Saturday, March 19, 2005

Wonder Women, Aronofsky, Park, Nip/Tuck

Break is winding down. It's been pretty good, I haven't done too much, but I saw some great movies and TV. If each day is fun and I'm always pretty happy, that's enough. Wanting more and being happy with what you have is not mutually exclusive.

Yesterday the news broke that Joss Whedon is going to be writing/directing a Wonder Women movie. This is what I posted to on the subject: "On the project in general, I'll see it and I think it will be good, but I'm a bit disappointed. Part of me wanted to see Joss return to the Buffyverse again, but barring that, I'd have loved to see him writing an original script. I feel like he might have to make too many concessions to the studio and while something like Spiderman and X2 would great fun, I don't know want to see one of the most talented storytellers in film doing something that's just great fun. My favorite superhero movie is Batman Returns, and that's really a Tim Burton film that happens to feature Batman. I don't think Joss has such a tight set of themes or a visual style that he can make Wonder Woman a definitively Joss Whedon film. His strength is in creating
characters, and how much leeway is there to do that within the constraints of a studio action film."

Basically, I feel like this is a project that's definitely going to help his career. I don't see huge box office for Serenity, it'll be lucky to make it to $50 million, so by directing this film, he's going to stake his claim to the A list, and like Tim Burton wtih Batman, this film will probably make him a household name, if he's not already. So, hopefully he'll get this one out quick and it will get him the capital to be able to work on an original script. And Joss is a huge comics fan, so it's got to be cool to be able to make a movie based on a comic book icon. I know if I ever got the chance to direct an Invisibles or Flex Mentallo movie, I'd be all over that.

The New York Times Arts section today (for Sunday) was awesome. They had a lengthy article about Darren Aronofsky and his upcoming film, The Fountain. This is a film I've been hearing about for years, and back at the beginning of the year, I said it was my third most anticipated film of 2005. Aronofsky is one of the best filmmakers working today, and to see him doing a complex sci-fi film is a dream. I love science fiction so much, yet most sci-fi movies are just action movies set in the future, they use a sci-fi conceit as an excuse for action scenes. The best sci-fi stuff uses the conventions of another world to explore our own. Look at a film like 2001 or Blade Runner, both give you this astonishing new world, but also have tons to say about where we are now, and The Fountain seems to be doing the same thing.

The problem with a lot of science fiction is that it's cold and not emotionally real. The best sci-fi movies in recent years were Solaris and 2046, the latter had 15 minutes of sci-fi stuff, but in those moments so perfectly used the conventions of the genre to tell this really emotional story. The Fountain seems to be doing the same thing, and hopefully it'll live up to the five years of waiting for the film.

The other great article they had was on Park Chanwook, the Korean filmmaker behind the brilliant Oldboy, one of the most pop movies ever made. The movie finally comes out here next week, but I saw it a while back, and it really lives up to the hype as just a twisting, brutal film that's just so well made. It's a film that has a great plot, but the plot is really just a base upon which Park can riff with directorial flourishes. So, it was cool to read about that, and I got a better idea of how Park works and his history.

Another interesting article was about the American remake of The Office. Now, the British version is one of my favorite series, an essentially flawless work of art, and I just don't think the American version can compare. It's the performances and characters that make the show great, not the gimmick. And, considering it'll be an ongoing series, rather than the limited British run, they can't do the coherent plot and character arcs of the British version. David Brent works because we see him push the boundaries and ultimately get punished. If the series is going on indefinitely, he can never face consequences for his actions. But, I'll sample, even if it's got half the quality of the British version, it'll still be one of the best series on TV.

Over this break, I watched the first season fo the show Nip/Tuck. As much as I love film, TV can do things that it can't, and that's to create astonishingly complex and detailed characters, and give you a sense of their whole lives. Film is designed to show the most exciting day of a person's life, while TV is best for showing everyday of a person's life. To compare the media, take a look at Goodfellas and The Sopranos. Goodfellas, while it's a great film, is all about surface and giving you an overview of this guy's life. You get a sense of the world, but not how he behaves on a daily basis. The Sopranos is all about showing the details of daily life and how things always keep coming back to cause problems for Tony and his family. The Sopranos is a much more accomplished work, and the characters are more complex than any in film. For me, film is much more about the director and the way the material is handled, while television is more about the material itself.

Nip/Tuck has a couple of great characters, and a really interesting world. It's also compulsive viewing, like the best series, you just want to stay in this world and follow these people's lives. The most interesting character on Nip/Tuck is Christian Troy, a surgeon who goes along, sleeping with a lot of women and basically living for pleasure, with no concern for anything beyond the material. He's all about image, wearing the best clothes and driving the coolest car. It's fitting considering his profession that he'd be so fixated on his image. Over the course of the season, you have a lot of conflicting feeling towards Christian, since at times he's very cool, sometimes brutally cruel and also tender at times. So, basically he has a facade that's two faced, between very charming and very mean, and this facade hides the real person beneath. I have the feeling if Julia ever confessed she loved him and wanted to be with him, he'd give up his whole life to be with her. It's just that since the only woman he really loves is with Sean, he chooses to go for quantity over quality.

With Sean, there's a feeling that he would be the straight man foil to Christian, but the writers do a good job of making him interesting. His affair with Meagan was a high point, particularly the 'Rocket Man' scene, which was brutal. The scenes at the funeral, where he has to guard his emotions from his wife are great, because the feelings between them are so complex.

Other than Christian, my favorite character is Julia, someone who basically gave up her dreams to be with Sean, and is now looking at her whole world coming down around her. Her flirtations with Christian and Jude make for some great drama, and she's got a lot of layers. It was really surprising to hear her on the bonus features speaking in a British accent, since she pulls off such a convincing American voice on the show.

So, that was good times. It's not as good as a Six Feet Under, which is the show I think it has the most in common with, but it's great viewing, and I'm really glad that it's got another season. It's been too long since I really got hooked on a series like I did on this one.

Related Posts
Nip/Tuck: Season Two (4/8/2005)
Nip/Tuck: 'Ma Boone' (9/24/2005)
Nip/Tuck: The End of Season Three (12/23/2005)

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