Musical devotion is tested to the limit in Whiplash, separating the dreamers from the die-hard players. Since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, Whiplash has earned a streak of critical praise for its originality and performances, underscored even further that this is director and writer Damien Chazelle’s debut feature. Whiplash is the sort of picture most filmmakers are lucky to achieve once in a lifetime, and Chazelle’s work demonstrates him to be a master of creative storytelling. Whiplash is white-hot electric, often times full of black humor, other times truly terrifying, themes not associated to drumming but couldn’t fit better in Chazelle’s powerful, dramatic story.
Yesterday I watched Roman Polanski’s latest movie Venus in Fur (hopefully I’ll have a review come out later this week). One thing I particularly noticed was how Venus in Fur‘s theme of sadomachochism relates to Polanski’s own self. So for this week’s question, I thought I’d ask what do you think of Roman Polanski?
Polanski is one of the most controversial directors out there. In 1977, he was tried in California after raping a thirteen year old girl, but fled to France to avoid sentencing (the charges still stand today and he’s been called into court many times after his escape). Since then, he’s filmed exclusively in Europe and despite his notoriety still manages to work with A-list actors as well as win an Oscar for Best Director. While I think Polanski was and still is a great director (Rosemary’s Baby is one of my favorite horror pictures), I’m stunned and angered that he never received the full extent of his crimes because of his status (though he has paid multiple settlements in court). A few years back, when Polanski was being held under Swedish authorities, a petition signed by over 100 names in the film community (which include Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and Woody Allen, another filmmaker who has faced sex abuse charges) that argued:
“We demand the immediate release of Roman Polanski… Film-makers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision… It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary film-makers, is used by police to apprehend him.” (source: Indiewire)
As I said beforehand, I too agree Polanski is one of cinema’s finest current directors, but just because he’s a celebrity doesn’t mean the charges on him should be dismissed. I apologize if this post is too political for some readers, but this is how I feel.
First, I’d like to apologize for having my weekly question post a day late. I’ve spent little time writing on my blog as of late and part of that reason is that last Tuesday, FXX finally released the long-awaited Simpsons World online, the first time viewers can watch every episode of The Simpsons on the Internet legally. A few months ago, FXX aired every Simpsons episode in an enormous marathon that helped bring The Simpsons into cultural relevance again after about a decade of wandering in the woods. I spent the past few days watching classic episodes like “Homer Loves Flanders” and “22 Short Films About Springfield,” helping remove the bad taste of the recent Treehouse of Horror episode, the over-hyped “Clown in the Dumps,” and the absolutely dreadful Family Guy crossover.
So this week, I thought I’d ask what do you think of the Simpsons World? While it’s great to see The Simpsons online, particularly with some of the episode playlists set up, there are some important flaws in the video-streaming site. Not all the features FXX promised are up and coming yet, the video playback is not quite as consistent as that of Netflix or HBOGo, and most importantly, the show isn’t screened in its original 4:3 ratio, cropping the older episodes and hurting many of the sight gags (fortunately, FXX has promised these problems will be resolved soon). But it’s clear that the Simpsons World is made by fans of The Simpsons for fans of The Simpsons, and I couldn’t be happier binge-watching my favorite TV series. And more importantly, the Simpsons World will give a chance for younger audiences to relive the excitement of watching “Last Exit to Springfield” or “Marge vs. the Monorail” for the first time, helping transition the show into the 21st century.
But what do you think?
David Fincher is perhaps the most unique director working today in modern day cinema, being one of the few filmmakers to gain the trust of studio heads, critics, and audiences. But Fincher’s strongest movie isn’t the massively popular Fight Club or the Facebook-expose The Social Network, but Zodiac, a slow-burning mystery that underperformed at the box office and didn’t receive the press either two of those picture did. Zodiac does not aim at populist acceptance; it’s not a blood and guts picture like any of the other number of films made about the Zodiac killer, but a comprehensive investigation that becomes so real and enthralling it feels like you’re in the picture. At over two and a half hours, it was too long for most viewers to embrace, but it’s David Fincher at his tightest and most detailed, evidence of the director’s perfectionist style.
After over two decades since it last hit the small screen, Twin Peaks will soon return on the air, so it’s as good time as ever to talk about David Lynch. While Lynch hasn’t done a new picture since 2006’s INLAND EMPIRE, he has definitely made a strong mark on modern day film. Combining Buñuel’s surrealist tone with Wilder’s Hollywood tone, Lynch has crafted movies as thrilling, tense, and frightening as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet. So today, I thought I would ask what is your favorite David Lynch film?
I would say Mulholland Drive would be my choice (it’s among the best movies of the 21st century in my opinion). Mulholland Drive is like a nightmarish version of Sunset Boulevard, a twisted mystery that in it’s last thirty minutes completely flips the story around. Originally shot for television, it’s amazing how complex and complete Mulholland Drive is in its two and a half hour duration. Blue Velvet, Lynch’s break-out picture and satirical look at a Reagan-ish America, would be next, followed by Eraserhead.
But what about you?
Remember in Twin Peaks‘ series finale when Laura Palmer tells Dale Cooper, “I’ll see you again in 25 years?” Turns out that’s actually happening. As David Lynch and Mark Frost teased last week, Twin Peaks will return to television in two years on Showtime for a nine-episode limited series.
I already talked a bit about the possibilities of the series’ continuation, but while this news is exciting, it’s also a bit distressing. The good news is that Lynch is directing all of the new episodes, which will hopefully relive the triumphant Lynch/Frost first season. And having Twin Peaks air on Showtime means that Lynch and co. can have more creative freedom than on network television, before ABC intervened into the creative process. But should Twin Peaks really continue? What’s amazing about the series is that it broke just about all the rules and limitations of television back in the early 90s, featuring controversial topics like rape and incest. Twin Peaks led the way for shows like The Sopranos and The Wire to take up taboo subjects and change television from being film’s wishy washy younger brother to its greatest rival. But in today’s TV landscape, when series like Game of Thrones feature a beheading each episode, can Twin Peaks adjust to a rapidly changing industry? I wish Lynch and Frost the best of luck and will undoubtedly watch the new season, but I’m uneasy how it will turn out.
Recently, Netflix announced that that they would be able to stream the
upcoming Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sequel while the film was playing theaters as well as Adam Sandler’s next four paid vacations movies. It’s a move that matches the media distribution giant’s decision to create their own TV series, a game changer in the industry. While plenty of movies receive VOD releases mainly consisting of indie pictures, major productions have been averse to online streaming. So for this week’s question, I’m asking if this is a good decision on Netflix’s behalf?
In my opinion, no. Perhaps I’m being unwilling to embrace change, but theaters are and always will be essential to the cinema experience and Netflix’s move would be an incentive to start shipping movies directly online. VOD hasn’t poised a great threat to any theater chains (and as monumental decision as online TV series are, I don’t think it will be the nail to the coffin of network and cable channels, at least at the time being), but doing this is going to encourage even more audiences that a computer screen is the best way to watch a movie. Still, studios need to catch up to the Internet age (and seeing how slowly the music industry took to get adjusted to the digital era, this is going to be in debate for years) and this could encourage viewers to see more current film. But as of right now, I don’t think it’s the best or most stable way to transition into the 21st century.
But what do you think?
Fans of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks such as myself might have a reason to be excited. Recently both Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost have teased the possible continuation of Twin Peaks. Well, they both just stated the same quote (“that gum you like is going to come back into style,” which led Dale Cooper to finally catch Laura’s killer) on Twitter, far from being one of the most reliable sources. But still, Lynch and Frost are at least doing something together with Twin Peaks and that’s reason for being happy enough.
I’m unsure whether Lynch is going to do another season or movie or that he’s planning something to coordinate with the recent blu-ray release of the entire series (plus the unfairly maligned Fire Walk With Me). If I were to guess, we’d likely see a reunion of the cast and crew, with Lynch and co. talking about the show’ legacy about 22 years after we’ve seen the last of the small and supernatural town.
While I would prefer Lynch to do another movie (his last picture, Inland Empire, was one of his most cryptic and best), I’d be happy to see more of Twin Peaks if he does decide to continue the story. Some fans can argue that the series has already had its run (not to mention the second half of season 2 doesn’t meet the high standards of the previous episodes) and that there’s really new we can learn about the mystery of Laura Palmer. But David Lynch isn’t known for taking projects he isn’t into (well, besides Dune), so if something does pan out, I’ll be first in line.
The fall TV season is starting up, but few new shows catch my interest (though I’ve heard great things about Amazon’s newest series, Transparent). So today, I thought to combine this week’s question for both film and TV: what’s your favorite movie adaptation of a television series.
I would have to say three: The X-Files: Fight the Future, South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut and The Blues Brothers, both two of my favorites comedies. The X-Files movie successfully captures the strengths of the series in the transition to the big screen. I’m a huge South Park fan, and the film conveys epitomizes the show’s strengths (as well as taking the series raunch and profanity to a whole new level). And The Blues Brothers is perhaps the only Saturday Night Live movie that doesn’t feel like an extended sketch. The chemistry between John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd has never been better, plus you can’t go wrong with an excellent soundtrack.
But what about you?
The first season of Blackadder is far different than what the series would become in the following years. Edmund was an oafish prince instead of the clever Englishman intent on power and Baldrick was Blackadder’s wise and loyal companion instead of a dimwitted peasant. While Blackadder’s initial year has some great sets, the episodes were often a bit inconsistent, but by the second season the series found the perfect balance between history and humor that made the show so memorable.