There’s a lot of people ragging on Seth MacFarlane today after hosting the 2013 Oscars, so I felt the need to write about my personal opinion. I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll keep this short, include bullet points, won’t be linking to sources and may have typos.
First off, I’m not a huge Family Guy fan because I find the violence against women jokes deplorable. That said, I think MacFarlane and the team behind last night’s Oscars did a magnificent job of not only hosting the show and staying classy, but also updating it for the next generation. The production included small touches that constantly uplifted the industry, while playing to the audience as film fans.
Some of my favorite touches:
- Trading in hot models handing out the awards for international film students was a brilliant way to honor the next generation of filmmakers;
- The comedic addition of the Jaws theme to “play them off” was a killer move, and I loved it;
- The not-so-subtle reminders of blockbuster film stars that didn’t get nominated was absolutely hilarious and honest. Blockbusters are a huge part of the economy and need to be recognized;
- The Von Trapp Family Singers bit tickled my entire being. I’m insulted by anyone criticizing that sketch today;
- A dance number with Seth MacFarlane, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe? I giggled like an adorable little Japanese schoolgirl.
In all honesty, there were only two parts of the show I wasn’t really impressed with; the Bond tribute, and the ode to Musicals. My reasoning:
- Bond music tribute: I was surprised how they wasted time with the intro montage, which was way too heavy on VFX and managed not to credit any of the composers. At first I thought they weren’t crediting anyone because it was mostly John Barry (RIP), but then they played “Live and Let Die” by Paul and Linda McCartney with no mention of their names either. I also thought that Shirley Bassey was amazing, but felt like they could have done a lot more with her and the idea that this is a tribute to 50 years of Bond music. What were Nancy Sinatra, Tom Jones, and Duran Duran doing last night? Wouldn’t it have been great if they did a montage of the greatest themes, with the montage video playing in the background and ended the tribute with a grand finale of Adele’s Skyfall performance? Not a great use of time.
- Musical tribute: This was an even worse use of time than the Bond tribute. They felt the need to show loooong intros of every film and then FINALLY went into a performance from that film. I felt this could have been easily condensed with MUCH shorter intros and shorter versions of the songs, or even a creative weaving of the songs from the different musicals leading up to Les Misérables. Again, it just needed to be tighter.
All in all I think they did a fantastic job making an entertaining award show that got away from the stagnant old self-gratifying white guy Oscars of the past. This is exactly what the industry needed and MacFarlane did a wonderful job. It pleased me as a film buff and it touched me as someone working in the industry.
I first caught Twin Peaks reruns on Showcase in the mid-nineties, then I re-watched it in 2005 on DVD, and now I’m watching it all over again this year on Netflix. Every single time I’ve seen it, my mind has been BLOWN. The mystery, the characters, the writing, the directing, and the acting is all on a level of brilliance.
Many people have been asking me over Twitter whether the show is really that great since it was cancelled after the second season. The answer is yes, it is worth your time. The series was and still is a work of art. Incredibly fun and f*cked up art.
The mystery and supernatural journey surrounding the death of Laura Palmer is legendary, and this should be your reason for watching (and re-watching) the show. Once the mystery is solved (about halfway through season 2), you can easily clock out… and many people did. In fact, in the episode that closes up that storyline, you really do feel like it’s a series finale; all ends are tied up beautifully.
But even then, after that storyline has finished, you still haven’t seen everything there is to see! I mean, why stop there when you can see more appearances by Michael Parks (my favorite part of Kill Bill), David Lynch himself, Heather Graham, Ted Raimi, and David Duchovny! And in addition to all of that, the second season finale is a cliffhanger that will freak you the F*CK out (in a good way).
It is rare to see a show so layered and wonderful as Twin Peaks. There is a reason this show is considered a cult classic, so stop putting it off and add it to your Netflix queue. You can thank me later. ;)
PS: If the above five paragraphs haven’t yet convinced you to watch Twin Peaks, here are a few more reasons:
- David Duchovny plays a transvestite named Denise.
- Alicia Witt (Alia from Dune) plays a mean piano while Ray Wise sings and dances before falling to pieces. Literally.
- David Lynch’s son Austin shows up as a magician and is the creepiest little kid ever!
- Peter Dinklage may have won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for Game of Thrones, but Michael J. Anderson can talk backwards and dance like a boss!
- Hey look! It’s Emily and Zooey Deschanel’s mom Mary Jo!
- THIS scene where Audrey Horne (played by Sherilyn Fenn) works to convince a whorehouse madame to take her on:
I was a guest on TWiT‘s Framerate this week thanks to the suggestion of the show’s wonderful hosts Tom Merritt and Brian Brushwood! We discussed the online video industry, the future of television distribution, and the TV shows and movies we’ve been watching. Thanks to Tom, Brian, and producer Jason Howell for having me on!
Earlier this year I was really interested in Klout, a site that measures your online influence by connecting with your social networks. Initially the site worked only with Twitter, but in early March Klout started connecting their profiles with Facebook as well. After liking how Klout measured Twitter influence, I gave their Facebook interface a try. Sadly, once I allowed the Klout app on Facebook, it turned out that they only measured influence on my personal profile (a place I don’t strive to be influential at all) and didn’t give me any choice to connect my Facebook Like page. Upon learning this I tweeted to them unsuccessfully and later sent them an email to ask when they would start measuring influence on Like pages. Their response:
Thanks for your feedback. Connecting Facebook Pages is something we’re already looking in to, but there is no definite timeline for that yet. However, I agree with you that Page integration is the next logical step especially when you think of it from a branding perspective!
This satisfied me for about a minute.
Now, almost five months later, they still haven’t managed to integrate Facebook Like pages and we’re seeing the site integrate more social networks like LinkedIn and FourSquare. [Facepalm] Really?! Hasn’t LinkedIn become spammy enough…? And FourSquare? What kind of clout does one get from posting their location?
“…it’s what you do that defines you.” – Batman Begins
Klout went from claiming to be the authority on online influence, to making their site into more of a social game about increasing your score. While self-acclaimed “social media gurus” work to increase their scores, there is no reason why actual celebrities would connect their personal Facebook profiles and FourSquare accounts… do you think they want the Paparazzi knowing where they are and what they’re doing at all times? Why, then, would they be active on FourSquare at all! Instead of increasing their online influence, adding these types of social networks to the site would only increase their creepy stalkers.
If I worked at Klout, I would be working on integrating Facebook Like pages, and Google+ profiles. If you’re listening, Klout employees, take note… and get to work.
Last weekend Rockstar Games invited me to a private demo of L.A. Noire at the historic Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. As a girl who went 100% on Red Dead Redemption last year, I’ve been seriously looking forward to this game, so there was no way in hell I was going to pass up a private demo!
Since my mother was in town, and I never meet strangers without bringing someone along, I brought her to the demo. We were led to a swanky room with haunting jazz playing, and the words “L.A. Noire” lighting up a big screen TV. After a briefing on the technology and basic information on the game, Tim – the guy showing me the demo – clicked Start. A moment later he paused dramatically to warn us that the video game is rated M. I turned to my mom and whispered “M is for Mature” then sat back to watch the show thinking the worst I’d see is what I’d already seen in previous Rockstar Games titles Red Dead Redemption and the Grand Theft Auto series. Holy shit, was I wrong.
Tim loaded up “The Red Lipstick Murder” and it showed graphic violence of a mysterious man pulling a woman out of a car trunk by her hair, then beating her over the head with some kind of metal object as she screamed and blood spurted from offscreen. It was chilling, but that wasn’t all. After a homicide briefing the next day, Detective Cole Phelps went to investigate the scene of the crime… and lying on the grass was a full-frontal naked female corpse with a hairy private area and the chilling initials “B.D.” (see Black Dahlia) written in red lipstick on her torso.
At this point I felt extremely uncomfortable. I was in a dark room, sitting next to my mother, watching a detailed naked, mutilated female corpse being thoroughly examined on the TV. This certainly wasn’t Pac-Man.
The rest of the demo was great. I got to see how realistic the technology used to capture the actors’ faces really was, and also heard how guns in this game, as they are in the real lives of police officers, are a last resort. It was refreshing, and made the game feel truly mature.
That said, this is a game made for adults. Though Red Dead Redemption was also rated M for Mature, I was consistently running into bratty kids playing it in multiplayer on XBox Live. Red Dead Redemption and the GTA series appeal to adolescent boys because it satisfies their aggressive teen fantasies with murder and crime, but L.A. Noire is a gentleman’s game of intelligence, skill, and patience. While I’m still uncomfortable with the extreme nudity and the idea that someone may eventually hack the game to make a rather disgusting necrophilia scene (see Hot Coffee mod), I’m happy to see how Rockstar Games is growing up with its’ players.
Last night I went to the West Coast premiere of Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods. The film documents the life and career of comic writer Grant Morrison in his own words, with some help from old friends and fellow comic creators. I didn’t go expecting much because I often find indie documentary filmmakers skimp on visuals and sound production, but what I saw really opened my eyes to the wild world of Grant Morrison.
I’ve met Morrison a couple of times. The first time was about a year and a half ago when he was signing at Meltdown Comics in West Hollywood. Chris Rosa, Manager of the store, took me to the front of his line to introduce us since he knew I was looking to interview him for A Comicbook Orange. It was loud and I wasn’t sure he got my name, but we shook hands and talked for a moment. Later I talked to his wife about setting up an interview and got their contact details.
Every time I picked up the phone to call him I got so nervous and sweaty. I called once (maybe twice) and left a message. I didn’t hear back, and that was fine since I was so nervous to talk to him in the first place. When I found out he was going to be at the San Diego Comic-Con this year I tried again. On one extremely busy day I got a text message from his wife suggesting we do an interview at the DC booth at 12pm. We dropped whatever plans we had at that time and went to talk to him. He was a priority. I got so nervous as we were waiting for him to finish his autograph session and I could hardly breathe as he approached me and my camera crew. I could’ve hidden this and put on a professional front… but instead, what did I say? “Sorry, I’m so sweaty right now.” (NO! Why did I say that?!!! To this day I’m still embarrassed by that statement.) In response, he assured me that he was sweaty too. Awww… :)
We then went on to record an amazing interview about his upcoming work on Batman Inc., the extraordinary history of Batman, how he got the idea for Joe the Barbarian, the upcoming film adaptation, and so much more. Unfortunately, we had to cut it down to 1-2 questions to edit it into the short video we were making for Sony. The entire interview was golden, but the uncut footage is still in San Diego with the company I hired and I’m not sure it’ll ever see the light of day. Still, below is the footage we used.
Back to the movie.
The film was absolutely amazing and very inspirational. There were some great moments that made me burst out laughing, thanks to Warren Ellis, Matt Fraction and Frank Quitely, but the really unique elements of the film to me were the way he talked about magic, drugs, and an alien abduction. He opened something up inside of me that I don’t look at very often, the fact that I too did magic when I was younger… and it worked.
I’ve never really been able to explain it, but when I was about 13 years old I tried magic for the first time. I was upset that one of my girl friends started dating the boy I liked, so I cast a spell with a candle for them to break up. I told no one. The next day I found out they broke up the night I cast the spell and I was shocked… and feeling a bit guilty. Sure, maybe it was pure luck… but I tried other spells in my teens and they worked as well. I bought spell books, but didn’t get too involved in magic because I saw modern witches are ridiculous wannabes. My dad still makes fun of me.
Now, I know what you’re wondering… “Isn’t she an Atheist?” Of course, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe there are other things that exist beyond my perception. We humans go through life in four dimensions (3D + time), but what if a fifth or sixth dimension exists? What would a five dimensional being look like to us? What “powers” could they have that we don’t? I remember reading in one of my Physics books that if a human were to travel through a 2D universe, it would look like a mysterious blob that appears, gets bigger, and eventually disappears. What, then, would a higher dimensional being look like (or act like) in our universe? We still have a lot to learn about science, so I don’t pretend to know all… nor do I take on a religion to fill the gaps. We are slowly pulling back the curtain… and when we do, gods will be obsolete.
Morrison also talked about his experimentation with drugs and alcohol as an adult. It was all very interesting, especially since I’ve taken some crazy trips in my youth. This is why I never touch the stuff. Like him, I have lots of wacky stories about it (as well as a story of a possible alien encounter), but maybe I’ll save that for another blog post. Or maybe I’ll just write a comic about it :P
All in all, I highly suggest checking out the film. Even if you don’t know Grant’s work, you will still be thoroughly entertained and inspired by his experiences.
Tonight I finally got around to watching the pilot of Dollhouse – which I’ve been looking forward to for a long time – and was sadly disappointed. Here’s why Dollhouse wasn’t for the win:
- Act 1, Scene 1: The opening scene was weak. Necessary, but weak. It’s important to see some background, but why not start the series with Echo being a doll and getting flashbacks revealing her background? You could then have shown the painful immorality of having to wipe her memories clean in order to make her function adequately. Oh wait, let me guess… saving that for an upcoming episode?
- Characters: Pilot episodes should always leave a viewer feeling connected to the protagonist. Do I care about Echo? Not in the least… her memories are not hers, and once her mind is wiped clean, she has no recollection. Inconsequential.
- Script: Whedon is usually whip-smart when it comes to dialogue, but since the dolls are mindless drones it makes it difficult to toss in pop culture references at all. I miss the Gilmore Girls-esque witty dialogue that was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer… (Rudy informs me that Firefly had its’ moments as well – I, myself,
hateddidn’t appreciate the show).
- The fluff: Five bucks says that FOX told Whedon to sex it up. And action it up. The second scene in the pilot with the motorcycle race and the techno dance party was obviously just there to draw mindless male drones in to watch the show. Fail.
There is a lesson to be learned here… in all pilots, including web series:
- Create engaging characters; characters that viewers can identify with from your first episode.
- Write a script focusing on your best talents; in Whedon’s case, it was comedy.
- Keep it real; don’t force the sexy or the action if completely unnecessary to the plot.
- Leave your audience feeling like they’ve seen a complete story unfold, while teasing them with slices of a larger story arc.
Though I’m disappointed in the pilot, I’ll keep watching and give it a chance. After all, that’s what I did with Enterprise… and it ROCKED by the third season! [Sigh] I just hope I don’t have to wait that long…
And, Joss, if you’re reading this, you’ve written some of my absolute favorite things in the past and I have every confidence you’ll do it again. Go wipe your memory Dollhouse-style, and forget you ever read this silly little blog post ;)