Sunday, June 13, 2010

When Did You Become So Perfect?

  • Back:
    • So after the bit from L.A., I took a break due to some minor jet lag and a lack of anything to say. What's the opposite of prolific? Whatever that is is what I've been lately.
  • Random Pop Culture:
    • I've been on a non-fiction kick lately, reading-wise, and I've been very slow with anything I pick up. I can't remember the last book that I really flew through. So, having left my Revolutionary War history at home last week, I found myself at the airport with nothing to read. Thanks to the joint wonders of iPhone and Facebook, I put out a call as to what book I should pick up. I ended up with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A lot of hype over the series (and the movie, for that matter). The verdict? The hype is deserved. It's freaking amazing. I couldn't put it down on the plane and, while my schedule in California and since coming back here has kept me from finishing it, I look forward to reading it every day.
    • I think I listed Mad Men as the only current TV show that is nearly perfect, but that probably isn't fair to The United States of Tara. I struggle with the show because it seems on its face like such a vanity project for Toni Collette, but that probably isn't fair to the writing and the other fine actors. The end of this season came together beautifully and the combined artistic efforts in the last five minutes or so of the show were magnificent.
    • Contrast that with Nurse Jackie, which ended its season with a weird avalanche of awful stuff happening to its title character. It was all of her own doing, to be sure, but it left the story arc unfinished, so it will stay as slightly annoying until whenever the next season begins.
    • When I'm back in California later this week and next week (I'll save the LL Cool J jokes for a few days), we're planning to hit L.A. again for a day. I had one hell of a fun time there. Thursday of next week is the World Premiere of The Twlight Saga: Eclipse. Is there any reason why I shouldn't go to the red carpet just to watch the crowd?
  • Revisiting The Classics: The Graduate
    • I have friends that knock me for only watching bad movies, which isn't true. So, while tomorrow will bring a new addition to my Worst of the Worst reviews, I thought I'd go with quick reviews when I watch (or, in this case, rewatch) a great movie. I first saw The Graduate, #7 on AFI's original Top 100 list and #17 on the updated one, around ten years ago, when I was in my early twenties. I don't think I got it then. Watching it today, it was considerably funnier than I remembered. Considerably. A lot of the laughs come from mature jokes, some from physical comedy. When you think of "adult comedies" nowadays, you think of The Hangover, but The Graduate is the epitome of an adult comedy. Beyond the ability to understand the subtleties, one needs patience because of how artistic the film can seem. Director Mike Nichols used unusual camera angles to play foreground/background with actors and scenery. It allowed him to show an actor say something and then change focus to show another respond non-verbally. He used tracking shots and then doubled back on those shots for beautiful parallels from scene to scene. All of these techniques come together in the famous last sequence at the church as Ben goes to stop Elaine's wedding. It's amazing to think that Anne Bancroft is only six years older than Dustin Hoffman, but the makeup people did a fine job and she really does seem twice his age. I have a list of potential places to see in California next week and one of them is Santa Barbara. I wonder if that First Presbyterian Church is actually there.

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