I haven't done any writing in about a month, due to a combination of an extremely mental workload and pouring my creative juices into other artistic endeavors, such as music. The dirge rock fruits of one of these things can be heard here: http://soundcloud.com/attackofthe70ftbitch/sets/desolater with more to come. The fruits of the other things can be reaped in July. Details of those unmentioned things can be found HERE.
|I make you aspolde!|
I have found time to watch a lot of cool films/shows lately, which I shall now talk about. That sentence is known in the business as 'foreshadowing'. First up, I bulldozed (bulldozered?) my way through THE 4400 (2004 - 2007). I have no idea why I missed this when it first aired, as it's something right up my street: 4400 people disappear over the course of fifty years, only to reappear in the present, all at once. And some of them have special abilities. We then follow two government agents as they seek to uncover the truth behind The 4400, one of whom ends up adopting a girl from the 1940s who knows the future, and the other has a nephew and son affected as a direct result of what or whoever took everyone in the first place.
This show is an excellent example of how to do things right. Incidental characters matter, or become recurring members of the cast. The same actors play small parts that build upon and add to the show's mythos. Bar one character who appears to get forgotten about right when she should be most useful (a homeless girl who ends up working alongside the 4400 right when a powerful possible-villain enters the scene with her sights set on the homeless girl's benefactor/love interest), I don't think the show performs one single misstep. Maybe it's just the coffee talking, but I firmly believe that. I would even go so far as to say it's up there with Supernatural as a perfect show; some episodes are better than others, but the tone is always spot-on, and nothing goes against anything already established (no ret-conning). At least, not that I was/am aware of.
I was trying tor refrain from writing a love letter but nuts to it. The 4400 is awesome. It doesn't promise something that it never delivers, and it makes the budget work for it; some 4400 have truly destructive abilities (like being able to explode things or cause mass murder) and others are more subtle, like being able to get the absolute truth from anyone. One of my favorite episodes is at the start of the fourth season, when a teenager develops the ability to inspire worship and devotion in anyone who spends too much time near him. That is an interesting and unusual power, and used to great effect as he builds a 'holy army' that slowly spreads across the city of Seattle (where the majority of the show is set). It is also in this episode when we finally find out what ability a pivotal villain/anti-hero/benevolent good guy has, and it's worth the wait.
This is one aspect I like the most about it; it doesn't drag out any questions for longer than necessary; for instance, we find out at the end of the first season who/what took everyone, and why. Other shows would stretch this mystery to breaking point, or ignore it altogether and hope the audience does too (I'm not pointing fingers but you can probably guess what shows I'm referring to). Ambiguity is fine, and I like it, but I also think it is vitally important that you provide an audience/reader with enough coherent clues so they're able to make their own mind up. Apparently it was cancelled, but if this is the case the very end of The 4400 still offers resolutions to pretty much all the major plot points, but leaves the door open for a sequel in your own mind: What happens next? Who really won? IS this a better world? All great stuff. WATCH IT.
There is a lot to like about Hanna, both the film and the title character. She is aware of the outside world but has never experienced it, leading to a sort of 'fish out of water' situation that borders unnervingly on off-beat comedy when she crosses paths, and tags long with, an English family travelling the world in a camper van. I for one didn't see that coming, not after the flurry of action and brutal violence previously showcased by Hanna (both the film and title character). Even though aspects like the family almost feel as if two distinct films have been stitched together, it works in its favor as you never know quite what to expect next. I give it four out of five punches to the throat.
|"I am King Arthur!"|
Owen plays Salinger with a sort of blunt gravitas. Although to be fair, he tends to play most parts with a sort of blunt gravitas, but I like that about him. Watts is maybe a little underwritten, as there doesn't really feel like there's enough at stake for her, other than her job. Her family are suggested as possible targets if she doesn't back off the investigation, but we only see them once, and so don't really care: if she's not that bothered about them, why should we be? Other than that, she plays Whitman with a fierce idealism that complements Salinger's thirst for justice, and the two actors work well together. I would love to see both, but certainly Owen as Salinger, in another film together. The International also has one of the most fantastically realistic and downbeat endings I have seen in a long time, which is pretty much enough for me to recommend it to anyone fed up of Hollywood conspiracy thrillers that tie everything up with a nice neat bow.
And that's that. Oh, I also watched the new CONAN film, but it's awful. It doesn't do anything new at all, and is one of the most painfully generic fantasy films I've seen in a long time. Which is a shame, because really, Conan set the template for that sort of stuff, so for him to be hamstrung by his own origins is a terrible shame. Mind you, it doesn't help that almost every character has a different accent to each other, which is bewildering and distracting. You need sub-woofers to hear Conan's voice, for crying out loud.
And that really is that. Have this new song by band to listen to whilst you go do something else, and then maybe buy something off me on eBay (I'll soon be selling another bunch of comics and things as rev.austin) to feed my addiction to caffeine.