Nobody sympathizes with the problems of a film critic. “Oh really, the movie was bad? Well, woe is you…” is a pretty common refrain, even if the phrasing varies slightly from person to person. (Sometimes the “F”-word is involved.) Lately I find myself with lots to write about but nothing worthy of its own proper article, a problem I really fretted over until reaching the retrospectively obvious solution: a collection of Mini-Blogs. Let’s call them “William’s Woes.” No wait, let’s not. Let’s just call them miniBLOGS.
1. SO DID “LOST” SUCK THIS WEEK OR WHAT?
You’re a great television series, “Lost.” I fell in love with you after a close friend forced me to watch the phenomenal second season premiere, and to thank him I bought the first season on DVD… which I then immediately borrowed and watched it over the course of a weekend. You’ve had your ups and downs, ‘Lost,’ and rewatching you from beginning-to-almost-end this past month really made them clear. Your first four seasons got a little spotty but told a consistently engaging story filled with mystery, corruption, redemption and unexpected twists and turns. Then the fifth season came around and you decided you were a science fiction show, and frankly the shift didn’t play well as I watched it the second time. It’s an about-face from the rest of the series, and ultimately leads nowhere except for the sixth season, in which you decided you were a fantasy series instead, presumably just to screw with us.
The problem is that “Lost: The Science Fiction Series” was just okay, while “Lost: The Fantasy Series” sucks. You told us last season that there was order to the universe, that all of time and space had cohesive rules. Now you’re back to telling us spiritual mumbo jumbo and asking us to take your word that it makes sense. This last episode, “Across the Sea,” told the origin story of Jacob and The Man in Black but didn’t bother to give it any dramatic consequence. We didn’t learn anything about the energy source on the island, we just learned that it’s there, which we already knew. We didn’t learn why Jacob and The Man in Black are incapable of killing each other, just that their “mother” made it so that they can’t. How does one even go about that, exactly? We figured that something happened to make it that way. Did you really need to devote an entire hour to simply not telling us what that thing was?
And it turns out that The Man in Black made that frozen donkey wheel underground, but what does it do? It’s connected to a “mechanism” apparently. That wasn’t even worth telling us. Imagine you’re a kid asking someone with all the answers a direct and significant question. You’re at a field trip to an automobile factory and you ask the guide how the first car was made, and he says, “Well, it’s an interesting story. You see… Somebody whose name I don’t know built it. Cool, huh?”
No, no it’s not. It’s not interesting and it’s certainly not cool. You can argue all you want that “Lost” doesn’t have a history of solving mysteries, but you know what? They shouldn’t pretend that it’s in the cards. It’s like those previews for next week’s “X-Files” that always made it look like Mulder and Scully were going to kiss. They never really did (not in any way that really counts, at least), but they thought it would get us to watch the show and it worked. Twice this season “Lost” has had flashback episodes that gave the writers complete freedom to convey as much information and back story as they wished – “Across the Sea” and the Richard Alpert-centric “Ab Aeterno” – and both episodes were complete cop outs.
I swear, I’m giving this show just a couple more episodes and then I’m calling it quits…
2. AN UPDATE ON 3-D
I’ve ranted about how much 3-D stinks before and I have little to add except for two recent experiences which I found strangely encouraging.
First, at the Thursday midnight screening of Iron Man 2, the film was preceded by a trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, which didn’t look terribly good but was definitely playing in front of the right audience because as soon as the title came up the crowd went nuts, screaming and hollering all over the place. And then a second screen came up that read, “IN 3-D.” And then the hollering stopped and a bunch of people went so far as to go, “Aw…!” These people came to a midnight screening of Iron Man 2 just for the “experience” of being the first to see the film with a crowd of likeminded people, but they didn’t seem interested in the “experience” of 3-D. So that made me happy.
Second, while exiting a local retail establishment I overheard two gentlemen leaving the audio/visual department having seen a 3-D home theater set-up and saying the following, “If I can watch Avatar in 3-D at home, then why should I pay more to see it in 3-D in a theater?” That was gratifying, although he may be underestimating how much a proper 3-D home theater will cost him in the short run. Should the industry have widened the window between new-and-improved movie theater 3-D and the home version? Will movie theaters start to suffer again as soon as 3-D technology starts getting less expensive at home? And if theaters start to suffer, would that mean that Hollywood will start making fewer 3-D films to reduce production costs, in an attempt to ruin the home video market? Ooh… So many possibilities…
3. THERE ARE TRAILERS I REMEMBER
About nine months ago now I lost my cable reception. Oh sure, I know where it is… My roommates took it with them when they moved out. For financial reasons I decided not to shell out an ungodly amount of money all by my lonesome just to watch the same three cable channels I always watch and have since procured almost all of my televised entertainment off of the internet (legally, thank you very much). The added benefit of this development, which I did not originally foresee, was that I almost never see trailers for upcoming films. I’m findinsg myself increasingly less swayed by marketing and walking into movies without as many expectations in my head, silently preparing to sully the experience. I find myself actually surprised from time to time by the events unfolding on-screen.
This also makes the act of seeing a trailer special again, since I’m not constantly deluged by trailers that I have no interest in seeing. But lately there have been three trailers that chanced upon me that made a distinct impression on my brain parts, and I have decided to share them with you.
Christopher Nolan has one hell of a track record, but Inception is pretty much the first time hasn’t been adapting an existing story, and I’ve been very intrigued by what the dark and prestigious director of The Dark Knight and The Prestige could do with a completely blank canvas. It turns out that what he can do is ride that canvas hard and put it back in the stable wet. Most trailers are considered successful if they manage to include a single moment or image from the film that really sticks with the audience. That tire flying into the screen in Twister, for example, or “I see dead people” from The Sixth Sense. But the Inception is quite simply filled with iconic images and moments, from the awe-inspiring dreamscapes to “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.” Looks like Nolan’s followed his own advice. Moreso than any other film in 2010, Inception has the power to really disappoint me, because this trailer makes it look amazing, even if it does look a lot like Satoshi Kon’s Paprika.
GAY BED AND BREAKFAST OF TERROR (Maybe NSFW.)
A movie with this title exists. You could be watching it right now (it’s available on Netflix Instant), and yet you’re not. That doesn’t seem right, does it? The actual trailer looks a little too “intentionally campy” for me (since that almost never works), but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look like the makers of the film took that title and ran with it.
This is more of a teaser, really, but Rubber is a horror film about a tire named Robert that sees a horrifying tire fire and decides to take his revenge on humanity by making their heads explode.
Read that again.
The world needs this movie.
That is all.
What did you think of “Lost” this week?
Do you think the 3-D bubble is really going to burst?
What trailers have you seen and loved recently?
That’s what the Comments section is for!