This week, I started my new class on the business of filmmaking and it has me a little nervous. I wouldn't normally take this one but I have to in order to finish the program, and it involves math. I hate math. If you give me any problem more complicated than 2+2 I get hopelessly confused. We watched the movie Paranormal Activity, and discussed the appeal of found footage movies. It got me thinking about some of the found footage films I've seen, and I've come to a simple realization: found footage movies are great, but not very effective for horror. Of the two found footage films I've reviewed on this blog, Europa Report and End of Watch, one was more a science fiction film with some elements of horror, and the other was a simple police procedural. It seems to be just the found footage horror films that give the genre a bad name, but it can actually work when people actually try to find a genre other than horror in which to use it.
I got talked into seeing Whiplash last weekend, once again for no other reason than because it was nominated for a bunch of Oscars (this seems to always happen, I end up having to watch a movie just because it was featured at the Oscars). It was okay. I guess there was some decent cinematography and the acting seemed fine but I never really found myself getting into the whole story. Fletcher ended up coming off more like a drill sergeant than a music teacher, to the point that I couldn't help wondering if he was originally supposed to be played by R. Lee Ermey. I kept half-expecting him to tell Andrew to lean forward and choke himself, but apparently there really are music teachers like that so I guess that's okay. I also had some concerns about the general lack of female characters, but I keep getting told that this was done to make the film more realistic because there aren't that many female musicians in Jazz. Still, I do wonder if it would have hurt the film to have one or two girls in the Studio Band, or perhaps even to make the main character a girl.
In addition to all that, my limited understanding of any type of music outside of 1980's rock and roll meant that half the time I didn't know what anyone was talking about. On the other hand, my sister (who actually has experience in this area and is looking at getting into music school) seemed to really like it. I've been led to think that Whiplash is therefore mainly a movie for musicians, so if you are a musician or have experience in music you'll love this movie and really relate to it, but there isn't much in it for anyone else. Personally, I don't think I'd go as far as to call it Oscar-worthy.
After last week's incident with Banshee, I had some difficulty getting back onto the show, so I decided to start watching The X-Files again. Mulder and Scully got up to some crazy shenanigans this time round: there was a French salvage team that tried to recover a downed World War II airplane and ended up bringing something weird to the surface. We never found out quite what it was, but it seemed to infect people and jump from body to body, and in doing so could spread massive radiation burns to anyone else around them. You could also tell they were infected because their pupils looked like they were being submerged.
Once I finally got the nerve to go back to Banshee, things started to get intense. Lucas Hood is just about as angry as I was that Siobhan got killed off. Fortunately, Lucas now has the support of Amiee King, one of only two cops on the local Native American Reserve who also seems like the only person there who can actually get anything done. She was initially reluctant to agree with Lucas's vigilante techniques, but after seeing what this guy could do she is ready to see him dealt with appropriately. The good news is that I did in fact get the satisfaction of seeing the bastard responsible for killing off my favorite character take a shotgun round to the head. It took a couple episodes, and he proved extremely hard to kill, but he did at least get a comeuppance for what he did.
Meanwhile, Dava got mixed up in the wrong crowd when she ran into this strange guy in an alleyway. She hung out at his house where people liked to take drugs and engage in taser duels. Fortunately, her friend Beaty was not so ready to accept this and immediately told Dava's mother Carrie, who quickly put an end to their messed-up hijynx. Rebecca also seems to be finding her footing in Proctor's chain of command, and starting to develop some of her own corporate power. There is also a new deputy on hand, Kurt Bunker, a reformed Skinhead who has realized the error of his ways but still has to cope with all the Swastika tattoos covering his body that serve as a remind of his past. There was then a big heist on the local military base shown almost entirely through a "found footage" format which was interesting. It proved difficult, and Hood got distracted momentarily because of what happened to Siobhan, but he and his friends managed to make off with a lot of money... once they finally got away from Douglas Stowe who has also proven very hard to kill.
On Game of Thrones, we had one exciting thing happen... sort of. Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy have just met for the first time since season 1. This might not have been under the most ideal circumstances, but so far it is the closest thing we have gotten to a Stark reunion. After Season 1 they all got separated and keep just missing each other. Poor Arya was almost reunited with her mother only to end up just missing one of the bloodiest massacres in the entire show, then just missed a reunion with Sansa because Baelish decided to throw her psychotic aunt through her own moon door. Then Bran caught a brief glimpse of Jon Snow but failed to meet him directly. Now reuniting Theon with Sansa is the closest we have come to getting the Starks back together. We'd probably get closer if Arya would just get up to the wall already and be reunited with Jon Snow.
The reason why these aren't the most ideal circumstances is because Sansa was reunited with Theon after he was kidnapped and tortured into becoming Ramsay Snow's personal servant. Sansa is also engaged to be married to Ramsay, which isn't good considering his ethics. There is generally a moral ambiguity to Game of Thrones, but usually for every major character there is someone else who is far worse. Ramsay is one of the few people on the show to be truly evil. The only person I can think of who might have been worse is Joffrey, but that's only due to the fact that he had complete control of Westeros. Even worse, it looks like Ramsay might be plotting something after finding out his mother is pregnant with a son, since that will challenge his newfound status as Ramsay Bolton.
Fortunately, it looks like Stannis is on his way to Winterfell now. I'll admit I'm not usually the biggest fan of Stannis but he's probably the best hope for Sansa (seeing as he and his brother were among the few people on good terms with the Starks). I just hope Stannis has what it takes to overthrow the Boltons. Jon Snow also made a controversial decision back at the wall. He has decided to try and make peace with the Wildlings, something that has angered a lot of the other guys at the Knight's Watch. This seems like a difficult task, but if peace can be made, and an alliance could be formed it would give them a better chance against the White Walkers, though there still doesn't seem to be any sign of them taking an active role in the story yet.
Meanwhile, Jorah decided to take a few chances in taking Tyrion "to see the Queen" by traveling through what basically amounted to a plague colony inhabited by "stonemen". Apparently you don't want to get touched by these "stonemen" because that makes you infected with the disease (the same disease that Stannis's daughter had, which was fortunately stopped). Unfortunately, Jorah did while trying to rescue Tyrion, and now he seems to be showing signs of infection. Daenerys is still having some difficulty figuring out how to maintain her power, and had to make a few tough compromises by re-opening the fighting pits (though she emphasizes that they are for "free men only") and agreeing to marry a man of power to help secure a bond with her kingdom.
In some really exciting news, I got mentioned on an episode of Welcome to the Basement. They read one of my comments in which I recommended that they see The Hurt Locker and then told me they'd seen it. If you're not familiar with this show, I'd strongly recommend you check it out. It's pretty straight forward: two guys hang out in a basement watching and talking about movies, bringing out intelligent conversations with a sense of humor. It's a lot of fun, episodes are usually posted every two weeks or so, with each one centering on a different movie. I also left a link to my blog in the comments for this video, so I guess we'll have to see if they check me out.
Stuff From Other Bloggers
- Ferdy on Films kicks off The Film Preservation Blogathon, which I have just submitted a contribution for. There's some interesting stuff going on there so even if you can't donate I'd recommend trying to write something for it.
- Christianne Benedict discusses Robert Heinlein's influence on 1950's science fiction
- Mettel Ray is hosting the Movie Roulette Blogathon
- Caz reviews The Age of Adaline