Here's Where The Story Ends

8:11 PM Posted In , , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
I wanted to start watching Being Erica with my new Netflix trial subscription today, but clearly that didn't happen...yet. I just wanted to post this update about a trail of thought I just had.

'Water For Elephants', a book I LOVED, came out in movie form this weekend. It didn't do spectacularly. I thought the casting was weird from the beginning in terms of cast chemistry - I imagined the castmates a lot closer in age when reading the book - and sure enough, it was a big factor in the ho hum reviews the film received.

This got me to thinking how many books are turned into movies these days. Just as Hollywood loves a remake, they love source material with a strong following behind it. That's why nearly every major chick lit author has a movie to her name these days, with Emily Giffin just weeks away from her six-year-old debut novel showing up on the silver screen, with 'Something Borrowed'.

In some ways, it's a cool thing. I can't tell you how often I've finished a book or series (most recently, the Hunger Games) and then fiended for the movie adaptation. But then I have problem with that. Don't you think it's a little weird that we pay to go and watch inflated versions of what the author already masterfully created in our minds? That we are watching stories we already know the endings to?

I'll admit part of the pull of seeing a movie adaptation of a book is seeing things "come to life", but more often than not, these movie adaptations fail to live up to our expectations...which begs the question, what's the point?

In fact some of the best book adaptations on film come from books that are either kinda crappy to begin with (hi 'Bridget Jones Diary') or better yet, aren't that well known at all, making the film feel like a fresh inventive concept with an author's unique point of view or clever idea 'brought to life' the way it should be - as the SEED of an idea (see: 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' for a solid, if not perfect example). That's why novellas and short stories actually make for better book adaptations - the more complicated the plot device (sigh, 'The Time Traveler's Wife') the harder the film has to work to dilute it down to a singular concept the average, non-book-reading moviegoer can comprehend. So what you get is a film that uses the seed of the book you love...but ties it to a movie genre, instead of letting the story define the genre, or possibly reinvent it.

I just find it weird that Hollywood continues to use books as source material, particularly wildly popular ones, and only hits the mark - and even then 90% of the time you say "Well it wasn't as good as the book but---" - about a quarter of the time. The Harry Potter movies, or to an extent the Lord of the Rings trilogy, are the rare trilogies that have such compelling action that lends it self to movies, and a unique mythology / world not seen on film before, that they consistently succeed...although EVERYONE that's seen them will contend there's so much missing from the films it's impossible to compare them.

I should point out that all of this came from the fact I can't remember the last time a movie script had a ton of lock & key buzz to it. 'Inception' is a decent example, although it wasn't so much about keeping things quiet as there being no simple way to describe what the film was about. That being said, that buzz alone was enough to propel that into one of last year's big blockbusters. And you know what? It stemmed from a wholly original idea.

When I questioned myself, why aren't there more lock & key scripts like that? Ones that get the populus buzzing? It's cause we're simply asking Hollywood to remake stories we already know the ending to...and as a result plot takes a back seat. Instead, we're judging it more for technical elements like 'casting' or 'script' or 'interpretation' (heaven forbid) when we've already made it clear the films can never live up to the books. Problematic much?

- Britt's On

Better Left Said

2:10 PM Posted In , , Edit This 0 Comments »

So...we're down to the Final 8 in this season of Survivor: Redemption Island, and it's been kind of a snoozy season. At first Boston Rob's domination of the game was exhilarating. Now it's just kind of predictable, and I wonder if anyone will be powerful enough to make a play to knock him out once we get down to the final 6 Ometepe kids. And if they do, it'll almost be disappointing that someone has rocked this season so hard, only to get bamboozled in the final moments. Then again, maybe it'd be nice for Rob to win. I'm torn.

My main reason for posting this though, is how WEIRD this season has been. I've noticed a lot of comments from the peanut gallery about how the reason why this season has been so snoozy is the only characters that get any airtime are Rob, Philip, and the occasional commentary from a member of the Zapatera tribe (David was pretty cool, I miss him). Is it bad casting? Are the chickies and football player on Ometepe really that boring? Or are the editors trying to hide something from us?

I just feel like a lot is being LEFT out, so instead we're being treated to some mild drama around camp, usually surrounding Philip. For is it that no one on Ometepe, pre-merge, questioned the existence of immunity idols? One could argue that after Kristina's was used, they all assumed no more would be given out - but Grant (and Philip, to a degree) knew there were clues leading to a second one. Why didn't they show Grant searching aimlessly for it? Or did Rob reveal he had it? Or did Grant guess Rob found it already? I'm just confused as to why none of the inevitable interview segments surrounding the idol have been completely left out. I also wish I saw more from Rob's harem surrounding their devotion to him. Who thinks they're going to the Final 3, and why hasn't in-fighting and Rob's multi-person promises come to light? Or are they holding onto all of that till the final 6?

Part of me thinks this group is just sailing towards the finish like Tocantins, with the mutual understanding that it might not be such a bad thing for Rob to win the whole thing...I mean we haven't seen a shred of ambition from one of these kids (at least not one that's been left on the editing room floor) aside from Andrea's brief night of plotting with Matt by the campfire. They teased that next week Andrea might be walking the plank - a reminder that Rob never forgot Matt sold her out - but I'd be surprised if that's the case. That being said, Andrea has the weakest ties to Rob of the bunch, so I can see that he sees her as a threat. She's done well in challenges, doesn't have the same level of animosity around here that the other girls do, and she has Matt and Philip's votes if she makes it to the end. Is that enough to motivate her to make a power play? Doubtful.

I don't know. I don't know how I feel about this season. It feels like Rob's tribe has been as restrained by the editors as the Zapatera folks are spouting they are around camp. I love Rob as a character, and I commented earlier on this season that every season would be better with a little Rob in it, but his sheer domination over these unseasoned players has been kind of painful to watch...especially since they really do just seem like drones, based on the editing. I just want SOMETHING to happen. Don't keep me waiting much longer Survivor!

- Britt's On


9:11 AM Posted In , , , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
I just looked back at my last few posts and realized I forgot to talk about the Oscars, like, at all. Which is a big deal when you consider I attended the damn show last year and wrote a million billion posts about it.

Anyway general thoughts:

- Snoozy year in general. 2010 was a terrible year for movies, and it shouldn't have been so up-in-the-air about who would win Best Picture. I mean, landslides are boring too, but I like the thrill that comes with a film that has a large public momentum behind it...Slumdog Millionaire being the most recent example. Or give me a proper showdown like last year's Hurt Locker vs. Avatar fight. This year was just...too predictable, and unsatisfactorily so.

- I thought Toy Story 3 was the best movie of the year last year. Technically speaking, it should have been honored in the way the final Lord of the Rings film was, as the perfect wrap-up to a trilogy. However the Toy trilogy spans some 15-ish years, so I'm not surprised the Academy didn't see things that way.

- If TS3 couldn't win, then The Social Network should have won. It's wildly entertaining, expertly acted, supremely paced, and most importantly, a beacon of where we are today, in this moment. I'm all for historical movies, but a film like TSN deserves to be hallmarked, so that when kids thirty years from now decide to watch all the Best Picture winners, they can scratch their heads at 'What's facebook?'

- I wanted an acting upset. Somewhere. Annette over Natalie. Hailee over Melissa. Something. I got nothing.

- I kind of found James Franco more entertaining than Anne Hathaway, who was in full Cinderella-pretty-princess-look-at-me-aren't-I-relatable-but-so-much-luckier-than-you mode. I like Anne, generally speaking. I think she gets a lot of roles I wouldn't have cast her in. But I take issue with the fact her image is supposed to be so relatable when in fact, she's the multi-million dollar product of Rachel Zoe's styling expertise. JF was the WRONG choice to host, I called that from the beginning, and I hope they go back to comedians next year, but I found his down tempo candor kind of refreshing.

- Mila Kunis looked smoking, although I found her dress a tad distracting. Honestly the red carpet was pretty snoozy as well this year. So glad I went last year instead!

That's all. I saw 8/10 of the Best Picture nods, and I still plan to watch the final two. Here is my Oscar ballot, aka picks in order for best to worst:

1. Toy Story 3
2. The Social Network
3. Inception (interchangeable with TKS honestly. I get why TKS won.)
4. The King's Speech
5. Black Swan
6. Winter's Bone
7. The Fighter
8. True Grit

To see: 127 Hours + The Kids Are Alright

- Britt's On

Best TV Show First Seasons

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Last night I started watching the fifth and final season of Friday Night Lights. Can I first of all point out it's really nifty that they have it out on DVD simultaneously with the TV series premiering on NBC next week? As someone who owns (and lends out) the DVD series to everyone, I jumped on buying it instead of waiting week-to-week. Of course, this means I will get through the show faster, which is depressing after last night's heart-tugging opener.

I reflected that FNL had one of the best series premieres ever...and it got me thinking to the best series premieres of all time, and I realized that generally speaking, the shows with the best series premieres end up having the best first seasons. A show with a fantastic premiere (at least in its first season) rarely fails to live up to said standard. After the first season, it's a crapshoot. So instead of creating two separate lists of best premieres and best first seasons, I present my list of the best first seasons (and generally speaking, premieres) ever.

The OC - Remember when Mischa Barton was a fashion icon? And Rachel Bilson had curves? And Seth Cohen was charmingly self-conscious? And Luke had a gay dad? And Julie was a 'Real Housewife'-in-training? And Ryan's brooding desire to save people was sweet? And Oliver was a total psychopath? And the show was actually funny and shocking in equal parts? Sigh. Few shows, in particular teen shows, will top the glory that is the first season of The OC.

Lost - I was a latecomer to Lost, catching up on the first four seasons in quick succession literally days before the fifth one began. I'm kind of glad I did watch it on DVD so I could (somewhat) solve the confounded mysteries instead of being stumped for weeks. Few shows had as strong a premiere or first season as Lost - where characters were in constant peril, mysteries were piling on top of one another (but not to the hysterical levels they were in future seasons), and insight into each character's life was something to be savoured...and tied in very nicely with what was happening with their on-island selves. In retrospect, the first season is a little tedious compared to future ones (after all, they only thing they discover is the hatch and a whole lot of WTFuckery?) but I constantly hear complaints about s2's "Tailies" and s3's venture into the "Others" territory, so S1 really is a holy bastion of wonderfulness.

Friday Night Lights - I put up a serious fuss about watching FNL. I thought the actors looked smug on the cover. I didn't like the movie very much. I'd seen a clip on TV of Tyra's mom in the middle of a drinking binge and thought it looked lame. Alas, one day we popped season 1 in the DVD player and I was INSTANTLY hooked. The premiere is one of the most captivating ever, and the glorious full length of the first season allowed you to see many different facets of these humanly flawed characters. True, the series felt a little long compared to the length of an actual high school football season, but have 20+ episodes to play around with allowed for so much more than the protracted seasons we now have.

Desperate Housewives - I no longer watch DH because of this first season, and all that it stood for. A hilarious satire of soap operas, the show was whip smart, hilariously funny, and ooey gooey twisty turny. The women were a lot more entrenched in their archetypes - a good and bad thing - and we had some characters that added a lot of flavour to the show...Martha Huber, Edie, Paul, Rex (!), John to name a few. Plus it made sense for Mary-Alice to actually make guest appearances. Part of me thinks they blew their load (sorry, graphic) too early by giving up Mary-Alice's secret, and then following that same format year-after-year. The show was just so fresh, and the supposed cattiness of the stars (particularly come awards season) was entertaining fodder as well. Shame they've now become exactly what they were mocking in the first place - a big, stinky, soap.

Survivor - Talk about The Real World however much you want, this is when reality TV became part of the popular zeitgeist. I started watching about a third of the way through, I think on the episode when Gretchen was eliminated. My family and I quickly became hooked (and played reverse catch-up before the finale) and were surfing the wave of popular culture along with the rest of North America when Richard and Kelly went head-to-head in the much-watched finale. Watching the first season of Survivor now seems a little laughable. The naivete of the castaways is nearly infuriating, the props and challenges look amateurish, and even little details like the cheesy graphics or the fact Jeff doesn't have this catchphrases quite nailed down make for a charmingly docile entry for one of the genre's most resilient franchises.

Solid Contenders:

Pretty Little Liars - the first season just wrapped up and golly was it good...the show lacks (male) character development and one of their best actresses is, unfortunately, dead but the constant guessing game has made it into the teeny bopper version of Lost. Only with blind flute players instead of rampant polar bears.

The Walking Dead - in six little episodes this show blew me away. Again, it could use some work on character development, but you can only expect so much from a half-dozen episodes. Incidentally, if I were to make a 'best premieres evahhh' list, this show would easily end up on it. The fact it was like watching a little movie every week made for a completely enthralling tv-watching experience.

Mad Men - There was lots to like in Season 1. The near-weekly ad pitches (that were sadly absent for much of S2 & S3). Don's lothario ways weren't tired, and Rachel Menken was his most lovely dalliance to date. Betty's desperate housewife act earned equal parts raised eyebrows and empathy. Admittedly however, the pacing was a little slow (although it crawled in S2) compared to the punchier, zippier feeling of S3 & S4, where the show took that initial foundation and skyrocketed our characters to new levels before slamming them back down to earth.

Modern Family - Everyone keeps telling me that this current season isn't as funny as last season (I just caught up on them both over the last three months). I agree getting to know the characters and their funny little quirks - Cameron's a jock! - was funnier the first time around, as opposed to somewhat rehashing elements of their personality this season, but I'm not totally convinced that Season 1 is the best this show has to offer...Season 2 has still shocked and delighted me, and the first few episodes of S1 has some weirdness they've since dropped, so I won't peg their first season as the best ever...but I will say it's definitely one of THE best first seasons for a 30-minute sitcom.

- Britt's On

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