They’ve been warning us for years that the onslaught of digital distribution, torrents, iTunes, rental-by-mail services, and the new entertainment-in-pill-form (not available in some markets) was going to change everything. What they failed to warn us about were all the tragic implications of the entertainment glut.
Case in point: there are currently movies by Wes Anderson and the Coen brothers showing in theaters available for anyone to watch, but I have yet to see either. Instead, I watched The Omen: 666 the other night, just for the sake of getting my Netflix queue moving again. Other stuff I’ve watched since those movies have been released: the unforgivably abysmal Highlander: The Source on Sci-Fi; four episodes of the TV show “Ghost Hunters;” an episode of “Ace of Cakes” (that I’d already seen!); 300 again, only to see if the Blu-Ray made things better (it doesn’t); Superman II, to see if it’s as good as I remember it (it definitely isn’t); and Ratatouille to see the new short (awesome) and to see how long I could last until the objectivist undertones made me turn it off (about 20 minutes).
So I can’t really make the argument that I’m avoiding the theaters because there’s good stuff to watch at home. To be fair, though, it’s usually more exciting to read about movies on the internet than it is to actually watch them. The potential energy of the DOOM trailer could have powered a city, provided that city used engines running on perceived awesomeness. The reality couldn’t have sparked a penlight. So here’s more stuff on the internet about movies!
- There’s a new trailer for Cloverfield (previously just called “1-18-08” or “Untitled J.J. Abrams Project”) that’s not only renewed my interest, but has got me even more excited. The teaser was so indescribably cool that I’d put myself on a media blackout for the movie, afraid that finding out too much about it would pour cold water over everything. But it looks like the “filmed on home camcorder” gimmick is used throughout the entire thing, which is a brilliant idea: it’s a first-person monster movie! I’m predicting it’s the one really great scene from War of the Worlds (the flaming train), repeated over and over again. Or, it’s The Blair Witch Project with a big budget and CGI. But I still have a month and a half to be optimistic.
- Kevin Smith’s blog has a post about his crush on Seth Rogen and the casting for his movie Zack and Miri Make a Porno that would be so over-the-top gushing and self-effacing you’d think it was impossibly phony, if not for three things: 1) Kevin Smith’s turned self-effacing into an industry; 2) It’s nice to believe that at some level, it’s still possible for Hollywood to break down to just people working on stuff they’re fans of; and 3) Seriously, who doesn’t love Seth Rogen? He’s got pretty much the same aura as Kevin Smith himself, which is that whether his work is brilliant or not, you just can’t help rooting for the guy.
- For the record, The Omen: 666 wasn’t all that bad, considering. But that may be just because I think the original is one of the stupidest movies ever made. It’s basically two hours of dozens of people telling Gregory Peck his son is the Antichrist, and his being too dense to catch on (“Hmm, no, I’m still just not seeing it.”). At least the remake was slightly more plausible, in that Julia Stiles really did seem like she didn’t like the kid. And Liev Schreiber came across as more of just an uptight overprivileged white guy than a total idiot. So in short, the remake was inessential, but if you’re going to insist on making a remake of The Omen, they did about as good a job as you can possibly do.
- Rome isn’t a movie, but I feel obligated to mention it again since I was ragging on it earlier. Once you get a few hours into it, it’s really engrossing and very good. The production values were high enough to cancel it after two years, and they remain high throughout. But what really sells it is exactly the kind of thing you only get from episodic storytelling: a story that feels epic and ridiculously detailed, simply due to repetition and the ability to see a bunch of “smaller” scenes. You don’t see huge battles on this show, but you see how the battles affect the dozens of people the story follows. It also bugged me in the first few episodes how much of the stories seemed to be based on random chance or coincidence, but they had Caesar explicitly mention that in one episode, which makes it okay. In fact, that’s one of the themes of the series, how fate pulls Pullo and Vorenus into making a huge impact on Roman history. Plus: frequent nudity.
- The short film “Your Friend the Rat” that comes on the Ratatouille DVD is excellent. It feels like the Pixar guys got the chance to throw every possible style of animation and art style at the thing, and it’s just bursting with the feeling of a ton of absurdly creative people finally getting an outlet for their talent. It feels a lot like the classic Disney shorts of the 70s, and even a little like “Schoolhouse Rock,” in that it’s not afraid to bounce all over the place in different styles. I think that alone was worth the cost of the DVD.
So this Thanksgiving weekend, I’m in Georgia at my parents’ house without much to do. Am I going to see The Darjeeling Limited or No Country for Old Men or even Beowulf, or am I going to read the same RSS feeds and watch hours of the worst programming the Food network and Sci-Fi channel have to offer? (Note: if you’re the betting type, odds are strongly in favor of the second one.)