10 for ’10 – Blogging Moments

22 12 2010

Catch up with the idea behind this series here.

2010 was my first full calendar year of blogging, and I sure have enjoyed every post of it.  However, there were those that I enjoyed a little bit more than the rest.  Here were my highlights of 2010 (in no particular order):

Milestones

1,000+ comments and 20,000+ views

I find plenty of satisfaction in just the craft of writing; I don’t really need quantifiable markers of success to bring me happiness.  But I will admit, it sure is nice to look at my dashboard in the morning and see an extra digit in the comments/views.  These were both reached in July, and I’m happy to say that since then, this blog has logged a cumulative total of 1,740 comments and 34,500 views to date.  So thanks for visiting and commenting … don’t be afraid to do it some more!

(500) Random Factoids

I’ve been logging a factoid every day since day (1).  When I started to blog, I was in a pretty major “(500) Days of Summer” phase, so I decided then that I would have to watch the movie on my (500)th day of blogging.  So, needless to say, I was very happy to have my celebration (500) days in the making.

1,000 posts

Hard to believe I’ve been blogging so long that I’ve logged 1,000 posts.  Factoids help, but I had 489 “serious” posts too.  That’s a whole lot of keyboarding.

Honors

LAMB Casting Winner

… and twice, nonetheless!  Thanks to all the voters of the LAMB who think I could cut it as a casting director in Hollywood!  It sure made me beam to win – and then to pick the subsequent movie to be recast.

Events

Nolan Marathon / Fincherfest

I got a little excited for the releases of “Inception” and “The Social Network” – so much so that I spent the entire week before revisiting and reviewing all the directors, Nolan and Fincher, respectively, and their past works.  The result was a renewed appreciation for their movies and an enhanced perspective when seeing their latest movies.  It worked so well that now I just have to plan ahead my weeks for 2011.

Marshall & Julie

The event that scared most of you all away because it looked like chapters of a book, largely because they were, was one of the most personally rewarding experiences for me this year.  Looking back on a year’s worth of blogging by reading “Julie & Julia,” the book that inspired the movie that inspired this blog, led to some pretty interesting insights.  If you have some time on your hands this holiday season, why not go revisit the series?

The Origins Project

The project that brought a little corner of the movie blogosphere together may rank among my proudest achievements this year.  I loved seeing the community come together to answer a few simple questions about what got us started blogging and what keeps us going.  Everyone gave such interesting and unique answers, and I was always fascinated by what I posted each day for a month.  It’s still worth a read – go seek out your favorite blogger in the project’s annals!

New Features

Save Yourself!

When it comes to stirring up good discussion, it’s hard to beat something that goes totally against popular opinion.  Writing a review that goes along with every point that all the critics make does little to engage readers.  The “Save Yourself” pieces I wrote this year got some of the best discussion on this site.  People either rallied behind my hatred, saying they felt oppressed in feeling the same way, or went crazy in defense of the movie they loved.  I didn’t care who thought what; I was just happy to have them comment!

Classics Corner

I sometimes doubted my own cinematic expertise, being so poorly versed in classic cinema.  So, with the establishment of the “Classics Corner” series, I renewed my commitment to being a better cinephile by requiring myself to watch at least one classic movie a month.  So far, I’ve seen some very interesting ones, and they’ve illuminated fascinating things about what I watch now.

A Facebook fan page!

I took a big step this year and created a Facebook fan page for my blog!  I’ve been experimenting with various ways to make it work, although I will admit that all these attempts have been pretty half-hearted.  The building blocks are there from 2010, but in 2011, I intend to build mountains.

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SAVE YOURSELF from “Tron”

5 12 2010

Disney has invested quite a bit of money into promoting “Tron: Legacy” – $150 million, to be exact.  I’ve been watching as they’ve hyped this movie for the past three years with a fair bit of skepticism.  I’ve wondered why they need such a massive push for a big-budget visual effects spectacle for quite some time, so over the fall, I decided to look for answer in “Tron,” its 28-year-old predecessor.

I found one pretty good reason to promote “Tron: Legacy” so excessively: the original “Tron” is TERRIBLE!  And not even terrible in the sense that you can step back and laugh at it; it’s just terrible!

Sure, the visual effects are obscenely outdated, and that’s reason for a few giggles.  It’s also dated by kids playing games at an arcade.  I mean, who does THAT anymore?  I guess you could say that watching “Tron” certainly gives you an appreciation for the flawless integration of FX into movies, and it sure makes you want to bow at the feet of “Avatar” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

With its extensive use of computer graphics for visual spectacle, “Tron” is considered by many to be a pioneering film in technological development and a window into the future.  Well, I can tell you know from a 2010 perspective that the future came and left “Tron” in the dust a very long time ago.  Plenty of movies have done similar things, and watching “Tron” is like sending a telegram when you could just send a text message: that’s to say extremely antiquated and a futile waste of time.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s something very cool and novel about seeing how things were done in the past and seeing our progress.  But it’s brutal when that movie doesn’t have any value other than its depreciation to offer.  “Tron” has a completely incoherent plot that baffled moviegoers back in 1982 because it dealt so much with the unfamiliar computers.  The filmmakers claimed that it was misunderstood back when the movie came out largely to cover the movie’s lackluster box office receipts.  (To be fair, there was also a little science-fiction movie called “E.T.” dominating the market at the same time.)

Yet even now, in a generation of overexposure to computers, the movie still doesn’t make sense!  All I could discern from that plot was that Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn invented the TRON program, his intellectual property was stolen, and he beams himself inside the program to prove his creation.  From then on, it’s a total mess of seemingly unconnected events inside the computer that have little going for them other than the retro ’80s appeal.

The movie has managed to become a cult hit over the years, and I’m a little flabbergasted that people actually love this movie.  I don’t see anything other than effects that are funny for a few minutes, and then when the novelty wears off, we are left with nothing but a snooze of a movie with a strange plot.

So I’m honestly shocked that Disney would throw so much behind “Tron: Legacy” when the original is so pathetic.  I think they know it and are starting to fret that people like me would see the 1982 movie; according to a report in The Los Angeles Times, the DVD of the original is pretty hard to find since Disney is hardly releasing any new copies to meet the demand.  Most studios release some new edition of a predecessor when a sequel comes out, and a special edition of “Tron” is nowhere to be seen.

“Tron: Legacy” is being built as the cinematic equivalent of Wall Street’s “too big to fail” companies.  The commonly held theory is that if enough money is poured into a production, moviegoers will recognize the investment and go see it on blind faith.  While the fanboy hype is high on this release, reality may be setting in that this might not have been such a smart move (which I could have told you the second I finished the original).  According to The Hollywood Reporter, tracking indicates an opening weekend of a low $35 million, which would mean the movie would probably only net about $150-$175 million in the United States.

Given that the film will cost the studio $320 million by December 17, these numbers would be catastrophic for Disney.  Just as when the “too big to fail” firms sunk led to change on Wall Street, /Film reports that if “Tron: Legacy” were to bomb, the impact on Hollywood could be enormous.  My prediction is that if the sequel is anything like the 1982 “Tron,” the road to failure has already been paved.





SAVE YOURSELF from “Punch-Drunk Love”

20 04 2010

I see a lot of movies, and not all of them are good.  However, I don’t really have a system of reviewing them here.  So, I decided that I needed a feature on “Marshall and the Movies” that allowed me to post reviews of bad movies.  I enjoy informing you what’s worth seeing, but I also think it to be my duty to steer you clear of the awful ones.  (In addition, people seem to get more riled up when you don’t like things than when you love them.)

The name of this series is “SAVE YOURSELF!”  Consider it the anti-“F.I.L.M. of the Week.”  These are movies that no one should be forced to sit through; a “F.I.L.M.” is a movie that everyone should see.

The inaugural pick of this series is “Punch-Drunk Love,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s quirky “comedy” that scored him the Best Director award at Cannes in 2002.  Critics loved it, and so I figured I would give it a chance after PTA’s “There Will Be Blood” left me somewhat disappointed.

After watching “Punch-Drunk Love,” I was definitely disappointed.  But it was more than the usual disappointment – I was also baffled.  These are 90 of the most bizarre minutes of my moviewatching career.  Anderson’s script dabbles in some of the strangest situations – being ripped off by a phone sex operator, exploiting a loophole in a pudding rewards system, finding a harmonium in the middle of a street – which baffle more than they entertain.

I had heard that “Punch-Drunk Love” was a fresh take on the romantic comedy.  I’ll agree with that statement, sans the romance or the comedy.  There isn’t the slightest chemistry between leads Adam Sandler and Emily Watson.  I admit that it’s not supposed to be your typical couple seeing as how Sandler’s character has some serious mental issues, but the relationship that blossoms feels so … wrong, if that makes any sense.  And as for the comedy, Anderson’s humor left me dumbfounded and cringing instead of laughing.

There are plenty of people who love this movie; I even found a fan site exploring “Punch-Drunk Love” as a piece of expressionistic art.  I don’t mind “artsy” movies, but when they are so focused on the art that they forget entertainment and captivation, then I lose interest.  Unless you are the “film snob” type, I would strongly recommend that you stay far away from “Punch-Drunk Love.”