Saturday, January 01, 2005

So, This is the New Year (And I Don't Feel Any Different)

Thanks Death Cab, for providing with a cliched emo type intro for this year of blogging. I find my relationship with cliche really interesting. I will always point out if something is cliche, and frequently I'll use that as an excuse to ridicule it, perhaps rightly. I could drop the cliche livejournal right here, because I've read a bunch of them, y'know, a lot of whining about how I have no purpose and need to make a change, it's a classic, but even as I ridicule it for the cliche, I can really relate to what is being said. I think we're all searching for the same things, it's just whether you express that in a cliche way or in a unique way.

I'm reminded of a scene from the end of Six Feet Under's second season. Nate and Brenda are breaking off their engagement and having a big fight about it, and she's yelling at him, saying, "Don't throw the ring at me, that is so cliche," which says so much about the character. Despite the fact that she is breaking off an engagement, she's still concerned about not being cliche, which makes it great when Nate just throws the ring at her.

I look at some people, and I just see a cliche, I feel like I can break down everything about them, but the thing is, they all seem to be really happy. At college, I can see stereotypical Frat guy and he seems to be having a great time. Should he feel guilty that he's just a stereotype, or is he beyond worrying about being original, and instead just worries about having fun while he's here in the moment.

Lately, Jordan's been on about the breakthrough he made to live in the now, as discussed in the book, The Power of Now and other places. I'm sort of ambivalent on it, because at once he does seem happier, but the very idea of living just for the now seems to imply neglecting plans for the future. I have a lot of big things that I want to do, and while they frequently get thwarted, I do have goals and a mission in life. I think you can enjoy the ride that is life, but the ride should have some destinations, rather than just being an aimless procession forward through space, living purely for the moment.

I think an essential question is, would I rather be happy and unaccomplished or accomplished and miserable? I feel like being a filmmaker would make me happy, but you look at someone like Kurt Cobain, he achieved a popularity beyond his wildest dreams, and yet he still commits suicide. What more could he want, what is it that he couldn't have? To some extent, it feels like the best art comes out of desperate feelings, and unhappiness. So much of Buffy clearly comes out of Joss Whedon and the other writers' personal problems. If they were happy, would there be a series? Probably not, in fact the series began largely as a way for Joss to come to terms with high school and basically rewrite his experience back then. It's not a stretch to compare playing D&D to the slaying that the nerdy Buffy characters do. As he became more successful the issues under discussion changed radically. Buffy and co. became more powerful and in control of their lives, and, most notably on Angel, had to deal with vast power infastructures that they struggled to co-exist with. You can see the issues that mattered to Joss change as he became more successful.

That's why I think it would be hard for someone like Morrissey to remain relevant. Happiness and success would ruin his image, and reduce his ability to connect with unhappy, unsuccessful people. It astonishes me that Wong Kar-Wai has been married for 17 years, just because his films are about an emotional longing that can never be filled, yet he seems to have filled it in his own life. I guess part of writing is to create characters, and use them to explore aspects of your personality that you might have filed away and left in the past.

So, I know that my theoretical movies or TV shows would probably contain a lot of emoitonal angst and longing, and if I was happy, would I be able to create? I think I would, but it would be a different type of work. I know this is a vast generalization, but you can tell there are certain filmmaers who clearly own life, and have never had any problems. People like Michael Bay, it doesn't seem like they've went through a lot of problems in their personal life, whereas Alan Ball or Whedon clearly have been through a lot of stuff, or they're just really good at faking it.

But, in the end, I think that I would take unhappiness if it meant accomplishment. Making films, making art, is more important to me than simply going through life happy, because out of that creation, even if I have to go through some bad stuff to get it, would come a deeper happiness. Kids are happy because they don't have deep desires, they are content with very little. The older you get, the more it takes to be happy. In Dogma, there's a speech about how faith is like a glass of water. When you're little, the glass is small, so it's easy to fill, but the older you get, the bigger the glass gets, and you need more water to fill it. While this may apply to faith, it also applies to happiness, and I know I need a lot more to be really fulfilled and deeply happy than I did when I was younger. But, this might actually be a good thing because it forces me to do things I wouldn't have done before, and it expands my world.

That's why it's worth it to be a little bit unhappy, because in the long run, if you're content with things as they are, you're not going to make them better. Life has to give you little nudges of unhappiness to get you to change things up. Eventually, you can't ignore the problems, you confront them, and hopefully you resolve them. A lot of the time, it's just recognizing the problem that's tough. Once you do, it's not as tough to find a solution.

Friday, December 31, 2004


Yesterday, I did a post on 2004 and I forgot what may have been the event of the year, meeting and talking with Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy! He went to Wesleyan, so he returned to screen the musical and do a Q&A. He did about an hour of discussion in the cinema, then went to this reception, so I stood near him, and he talked for two more hours, by the end it was about ten people and him, and he just kept answering any question people shouted out. I've met a bunch of celebrity type people, but no one was ever as cool as he was. To be able to meet the guy who created 256 episodes of brilliant television was an honor, and the fact that he was so cool made it even better.

So, despite forgetting it yesterday, this was one of the best events of the year, right up there with the Spree.

Related Posts
Reflecting on 2004 (12/31/2004)
So This is the New Year (And I Don't Feel Any Different (1/1/2005)

Reflecting on 2004, the year that is almost gone.

So, technically it's New Year's Eve right now, and that prompts me for some reflection on 2004. It's been an astonishingly quick year, by far the fastest of my life. I feel almost like time is breaking down, because I can remember so many moments from this year like they just happened. This year, I feel like not that much actually happened. A bunch of issues from earlier sort of came to head, and were discussed this year, but overall, it's been more of a year of reflection than a year of creation. I don't remember too many really big events from this year that were great, more moments and feelings from times.

If I had to pick out one event from this year as my favorite, it would probably be seeing The Polyphonic Spree live. Who are The Polyphonic Spree, you ask? Well, here's a couple thousand words:

They are a 25 piece rock band, with trumpets, harp, flute, timpani, nine part chorus, keyboard, sax, trombone, guitar and more. Both their albums are brilliant, especially their most recent, Together We're Heavy, but nothing can prepare you for the wall of sound coming from 25 musicians all wearing robes and all completely into the music. It was so loud you could actually feel the music moving through you, and it was just overwhelming to hear not only the 25 people in the band singing, but also the couple hundred people in the audience singing the lyrics back at them. Seriously, check out their music. They do the sort of stuff that can make even the most cynial person break out into a smile upon observing the sheer joy of their music. I'm hoping they'll be back in New York soon, because it seriously is the best concert I've ever been to.

I went to a couple of other concerts that were pretty awesome as well. I saw Aimee Mann and Morrissey. Obviously, they were not quite as joyous about life as The Spree, but both were great live, and they were really good shows. Next year, I'm hoping to get to U2, Doves and maybe some other people. I'd really like to see something that isn't a rock band, but is more techno club stuff, like Daft Punk, Air or Moby. I like to go to a bunch of different type of concerts. Back in high school, I only went to Ska punk concerts, and while they were good, it gets boring after a while. Like, I'd love to see a rap show, or a hard techno type thing, just to mix things up. I guess if you really like the music, it's no problem going to similar things, but if I'm only a casual fan, I like to mix it up. Like, I bet there's not that many people who went to both The Spree and Morrissey.

What else happend in '04? I saw the Buffy musical, which is one of the greatest things ever made. The whole sixth season is brilliant, and this is really the center of it. The songs are great, but more importantly, it fits perfectly into the whole. I've seen it eight times or so, all this year. I've probably seen that more than any other piece of fiction this year.

I'm trying to think of something I did that doesn't involve just watching something else, but it's tough. We made the movie, Tabula Rasa, which I really liked. It was fun to make, and came out well. Was it up to what I originally imagined? Not quite, but nothing's ever going to be, and now, with some distance, I can enjoy it for what it is.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, this year felt like the Amnesiac to 2003's Kid A, or the Zooropa to 2003's Achtung Baby. It had its merits, but it feels more like what came before than a complete reinvention. It was more a remix than a new song. I really need to do some new stuff, I'm not sure what, but something.

I feel like I've got the routine of college down, in the same way that around junior year, I got the routine of high school down, and this is comforting, because I know what to expect, but it's also distressing because out of chaos can come redefinition. But, when you're in the chaos, it's not good. People always choose the stable, safe route, rather than taking a risk that could pay off, but could also lead to disaster.

Related Posts
Reflecting on 2004: Ammendum (12/31/2004)
So This is the New Year (And I Don't Feel Any Different (1/1/2005)

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Looking to '05

So, a couple more days and 2003 will join years 1-2003 in the been there, done that catergory, which means we've got a new year to look forward to. Many major events will happen in 2005, most notably I'll start up my third decade of life, as I turn the big two-oh. What other major event happens on that day, May 19, 2005? Why, it's the release of Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the final Star Wars movie ever. Talk about the end of an era, as my teen years draw to a close, so does the saga that has shaped me more than any other piece of fiction I've ever run in to. When I was a young lad of three or four, I saw Star Wars, and was hooked on films from then on. I made it through the dark era of the early 90s, the boom time of the Special Editions and the backlash of the prequels. It's been a great run, and I'm not happy to see it come to a close, but I am really excited about seeing the film itself. In fact, it ranks number one on my most anticipated films of 2005:

1. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith - As I said, this one's very close to my heart. It probably won't be the best film of the year, but I'm still psyched to see it more than any other, and it probably will be one of the best theatrical experiences. I think the prequel trilogy so far has been good, but it can't compare to the original trilogy, nothing can. However, this is the story I've been waiting for since the 80s, and to finally connect the two will be quite something. It's the end of an era here.

2. Sin City - The trailer is a thing of beauty, it perfectly captures the look and the feel of the books, which are brilliant. The Yellow Bastard left me in shock staring at the final pages, and I want to see that done in film. The cast is great, the look is completely unique, and the movie feels totally differnet from anything else ever released. Even if this fails on some levels, it's going to look so good, it'll at least be entertaining to watch.

3. The Fountain - Darren Aronofsky's long rumored "post Matrix" sci-fi project seems to finally be filming, and may actually be released in 2005, here's hoping. I'm not really sure what the plot is, but it has something to do with the fountain of youth, and seems very Philip K. Dick/Grant Morrison. Aronofsky's already one of my favorite directors, so combining that with a story that's like one of my favorite writers, awesomeness potential is off the charts. I think this is going to be the film that elevates Darren from an already high level to celluloid God. We shall see.

4. 2046 - I'll actually be seeing this one in the next couple of weeks, on a Chinese all region DVD, but it'll also be released in the theater, and I'm hoping to get there as well. This is by the great director, Wong Kar-Wai. I've now seen all his other films, and this one looks like it's got the potential to be his best. Extremely stylish, a great cast, and his always great direction should put this over the top. I'd like to see it crossover and make it to the mainstream, in addition to the art cinemas, becuase Wong's style is something that needs to get out there into the cultural consciousness.

5. A Scanner Darkly - Richard Linklater's next, an adaptation of the Philip K. Dick book, done in the animation style of Waking Life. I liked the book a lot, and based on Waking Life, Linklater is clearly a PKD fan. Linklater has done a lot of movies talking about odd stuff, but he's never really done a sci-fi movie, so this should be interesting to see. It'll almost certainly be better than the recent string of awful PKD adaptations that have bombed theaters. Linklater is one of the best filmmakers working today, and he's coming off his best work yet, Before Sunset, so this will be crucial in seeing if he can do more than just talk.

6. Serenity - Joss Whedon writes and directs a film based on his cancelled series, Firefly. I've only seen three eps of Firefly, but it's got a lot of potential, and it's going to be really interesting to see Joss step things up to a feature film after so many years in TV. I'm hoping for a really arty film, rather than a mainstream action type movie, but we'll see. If this is a success, maybe we'll see another Buffyverse project.

7. Charlie and the Chocalate Factory - Tim Burton's next. I was a bit hesitant about this, but the trailer is so over the top, I've got a better feeling. It's definitely a return to classic Burton in terms of ridiculous visual style, after the toned down Planet of the Apes and Big Fish. This'll probably turn out to be his best film since Mars Attacks.

So, those seven should be pretty solid, and hopefully some other stuff will turn up as well. Still no sign of new David Lynch or Paul Thomas Anderson, but maybe by 2005, they'll have started up a new project, and maybe we'll even see some new filmmakers dropping great films, or existing ones stepping up their game. So much potential in a new year of stuff. It is good.

Related Posts
My 2005 Oscar Nominations (1/31/2005)
Looking to '06 (12/27/2005)
Top 10 Films of 2005 (1/1/2006)

Monday, December 27, 2004

The Office: The Christmas Special

So, throughout the run of The Office, it's been a notably downbeat series. The characters have been forced to compromise their ideals, gone through lots of embaressment, rejection, and sadness. Calling the first two series comedy is really inaccurate, it's more of a tragedy, the rise and fall of David Brent, as well as the gradual destruction of Tim and Dawn. So, after these two seasons of awful tragedy, where's left to go, further down, or perhaps, life isn't that bad after all.

For most of the Christmas special, we see a David resigned to his fate. He's been fired, but he still clings to his friends in the office, and relies on them for his social interaction. He tries to make himself into a hero, and is constantly forcing Neil to be a heavy. However, despite his front, he is getting gradually destroyed inside. His public appearances are degrading, and leave him depressed. Things get worse when Neil bans him from the office, and he asks his co-workers to have a drink with him, but no one responds, prompting Alice to tell him that none of them really like him. In the series, it would probably end there, in an awful awkward moment, but here, Tim steps in and offers to have a drink with David. Tim has always been a good guy, and that gesture clearly means a lot to David. Rather than having his self confidence destroyed, Tim steps in, and is a friend for someone in need.

Most of the Christmas special is just build up, and catching you up on what's happened with the characters in the time since the series. It's not as tight as your average episode of the series, which isn't to say that it's bad, it's just not designed to be as funny.

In the Florida scenes, we see the effects of Dawn's choice in the second series. She chose Lee because he could provide for her, but here, they end up sitting around Lee's sister's house, caring for her baby. Dawn looks desperately unhappy, and Lee has become lazy and content to just sit there and mooch off his sister. Also, she has given up her dream of being an artist. This is crucial because the dream was what kept her going, and now she has no hope for the future, things will be the same as they are forever.

So, when she goes back to see Tim, she's reminded of what she's lost. He is sad that she's given up her dream of being an illustrator, a dream that he supported. This is emphasized the most during the party when Tim says it's a shame that Dawn gave up the illustrating, and Lee says she could only make money at it if she was good, thus destroying both her self confidence in her art, and her hope of being an artist.

Tim in the special seems to have found a kind of equilibrium, and despite still being annoyed by Gareth, he is almost content in his position at the office. He still is clearly in love with Dawn, but doesn't let the fact that he doesn't have her get to him.

So, the special, and the entire series build to the Christmas party sequence at the end of the special. This sequence is massively important for both Brent and Tim and Dawn. For Brent, it is a critical turning point. He's said that he was going to bring a woman to the party, and Neil reveled in questioning about this, pointing out the obvious fact that he has no one. So, as the party begins, we see Brent waiting for his blind date to arrive. His two previous dates had gone awfully, so he's not expecting much. However, when his date does arrive, she's nice, and we finally see Brent let down his guard. He walks by Finch and Neil, but rather than trying to impress them, he spends the entire party alone talking with her. Rather than trying to be the center of attention, he's content to just talk with her. He's no longer putting on a show, he's just being himself. Things go well for Brent, and we don't know if their relationship will go anywhere, but the thing is, he had a good night, and for the first time in the entire run of the series, he's really connected with someone.

This is followed up by a critical moment for Brent. He passes by Chris Finch, who makes a joke about David's date, and rather than laughing along with it, as he would have before, David tells Chris to "fuck off." Here, David is faced with a choice between his past and his future. Finch was his idol, and represents the old Brent, in that he is always concerned with having a laugh, and being the center of attention, rather than considering people's feelings. In rejecting Chris Finch, he rejects the old version of himself, and thus, we're left with the feeling that he has changed, and has gotten a new set of priorities.

While this is good, the real highlight of the party sequence is Tim and Dawn. At the beginning of the party, they're hanging out together, and having fun, but there is clearly a lot being left unsaid. One of the most notable scenes is when they are winding up Gareth, and Lee comes in and explains that they're making fun of him. Lee has come in and destroyed one of their favorite activities. Eventuallly, Lee and Dawn leave, and Tim is left at the party alone.

Probably the best scene in the entire series is when Dawn opens the secret santa gift and sees that it's a set of paints from Tim. In giving her the paints, Tim is giving Dawn back her dreams, and as his note says, telling her she should never give up, because just the act of having the dream will keep her going when things are bad. Seeing the paints overwhelms her because it makes the differences between Tim and Lee so clear. For Lee, the painting is a waste of time and impractical, but Tim recognizes that it makes her happy, and thus is important.

This leads to the brilliant payoff, where we see Dawn walk into the party and her and Tim finally kiss. This is such a perfect scene, the music, the way it's shot and the moment itself. The characters have been through so much bad stuff, it makes their embrace even more powerful. This is the feeling that practically every filmmaker who's ever made a romance film is going for, and I don't think it's ever been achieved as well as here. The fact that Dawn and Tim make it together gives hope to both characters, and changes the office from something of a prison to a place that might not be great, but it's not important, because they have each other now.

At its heart, the series is about coming to terms with your situation in life. Tim at first is almost angry about being in the office, and wants to get out, but by the end, he realizes that his job might not be great, but that doesn't mean his life isn't great either. Dawn may never make an artist, but the fact that she has someone who will support her through whatever she does makes the bad stuff she has to face insignificant. And Brent may not be an entertainer, but in the end, he has people who apperciate him, and he realizes that there's more to life than having a laugh.

When they take the picture at the end, I get the feeling that this is the last time Brent will be at the office. There's a sense of closure, like he doesn't need to impress them anymore, and when he's not trying as hard, he actually gets a laugh. Similarly, Tim no longer wants to leave so desperately. He's content where he is, and while there may not be great things in his future, there will be happiness. It's all about realizing that life may not always be great, but there's always some good to be had, some fun along the way, and by the end, each of the characters have found peace.

I'll just say that the first time I watched the special I liked it, but didn't really get it I guess. On the second viewing, I was really affected by everything that happened. The Tim/Dawn and the change of Brent at the end hit me on a more emotional level than they had on the first viewing. I loved the darkness of the show on the first go, and the second time through, it was more the light at the ending that really hit me.

There's so much depth and many layers in the series, all developed in such a short period of time. The series isn't exactly a comedy, or a drama, or a romance, it's all three, and none at all. It's just a story that's really well told.

Related Posts
The Office (12/26/2004)
Top 10 TV Moments (1/29/2005)

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The Office

Yesterday, I finished rewatching the brilliant British series, The Office. The Office is about a bunch of people who work at an office. It's a brutally realistic show, reveling in the awkward moments that people have when interacting in everyday life. It's similar to Curb Your Enthusiasm, in both shooting style and level of humor, but it has another element, which elevates above mere comedy. The show transcends genre, it's just a story, the story of four people, and what happens to them over a period of time. I can't reccomend it highly enough, it truly is one of the greatest stories ever told.

The series has a ton of stuff to analyze, and I'm going to cover a little bit of it here. The central character for most of the series is David Brent. Throughout the series, we are made aware of the way that Brent's image of himself contrasts with both the reality of who he is, and the way that he is perceieved by the people who work with him. Brent considers himself the best boss that people will ever have. He's a "chilled out entertainer" in the work place, and considers "having a laugh" the great compliment he can receive. He considers himself one of the funniest people in the world, and feels like the office is a stage for his comedy. He never seems concerned about actual productivity, he is concerned with keeping morale up, but this is really just an excuse for him to make jokes.

Throughout the first series, the myth of David Brent is built up. We get to know the character and the way he perceives himself. He thinks he's hilarious, but the people in the office generally view him either negatively or with complete apathy. For them, it's just a job, and they don't understand the fact that they're supposed to be David's audience. David also has major problems understanding his people. In the first episode, he tells Dawn she's fired as a practical joke, but she doesn't realize this, and ends up in tears, leaving him sitting there, just staring at her very real emotion. He's supposed to be an entertainer, but he's reduced her to tears.

During the first season, Brent has some successes. When he plays guitar for his co-workers, they seem to actually enjoy it. In the first season, most of the workers tolerate Brent's schtick. They may not find him hilarious, but no one really calls him on his behavior either.

Running parallel with this over the course of the first season is the story of Tim and Dawn. Throughout the series, they're treated as parallel characters, simultaneously pushing each other forward and holding each other back. Tim clearly is in love with Dawn from the start of the series, but she has a fiancee, Lee. They're both different from Brent and Gareth in that they don't like their jobs, and consider it only a stopover on their way, rather than an end in itself. Both see the office as something of a prison, and feel that the longer they stay there, the less likely they are to ever leave. Tim asks Dawn out in episode four, and she rejects him, so, from then on, there's a slight awkwardness in their relationship.

As season one ends, Brent is promoted, and is given Jennifer's job. He promptly rejects all his workers in favor of taking the promotion himself. Thus, all his rhetoric about caring about his employees, and treating them as a family is gone when it comes time to help himself personally. One of the best scenes of season one is when Brent presents the "good news and the bad news" to his workers, namely that they all may be fired, and will have to relocate, but he's got a promotion. The party scene at the end of the season is also brilliant. Brent says that he's decided not to take the promotion, to help them out, but later, he's confronted by Malcolm, who says that Brent couldn't get the promotion because of a medical problem. This is the first example of Brent's image being broken down. He's at his high point in their esteem, and when his lie is brought to the surface, he doesn't know what to do.

The other major event at the party sequence is when Tim tells Dawn that he's accepted a promotion, and is staying on, rather than going to university. For Dawn, this represents the vicarious destruction of her dream. If Tim could get out, it gave her hope that she could also, so his choice to stay there destroys a part of her also. The season ends with Tim and Brent having sold out, Dawn is distraught, and things generally look bleaker than they did at the beginning of the season.

The entire second season is devoted to destroying the myth of David Brent. Over the course of the first season, he builds up this idea that he's the greatest boss, and a hilarious entertainer. In the second season, we see this illusion smashed, and reality hits Brent.

Neil comes into the show to serve as a double for Brent, basically being the person Brent wants to be/thinks he actually is. At the meeting with the workers, Neil is witty, kind, and clearly liked by the people he is working with. Then, Brent goes on, tries to get huge laughs, and completely bombs. Later in the episode, Brent is brought to task by his bosses twice for making racist jokes. In the second season, Brent is constantly under watch, and as a result, his failures are much more apparent. He cannot get away with doing whatever he wants.

In the second episode of the season, we see Brent's facade crack for the first time. He takes the Swindon lot out for a drink, and attempts to win them over, but completely fails, and even admits that he has failed. He comes back and gets yelled at by Neil, which leads to his confession to Dawn that he's unhappy. This is the first time we see David at loose ends, unsure of himself.

This downfall continues when he bombs at a motivational speaking session, culminating in the dance scene. For comic relief day, Neil and Rachael do a dance, with Brent dismisses, claiming he could do a better one, and proceeds to perform an incredibly awful dance that leaves the workers flabbergasted. His showboating, combined with lack of doing any actual work leads to him getting fired. The scene in which he's fired sees all his negligence catch up with him. He never does any actual work, and it becomes a problem. It's perfect that he's fired on comic relief day, which should be the ultimate showcase for him, and ends up being the sight of his downfall.

In the final episode of the season, things go worse for him, he's fired from the motivational speaking job, and forced to beg Neil for his job back. This scene sees the myth of David Brent completely destroyed. He's no longer in control, he's not trying to be funny, he just wants his job, because without it, he has nothing. The office is his stage, and his purpose in life. He doesn't have any friends outside the office, and being fired is the equivalent of death for him. I love the way the season ends on such a down note. There's no attempt to make him feel better, there's just the reality, this guy is bad at his job, and has to be fired, and his feelings on the matter don't really come into play.

At the same time, over the course of the second season, we discover Dawn's dream of being an illustrator. Dawn is watching herself drift towards a life she doesn't really want. In marrying Lee and keeping the job as a receptionist, she's doing the safe thing, the thing that will keep her from being poor, but she's also destroying her passion. The most important speech for her is when she talks about how she used to say she was an illustrator, who did some work as a receptionist, but now she's just a receptionist. She has given up the dream, and basically accepted her role in the office. There's a divide between people who consider the job their ultimate goal, like Gareth, and those who just consider it a stopover. In saying this, Dawn has basically given up the hope that it's just a stopover, and consigned herself to an unfulfilling life.

While this is going on, she's seeing Tim drifting away from her. At the beginning of the season, he's a stickler for work, and discourages frivolity in The Office, but later, it's when he is going out with Rachel that we see Dawn at her lowest ebb. Tim had been the hope that she had that she could get out of the office and do something with her life, and to see him not only drifting into a permanent position, but also a permanent relationship is to see all her dreams destroyed.

For Tim himself, there is also an element of accepting his fate. He hopes to be in David's chair one day, and at the beginning of season two is clearly on the way up within the company. He's put his dreams on hold, but indefinitely. Gareth talks about the fact that having pipe dreams is good, even though you're never going to get to them, and Tim still has the dream of leaving to become a psychologist, but with each year, it becomes less and less likely.

As season two ends, Dawn is ready to leave for Florida with Lee, which is basically her deciding that being practical and having someone who can pay the bills is more important than persuing your dream. Despite pining for Tim the entire season, when he finally does ask her out, she rejects him, and leaves the country. The sequence in which he asks her out, done with no sound, is absoultely phenomenal, the silence is suffocating.

So, the end of series two leaves Tim and Dawn with their dreams shattered, and Brent with his world destroyed, but there is hope, in the special.

Related Posts
The Office: The Christmas Special (12/27/2005)
Top 10 TV Moments (1/29/2005)

The Life Aquatic

So, I just saw The Life Aquatic, the new movie from Wes Anderson. I completely loved The Royal Tenenbaums, the opening sequence, with 'Hey Jude,' is similar in scope and genius to the 'One' sequence in Magnolia. It tells the whole story of the family, and introduces all the characters in five or so minutes, with astonishingly inventive visual tropes. The end where the falcon flies off just left me in awe. But, I'm not as big a fan of Rushmore and Bottle Rocket. They were definitely quirky, but sometimes too self consciously so.

Where does Life Aquatic fall? It's not as good as Tenenbaums, but it's definitely better than his first two films. Bill Murray is so relaxed in his performance, he's almost catatonic and it works perfectly for the character. He is Steve Zissou, and serves as the anchor of the movie, no pun intended. The visual style of the movie is really interesting. The sea creatures are CG, and are incorporated seamlessly with the live action stuff. The underwater photography is great, and the pastiche documentaries are hilarious.

I love the relationship between Jane and Ned, it develops naturally and is really sweet. Klaus is a great character, and was interesting to watch whenever he was on. The way the movie moved between mostly light comedy, and some heavy drama was really interesting to watch, and the death at the end is completely unexpected, and seems almost unbelievable. It doesn't belong in the world of the film.

Some of the stuff in the film strays into the overly quirky. Also, Steve's whole situation is rather muddled, and what he wants and where he's going isn't exactly clear. This isn't necessarily a negative, but it makes it tough to really get involved with the characters. He sort of drifts through the film, and as a result, the film doesn't have a real feeling of forward momentum. This doesn't stop it from being a good film, but it may prevent it from being a great film.

However, there is one incredible sequence that pretty much makes up for any of the problems, and that's when they go undersea in the submarine and confront the jaguar shark. Sigur Ros' Starl Fur is the soundtrack, and the jaguar shark is an astonishing thing. It's a perfect combination of music and image, and a transcendent movie moment. See the movie for that alone.

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What's going on with me?

This break so far has been really intense, a lot of really deep, challenging discussion. I feel like our years of repression of emotions has led to an era in which everyone is depressed and I do nothing, but talk about my problems, and whine about how screwed up we all are. Everyone is screwed up, but that doesn’t mean that the future isn’t going to be different, for better or worse. All we can do is try to move forward, lose the things we don’t like about ourselves and build up the parts we do. That sounds really easy, but it's tough to do, and just the act of whining gives you this feeling that that alone is going to do something.

One thing I feel like is it might be our attempts to make films and such that give us this feeling that we were all so holed up. I don't get the impression that a lot of people I know from college go back to their friends at home and have three hour discussions about the things they failed at in high school. But, then again, I doubt that people there would think that I would do that. To quote one of my favorite movie quotes, "We all wear masks, metaphorically speaking." And, I feel like what I'm doing here is letting down the mask and you see all the screwups, but the other people I know have the same problems, and we all covered them with these masks. Is that common behavior? I'm not sure, I don't think it's only us, but it's not everyone by any means.

I've actually been rather happy lately, it is Christmas, but it's not just that, I feel like a confluence of events is happening that will make 2005 a year of massive change, or rather, some opportunities have been presented to me that will allow me to change my situations in 2005, and make them better. Active rather than reactive, that's the goal.

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