Friday, October 24, 2014

Music and John Hughes

Film and popular music are tied together inextricably, from the films of the 1940s that featured the singing stars of the day through Reservoir Dogs and up to Guardians of the Galaxy. Several of the most iconic uses of popular music in film come courtesy of John Hughes, a filmmaker who I admire.


The example that I'm sure many will remember is the parade scene from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which features both Wayne Newton's recording of "Danke Schoen" and the Beatles' covering the Isley Brothers' "Twist and Shout". The scene stands out as a great example of using popular music to develop a character: Ferris' larger-than-life performance situates him as the guy that everyone wants to be. We understand the kind of bombastic person that he is.


Another example comes from Pretty in Pink, where Jon Cryer's character enters a record shop and dances to Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness", in order to impress Molly Ringwald's character.


The most iconic use of music in Hughes' filmography comes at the end of The Breakfast Club, which features Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)". It's possible that no song and film are as tied together as these two. 

That show you like is going to come back in style



With the recent announcement that, after 25 years, the beloved, and bazar, David Lynch TV series, Twin peaks will return I thought it was only appropriate to post about the show. The cult show which ran for only two seasons and revolved around the murder of a young high school girl, Laura Palmer, and the mysterious story behind the magic of the town Twin Peaks. The show is going to pick up where it left off on ShoTime. The show was canceled because of its gradual decline in ratings, however in the years since it went off the air it gained a cult following. Other television shows began to barrow from the innovative shows format, including Lost, and perhaps most obviously The Killing, the Simpsons spoofed it, and the cast was reunited in an episode of Psych. However Twin Peaks strongly affected the music industry as well.
Many bands have been inspired by the strange show. The title of Sky Ferreira’s album Night Time, My Time, is a quote taken from the shows main character Laura Plamer.  El-P DJ Shaddow, and Mout Eefie all use parts of the shows dialogue in their work. Perhaps the most wildly known use of the show in music is by the British band Bastille, they have a song called Laura Plamer. There is also a band called “Twin Peaks”.
But why did all these musical artists find inspiration in the show? First of all the show was like nothing else on TV at that time. It was terrifying, filled with jump scares, and twisted plot lines that left you up at night. It was however also very funny, and paced with witty and quirky humor. This, I think drew the artists to the show. With so many boring or cliché shows out there it makes sense that the music industry would be drawn to one that totally broke the mold.
I think the artists were also drawn to the main character of the show, who we rarely see alive. Laura Plamer, quite like the show, she counterattacks cauterization. She is seen by her parents and the perfect Homecoming queen seen at the end of most episodes, wile she is really a cocaine abuser, slept around, and depreciated her fiends behind their backs.
Finally I think the music industry was drawn to Twin Peaks because of the music in the show. From the iconic opening song, to the music the little man dances too in the red room, the music is as strange and intriguing as the show itself. It is, in my opinion one of the best sored TV shows.   


The Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer is out and I'm gonna talk about it


Hey friends. So, a few days ago a bootlegged version of the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer leaked. It spread around really fast and a lot of people saw it, so Marvel ended up releasing the trailer officially in HD- even though it was not supposed to be released until next Tuesday during the Agents of Shield episode on ABC.

Basically it was the best day ever for Lindsay, comic book movie nerd. If you haven't seen it yet, please watch it because it looks awesome.


So there's a lot of interesting things about this trailer.

First of all, this film looks much darker than the previous Avenger's film. (And really any other Marvel film's in this franchisee). This is an interesting direction for Marvel to go in, as they are generally loved for their "upbeat and fun" comic book films (Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, etc), while DC usually tends to go on the darker side (Dark Knight, Man of Steel, etc.). This is not to say that none of the Marvel films deal with darker themes, but overall the tone of most of their movies is fun and lighthearted.

But, it has seemed that since the release of the first Avengers film, Marvel has been progressively getting darker. Iron Man 3 was similar in tone to The Avengers, but the squeal to Thor was literally titled Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Solider which came out last April was certainly their darkest and most serious film to date. So it is not a complete surprise to see this new Avengers film going to that darker place, but when in comparison to the first film this squeal looks especially gritty.

For those of you who don't know much about comic books or the Marvel cinematic universe, you were probably a little confused by Ultron (the scary robot villain quoting Pinocchio). Some quick background, Ultron is a Artificial Intelligence (kind of like Jarvis, from the Iron Man movies) and he is created by Tony Stark (in the comic books he is created by Hank Pym, but that is not important, I'm just adding this detail as not to offend any of my fellow nerds) to help the Avengers protect and improve the earth. However, as his programing evolves he decides that the best way to protect the Earth is to wipe out humanity.

That song that plays during the trailer is in fact "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio.


A lot different from the version in the trailer, am I right? Disney did something similar when they released the trailer for Maleficent last year, remaking the classic song "Once Upon a Dream" to sounds more dark and eerie.

He quotes it in reference to the fact that he has evolved past humanity and the humans who created him can no longer control him like a puppet. Marvel was able to so blatantly reference/use disney music because Marvel is actually a property of Disney. I never would have thought to put a music from a children's movie behind a scary robot villain, but it somehow works extremely well. Ultron pretty freaky.

Basically to sum up my thoughts, I think this is an extremely effective trailer and I'm super excited to see where they take this film.

MR. RYAN MURPHY: PROOF THE AUTEUR THEORY IS CORRECT?

Mr. Ryan Murphy has created many shows that have entered the popular culture zeitgeist, many of which are treatments of various groups of outcasts and misfits navigating their ways through the judgements they face. Mr. Murphy's career began in 1999 and continues today, with his production of both movies and television that have achieved both popular and critical acclaim. Mr. Murphy's television resume is as follows....







THESE ARE IN ORDER BY THE DATE OF CREATION












Not only does Mr. Murphy have a long and industrious career in the television industry, he has also made his mark on the feature film industry as well. Those films are as follows....








THESE ARE ALSO IN ORDER OF CREATION






Additionally, Mr. Murphy has a multitude of films that are being developed. Those are....

1) Dirty Tricks, a political comedy.

2) Face, a plastic surgery thriller

3) Need, an erotic thriller

4) In 2014, Murphy was developing a feature film that was based on the life of a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, who lived to be 104 and whose will was a subject of much controversy. He is planning to base the adaption on the number one, bestselling book Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.

5) Mr. Murphy is also developing a remake of the 1976 cult-classic horror film The Town That Dreaded Sundown. It is set to be directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. 

However, I don't want you to think that this week's blog post is just going to be a biography of Mr. Murphy's work, you can go to wikipedia for that, but rather I want to use his body of work to discuss the auteur theory and how, although his work seems disjunct and not unified by a common thread, in fact, it is unified by its celebration of the underdog and the outcast. 

According the Encyclopedia Britannica, the auteur theory is a theory that was first put forward by French New Wave film magazine Cashiers du Cinema. This theory advocates that the director is the author of his films and that across that director's body of work there will specific characteristics or stylistic choice that can be observed across it. With that definition of an auteur, I would like to submit that Mr. Murphy is an auteur because there are both stylistic and characteristics that are shared across his body of work. One characteristic that is shared across all of Mr. Murphy's work is that he uses the same actors across a multitude of different project. For example, in American Horror Story, the actor Sarah Paulson has played different characters across all the seasons, in the first season she was a medium. in the second season she was a lesbian reporter, in the third season she was a witch, and now in the fourth season she is playing a conjoined twin. Mr. Murphy is not the first director who is known for using the same actors across his films, as another of example of this practice includes Spike Lee. Another thing that points to Mr. Murphy as an auteur is the subject matter that is treated across all of his work. In all of the titles that are presented above, exposure is given to people that are typically on the fringes of either society or the social ladder. With this through line in his work I believe that therefore it is appropriate to refer to Mr. Murphy as a true auteur. 

4 Tips for Writing Directing and Producing a Short Film

Writing a great script for a short film is hard. Most people feel like you have to lengthen the script to create an in depth story, which isn't true. To make the most of your limited pages and minutes use these ideas:

1. Create complex characters. 
Before or during writing, ask yourself some questions about your characters. Asking questions like "What was the worst moment in your characters life?" might seem silly, but it could lead you to some very interesting conflicts and plot points in your story. If anything questions like this will help you to make a world around your character it makes sense for them to exist in.  Here are some character questionnaires to start with.

2. Don't neglect your set. 
Though most of us are just happy to get a location to shoot in, remember that the location of your film can be a goldmine for planting character information and foreshadowing. Avoid exposition through dialogue by leaving a characters room a mess with clothes and make up before a date, or show the room as immaculate if your character is very controlling.

3. Make dialogue that sounds real. 
People in the real world don't talk in full sentences, they sometimes stutter, pause, misspeak, use contractions. Read your dialogue out loud while writing. Do you believe someone would actually say it? Don't waste time with lengthy dialogue when you could convey the same idea visually.

4. Be confident.
Throughout this process realize that this is your vision and you are going to have to work hard to bring it out to the world. Be your own best advocate. Be confident that your idea is great and that it can impact something, and people will be willing to help. No one wants to work on a film that even the creator isn't excited about.

Keep Rolling

There are long shots in film and then there are really long shots in film. I've always been fascinated by filmmakers that try to compose their film of only a few shots or even one. It's hard enough to try to put a film together but it's on another level trying to do everything in one take. Imagine making a film with over 10 minute takes and on minute 9 an actor screws up his line, now that film is now completely wasted. In Hitchcock's 1948 film Rope the director tried to create a film with only 11 shots, at the time this was a crazy notion and even crazier for a Hollywood film.


Andy Warhol and filmmaker Jonas Mekas' film Empire took the next step in 1964 when they created this 485 minute experimental film. Using 16mm film allowed the duo to now have up to 33 minute takes rather than being further restricted by 35mm film.


With the invention of the digital medium all the restriction were lifted, there was no longer a need to unload and re-load film and now the one take film could be created. TimecodeRussian ArkPVC-1 and La casa muda are all feature length films that were shot in one take. It's something truly special to see how these films work and just thinking about making a film like this makes my brain hurt. 


But the long takes don't stop there! Birdman staring Michael Keaton has just been released in four theaters and much like Rope the film only consists of a few takes but looks as if there are none. So there it is kids, take risks, fail and then take some more cause you never know what can happen. 


White Bird in a Blizzard

Today, October 24th, 2014, White Bird in a Blizzard premieres in theaters everywhere. The new film directed and adapted by Greg Araki, takes place in 1988, focusing on a 17 year old girl whose life turns upside down within one day. The film stars Shailene Woodley playing Kat Connor, the main character. 
I first saw this advertised this summer after following a Shailene Woodley blog. The new starlet has been in multiple blockbusters within the last year. One movie that has brought her a lot of attention was Divergent. And shortly after this The Fault in Our Stars, which audiences fell in love with and the performance of her character, Hazel Grace. Shailene being one of my favorite new Hollywood actresses has really come a long way since the days of The Secret Life of an American Teenager. And after seeing the trailer for this new film she is starring in, I see a different person completely.  



 In White Bird in a Blizzard there are some risky scenes that Shailene stars in. The movie seems to open up with Kat and her first big relationship. She's exploring love for the first time and all the fun that comes with it. However after her mother disappears, and a series of many events unfold, Kat is seen with a much older man in the trailer. Another man that she is trying to somewhat be sexually involved in. There are also scenes where Shailene is completely topless in front of the camera. This is something that I would have never expected Shailene to play. The character is much more exposed than previous characters that she has played. However I think this film, although it has not been promoted nearly as much as The Fault in Our Stars, or Divergent, it will help build her career in a great way.
Although I have not seen it yet, I definitely plan to, I was curious what critics have rated it as. IMDB gave it a rating of a 6.6/10. Not nearly amazing, but not completely horrible. Rotten Tomatoes did give it a 57%. After seeing that rating, I am starting to question what about this movie could have gone wrong. Seeing the trailer I was immediately intrigued. It starts off with a teen finding love for the first time, however her world is turned into completely disaster once her already weird mother disappears. It goes from a romance to a suspenseful film almost immediatly.  And the story was adapted from the novel by Laura Kasischke, which scored a 3.6/5 from googlereads, which again isn't completely horrible. I'm wondering if maybe they did not structure the narrative as well as they could. Did they not have a great setup that followed into a convincing catalyst? Were there not enough obstacles that Kat had to face in order to find her mother? And also, how close was the screenplay to the novel?

All of these questions I'm dying to find out. When I saw the trailer, I expected a great movie, and I still do. Hopefully the critics are wrong and it is a great movie.
If you have not watched the trailer yet, I suggest you do.


The Found Footage Phenomenon

While it can be traced back to the 1980's with Cannibal Holocaust, the found footage film has proven itself to be the genre of this generation. Invigorated by the success of The Blair Witch Project and kept afloat by the likes of Cloverfield and the Paranormal Activity series, found footage has become hugely popular in the last few years, largely manifesting in the form of horror films. The low cost of production  has drawn young indie filmmakers and studio executives alike, and in a time when most people have easy access to cameras, the appeal has been widespread. However, signs of overexposure are starting to show. We're beginning to be saturated with found footage I think we've all heard the complaints and the calls for a return to traditional horror filmmaking. I know that I'm getting tired of it, so what can be done to inject some new life into the approach?
Let's start by breaking down a classic. I only just watched The Blair Witch Project for the first time a week ago and despite some skepticism going in, I was thoroughly impressed by the film. Without a doubt, it earns its reputation as the king (or is it queen?) of found footage horror and there are many reasons for this. First of all, the realism of the piece is outstanding. Unlike most films of its kind made today, a lot of care was put into making the audience buy the events as true. This is how it was sold and this is also how it functions cinematically. Video quality is grainy and the editing is choppy, stopping and picking up in the way that you would expect actual footage to be arranged. There is no omniscient camera filming the action from alternate angles- everything we see is filmed by the main characters. Nothing of the possibly paranormal forces is ever witnessed. All of the horror originates from the insinuations of creepy faraway audio and the monsters the audience imagines in the darkest corners of the screen. It's also psychological and emotionally charged by the frustrations of the characters. An immersive, strongly unsettling experience is what The Blair Witch Project is and if more contemporary found footage took its lead, the fatigue of the genre might not run so deep.
Taking a complete 180, I'm going to talk about a film I just watched the other day called Snow on tha Bluff. It's found footage, but it is horror of a very different kind. The film follows a man named Curtis Snow in his daily life in "The Bluff", an extremely poor and crime-riddled area in Atlanta. At the beginning of the film, he steals money and a camcorder from a trio of naive college students passing through the Bluff, looking to score some drugs. The stolen camcorder is our means of vision throughout the rest of the film and what it captures is uncompromisingly realistic. Although it stumbles in a few areas, Snow on tha Bluff must be praised for its incredible believability. It swerves into documentary territory on multiple occasions and I'm actually not entirely convinced that everything in the film is fabricated. Ultimately, it serves to highlight something that the vast majority of found footage films never even bother to approach: real world issues. The "stars" of the film are real people living in the Bluff and playing themselves and the film tackles subjects of fruitless crime and cyclical poverty in a very, very raw way. Now why can't more found footage work like this? If found footage in horror allows the audience to empathize with the characters experiencing the scares, then Snow on tha Bluff proves that found footage can also make the audience step into the shoes of a real person and live out their reality.

As evidenced in The Blair Witch Project, found footage horror has the ability to be realistic and frightening in the right hands and the example of Snow on tha Bluff introduces an element of social commentary and real world connections that could take the found footage to new heights. A case can be made for the genre being merely a fad, but I personally think it will be around for awhile, so let's see if we can make it better and stretch the cinematic capabilities to their limits.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

This is "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them," a textbook that exists in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. It was released physically to our muggle world before all seven of J.K. Rowling's famous novels were even published. More importantly, it's been known that this is becoming a screenplay for a soon to be trilogy! 
The goddess herself Ms.Rowling is the obvious trusted screenwriter for this project. The story will take place 70 years before Harry receives his Hogwarts letter. However, it's salient to mention that this is not a prequel nor sequel to the Harry Potter franchise, it simply is inspired by and branches off of the world introduced by the wizarding world. We'll follow Newt Scamander, the author of this beast book, as he is among fellow witches and wizards in a New York City underground magic community. Supposedly, three films are to come from this, below is the teaser that's been released:

Apparently, it was Warner Bros who suggested the idea in the first place. For that, I couldn't thank them more. I crave the expansion of this fictional magical world. Personally, I'm excited for the time period these films will be taking place in. The protagonist, Newt, was theoretically born in 1897. I'm interested to see Rowling write for/around this period. Assumedly, it'll be wonderfully executed. But you never know, right? 
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 
Another aspect my fingers are crossed for to be covered is Newts name appearing on the Mauraders Map in the 3rd film, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban. (Anyone else notice that?) I can safely assume it has something to do with Hagrid and his hippogriff. Perhaps Dumbledore will make an appearance within the trilogy. Perhaps hints at familiar aspects of this world will pop up a number of times. I'm not sure what to expect, but riddle me stoked.

David Yates, a Potter alum, has confirmed to direct the first installment which is expected to be released November 18th,  2016. The rest will follow in 2018 and 2020. Buckle your seat belts folks, we're about to be hit with some history of this wizarding world that hasn't even been consumed by Hermione Granger herself. 

Top Of The Lake

In my opinion, Top of the Lake is some of the best TV that’s been made this millennium. Perhaps this is because it is not really TV, but rather a miniseries in which each episode could stand alone as its own film. It was aired on the Sundance channel last year, and consists of 6 episodes, which revolve around the investigation of a missing, pregnant, 12 year old girl: Tui. The show was written and directed by Jane Campion, whose previous work has won her awards and consisted almost entirely of feature films.

The center of Top of the Lake is really the location. Set and shot in New Zealand, the landscape is almost as important as the plot. For example, where much of the action focuses is in a place called “Paradise” where a group of middle aged women whose lives are in shambles live with the spiritual leader GJ (Holly Hunter in an amazing performance), in hopes of getting their lives back on track. The women live in giant empty shipping containers on the shore of the lake. This set up is exceedingly cinematic and lends itself to the breathtaking natural beauty which cinematographer Adam Arkapaw is able to draw out in every single shot. 



Another striking feature of the show is how the characters are all split into groups who seem to know something about where Tui is. There’s GJ, and her clan as mentioned above, Det. Robin Griffin (Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss), and the police department. Then there’s Matt, Tui’s father, whose family makes drugs in their basement and are all around crazy, and then additionally Tui and her friends. All of these groups seem to be hiding something from Robin. This structure allows for the plot to build slowly in all of these different places.  We learn about Tui and why she is pregnant and running away, through bits of information from each one of these groups. This slow-burn narrative style of building action and suspense makes the show almost unbearably addictive. This is something that could not have been achieved if the show were a film.


The mini-series style is perfect for this story because it allows Campion to spend 6 hours on something that would otherwise have been condensed into one and a half. She uses this extra time to introduce us not only to the main characters but to a lot of secondary characters as well. It also allows her to give information slowly and more organically, rather than explaining it all very quickly and neatly. The show also allows for the episodes to end on cliff-hangers which take the story in many different directions. In a film there would not have been this many opportunities to lead the audience away from what is really happening.


Top of the Lake is a must see show. It is riveting, beautifully shot and excellently acted. More importantly it is an original show with stories and ideas that will keep you interested from the moment the first episode plays to the moment it ends.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Foreshadowing in The Birds

The Birds is basically a movie about foreshadowing. From the beginning the increasing presence of the birds is emphasized. On the boat she first notices the birds, and she receives an injury from one of the birds. This scene is heavily contrasted with the concluding scene in which she is brutally attacked by a swarm of birds.

The birds tend to appear in settings where characters are isolated and vulnerable. This creates a sense of paranoia that Hitchcock is famous for in all of his films. The eerie violin music and occasional squawk of the birds drive this suspenseful mood.

Once scene that is a good example of this foreshadwing is when a character gets out of their truck and walks into the house and walks in and notices the cups broken and the evidence builds and builds until the conclusion of finding the body.

MY DEFENSE OF MICHAEL CIMINO AND HEAVEN'S GATE

I know by this point all of you must be getting pretty sick of me defending things that are critically and popularly reviled, but I am back again with the latest issue of Ted's Defense of the Indefensible. In today's installment we are going to discuss the director Michael Cimino and his 1980, critically and commercially panned, western film, Heaven's Gate.




However, in order to properly defend Heaven's Gate, I first need to make concessions that people will point to in an effort to debunk or discredit my apology of the film. Those are....

1) By the sheer fact of the numbers Heaven's Gate was a flop as it cost 44 million dollars to make and only took in 3 million dollars at the box office

2) It is generally considered to be the largest box office bomb of all times as a result of the money spent on it versus the money that it took in.

3) Cimino, who at the time was one Hollywood's rising star, hot shot, directors was hired by United Artists to direct Heaven's Gate on the back of his Academy Award winning movie and because of his star power he was able to negotiate a contract that gave him carte blanche and lots of other fiscal allowances that were never given to any film maker previously. This made him one of the most lawsuit-proof film director to ever work on a picture.

4) The movie was such a financial disaster for United Artists, the company that produced that movie that it, that its parent company Transamerica Corporation became nervous and abandoned film making all together, selling United Artists off to MGM. Beyond the immediate effect that this had for United Artists, the failure of this movie also had a tremendous impact on the film industry at large. From the 1960's, with films like Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, until the 1980's, which was around the time of this fiasco, the demise of the studio system led to a 20 year long period known as New Hollywood, where studio lost the majority of their control and because of this young directors arose that began to take more and more control over the industry but because of failures such as these, the studios began to take back more and more control from these directors in an effort to prevent the gross decadence and profligate spending that went into disastrous movies such as this one.   

5) The movie faced many budget overruns, high shooting demands that were made by Cimino, and endless retakes. A legend from the set said that on the sixth day of shooting, the whole shoot was five days behind where it should be.

Now of course one may wonder, Ted what is there for you to possible defend with this movie? It seems like it is such a train wreck that not even the best lawyer in the world can argue for this movie. Well, I have one response for you, watch the 216 minute cut of the movie instead of the awful 149 producer influenced dreck that was released in the 80's as a reaction to all the bad press that surrounded the movie. The 216 minute cut of the movie was first screened at the 69th Venice Film Festival and then again at the New York Film festival which I was fortunate enough to attend and see and by which I was blow away with sumptuous visuals such as these below...


Which to me proves that no matter what rumors, exaggerations, half truths or even truths are said about Mr. Cinimo, he is a clear master of his craft who no matter what can deliver a visual that is completely on point and undeniable. Throughout the entire film, the way that visual is treated reminded me of early photography that would have been prevalent around that time.  

The reason that I and others have such with the 149 minute cut of the movie is because it was a slap dash job that was ordered by the producers of the movie in a last minute rush to make the Academy Awards. Indeed, director Steven Soderberg was so interested in the massacre of this movie that he made what he entitled "The Butcher's Cut." This cut can be found here:

http://extension765.com/sdr/16-heavens-gate-the-butchers-cut

Which shows an extensively cut film to the point where key details of film are completely obliterated. Also Mr. Cinimo , in several trade papers blamed this excessive cutting on the failure of the movie, which given the fact that I have seen the 216 minute version I tend to agree with.

So here are two lessons to be applied after reading this blog post....

1) Critics don't always get right.

2) Don't a judge a book or in this case a film by its cover.

Rotten Tomatoes: Hot or Not?

Rotten Tomatoes: launched in 1998, technically owned by Warner Bros. but originally created by Senh Duong has become one of the most widely known film aggregator of it's time. The issue however is just that, the "like or dislike," "hot or not" aspect of it. But we'll get around to that later. For now, let's get the fun part out of the way, pretend we're Buzzfeed and play with lists and gifs.


I figured it'd be fun to reap the joys of the "hot or not" concept before ripping it to shreads. So let's take a peek at the movies that earned a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. The majority are (surprise) films I've never heard of or, you guessed it, "rotten" sequels. (i.e., Fox and the Hound 2, Mulan II, Kronks New Groove.) These are the films that, apparently, "all critiques consider to be bad films." I mean, I gotta hand it to whomever all these "critiques" happen to be in giving two thumbs down to The Never Ending Story II: The Next Chapter. But who exactly are they and who considered them qualified?

A promotional photo for the (apparently micro-aggresionally racist)
childhood dismantlement:
The Never Ending Story II: The Next Chapter
According to MTV.com, the reviews are "based on a set of criteria." Hop onto the Rotten Tomatoes website and said criteria is described as follows, "Movie reviews in the Tomatometer come from publications or individual critics that have been selected by the Rotten Tomatoes staff. " 
(Specifics:  here.)

I then frolicked over to the other end of the spectrum of the long list composed by hundreds of qualified writers across a handful of mediums. Those that earned 100% on the "tomato-meter."

The list listed titles such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Battleship Potemkin, and Singin' in the Rain. Hmm... Did Film Aesthetics and Analysis use this wiki webpage to map out our class syllabus?


So what? I'll tell you what. This website is a review aggregator. Meaning, it calculates numeric averages based off of positive or negative ratings to make products easily comparable for consumers as well as creating databases to be sold to third parties. (That's a mouthful.)
Basically, there are obvious flaws to rating something into one of two categories. There is so much that goes into a film and it appears that Rotten Tomatoes ignores and neglects those beautiful complexities.
However, I believe the site is more-so used to spark conversation and expose films to people who wouldn't find them otherwise. For example, thanks to my eyes grazing that "0%" list this evening I do believe I will top off the night with Sex Lives of the Potato Men. 
(Why does this exist? I dunno, but I'm sure as hell glad it does.)
 
A British comedy about the sexual antics of a group of
potato delivery men in Birmingham. 

Please Watch Responsibly

The Way You Look Tonight

As I was flipping through the channels on my TV the other night, my family stopped to watch a press conference with President Obama about the ebola crisis in the United States.  As we watched him speak on the subject, I noticed just how tired he looked.  I remember canvasing for Obama back in 2008, and the now worn and tired president is not the same young and spirited man he was when he first ran for office. 






















 I thought back to many history classes that I have taken in which we discussed the question whether or not Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be elected for office if he ran today.  If we think of solely his politics, it is easy to think that he would still be voted into office by Americans today.  However, we must also consider his physical condition.  A victim of polio as a child, FDR was weak in his lower body and used crutches and a wheelchair.  When he gave speeches, he leaned against the podium for support.  If television had prevalent in American homes at this time, would people have still voted for him, seeing that he was physically weak?













                








 Personally, I do not think that America would have elected FDR into office.  This was an era before television, an era before the majority of Americans could judge a public official based on their physical characteristics.  The first television was introduced to the American public at the 1939 World's Fair at which FDR gave a speech to welcome all of those in attendance.  It wasn’t until the early 1950s, however, that more than fifty percent of Americans owned TVs.






                 
  Television has influenced politics and increased the importance of the public image.  Before television, people could listen to politicians on the radio or read about them in the news, but there was no way in which the masses could observe the actions and the physical appearance of a person and make judgements about him.  With the invention of the television came the importance of having a presentable image.  Politicians are constantly under public scrutiny, for there are always fans, interviewers, or paparazzi waiting to film or take a picture of a public personality.   The public image has become so important in today’s society.  The body language and physical appearance of a politician suddenly became much more important to the public once the masses were able to watch a public figure live on TV.



                                                                               
                                                                              VS.


The importance of the public image adds a whole new element to politics.  Because of the influence of television, politics are no longer mainly based on what the politicians believe or what they promise their constituents, but instead on the way a politician looks.  America aims to vote for someone who looks strong, friendly, trustworthy, and like they will be able to protect America in a time of crisis. 





Another Promising Season?

A couple years back, around in 08, vampires were becoming popular once again. For some they thought it was just a quick fad, but for others, they believed it was an idea that never got old. Although the hype about supernatural creatures has died down somewhat, there are still some good films/ TV shows involving them that do a great job of presenting them.
 One show that many people tune into is known as The Vampire Diaries. And yes I have written about this before, but this show has been my favorite for years now. The Vampire Diaries show is based off of the series by L.J. Smith. Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, executive producers of the show, premiered it on September in 2009 on The CW television network. Within that first episode, it received the highest ratings for a television premiere on any network. The amount of viewers live was 4.91 million and it did not stop there. Including DVR viewings, the ratings went up all the way to 5.7 million! And as each episode premiered every week, the ratings continue to stay strong at 4.5 million or higher. Many people were impressed with the first season, saying that it looked very promising and was done very well for a supernatural series.

 

Seasons two and three, continue to follow the success of season one’s ratings. However once season 4 approached and ratings dropped from 3-4 million to 2-3 million. And it continued to drop as season 5 came along. Many people lost interest in the show in season five because of too many storylines. As well as the fact that after season four, the Originals’ characters were no longer on the show. The characters were put into a spinoff show called The Originals. Many viewers were upset about this, however then started to watch The Originals. Although the show has lost viewers, it still is rated as one of the most viewed television series on The CW’s network, and right under it is The Originals. So obviously people are still interested in the show, however how much longer until the show comes to an end?


I know watching it myself I did see a change in the series once the Originals left. I found myself getting bored, and seeing the writers just scratching for any material they could use to get audiences back into it, as much as they were when season one premiered. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the show, but it still is definitely not the same. Before season five, the biggest threat in the show was the Originals.  In the storyline they were the biggest and baddest creatures out there. However, I now realize that towards the end of season four it just seemed like they were looking for something worse, mainly because they knew the Originals were heading off into a new direction.  This is when they introduced Silas. Silas was now seen as the most terrifying creature. And for a while I was confused because I thought the Originals were the first vampires to ever exist on earth, but then somehow the writers made it seem like Silas was. They began to mix plot lines and it was confusing me as a viewer. Now after so much time has past since that point in the series, I now understand that Silas was originally a witch, belonging to the Travelers. However, after many events he eventually became immortal and trapped. So technically he is the longest living vampire.
 But still it was plot changes like these that confused me and turned me off from the show.

In season five, everyone was wondering what was Silas going to do. And we all found out that he was Stefan’s doppelganger. His character only lasted for seven episodes in season five. And the worst part of it was that this big bad character they made was being this malicious for love. When I found out that was the reason why Silas was such an asshole, it made me upset. No one that is fighting for love would ever act so cruelly. I feel like the writers needed a new villain to replace Klaus, which obviously they did, however they did not do it the right way. The plot did not make sense with the character, and maybe I’m wrong and someone probably disagrees with me on this, but I truly believe it did not match up. And finally when he died I was relieved. His character was just annoying and there were no redeeming qualities about him, or any reasons that justified his cruel actions.


After Silas died, there was what I’m going to call a ‘dry period’ in the show. The show brought up a new enemy that was human. Of all things to fear, they picked a stupid HUMAN scientist. Really? Come on. This show that I had loved went from a show about supernatural beings and how they can still fall in love or feel hurt, to science trying to dissect supernatural beings and make their lives a living hell. This just made me mad, it was boring, and it was like the writers simply did not know what to write for months. And then somehow they morphed that plotline to connect with the witch travelers. Season five started off with about 2.6 million viewers, and ended in 1.6 million viewers. And to top that off they killed off their best character! Damon Salvatore, the impulsive, selfish, sarcastic, charismatic guy that everyone loved, was killed off.




I remember going on their Facebook page and seeing millions of comments saying, “He is the only reason I have continued to watch this show,” or “If you don’t bring him back I’m going to stop watching this show altogether”. And I mean I don’t blame these people, he was and is my favorite too.


 But not only that he really had a huge impact on the show. He was the underdog, the person people could relate to because he was realistic. He was selfish and took what he wanted. He loved to drink alcohol all the time. He rather save the girl he’s in love with from dying, than her best friend. And even while he faced death, he always had some sarcastic comment ready to go.  Everyone was mad that they picked him. So being that he was my favorite character I did research to see if he was contracted for the next season, and low and behold he was.
Season six premiered October 2nd, 2014. And so far it has NOT been a disappointment. Surprise, surprise, Damon is actually still alive…Just not on earth. And the show has stopped the plotline with the human scientist evil doctor and is back to focusing on super naturals. I don’t know if there will be a season seven as of right now, however, season six looks very promising to me. It reminds me of the early TVD and although there are still many plot lines, they are not nearly as confusing as they once were in season five.  It’s hard to say if the show will continue or not because well look at season five, it was one of the worst, but it still got signed for a sixth season. Clearly people still really care about this show and the evolving characters,  so hopefully the writers continue this good streak and help finish the stories of the characters in the right way.