Sunday, February 3, 2013

MIXED BAG BLOG #4: "THE OFFICE", BAD MOVIE BLOGGERS AND THE OSCAR RACE!

Happy Super Bowl Sunday Everybody. It's not an official holiday, but it might as well be in America. I'm an Eagles fan, so frankly I'm just happy that it's not two teams I hate in the Super Bowl like last year, so I'm just hoping for a good game, and good commercials and no predictions out of me. Well, in the meantime, I've looking around for something interesting and worthy of an entire blog, but not much has been capturing my attention that intently, so we're gonna do a little Mixed Bag Blog, where I'll be discussing some random subjects, that aren't worthy of an entire blogpost, but are somewhat interesting, subjects, worth making some note about, in the entertainment world.

WHERE IS "THE OFFICE" GOING WITH THIS NEW CONCEIT IN THE DOCUMENTARY STORYLINE?




While earlier, I discussed the sad end of "30 Rock", NBC's other great show with only average ratings is "The Office," and that show is also promising to end this year, and I think it's about time on that show. It's been downhill, admittedly since Steve Carell, but that doesn't mean it's been bad, just not-as-good as it used to be. (I want to stress that, because I think that's something that people have been confusing any minor drop in quality with end of a show's importance, which is so not correct. "The Office" is still, one of the top 5 or six best shows on network TV, and probably still top 20 quality-wise if you through in cable) The last couple episodes, suddenly through in a new wrinkly to the show, that I don't think anybody saw coming. The conceit of the show, has always been that the people in the show, are the subject of a documentary, and that we're seeing the documentary footage of the show. The interviews with the characters, the handheld camera, everybody being miked, etc. This last season, they chose to throw in a wrinkle in the Jim & Pam story, after Jim lies to Pam about going to Philadelphia to work at a sports agent start-up that an old college friend of his invited him too. Now Jim, is splitting time between both offices, and Pam is often alone, with their two kids, and is unprepared for the hardship of suddenly, Jim not being around. This all came to ahead in a shocking scene that ended an episode last week. Jim and Pam, have their long-awaited blowup, over-the-phone, and Pam can't keep her emotions in check. There seems to be no one in the office for this, but then, she starts talking to the boom mike operator, who suddenly becomes a character, when he, for the first time, breaks the wall between the documentarians and the subjects, and consuls Pam as she breaks down and cries in his arms, and the boom-guy, who we learn is named Brian, insists emphatically to turn the cameras off. Now, I'm not one who likes the game of comparing versions of "The Office", if for no other reason, but because they're not really compatible shows, the original UK version and the American version. (And actually, if you really want to play this game, there are dozens of versions of "The Office", across the world; it one of the biggest television franchises worldwide, so I tend to think that's a losing proposition.) The one thing that's common with both versions however is that, when the show breaks that wall, between the documentary crew and the people their following. One of the most emotional moments I ever saw on TV, for instance, was in the British version of "The Office", when Martin Freeman's Tim character, ripped the mike off of him, and left the interview room to ask out Dawn, who's preparing to get married. They did the same thing, with the opposite emotion when Carell's character left two seasons ago, and him pulling out the mike, before heading out to his airport terminal, to leave forever, emotional that his character arc was complete, and we would never see him again. This new development of the documentary crew breaking the fourth wall, is startling, not only because of why, but because of who. Jim and Pam's relationship, for all intensive purposes, have been the centerpoint of the show, and it's equivalent of Tim and Dawn, and whomever in all other versions of the show, usually showing their shy relationship, to slowly developed from crush to love. "The Office" has done that, and they've begun throwing wrinkles into the show. Last year, with the Cathy character hitting on Jim, was a big one, that led to this inspire, tweet of mine, and I quote: "OMG 'THE OFFICE' That cathy is a FUCKING BITCH! Pam better fucking kick her scrawny ass! Can't believe that! That fucking bitch!" Of course, that eventually didn't go anywhere, because Cathy had totally misread the Jim/Pam dynamic at that time, but now the dynamic is difference, and the wrinkle is a deep one, as we learn in this week's episode that Brian, has been in love with Pam from afar for years, just like Jim used to be, and now, after a major incident involving a fight with another character, Brian was fired from the documentary crew, so now, can officially become a character. I'm torn, personally. I don't want to see Jim & Pam break up, and yet, this new storyline development, is one of the most intense things the show's done in years. I hope they end this show right later this season. I don't know what that will entail, but I sure hope they do it right. I don't want to see this show, end this relationship cynically, but the way their doing it, it looks like it's going that way. It's the most intense the show's been in years, though. I'm happy about the show being good, but worried about how it'll end, and can't wait to watch more. (Deep breath). It's gonna be intense.

TOO MANY STUPID MOVIE BLOGGERS, and the MOVIE JAIL RELAY RACE!

A lot of you don't realize this, but I don't just read my own blogs. I actually follow dozens of blogs, most of them, relating to the entertainment world like myself, and I've been noticing something, there are a considering amount of people writing about film and television, that seem to know almost nothing about it. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising to me; anybody can get a blog for free, myself included, but I'm starting to notice it a bit more lately. There's lots of movie blogs out there, in fact, one of the blogs I follow, is called "LAMBS", or the "Large Association of Movie Blogs", a group that is basically a directory of movie bloggers, over 1500 in fact. I myself, despite two times having filled out applications to join, I not member of that organization yet, (And personally I'm a bit ambiguous towards it anyway. I'm confused by their blog and website, and they seem to enjoy discussing blogs more than discussing films, which I find disconcerting), but with so many blogs, I try to follow as many of them as possible, if for no other reason, but to see the competition. One way I also like to find other movie blogs, is to follow relay races. The latest one I'm following is called the "Movie Jail Relay Race", the last one to participate in this is a blog called "Public Transportation Snob", and the link to his entry in the relay race is below:

http://www.ptsnob.com/2013/01/movie-jail-relay-race.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PublicTransportationSnob+%28Public+Transportation+Snob%29

The basic idea of these relay races, is that, there's a Top Ten of something, in this case, Top Ten people in film who should be sent to movie jail for their crimes against cinema. Now then the blog, gets passed to another blogger, who must, take one name off this list, or, out of jail, in this case, and replace that name, with someone else. The blog keeps going and going, and that's the fun of it, and I try to follow every new blog these relay races go to, not only because I'd one day liked to be asked to participate, but also, to find new intelligent film bloggers like myself. This one relay race has fascinated me more than others, because it really lets me on just how intelligent these bloggers are, or in some these cases, aren't. Really aren't. I would think these sort of blogs, would immediately go to some of the more thoughtful bloggers out there, and in some cases they are, like the people who selected Jason Freberg and Aaron Seltzer, that's somebody with some first-hand knowledge of who the real hacks are in film. However, the people voting for Nicolas Cage and Kristen Stewart, clearly aren't qualified to judge cinema, of any kind. Cage is out of it now, thank God, because but anybody who has knowledge of the art of acting, knows is Cage is the best actor working in Hollywood. So he makes bad movies, occasionally, a lot of actors do. Frankly, actors would probably be some of the last people I would consider for such, but also the choosing of the actors, really makes me question some of these bloggers credentials. Kristen Stewart's another example of someone in this jail, 'cause clearly, it's by people who have seen "Twilight", and not any of her other films, except maybe "Snow White and the Huntsman", because anybody who's bothered to scan the rest of her filmography like myself, recognizes that she's gonna be the next Jodie Foster. Seriously people, "Adventureland", "Welcome to the Rileys", "The Runaways", "The Yellow Handkerchief", "The Cake Eaters", "Zathura...", "Panic Room", this girl can act, and because she's known for one bad franchise, she's being typecasted, and it's not just by Hollywood. It's by people like they no-nothing bloggers, who just want to praise the things they like, and diss on the things they don't, and have no real objective idea into expanding their film knowledge to things, beyond what's playing at the multiplex. They also don't know the dynamics of film acting and editing or directing, and a bunch of other things quite frankly. A lot of these blogs, are way more list-obsessed than I am, and they just want to list off a bunch of random Top Ten or Bottom tens, or whatever. There's one I saw recently, that just posted the names and a picture of every movie is viewing order, he saw last month? Yes, I'm a list fanatic, but I still like to save such things for the Facebook group arguments and things like that. Only occasionally where a subject comes up where that's relevant, where I'll go into something like that, and even then, I'm usually uninterested in my own lists, and would rather hear others. There's a self-centered that's really disturbing among a lot of these amateur movie bloggers, and so many of them are so focused-in on the few things they like, that they really miss a lot. That part, I don't think is entirely their fault however, and in this part, I'm blaming Hollywood as much as the viewers, because they've really gone out of their way to separate similar products, and advertise them for such specialized audiences, that there's no need anymore to go out and see what else is out there. Just look at TV for Chist's sake, every channel is a specialty channel now, even the networks. Specialty shows, that are systematically designed to key on a particular demographic, instead of just, creating a good show? You like romantic vampire stories, there's a channel for it, practically now. They demographic-focused movies and shows, is just not good for people, and it dilutes the quality. The best movies or TV shows or any kind of literature, don't just appeal to any particular group, they're just good. It makes no sense to me. It happens to me too, I'm not gonna pretend that I'm immune to this, but at least I'm conscious of my tastes, and am constantly trying to learn and understand can enjoy certain movies and programs, and still try to be able to judge them correctly. Anyway, there's a lot of good movie bloggers/critics, and a lot of bad ones, very bad ones. Like anything else. The bad ones, have just been annoying me a bit lately, that's all, and frankly, sometimes I need to call them out.

THE OSCAR RACE CLUSTERF**K! CAN'T REMEMBER A YEAR THIS UNPREDICTABLE!

If you're following the Oscar race as intently as I am, this has become the strangest year already, and it has nothing to do with Seth MacFarland, oddly enough. Since the Oscar nomination cames out, pretty much universally, "Argo" has been winning every award, including all the Guild Awards which are great prognosticators, because many of the members of the Guilds are also Academy voters. Last night, it culminated, as I predicted on Twitter, with Ben Affleck, winning the DGA Award, becoming the first person to win that Award who didn't get an Oscar nomination, since Ron Howard won in '95 for "Apollo 13". (I still can't figure out how he didn't get an Oscar nomination for that film, or how Mel Gibson won that year, for his worst movie, "Braveheart", ugh!) Anyway, what this officially means is that, nobody knows what-the-hell's gonna happen at the Oscars this year. Nobody. It's too unpredictable. No film's won Best Picture without a Best Director nomination since "Driving Miss Daisy", and that was such anomaly, that it's the only time in 80 years that that's happened. Director, nobody has a clue who's gonna win, Picture, it looks like "Argo," but every pattern we know, goes against it. The only sure things I can see are Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway winning, and I'm not 100% on Hathaway. This is a prognosticator's nightmare. Best Supporting Actor is completely up-for-grabs, with all the nominees being past winners, and I think that's a first in any acting category by the way, and that's been heavily under-reported how freakin' weird that is. I've been meaning to double-check, but I don't think that's ever happened before, and the Awards have been splitting between them. Tommy Lee Jones, won the SAG Award, so I guess he's the current favorite, but it's hardly conclusive. Actress is definitely going to either Lawrence or Chastain, but it's a coin toss between them, and frankly in those situations, you can't rule out the possibility of a spoiler, and there's a few interesting ones out there. There aren't that many categories where there's a sure-fire winner at all. Disney just released it's Oscar-nominated short "Paperman", to give that film a push, (and I think it's working) so every category is really overly competitive this year. The only categories where I'm fairly certain of a winner are Actor, Cinematography, Foreign Language Film, Song, and Visual Effects. Everything else is up-for-grabs, and I'm not used to it. (Actually, I'm not too sure about Song, either, I better take that back)  I'm used to be fairly certain at nearly every category until now, and now, it's the exact opposite. It's leading to an intriguing and unusually unpredictable Oscars, at least until the envelopes are open, and then, all the answers become clear of course, but until then, me and everybody else are just preparing to-eh, look into their crystal balls I guess. No sure things this year, that's for sure. Except that their are going to be musical performances at this year's Oscar, so that's should be good. Giving decent respect to the category once again, good for them for doing that.



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