Monday, September 20, 2010

Boardwalk Empire and Pilots

     Is HBO gonna take its title back from showtime as the king of cable TV drama? Well its too early to tell yet, but the pilot of Boardwalk Empire is a step in the right direction. It lays it groundwork nicely for a period crime drama, characters begin to develop, we get a glimpse into their motivations and weakness's. The Buscemi character's soft spot for babies echo's Tony Soprano's soft spot for animals; it gives the character a sympathetic side that helps the audience to identify with him and ultimately root for him despite his villainous profession. The Pitt character establishes himself, rather heavy handedly, as the loose cannon whose filled with self hate, and capable of anything. These two characters have a great potential to constantly butt heads and create remarkable drama as the series unfolds.
      Sadly the pilot episode was not a good episode, it was a bit slow, and a great deal to flashy. However this perhaps is the best endorsement for the show. I am hard pressed to think of a great show that had a great pilot. The Sopranos pilot was terrible, when Carmella came outside with the assault rifle she was a completely different character than the show went on to portray. In Seinfeld, Kramer did none of the slapstick, and came off more as a Steven Wright type of character that what he developed into. Don't even get me started on the first episode of The Simpsons. Perhaps the recipe for a great show includes a terrible pilot; but this can be a problem, cause it stand to reason a terrible show will have a terrible pilot as well. As far as Boardwalk Empire goes, only time will tell.

Can anyone think of a great pilot that stands out as great in comparison to the series?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Fourth Kind and The Things People Believe

     The Fourth Kind comes close to creating a new genre, the dramatization of a mocumentry using split footage; but wait, did we not just come full circle to just another stylize piece of overhyped celluloid crap? Being a pathological cynic I never remotely entertained the idea that this film is evidence of extra-terrestrial contact, surely that would have made it onto to the Daily Show or at the very least the New York Times science section. I did however find myself googling the story during the closing credits to find how much fact it was base on, sadly it was none at all, not even folklore. Plenty of excellent films were made by taking enormous liberties with vaguely “real” accounts of supernatural activity, The Exorcist, Fire in the Sky, and The Amityville Horror to name just a few (though I suppose Exorcist is the only one that falls into the “excellent” category). The passive proclamation of “based on actual events” adds to these films, suspends the disbelief just that much further, makes the story that much more enjoyable. The heavy handed declaration that The Fourth Kind was based in fact did just the opposite; it condescended me and gave me a distaste for a film I would have otherwise been able to appreciate more for its unique format.
     Olatunde Osunsanmi's self congratulation for accurately representing events fabricated by himself is a discourse better suited for group therapy in an asylum than the medium of film. The narcissism alone is enough to turn you off from this film; plenty of directors have done a better job with out mentioning it at all, let alone in the context of the film itself. Blow told the story of George Jung quite accurately and Demme didn't get on screen at the beginning and end to tell us what a great job he did. Furthermore, Depp adopted the speech patterns and mannerisms of Jung while it seems that Milla Jovovich never even met “the real” Abby Tyler even though it stands to reason that they were on the same set.
     I wouldn't say that The Fourth Kind would have been a great movie if it wasn't for the insulting manner in which it was presented, but it would have been a better movie; I would have better appreciated the juxtaposition of the fake real footage and the fake fake footage as an attempt at postmodern reflectivity than an attempt to dupe the movie going public.