantasy, uh.... let me get into writer mode here...

"Gregor Samson awoke one morning to find himself turned into peanut-based Vietnamese sauce. He knew that the Samurai had something to do with it, so him and his pet caterpillar, Butterfly went out to learn the ancient craft of turning mobiles into superpowerful ant armies, to combat the Samurai's navy of alien grasshoppers from Saturn who know jujitsu and the ancient martial art of turning grass into vegan guns. And they fight at the top of Kilimanjaro, but not during the snowy season, 'cause the guests would've complained. "

You see, when I mean when I say fantasy isn't that imaginative as they think it is. I mean, yeah, that was camp and it's stream of consciousness insanity, but I'll take that over another knight at the Round Table. Besides, Little John Snack Bar is much better than the Round Table Buffet. (To the five people in Vegas who get that joke, kudos.)

That's one thing that dawned on me recently while rethinking about the genre again. There were a few things, that sorta made me rethink it again. One of them was, when I was listening to Geekcast Radio's podcast on those 100 Greatest TV Shows they did earlier in the year, the poll that I participated in. They go "Game of Thrones" which was the fuck too high (And didn't make my ballot, even though it is the best of the genre television-wise, which should really tell you how useless the genre is.), but something they kept saying a refrain, that was mentioned multiple times, was that the show, "Keeping fantasy alive". "Keeping fantasy alive,""Keeping fantasy alive," the show was "Keeping fantasy alive". and all I could think was, "Why the hell is that good?!" If there was ever a genre that needs to fucking die, and quick and painful death, it's fantasy. And we've done it, we've killed genres before. How many westerns have you watched lately. Hollywood used to make hundreds a year, but you know, there's a few, but no, the genre doesn't have a hold over the country like it use to, thank god. Yeah, sorry John Wayne fans, but it was time for that overrated genre to end, years before it actually did. They had run of stories for the most part, it was based in an old, outdated time period of Americana that had no relevance to today, it was incredibly overdone and way too influential and eventually we killed. We killed the musical, that got old, except on Broadway. There's exceptions, but yeah, you don't see random unrelated musical numbers just shoved into the middle of movies anymore, except maybe in Bollywood, for a reason. They sucked.

And yet, somehow this genre, that thinks it's mythology when it's not- it actually bugs me, that so many people just gravitate towards this genre blindly. Anyway, I thought I had gone through every possible argument against this genre, and I wasn't interested in drumming all this up. but- something else occurred to me about the genre, and the fanbase of the genre, And, the more I thought about, the less I could ignore it, or dismiss it. So, okay, I've through three, maybe four seasons of "Game of Thrones", like I said, I do like the show. I haven't seeked it out in a while and no, I'm not keeping up with this new season, but even as I watched it, I barely kept up. I mean, it's entertaining, and I do get the sense that, this world is complete, and while it is a creative, made-up world there are only certain things that can happen, but that said, it's about five families, of people fighting over, well fighting against each other really, and, I-eh, if you gave me a test on the show, I probably would not only fail, I'd fail pretty badly. I know, they know what's going on, but I-, I'm amazed are shocked and saddened by character deaths on that show, I can barely tell one character from another half the time, much less care about them, except for maybe the Dragon Lady and Tyrion Lannister, and the latter is only because I'm a huge Peter Dinklage fan. Like, I- I used to joke that I need a scorecard but actually, I used to write scorecards for baseball games, and those are much easier to keep track of. For one, thing, everything's confined to a baseball field, you can see everybody, most of the positions are location or direction-named, they announced each change, there's a batting order to follow, and things usually go in a way,- a fantasy scorecard would not help me, I would be constantly going around trying to remember who everybody is. Also, um, I was rewatching Lindsay Ellis's Nostalgia Chick episodes on "Lord of the Rings", 'cause she reposted them recently..., I disagree with her on it obviously, but it's still interesting, but it's way overly elaborate about, everything "Lord of the Rings" and she really goes through character and has opinions on how they were portrayed in the films and comparing them to the book and, how supposedly it was sad, when whoever the hell it was, died at the end of the first movie, which, I-eh, I have absolutely no idea what she's talking about there, the first movie was by far the worst of the three and I can't imagine how we were supposed to care about that character who's name I can't even remember. And-, those other character and the elves, and the.... huh. Wait a minute.....-

Yeah, my wheels started turning a bit here at this point, and it suddenly dawned me another major, major problem with this genre; why the fuck does every fantasy have like a thousand characters?! Like, major characters, or at least in the fans' minds major characters? Like, "Lord of the Rings" isn't about Frodo saving the world by bringing the ring to the mountain, it's about all the other what-the-hell shit? Yeah, as soon as I realized this I wanted to dwell on this for a second, 'cause-, it's not that other genres don't have a ton of characters one needs to keep track of, but- for instance, a modern show that I think to a certain extent suffered from this was "Big Love", yes, it's about a polygamist family, but good lord, at certain points during it's bad seasons, some of the episodes were just going from one characters and his/her plotpoints, to the next, to the next, to the next, it was drama overload, just ugh, everything's important, where's the damn comic relief! or in other words, when everything's important, then nothing's important, and you'll just tune out. That's not even necessarily bad, and my initial thought was to just dismiss this. I mean, my whole criticism of fantasy, mainly relies on the fact that most fantasy, doesn't do what it should and effectively create it's entire world and universe completely; there's no science to Middle Earth is one of my constant complaint refrains, and I stand by that, but even still, one of the aspects of creating that world, would be creating the people and characters of se world. No complaints from me here, that's actually correct, so naturally fantasy would have to have a very large collection of characters it's an entire it's creating, and it's hard to create a world without people living in it and how they live in it, and how they relate to the world and vice-versa, like okay, it can annoy me, but it makes sense in the genre, so it's okay, and dare I say it's essential, an essential, important aspect of the genre.

At least, that's what I wanted to think so I could dismiss it as a purported problem, BUT-, that's not actually right.  Yes it is and can be an effective part about creating a universe, but not an essential one. You see, all that really is, is exposition, there are these people, they're here, they're at war, fighting, or at peace, or vampires, or whatever, blah, blah, blah, but exactly how many of them are actually relevant to the main story. Like, essential to the point where we actually need to know their name? Or have the fanboys and fangirls obsessed over them? Ye-ah, not as much. Actually, quite a few. That's when I thought, well no wonder I hate "LOTR", the story is about everything but Frodo's journey most of the damn time, 'cause we're so caught up on all this other bullshit, but then I thought, "Well, I love "Les Miserables" and there's an overload of characters doing a bunch of stuff there too? (To name one, there's obviously other titles I could name.) Well, first I though, it's because in "Les Mis..." they're all somehow it's more interconnected to the main story, but thinking about deeper, actually, no it isn't that many characters. It's maybe, at most, eight, ten, twelve characters, like really important ones, essential to the story. There's a lot of shit going on, but that's the exposition, the situation in which the story takes place in. Like, let's look at fantasy's closest relative, science-fiction, sometimes the best science-fiction literally has, a couple main characters at most, maybe less. Hell, "Gravity", one of the best sci-fi films in recent years, has two main characters, and one of them isn't even in the movie for like the last hour or so. I'm not saying, I want to see a fantasy version of "Gravity", but take, "Star Wars", which for this conversation, we'll call science-fantasy, and take the first three films. Now, there's a lot of characters in "Star Wars", a lot, but if you were gonna tell me the story of "Star Wars", as basically as possible, how many characters would you name? I thought about it, and I'm not a "Star Wars" specialist, but at the most, even for, all three films, maybe 12, 15 characters I would name, at the most. Hell, I might not even mention Jabba the Hut, how essential is he, really? Not terribly, I don't think. I mean, I'd probably mention him, but, the point being is that, no, having a lot of character, major characters, um, does that actually, help or improve the piece. The problem is, when these extra characters and storylines, get in the way, or remove us from the main story arc and drift into something. With "LOTR", as much as I believe the world isn't created  or thought-out well-enough, the bigger problem, I realize is the focus isn't there. Okay, Frodo's journey, this is important. No, this other thing is important. No, this character is important, but it's about the journey, that's what's important, but this character who's really important dies now, well, it can't be that important, he died pretty early, so why are caring about it; but now we got this important thing, and these important characters, and this character's back now--- AAGH! WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO PAY ATTENTION TOO! FUCK! That's what I really feel like watching that and most fantasy in any genre, keep in mind, I'm already looking at the world they're creating and trying to comprehend it, but now, I gotta deal with all this other crap, that's mostly separate but sometimes apart of the main story, but not really or always! (Smacks forehead) You know, "Avatar"'s storyline was stupid, but at least they waited 'til they established the universe well-enough and didn't go on too many extra tangents and subplots like that, you know?

Even in mythology, there's a lot of characters, but actually, most of the stories, were really focused and they weren't exactly all shoved together, they're pretty much separate, even when characters from one show up in another; it's structured more like "Winnie-the-Pooh" then anything in fantasy. Even, "The Iliad," is mainly about, five people, and major three gods. Or, even in a piece of literature like "Gilgamesh", which is pretty similar to "Lord of the Rings" two people on a long journey, etc. etc., there's a lot of smaller characters, but the main story is about only two characters and two characters only. Hell, much of that story is about what happens in their dreams, oddly enough.

So, if you don't need, to create a world of people, characters in order to make an effective fantasy, then why is it, so overly prevalent? Or, why does it seem so insistent or at least, so essential? Is it just tradition? Is it that nobody can think of how to convey a fantasy universe without going into elaborate details into what seems like every character that exists in the world?

Well, I went on Twitter about this, and yes I have a Twitter, the site has a Twitter, it's at https://twitter.com/DavidBaruffi_EV, so follow me, 'cause I do make occasional end-round statements that I suspect you would enjoy and I asked this question:


Why does the FANTASY GENRE always have like a couple thousand CHARACTERS we have to follow and be aware of all the time? No seriously why?

Yes, I include CAPITALIZED WORDS, not only in my FB posts promoting my blogs, but also on TWITTER. It's a screenwriter thing, plus, you notice it. Anyway, since I'm not that popular I didn't get a ton of responses, but I did get one, and it pissed me off.

a true fantasy buff isn't satisfied with anything less.
I responded with:

I would've gone on, but Twitter is only 140 characters, which is about 149,860 too few, but yeah, BULLSHIT!

Seriously, it's stuff like that's why I'm so against fandom and everything it stands for. People get so caught up in this kind of shit that people don't take a step back and go, "Wait a minute, why?". So, I'm asking why, why does the fantasy genre in particular become so overly fascinated with every character in their pieces of literature?

Well, whatever the reason, I don't think it's a good one. I don't mind, having an overload array of characters, there's actually a lot of positives for it, especially in this genre, but a lot of the genre is also based around, mostly, a literal Hero's Journey arc. I'm not exactly sure why, but usually that kind of journey, the main focus is always, the hero, and when you do run the risk of including several other characters, each with their own separate plotlines and stories behind them, you completely diminish and undermine the hero's journey. I mean, if it's like a road trip story, for instance, something like "Gilgamesh", or "The Odyssey", they're obstacles to overcome, instead of just, more shit to get in the way. Now that I think about it, that, more than anything else is probably the reason I despise "Lord of the Rings" so much, we're on one journey, but instead we get caught up in all the soap opera crap of everybody else. That's the reason why, "The Return of the King", while not a good movie, is by far the best of the three films, 'cause at least there, some of these stories are actually coming together and making their way towards a gigantic climax, but most of the time, it's just, getting in the way, and at least "The Return of the King" is about an hour and 45 or so, of true tension and conflicts over the main storyline. (Of course the movie is 3 1/2 hours that's the problem, but....). They have one journey set up, and in the meantime they do everything to get away from it.

 I know Tolkien's idea was to create mythology, which in of itself was a pretty stupid, because mythology itself gets away with whatever insanity it wants because it's read as religious texts and stories, with morals and whatnot, explanations for the way things are and how we behave; they aren't literature texts as they are religious texts and they're rarely if ever meant to be taken literally. There is a subtext to most fantasy works, the way there are to most sci-fi, fantasy's closest relative, but you still have to make something work first as a piece of text and not as symbolism. They're, just getting in the way, and I'm sorry, but most of the time, these characters that most people seem to love, because, mainly as far as I can tell, because they love the piece of literature, so they obsess over any/all aspects of it, and ugh.

Again, that alone isn't horrible, while I'm not-a-fan, I do understand how obsessive fans can be, but with fantasy, I think they're doing it the other way. It seems like people are recognizing the obsessive behaviors of fans and are then inject numerous other character into fantasy, in order to appease them as oppose to putting in characters as needed to tell the story, or simply to populate the universe they're creating. Hell, "Game of Thrones" is basically subverting this entire trope, by seemingly taking all the characters that people supposedly like and killing them off. (I say, supposedly 'cause none of the characters that I've ever given a damn about on that show have died yet, so it loses that effect on me. As far as I've watched anyway.) That's when I start to say, we need to rethink this tendency. While I'm not-a-fan, I'm definitely not a fan, of this kind of fan service. I'm the first one to tune out when something or someone gets in the way of seeing a work of art achieve it's- well, hindered. If sure there's pieces of fantasy out there that I'm not thinking about that would be a good counterargument, and hell I hope there's some that actually do find a way to focus and narrow it's story to a few main characters while simultaneously creating a greater, complete wider universe for it's story to take place in, but I can't think of any. If anything, this blogpost, isn't so much a rant as it is, a challenge. Make it, let me see it.

Hypothesis: Fantasy doesn't need to create a world through it's use of creating an over-abundance of characters with their own tangential character and story arcs in order to both, create an effective, complete universe and still be good as a fantasy and tell a good story.

Well, there's the hypothesis, now scientific method, let's prove it. It's an inherent flaw but not one that's impossible to correct, or at least circumvent.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

MOVIE REVIEWS #116: "SPOTLIGHT", "AMY". "HE NAMED ME MALALA", "SAN ANDREAS", "GOODNIGHT MOMMY", "DANNY COLLINS", "JAMES WHITE", "KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER", "SLOW WEST" and MORE!

Well, this year's really sucked. David Bowie dead, now Prince dead, anybody else you want to kill God that's cool? Anyway, long, rough week and we're still going through it in the entertainment world. Actually, it's mostly been slow as far as I can tell, If it weren't for the deaths lately, I'm not sure what there'd be to talk about. A lot of talk about Hollywood whitewashing keeps coming up, if an article or thinkpiece isn't about that, then all the articles seem to be about the election. everybody's waiting intently to see which television series that nobody cares about are about to be canceled or saved at the last minute. Yeah, everything's going pretty slow right about now and for me, that's good gives me time to watch all these films without having to work on eight different things at once for the future, and a little breathing room to work on other projects. Right now, on top of the films I'm reviewing here, I'm also finally getting around to, what's apparently a trilogy of films by Cedric Klapisch, by finally watching "The Spanish Apartment". You remember, "L'Auberge Espagnole", that French language DVD that looked like a comedy that advertised how much Audrey Tautou was in it, even though she's barely in the damn thing, but it was right after "Amelie" came out, so she was all over the promotion for it? Yeah, I barely remembered either, but then I heard he made a sequel, and now there's a third in this series of films, "Russian Dolls" and "Chinese Puzzle" I think his theme is nationality? Anyway, finally got around to it, watched the first one. Eh, it's okay. I think it'd be better as a television show but whatever. I still got major Award-winning/nominated films to get to, so let's get to that.

Here's this week's edition of our MOVIE REVIEWS, starting off with reviews of the OSCAR-WINNING films, "Spotlight" and "Amy"!


SPOTLIGHT (2015) Director: Tom McCarthy

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I'm gonna try, although probably fail at decrying about the loss art of investigative journalism, especially in regards to the continuously slugging troubles of the entire newspaper industry, mainly because every other review and thinkpiece on "Spotlight" has brought it up, and yes, the comparisons the movie gets to "All the President's Men" are both inevitable as well as accurate; that's the clear and obvious film that "Spotlight" will get compared to, but honestly there have been several movies about investigative journalism over the years, or films that were at least made because of or inspired by, or are showing the behind-the-scene story of an article in a paper somebody wrote, or hypothetically couldn't written or were based on a true story. Just off the top of my head, "Nothing But the Truth", "Truth" is a recent one, "Philomena" just a couple years ago got a surprise Best Picture Oscar nomination, "State of Play", that was a good one, "The End of the Tour", recently, that was based on a book that was an account of a writing of an article. The point I'm trying to make here though, is that, "Spotlight" is the first one of these movies in a long time where I really, honestly cared about it. It's one of the toughest things to do, getting an audience fascinated and intrigued despite the fact that we actually know what's going to happen. For those who don't the first major story, after 9/11, was when the Boston Globe's investigative reporting team, "Spotlight" revealed the true extent to which the Catholic Church had been covering up and settling incidents of pedophilia in the church. Yeah, this is not game-breaking even at the time, but the extent of which however, we didn't know, and in Boston in particular, Cardinal Law (Len Cariou) who routinely relocated pedophile priests to numerous new parishes after every new claim, having them continue to pederast over the years. We know now just how much the Catholic Church, really is, essentially, a cover for the crimes of the cloth. (If you aren't familiar with the extent, I highly recommend Alex Gibney's amazing documentary "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" to really show the details of it.) "Spotlight" details the investigation into realizes, just how far the rabbit hole goes. The looking up and the finding of the facts, and how difficult. For all intensive purposes, this movie is one of those films where, there's closed doors with every interview they try and papers and cases are closed and sealed and not public and having to get public is a constant search for loophole inside loopholes and literally having to search and search until they finally fall into the one or two mistakes the church makes in covering the fraud. Explaining the details of the movie is not really entertaining, what's really special about "Spotlight" is how personal the movie is, how intense the movie is. How personal the movie is, for the characters and how it feels to us. The struggles of investigating such a-...  boy, I haven't had this much trouble writing a positive review in years. It's definitely too low-key to really explain in the normal terms of cinematic language. There's nothing flashy, there's nothing that stands out, and that's the point. There's a reason this film won only two Oscars, one for Writing and one for Picture, you can't quantify the aspects of the movie separately, only together. None of the actors are great alone, but the cast is all spectacular. Tom McCarthy's isn't flashy or groundbreaking or experimental, but it's exactly what the film needs. The movie and the investigation, it is small, it's just that the results of what they find are huge. The movie opens, simply enough, a new chief editor from out of town, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), who's trying to learn about Boston by reading "The Curse of the Bambino". That's something that's brought up a lot too, the movie does make a point that, Boston is essentially, if New York was a small town, sort of speak. It's actually one of the biggest cities in the country but it's secluded away from most other metropolises, so the Boston Globe is essentially one of the most major newspapers in the country, but it's local, filled with people who've grown up throughout the greater Boston area, and despite the national recognition still has a small-town perspective and mindset.  This is especially so, with the influence the Catholic church has over much of the city, and sure enough, as the Spotlight crew finds out, not only how many priests but how many have abused kids, the closer and closer they get to finding out, the closer the story gets to them. The head of Spotlight, Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) went to high school at a Catholic school across from the Globe, Sacha (Oscar-nominee Rachel McAdams) took her mother to church every Sunday, but eventually had to stop in the middle of the investigation. Michael Rezendes (Oscar-nominee Mark Ruffalo, who is doing something weird with his posturing, but I can't quite figure out what but, yeah he's kinda squirly weird) is the typical cliched go get everyone reporter, who's going through a divorce and blah, blah, blah, it's not about them. Or about Ben Bradlee, Jr. (John Slattery) the "Spotlight" editor-in-chief, and yes, he is the son of Ben Bradlee, so there is a very direct link with "All the President's Men" in this story as well. Or the lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) who investigating the church at the behest of his clients in a class action suit that fist gets the investigation going, after a commentary piece in the Opinion section catches Marty's eye and he thinks it's worth writing on, or for that matter about all the people who didn't hold the church up to the fire and prevented and/or stopped them or highlighted the previous cases and stories that did stumble their way into the newspaper years before, but were ignored or relegated to the back pages, often by the same people investigating the corruption now. It's about all of them, but it's also about the system, and about the journalism-, ugh. I feel like I'm getting caught in my own ouroboros in this review. It's not that it's difficult to explain, it's that the movie is so bare bones brilliant that there's not enough to explain. It's an expert lesson in film storytelling. Like it's Director, Tom McCarthy is equally enigmatic. He's mostly known as a character actor, the kind who you've seen a million times and can't name a single thing he's been in and he uses those projects to funds his own films. I've written on one of them "The Visitor" in my Canon of Film section already, most of his movies are also character pieces, "The Station Agent", and "Win-Win" were great low-key character pieces, as was his most derided film, "The Cobbler", which he made earlier in the year with Adam Sandler. I'm one of the few people who highly recommended that sly comedy about a cobbler who magically is able to literally step into people's shoes and start seeing what it's like in their lives. I think that's actually what so perplexing to me about "Spotlight", it's actually the film that least fits in with McCarthy's ouevre. Every time I try to pick it apart through one character or one aspect of the film, I get tripped up, 'cause for the first time, he's not creating an interesting character to center his unique stories around he's telling us a true life story that's not about the characters involved. Well, he succeeds more than admirably and is a most deserving Best Picture winner.


AMY (2015) Director: Asif Kapadia

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(Depressed sigh) Excuse me a minute, I got to-eh, ugh-, hold on.

(Pulls out and puts on a bulletproof vest as well as numerous layers of guard-dog level foam padding, around his entire body. Arms, legs, neck. I then places on a large motorcycle helmet on my head, shield down. I then, go to the wall, remove a painting where a secret compartment in the wall is, and I flip a switch which layers steel bars surrounded by bulletproof glass in front of the figurative readers, before he sits back down at the computer)

Okay, I actually have to be completely honest with this one, but I never really thought Amy Winehouse's music was that great.

(Quickly ducks as flying objects and bullets come hurling at him)

I'm sorry but-, hold on let me-, alright, let me explain, let me explain. Okay! I know, this is gonna sound sacrilegious to some, but, I do think she was incredibly talented, and I like a few of her songs, in particular, "You Know I'm No Good", although admittedly, part of the reason I love that song is because it was sample for the theme song of the British television show, "Secret Diary of a Call Girl", but still that's a beautiful song, and if you know my musical tastes, in general you're probably really shocked that I wasn't immediately engrossed by Amy Winehouse's work. Yes, she was good, and who knows how much great and better work she could've made had she survived but I listened to "Back to Black", and I'm familiar with most of her work, and she was talented, but she mostly seemed like a shallow throwback to me, and I could think of artists in the same genre like PJ Harvey or Fiona Apple at the time who I thought and still think were a lot better. Hell, I think some of the artists out right now who were probably inspired by Amy Winehouse, like Gin Wigmore, Elle King, and ZZ Ward, their music is way the hell better than Winehouse's. Now, part of this is genre, Winehouse was a pure jazz singer and I think she was at her best doing that, and just that, while some of the other have jazz influence in their work, especially Fiona Apple, but they also have more of a folk rock edge to their work that they can thrive in. They're a little Melissa Etheridge and a little Amy Winehouse, and that was always better to me. In fact, Winehouse's more do-wop and girl group inspired work on "Back to Black", I just never thought was that good. I actually hate "Rehab", and I hate to say this, but yeah I hate to go right for the gallows humor, but yeah, the girl that sang about how she didn't want to go to rehab, um... yeah, it's a too-easy setup. (Her father seems like a piece of work himself btw.)

Anyway, I have to bring this up in order to discuss "Amy" the Oscar-winning bio-documentary about Winehouse's life, 'cause I think it does effect how I watched and view the movie. I know each film should be put in it's own little sphere and analyzed on it's own terms, but-, I guess I found myself waiting for the moment where I would recognize Winehouse as one of the greats, and, I just never saw it. I heard some great music and a very talented artist, and I do recommend the film, barely. The movie is made entirely of found from Winehouse's life and death, cut with, the voices of her friends and family, not their faces curiously enough, we get continued credits informing us of who's talking next over the old television footage, home movies, publicity footage, etc. It's mostly entertaining, although I don't get the decision to not use talking heads, but use talking heads, that's just confusing. But, we do get to see a little bit of Winehouse, at her barest, realest, the footage of hew winning those Grammys when she wasn't even allowed in the country, her struggling with her addiction. We see a lot of her growing up with her family and friends, much of it with her not in those damn up-dos that I never thought looked right on her, thankfully. We see the story behind that "Rehab" song, which is actually sad and powerful, how they tried to get her into rehab, but she convinced her father that she could clean herself up on her own, and of course after that song exploded any/all privacy left with her. She also, was a bulimic since high school and it's this combination that led to her inevitable death, on top of the general bad decision-makings she had. Yeah, I wish I did find a deeper layer in her work through this movie, I'm kinda searching for a reason for this film to exist, but I'm having trouble seeing it. It doesn't help that I watched this shortly after watching "Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck", which is also a documentary on a late legendary musician who died young, and full disclosure, I didn't become a Nirvana fan until much later in life, but the deeper you dive into him and his music, there's no answer to explain it, but the more complex an individual Cobain becomes and he that movie really dives into the numerous tortures that soul lived with/through. Unfortunately, I don't get that with "Amy". I came into the film, believing that Amy Winehouse was a very talented young woman who was an out-of-control drug-addict bulimic that died and I really didn't come out of the movie finding her or her life more complicated than that. I know, a lot of rock'n'roll legends die young, and we think their work becomes greater and more rich in their passing, and their lives become more fascinating afterwards, but I don't get that with Amy Winehouse, and "Amy", it's a nice a tribute, didn't convince me otherwise. Sorry.


HE NAMED ME MALALA (2015) Director: Davis Guggenheim

✰✰✰



Oh boy, I'm going to be tough again on a bio-doc about a young modern influential public figure, and this one.... (Deep breath) Okay, if you don't know who Malala Yousafzai is by name, then you'll probably know her by reputation. This Pakistani teenager came out against the Taliban who had been burning down schools, particularly those that taught girls. As a result, a hit was put on her and she was shot in the head, and she survived. This was when she was 15-years-old, she's written a memoir about her life, and the significance of her name, "Malala", named by her father after another famous Pakistani young martyr who stood up to others and it cost her, her life, she survived, her family moved to England and continues to be a symbol as well as a constant advocate and presence in the pursuit of women getting education. In 2015, at the age of 17, a year and a half after getting shot by the Taliban, she became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She's definitely one of the most interesting people alive, and yes she is powerful and fascinating person, and who knows what she will do in the future. She is getting an education, and she is definitely inquisitive and wants to learn, on the other hand, she already knows quite a bit, and some of the more interesting scene were actually of her, just being, fairly normal with her family. We see her having fun occasionally, we see her book collection, but she's still fairly, standoffish as a person. Understandably so, but still, we don't get to see too much of her, personally. I mean, there's a little, but even Director Davis Guggenheim, who is an excellent documentarian normally, he won an Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth", he made "Waiting for Superman", among others but he's struggling to get, much more than a few, not necessarily stock responses, but it's clear that, Malala is not exactly the kind who will let her guard down and let herself be, oh, what's-the-word, vulnerable. And, I get why, but-, it doesn't necessarily make for the most documentary. I'm actually, very close to giving this film a straight negative review; I think for the moment I'll keep it at 3 STARS, cause she is somebody who's story needs to be told and needs to be documented; I question whether or not, at this point in time, this is the best way that we can tell her story. Time may be needed, or maybe she's just, not the kind of person who will ever open up, and that's fine, understandable even. I mean, even if she were to bare whatever part of her soul is left for her to bare, she's still a seventeen-year-old girl. An impressive one, probably the most fascinating and important seventeen-year-old on the planet; certainly more interesting than the famous seventeen-year-olds I had to grow up with. That said, she's still got her life ahead of her, a full life ahead of her, one that will probably have many many more interesting things for her to do, to see, to, yes, learn. I'd feel sorry that she's placed in such a spotlighted point, but I don't think she feels that way, so I won't. Maybe she's too much of a symbol now to ever be so personable. I don't blame her for this again, if anybody has earned the right not to put every emotion and her entire life story documented for all of us to see, it's her. It's just hard to then find a portrait documenting her, at this time, more than just as an essential historical document.


SAN ANDREAS (2015) Director: Brad Peyton

ZERO STARS



(Slight growl under breath) No, no no. No-No,no-,no. No-no, NO! NO! No, no, no. No. Just, NO! No! No! NO! NO!. NOOOOOOOO-OOO! NO!

Oh, where to begin here. Okay, "San Andreas" is the infamous faultline- fault-line, (Faultline is not one word? Really? Okay.) it's the infamous fault-line that separates the Pacific tectonic plate from the North America plate and it conveniently for this movie, cuts through the state of California; it's the reason why, at least back in the day, I don't think it's a widely believed myth anymore, but some hypothesized that when the big earthquake hits California, that the state, or at least part of it, might one day become an island or just sink into the Ocean entirely. So, it's a perfect set up for a disaster movie, it's already California, Hollywood, it's earthquake heavy, it's a famous location that people already think (or thought) could be the location of such drastic disastrous events, etc. etc.  Now, you'd think a movie that was named after a famous piece of geography, would know thing about the region, like, how Hoover Dam works, or where the Colorado River goes. (Okay, technically the Colorado River used to go down towards Mexico, but it hasn't done that in decades. Or, maybe not make up a place in Nevada that's supposedly near Hoover Dam, which is where the famous seismologist Dr. Lawrence Hayes ([Sigh] Paul Giamatti, what the hell are you doing in this movie?! Please tell me you really wanted a yacht or something so you did this. [Sigh]) goes to seek out the evidence that he can accurately predict when the next big earthquakes will arrive and this leads to the big earthquake that kills one of his assistant and destroys Hoover Dam in exactly the way that it would absolutely not happen. And btw, the San Andreas Fault is about 350 miles away from Hoover Dam. Look, I know there's other faultl-ines, but seriously, if the fault shook enough to destroy Hoover Dam, then it probably would completely annihilated Bakersfield, Barstow, probably Fresno. Okay, Giamatti, is the established character actor who's sole purpose is to give the made-up science as exposition sound credible, he's never even seen in the same scene as the main story which involves, (Depressed sigh) a, let's see, let me check the "Hack Writres Mad Libs Guide to Disaster Movies" and under dangerous noble profession, he wrote down, "Helicopter Rescue Pilot", okay, a helicopter rescue pilot, Raymond Gaines (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) who's getting a divorce from his wife Emma (Carla Gugino) because plot convenience, and she's about to marry a new asshole Daniel (Ioan Gruffodd) who's trying to befriend their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) who's about to head off for college, and before a bunch of shit happens, meet-cutes and befriends Ben (Hugo Johnson-Burt) a British college graduate and his younger brother Ollie (Art Parkinson) and they all end up in trouble, most of the time, they  get out of it. Daniel does a few things that aren't as unreasonable as they want to make it seem, but they treat him like the Billy Zane character from "Titanic" because of it....

Oh, God this movie is painful, and yes, I'm focusing on the sketchy geography and science, but this movie would've been bad anyway. I mean, a good disaster movie that's dumb and stupid, like "2012" for instance, it's over-the-top and just a spectacle of bad; "San Andreas" is caught between taking things too seriously or trying to be humorous and it decides on neither and it makes the movie just unbelievably boring. It's just a film about a family getting back together because of disaster. It's like "The Impossible", only stupid. It's not even stupid, it's just inept.  Just-ugh. Look, I've never thought Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock was necessarily the greatest actor, but that said, nobody gave a good performance in this movie. Nobody could give a good performance in this movie. These aren't characters, they're plot devices. Archetypes of plot devices. It's copying the formula of every other movie like this. I'm seriously wondering if this movie wasn't cut-and-pasted together from some other shitty script with just the names and locations changed. I'd call it formulaic, but it's so beyond formulaic that I practically just want to call it copying. This movie is like, you ever grade papers in like high school or something, and two idiots who sat next to each other are clearly copying each other's paper, and they're so dumb they get caught right away because they both got all the same answers wrong and had all the same misspelled words, misspelled in the exact same way? That's what I think the first draft of "San Andreas" was, and then somebody cut and pasted the rest to make it look like they weren't copying from someone else. I don't know who was copying who but I'm just gonna presume/hope this was the one copying, 'cause I don't want to know the moron who copied this work, if that's the case. "San Andreas" was just an utter pain to get through, and no, there's nothing in this movie I can honestly recommend. It's a bad version of a story we've seen 100 times, the effects aren't really that special, at least in my mind, I've seen way better and more fun disaster effects...- this is basically a horrible Syfy channel movie that somehow got a budget and a theatrical release and has none of the camp fun of those movies.


GOODNIGHT MOMMY (2015) Director: Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz

✰✰✰



"Goodnight Mommy", is one of those movies that I've been trying to, um, damn, what's the word, absorb and consider as much as I can. Watching it, was difficult, not that it was bad, but this is very deliberately-paced film that, leads to admittedly a pretty good twist that I didn't see coming. And yet, I'm still a little standoffish about the movie. This is an Austrian film from Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz, a couple people who've done work separately but have started to work together on films in recent years and the movie begins with two kids, playing out in a very big backyard. It's not so much a backyard as it is, well, it's practically a landscape. I'm not sure where their home is, but it seems to be away from everything. The kids are two twin brothers, Lukas and Elias (Lukas Schwartz and Elias Schwartz) and then we see their mother, (Susanne Wuest) later as she arrives home after some severe accident that's never explained, she arrives wrapped in bandages, around her face. Soon however, the two boys begin to suspect that there's something off about her behavior, even for her having gone through a horrific incident, she stills doesn't seem to resemble her mother in her behavior. The movie, and I think this, on top of, honestly I just found the movie more slow than I did intense, but other than that, it also was a bit, inconsistent in terms of what exactly the mother's problem was. There's some scenes, I guess work for atmosphere, or maybe they were supposed to be symbolic and not literal, or maybe they were dreams, but they definitely give off an impression that there's a definite possibility that this person is not only not their mother, but possibly not even human. After a while, the kids begin to question their Mother's identity, challenging her, and her behaviors and actions. They do eventually consult a Priest (Hans Escher) at one point, to look into it, but that goes nowhere. They eventually start to take action into their own hands and that's when this psychological horror-thriller, begins to turn into a torture porn. And an intense torture porn at that. I guess I'm recommending the movie 'cause I think this is a film that needs to be seen, and because, like I said, the twist at the end is indeed a good twist that I didn't see coming and it makes the devastation at the end that much more powerful when do figure out what exactly is going on, although I still wonder if it contradicts some of the events that we saw before. Overall, "Goodnight Mommy" is an impressive, well-executed idea for a movie, although I think the film suffers from being way too moody; I suspect this movie could be better with a less ominous and more observant tone, maybe a deceptive tone perhaps, maybe. I don't know; this is the kind of foreign movie that I suspect will lead to an American remake, and actually, I find myself kinda interested in that possibility, if that were to happen. Might be interesting.


DANNY COLLINS (2015) Director: Dan Fogelman

✰✰✰✰



Hmm. This is a perplexing movie, albeit, it's still a mostly fun one, but yeah, the more you look into this movie, the stranger it becomes and seems. First of all, let's start with the Director, Dan Fogelman. He's an interesting guy, who's very inconsistent, but mostly he's worked as a writer and producer; this is his first feature film. Previously, he's bounced around, working with Disney, he was a writer on "Bolt," "Tangled" and "Cars 2", which, I know some people love "Tangled", I didn't, but he's also written "Fred Claus", "The Guilt Trip", "Last Vegas", yet he also did one of the very best recent rom-coms, "Crazy, Stupid, Love", so I'm torn, this guy's got a lot of interesting, yet average work on his resume, and he hasn't directed anything since a short film called, not making this up, "Shit Happens". So, what's this story about? Well, Danny Collins (Al Pacino) is a very famous, aging rock'n'roll singer, who's currently touring the latest volume of his Greatest Hits, but years before he became known for a horribly cheesy-so-bad-it's-good "Sweet Caroline" rip-off called "Hey, Baby Doll", he apparently was a young folk singer in his twenties, (Eric Michael Ry) doing an interview with a no-budget magazine from some stoner interviewer named Guy LaRoach (Nick Offerman, nice cameo) that was read by one, John Lennon. 40+ years later, Danny's longtime manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) tracks down the letter, which was sent to LaRoach, who then sold it off 'cause that guy was a roach. Now that he's gotten the letter, all-framed at his surprise birthday party his latest wife, Sophie, (Katarina Cas) threw, which wasn't that different from the typical parties that he's been having for the last forty years of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, although he's less involved in all three of them then he used to be in his youth, he decides to go out and change his life. It's not that unusual a story, although the John Lennon note however, that is actually based on a true story. Not for Danny Collins, but that happened to a famous British folk singer Steve Tilson, who, I've never heard of myself, but he seems to have had a very successful, long-lasting and lucrative career, but there definitely is, nothing else remotely related to Tilson in this movie. Instead, Collins, decides to leave his California mansion and moves into a Radisson in New Jersey, run by Mary (Annette Bening) who is obviously his love interest, and they do have fun patter, as he has with everyone in the hotel; he's basically a Picaro-esque character to them, but he also goes and see his son Tom (Bobby Cannavale) for the first time, as well as his pregnant wife Samantha (Jennifer Garner) and his young Granddaughter Hope (Giselle Eisenberg). You can, pretty much guess, most of where everything goes from here, plot-wise, but it's done really well, and mostly it's a really delightful movie. It's well-written but it's definitely the acting that really pushes everything over-the-top. It's fluff, but it's really entertaining fluff, in fact, the movie really kinda falters most at the 11th hour when Danny, starts to slip into his old habits, and it's, I guess good drama structure, but-, I don't know, I wish once in a while these feel good movies would evade that last hike into the abyss sometimes, take a cue from "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and just tell a happy celebratory story, with nothing more than happiness and celebration. Anyway, that's me, and that's a minor complaint; "Danny Collins" isn't anything deep or great, and whether and it's a lot of fun, and there is actually some good music with the film too, as he starts to write songs again, the music was done by Ryan Adams actually the former frontman for the alt-country folk band Whiskeytown and one of my favorite folk rockers, and I guess he's also semi-responsible for that "Hey, Baby Doll", which, yes, that ridiculous horrible song is alone, enough to watch the movie, but outside of that you get, a wonderfully-acted nice little fun movie.


JAMES WHITE (2015) Director: Josh Mond

✰✰✰



Okay, this is a weird pet peeve of mine, and I'm fully aware that I'm guilty of this in my own writing as well, but-um, I'm not big on naming movies after a very generic character name, even if it is a main character. I mean, I definitely get it in certain situations, especially if it's like an incredibly well-known name, maybe a symbolic name, and if it's a great movie of course, nobody will care about the title, but after "Danny Collins" this week, and now I'm reviewing a film called "James White". I'm just-, (chuckle under breath) I'm not saying that's an inaccurate or wrong title but-um, yeah- you know, colors are symbolic name-wise, not always but, white, usually represents purity or cleanness, sometimes ironically cause James White (Christopher Abbott) is definitely not any of those things in this movie, he's kind of somebody who's trying to be Hunter Thompson, but just basically got the sex and drugs part right and not much else, but still, this character could've literally been named anything- there's nothing about it that inspires his name to be a title, let me put it that way. If you're going do that, but you better at least make it a far more memorable name. Anyway, yes, James White is a wannabe journalist, mostly he's a trainwreck. He's the black sheep of the family and he's always heading off to go to some bar or somebody's living room floor. One night, he ends up back at his home, when his family is practices Shiva, as apparently his father had died. We meet the rest of his family, most of whom are pretty your cliche successful Manhattanites, including his successful writer mother, Gail (Cynthia Nixon) is dealing with being the head of the family. James is going off to Mexico for, however long with some teenage girl, Jayne (Mackenzie Leigh) that he's dating at the moment. But, shortly after, his mother comes down with cancer, and it interrupts his, alcohol and drug-infused laze and soon, reluctantly, he ends up returning, since the rest of his family is too busy with, lives and now the story becomes him watching over his rapidly-dying mother. "James White" is a good movie, but I'm having a hard time racking my brain to call it "special". It's directed by Josh Mond, first time directing a feature but he's been very well-known in independent circles as a producer on such films as "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "Afterschool" among others; he's proven to be quite an assured director. The best thing about the movie though is Cynthia Nixon's performance. This is an Oscar-quality supporting performance, and-I mean, I know she's been around awhile, I'm already a huge fan of hers and she's been action since "Little Darlings" if anybody remembers that movie, but- I don't know how they made her do it, but they made her look so awful in this movie. She is, incredible here as somebody who is very quickly becoming a physical shell of her former self. She's fifty years old, she's actually somewhat to play this part, really, this could easily been a part that say, Susan Sarandon would've been given and it would the ninetieth time she'd have played this role and she would've been good in it, but I don't think she would've been this good. The movie is actually much more about her than it is James, and I think that's a detriment to the film, but this is one of the better Supporting Actress roles I've seen in a while. It's the probably the one main thing that's powerful enough to remember this film by. Other than that, you could easily dismiss this film as just a regular good independent film about upper class millennials during their quarterlife crisis, it could been, a edited plot from "St. Elmo's Fire", or something from Nicole Holofcener's early films but there is more of an emotional hold in "James White". Still, terrible fucking title- I seriously can't get over that. I mean, seriously next time, if you're gonna do that, give your main character a more interesting name at least. You're a producer Mond, you should know that.


KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER (2015) Director: David Zellner

✰✰✰✰



I just looked it up, and, (sigh) well, I guess the word is bizarrely, although I'd rather not use that one, but bizarrely, this movie is actually based on a true story. "Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter" is based on a young Japanese woman named, Takako Konishi who, committed suicide back in 2001 in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, after she came to America, (Sigh) after mistakenly believing that- god this sounds so surreal I-, the young woman, here her name is Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) apparently had gotten ahold of a VHS copy of "Fargo", the movie "Fargo," and no, I did my Canon of Film article on the movie because I was reviewing "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter", I swear that was a complete coincidence, and she thought the movie, was real, and not only that it was real but, spoilers, the money that Buscemi's character buried in the snow and didn't get back to finding because of, um, he dies beforehand, it's not that memorable (eyes rolling)... anyway, she thinks the money's still there and using the movie in order to help find it. Okay, for those who don't know, outside of the horror movies, the most infamous use of the "Based on a True Story" trope, is "Fargo", which is, if you don't know, it's a complete lie. The Coen Brothers entirely made that story up, they only said it was based on a true story because they thought, A. It would be funny, which it is, but you don't realize they're doing it until you look it up, but, B. they thought that the pretense of it supposedly based on a true story which give the movie more of a heft and seriousness to it, and yes, this fooled and shocked and unnerved a lot of people at the time, but I didn't anybody actually did this. Now, I'm gonna mention now, that no, we don't see Kumiko commit suicide in the movie, and for all-intensive, this is also that's "Based on a true story", but moreso than "Fargo", not a difficult hurdle to hop over but still. This is by far, one of the strangest stories/films I've seen plot-wise in awhile, and I guess that's why the story did fascinate director David Zellner. Zellner, I'm not too familiar with Zellner as a director, he's starting to direct more features, but outside of his short films I mostly recognize him as being an indy-film character actor. He has a part here, when Kumiko finally makes it to America as a police officer who tries to help out Kumiko. She has a little English, but he couldn't find anybody around that spoke Japanese. He tried the girl at the Chinese restaurant but that didn't work, and he tries to explain to her that her quixotic journey was not a documentary, just a fictional film. The movie, is two-parted, one part in Japan, which is not particularly fun for her; Kumiko is already lonely and too old, at least according to her mother (Yumiko Hioki) who's pressuring her to move back home, and/or get married, and she's doesn't have much of a satisfactory job. It's clear, that she's possibly somewhat mentally ill, although it's not clear what. The second half is her making it to America and struggling to get by. I guess if there's a movie that this film actually reminds me of, it's Werner Herzog's "Stroszek" which was also about foreigners who struggled in their own country figuring that the best thing for them was to come to the American Great Plains where they'd be able to strike it rich. It actually was Herzog who endorsed this movie and presented it to a wide audience, and I first heard about it two years ago actually after Kinkuchi was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her performance. I definitely recommend the movie, it's just one of the most unique and strange films I've seen. I don't quite know how to handle it, or how much to appreciate, but it's definitely too unique to ignore and dismiss. So, I'm highly recommend it just an an oddity if nothing else.


SLOW WEST  (2015) Director; John MacLean

✰✰1/2



No, this movie isn't directed by the Bruce Willis from "Die Hard". yes I was disappointed too. "Slow West" instead, is a modernist western from, New Zealand, (Light confused pause) oh-kay, that takes place- well I think they mentioned it being around the Colorado Territory, so, let's presume past the Civil War, late 1860s, early 1870s, although, honestly the exact location doesn't matter much here. The movie follows a young Brit, Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a lovesick teenager who's gone to America in search of his true love, or, who he thinks he can convince into being his true love, Rose Ross (Caren Pistorius), who he's pined over for years and Rose has desperately tried to keep permanently friend-zoned. She's had a troubled life and now however, she's gone off to America and Jay have gone after him. Already a foolhardy proposition as he's definitely not adequate ready for the American west. This is immediately spotted by Silas (Michael Fassbender) one of those silent brooding stranger types that all westerns have. He helps the boy and makes a deal to help search for the girl while helping him get through the terrains, and by terrains, literal and metaphorical ones. Soon, at a rest stop that, ends in three killings that are completely irrelevant and unrelated to everything else that happens, mostly, pretty much, Silas finds out that Rose is a criminal and there's a $2,000 bounty on her head and her husband. It's not so much that Jay is unfortunate, for picking up a bounty hunter, it's actually more problematic that he's not the one out for him, and as he gets closer to what's-her-name, everybody else gets closer by following them. Oh, she also a vicious killer and not that nice a person besides that. Yeah, "Slow West" is a bit-um, well, I hope say weird, there's actually much stranger modernist westerns out there, it's actually kinda worst than weird because it's actually quite conventional a tale, it's just trying so damn hard not to be. I wasn't overly impressed honestly. It's an interesting first film from Maclean, who's actually mostly known beforehand as a songwriter before this, most of his previous credits are actually on soundtracks until now. Mostly, I get the sense that this was, maybe a forty-five minute movie that stretched to make a suitable feature length film. I suspect MacLean can probably do better the next, or at least he should strive to in the future, so for that reason, I'm gonna give this a marginal negative review; there's nothing wrong with it, per se, but yeah, I'm not really enticed to go over on "Slow West", it's-, well, it is a bit slow, a little aimless which, I think is a detriment here more than a benefit. Maybe if there were more interesting characters or a greater world they're creating, perhaps, a la, "Unforgiven", but this movie isn't that good or interesting. Performances are pretty good though.


TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) Director: David Lynch

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Okay, this is gonna sound sacrilegious but "Twin Peaks" was terrible. I know, people think it's this great television show that-, yes is influential, but that it was revolutionary and went off before it's time and that the show was one of these great television shows-, look I absolutely love David Lynch, but I've given "Twin Peaks" a bunch of tries and it doesn't work as a television show. I'm actually kinda disturbed that they're bringing it back, although I'm glad to see Lynch working again. That's one of the reasons it took me forever to get to "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me", which, I guess is a prequel, it's mostly just ,an attempt to give the series a somewhat satisfactory explanation, or answer questions. It kinda does that, and it's good. It doesn't change my thoughts on the show, but it's good. The reason the show doesn't work is precisely because David Lynch's dream logic and style, works in movies, because they can approximate the length of a dream, two or three hours, just long enough to feel like an experience, but with a television show with that feel and format, it's one hour, each week, and you're constantly building  up and building up a story and in this case, a murder-mystery, (Another thing I can't stand, all these television shows that have the whole scenario of the show/season being about solving a crime or finding/searching for something, it's getting really, really old and tiresome and most of those shows are incredibly overrated.) and now, you're dragging the audience around and there's no end in sight and, then, creepy midget guy (Michael J. Anderson). Yeah, this show was overrated as hell, in fact it's downright terrible. That said, "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me", is a movie, and as a movie, it works. It sorta explains the show a bit better, I wouldn't say it made it good, but it does create this world, this fantasy, sexual and otherwise, and like all people who live out their fantasies, it's all fun and fucking until someone gets hurt and we get to see what happened exactly to Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) as well as Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley) and a few other people, plus we get a better sense of Dale Cooper's (Kyle Maclachlan) place as we realize just how synced into Laura Palmer he was. "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me", is everything that makes the series fascinating and intriguing, without all the delayed satisfaction. It's probably a key to most of Lynch's work, it's got a lot of motifs that we find in "Mulholland Dr.", which was also a great movie made from an abandoned television show, and "INLAND EMPIRE" as well. The young women, the sexual underground, the white picket fence world at the surface, the angelic dreamlike quality of the tone of his series. There's even a great Maguffin in that damn ring, as we see how it works. Does it make any sense? I don't know, and I don't care. I'm not waiting two years and 30+ hours to find out if it does or not, it's a dream, and in the surreal, it doesn't have to make sense. Well, it doesn't have to make sense for a couple hours anyway.





Sunday, April 24, 2016

CANON OF FILM: "FARGO"

FARGO (1996)

Director: Joel Coen
Screenplay: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen



It's so natural to look on the Coens as among the best American filmmakers alive and working today, that it's kinda difficult to go back and realize just how inexplicable they were originally. And they are inexplicable. I can easily put them on the same comedic pedestal as Woody Allen, Preston Sturgess, Mel Brooks, even the Zucker, Abrahams an Zucker team, but then you look at movies like "Blood Simple", "True Grit", "No Country for Old Men", "The Man Who Wasn't There", "Inside Llewyn Davis", and yes, to a certain extent, "Fargo", and you might not even realize these films are comedies. I'm not sure I'd argue that some of them are myself, but the comedic aspects of his movies are essential to all of them. It seems mainly that their major motif, if they have any consistent ones other than the fact that all their films are distinctly them, is that they're basically all different, epictions and aspects of Americana. They return to a few geographical locations more than once, but that's almost the exception and not the rule. The more or less seem happy to jump around the country and find some strange character or location or time period and find some their own take on it. It's bizarre, they have the surreal absurdist streak of a Seth MacFarlane, but they seem to trying most to replicate the complete works of Norman Rockwell.

What distinguishes them first of all is that unlike most satirists, they don’t seem to hate or dislike their characters, or for that matter the caricatured tendencies they are satirizing. If anything, the thing they might actually be satirizing most is Hollywood movie conventions. It's done more outwardly in films like "The Big Lebowski" and "Barton Fink" among others even their most recent film "Hail, Caesar", but take “Fargo,” which is widely acknowledged as their greatest work, while they take great care to carefully explain the motives of each of their main characters, and we recognize that Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is just a guy who’s desperate to get respect from his father-in-law, Wade (Harve Presnell) and get the money to advance his career buy by parking lots. Now, on the surface this movie appears to be, just a typical crime story gone wrong. And yet, nothing's typical. First of all, it's obvious from the get-go the plan is absurd beyond belief and couldn't possibly work. Secondly, we usually expect characters like this, maybe not be smart, but for their plan to really be something elaborate and thought-out, like maybe Sterling Hayden's character in Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing", there's usually an inherent desire to cheer for these bad guys and be impressed with the scheme they pull off. Lundegaard however, isn't that competent. Neither are the bad guys he hires without even getting their phone number, Carl and Gaear (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare). He's not even that good at wiping down his tracks. It's pretty obvious that this plan will fail, but we still don't quite know how it will fail. There are a lot of false starts to begin the crime, and yet, it's strangely believable.

The second part of their genius is that underneath the rye kind of off-kilter humor is that their work is their depictions of Americana, and the American Dream, makes them the modern-day Mark Twain. In this film, a guy wants to get respected and get money, in “Raising Arizona,” a couple wants to have a family, in “O Brother…” a guy just wants to get back with his wife and kids… their humor lies in the feeble attempts of their characters trying to accomplish the American Dream. They also satirize numerous other things, but this is the undercurrent that runs through their work. Nothing is typical, for a movie in "Fargo", but it is typical for what could've happened, in "Fargo" at some point. Famously, the movie's biggest con was that they begin with a declaration that the movie is, "Based on a True Story", and of course, as I hope most of you are aware, the movie is not. It's entirely fabricated by the Coens. But of course it's fabricated, nobody but the Coens could create a character so charming and beloved as Marge Gunderson (Oscar-winning Frances McDormand).After forty or so minutes into the movie, like how Hitchcock shocked us by getting rid of our main character in "Psycho", the Coens shock us by introducing us to our main character, a Brainard, North Dakota detective who's pregnant, but still quite smart and observant. She realizes right away what's going on by reading the crime scene, noting everything from footprints to dealer plates, and soon, she's off to Minnesota to investigate further. Although, she's still going through her own adventures. She's married to her loving husband Norm (John Carroll Lynch) who makes her eggs before going out on a 3:00a.m. call. She also meets up at a Radisson buffet with an old high school friend, Mike (Steve Park) in between going to Jerry's work and interrogating him, as he so poorly, pitifully tries to cover up his lies. It would've been so easy, to skip this sequence altogether and just have Marge come in, bust Jerry rather quickly and then start searching for that damn missing Tan Sierra, but the fact that it does take two visits, in between the conversation with the old high school flame, is fascinating, but instead, it causes her to think things through, not just be the Sherlock Holmes-ian detective that solves everything through reading the clues. No, it's good, solid reasoning. It's also far funnier to have Jerry think he's gotten, at least her off his back, only to have her come back again. (Hmm, I guess she's more "Columbo" than Sherlock Holmes, come to think about it.) 

It's through Marge that we realize what the Coens are actually maturing as filmmakers, insisting, that maybe the American Dream isn’t what it’s cracked up to be? Or maybe it's that movies aren't all that they're cracked up to be. “And for what? A little bit of money. There more to life than a little money you know… and here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well, I just don’t understand it.” That famous line, could have her talking about the typical crimes that they commit, or it could be for the typical movie characters and cliches the Coens are subverting. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

GOOD ON TV: "GIRLS", THE BEST SHOW ON TV! NO, I'M NOT KIDDING! THE DIVISIVENESS AND BRILLIANCE OF LENA DUNHAM: A MATURE LOOK AT IMMATURITY.



Okay, how do I put this, I'm starting to get the suspicion that, we might not all view pieces of art the same way. Okay, yeah, big fucking shock, I know, people are different and they have different experiences and can relate to things differently than others,... yeah, yeah, I'm not trying to over-simplify something everybody knows; I realize this is not breaking news, but-, there are pieces of art and artists in particular who I suspect get some of the more, um, vehemently divides audiences, fans and critics than others. The thing is, I used to be able to foresee people like that. Like Paul Thomas Anderson's spent his whole career ostracizing some of the audiences while others wholeheartedly embrace his work, and however you feel on any of his films, you can very easily see why. Now, I do spend most of my time analyzing quality of work and disregard completely my own personal aesthetics and tastes, I've brought that up before, but believe it or not, you'd think that would mean that I can see these coming more frequently, but oddly, it usually shocks me more when people come out f the woodwork to go after somebody or some piece of art that-, well, I'll just get to the point, where you're just amazed people actually love/hate them so much and so many people?

It's something that's I've been observing and has been coming up a few times lately. For instance, half the Channel Awesome/Chez Apocalypse contingent seems to have decided to review "The Phantom of the Opera" like, different times recently, which, is a popular phenomenon and fanbase that I've known about since middle school, and,... WHY?! I-eh, okay-, look we'll start with the Broadway show, which sucks, btw, although caveat I have a major aversion to Andrew Lloyd Webber; it's not the worst thing he ever did, (that's "Jesus Christ Superstar" btw. I haven't seen the sequel to "Phantom...", but considering that "JCS" is the last time I ever walked out on a movie and that was like eight years and many many many bad movies ago, I'm gonna stick with that until further notice) but, is there actually a great version of "The Phantom of the Opera"? Anywhere? In any medium? Like, okay, the Lon Chaney one from the silent days, that's actually pretty good, but it really only works once, trying to watch that film twice is painful. More importantly however, I don't understand the appeal of it? Like even things I hate I can usually see the appeal of, but I legitimately have no idea why this story has caught on? Is there a sexual undertone that's appealing about the phantom, is Christine a character that people relate to, is it just the damn chandelier? Is it the music? Is it the idea of a haunted opera house? Is it that they like opera? What? What the-? Look, I'm not saying it's bad, I didn't even-, okay I didn't like the Schumacher movie, but I didn't think it was awful either, but I am trying to figure out how or why people like and keep remembering and retelling and re-imagining "The Phantom of the Opera", but I-eh-, no I don't get the appeal, at all. For the fandom it has, I don't get at all. 

And here's the funny thing, most of those critics and nearly other person I know, hates "Rent", which, I think is one of the best musicals ever made. I can't believe anybody hates it. I can see not caring about it one way or the other, but hating it? Think it's boring, I've heard. I've heard people who hate the characters for being "hipsters", which, A. I don't think was a word back in '94, and B. I don't know what a hipster is but whatever definition I've heard from people, I've yet to be convinced that there's a reason to hate them. No, "Rent" isn't perfect, but it definitely fits the mood and the tone of it's the story it's telling, which btw, is also, based on a lot of Jonathan Larson's friends and experiences living in New York in the late '80s, early '90s, art scene during the AIDS epidemic, so there's something kinda offensive about that already, although yeah, it's that's based on an actual opera, it's a retelling of "La Boheme", and it's a helluva lot better than btw, but it's a good base. The music is awesome and doesn't make me want to get nailed to a cross in order for it to end, (god, "JSC"-ugh!) I- I sense that people might confuse the fact that it's an attempt to portray reality and not a preaching of a lifestyle, or-, whatever it is, the point I'm making I think there is a divide with certain works of art and certain people, who are just seeing something so different and it's so shocking that it's almost like they're watching two completely different pieces of work. 

Those are two examples, I can think of plenty, hell, I got into a long argument earlier this year with some people on Geekcast Radio Network's website over "Scrubs", which basically amounted to the same thing, but yeah, especially since, I do basically try to look at the piece without personal context, it actually makes it weirder to me when people see something so vehemently different than I do, 'cause I'm trying to be unbias at all times, but when what I'm clearly looking at it, doesn't click with what somebody else thinks they're watching, yeah, it's just confusing. And I can't say, "I better take a closer look at the work," 'cause I'm already looking at it closer than most, so something else must be going on. 

Okay I know this was a long intro, but, I'm gonna say something here that's gonna divide everybody, so here we go, let's get to it: 

(Clears throat)
Lena Dunham's-,

(Sound of angry typing)

I'm already hearing the boos, (frustrated sigh) Lena Dunham's "Girls" is the best show on television! At least the best sitcom. Yeah, talk about frickin' dividing everybody, just mentioning Lena Dunham or anything remotely related to her nowadays just completely ostracizes everybody, much less, somebody like me, who's about to de-, I was about to say "defend her", I'm not defending her, I'm applauding her, or I'm trying to. What's there to defend, she's one of the best writers around, has one of the most unique and fascinating visions and perspective in entertainment today, and yes, the best television show, you know short of I guess, "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver", but yeah, ignoring the still golden age era of Variety Talk Series, I put "Girls" ahead of everything else right now, especially after seeing this season's finale episodes. How is this show not winning the Emmy every year, much less not getting nominated at all? Well, I actually do know how and why that is, but even if I didn't, the fact that she is so divisive-, (frustrated sigh) and no, I don't get it. At all. 

And yeah, this maybe because, (frustrated sigh) I may believe that her work speaks more towards me than it might others, I'll admit that. I get it, Hanna Horvath is a perpetual woman-child who writes but doesn't make a living at it and basically stumbles from job-to-job and terrible boyfriend-to-terrible boyfriend and is selfish and narcissistic and acts like she's the center of attention at all times even when her friends need her most, in other words, and I say this as a 30-(coughs)-year-old who still lives at home and has never worked a day in his life, (deep breath) she's the person I want to be when I grow up! Okay, I get it. I see that there's a lot of me in her characters, if not her. (And from all accounts I can find, she is very different than her character) So, what pisses people off about her? That she depicts this adolescent behavior in adults and, adults, presumably find her childish, confusing her for her characters? I think that's a great part of it, one of the arguments that came at me when I was debating "Scrubs" was that, a lot of people who don't like the show, really hated the main guy in the show, Zach Braff, which, A. He's an actor, he's playing a somewhat unlikable character at times, did you need to like him, and B. It's not like, he created the show, or the character? I mean, I would get that, if somebody said they didn't like "Louie" 'cause they didn't like Louis C.K., that would be weird but, I'd get it at least. You don't like Woody Allen, then you're probably not gonna like "Annie Hall". And I guess if you don't like Lena Dunham, then you'll probably not like "Girls", but on the same token, I don't quite get why anybody hates her. Likes hates her, not dismissive or uncaring, people vehemently despise her and her show, and that's where those people lose me. I mean, you hate the characters? You know, that might've played back in the olden days of television, when you pretty much did have to have likable protagonists or someone to care about or catch on too, but I'm not buying it here. There's plenty of pretty terrible excuses for people characters that people do like, including in sitcoms, especially in ones that under normal circumstances might appeal to the same audiences that "Girls", let's say is hypothetically aiming at. There isn't really The Lester Guy Rule anymore. ("The Lester Guy Rule", the rule about how a show had to have a likable main character, named after the main character in the short-lived David Lynch series, "On the Air"? No? Okay, I may have just made that up, but I'm sure there's some rule about that, and I just got the character wrong. Maybe I'm thinking of "Buffalo Bill".)  Yeah, we're passed that, or I like to think we are. So, what exactly about Lena Dunham makes people hate her? From what I can tell, at least in terms of her actual content in her series, there is this sense that people just hate how she depicts herself. This mid-20s young adults that's more anti-adulthood that skewers the people, which I don't get at all? First of all, it is a fictional depiction, and yes, as many have pointed out, nobody who's actually like the character she plays would ever get a TV show like "Girls" off the ground, especially as young as she is, but still, they just hate the adolescent characters she writes and portrays. I-, I just don't get this criticism. I would if it was, unrealistic or poorly done, or maybe just, in some way completely disconnected from reality, like say "2 Broke Girl$" is, but, that's not the case at all. If anything her weakness is that she's too painfully aware of the realities of her world and writes these characters too realistically that it makes some uncomfortable. She is a brave creator and actress who doesn't shy away from depicting herself in the worst possible light and in many cases with the least possible clothes. I'm sorry, that's just more of a reason I respect her, not a reason to bash her, and even if I didn't relate to her characters, I think anybody who watches the show can at least believe these characters,somewhere, can exist in the world and this is a realistic portrayal of the world to somebody, which is enough for me. 

I don't know, that reason still feels thin to me. I find that weird too; I don't hate too many people in myself and the reasons I give for hating people are usually way more elaborate and thought-out. I'm not expecting that kind of passion from everyone but there's usually more reasons than that. I have very specific reasons for being particularly negative towards Shane Carruth or Joss Whedon or Peter Jackson and few other people who I, in particular cannot stand as artists. I don't hate people arbitrarily, I mean, I don't like too many things Antoine Fuqua has done, but I can't say I hate him or his work, there's usually something much more concrete for me to get upset enough to despise people. Is there anything concrete to hate Lena Dunham or "Girls"? I don't know, I know there's some people who find much of Lena Dunham, just uncomfortable, to say the least. She isn't the most careful human when it comes to her public persona, I don't think that's all her fault, and honestly I've never seen a good argument for why she is a horrible person. Doing a quick Google search, I realize I'm not the only one who's tried to get to the bottom of this fascination with people hating her in particular. Let's go down the reasons I'm seen hypothecized, um, jealous of her success as a writer? Well, as a writer yes, but her talent more than makes up for it from my perspective. At even if I did remain bitter about how successful she is at such a young age, there's other people who draw my ire much more. (If you don't know who Saffron Herndon is, look her up, she's one of the funniest and most talented stand-up comediennes out working today, and I absolutely  hate her. Not joking, there is literally nobody in the entertainment world I hate more viciously for being as talented as they are, than her. It literally pains me, to think about her and her success grrr! (Anger-ridden breath) But seriously, she is fucking hilarious and when you do look you up, you will understand immediately my jealous-ridden hatred of her) I've seen articles about how she's a feminist, a sexist, a racist, none of which I find remotely credible, I find some who can't stand that she came from a rich upper class artistic family and that her fame is due in part to her status, A. No, it's not, she's famous and relevant 'cause she's talented, and B. even if that wasn't the case, I'm not gonna criticize somebody for having a door open to them, she still had to go through it, so that's pretty much B.S. She might've had more doors open to her, but you don't get this kind of fame without having some kind of skill to back it up.

There's the more famous incidents that have been misinterpreted in her autobiography that supposedly she sexually molested her younger sister when she was a child, which is crap, and there's an account of her being raped at Oberlin she gives, that's come under scrutiny for numerous dumb reason. I read "Not That Kind of Girl", and I just laugh at these misrepresentations of her words. In one, she was seven and fascinated with her sister's vagina, in an exploratory way that I think most kids go through about private parts, okay, she's her, so it was a little weirder, but no, it was not sexual molestation. As to the rape allegations, apparently and this is a bit weird, she described the person who raped her and unaware that she was using a pseudonym, somebody who purportedly matched the description in her book threatened to sue her for libel. A lot of people have used this to discredit her, mostly from right-wing media groups, which should really have better things to do even for them, but, yeah, it's clear there's a smear campaign out on her. I don't find it that interesting, or convincing when you look into it to be honest. As far as I'm concerned the only thing she's guilty about in either case is not living up to the standards of simple-minded people who don't like her anyway. 

Honestly, looking this crap up is just annoying as much as it is a waste of time. It's not like only good angelic beings are the only ones that make good art anyway, so even if she hypothetically is a child molesting Feminazi girl that cries rape, that's not a good enough reason to discredit her as an artist. Or as a woman, which let's break this barrier down, is probably as much the real reason people despise her. If a guy had created this kind of show, I'm sure there wouldn't be so much backlash. And she's not alone in this, I've heard the same amount of vile hate for her as I've heard for people like Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman and Abbi Glazer & Ilana Jacobsen among other women who tend to go against the typical comedic norms and present a more adult and controversial perspective into their work. Look, this could be a completely different article if I want to go there, but yeah, the comedy world is pretty sexist, in general and yeah, there's backlash to anybody talented who challenges that male-dominated perspective in any serious way, which is probably why I find these artists and other like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Margaret Cho and Samantha Bee and a few others, (Including Saffron Herndon that little-hmm, god I hate her! GRRRRR!) basically the most important artists in the field right now. One of the reasons that their perspective is new. I mean, comedy is-, look a joke is a joke, setup, then punchline, that's never gonna change, it's how it's told, and who's telling it, and yeah, there are quite a few major female players in the comedy world and it's spanning across all mediums, not only is there a sexist male-dominated perspective in the comedic world, there is also one in the general audience. Hell, I'm reading an article now about the rampant sexism in nerd culture, and I'm sure somebody can point to those stories about how badly female gamers get treated. (That article I'm reading is at the link below btw, if you're interested)

Hell, one of my Facebook friends recently, I won't say who it was, she posted recently for like the fourth or fifth time I've seen her post about this, having to clarify that, and I'm paraphrasing here but basically, she liked something in a film group or back something up, and had to constantly fight off members of the group who were trying to pick her up romantically. She's trying to have a conversation and basically can't do anything in a room full of teenage boys without getting hit on and harassed constantly. I mean, Lena Dunham is being herself, which is clearly somebody different than anybody who's come before, and then she gets criticized for being a woman, who's being herself and no, that's not the first time that's happened to somebody and yes, it is bullshit. 

Alright, so enough defending her, which I shouldn't have had to do or been doing, Why do I praise this show so highly? What is it about "Girls" that's Good on TV? Well, obviously I like her perspective and her humor, which, is distinctly hers. Does that mean this show about screwed-up twenty-five year-olds the best on television alone? Well, that's the thing, how many show are actually like hers? I mean, she's using the "Sex and the City" formula, four girls in a large, making it, or trying to make it on their own, and going through job and relationship troubles, this isn't terribly new, at the surface, this formula could go back to "The Golden Girls", and there's been numerous other variations, "Desperate Housewives" is probably the other most infamous one. She actually makes fun of it in her show sometimes, but not always. She's actually got Louis C.K.'s amount of freedom and she uses it. There are many episodes that literally only focus on one or two characters on their own separate journeys, sometimes to completely other states and other continents this past year. But the formula is only the familiar backdrop and she knows this. This state of quarterlife confusion she depicts however, that's this seemingly lazy and inept stumblings into adulthood, that's something that's a little new. I can think of a few shows that did this, but most of those shows, like "Friends", "The Big Bang Theory" to some extent recently, or the webseries "Quarterlife" now that I mentioned that term, they were about those character evolving, like most shows are, including "Girls", but they were about evolving into different better people. "Girls", probably what I like most about the show is, how it isn't doing that. I mean it is, but it's much subtler and most of the time, the characters aren't evolving forward they're often devolving or worst, just staying put. The drug addict, she seems okay, but she relapses badly. The one who wants to get married and find loving husband, she's failed at that twice, even with a more freeing career change after life smacked her around, even the one who's think she's smart enough to follow through and get everything together and does everything perfectly, she struggles just to find a job now after freaking out, that god forbid, she had to take a summer school class 'cause she failed a semester at college 'cause after losing her virginity she slept around, a bit. There's normally obstacles we put in front of our characters, but Dunham at her best, is just taking her characters and just when you think, maybe they're on their way to a breakthrough or a change, immediately just takes their hopes and ideals and destroys them; they are there own obstacles most of the time, and they usually lose. Yeah, none of these girls are dumb enough to think they'll be able to just create a cupcake brand and fight their way out of poverty, although granted these characters are mostly too privileged to come up with that idea (And too smart too) but there's impulsiveness and there's the simple fact, that, changing and evolving, is hard. You gotta really be motivated and even then, that motivation is filled with false starts and backslides into their more typical default behaviors. I mean, when you look at other shows, "The L Word" is a nice example of this, the characters definitely evolved and changed on that show, but it was so drastic over the course of the series that, it's sometimes impossible to believe how some of them turned into someone else. "Girls" you don't get that, and yes, that's much more naturalistic and real. At least to me it is. It's going for character growth and change, but it's the bare minimum, and you don't see that enough, and certainly not enough done well. I love "Sex and the City" but the show, was basically about how they evolved through and into relationships and in the end, they all ended up happy in one, at least at the end of series; I'm gonna ignore the movies, like everybody else in the world should, but it was simplistic, and the point of that show was that, that was the only part of their lives that we saw. "Girls" is far too complex for that, and frankly, I'd be shocked at this point if any coupling formed at the end of the series next year would result in a happily ever after. Even Hannah's parents are in a loveless marriage including a gay husband. It's a show about being stagnant, if not literally stagnation, then at least an emotional ones. And it treats it realistically. I mean, I remember one episode of "Roseanne" that had Darlene sitting on the couch for the entire episode, but she was a moody teenager and the end she met David for the first time, who had a different name in that episode. Anyway, some of the moody teenagers don't really get up and that makes it a lot harder for them to eventually get up as adults. This show, depicts that really well and I can't think of too many other shows that do. It's actually difficult to show, essentially forward-moving inaction and make it fascinating and funny and touching and tearful and just flat-out entertaining. 

I have to give credit for this, a lot. It's much more difficult to do that than most realize. That's not to say that everybody can relate to this, but I think it's behaviors we've seen and I just haven't seen them as the center of a show, especially in a medium like television, where it's usually about drastic changes of characters over time, I kinda like that she goes out of her way to make the changes as minimal as possible and she should. Not everybody changes that quickly and even when we think they do, they really don't. You don't just becomes different people because you pay your own taxes or earn your money for rent. Dunham realizes this and more than that, tells this story well. You see, I was being honest when I said Hannah, flawed and fucked up and all, is the one I want to be when I grow up, 'cause the one character from the show that  I actually relate to the most, is Shoshanna. Yeah, Zosia Mamet's character. Now, I don't talk like Six Lemure on cocaine, (I can't be the only guy who will constantly make "Blossom" references, can I?)  but her path is through hard work, and studying to get the jobs she wants and dreams of, and that's still her go-to, that's her stagnant place. It's not, sitting on the couch half-naked eating cake and Haagen-Daas, but it's still stagnant, and I relate to this, that's how I spent most of my youth. I missed out on quite a bit because I was more interested in impressing people by my knowledge and my skillsets, and well, I'm writing this blog, so yeah, it doesn't always work out and there's a lot less fun activities like raves and partying and salad tossing, but it's actually the counterpoint to the rest of them who seem to be, stumbling, matriculating through their twenties that, even the best laid straight-on paths might still mean you have to go the other side of the world and turn that marketing degree in for a job babysitting kittens. I'm actually more dumbfounded by people who hate this character, again, I don't get it, but maybe I do associate with her more. I've heard her called a "Creator's Pet" character, which is a trope I only learned about recently, and don't understand why Wesley Crusher is the archetype, he was the best character on "Star Trek: The Next Generation", well after Data. (No, I'm not joking there.) but no, that's not true at all of Shoshanna . If anything, she's the character who most grounds this show, at least among the girls, Alex Karpovsky's character as well does this, but she's the character that seems the most active and the most practical, even more than Marnie when you think about it, but she probably gets it worst than everybody else and it's purely because of who she is and her own natural stagnation traits. If anything, she's not involved enough in the main plotlines. 

It's a show the struggles with being an adult in a world and with character who, for them, in one childish way or another, that's not their natural inclination and it deals with it. And it does it in a sardonic-laden comedy! And it's from Lena Dunham's most perspective and observant view. Yeah, for unique, for it's difficult subject matter, for creating it's own niche perspective on this subject matter, for creating this new perspective for the television medium, in this manner, for being so groundbreaking in it, and just for being one of the few really great shows out there, I-eh, yeah, when I look at the whole television landscape and there's other great ones, and some that might one day be bigger or better, but right now, yeah, I give it to "Girls", it's the best show on television. I stand by it. Her vision's the most unique, her execution of that vision is the toughest to pull off and the most successfully achieved. This last season was arguably it's best, and the only thing that annoys me is that there's only one season left, and I really hope that these characters still continue to fall headfirst and hard into immaturity as often as possible as they continue to grow into adulthood. It won't be easy, at least as a writing and filmmaking project it won't be, in reality for some, at least for these characters, it's probably more likely than most of us are comfortable admitting.