Monday, September 07, 2009

Three Films and Passive Attention Spans.

I have not been watching many films at all this year.  Here's what I've seen, up to this weekend:

Star Trek
The SIGGRAPH Evening Theater
Mary Poppins
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The Black Hole

It's now September.

The first question is why so few?  I have a very low passive attention span this year.  I'm liking passive things in small doses.  In contrast, I saw many tv episodes early in the year, although that has fallen completely away in the last few months.  Why the low passive attention span?

My active attention span is way up.  I'm writing a lot and coding a lot to finish a certain degree by next spring.  I'm also working on a number of personal projects (such as that in the last post).  So I have a very high active attention span right now.  Every time I approach something passively, I start to get ideas for my own projects and just want to break out and go work on my own things.  Even Mary Poppins was watched over the course of three days.

The next question is where's all the new great stuff that I really want to see?  Up (which I have been rightfully chastised for missing on a number of occasions)?  Slumdog Millionaire?  No Country for Old Men?  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?  Etc.  The first reason they're missing is the theater.  It takes a long time, is socially isolationist, and costs a lot.  I like to watch things from midnight to 2 in the morning on days when I have absolutely nothing else to do.  The second reason is the fluff factor.  I've also read about 2 novels a week for the last few months.  And they're all fluff novels.  Some were good, some were atrocious, but they were all light reading.  A break from the mental intensity of making things.  Good films don't always have that fluff factor.  Great films really make you think.  Something tells me I'm going to be doing a lot of catching up when I have time to think about a year from now, after this degree thing is (hopefully) done.

This weekend I was rather sick.  I watched three films:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

All were great fun.  Only the first had a real emotional arc to it, which caught me by surprise (I was not a big fan of Fahrenheit 911 as a film, which has nothing to do with its political message, but that's another story).  But the last 45 minutes really take you for a ride and tell a story that you want to see through to the end.  Knowing is scifi fluff.  I like scifi fluff when I don't feel like thinking.  See the list above.  It's fun to watch.  Knowing had some amazingly well put-together disaster sequences.  And I cared about most of the characters, except for one glaring exception.  But a better ending would have removed the last two sequences.  They're pretty, but weaken the emotion of the ending.  Harry Potter has the problem the previous Harry Potter had, but no so dramatically--it feels like spliced together episodes.  Some great acting and production design, and some really bad acting that was quite fun.  But pieces and parts don't fit together.  And they never even name one of the major villains.  Definitely a piece of something rather than a thing in itself.  I still like the third film the most (Alfonso CuarĂ³n) for it's quirkiness and self-contained-ness.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Popcorn for Trolls

"Three billygoats want to cross the bridge to join their billygoat friends, who are having a popcorn party. But first, they have to get past the ugly trolls, who guard the bridge. Everybody knows that. But what people don’t know is that trolls have feelings. Why can’t they have popcorn too?"

Every summer, Chris L's partner, Jody T, runs a drama workshop for kids where they make art, put on plays, and as I understand it, do lots of creative things for a couple weeks. Another friend, Mark H, helps her run the workshop, and last year he started a trend of making a video based on what the kids do. Chris and I help by making animation, mostly using the kids drawings, because, well, it's a lot of fun. We just finished this year's video, which is both a short film and music video set to a cover of the Gershon Kingsley song "Popcorn." Chris did the troll-under-the-bridge scenes, and I made all the popcorn and balloon effects and did some music remixing.