Monday, September 26, 2005

when trailers are better than their films

am i crazy for thinking this? there are definitely examples of movie trailers that outshine the films they advertise. i'm one of those people who must be at the theater early enough that i get to see all the trailers, cause it's neat to get excited about an upcoming feature, but it's just disappointing when the movie doesn't live up to it...and ever since i discovered apple's movie trailer page a couple years ago, my predicament has gotten worse b/c i'll obsess over the trailers that i like, only to build up to a full length that makes me wish i could just have seen a, well, longer trailer.

a primary example:

the most notable is sin city. now, i enjoyed this movie, and i think robert rodriguez did a freaking incredible job bringing frank miller's artwork directly from the page to the screen. (i know some people will disagree with me on how good this movie is, but i would argue with those who dispute the second point - it looks simply incredible, like the panels just came alive.) still, even though i liked the film, it was just .nothing. compared to the trailer (#1).

there are two main reasons for why this trailer is stunning. (1) the music ("cells" by the servant). i've heard, briefly, the full song with words, but the instrumental version used in the trailer is so much better - i really think the beat makes your heart and breath synch with the rhythm (yeeeees i know that's hokey), but the music is helped out a LOT by (2) the PERFECT editing. this is a great example of EXACTLY what editing should be like - how it works with the music, how it introduces the visual elements and the noir, how it chooses which color shots to use and when. you get glimpses of all 3 story lines and all the major characters. it's just a really fine piece of work, that trailer.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

theatre pretentiousness - post from a sister blog

doing theatre in a very restrictive department at williams meant that i heard the gist of the below sentiment quite often. unfortunately, it was often accompanied by a bit of anger, which always finds a way to mar good argument.

jess's testimony below, i think, strikes a great balance between the expression of her thought and her reaction to that thought...i don't agree with her on all points, but a great majority of them are dead-on, and i think she's hit the exact right pitch with her tone. it's a very good post.

visit her site here, and a link to her direct post here.

I am rebelling.

I am, first and foremost, rebelling against the idea that theatre cannot succeed simply by being enjoyable. When I say enjoyable, I don't mean catered to the lowest common denominator, but I do mean accessible, I mean funny, I mean uplifting, I mean (dare I say it) entertaining.

I think, if theatre can make you smile, can make you laugh, can make you realize for a moment a good feeling or a better feeling than the one you walked in with, that can be considered a success.

I think, too, that if theatre can bring you to some other moment of emotion--if it can stir you to anger, if it can bring you to tears, if it can give you some peace or clarity, that is successful theatre.

And, quite frankly, if that end is achieved despite a straightforward structure, simple dialogue, unoriginal ideas, predictable music, basic sets, shoddy costumes, ineffective blocking, odd direction, or mere lack of pretension--I don't care.

I'm taking a stand. I got into theatre because nothing gave me more pleasure in elementary school than to stand on the stage of my coffee table and sing--gasp--The Sound of Music. And quite honestly, I don't know if I've gotten that much pure joy from theatre since then. I've had fun, I've learned a lot, and I think that that's great. But I find the notion of theatre as Art And Only Art to be...bizarre. Experimenting with forms and ideas and theories is immensely interesting on an intellectual level and often results in some really amazing, thought-provoking, emotion-eliciting, beautiful work. But to judge everything else in the realm of theatre against whatever idea of "Good" is in vogue at the moment is to discard so much of value.

I'll let you in on a little secret, one that could get me kicked out of all Theatredom. I still adore Sound of Music. I still cherish Annie. I think that Evita--the Madonna version, 'cause Patti LuPone scares the crap out of me--is fantastic. I think Les Mis is great and I sing On My Own all the time. And I will say this and I will say it loud and clear. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ANY OF THAT.

For years, I've been taught by jeers, jests, comments, and criticisms of the other theatre folk to whom I have been exposed that things like Andrew Lloyd Weber and Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals are, essentially, worthless. That's snobbish, that's pretentious, and that's untrue. They are simple, they are straightforward, some of them due to time period, etc, are sexist/racist. That last is unfortunate, but generally society does not dismiss Lear because Goneril and Regan are crappy women, or Othello because people look down on his race. Producing plays from other times is not typically seen as an endorsement of the values of those times. But really, when it comes down to it, it's the simplicity, the predictability, and the familiarity of shows like that that are most criticized. Beckett it ain't, but Sound of Music is, legitimately, good theatre when performed with joy.

I never want to be someone who scoffs when they mention musical theatre, or sneers at the name "Neil Simon." If you don't care for something, that's a matter of personal opinion, and not something that should be dictated by anyone else's ideas of what constitutes Art or Theatre or Good or whatever. I appreciate very much being in an academic environment where I'm exposed to so many ideas and theories about what can be good, and where people try things and do obscure theatre and not just what is familiar and safe. At the same time, I think a lot of people here (faculty and students alike) tend to categorically reject pieces that are more popular simply because of their popularity. It's that attitude, and not individual preference, that bothers me.

I'm fairly certain that anyone working or studying in the field got into it because at some point they just did it because it was fun. That's what this comes down to for me--I'm not against hard work, challenging, frustrating creative processes, strange, obscure plays or choices, or straying from the beaten path. I am against the view so very neatly encapsulated for us (however facetiously) by none other than William Finn, that "If you're having a good time, you're not doing theatre." He was half-joking, and had been put on the spot when he walked into our workshop the other day, but some part of him meant it. My burning question: Why the hell not?

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." PLAYERS. Theatre is something, at its most basic, that must be done out of joy, out of love, out of passion. I'm absolutely not putting forward the notion that every show must be one big tap number or a screaming laugh riot, but even when working on the sharpest, darkest tragedy, in order for it to be worth anything, it has to be somehow about the joy of creating and the intense, overwhelming need to communicate on a level other than the analytical, intellectual one that so many of us tend toward. It's possible for every level--design, tech, directing, performing--to be technically perfect, and for a play to fail because it does not inspire something in its audience. I've seen children of ten imbue performances with an intensity and passion that make a half-hour day camp musical genuinely riveting and hilarious, and I've seen adult actors on gorgeous sets in famous venues give performances that move me to look at my watch almost more often than I look at the stage.

This is theatre. If it's not, on some level, "a good time", then WHY would any of us be here? Theatre can have important messages, absolutely, but most kids don't get into theatre for political reasons. We got here because it was fun, it was intense, it was a real challenge artistically and intellectually but also's not brain surgery. It's not feeding the homeless. It's not saving the rainforest and it's not keeping the peace. It can occasionally try to work towards things like that...I think that's great, actually. But if that was all it was, people would just become brain surgeons or work for non-profits or whatever. It's something bigger. Theatre has the power to affect people personally by connecting with something deep and internal. If it lacks that, it's sunk. If it lacks that, it's a bunch of grown-ups playing dress-up and spending lots of money to create gigantic visual art installments that, in and of themselves, lack their final layer.

So, going forward, that's how I'll judge theatre. If it genuinely affects me, then it's successful for me. If it's theatre I'm making, I damn well better find a way to connect with it and with the audience, or I'm really not interested. Theatre for its own or, worse, for pretension's sake, is really not worth anything to me, and I no longer intend to let anyone tell me what's good theatre or to participate in any way that I can't find any passion for. I know that's not the way to make a living at it, and that's ok with me. I've realized that, as much as I love performing, I want my life's work to be bigger than that and to match more closely with all of this that's been percolating in my brain for the last few weeks. I want to keep doing theatre with kids--as a camp counselor, as a classroom teacher, or in an outside theatre group that I someday aspire to start. In my ideal world, this would be a program in a city that would allow kids of all ages to play on the stage, free of charge, simply for love of it. I really think that theatre with kids is one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed. For the last six summers I worked at a plain, ordinary YMCA day camp, helping to run the drama program. We got 25 kids every Monday, and by Friday, without fail, those kids would put on a show (almost always a musical) that was leagues beyond what could possibly have been expected of them. Their desire to express the fun they were having and share it with the other campers, the staff, their parents--while perhaps not consciously expressed in their minds--absolutely shone through every second of their shows. And THAT is why I got into this business, and for me, THAT is where the whole value of it still lies.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Mass rejects gay marriage ban - article

Gay Marriage Ban Is Rejected in Mass.

BOSTON (AP) -- The Massachusetts Legislature on Wednesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that sought to ban gay marriage but legalize civil unions, a year after the state performed the nation's first government-sanctioned same-sex weddings.

It was the second time the Legislature had confronted the measure, which was intended to be put before voters on a statewide ballot in 2006. Under state law, lawmakers were required to approve it in two consecutive sessions before it could move forward.

After less than two hours of debate Wednesday, a joint session of the House and Senate voted 157-39 against the measure.

It was a striking departure from a year earlier, when hundreds of protesters converged on Beacon Hill and sharply divided legislators spent long hours debating the issue. In that session, in March 2004, lawmakers voted 105-92 in favor of the amendment.

This year, the crowds were tamer and some legislators who had initially supported the proposed change to the state constitution said they no longer felt right about denying the right of marriage to thousands of same-sex couples.

''Gay marriage has begun, and life has not changed for the citizens of the commonwealth, with the exception of those who can now marry,'' said state Sen. Brian Lees, a Republican who had been a co-sponsor of the amendment. ''This amendment which was an appropriate measure or compromise a year ago, is no longer, I feel, a compromise today.''

The proposal also was opposed by critics of gay marriage, who want to push for a more restrictive measure.

''The union of two women and two men can never consummate a marriage. It's physically impossible,'' said state Rep. Phil Travis, a Democrat. ''The other 49 states are right and we are wrong.''

Lawmakers already are preparing for a battle over another proposed amendment that would ban both gay marriage and civil unions. The earliest that initiative could end up on the ballot is 2008.

The state's highest court ruled in November 2003 that same-sex couples had a right under the state constitution to marry. The first weddings took place on May 17, 2004 -- two months after lawmakers began the process of trying to change the constitution to reverse the court's ruling.

Since then, more than 6,100 couples have married.

Within a year of the first Massachusetts marriages, 11 states pushed through constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, joining six others that had done so earlier.

The Connecticut Legislature approved civil unions in April, joining Vermont in creating the designation that creates the same legal rights as marriage without calling it such. Earlier this month, California lawmakers passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has promised to veto it.

Although more than 6,100 same-sex couples were married in Massachusetts, the state barred out-of-state couples from getting married here, citing a 1913 law that prohibits couples from marrying in Massachusetts if their union would be illegal in their home states. A lawsuit challenging the legality of that law is pending before the SJC.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

my favorite monologue from dogma

Bartleby: The humans have besmirched everything bestowed on them. They were given Paradise, they threw it away. They were given this planet, they destroyed it! They were favored best among all His endeavors, and some of them don't even believe He exists! And in spite of it all, He's shown them infinite fucking patience at every turn. What about us? I asked you, once, to lay down the sword because I felt sorry for them. What was the result? Our expulsion from Paradise! WHERE WAS HIS INFINITE FUCKING PATIENCE THEN?! It's not right - it's not FAIR! We've paid our debt. Don't you think it's time?

Don't you think its time we went home?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

i love mcsweeney's - 2

Things My Brother Has That I Don't.

- - - -

A driver's license
My parents' love
A doctorate
A sense of pride and dignity
Checking account
Ballerina as a girlfriend

i am *such* a nerd!! i love this:

Klingon Fairy Tales.

- - - -

"Goldilocks Dies With Honor at the Hands of the Three Bears"

"Snow White and the Six Dwarves She Killed With Her Bare Hands and the Seventh Dwarf She Let Get Away as a Warning to Others"

"There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe With a Big Spike on It"

"The Three Little Pigs Build an Improvised Explosive Device and Deal With That Damned Wolf Once and for All"

"Jack and the Giant Settle Their Differences With Flaming Knives"

"Old Mother Hubbard, Lacking the Means to Support Herself With Honor, Sets Her Disruptor on Self-Destruct and Waits for the Inevitable"

"Mary Had a Little Lamb. It Was Delicious"

"Little Red Riding Hood Strays Into the Neutral Zone and Is Never Heard From Again, Although There Are Rumors ... Awful, Awful Rumors"

"Hansel and Gretel Offend Vlad the Impaler"

"The Hare Foolishly Lowers His Guard and Is Devastated by the Tortoise, Whose Prowess in Battle Attracts Many Desirable Mates"

Friday, September 02, 2005

this weekend.

very. very. stressed.

not handling it well.