Monday, May 30, 2005

The Rest of the Summer...

Now that the last Star Wars film has been released, the major thing I've been looking forward to for years now is gone. But that doesn't mean that there isn't some cool stuff coming up soon.

One week from today we've got the new season of Six Feet Under. It's been a while since I watched the show, I finished the fourth season back in September, but watching the trailer for the new season has me excited to see it. The people behind SFU make the most amazing trailers for the new seasons. The one for the fourth season was what made me watch the show in the first place. The trailer for this year was excellent as well, nicely showing the changes the characters have undergone over the course of the series, as they drive by past and future incarnations of themselves.

Judging from Yahoo's preview of the season, it looks like Billy is going to be playing a big part, which I'm happy about. Him and Brenda are my favorite characters on the show, and his interaction with the other characters always produces odd, uncomfortable moments. TV series need those characters that make people break out of their normal behavior patterns, because that's how deeper character traits are revealed.

This is the last season of Six Feet Under, and hopefully it'll be a satisfying ending. The past four seasons have been so great, I seriously doubt that Alan Ball and co. will screw things up, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what their final statement is.

I'm not really looking forward to any of the major movies coming out this summer. I'll definitely go see Batman Begins, War of the Worlds and some other stuff, but the slate is genuinely uninspiring. I guess it's more my changing film taste than a change in movie quality. Now, I look forward to the Holiday award movie season more than the summer blockbuster season. One film I do really want to see is Burton's Charlie and the Chocalate Factory. It looks like a return to the over the top visual style that has been on hold in his past two films. Plus, Johnny Depp is always entertaining.

Richard Linklater's Bad News Bears is another movie I do want to see, though I'm really not sure how good it will be. It seems to be along the lines of Bad Santa, which I did really like, but I don't really want to see a rehash of that. Plus, this one doesn't have Lauren "Fuck me Santa" Graham, who was essential to the success of the film. But it's Linklater, so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The other big summer release I'm most looking forward to is not even happening here, it's happening in Korea, where Chanwook Park's Sympathy for Lady Vengeance gets a release. Park is the master behind Oldboy and Lady Vengeance is the finale of his 'Vengeance Trilogy.' Oldboy's one of the most well made films I've seen, and I can't wait to see his next. Even though I didn't like JSA or Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance as much as Oldboy, his films are always interesting because Park has such a great eye. He composes shots that are always interesting to watch, that's his greatest strength as a filmmaker.

I'm not sure if it's just because we get their best stuff, but it seems like the films coming out of Asia are much more concerned with being visually interesting than American films. In American movies, the story and characters are definitely priority and the visual is an afterthought, while the directors there seem to be much more visually motivated. Both are important, but I find the Asian approach much more interesting to watch. A film like WKW's 2046 uses the medium so much better than the most critically acclaimed films here, things like Million Dollar Baby. That was a good story, but it's utterly uninteresting from a filmmaking standpoint.

A lot of people seem to equate style with showiness, and the idea is that it must inherently detract from the story, but that's not the case. In the best films, the stylistic choices are beautiful on their own and also enhance the viewer's enjoyment of the story. I would point to Irreversible, a film that is so technically dazzling and calls a lot of attention to its style, but all in the service of immersing you in the emotional beats of the story. Million Dollar Baby makes you feel for the characters, while Irreversible makes you feel what the characters are feeling, and that's a huge difference.

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