Monday, March 16, 2009

Christian Bale is Kermitt the Frog. Mind = Blown.

You don't believe it? Check it out yourself.

Kermitt is so awesome he is actually fucking Batman. With a temper.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Watchmen: the review

I am really reluctant to review Watchmen. For starters, I don't like the book; I worship it. It is one of my favorite novels of all time, which makes any adaptation struggle against a very, very high standard. The only movie that had to climb a mountain this big to convince me before was The Lord of The Rings, in fact; and as much as I appreciate Tolkien's work, I don't know if I have obsessed as much with the themes of his novel.

It is not that LOTR is a "shallow" novel, by any means (and any victim of catholic school will probably be able to point out how deeply religious and theological the book is), but Middle Earth was for a long time a place were I slayed Orcs and Trolls with my buddies on a RPG setting. Watchmen, I read it later, and I was already a uptight, snobbish intellectual when I got a hold of the book. My worship is equally strong, but it is far brainier. Not a good thing.

Anyway, back to the movie. The test for Watchmen was if it would get the same overwhelming feeling that I got in LOTR when I realized that Peter Jackson had been on my brain and made the movie I always have dreamt about. The Fellowship of the Ring was pitch-perfect in looks and tone; it was exactly what I had in mind when reading the book. It made the book hard to read after the fact, as the images are so fully realized on the screen. With Watchmen... not so much.

Before watching the movie I would have said that it was impossible to cram the comic into a 2h 40 min script; it just had too much detail. Visually, however, I believed that making a good movie was a given, as you had the mother of all storyboards as starting point, and a pretty clearly defined tone and grittiness in the plot and visuals. Something like Blade Runner-meets-Dick Tracy; a Fifth Element without flying cars and crazy camera movements.

Well, Watchmen does the hard part right, with an excellent, brooding, layered script with all the right cuts and changes, but totally, utterly, massively fucks up the easy side, with Zack Snyder fucking up the visual style something fierce. We got what could be described as Michael Bay-meets-Batman; a garish, overshot, wildly exaggerated style that overuses slow mo and the glossy, plastic-fab look of blatant CGI "upgrading" to highly distracting levels. To top things of, the movie has what is probably the worst sex scene seen in a Hollywood movie since Showgirls and the fierce swimming pool of hair splashing; a scene that has ruined one of the best songs ever for future generations.

We end up with a really odd movie. The themes are there. The script is wonderful, and noting the reactions of many critics that have read the book (Roger Ebert, giving it four stars), it really gets the point accross. In addition, you get the feeling that the extended edition of the movie will be even better, as some of the things cut out (Roscharch's backstory, for instance) would get back in. The overall "feel" of the movie, however, is completely off, in part of the annoying visual flourish, in part because it should not really be sold as an action movie at all. Watchmen, the book, essentially has only three very, very short "action" sequences.

In terms of nitpicking, there is plenty; most of it having to do with minor changes to characters that have some influence in how to interpret the themes of the movie and book. For instance, Rorschach is much more of a blatant fascist in the book than it is in the movie; he is not really a bad ass, but a maniac. Veidt is not such an asshole in the book, either; he is more suave and subtle. Sally / Silk Specter is much more of a mess in the book. Nite Owl, the Comedian and Manhattan, however, are all spot on.

To tell the truth, I could be riffing on the whole intellectual-philosophical thing behind the book and movie for hours, so I will spare you of that... for now. I do answer questions and requests. If someone is really masochistic, please go read my upcoming post in my other blog (in Spanish) for all the PolSci nerdiness.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Watchmen: Alan Moore speaks!

Alan Moore is a legend. He is also reclusive, antisocial and batshit insane. So when he concedes a long, long interview to Wired, you all must read it, and worship the master.

This dude wrote V for Vendetta, Watchmen, the Swamp Thing, From Hell and a ton of cool stuff. He is not just a nerd-god, he is a hell of a writer. No one yet* has been able to translate his work into film well, so do yourself a favor and grab one of his books and enjoy it.

*No, I haven't seen Watchmen yet. Should I go to a midnight showing? Dilemma. In any case, I still believe it is an impossible film; the only way to do it justice (and I am not sure it would work either) would be a 12-episode, 12-hour miniseries.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"I am become death, the destroyer of shows"

I am Shiva, destroyer of shows. I am become death. As soon as writing a post on the criminally underrated "Life on Mars" (US version) crossed my mind, ABC immediately nuked it. Obliterated it. Vaporized it. Eviscerated it. Crunched it. Blasted it to the proverbial smithereens. Canceled it for ever and ever.

A damn shame, I might add. "Life on Mars" was a very good show on the path of becoming truly excellent; a wonderful take on a -supposedly awesome; I haven't seen it- BBC series of the same name. The premise was really clever (a 2008 cop gets transported to the 1970s) and the show was using it well; it was funny, interesting and as the characters were allowed to develop, more and more revealing and layered.

I guess it was not doing well in the ratings. Actually, it was doing fairly well (not stellar, but decent) up to late November, when ABC put the show on hiatus and left it of the air for a cool two and a half months; then the ratings sucked. Playing it on Wednesdays at 10 pm was sorta dumb as well; "Lost" hasn't been the best lead in show for ABC (fans are too busy hitting the interwebs after an episode to pay attention). Of course, it was specially dumb to change the show's slot on the first place, but that's besides the point.

So ABC has a procedural with a clever twist, killer cast, amazing visuals, fun concept and good writing and -my guess- high budget, and they manage to kill it. Congratulations. That's the second show that I like that you guys fuck up before it goes anywhere; "Pushing Daisies" broke my heart. Don't expect me to trust you with another series for awhile.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I Liked it!

But then, I am not a theater critic. I am a big nerd that hates a lot of stuff and demonizes those who deserve being demonized.

It turns out that the theater critic of the almighty NYT didn´t like the Broadway revival of Guys & Dolls, a play that we saw in previews and I greatly enjoyed. To tell the truth, I believe my problem is that I have the whole concept backwards; I always believed that G&D was a delightful, classic musical in the same sense that pre-Citizen Kane movies are delightful and classic. That is, it is a great piece, considering what was going on during the period.

The thing is, the original material is sorta flat. G&D has quite a few great songs, but the plot is just a couple steps up from a bland daytime sitcom; if it wasn´t for the music, no one would even remotely remember the play. That´s the whole point of some musicals, after all; you buy into the whole happy fiction and forgive that the whole thing is a bit of a contrived mess. Like opera, but sung by humans and without needing years of education and snobbery to get it.

So this G&D is slightly clunky and a bit flimsy. Well, the play sorta is. So what. The actors are engaging, the play flows really well, and everyone buy Craig Bierko (at least the day we saw it) can deliver a good tune. The critic bables about the lack of chemistry, but to tell the truth, I think it was there in plain sight. In G&D, there is not much depth into the whole character thing, so it is all about the actors making you have a good time, and I had it. It is not the best play of all time, but that´s what´s on the script.

If you want depth and all that, wait until Sondheim.