Saturday, March 29, 2014

You Know in a Year I'm Gonna Be Happy

It's a strange feeling coming back to this blog well over a year from my last post. Looking over these pages. These words. All these feelings, emotions, stories of my past. In here I see something of an misguided biography of my heart. Years of my life spilt out to the word in the guise of movie reviews. I can vividly remember each emotion behind each post. The ones I was convinced would be genius. The ones I was convinced would be pointless.

In a way I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge must have felt being guided by the Ghost of Christmas Past through days gone by. And in a way you are my observer. The observer who read these pages, saw these words and glimpsed my life. But you were left without the Christmas Present and Christmas Future. You can only imagine what became of me. What I have become? Perhaps like the possible ending of Scrooge I am in a coffin, alone and without a soul to leave me flowers. Perhaps... but I am not.

I have felt ever since this blog ended its meaning to me all those years ago, that it lacked an end. It lacked closure. I want to do one last post. Even if it those who once browsed the pages of this blog are long gone. I wanted this post to sit right here, right now, and let anyone know who ever comes here and seeks to know what became of me that I am happy. I am whole.

In many ways I am whole in a way I have never been before. When I wrote this blog the number one overarching feeling I felt was loneliness. It was my way of reaching out to the world in a way my fear of social encounters would never properly allow. I had never been in a relationship. Never experienced the warmth of love given by finding someone who chooses and accepts all that you are.

No more. At this very moment my fiance is out with her friends shopping for a wedding dress. A fiance! Me? Who would of thought. Not I. Not all those years ago when I first started this blog.

A Life in Equinox. Equinox, a moment when the world is split in perfect balance between light and dark. I didn't know what I meant when I came up with that name for this blog. It just felt right. Now I do. Back then I viewed my life so much through the prism of the dark. The light in my life was grayed by my pessimism. This blog existed to help alleviate that angst. To escape for a moment into the magical world of film and see the wonder I had turned my eyes against.

Now I stand upon the meridian of life upon the Equinox. On one side there exists the dark, and on the other there is the light. I can see both for what they are. I can appreciate one because I have the other. And for the first time in a long time my eyes are staring directly into the light. Into the future. A future full of hope and beauty. Of love and family.

Maybe one day I'll start another blog. In fact, I am pretty confident I will. But this blog has come to its end. For all those who supported me and my writings during this time, I want to say that I love you. For all that you meant to me. For all that you still mean to me. Your kind words and encouragement meant the world to me. And I can never thank you enough for all that you did for me.

However, as is life, one door closes, and another opens. And until the time that I open the door that leads me back to you, I leave you with this:

"...all human wisdom is contained in these two words,—‘Wait and hope.'"

Monday, November 26, 2012

Skyfall (2012)

Everyone knows James Bond. Without a doubt he's one of the single most recognizable and symbolic figureheads in cinema history. Even his worst films develop a religious cult following that sustains to this day. Of course Bond is just a name. It's what one does with that name that makes their Bond truly special.

Which is why I love Daniel Craig's Bond. Not that I'm saying his Bond is wholly of his own creation (after all there are writers, producers, and directors whom I'm sure have a considerable say in that department). But the way James Bond has developed over his three films feels much more like a James Bond that is in fact developing. I wasn't that big on Quantum of Solace but the film did take the James Bond created in Casino Royale and add to it. Skyfall carries that same mentality and molds it to fit the new environment.

After all it's way too easy for Bond films to just become a rehash of the same story over and over again. In many respects that's also a bit of what people want from a Bond film. Skyfall recognizes this and does its absolute damnedest with it. Like it or hate it, Skyfall is a Bond film that tries its best to simultaneously rewrite the series while keeping all of the key plot points one expects from a Bond film. All the ingredients are there in the proper place but the feeling is all different. So I was not surprised in the least when I exited the theater to find such widely differing views on the film.

For my own part, I dug what it was doing but not always in the manner it chose to do it. I disagree that Skyfall is a tearing down of James Bond, but rather a continuation of the effort to humanize him this series has made. He's not invincible, always right, or the man with the plan. Daniel Craig's Bond is a hunter. Give him a target, a location, and the tools and he'll get the job done. Skyfall knows that. It starts with that. Then it takes all of that away and turns James Bond from the hunter to the hunted.

It's not the most innovative switch on the planet, but Skyfall handles it marvelously. It also gives us a chance to explore Bond's inner feelings. Well, to an extent. If there's one thing that I wish Skyfall had done was more exposition. To some that complained it was slow that might sound bonkers, but I always felt like Bond's reasons for acting the way he did were left just a bit too grey. Does he see M as a mother figure? Is it simply loyalty? If so, to who? Country? M? Is it a constant need to prove himself? Certainly the cocky, naive Bond that first blessed the screen in Casino Royale has been completely demolished.

Skyfall spends a lot of time explaining what it doesn't ultimately develop about James Bond. There's a lot of back story. A lot of building and crafting. The timeline from his childhood to his working for M is spun and twisted into life. Yet for all that we're told, we're never really given the necessary moments to pull it all together. There's a very valid argument to be made that in the end Skyfall leaves it up to us to decide why Bond does what he does. And for a movie that spends so much time flirting with an answer, I'm not sure that's ultimately good enough.

Still, I enjoyed Skyfall for what it offered. It's overall offerings greatly outweighed that ultimate lack of absolute payoff. For those who love Bond but want just that bit more then Skyfall will swoop in and be their sanctuary. For those wishing for a complete dismantling of Bond... well, I wouldn't hold my breath if I was you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Missed Connections: The Master and Seven Psychopaths

Is there any more agonizing cinematic experience than sitting the theater watching a movie and instinctively recognizing that the movie is so close to working but it never quite realizes that moment. It's like going to your favorite restaurant, ordering your favorite meal, but a key ingredient has sat on the shelf a few days too long and has lost that kick. Or listening to your favorite song but the musician's instruments are just barely out of tune.

That was the experience I had recently when going to see two films that were almost tailor made for my sensibilities  Yet both failed to make their mark, and despite teetering on the edge of my fullest engrossment, they faltered and flatlined at just the wrong moments. The two films I'm referring to are The Master and Seven Psychopaths.

The Master by all accounts should have been a bit of a tee ball game for earning my absolute affection. It's directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, of whom I immensely adore several of his works (Punch Drunk Love has always felt better to look at than to have experienced). The film is spearheaded by actors that I have the utmost respect, if not at times utter captivating bewilderment, for. It is centered around a topic that I find captivating from an intellectual point of view, and has all the opportunities in the world to explore it.

However, throughout the entire viewing I couldn't shake the feeling that The Master is a film in search of a purpose for existing. While its characters battle their own place in the greater cosmos, The Master seems less assured of itself. More like its main character the movie jolts itself from tone to tone, purpose to purpose, plot point to plot point; a massive puzzle with all of the pieces in place but the connecting bits unceremoniously cut off by a mischievous child.

As such when we reach our final confrontation. The final battle of wills between our two focal points. The power of the moment fizzes rather than sizzles. Despite what I feel is one of the best shot, written, acted, and choreographed sequences in not just the film, but in any film I've seen this year, The Master just can't quite make it all come together to give that moment all that it deserves.

Seven Psychopaths was another film I would have considered an easy layup in the Univarn best of the year contender category. Martin McDonagh's In Bruges is a film that has aged absolutely pristine on subsequent viewings for me. The cast is full of people in all the roles I think they are absolute masters at. The commercials were tantalizing. The reviews were great. The feedback was quality. The movie... I don't know what went wrong.

Well first, let's talk about the commercials. Basically the commercials for Seven Psychopaths are The Men Who Stare at Goats of 2012. They show basically all the funny bits. Just about every last bleeding one of them. And given that I'm smack in the middle of this film's target demographics, they were shown on a seemingly infinite loop during my usual television viewing hours. So imagine my rather saddened realization as the credits rolled and it came to my attention that I just spent two hours basically waiting to see the setup for the moments I had already seen in the commercial.

However, Seven Psychpaths wasn't an entirely wasted affair. Nobody does little bit wonky better than Sam Rockwell, perhaps save Christopher Walken, and with both of them together you know it's just going to be interesting when they're on the screen. I also prefer Colin Farrell in these sort of referee style roles. He's less a character and more the glue meant to keep everything within a safe distance from the film's center as each character takes great pains to move outside and into their own realm.

Even the start of the movie had me reeling and ready to rock and roll. But from there on out it was just parade of hits and misses, highs and lows. Never quite finding the right tone to place itself in perfect unison with my own. Still, I couldn't help but walk away from the film with the belief that the film will work for me on a subsequent viewing.

This is a feeling I cannot claim to have felt for The Master. No, in the end Seven Psychopaths ultimately felt like an enjoyable experience gone awry, whereas The Master felt like an appreciable effort gone estranged. Perhaps in time I'll come to hold both to a higher form, but for now they'll slumber in the wormhole that is the realm of underwhelming.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Well, I See What You Did There

Did you know I'm more likely to read your post if it has a picture in it? Why is that? I don't know. It's a weird concept though. The whole - here's a giant photo relating to the words I'm about to write in some way that's either blatantly obvious or cleverly obscure. What would happen if I put a photo there that had absolutely no relation to the post? Maybe I could post a picture of an orangutan scratching himself while I rant and rave about how drinking a cocktail while tickling rhinos is the most feminine thing a man could do. You know what I would bet would happen? The reader would make up the reason for me.

Oh yes, clearly that's a female orangutan doing something like scratching which is such a masculine thing so the picture is poster is clearly being ironic! Go you, now here's five bucks go get me some fried chicken.

But it does work. Putting a picture at the top of one of my posts demonstrably increases my readership. The same goes for other people's posts. When I'm scrolling about my blogroll feed and I see a photo and words I think "hey I wonder what all those tiny words have to do with that big ass picture!" I then go and read the post. Maybe I even comment "man what amazing tiny words... and that picture, lol!"

However, if I come across a post with just words I think "fuck it. Look at all those words, there's millions of them! I might be attacked and eaten alive by a word with more characters than I've had soda cans to drink. How am I supposed to work in these conditions." Maybe that's why I don't always put pictures at the top of my own posts. A test, if you will. Separate the men from the boys. The fans from the casual readers. The drunks who thought one of the words looked a bit like tit from the sobers who could clearly make out that it was 'tint' and didn't click the link. Or did by accident but got really annoyed about it and decided to go to sleep...

Of course that's not really the truth. Really the reason I don't put pictures at the top of my post is that I couldn't be bothered to steal an image off Google that I wan't to put there. It's a level of laziness that I really can't justify. Oh, I do try...

Gah, there are just so many pictures out there in the internet, what if I don't get the right one!? What if I get one that I like but someone leaves a comment telling me of a better one I should have put instead? Oh no! Then I'll look like an absolute twat. Oh look, I found some coconut rum. Time for sleep.

Do you think it's an accident that I put a cat at the top of this post? Of course it isn't! It's a cat! Cat's are the cocaine of blog post readers. If you like cats you see one and go "awwwww, I'm definitely reading that post. There's a kitten and there may be more if I click the link!" If you hate cats you see one and go "omg! Not another one! I better read this post just in case it's a long monologue about this one man's journey to kill this damned cat and I'm the only one who can help!"

Why else are the so many internet memes involving cats? Especially when compared to the comparatively few dog memes? Well that's easy, because dogs are clearly the better pet as evident by their general lack of need for the internet to try and cool them up with meme after meme. If you're a cat person and you're thinking "noooo, cat's are independent and cool!" That's because your blind to the fact that your cat hates you and is using you for food and shelter while it spends all day slutting around with your more interesting neighbors while you're at work. Oh, and here's a picture of a dog feeling sorry for you.

Did you also know that you're more likely to read the entirety of a blog post if a second, or dare I say third, fourth, or fifth photo is shoved in between all the words so people can protect their eyes from massive blocks of text? At the rate society is going you might as well start optimizing your readership potential by posting at least 5 photos for every one word you write. Just don't use a picture of a word because that would be somehow self-gratifying in the most sadist of senses.

What is it about all that text that puts us off? Do we think "oh god, I could be doing something more important than reading all of those words! I could be solving world hunger... or catching up on episodes of Homeland I'm pretty sure I haven't seen but might have and am going to watch anyways. Either way clearly better than wasting my life away in front of what is a essentially a dictionary without definitions."

As opposed to things like YouTube whose shiny images will while away hours of our life in the blink of an eye. YouTube is basically America's Funniest Home Videos without the opportunity to go "hell yes, Bob Saget time!" Unless of course all you're doing on YouTube is watching Bob Saget videos, in which case well played.

Perhaps my problem with this is that I want myself to be the guy who doesn't judge the desire to read a post by its cover, but I'm not. I'm just as bad as everyone else. Show me a blog post with no photos and I'll show you a Bob Kelso, someone with two thumbs and who doesn't give a crap. 
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