Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Swing and a Miss!

I like to start my film classes with a not-quiz called "20 Terms to Get You Started."  This list includes technical terms such as "fade" and "jump cut," but also includes the wonderful phrase "Sturgeon's Law."  Theodore Sturgeon is credited with promulgating the idea that "90% of everything is trash."*  As I explain to my class, this is the reason we only study the remaining 10%.  This being said, you sometimes can't steer clear of the shoals presented by the 90%.

This weekend, for example, my Wanna Cook? co-author and I excitedly attended an area production of Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  This is a show that came to life on the Internet as a direct result of the writer's strike of 2007 - 2008.  It's a hilarious, oddly touching science fiction/superhero musical - and that's a completely inadequate description.  We were thrilled to be able to see it translated into a live performance.  Sadly, we wound up doing something we never do - we left at the intermission.

Seriously - this was a blue plate special of awful, which I why I won't include the name of the production company or location in this post, as I'm sure they're all nice people.  We got an inkling that things were not as they should be when the venue kept us outside in the cold because the sound check wasn't complete.  Then the director (who was walking around with a welded wire horse's head strapped to his cranium making me think that some unholy melding of Bad Horse and Equus had taken place) announced that four (count 'em - FOUR)  roles were being played by understudies.  Then the projection tech didn't work, which had Spinal Tap moments of unintended comedy.  And the final strike - the performers had been so badly miked that I suspected sabotage from the Fox network.  Listen, I'm a kind critic.  I know how much work goes into putting on a show, but I was in total agreement with my co-author when he said, "The way I look at it, I paid $10 to get in and $10 to get out.  I don't begrudge a cent of it."

We then went to see The Descendants, a film which is getting heavy Oscar buzz.  After seeing it, I have no idea why.  It's not that it was an awful movie; it wasn't.  It just wasn't particularly good, either.  The film is getting extremely positive reviews, but I trust my taste.  Alexander Payne, who directed here, also was at the helm of Sideways, which deals with some similar character types, and I'll admit to liking it more, although it also isn't among my "must haves."  Maybe it was just an off night - happens.

COMING SOON:  The film class tackles the "mad scientist" trope in James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein.  Also - coming in about two weeks (on 2/22), I start adding "Walter White Wednesdays" on this blog to comment on and question the goings-on in Breaking Bad.  Get your popcorn and join me!

*Actually, Sturgeon used a word that is a bit more colorful than "trash," but you get the idea.

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