September 25, 2007


Since our FTP server is down I haven't been able to update the index; and because I know everybody's been looking forward to it, here's a direct link to Walter's review of Eastern Promises.

And here's a direct link to a thought-provoking rumination by the great Bryant Frazer on the half-life of Miramax's fraudulent marketing tactics circa the mid-1990s. It made me remember a drunken conversation I once had with Atom Egoyan (I was drunk, he was patient) that marked the first--though certainly not the last--time I heard "Faust" and "Weinstein" mentioned in the same sentence.


Alex Jackson said...


When I heard "the half-life of Miramax's fraudulent marketing tactics circa the mid-1990s" I immediately thought of Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy. Really screwed the pooch on that one.

Seattle Jeff said...

I remember seeing Exotica in the theater back then and feeling totally robbed...damn Miramax!

And to think it's an Egoyan film...I should rerent it.

Bryant Frazer said...

Hey, Bill -- glad you enjoyed that. Another one I remember was Love Serenade, which Miramax promoted in newspaper ads by running a picture of Miranda Otto wearing either a filmy negligee or wrapped in a satin sheet -- hard to tell which. They liked the image so much they used it on the eventual DVD! If you've seen the movie you know how ridiculous it is. It's like they were striving for the kind of marketing that you could slap on any movie, interchangably and with little regard to subject matter, to get butts in seats. (I'm glad we didn't end up seeing Kate Winslet wrapped in a pink sheet, or on her knees in a schoolgirl outfit, in ads promoting Heavenly Creatures, although the Weinsteins' "open letter" newspaper ads — addressed to Anne Perry, the real-life Juliet Hulme, if I'm remembering them right — were a stunt in themselves.)

I'm grateful to mid-1990s Miramax for releasing a lot of really good films — many of them without even demanding a "Harvey's Cut" be performed — but the sheer cynicism of their operation left a bad taste in the mouth. I suppose that's why I'm not in sales.

Bill C said...

Oh, I dunno, Bryant--I kinda like those ideas for Heavenly Creatures posters. Purely selfishly, of course.

Remember that movie Curdled? I recall seeing that poster for the first time from literally across the street and betting a friend that Miramax released it. Although it's not as fraudulent as the abovementioned examples, it's pretty prototypical.

Bryant Frazer said...

Well, let me be clear then — those imagined ads for Heavenly Creatures would feature Kate Winslet's face, but digitally grafted onto some anonymous hot thing's beskirted and/or sheet-wrapped bod. Slightly less alluring, though probably gratifying enough in a pinch.


Never saw Curdled, but was the poster you saw the same design that's on the "Quentin Tarantino" DVD box shows? And, wow, the hits just keep coming — wonder how many people in this country actually think QT directed Switchblade Sisters? Or, ulp, Chungking Express?

Bill C said...

Yes indeedy, one and the same.

There are definitely people who believe QT directed Chungking--or at least produced it. The same people, I imagine, who think Wes Craven directed stuff like They. (For who else? Miramax.)

Justin said...

At least the ads for Sirens weren't deceptive marketing!

Walter_Chaw said...

I had a conversation about Hero a few years ago with a publicist who raved to me about how great a director QT is. The publicist for the movie.

The publicist.

Not just Miramax, didn't they do that to Katie Holmes with the First Daughter poster?

Shrug said...

I bought the QT-festooned DVD of Chungking Express. The cashier stared at it a few moments, exclaimed that she didn't know that Tarantino had made a film she wasn't aware of, scrawled the title on the back of something, and then proceeded to pointedly ignore all of my attempts to tell her that his name was just there for marketing purposes, etc.

It's so much worse when you have to witness it happening in real time. (?)

Bill C said...

Not to give everybody topical whiplash, but did anyone catch the preem of the new "Bionic Woman"?

In a word: atrocious. In two words: really atrocious. Felt like an entire season truncated into 42 minutes for one; was agonizingly stupid at every turn for another.

Thanks to the success of "Battlestar Galactica", I'm sure there're plenty more remakes of bad-'70s TV in the pipeline, but this should lay an H-bomb on the genre.

Seattle Jeff said...

Missed Bionic Woman but am all geared up for a new episode of Mad Men tonight...yes, I take any opportunity to plug that show.

At least I'm not Miramax.

See, tied it in to the topic there.

Bill C said...

"Mad Men"'s pretty awesome.

Pwetz said...

Just wondering... Can we expect a different review of the newly expanded Death Proof?

Jefferson said...

"Bionic Woman" hurt me. Physically hurt me. Didn't even have to use the good arm to do it. Potential? Meet Toilet. Toilet? This here's Potential.

Patrick Pricken said...

I love that "reimagined classic shows" is the new go-to idea. It's as if nobody actually considered BSG's success to be due to good scripts and great actors, in short it simply being a fracking great show. No, it's a re-imagined classic, and *that's* what we need more of.

Benaiah said...

I think you are missing the true linage of The Bionic Woman. This is a Sci-Fi show first, a remak second, which points to NBC hoping to find the next Heroes more than ripping off minor basic cable hits. That said, I forgot how bad most TV is. HBO and a few really stellar shows demonstrate the possibilities of the medium, but the networks still have to please so many idiots that most shows don't try to be too intelligent.

The nadir of Bionic Woman was the little girl seeing the Bionic Woman in action and remarking: "I just thought it was cool that a girl could do that." What a subtle moment, maybe they could jazz it up by flashing "ATTENTION: POSTMODERN SELF-AWARENESS PRESENT" on the bottom of the screen. At least The Office is back tonight.

cw said...

How ‘bout that Hotel Chevalier? Painfully beautiful, if nothing else.

djr said...

I watched The Corpse Bride the other night, and I feel compelled to voice my bewilderment over Walter's 4 star review. None of the songs are remotely catchy, its most obvious themes have been covered by Burton time and again in his past movies, and dismayingly, they seem to be laced with the same conservative values that marred his Chocolate Factory remake. Oy vey, Hollywood has really corrupted the man. I hope he gets back on his feet with the cannibal musical.

Seattle Jeff said...

Walter -

Don't know your feelings on the Rockies...I was pulling for them, but that guy did not touch home plate.

Walter_Chaw said...

It's true. Dude dropped the ball anyway, though. I had season tix the first couple of years - been disillusioned with management the last five or so, but hey ho, before they jettison all the free agents after this year, now's our chance, fifteen years into the league, to make it to the second round! With the Broncos sucking ass, they're really the only show in town. . . well, until the Avs start up this week.

Seattle Jeff said...

Good luck with those MLB playoffs.

Regardless of the rest of the Denver sports scene, at least you don't have an NBA team getting hijacked by an Okie.

Ryan said...

Has anyone seen or got any thoughts on Trade?

Rick said...

Matt Holliday for MVP?

Has anyone seen who is appearing in the Fox MLB playoff advertisements? Dane Cook. Throughout the spots he rattles off player names and talks about how great October is, even though I have seen interviews where he admits to knowing nothing about sports. This all but proves his pandering to the frat boy audience, and leads me to believe that behind the scenes he probably has more in common with Rupert Pupkin than undergrads at Arizona State.

Benaiah said...

I think the Rockies are the favorite to come out of the NL at this point. The playoffs are something of a crapshoot though (see St Louis's bizarre win last year), so who knows what will happen.

I just saw Eastern Promises again and it is just amazing. The ending works so much better when you understand that it is the end of the movie. Nikoli pauses for a second on the stairs as he is walking away, as though he is considering returning, and then the fantastic shot of him leaving the motorcycle (representative of her, his village, the past?) behind to join Kiril. Finally, we see the whole family, including Christine, clearly out of London in a place where people do sing and Nikoli sits in misery on the throne. Just a great film from start to finish.

I wonder if anyone has thoughts on that freaky scene with the long haired blonde guy serenading the old ladies birthday party with a traditional Russian song? I can't quite wrap my head around it.

EP is the masterpiece crime movie that the The Departed was supposed to be, but I bet it makes no where near as much noise come Oscar time.

Anonymous said...

Just saw Eastern Promises myself, and it made me think of a much better version of the Departed as well. We are so lucky to have Cronenberg around. I can't wait to see it again.

Jefferson said...

And because Cronenberg is such a treasure, they're remaking some of his best horror work.

We're so blessed.

Anonymous said...

Damnit jefferson, you just ruined my day.

theoldboy said...

The Brood is some of Cronie's best? News to me. I didn't necessarily dislike it, I mean, how could I with that great tasty fetus climax, but a lot of it seemed like a bland mulleted Canadian playing detective and Oliver Reed whispering about something or another.

Alex Jackson said...


I wasn't nearly as impressed as Eastern Promises and this talk of it being the "good version of The Departed" makes me wanna gag. Both films seek out to deconstruct the glamour of the gangster lifestyle, but The Departed was a lot funnier, stylish, and dare I say sophisticated. In The Departed violence is loud, abrupt, and meaningless. In Eastern Promises it's grunt work-- cutting off fingers. The Departed is absurd where Eastern Promises is austere.

I found Eastern Promises not just ugly, but moralistically ugly. In order for Nikoli to do what he does he has to be already "dead" or "in the zone". It seemingly didn't occur to Cronenberg that he may find fulfillment and purpose in the gangster role (or that any one would).

I guess that I'm more ambivalent than most to the film, but I think I liked it. I was involved with from beginning to end, it was a good night at the movies, and I really dug on Viggo Mortessen's pefromance. I can't help but seeing as an above average genre picture with a great central performance, and not as a great work of Art. I just don't sense that I would be rewarded with repeated viewings.

Rick said...

As far as crime dramas go, We Own the Night is far superior to Eastern Promises and The Departed. Of course I am joking, but I will hand it to him, James Gray is a true master of mediocrity.

Speaking of apathetic experiences, so many intelligent people (even on this board) are Family Guy apologists, but will that still hold after this season? The first two episodes have been indefensible, the execution is beyond lazy, what is there to like? A reference to Event Horizon? Pointless. And reducing Danny Elfman to a one-note composer is inaccurate and shows that most of his references are regarding things he does not fully understand.

Alex Jackson said...

So anybody hear the bad news?

There won't be any "Deadwood" movies. The show is done for.

Adam N said...

Actually, We Own The Night is better than Eastern Promises and The Departed. In the case of the latter, that isn't saying much, but still...

Seattle Jeff said...

An off-topic vent -

One thing that pisses me off is when a comedy comes out with "extra footage" or an "unrated version" i.e. the recent Knocked Up release.

Comedy is about timing. There's usually a "tightness" about the execution.

I need a LONGER Judd Apatow movie? I don't think so. I'd be happier had they cut half of it out.

The only thing to justify the "unrated" tag that would have made me happy would have been if Heigl was now topless in the during the sex scenes.

Seattle Jeff said...

uh, the context of that rant was stuff "released on DVD"..

left out that I was talking about DVD's up there.

I'm a genius.

Dave Gibson said...

"The Departed" was fitfully entertaining junk, but Scorsese treads immodestly into self-parody and I can't get past that horrendous Nicholson performance--no wonder it won Best Picture. "Eastern Promises" seems like minor Cronenberg to me, but as a point of comparison it's a significantly more interesting dip into a criminal sub-culture than Scorsese's standard cops and robbers stuff--but, I can't help but feel that the big revelation in "EP" is a rare instance of good old Dave Deprave has tacked something on--I would argue that the final scene of Viggo alone suggests that Nikolai is contemplating the continuance of his adopted criminal persona, which seems to me that Cronenberg has considered the dichotomy--it's not underlined in bold, yellow highlighter as it is in "The Departed" but it's there if you want it seems to me that Scorsese is a "good and evil" guy--and ultimately wants us to like his wacky gangsters--and Cronie has no interest in these sorts of constructs--just one of the reasons why I'd heartily agree that you will see no sign of Dave and Viggo at Oscar time.

Walter_Chaw said...

Would love to hear a cogent defense of WE OWN THE NIGHT. Struck me as a middling, frightened, smallish picture with a wonderful chase sequence (FRENCH CONNECTION tingle!) and little else except Eva Mendes rubbing her crotch. Not to say that's not great. . . but to say that what's the film really talking about? Isn't it a little TEAM AMERICA, fuck yeah?

Anyway - always interested in your take, Adam - hope you'll spare a sentence or two to set me straight.

Alex Jackson said...

I understand what you mean by Scorsese wanting us to "like his wacky gangsters", but still I can't think of a death in recent years that had less pathos than Leonardo DiCaprio's in The Departed.

Self-parodying? Well, that kind of oversimplifies it. Scorsese has spent the last sixteen to seventeen years exploiting/trying to live down Goodfellas, so I can't imagine him giving a sincere gangster film.

Good and evil? Cronenberg has no use for the constructs? Are you saying that he is a completely amoral filmmaker or do you mean he is unwilling to label his characters exclusively with one or the other? But anyway, I think the only purely "evil" character in The Departed is the Nicholson character and I didn't feel that his counterpart in Eastern Promises (the restaurant owner, Kirill's father) was really that much more complex.

The point of The Departed as I understood it is that "good" yields no real fruit other than there is a greater distribution of wealth among the underlings and you're likely to live longer.

It frustrates me that Cronenberg, with his "gangster with a heart of gold" where moral victories still amount for something, is being praised for working on a rudimentary level that Scorsese has long since outgrown.

Adam N said...

Hey Walter,

I'd love to mount a cogent, SPOILER-filled defense of We Own the Night. I think it's instructive to begin where you end. What is the film "talking about?" (quotes added simply to denote your phrasing). Well, I think it's simply telling a story and developing its characters across its length. One of the things I like about Gray's films (or at least about this film and The Yards; I didn't much care for Little Odessa) is their foregrounding of specifically drawn characters against seemingly generic situations or millieus, and the way that the actors' performance -- gestures, postures, line readings, etc -- animate the material far beyond the rote. Nobody in his films is just a type -- or at least they're not played that way. I love the bit in The Yards where James Caan's paterfamilias mutters "clean plate club" to his now-adult kids). In We Own the Night, the crotch-rubbing Ms. Mendes creates a character who is sympathetic and palpably present in all her scenes, so that her slow marginalization within the story is felt, gradually and then -- for me -- abruptly and painfully. Where most genre pieces feature girlfriend characters who are sketched as afterthoughts, here Amada is rather tragically -- and unfairly, and inexorably -- reduced to an afterthought, and the film knows it (she's framed further and further from the action as it progresses). This is part of what the film is "talking about," I think: that the kind of fidelity Bobby ultimately demonstrates during his "conversion" has a very real price, and that the brotherhood he's joining is a group riddled with compromises and disappointments. I'm sorry, but I don't understand at all how the ending = "America (or, more specifically, NYPD), fuck yeah!" -- that last exchange is shot through with sadness and resignation -- as well as love and loyalty -- and it's no mistake we don't get to hear the promised speech.
More generally: I found Gray's direction utterly confident as opposed to "frightened," and the film compelling, not middling (never middling -- it moves so elegantly). Gray's images are beautifully done(the ever-tightening close-up on Bobby before the undercover op, the startling, shiver-quick assassination attempt, the sly, inverted Godfather reference that punctuates Bobby's fight with Amada. His expressionistic streak (as in the nightmarish crack-house scene and subsequent, wholly amazing shoot-out) serves him well, too. Is he an unpretentious filmmaker? Um, no, not really. But rather than starting out with a capital-C Concept (as Andrew Dominik did in Jesse James, which I disliked, a lot while understanding perfectly), and then illustrating it at length (again, see Jesse James' diagrammatic allegory) Gray starts with a story. And then -- amazingly. in a movie culture that prizes intense, tail-swallowing self-reflexivity -- he goes about telling it. That's it, and good for him. And it doesn't require much critical projection to excavate the ensuing virtues. I don't think We Own the Night is a text ripe for the plucking, or a mirror on the way we live, or a statement on filmmaking; I think it's an exceedingly well-made, well-acted piece that makes consistently powerful and correct-seeming choices in its presentation. (Another example: the unexpected photo montage at the beginning, establishing one kind of "reality," melting into the slo-mo Blondie-scored "movie reality," neatly and productively delineating the two). It is not a masterpiece; there are flaws, there are moments that don't work, there are lines of dialogue that thud, etc. But there is also some astonishing filmmaking here, some sharply etched performances (compare Wahlberg here to his Departed Cartoon), some never-seen-that-before staging (yes, the car chase is amazing) and a ballsiness towards countenancing big, open, serious, masculine emotions that I find refreshing. I don't think its plotting (and stray cliches) should give anyone any more pause than the contrivances and genre capitulations spackling Eastern Promises together (to cite just one example of a film where lapses are ascribed to part of a master filmmakers' design.)

Well, I just typed a lot. I'd surely like anyone else who has seen the film to enter into the discussion.

Walter_Chaw said...

That's an interesting take, Adam - thanks for taking the time to do it.

I'll let a full review do my responding. Bill'd kill me if I blew my wad here instead of "officially" - but I did want to say that I had forgotten the use of the two Blondie songs in the film (super-cool) - so thanks for that - and that I hated the ending a lot. A lot. Not the epilogue, mind, the bit in the grass field because jesus do I hate movies that end this way.

I don't know if I'm really able to look at movies about loss set in NY anymore without thinking about 9/11 and its response. Maybe I'll get over it in the twenny-tens - these cinematic "ghosts" as you call them, seem to go in decade-ish cycles. And if the picture is about sudden home-incursion (and it is) and its fallout (and it is) and the call to action that said violation engenders (etc) and the resultant uniforms and vows of reprisals and hunts for baddies in impossible terrain and "real masculine emotions" as you call them, then I'd say that this film is actually "about" a lot more than you concede to. I don't know if it's as intentional as Cronenberg's or Dominik's pictures - I'd offer that it's probably not - but I tell you the truth that We Own the Night reminds me most this holiday season of Into the Wild - except that Penn's flick has something to say about the "real price" of dropping "out" as it were - where I thought that this film abandons its terrific performances by putting too much faith in its genre stricture. The final grace note is breathtaking, I give you that, as powerful a moment as any this year. But following a rah-rah, Old Testament resolution? Shit all over that.

Moments of great filmmaking? No question. Super performances? Yep. But more than just the "stray" cliche? I would say so. I guess I'd offer that I'm in the camp where genre contrivances are seen as such (Cronenberg's flicks, Jesse James, Copland, on and on - even 28 Weeks Later from this year) and used with some disdain and willful artifice; instead of patronized somehow through the strict adherence to them (?).

Why bother genre at all if it's a character piece? Look at the '70s Paranoia Noirs. Fat City, Chinatown, Night Moves - even late stuff like Prince of the City, right? Deep respect for genre, deep respect for character. We Own... feels like an '80s picture repurposed with some '70s performances - even the period setting suggests that it's so. It's like Seymour Hirsch writing a speech for Dubya - I like the words, I just don't understand them carried along in this vehicle.

O'JohnLandis said...


I'm a little bit uncomfortable with the idea that there's such a thing as a "'70s performance." No matter the level of heresy involved in thinking, as I do, that the American '70s are a bit overrated, I highly doubt that the 1980s came around and everyone forgot how to act. But I haven't seen We Own the Night, so I can't really comment on the argument at hand.

There is one thing on which I can comment, though:

I saw a Celebrity Poker Showdown yesterday and Jenna Fischer was one of the celebrities. She was wearing a hoodie with "Beesly" printed on the back. If there is a cuter thing in recorded history, I'm unaware of it.

Bill C said...

Good Jesus, I hope that reruns. Though I wonder if it could possibly be more adorable than her singing the "la la" part of "Rainbow Connection" last year on "The Office".

Jefferson said...

She's an impending single now, Bill.

Bill C said...

*Sigh* I know. Dare to dream.

Seattle Jeff said...

OK here's some cool Walter/Bill synergy (I know I'mnot using that word right...)

Jenna Fischer = Colorado Rockies (scroll dwon)

Patrick Pricken said...

So, I'm from Germany and have never seen the US Office. Maybe you can help me out. From the link:

"What? Jenna Fischer? Wearing lingerie? With that body?"

What about her body? I'm looking at the picture and she doesn't seem to be disfigured. She's just not anorexic. Or am I missing something?

Rick said...

I prefer seeing Jenna Fischer over the other filmfreak favorite, Naomi Watts. I guess overly thin can be slightly off-putting.

Bill C said...

I think it's just a case of bad syntax on their part, Patrick. You can only expect so much from an article comparing women to sports teams.

dennis said...

Which Dark Water do you all think is superior, the Nakata original or the Salles remake? I watched the latter tonight, and it's difficult for me to decide, given that I saw the former a few years ago. They're both really good, of course.

Patrick Pricken said...

(Long post to follow)

Great Review of Heroes. I initially fell in love with the series, only to fall out of it more and more as the series progressed, and after the season finale, I had no desire to revisit the universe in s2.

And lets not forget the awful, awful final confrontation with Sylar, the superhero fight we were waiting for and left wanting.

It's almost like Lost in the way they hedge their bets, and the "resolution" of the season is no reasolution at all. When you have such a central conflict – New York explodes –, having it explode without actually sacrificing anything, nor accomplishing anything in the process, is a circular plot you can use for an episode, but not for the whole season. To say nothing of the other two plots: "Save the cheerleader, save the world" – why? And Sylar, the serial Hero who also does not get stopped, only reduced in threat by poor storytelling.

To me, the biggest flaw of the series was its reliance on fate as a really strict mistress. In the world of heroes, everything has already happened and can be foreseen and foretold. Peter does explode, just as the story said. There is no indication that the Heroes of its title actually made a change and that the dystopian future we visited will not come about. But if everything is already set in stone, what's the point in watching them struggle. The fictional qualities – that the heroes will come through in the end – are brought to the forefront there, and suspension of disbelief became impossible for me.

Which wouldn't be so bad if the show had other strengths in its storytelling or characters. But all they have are a few good and many mediocre performers and a pedestrian style. And a dark sun that is ominous, yet at the same time possibly without significance.

In last week's "Definitely not the Opera" ( they interviewed the Heroes creator. Not only is he not a fan of comic books (who would've thunk?), but he actually refers to Heroes as a series dealing with the current climate of complex issues:

»I think all of us feel that something is vibrating on a very dangerous level, between global warming and terrorism and diminishing natural ressources, these things seem to be heading towards something calamitous. So I started to think about trying to do a show that dealt with some of the larger issues.«

And that produced Heroes? How?

»I realized that the average hero of a television show – a cop, or a lawyer – was just not gonna be quite big enough to be able to deal with the scale of some of the issues I wanted to deal with and it led me to the idea of superpowers.«

Yes. All those large issues addressed in Heroes, like, er, do Vegas crime bosses work in hotel kitchens? Or something.

Come to think of it, I've actually become a detractor of the show.

Jefferson said...

My favorite part of the "Heroes" season finale (spoiler? it aired eight months ago ...) was how super-strong, super-fast, telekinesis-empowered Sylar allowed his adversary to walk right up to him, stand there in full view for five seconds, and then stab him in the gut. That's a villain who plays by the rules.

Re: Weinstein and Control, New York Times reports that Weinstein Co. bought both Control and a the band biopic Joy Division, so it could release Control this week and Joy Division, like, maybe never.

Love Gorilla said...

I think what sticks out about Heroes - what makes it seem worse than all of the other garbage on TV, even though it isn't - is that it had real potential. It wasn't really about anything when it begun, but it had some really exciting ideas, it had a lot going for it, and it hit its peak with the failed-rape-accidental-murder that had our cheerleader waking up on the slab, and quickly went downhill. I think Ian is much too easy on the show, just as I think he's much too easy on Prison Break, but it's still a good read. Ian, have you see all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You'd find that a great deal of the goings-on in Heroes is lifted directly from there - a show that was able to deal with big themes in a way that was exciting, effective and interesting - which Heroes often emulates, but never succeeds at doing well.

Regardless, Tim Kring is a fucking moron. I should have been surprised to find out that he's also responsible for stillbirth Crossing Jordan, but there you go -everything he directs now is atrocious, complete with awful predictable scripting, no sense of pace, terrible communication with actors, and no sense of peril, pathos, etc etc. To think that Heroes still rates so highly, compared to the mediocre ratings The Wire gets - fucking hell. The same fucktards who enjoy Heroes would turn their noses up at Buffy, and most likely at most of HBO's fantastic programming. Angers me to my soul, it does.

Ian Pugh said...

To be honest, Joss Whedon and I don't really hang. "Buffy", "Firefly" and Serenity strike me as too self-consciously clever for their own good, and whenever he complains about his script treatments being ground through the Hollywood machine--which I don't doubt he has a right to complain about--he comes across as unforgivably whiny and self-important. To be fair, though, I would like to give "Buffy" a closer, more in-depth look.

"Heroes" is scared of alienating anyone with anything too big and scary, pure and simple; the series rather foolishly assumes that you'll automatically equate its world with real life, and therefore finds it rude to remind you of actual real-world strife.

Walter_Chaw said...

A thread that includes Dark Water and "Buffy" and Pam-from-the-Office? Wowzers.

I like the remake better.

I love "Hush".

and Pam is The Rockies.

Thanks for choosing this place to hang, folks.

O'JohnLandis said...

I more or less devoured the first four seasons of Buffy. The first three are very fun and quite clever (not just in jokes, but in storytelling) and the fourth has Hush, which is reason enough to watch the first four seasons, just to get the full experience in context. When The X Files was good, it was mostly because the monster-of-the-week episodes were good. But when it comes to season-long or series-long stories, Buffy demolishes The X Files.

As for Heroes, I only just started it, but I'm already pretty sure it's not my thing. I see absolutely nothing wrong with someone who dislikes comics making a superhero story. In fact, devotion to comics seems to ruin more adaptations than it helps. The bigger problem though, is the American desire to have television shows run for many years. I'll defend the first two seasons of 24 to anyone, but the show simply should have ended there, before it made a fool of itself trying to stick around for another five years.

Some day, a really brave person will intentionally end a season of a television show after an episode or two, and it will be the big evolutionary step in long-form storytelling.

The potential of modern television is remarkable from a storytelling perspective. I was a late US Office convert, but I've now seen every episode, and the second season is a stunning accomplishment. They somehow found a way to make the best drama on television one of the funniest shows on television. (Or is it the other way around?) Jim and Pam obviously own the show, and if you're a heterosexual male and haven't fallen in love with Pam, the fictional character, pretty much fuck off, ok? But it's the Michael-Jan relationship that really kicks you in the balls, because regardless of his amazing immaturity, Michael's probably the most sincere person Jan knows.

There is no way to accomplish in a film what the second season of The Office accomplishes. And despite the many ways in which filmmaking is still better art, long-form storytelling is the trump that TV is holding, and will eventually use, so long as reality shows don't ruin everything.

Bill C said...

Do you still check your Hotmail account, John? E-mailed you a couple of weeks ago about something and never heard back.

Love Gorilla said...

"Hush" is fantastic, but for me, it's "The Body". Unbelievable.

Seattle Jeff said...

I guess I'm evil...In regards to The Office...just as I hated Tim and Dawn ever getting together in the Brit version, it nauseates me that Jim and Pam are together.

I just hope one of them gets their hearts broken in some irreparable fashion.

The crushing of souls (along with hopes and dreams) is so much more interesting then happiness kissing you on the cheek in the break room.

Bill C said...

"The Body" is just phenomenal, but it strikes me philosophically--there's very little dialogue in it, no?--as basically a reconfiguration of "Hush." Anybody reading the "Buffy" 'Season 8' comic? I'm curious about it, but for some reason I don't really find straight-up, unfiltered Whedon all that enticing.

Patrick Pricken said...

While I like "Hush" as much as the next guy, I was always partial to "Restless" as the best episode in season 4 (and the series, perhaps). If it had only had the Gentlemen as monster of the week, it would have been perfect...

raphael said...

No love for Angel, the spin off who was as bleak as the mother series?

Being a huge Whedon fan, i love Buffy as much as possible but i've always had a particular preference for Angel´s central tenets that evil is never totally defeatable and must be fought one battle at a time and that the search for redemption is the stuff that heroes are made of.

The final season,with the literal devil´s pact of moving into Wolfram and Hart and the subsequent death of one of the main characters(something every character ends up sharing the responsibility of)is as emotionally wrenching as serial TV gets.

Love Gorilla said...

Bill, the Buffy Season 8 comic is actually really good - I was going to hold off and try the TPBs, but I borrowed the first two singles off a friend and was hooked. It doesn't feel like unfiltered Joss, if feels like a natural follow on from the show, but without any kind of budgetary limitations or studio interference, and with some time to boil over what should happen next - subsequently it's much better than Season 7 was, and a lot of it is being penned by other writers. The current story arc (three arcs into the "Season") centers around Faith, and it breaks your heart.

I also share the love for Angel, though I think nothing topped their nutty, fascinating Season 4 arc, with the birth of Jasmine. Or the gender-violence episode "Billy". To me, Angel never quite hit the highs of Buffy; its "adult turn" felt a bit closer to Charmed than I would have liked, but it certainly hit a few out of the park.

O'JohnLandis said...

The Body may well be great. As soon as I get to it, I'll let you know. After finishing the first four seasons, I waited almost a year to start the fifth, and I've only watched two episodes.

And Jeff: I can't fathom deriving a perverse pleasure in the crushing of Pam Beesly's soul, but I especially don't understand why you think universal misery=good fiction and a little happiness=bad fiction. (You want a show in which souls are constantly crushed? It's called Grey's Anatomy. And good luck to you both.)

Seattle Jeff said...


It doesn't have to be Pam's soul, I'd settle for Jim's.

I guess I think like an author.(Fiction writing is one of my hobbies)

Vonnegut once talked about how you get your characters together and are just mean to them. Todd Solondz would probably agree with that.

Of course I prefer a context of realism, not melodrama.

But thanks for the Grey's Anatomy tip anyway. I've never seen that show, I'll have to check it out.

Bill C said...

It's a cookbook!!! (Seriously, Jeff, don't watch "Grey's Anatomy". Imagine dramatic re-enactments of Oprah interviews drizzled in skeezy jokes about the clap.)

Rick said...

I believe that Todd Solondz usually denies being directly mean to his characters. It seems that he views himself as extremely empathetic, though self-conscious spoofing of characters throughout Palindromes and Storytelling seem to prove otherwise.

Am I the only one who actually does not mind the direction of the Jim-Pam dynamic? I like the idea that they keep most of the relationship off-camera, leaving the viewer to only see brief, spontaneous moments of caring between the two (It is neither overblown nor distracting). I suppose that the morbid Dwight-Cat situation will counterbalance the Jim-Pam relationship for the more jaded of Office fans.

Seattle Jeff said...

Yeah, Solondz is sensitive to that accusation for some reason. Maybe that was a bad example.

But we all know that there will be an inevitable problem in the Jim/Pam relationship right?

O'JohnLandis said...

Jim and Pam are so perfect for each other, both in the world of the fiction AND as the best representatives (along with Toby) of actual human beings in the actual world, that keeping them apart for even one more episode would have strained the credibility of the show far more than Jan's boobs or a drive into a lake could ever manage. I hope convention doesn't conspire to keep them apart, but you're probably right that it will.

Either way, Grey's Anatomy was a joke. I have seen every episode due to an embarrassing female issue, and it's a molten, meta-disaster. It's a soap opera vaguely about medicine without even a hint of self-awareness. It is, however, very funny.

Si said...

Have enjoyed reading all your comments, would just like to make a few points of my own.

I've never had the pleasure of watching the US Office (it only gets screened on cable over here in the UK) - however, as a fan of Ricky Gervais's comedies, I really should be making more of an effort to watch it. Especially after the comments that I've heard from some of you about it. Also, I've liked Steve Carell in everything I've seen him in, and Jenna Fischer's very appealing too. Yes, I didn't mind Blades Of Glory... there's my guilty secret for the day.


Actually, maybe that's not my only one. Seattle_Jeff... well, I've found another person (Travis being the only other one) who hated the ending of the UK Office, with Tim and Dawn actually getting together. I've always been very defensive of it, partly because the show ends at that point, so you don't know how their relationship will be. It's left ambiguous. That, and although David Brent has found a girl who liked him, his future's also left ambiguous in the way that you don't know where he'll be next, or where he's going to take things with this girl. As for Gareth, well, he's still who he is. It was a difficult show to end, but I genuinely think Gervais and Stephen Merchant found the perfect way of ending it. By show's end, David Brent was no longer the typical a**hole, just someone who fought so hard for respect and attention that he never realised he was alienating his co-workers.

I look forward to see how Gervais and Merchant will end Extras... chances are, considering how smug the character of Greg is, viewers will be chanting for his comeuppance this Christmas. He'll have to get it in a dramatically plausible way, though.

Finally, Bill... for the record, I really enjoyed Black Book. One of the few occasions I actually agreed with Berardinelli (those are rare). Carice van Houten's one heck of a find, too - although I don't believe she will now be the next Bond girl.

PS Ever thought of reviewing 36? (The original French version, not the upcoming remake.)

Seattle Jeff said...

My feelings could be rooted in the fact that I worked for a place for a number of years that was exactly like Dunder-Miflin (Graybar Electric)...the difference was that managers had no desire to be likable.

So, Tim deciding to stay in the Brit office deserved tragedy at the end of Season 2.

Pam and Jim finding happiness in an place like that?

It could be my personal experience has left me so jaded that I revel in anything on The Office that coincides with my negative feelings and view that as "real".

Pam and Jim together is fine...I just fear a "Sam-Diane" and "Ross-Rachel" kind of yo-yo plot.

"Grey's Anatomy"...I could spend an hour with Kathryn Heigl...but I think any pleasure gained would be cancelled out by an hour with Sandra Oh.

Justin said...

Am I reading that right up top--O'Landis is a contributor now? This will be awesome.

Bill C said...

Was gonna wait for O'John himself to tell you but the cat's obviously out of the bag. He'll be a guest blogger here, and I myself can't wait to read his first post.