Saturday, April 11, 2009

Terminator Sarah Connor Chronicles + Dollhouse

The April 10th installments of these series (Terminator's was the season finale) both delivered satisfying complexity. Terminator has gotten more interesting than the movies were--and I liked T1 & T2 a lot. Dollhouse is finally achieving what Whedon and Dushku both promised in interviews: that from the 6th episode on things would get interesting. They have, and it is. In both series we're getting fascinating plot arcs.

This means new viewers are going to get lost. So get the first seasons of both on DVD and watch them before tackling what's going on now. It'll be worth your while.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Parks & Recreation" review

"Parks & Recreation" isn't a remake of "The Office"--it's a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1951 classic drama "Ikiru." I don't have inside knowledge--I've just seen most of the classic movies. "Ikiru" wasn't a comedy--in it, the midlevel bureaucrat Amy Poehler plays discovers he has 6 months to live--but the plot of trying to build a little park against all odds, in general and in detail--that comes straight from "Ikiru." I'm a little dismayed none of the reviewers thus far have noticed this. It's not like "Ikiru" is an obscure film to film buffs, many of whom consider Kurosawa to be the greatest movie director of all time.

Doesn't mean "Parks & Recreation" is destined for greatness. Depends on execution. And a lot of the humor is pretty broad. But it may get there. Steal from the best, I say.

Actor to look for while Amy Poehler is cheerfully mugging her way through her scenes is her smarter sidekick, played by Rashida Jones, the anti-Jim Carrey of comedy. Understated, subtle. Great work.

Monday, April 6, 2009

3D is dragging me back to the cineplex

For years I've gotten more and more disenchanted with going to the movies. Pushing me away from the theater: the rudeness and piggishness of many patrons, the shrinking screens (anyone remember Cinerama? It put Imax to shame), the tickets costing the same as a recent DVD (if two people go).

Pulling me toward home: our 46" Samsung 120Hz HD TV, plugged it into our home theater, with an upscaling DVD player (still waiting for Blu-Ray prices to come down).

Plus the fact that the best TV shows have something no movie, no matter how sublime, can match: as many as 200 hours or so to tell your story in. Comparing that to a movie is like comparing a haiku to Tolstoy.

Back in the 50's, movie theaters lured people from their new TVs with big screen extravaganzas, and that still can work, but many movies are made for TV viewing--just look at how much of the movie is done in medium and close-up shots. I see no reason to slog to a theater for that.

Enter 3D. We saw "Bolt," which I thought would be just OK. It was actually quite good--and the 3D was superb. Rich and deep. And our TV apparently can't support any of the home 3D technology in the works. Nor, probably, will most TV sets.

So it's back to the theater--for the best 3D movies at least.