Archive for February, 2011
In 1978, the 50th Academy Awards presentation took place in Hollywood. I didn’t watch them (I was less than ten years old) but I still have resentment for that year… a resentment that has been renewed thanks to watching the Oscars last night.
You see, the clever Woody Allen comedy Annie Hall took home the Oscar for Best Picture of 1977. A number of people who read this blog were born in the eighties and nineties, so there’s a good bet that many of them have never heard of that film. I guarantee they have heard of one of the movies that Annie Hall beat that year, though.
Star Wars CHANGED the motion picture industry. It showed that a meaningful story, good characters and amazing visuals can make of an impactful motion picture experience. The fine folks of the Academy, though, just couldn’t see it. Above and beyond being an great motion picture, Star Wars was also something else - innovative.
Innovation in film is what nurtures creativity. Hollywood has grown so lacking in it, though, that we are now going into a summer with the most sequels in history. There are a dozen or more reasons behind this, but lack of acknowledgement for true innovation by a filmmaker’s peers must play into it.
Last year Avatar lost out to The Hurt Locker. This annoyed me as a pretentious move on in order to try to break up the “boy’s club” for the Best Picture Oscar. Politics decided that winner; not innovation.
James Cameron’s work on Avatar changed the film making (and viewing) experience again. While (like George Lucas) Cameron enjoys the endless monetary profits of his venture, the Academy’s failure to acknowledge how much of an impact that movie had on the film industry and the art of film making by giving it Best Picture shows that they fail to see the importance of innovation. Why push the envelope if your peers won’t pay attention?
Thus, we get another Final Destination movie.
This year, The Social Network was up for best picture. While different than my previous two examples of Oscar follies, it is still VERY innovative. You see, the film didn’t “dumb down” aspects of a technical story for the sake of the audience. Computer movies have a way of making the tech jargon simplified (Wargames) or bordering on fantasy (Hackers) because, let’s face it, when those films came out people wouldn’t understand it otherwise. The Social Network was innovative by holding up a mirror to our society and SHOWING our own innovations in life. It took that first step into accepting how much we have all changed through our own technology which, if you think about it, is a very bold move.
Like it or not, you’re reading a blog and there’s a chance that you found this link via Twitter or Facebook. A decade ago, the only people doing this sort of stuff were nerds who understood those newfangled computer thingies.
Today, though, Uncle Jeb is connected to the internet probably looking up porn on his laptop in his trailer park.
Thus, a movie based on a play took home the trophy instead. I’m sure the King’s Speech is a great flick and I’ll buy it in April and watch it, but it just shows that the Academy is completely out of touch with it’s own creative works within it’s industry.
A BONUS FAILURE this year comes from their forgetting to acknowledge the motion picture contributions of Corey Haim, Peter Graves and Betty Garrett in the “In Memoriam Montage”.
In closing, it’s stuff like this that makes me wish that the YouTube generation would hurry up and change the movie industry the way digital audio change the music industry so the Hollywood can take a kick in the financial ass and acknowledge creativity and (gasp!) innovation again.
Joey Snackpants and I with a KFC chicken in Georgia.
I occasionally update new photos (and old ones that I scan) on my Flickr account. Each Friday I post one on my blog from my collection that I think is kind of clucking cool.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Atlas, freaking, Shrugged.
I wound up reading this book in via some strange circumstances. A popular video game called Bioshock had hit the market and a number of people were relating story elements from it to the book Atlas Shrugged. This was important to me because I enjoy being the person in the room who catches obscure references in storytelling.
Remember the series Gilmore Girls? (If not, watch it. You’ll thank me.) Part of the charm of the quirky television show is that the writers LOVED to throw in obscure literary and pop culture references. Part of the fun, for me, was knowing that I was getting a good percentage of them.
Back to Atlas Shrugged: I began to look into trying to read the book after hearing it was a content inspiration for a pretty snazzy video game. Then my good friend Joey Snackpants (www.joeysnackpants.com) let me know that it was one of the most influential books in his life.
THIS IS NOT A SHORT BOOK (in case you haven’t figured this out on your own) but it is rich in characters and ambiance. This book is part science fiction, part period drama, part philosophy, and is “steam punk” before steam punk was cool.
[SPOILER ALERT] The book mentions holograms before the word hologram exists. Seriously cool. [/END SPOILER]
I could go on and on for hours about the entire school of thought Ayn Rand created when she wrote this opus, but there are millions of websites to do this already. You don’t need to read them, but it makes for fun AFTER reading the book.
This work effected my life by helping me to see that the characters in this book and their need for “the greater good” do exist, and I wasn’t odd for thinking that, very often, these intentions are misguided. Succeeding for one’s self breeds success for the greater good.
I have The Fountainhead set to read sometime in the near future, but I already know that Atlas Shrugged is easily in my top five favorite books of all time. Something tells me that I should read it again in ten years… just in case.
I occasionally update new photos (and old ones that I scan) on my Flickr account. Each Friday I post one on my blog from my collection that I think is kind of coolio.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I often wonder how I dodged the bullet of reading so many “classics” when I was in school. If I read this, I don’t remember doing so. Either way, reading it now (later in life) really reminds you that the more we think the world changes, the more it doesn’t.
Animal Farm tells the story of how easily influenced the masses are by charismatic leadership and information control. It’s downright eerie how universal this book is. The reader can unplug character names (Snowball, Napoleon, etc.) and plug in any number of names in recent news. Even events – such as the destruction of the windmill and the repercussions – reflect strongly on some of our country’s own actions in recent tragedies.
When the windmill is destroyed, the leadership of Animal Farm finds a person to blame (who can’t be found) and uses this as an excuse to draw the animals into seemingly ridiculous acts that obviously violate the rights of the animals… but they don’t mind. It’s for the greater good.
If you haven’t read Animal Farm in the past decade, do yourself a favor and do so. It’s a short book with a long lasting message that is a true today as it was when it was first written.
Yes… Cosmos has commonly been pointed out as being the DUMBEST Autobot concept in the G1 universe by myself and Mr. Snackpants at DARE! The Transformers Panel Ultimate. This fact is only made better by the fact that Teletran 1 can’t even spell his name correctly. (The pic is one I took of our TV while watching classic Transformers episodes.)
I occasionally update new photos (and old ones that I scan) on my Flickr account. Each Friday I post one on my blog from my collection that I think is “more than meets the eye”.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I keep reading reviews describing Jay Z’s Decoded as a scrapbook. To me, though, it reads more like a blog. Bloggers tell stories of their lives; they give interpretations of things around them; they post pictures to illustrate elements of their storytelling; some even post poetry.
Jay Z’s book is all of that. It’s his insight into the culture of hip-hop from the point of view of a boy who grew up to be a crack dealer who became a world reknowned artist. He sells hip-hop music to the reader as an important part of American culture, and as a self-proclaimed hustler he does a damn good job at it.
You don’t have to agree with everything Jay says in the book – that’s part of it’s charm. He explains that hip-hop/rap culture was born out of a very specific mix of African-American lifestyles in a depressed economic area. In short: rap exists (according to the book) to give a voice to a part of America that we tend to try a turn a blind eye to. The audacity in rap lyrics convey something so profound and extreme that you might miss it if you’re not looking for it… and much of America wasn’t digging to find anything beyond the “bling” and “n-words” in the lyrics when rap was developing as an art form.
Good art is made better through understanding. There’s a reason people take art appreciation classes – to better enjoy exposure to creative culture. Jay Z’s Decoded is a text book for rap appreciation.
I won’t be “gangsta” anytime soon; I have blonde hair, blue eyes and you don’t get much more generic caucasion male than my life growing up in the suburbs. We (and by we, I mean “me” and I assume “others”) read books to learn about the life of others to understand our world a little more clearly. Understanding breeds tolerance – which leads to some wonderful things. I was always a casual fan of rap music, but now I look for more meaning in what I’m listening to and (thanks to this book) I understand a little more.