Thursday, July 15, 2010

Movies need to be cooked "Low and Slow"

So took Daughter #2 ( not in priority but chronologically) and a friend to see The Last Airbender- they were well prepared because she had Tivo-ed like all 93 episodes of the cartoon series, and of course now I know more about the The Last Airbender then I wanted to.... so we went to the movie and well, it was bad, very bad.
I sat there and thought- how, how can the same director, M. Night Shyamalan, who created The Village..
 a in depth, suspenseful, visually appealing, multi layer thinker of a movie, make This! Yes everyone blames the director, but he not only directed, he wrote and produced it!!
So here is my theory why it was a painful movie to watch- and it is the same theory why the Narina movies have well... sucked in my opinion....Time.
I come from a long line of cooks, really good cooks... and there is a golden rule, "low and slow" will always make things taste better, fall off the fork, tender, better. In fact when I was learning- and would complain to my mother- that my whatever didn't taste as good as hers, she would always say I cooked it too fast at too high of a temp.
Movie need time to develop slowly.
Case in point....

Fellowship of the Ring- 178 minutes
Two Towers- 175 minutes
Return of the King- 200 minutes

Avatar- 162 minutes

Narina- Lion Witch and the Wardrobe- 135 minute- really bad
Narina- Prince Caspian 149 minutes - at almost ten minutes more- slightly better
The Last Airbender 103 minutes
103 minutes, to establish a whole different world, four different cultures, at least 5 main character and give us enough so that we care what happened to them...impossible. Why they did not make this at least two hours is beyond me.
A budget crunch on a movie takes a lot of exposition- telling not showing, having characters tell what happened instead of showing what happened- actually a lot of the start of big fights and people in dangers and then scene jumping to when it is over so the characters can talk about how dangerous and exciting it was, dusting themselves off.
Recently I took Daughter #1 ( chronologically) to see the Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas. The full Broadway production is like three hours, this was a 90 minute show- all the big numbers were there, all the songs, the Las Vegas production had " made transitional scenes" shorter or taken them out. But they had taken out the scenes that made you care about the Phantom, he just came across as a really mean guy. Character development is why we care, it is when we see that the villain really is human, and we might feel sorry for him .
In Airbender, a big part of the cartoon series is that Prince Zuko, is a bad guy with a heart that eventually warms up, slowly- to changing sides, join the cause- talk about a complicated character arc- after 93 episodes of the series Prince Zuko is fully develop and one of the favorite character of the series. But the Movie- Prince Zuko- just angry all the time- but to show his soft side in in 103 minutes. where most of the time is taken up by over the top special effects, impossible.
Think about how slowly and richly character was developed in the Ring trilogy or Avatar. How you can think of any of the main character and almost guess what flavor of ice cream each would like, because you get a sense of "knowing them"
I guess that is why I go to movies, If I can't care about the character, if they survive or not, find their love or not, there isn't much reason for me to be there and for me to care-the story has to be laid out "low and slow".

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ahhh... to be 16

Went and saw Eclipse with Daughter #1 and friend. Have to say not as much squealing this time. ( Have to clarify my daughter has never "squealed in her life- opposite of the whole Ninja persona she exudes-but her friends have been known to sequel at the first sight of Edward sauntering across the parking lot of Forks High School.
Actually there was a bit of squealing from the Twilight moms that have been taken up by the wave of Twilight-ness out there right now- but that is a different blog.
Watching the movie, I meandered back to the defining movie of my teen years- Footloose.

Footloose came out just months after I got my driver's license and in an era of the second you got your license you could stuff your car full of all your friends- and my boat of a 67 Chevy Caprice could hold six- and take off with no restrictions we headed to the movies- and freedom and independence.
Loveland was what was known as a "Bedroom community" with very little restaurants or shopping and no movie theaters when I was a kid- but up the road ten miles or so was Fort Collins and Colorado State University- there we would go to shop, eat, see movies and goof around and the first movie I saw with my new found freedom was Footloose- how poetic was that.
Footloose is about a small town in the middle of nowhere- still ruled by the might hand of a charismatic pastor and a great communal wound of the loss of a car load of teenagers after a midnight escapade. Music is to blame and therefore banned, until a rebel teenager- Kevin Bacon- comes from Chicago and stirs things up.
I think I saw this movie...6 0r 7 times- the last with my parents who needed to understand why this movie hit such a chord in me, I don't think they got it.
Now looking back-why did it hit a chord?-
Well for one- the music could raise the dead- it was just that kind that seemed to have the same rhythm of the heart beating in my chest. If I hear the sound track even today, I can't help my feet from starting to tap away and mortify my children.
The story- teens banding together, against greater opponents, and being victorious, is epic.....well and Kevin Bacon, was really really hot. Edward, squealing hot. His messed up hair, his cocky grin, his shrug of his shoulder in that certain way- I was about twenty before I decided NOT to name my first child Ren- I am sure Daughter #1 is very thankful for that, plus I don't think Jon would of agreed to that.
Footloose also signaled- though I didn't have a crystal ball- what life I was headed for- filmed extensively in Utah County Utah- the landscape of the distance mountains, the flat valleys and rural farm lands- spoke to me then and here I sit looking towards the start of such landscape that now is my home.
And the Conservativeness....argh....never thought I would be a rebel living amongst those who....see things differently, but often the opposition I have experienced- being involved in a figure drawing group- I was labeled with having a pornography problem and we left a church over it- has made me think of Footloose.
No doubt, Footloose was a movie that help define me when I was 16- Twilight? A movie about a Vampire going to high school and falling in love? How will that define these girls, floaking to the theater- I don't know, I could not of told you twenty five years ago why I was moved by the sight of Kevin Bacon leading a victorious prom procession to an amazing beat- I just know I was.