Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Opposing Sectors of Cinema: An Academic Paper

Greetings one and all. I am here tonight to acknowledge my absence once again, only without the theatrically long intro. The purpose of this post is merely to share a movie-related paper that I had to write for my English class. In case you cannot already imagine, this assignment was an absolute thrill to receive. Seriously, I do not recall enjoying a school assignment this much, and when I finished I felt genuinely happy. I felt myself glowing as if I went under some sort of detox. I never went through detox personally, but I think you would feel pure or amazing or whatever. I wouldn't even consider detox. I like drinking way too much. Anyway, the topic of this paper was to contrast two movies. My choices? Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman. Refer to An Unimpressive Year for the Oscars where I discuss both films. Spoiler: Birdman sucked. As you read the paper, just remember that this had to be turned in to an English professor, so it's written as a formal essay. Enjoy!

The Opposing Sectors of Cinema
Entertainment is usually considered to be the primary purpose of cinema. Ideally, every film should fulfill this purpose in some aspect. Whether it involves an interesting plot or a meticulous detail in cinematography, the viewer should be captivated by what they perceive on the screen. The films Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman differ in various ways. For starters, the actors’ portrayals of their respective characters are remarkably real in Grand Budapest Hotel and clumsy and artificial in Birdman. As the plot in Grand Budapest Hotel moves forward gracefully, the plot in Birdman experiences disturbing halts that ruin its overall flow. Lastly, the director of Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson, orchestrates a symphony on the screen, while the director of Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárrito, stumbles in the procession of his flawed creation.
         While the casts of Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman are full of talent, the performances given in each film were vastly different from one another. Beyond filling the roles of quirky characters, the actors in Grand Budapest Hotel gave praiseworthy and realistic performances. Like most directors, Wes Anderson has a specific posse of actors he utilizes in each film. This specialization works in the film’s benefit, for it enhances the quality of the film and its characters while allowing the actors to exert their utmost potential. Among Anderson’s oddball round-up of actors are Ralph Fiennes (who has never appeared in his films yet fits right in), Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and more. Each of his team members has a unique role to fill in the movies, to some degree, which provides the actors an opportunity to embody a zany character. Edward Norton, who is known for more serious, Method roles, assumed the persona of Inspector Henckels of Zubrowka (the fictional region in Eastern Europe where the films takes place; moreover, his performance was seamless and utterly amusing, permitting the film as well as Norton himself to shine that much more. The centerpiece of acting in this fine picture is, indubitably, Ralph Fiennes, who portrays the suave concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel, M. Gustave. Like Norton, Fiennes is recognized for dramatic roles like the ruthless Nazi commandant, Amon Goeth, in Schindler’s List. In Grand Budapest Hotel, however, Ralph Fiennes had the surprisingly challenging task of a lighter role; indeed, making audiences laugh is typically more difficult than making them cry. As expected, the talented Fiennes shrouded himself into the role, transforming on screen into the dashing M. Gustave and captivating viewers in the process. His performance was enveloped into the smooth elegance of his character, convincing audiences that was the greatest concierge in Zubrowka. It is truly abhorrent that he, as well as the rest of the actors, received no award recognition for his astounding performance. The acting in Birdman, on the other hand, did not merit the accolades it received, for it bordered along the lines of mediocrity. The assembly of actors in this film equates the caliber of those in Grand Budapest Hotel, more or less; however, the acting portrayed in Birdman did not mirror the talent of its players. In situations where the actor’s performance is not compatible with their capabilities, the director is the prime suspect to blame. Interestingly, the sole actor whose performance was not lacking was Edward Norton, who also appeared in Birdman as a Method actor with “performance problems” off stage. As for the remainder of the cast, their acting faltered due to some anomaly. Michael Keaton, the leading man of the film, assumes the role of a washed-up actor, Riggan Thomson who directs and stars in a play he hopes will serve as his comeback. Irony aside, Riggan used to be a superhero in a franchise called “Birdman,” which has led him to form mental manifestations of the actual Birdman character to constantly whisper insults in his ear. Subsequently, Keaton must portray a mentally disturbed and slightly manic person; instead, he utilized the comedic chops which served him favorably in 1980s goofball roles to embody a depressed and realistic individual. This results in an awkward, haphazard performance that jolts viewers, confusing them as to who exactly is he trying to portray. Perhaps his character demanded this brand of madness, but Keaton was far too agitated and scattered, much like the film itself. As talented as the actors in both films are, the performances in Grand Budapest Hotel gleamed while those in Birdman stumbled upon each other.
         Moreover, as the script of Grand Budapest Hotel flows smoothly onto the screen, Birdman exhibits awkwardness in its progression. Indeed, the enchanting originality of Wes Anderson’s script becomes realized once the image of the Grand Budapest Hotel and its characters reaches viewers’ eyes. With this film, Anderson demonstrates his signature craft which includes aesthetic screenshots and idiosyncratic plot twists. The band of unusual characters in the film is amusingly varied: a decrepit and wealthy widow, a diabolical heir, a mysteriously peculiar assassin, a naïve and thorough inspector, and a secret society of hotel concierge. These characters make up a supporting portion of the film, contributing to its overall eccentricity and level of enjoyment. The essential plot of Grand Budapest Hotel involves the murder of the aforementioned widow and the implication of M. Gustave, who supposedly sought to gain the wealth she had left behind for him. As intriguing as this story already seemed, the film managed to branch out to degrees of sheer hilarity and adventure. The concise dialogue that resonates Anderson’s style somehow conveys purpose in an objectively meaningless film; truly, it is the artistic value of the film that makes it consummate cinema. On the contrary, the banality of Birdman’s premise is exceeded by the ineptitude among the players on screen. The general idea of the film sounded reasonably pleasant: an actor who once portrayed a superhero in a movie franchise seeks his comeback on stage, while having to confront his ego in the midst of a mid-life crisis. In fact, this plot sounded very familiar and therefore hackneyed. With this categorization in mind, it is nearly impossible not to notice the clichés the film succumbs to. In addition to the protagonist’s status as a flawed, desperate has-been, he must face his troubled daughter, Sam Thomson, who has just overcome a drug addiction in rehab. Sam, portrayed by Emma Stone, is now begrudgingly working as her father’s assistant; however, as expected with her addict background, there are critical issues between the two as she belittles his stance in the world of fame that he craves. She roasts her father’s intentions for producing the play not for the sake of art but as a pathetic attempt to stay relevant in cinema. Another obstacle Riggan Thomson faces is the appearance of Edward Norton’s character, Mike Shiner, a last-minute replacement of a supporting actor in Riggan’s production. Because Mike is a renowned Broadway star, Riggan feels he may be overshadowed in the play; therefore, he would return to a life of nostalgia and inferiority. The primary conflict is within Riggan himself, which is evident in the external ridicule he has faced. These scenarios of conflict are very predictable with such an insecure protagonist, and, as a result, the entire film becomes irksome and pretentious. The writing of a film can contribute to its dreamlike production as in Grand Budapest Hotel or to its pitiful prosaicism as in Birdman.
         Finally, the methods in which Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman were filmed demonstrate why one film triumphed and the latter plummeted in quality. Wes Anderson, like most talented directors, understands his task is to create a setting where all aspects of Grand Budapest Hotel are in harmony. Indeed, he dazzles the audience’s eye with his distinctive filming style and choice of setting. Here in Grand Budapest Hotel, he transports viewers to the fictional city of Zubrowka, a region in Eastern Europe that beautifully mimics the charm of folk villages. In some scenes, he reportedly used handmade miniature models for certain shots; the wide shots of the hotel itself, for example, are artificially constructed, giving the film a kitschy ambience. Many of the scenes are filmed in a rather two-dimensional manner, such as the ski chase scene between M. Gustave and the inspector. This simplicity gives the film a sort of pure innocence that characterizes both Grand Budapest Hotel and Anderson’s technique alike. Beyond the visual pleasures of the production design, the course of the film as a whole evolves tastefully. Wes Anderson conducts his cast with finesse, ensuring that the set environment is productive yet balanced. He organizes his troop of performers in a manner that provides a foundation of sound direction that permits them to act to their fullest potential. With this golden formula, Anderson brings to a life a gratifying rapport between the actors on screen, which in turn satisfies audiences with absolute entertainment. The execution of Birdman, however, was jarring and faulty in practically every sense. Films are often designed as a play within a play, underlining the historic link between the stage and the screen. What Birdman accomplished was a futile attempt to honor that cinematic tradition that resulted in pseudo-intellectual disorder. The entire production felt as if director Iñárritu was purposefully trying to make an artistic film, and this intention forces Birdman to enter the realm of pretentious cinema. Aside from the setting of a Broadway play, there are several other facets of the film that give away its pompousness. The cinematography itself was unsettling, as the cameraman hurriedly follows Keaton’s character around New York City. The camera movement gave the film the feel of a reality television show, which is enormously unfavorable for audiences expecting a movie. While many viewers interpreted this shaky cinematography as artistic, aesthetically-speaking, it is rather disturbing and redundant. The musical score of the film was bombarded with cacophonous jazz and rat-a-tat drumbeats. Oftentimes, this noisy score blocked out some of the film’s dialogue, inevitably making part of the script lost in translation. Throughout the film, Keaton’s character is harangued by this imaginary Birdman figure who represents his own self-loathing as a washed-up actor. While this inner conflict is logical considering Riggan’s insecurities, what the director choreographs near the end of the film is a preposterous action-packed scene involving building-size robots reminiscent of Transformers. This demonstration is all in Riggan’s head, of course, yet the transition in the movie itself is sudden and discordant; moreover, as Riggan witnesses this action circus, he begins to believe that he himself is actually the Birdman. The final act of the film perhaps completes the absurdity of its production: Riggan Thomson confronting his Birdman identity and flying out of a window into the sky. These countless inconsistencies and lack of order render Birdman as a film to be meaningless and appalling with no attributes of virtuosity. Direction of a film is incredibly significant regarding the final product, as it is verified with the illustrious Grand Budapest Hotel and the atrocious Birdman.

         In many ways, Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman contrast with one another. First off, the talented actors in each film gave astonishingly dissimilar performances. Furthermore, the plot development of Grand Budapest Hotel glides along on its own smooth momentum, while Birdman trips on itself innumerable times with its defective script. To conclude, Wes Anderson guides Grand Budapest Hotel with the steadiness of a true artist and Alejandro G. Iñárritu steers Birdman into incomprehensible disarray. The ultimate determinant of a film is the director who must organize his production in a manner that causes everything involved to synchronize beautifully. From the cast to the elements of the set, each aspect of the film must harmonize in order to create a piece of moving art. What is peculiar is the fact that actors can sometimes counteract the symptoms of a director, such as Edward Norton who was talented in both an excellent movie and a terrible one. This highlights the tantamount importance of an effective cast, for they can potentially save a film from infamy. Overall, every aspect of a film is crucial to its success and cinematic value, and talent is definitely key.

There you have it. That is how I am in the world of college and proper academia. While I feel it is a strong paper--I got an A+ after all, applause--I still enjoy my standard of writing on this blog. It resembles more of how I think and speak, and it is not as restrictive obviously. My grammar is better in college essays, of course. Anyway. I hope this post wasn't made in vain and that you at least enjoyed reading it. I said enjoyed a lot already. Have a good night.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sweaty Degradation

Hello everyone reading this, my name is Veronica and I have a slight addiction to YouTube Let's Plays. I felt the need to spice up my intro a little bit and chose to somewhat emulate Markiplier as a way of an homage. Or whatever you would call it. I'll start this post off by discussing this recent obsession, since I don't really have an idea as to what to write about. This hobby of watching other people play video games always festered within me, mostly because I myself cannot play video games well so why not watch other people do it. Play video games, I mean. The YouTube Let's Plays, in addition to showing gameplay, are simply hilarious to watch solely because of the gamer commentary. Two gamers I love to watch are Markiplier and Jacksepticeye. Writing their names in a movie blog may seem irrelevant and even silly, but they are a part of my life so they will be a part of this blog. I'll include links to their channels below so you can perhaps experience for yourself the astounding humor and entertainment behind these videos. All I can say about why I like them so much is that they are charismatic and funny. Markiplier especially because he is very, well, attractive. You know how us ladies are. Let's move on to actual blog content.

In my last post, I was right in the middle of the second season of Prison Break, noting its vastly improved quality from the first season. As I savored the last half of the season, I enjoyed every tense minute of it. The suspense in season two was genuine and not at all staged with the creation of obstacles and delays. The season smoothly ran at its own natural momentum without the need of artificial inconveniences. I realize that, as a television show, everything is artificial but the purpose of creating a good show is to make it feel real. Not reality-TV "real," but realistic as far as you can understand the situation. For example, season two documents the prisoners' life on the run, so of course there are inevitable circumstances that will obstruct the characters' freedom. The suspense in the season is real because they are out in the wide world, targeted by various sources such as the authorities and the ambiguous entity known as The Company. Another great quality about season two was the fact that the characters were not all together at all times like they were in prison in season one. This allowed the writers to branch off in different stories for each of the characters, giving the show much more variety and material to work with. Of course, the branch story I preferred was T-Bag hunting down the woman who turned him in. What happened there was he inserted himself into her household as the father-husband, wanting to make himself an actual family even if they are his captives. The scenes with T-Bag were truly emotional because you could see the trauma he had experienced in the past and how it transitioned into his criminal persona as an adult. In the end, he didn't harm the woman or her children, but rather returned to a life on the run with seething resentment at how his life turned out. Still my favorite character by the way. Note: I decided to start using the word "favorite" because it's hard to tip-toe around it. Plus I use it in everyday speech so might as well type it here. 

You will be missed. On the show.
His departure kind of killed the show itself.
Irony of ironies.
At the end of season two, most of the characters had landed in Panama. Why did the writers choose Panama of all cities, I do not know. Right now, I realize that I did not mention Special Agent Mahone once, which is totally wrong because he is one of my favorite characters. Portrayed by William Fitchner, who is yet another underused talented actor I like, Mahone is dedicated to catching Michael Scofield because he is a highly intelligent criminal who constantly evades him. In other words, Mahone has met his match. To further complicate the character, Mahone has a drug addiction that energizes him yet makes him twitch and falter when he goes through withdrawal. I like Mahone mostly because I like Fitchner's performance. The character himself resembles Kellerman in intelligence and experience, which is very favorable to me. Speaking of Kellerman, this season has made me absolutely love his character. Abandoned by The Company and Madam President, he was a lost soldier who turned rogue out of spite. He helped the Vice President assume the position of President of the United States, yet he was tossed aside solely because he was expendable. Of course, he absolutely was not expendable since he had valuable and dangerous information that could incriminate everyone in The Company, making him a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, fighting an influential force that controls even the government is futile. Knowing his fate, Keller decided to expose the U.S. government and its association with The Company. As these whistleblowing acts end up, Kellerman was killed, making me incredible sad that he was gone from the show. I understand why the writers did it, but it was still a tragic scene to see him know that he was going to die. The martyrs are always the most loved. Sometimes. Almost never actually.

Moving on to the next season, that is season three, we begin in a Panamanian prison called Sona. Why are we back in prison? Well, irony behold, the escapee prisoners are back in prison. Plot twist, but not really. The implicated party includes Michael Scofield, Teddy Bagwell, former Special Agent Mahone, and former prison guard Brad Bellick. Another plot twist? Scofield's brother, Lincoln Burrows, is now a free man who must help his brother escape. It's like the first season but reversed! Neat. At this point, I hope the sarcasm is obvious. I did not like this third season. At all. For starters, the show's setting in the South American prison is utterly disgusting. Take my word for it, the characters look rough in this season. And always so sweaty. Fortunately, this unbearable season was only thirteen episodes due to the writers' strike way back when. Even this reduced amount of episodes could not make it go by any slower. I need to emphasize just how slow and terrible this season was. There was no significant plot point that interested me. Even T-Bag was not as attractive and indelible as usual. The characters, overall, degenerated in how interesting and likable they are, particularly Michael who has become an irritable juvenile. Once brilliant and calm and collected, Scofield now reacts in an exaggerated way to any little frustration. Malone was another huge let-down. Because of his withdrawal, he had mentally and physically degraded into a fidgety junkie who no longer possessed that menacing intelligence. By that, I mean he was no longer intimidating or smart. I just wanted to combine the two characteristics into one sentence. What is somewhat amusing about this season is Bellick, who is now at the bottom of the food chain inside Sona and constantly found himself in embarrassing troubles. That's a laugh. Oh, and this season provides the reintroduction of obstacles.

The central plot, aside from Lincoln helping his brother escape, was helping another prisoner named James Whistler escape. Why you ask? Apparently, he's a special interest for The Company, who "hired" Michael Scofield to help him escape since Scofield is now the go-to savant in prison escape. How did The Company arrange for Scofield to be in prison again? Exactly. Unlike the previous seasons, The Company in season three and on is now a ridiculous circus operation, recruiting so-called tough agents who continuously intimidate those they encounter with threats that they can do "something bad" to them. And they can, we assume. Replacing Kellerman is "Special Agent" Gretchen Morgan, who conferences with Lincoln Burrows in aiding Scofield and Whistler's escape. Played by Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Miss Morgan is a caricature of an agent, relying on her supposed sexy good looks and cold stare to get the job done. This is B-movie level acting at its worst. If I sound vague when I describe the Company's tactics, it is on purpose because they are so cheesy. That's the ideal word to describe them, in addition to incompetent and buffoonish. Before they were a realistic evil that (most likely) hovers over society and covertly controls the country. Now, they are like a poorly-made action movie villain focused solely on one seemingly inconsequential task that involves bullying and "slick" one-liners. It's horrible how this show has degraded.

Inside Sona, the prisoners from Fox River are experiencing a primal environment where there is one group that rules the fortress and absolutely no prison guards. The leader is a man by the name Lechero who has a big ego and a even bigger booty. Booty means ass. T-Bag inserts himself into his posse as a shoe-polisher-type of confidante, which is disappointing considering what a calculating villain he was before. The entire "operation" Lechero is running in the prison is laughable, resembling pre-revolutionary France in the eighteenth century. It's a prison. They should not be presenting it like a republic regime, not because it is inaccurate, but because it is just silly and moronic. I really don't want to get into specific plot points because writing them down would be like reliving the season, and I really don't want to put myself through that agony again. All I will say is that the characters and interest-factor of the show have seriously rotted to its very core. This statement is further supported by the fourth season. I only watched the first episode of the fourth season so far, but it was enough to assess what the remainder of the show would succumb to. Again, it is a true shame that a show that was so genuinely engrossing had lowered itself to such B-movie filth. Filth not in the vulgar sense but in the pure shit-garbage sense.

Well I'm going to leave this post here. I wouldn't want to write too much because my writing is already eccentric enough as is. Excess writing the way I do would positively annihilate your brains, causing extreme exhaustion and possibly hallucinations. I will say that I've put season four of Prison Break on hold because I really cannot endure another season three. To fill the void of television show needs, I started watching Breaking Bad from the beginning with my dear 'ol dad, who has never seen the show. To my delight, he is really enjoying it! Stay tuned for more on that in the next post. Farewell.

And, as promised, here are the hilarious YouTube channels that I highly recommend you enjoy for yourselves, even if you don't like video games.
Markiplier's Channel
Jacksepticeye's Channel

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Obstacles Upon Obstacles

Greetings and salutations. I'd like to start this off by acknowledging how much I like the James Bond theme song. None of those songs they play in the beginning of each film, the ones sung by famous pop stars. I really enjoy the classic instrumental 007 theme. I'm saying this because I just saw a commercial for some many razor blade and they used the 007 theme. Pretty decent commercial too. Anyway, I felt like writing because I finished an exhilarating work-out and my mind is percolating with insights of all sorts. It may be an immature statement to call them insights, but I am very vain when it comes to my online alternate persona. I would never be that vain in person, at least I don't think I would be.... At the moment, I turned on that thing called cable television and was delighted to find that a 90s classic was playing on AMC: Face/Off. I feel as though I've written about this film before since it is an amazing movie, but here's a throwback for Thursday. (Note: This may not be posted until far into the future, as per usual.)

The movie Face/Off was directed by John Woo, a little-known filmmaker who made his fortune in Asia and, for a short period, in 1990s America. The other movies I know from him are Mission Impossible: II and Paycheck, but Face/Off is exceptional enough to instill his name in with the great directors. He's no Scorsese, but I do enjoy a stupidly wonderful 90s action movie. Here we go. The plot for Face/Off is truly ridiculous: Sean Archer (played by John Travolta) is an FBI agent whose son is killed by an assumed terrorist named Castor Troy (played by Nicholas Cage). To infiltrate his criminal pose, Archer undergoes face-transplant surgery with Troy. Yes, face-transplant surgery. The title is a literal reference to what goes down in the movie. The scene where the face-swap occurs is really disturbing. If you are not familiar with this foolish procedure, what happens is a laser is shot around the person's face, allowing doctors to remove the face with ease and place it in water for whatever reason. Then, the face is placed on another human being's skull, somehow fitting the bone structure of a completely different individual. Face/Off. From there, the actors change roles, allowing Nic Cage to portray the good guy he's accustomed to playing and Johnny T to portray the villain as he is typically accustomed to. Not sure if the grammar is all right there. 

There's not much really to say about Face/Off other than that is is a good movie. Although the plot is truly absurd, there's just something about the way it was made that creates a classic. Also, the way each of the main actors were able to switch roles and actually act them both out very well...was very impressive. Granted, it's a 90s movie and there's not much to them, but the majority of films made at that time were the ones I remember most fondly. They are all so simple yet entertaining enough to be interested in what's happening. Not stupid simple, but beautifully simple. There's a difference, for sure. You're just going to have to take my word for it. One aspect of the film I find hilarious--I laugh out loud every time I watch it--is Archer's "thing" to display affection towards his family. He takes his hand and runs it down their face. Literally laughing as I type that out. It's so amusing, for that alone I hope I convinced you to sit down and enjoy this 90s gem. Oh, and Mike Delfino makes an appearance here as well. You're welcome, Marc Cherry.

Speaking of criminals and jail scenes, I've recently took on a television series that I intend to watch from beginning to end. Every single episode, no matter how meaningless some may be. It's a little show called Prison Break. I don't know why it took so long for me to watch it, considering I watched Oz--which is honestly one of the greatest shows of all time, boom. The general plot is interesting: Michael Scofield (played by Wentworth Miller) is a brilliant engineer who plans his own imprisonment in order to help his innocent brother on death row escape prison. The primary aspect of the show--season one, anyway--is the character development. By development, I mean the characters throughout the show and in general. I feel the term "character development" just sounds intelligent, like I know what I'm talking about. The reason for this emphasis on characters is that the first season is essentially dull and borderline unnecessary. Of course, the events of season one are crucial for understanding and enjoying the following seasons. However, to make its point, the show drags from episode to episode. The key points of the first season are the riot and the finale, basically. They are the most entertaining and important to making the show a whole. What happens in season one is the planning and execution of the escape, with numerous obstacles that the characters must overcome. Honestly, with the massive amount of obstacles in the show overall, the title should be Obstacles to Escape or something like that. The obstacles are why the season took twenty-two episodes to finish. It could have easily been done in twelve at the most. But they just wanted to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. For twenty-two episodes.

The characters of Prison Break fit the mold of the typical prison scenario, more or less. We have the innocent man, Lincoln Burrows (played by Dominic Purcell, who is the first one in the credits for whatever reason); the mastermind, Michael Scofield; the trusted wingman who fits a necessary minority needed to fill the quota, Fernando Sucre (played by Amaury Nolasco); the street-smart, tough black man, Benjamin Miles "C-Note" Franklin (played by Rockbound Dunbar); the Mafia don, John Abruzzi (played by Peter Stormare, who is absolutely not Italian and is a farce to watch); and the sadistic, manipulative, charming killer who is not to be trusted, Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell (played by Robert Knepper). If you haven't perhaps guessed already, T-Bag is a character I prefer over the others. He's simply wonderful, despite his conviction. We also have the female cast member, Dr. Sara Tancredi (played by Sarah Wayne Callies) who falls for the leading man, Scofield. Then there's the sadistic and disgusting corrections officer, Brad Bellick (played by Wade Williams) who is hilariously gross to observe. Then, the ruthless, robotic secret service agent, Paul Kellerman (played by Paul Adelstein, who is another preferred character of mine, despite his villainy). Now that we got the basic personalities of the characters, here comes the so-called analysis of the show.

As I've said, the show is full of obstacles. Michael Scofield has a plan to break his innocent brother out of prison, and the steps to accomplish this are impeded by various issues. The most glaring are the inclusion of the aforementioned prisoners; therefore, Michael must help guilty criminals escape as well in order to prevent his plot from being discovered. This creates the Fox River Eight who will eventually escape. They include Burrows, Scofield, Sucre, C-Note, Abruzzi, T-Bag, David "Tweener" Apolskis (played by Lane Garrison), and Charles "Haywire" Patoshik (played by Silas Weir Mitchell). Those last two are the latest addition right before the escape and are included solely because they caught them escaping. Tweener is a snitch who got it because Scofield had to return the favor for something. Haywire is a deranged asylum patient who threatened to squeal if they didn't take him with them. There was also an old prisoner by the name of D.B. Cooper who intended to escape and share his million-dollar fortune with them...but he died of a bloody wound. Herein lies a major plot point for season two: the race to the five million dollars D.B. hid in Utah. More plot explanations, I apologize....

The obstacles of the show are intended to keep viewers on their toes, forcing them to exclaim to their television screen, "Come on! Escape! Go!" I had a similar reaction, only mine was accompanied by groans of frustration. As in, "Just get it over with already." The whole prison escape scenario became very tedious after eight or so episodes. I am determined to watch the show in its entirety, so I resisted just skipping to the final escape episode. By watching every episode, I got acquainted with the characters, which in turn made me care about them in some way, which made me care more about the show altogether. It's all relative to understanding and appreciating a show. I just got out of my calculus class, so forgive me if I sound technical. I got a 94 on my first test by the way. The one obstacle I appreciated greatly was the inclusion of T-Bag in the plan, and of everyone else actually. The growing of the escapee group created a sort of sitcom-type posse with all its quirks and tension. The antagonist of the group was, of course, T-Bag, given his crimes and irksome personality. Now, I happen to find him to be irresistible, in a sense, because his comments are always so biting and well-thought-out. I always admire a man who is articulate and able to stand up against confrontation. And his accent is just the right amount of molasses sweet malignancy. Irresistible.

The first season of the show often veers into soap opera territory. It's more prone to cringe-worthy dialogue and plot "twists" than even Desperate Housewives, the queen of drama in early 2000s television. To be fair, the greatest show ever--Desperate Housewives, obviously--did not become pure soap opera garbage until the sixth/seventh season. Meanwhile, Prison Break is already guilty of several counts of melodramatic monologues, heated standoffs between characters, and forced tension. I would have to say the only genuine tense moments in the show came toward the end when they were actually escaping. Up until then, however, it is as if the creators were pulling you in with unnecessary setbacks. There are too many to mention here, but I will say that between the first and last episode of the first season, the Fox River crew bypassed all impediments and escaped. (Except for the old guy.) It smells like eggs where I'm sitting right now. Thought I should share that with you. I hope it doesn't smell like eggs where you are. Unless you're into that. The final posse that escape the walls of prison are known as the Fox River Eight: Lincoln Burrows, Michael Scofield, Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell (my love), Benjamin "C-Note" Franklin (I just realized his name is Ben Franklin), Fernando Sucre, John Abruzzi, Haywire, and Tweener. 

The second season follows the manhunt of these fugitives. Honestly, I thought this season would be a drag since it's just a huge chase of these individual criminals. I've never really watched any manhunt-type shows, or even movies for that matter. The only manhunt film I have watched was The Fugitive, but that was so uninteresting and the opposite of suspenseful that I didn't finish it. Tommy Lee Jones was insufferable as the U.S. marshal, I must say. And an Oscar? And Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't have an Oscar yet? Okay, I'm done. In spite of my skepticism, I am really enjoying the second season. Unlike the first season, this season is full of suspense and I'm actually on the edge of my seat. I don't know how people watched it in time, having to wait every week to see what happens next. That is how television works, after all. What I really like about this season is that the characters have split up, so there are different settings and storylines to follow. Since I'm still watching it, I'll leave my fully developed analysis for another time. If I have the urge to write about it that is. I will say that I very much enjoy what the writers have done with season two. Cheers.

Here is where the post comes to a close. I must say I am mighty proud of myself for writing again. This is probably something I'll keep repeating until it becomes apparent that I am actively writing on a regular basis. Looking good so far, am I right? That's all we have for tonight. Enjoy your evening and days to come. Until next time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Haunting Realization

I begin this post before completing that other post I started and have yet to publish. I would have included what follows in this post in that other post, but then that other post would be far too long. You follow? Plus, doing this allows me to post, not once in a blue moon, but twice in a blue moon! The way I fill up this screen with meaningless one-way banter, one would think that I'd be posting essay-long posts all the time. Anyway. What this post will incorporate is, mostly, an analysis of myself and the journey I've went through from high school to now. There is a point relative to film/television as to why I've decided to post this. Things may get a little deep and possibly inappropriate in terms of what should (but will not) remain private. I'll try to hold back the more graphic elements, since my parents may be reading this. I apologize if they don't approve of me divulging such information, but it got me writing again so I think that's a fabulous justification. The topics discussed here may be PG-13, and even borderline R. Viewer discretion is advised.

It's honestly amazing how much I've changed over the past few years. I consider my life as of now to have begun in freshman year of high school--everything before then I consider to be childhood, and is therefore irrelevant to what I'm talking about now. (My childhood did have an effect on me, of course, but I don't want to give a bio.) I can categorize each year of high school, and I'll do it just because I'm curious to see what I come up with. Freshman Year: doe-eyed optimist, easily excited by the littlest events. Sophomore Year: loner year where next to nothing happened, spent mostly in the school library. Junior Year: rabid anorexic period where I viciously snapped at almost everyone important in my life. Senior Year: the year that that initiated the transition that has brought me to my realization stated earlier.

What I believe distinguishes the years in high school to now is my sentiment toward Miss Carrie Bradshaw. As you recall, years ago I simply despised her. Read previous posts for clarification and elaboration. Now? I identify with her. It's no joke, I sincerely find similarities between her and I, and the scary thing is that I accept these likenesses with content satisfaction. I say "satisfaction" because I am happy with who I am. Granted I have several flaws and bad habits, but I believe that hating myself will only enhance those horrid qualities. Where I stand now, I am truly content with the type of person I am. Change is guaranteed since life at every moment adds a special kind of dent in each individual. This dent may be positive or negative, but it basically tweaks a person in some form or another. Anyway....

Senior year was one where I started partying like a typical high schooler, like you see in the movies. Though the movie-type parties didn't come until very recently (i.e. this summer). In addition to my increased social presence and drinking levels, that last year of high school was when I lost my virginity. I don't know if I should be sharing this or not, but writing is indeed a form of release so write it I will. I won't get graphic or anything like that, for the sake of absolutely everybody. That pivotal moment of sexual maturity (such a grown-up clause, gross) truly sparked a change in me. Enter Carrie Bradshaw.

Aside from our shared talent (?) of writing, she and I share a similar romantic philosophy. Beyond that, we behave in very similar ways when it comes to so-called "love". That is, we've experimented with various men--I don't want to say boys because that's near pedophile territory--on our way to the ultimate goal that is finding love. Allow me to explain. She had sex with men in the city, and so have I. That's pretty much it. Have we made mistakes and done things (or guys) we've regretted? Absolutely. Are we ashamed of it? Not really. I mean, Carrie was a little humiliated when Natasha caught her sleeping with her then-husband Mr. Big. I've yet to have such an awkward encounter. Overall, though, the decisions we make are, at times, impulsive and hardly thought-out; however, we don't let our lack of judgement interfere with how we see ourselves. Note that I'll be referring to Carrie as if I know her or as if she is actually me and I know what she's going through. Many people consider this attitude to be akin to that of the "slut," and of course that is their collected opinion. I realize that I may be looked at a certain way, but I'm definitely not Bree Van De Kamp in late season 8 when she went lunatic and started sleeping with everybody. No, I keep my sexual prowess (pause for awkward giggles) under control, as does Carrie. In a sense anyway. As I'm typing this Sex and the City monologue, I'm increasingly aware of how inappropriate it is. Sorry for any awkward feelings that project from the screen and onto (unto?) you. Not really. Never apologize.

To get the juices flowing once more, I'd like to include some things I said about Carrie in previous posts. This is to perhaps gain an insight into myself--how I indeed see myself but am unwilling to admit until now. This should be fun.

As a person, if one prefers to call her that, Carrie Bradshaw is an absolutely terrible thing of nature.
This habit of blatantly interrupting people, her friends no less, really defines Carrie, as that is exactly who she is: conceited, selfish, and an overall bitch.
Not only is Carrie dim-witted in the department of love and relationships, but she has absolutely no sense--fashion or otherwise. 
She claims that he [Mr. Big] has commitment issues when she, herself, cannot commit to the supposedly ideal Aidan in later seasons; she even finds herself in bed with Mr. Big while in a relationship with Aidan. Sure, Mr. Big is married at the time also, but she is so self-righteous in her demeanor, justifying her illicit actions in the entirety of this lucid affair. 
She is the epitome of pretentious: valuing herself over others yet reaching out to them as if they were charity cases, and dressing glamorously which is actually quite tasteless. Nevertheless, I'm rather fond of the silly girl.
[taken from an unpublished post] Carrie Bradshaw is a quasi-fashion/television icon. In the eyes of millions of women, she is their idol: a beautiful, smart, witty, stylish woman. More importantly, Carrie sees herself as a beautiful, smart, witty, stylish woman. And so we begin my undying criticism. Unlike the general population of women, I view Carrie Bradshaw as an awful person. Yes, awful, in every single way. Not only is she not beautiful, but she is overall fake. She treats those around her like they are beneath her. Not in a nasty way, oh no, our Carrie would never. She treats them with excessive kindness and coos over those who buy their clothes at on-designer stores. "Aww! You buy off the rack! How adorable!" (That's just an example of her patronizing personality.) In this way, and so many others that I will get into, she is a bad person. No need to put the sugar coat on, she's a conceited bitch. But she wears some interesting clothing. Not stylish, interesting.

This quote right here, I feel, exemplifies the parallel between us:
Anyway, Carrie Bradshaw has many, many flaws, though somehow she comes off as (dare I say it) likable. Perhaps it is her self-delusion, how she convinces herself of certain things that are far from reality; perhaps her narration has inspired me to write in such a manner that pleases myself as well as you all, I am sure; or perhaps, deep within, I want to be Carrie Bradshaw. Doesn't every idealistic single girl want that? In some shape or form, maybe I strive for her life. Though I certainly hope I am not as foolish and self-absorbed as she is, or as careless with her expenses. Carrie Bradshaw is fabulous, in her convoluted, vapid sort of way, and I can only hope that I will be as lucky and successful as she is. That's all she is, really. Lucky.

As you can see, I was incredibly hateful of Carrie once upon a time. At times, I still am hateful towards her, but perhaps that is my way of redirecting judgement of myself towards another person. Psychologically speaking, I guess. The following statement(s) may sound far-fetched, but here it goes. Maybe I despised Carrie all this time because I was unhappy with myself. Maybe I directed all those criticisms at her so I could avoid addressing my own personal issues. Granted, I hated Carrie before I swiped the V card (if you know what I'm talking about, gold star for you). Maybe I had to explore my sexual "personality" before I could even make a comment about Carrie. At the time of my trek through the Sex and the City series, I was, also, going through serious health and personal issues. That was the time I had an eating disorder, when I was severely insecure about myself. I truly hated myself during that period, constantly thinking the worst of myself but never opening up to others about it. Maybe this is why I decided to hate characters in TV shows and movies. Now that I've achieved a place of complete security about myself, perhaps I've opened myself to accepting the similarities between Carrie and I. This is all very abstract and undeveloped, I know, but this blog is all about thoughts and ideas after all. I hope that wasn't too deep and contemplative. Definitely contemplative with all the "maybes". If I haven't said it already, I'm writing all this down and sharing it as my way of expressing my state of contentment and self-acceptance. I'm only sharing this with friends of mine, I'm not advertising it on social media at all. If you happen to read it and I don't know you, well now you know a little more about me. Let me know if I'm going far into Tumblr territory....

Now, it's closing time. I'm trying to limit my posts to less than a book nowadays. I feel really good about what I've said, which is something I don't outright share with you. If you care to judge me for the decisions I've vaguely explained, that's your choice. Just don't disparage me in the comments because that would make you not only judgmental but kind of an asshole too. I hope you enjoyed this change of pace. Sometimes it's nice to be a conceited bitch who shares everything about herself like Carrie. But you all love that conceited bitch, don't you? Until next time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Inspiration for Insight

Greetings one and all. I feel like that's something Jimmy Neutron said in the movie, the one that came before the TV show, little known fact people don't know. Anyway, hello everyone! I was tempted to title this post "Inspired to Input Insightful Intellect" or some variation of that. But that's a tad lengthy, and as much as I love alliteration, it's a bit much. Anyway. I'm here to begin with a question: What inspires me? Recently, and most often as exhibited in previous posts, music seems to inspire me. Interruptions from others actually distracts me enormously. (I say this because someone is asking whether or not I'm sleeping. Sorry if I happen to write while I attempt slumber. Fuck, I miss writing.) Yes, music inspires me greatly to write. In particular to last night, the song "California" by Phantom Planet which is featured in the show The O.C.... That song really got my gears working but sadly the only computer nearby was not my own and had a goddamn password. Oh, another thing that bothers me is bipolar individuals. I realize that it is a legitimate illness, but it doesn't make it less irritating to experience and witness. 

That little intro was written a few weeks ago on my phone. Unfortunately, that so-called insight that overwhelmed when writing that has vanished. I have absolutely not idea what I wanted to write about at that moment. If only I had a functioning laptop that was in my vicinity. Now that I've been reunited with my MacBook, I felt it was time to get some words onto the screen and, dare I say it, actually post something. To get the creative juices flowing (as so many "writers" reiterate time and again), let me fill you in with what's been going on in my personal life. Those of you who care anyway.

One aspect of my summer is the acquisition of habits. Annoyingly vague isn't it? My use of eloquent evasion is spot on. I don't know if "habits" is the proper word to use here, except to refer to two activities that is certainly not at all healthy. Raised in a European household, I began drinking at an early age. Not vodka in my baby bottle early, but earlier than most. Drinking for me was solely for entertainment and I always made sure to be doing it with someone else. I'm not at the stage of drinking alone quite yet; I'm waiting for my first divorce or a midlife crisis. Still, my drinking did bother my ex, from what he hinted at while we were together and from what I found out later from his friends. I understand his frustration with my little (understatement) drinking, but it would have been nice to be confronted about it if it was such a problem. Again, no bitterness. I'm simply stating the fact that if you're in a caring relationship, those confrontations, while difficult, are recommended if not necessary. Sorry if that sounds harsh. Anyway, drinking has never really gotten out of hand for me over the summer, thankfully. It remains a very fun pastime I share with my closest friends. Or oftentimes new friends. I've made quite a few of those over the summer. I just feel drinking is a disinhibitor (because it is) and that it can pave the way for great friendships. In my case it has anyway. So that's that for my chapter in drinking. Don't drink and drive. Stay in school. Oh, the other habit is the occasional cigarette. Don't do drugs.

I'm trying not to write into "depressing Tumblr" territory, because that's not what this blog is about. I merely wanted to get the creative juices flowing (repetition) and share a little of what's been happening in my life. More excuses as to why I haven't been writing. It seems that I've developed a trend for writing posts, which involves writing in segments. For instance, the intro was written mid-nap sometime in August. The portion before what I am writing now was written a couple nights ago. Now, I am sitting in a computer lab on campus, finding a way to occupy my time in between classes. I'd have to say this is far more productive than my previous method, which is not writing at all. Anyway.... Let's move on to some more relevant topics that I normally cover.

I'll start the cinematic portion of this post (about damn time) by discussing the second season of True Detective. To begin what I hope to be a reasonably lengthy analysis, I'll give an overview of the first season and my thoughts on it. Most of the TV-viewing population was positively enthralled by the premiere of True Detective. Many critics and viewers alike dissected the series as a dark, complex, meanings-upon-meanings creation. The lead actors--best buddies Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson--were enormously praised for their performances; McConaughey for his portrayal of the brooding, contemplative Det. Rust Cohle, Harrelson for his portrayal of the damaged, volatile Det. Marty Hart. This just in: As I was skimming over the True Detective page on IMDb, I noticed that the website added a feature called "The Top 250 TV" list. True Detective is at #12. This is a very much appreciated addition, IMDb. Again, I won't get into plot specifics because (1) it wastes too much time, and (2) most of you have probably watched the first season. What was unique about the series from its initial launch was that it sort of reintroduced the noir genre to television. I say "sort of" because I can't say for sure whether that statement is true. I don't watch every single show, so I can't say for sure, correct? Granted, Breaking Bad has noir-ish elements, but I view it more as a dark Western type of production. But that's just me. Anyway, True Detective provided audiences with astounding performances, which make up for most of the show's allure in my opinion, mixed with intriguing, makes-you-think dialogue. The two lead characters, also, have an amazing on-screen chemistry--their conversations and debates are so engaging and realistic that it is as if you've become a bystander to their verbal exchange. The show itself has a mesmerizing atmosphere. Taking place in the Deep South of Louisiana (I think I'm inaccurate in calling it the Deep South), the setting provides an additional element of mystery and grittiness that only enhances the show's allure. I love writing with elaborate adjectives. The plot itself, involving a serial homicide case and witchy cults, completes the thrill and attraction of the first season of True Detective. A show this praised and complex just screamed for a continuation. Enter season 2.

The show was developed, I'm assuming, to have completely different storylines and characters from seasons to season. The second season includes four big names, as opposed to two in the first season, and a story many people found to be far less complex and therefore (to most) less interesting. The characters of this season are: Det. Ray Velcoro (played by Colin Farrell), a deeply disturbed alcoholic/drug-abuser who has connections to the underworld of crime; Det. Ani Bezzerides (played by Rachel McAdams), whose resistance to human connection causes her to give off a stone-cold front; Frank Semyon (played by Vince Vaughn, of all people), a pragmatic and intimidating leader of the criminal underworld; and Officer Paul Woodrugh (played by Taylor Kitsch), a strange, quiet war hero whose sexuality, he believes, contradicts his masculine persona. All I will say about the show is that its actors are superb. As good actors, they are good anywhere--that's basically the gist of it. The character development is lacking somewhat, yet this ambiguity contributes to the show's overall ambiguous character. Yes, the show has character as well as physical human characters. I really can't say why the reviews were so scarring for season two, other than maybe that the dialogue was a bit trite and cheesy. However, I'd like to justify that with the idea that the season was attempting to emulate the older films of the crime/noir genre. I saw the back-and-forth dialogue as a sort of homage to those older gangster-crime films, but that's just me apparently.

That's all I have to say on the topic of True Detective because, once again, I am continuing this post after a period of time. What appears to be the new format of my way of posting is that I will write in inspired spurts while I sit (most likely) inside my local Starbucks. I realize this is very very pretentious and clichéd, but it is honestly so peaceful here. Writing in cafés is clichéd for a reason. Thoughts just pop in my head. Whether or not those thoughts are actually interesting is up to you. I think every thought is valuable. Sometimes.

Looking back at how much I've written thus far, I believe it is time to wrap things up. I showed some posts to a few dear friends of mine, and they were shocked at how long they were. And that was said about the introduction alone. Of course, that's my odd, annoying writing style. I'd like to end this post with some repeated information as to how I'll be posting, if I do in fact post frequently. When a thought comes to mind that I think is broad enough to discuss in a post, I'll shoot out some witty yet scattered paragraphs about the topic. I will definitely be going off on tangents, especially when I continue writing the post at a later time. Regarding the titles, that I will have trouble with since I will probably be covering multiple topics in one post, all unrelated. The title of this post came to mind months ago when I started writing this, so I won't change that. I suppose I'll just use a title that forms in my mind as I'm writing--I really don't know. This is the most confusing paragraph of the post, resembling the complexity of True Detective. Boom, connecting points. I don't know. I write as I think. Also, I would like to disclose that some future posts may be very personal and might even resemble a column that Carrie Bradshaw would write. (Spoiler for my next post, which I am in the process of writing.) The dynamic and format of this blog may change dramatically, but will still possess my distinctive voice and eccentricities. Never fret, I'm still me. I am simply transmitting my laziness onto the blog; that is, instead of not writing, I will write when I feel like it and it will be very unorganized. I'll try to make sense. Again, this paragraph could be committed but I never erase of delete anything, which is a creative issue for me. Anyway. I hope to keep writing throughout the rest of the year and onward! Farewell until next time.