09 August 2008

Oops. Where did summer go?

Man, I've really neglected this blog. It's been over a month since I've last written anything and for that I am embarrassed and apologetic for my one (two? three?) reader(s). I usually write up a post when I have a certain theme or thesis in mind or if I'm reviewing a movie, but looking back over past posts I feel I've been a little inaccessible, uncharismatic, and, honestly, a bit boring. Anyway, in order to write more frequently I think I'll have to forgo the heavy-handed posts and bring a little more personality into this.

Summer came and went pretty quickly - my last post was towards the beginning of summer and now this post is coming toward the end! - and I've got a week left before school starts and free time becomes more restricted. What happened between that last post and now? Well, I watched a lot of movies, to be sure, but it's also been a summer of television. I started to watch the cult-phenomenon Twin Peaks and deceased HBO show Deadwood through Netflix, pretty much watching episodes back to back.

Twin Peaks
starts off with an hour and a half pilot that is so good I'm amazed to have taken so long to come around to it (I felt the same way after seeing Arrested Development for the first time). So good! For those that don't know, the show is based around a murder mystery of who murdered prom queen Laura Palmer. The more the case is investigated, the more bizarre, surreal, and unbelievable everything becomes. I had a little bit of Lynch primer before going into the show by having seen Blue Velvet, which has the same type of theme of uncovering the nastiness under the shiny veneer of small town USA. Now I am ever the more interested in Lynch's work and will be watching more of his films as I go through the second season (just finished the first).

Deadwood is a HBO series about the Old West, and particularly Deadwood, North Dakota, which relies on its depiction of realism - the grit, the violence, the nastiness - of the westward expansion and cowboy myths. Historical figures are seen in the show mixed in with fiction and pulp-like interpretations. After having finished a season I would definitely recommend it. It's worth getting to know characters like the malicious (and historical, apparently) Al Swearangen and the crudely eloquent E.B. Farnum (also historical).

Otherwise, as far as movies go, I haven't been to the theatre much. I saw The Dark Knight, but that's about it. I liked that movie a lot; it's probably my favorite superhero film so far. Enough has been said about it so I won't say much of anything except that I thought it was very good. Other summer films haven't appealed to me very much so far, but I am anxiously awaiting the fall season which usually harvests better films. I am especially looking forward to the new Coen brothers film Burn After Reading, which I hope approaches the comic absurdism of The Big Lebowski. On DVD, the best thing I've seen this summer was probably High and Low, Kurosawa's police procedural/detective thriller. The pleasant detective Nakadai, the conflicted Mifune, and the enigmatic villain are all unforgettable characters for me. I made another little banner at the bottom featuring the sunglassed villain (who, in his slender and angular ways, kind of looks like me, except handsome).

I'll update later with something more specific, maybe my Lynch mini-festival. In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of a very stylish and bearded Mifune and a nice little article in the Times about Mr. Byrne here.


Clopsybot said...

Hey I'm glad you liked it! I'm sure now you are a tad worried that the movie won't do the graphic novel any justice. My colleagues and I always thought it would be best translated into a mini-series, like Band of Brothers, as there's like way too much content for one feature-length movie (kinda like the Akira movie).

And hey ya know what, I was wondering if I should see Deadwood. I guess I have no choice now! I'm a sucker for anything western.

Hey if you are interested in reading another good one, "Batman: Year One" is pretty great. Batman Begins the movie took some major cues from the book and though it was published in 1984, its one of the most solid batman books out there. It's written by Frank Miller.

James said...

So glad you are enjoying the realistic drama of DEADWOOD. I finished watching the entire run of the series a few weeks ago. And its a wonder TWIN PEAKS stayed on as long as it did considering the blandness of tv. It is one of he most bizarre shows I've seen ... strangely it stayed on too long and suffered, while DEADWOOD was cut short before it reached it's full final bloom.