Saturday, April 23, 2005

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story

I just finished watching Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, an excellent short film from director Todd Haynes, someone who has quickly become one of my favorite directors, after seeing this, Far From Heaven and Safe. The man's a brilliant filmmakers, and one of these people who has a really tight knit set of films, which build on each other thematically, so when I see another film of his, I appreciate the others even more.

So, before you read this, I would highly reccomend that you go here and download the film. It's on bit torrent and will probably take a few hours to download. It's a fabulous film, and you can see it for free, so you have no excuse. Once you download and view, you can return, and check out my thoughts on the film. Seriously, it's worth the download.

Anyway, Superstar was the first film Todd did, and it was made for his masters thesis while he was still in film school, so he was making this with basically no resources and minimal budget, which is tough when trying to tell the story of a major rock personality like Karen Carpenter. So, what he does is use a lot of stock footage, and for his main cast he uses Barbie dolls made up to look vaguely like the real people they are representing. It's the sort of thing that sounds really goofy, and as someone who made a few movies with action figures years ago, I know that it doesn't always work out, but here, Haynes pulls it off, and you really care about these doll characters.

As a result of having no budget, Haynes used all the songs in the film without obtaining the rights for them, so Richard Carpenter sued him to keep the film from being distributed, and Mattel did as well. The songs are so integral to the film, there'd be no point in releasing it without them, so this is a film that is destined to remain underground forever. However, thanks to the internet, I was able to download and view it, and after seeing it, it's tragic that this film isn't available in a better format, because the quality hurts on the download, and also this is a film that cries out for supplemental material from Haynes, and background on the real Carpenter.

Putting aside the issues outside the film, which could make a great film of their own, we've got the work, which stands as an absolutely riveting 43 minutes. The film actually prefigures the 90s/00s Behind the Music culture that would develop in the years after this film's release. This basically is a Behind the Music parody before Behind the Music even existed. While the idea of this mockumentary biography was still pretty fresh back in 1987 when the film was made, but now it's been done many a time, from Beneath the Dome: The R2D2 story to Pi: Behind the Number by my own friends Jordan and Steve. So, this is a form that was already getting a bit stale five years ago, and that might lead you to believe that this film here would not hold up. However, that is not the case, because despite seeming like a parody on the surface, the film is actually quite serious and very dark.

The film has the feeling that few films achieve of existing in a world completely its own, where you're just transported away to a new and different place, one that in this case is quite unsettling. The film that most did this for me was Eraserhead, which freaked me out solely because the world was so different. This film is similarly unsettling, as the Barbies interact, and all other sorts of footage are cut in. Haynes just immerses you in Carpenter's world, and despite the nondiegetic titles, you're always in the story, and it's just an odd world to go to. Most big budget Hollywood movies have a finished quality, a sheen about them, but when you go to lower budget stuff, things feel different, and this difference can be unsettling. That's why I think all horror movies should be grainy, low budget things, because something like Blair Witch or even Texas Chainsaw Massacre the 70s version, has this creepy alien feeling, and that's what this film has.

As the film goes on, you're still aware that the characters are dolls, but Haynes does such a good job of making them characters as well, you can see beyond their plastic makeup, and into their frequently plastic personalities. As Karen goes along, her story is tragic and disturbing, the film never moves into parody, it's always dark and foreboding.

The device of using the Barbie dolls, beside allowing for a lower budget, ties in to the story's themes brilliantly. One of the main points of the films is that The Carpenters' music was this completely artificial, syrupy pop reassurance that had no relevance to the changing society that they were living in. It was purely escape from the disturbing issues the 60s had brought to the fore. I would disagree with the idea that music should be required to make social commentary, I do like the fact that Haynes makes The Carpenters so vehemently anti-political, preferring to create this folksy down home image that is a conservative backlash against the strife of the 60s. So, having plastic dolls perform this plastic music based on a constructed image is perfectly appropriate. I love how Richard always has the same cheesy smile and perfect hair, even as he is getting angry at Karen.

The other area that the doll is the perfect device for addressing is one of the film's primary discussions, the idea of societal pressure on women to have their bodies conform to a certain expectation, one epitomized by the barbie doll itself. The film is primarily concerned with exploring Karen's anorexia and it does a really good job of making us understand her. Throughout the entire film, Karen is manipulated by her family to create the image they need for their music, and she has no control over herself, so she decides to take control of her body, but in the process, goes overboard and develops the anorexia that is her undoing. Anorexia is portrayed as something that makes her simultaneously powerless and powerful, because this is the only area where she can resist what everyone else wants her to do, if she doesn't want to eat, no one can make her, and even they do, that will only deepen her affliction.

By the end, she recognizes what she's doing is a mistake, but she just can't stop, she is addicted, her anorexia which started as something she chose to do has become a disease that controls her. It's almost paradoxical that you're watching this doll, and really wishing that she would just eat something and beat this.

The film has a ton of parallels with the other two Haynes films that I've seen, Safe and Far from Heaven. All three are about women who are living lives they are not in control of, and engage in societally unacceptable practices to combat the imprisonment. Karen is quite similar to both Carol and Kathy in that she doesn't have to think for herself, she just follows the rules and has an easy life, but she needs control. For her, this comes in the form of the anorexia, which becomes a disease just like Carol's problems in Safe. Both Safe and Superstar are drawn from the Disease of the Week TV Movie, in which we watch someone suffer through an illness that could in theory happen to us. It's all about the main character's suffering from something they can't control, and watching how it disrupts their normal life.

Karen's problems are actually treated in a similar way as Frank's homosexuality in Far From Heaven. All the characters around them don't understand why they can't just stop not eating or being gay. It seems so easy, but that's to ignore the fact that certain behaviors are deeply held and to sublimate them to is to destroy oneself. Karen can't just eat, she needs to overcome the deeper problems within her, and for Frank, he has to confront the fact that he cannot keep lying to himself and expect to be happy.

I think Haynes' biggest issue is with showing how characters who seem to have it all may in fact be the most unhappy. All of the three main characters here are forced by society to do things they do not want to do, and it leads to unhappiness and reaction against societal norms.

The film makes amazing use of music, contrasting The Carpenters' smooth sounds with the trauma Karen is undergoing. There's an early scene where they're recording Close to You, and she messes up, and is angry about it. It's startling to hear her anger come in the middle of this sweet sounding song. A similar scene is when she is performing and collapses on stage in the middle of one of their songs.

The film uses a lot of avant garde techniques, cutting to found footage, a repeated motif of a hand tapping to the beat of the songs, but the strong character arc and great use of music keep the film emotionally relevant, even with the avant garde stuff. So, you can ponder the meaning of cuts, but that's not all that the film is about. I think the editing is great, and what it does is place Karen's story in the context of society as a whole, particularly with the editing of Vietnam clips, and the scene where they sing for Nixon.

If I have any complaints, it would be that some of the titles are difficult to read because they are the same color as the background. Also, as I said before, I take issue with the idea that doing this sappy type of music during a time of war is somehow ignorant of larger societal issues. Not every piece of music need address politics and society, sometimes a good song is just a good song, and The Carpenters did a bunch of those. But, I'm imagine if Haynes did an entire film about Karen Carpenter, he has more than a passing affection for her music.

Ultimately, the film is a harrowing depiction of a disease that destroys Karen, despite her best efforts to beat it, as well as a society retreating from the change of the sixties and moving into a more conservative time, a return to 'traditional values.' In that respect, the film is as relevant today as it ever was, and the sort of clean cut, sappy image has moved from music to politics. I'm tempted to say that this is Haynes' best work, because of just how dense the film is, with fully drawn characters presented in a short running time.

And it's a shame that the film can't be widely distributed. Music rights, while they do protect the artist, are so annoying, and as a filmmaker, I wish that some sort of deal could be worked out to let low budget films use the music they want. It's very frustrating. But, that has only added to the film's aura, this is the film they don't want you to see! And, considering the way he is portrayed in the film, I doubt Richard Carpenter is going to be letting you see this one anytime soon.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Yesterday I watched the movie Aliens for the first time. I saw the original a couple of years ago, and I liked it, but I wasn't a huge fan. However, this semester I'm taking a course on action films, and Aliens came up a bunch of times, so I figured I needed to see it and it was most impressive.

I'm usually not that big a fan of action movies, most of the stuff I've seen in class I've liked, but not loved. A film like Die Hard is undeniably entertaining, but it doesn't really go beyond that. However, Aliens went way beyond just being entertaining, it was one of the best action films I've ever seen.

I think there's a big difference between an action film and a film with action. Oldboy has a lot of action, but I wouldn't consider it an action movie, because the action comes out of the plot, rather than the plot coming out of the action. In Die Hard, the entire film is designed to give you action sequences, whereas Oldboy happens to have some action sequences, but the film could exist without them. Without the action sequences, Aliens would have no second half, because at about the halfway point of the film, it goes into an extended series of action sequences that last for the whole rest of the film.

The first half of the movie is good, it succinctly sets up the situation and follows up what happened in the original. It's also admirable that the film has such long buildup. There's no opening action sequence, and no real action until halfway through the movie. This allows for good setup of characters, and also creates more suspense, so that by the time they reach the planet, you really are wondering, what's up here, and when are we finally going to see some aliens. But, during the first half I was never bored, and that's what makes the film so effective. In an action film, the longer you can go without an action sequence, while still keeping the audience's attention, the better, because it will make each action sequence more rewarding.

Looking at this film, when they finally do open fire on an alien, it's so satisfying because we've been waiting for it for so long. A similar sequence would be in Return of the Jedi, where Luke, The Emperor and Darth Vader spend so much time talking, it's incredibly satisfying when Luke finally gets his lightsaber and begins to fight. If this whole movie had been them killing aliens, you wouldn't have this satisfaction, the thrill comes solely from the buildup.

That's one of the main problems I have with the Michael Bay style of editing, where everything in an action sequence is cut incredibly quick. In an action sequence, fast editing has its virtues, and Wong Kar-Wai used it to great effect in Ashes of Time, but if you want to make a film that will involve audience emotions in the action sequence, you need long shots to build things up. I would say there's a difference between spectacle driven action and emotion driven action. If you use really fast editing, you can make cool looking scenes, like in Blade II, but you're not going to involve the audience emotionally, and thus, you leave the audience to just admire the surface, and not go deeper. The quick cutting can be a spectacle in and of itself, but slower shots are absoultely essential to both involving the audience and allowing the visual to really sink in.

The whole second half of the film is one of the most engaging action sequences I've seen, and it is not just because the action stuff is so cool, but rather because of the character relationships that have been developed. Cameron does an amazing job of maintaining tension for a really long time, and even with the fact that he barely shows the aliens.

Looking at this film in the context of Cameron's ouevre, you can see clear connections with Terminator 2. If that flim was a treatment on fatherhood, this one would be about motherhood. I think this film has a deeper, more realistic parent-child relationship, largely because Sigourney Weaver is a much better actress than Arnold, and also because this film doesn't have as many comedy elements. Terminator 2 is a great movie, but it has a certain level of ridiculousness that the film is always aware of, and this film doesn't have that, which makes for a more intense, satisfying viewing experience.

A lot of the times, I view film in an analytical way, looking for layers and subtext, but in the case of this film, it's all about the emotional involvement. When Ripley goes back to look for Newt, you are willing her on, despertately hoping that she will find her. If you are looking for analytical content in the film, it would come in the discussion of motherhood, particularly the duel between Ripley and the Queen on the ship at the end. That sequence was amazing, and there's so much tension as you watch her shove the queen out into space, while Bishop is holding onto Newt. Just the images in that sequence are so great.

So, this is a film that just owns. You watch it and are completely absorbed into another world, which is what movies are all about. Is it perfect? No, but it's a top notch film experience.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ashes of Time

Earlier today, I watched Wong Kar-Wai's film, Ashes of Time. Anyone who's hung out with me in the past six months or so has probably already heard me extorting the virtues of Wong Kar-Wai, and by the end of last year, I had seen all of his films. I loved them all, with the exception of As Tears Go By, his really weak first film, and Ashes of Time, his wuxia Kung-Fu movie, which I liked, but was very, very confused by. I've seen so many movies, I'm able to follow most of them, but this one was just perplexing. It didn't help that it was one of the worst DVDs I'd ever watched, with sub-VHS quality, making it difficult to tell who was who. Anyway, I got another DVD version a while back, but I hadn't watched the film, I think I was a little intimidated, not quite ready to go back to the confusing world that WKW had created, but tonight I finally did, and what I saw was stunning.

The first time I saw Ashes of Time, I was so confused, I couldn't really enjoy it. This time I was paying attention very closely, keeping track of character names and trying to place things in chronological order, not an easy task in this film. But, I did follow the film, and I was amazed at how great it was, and how well it fits into WKW's overall canon. This film prefigures a lot of the stuff he talks about in 2046, particularly with the mystery wine.

The film has three basic plot segments, all involving Leslie Chung as Ouyang. In the first segment, he runs into Evil East, played by Tony Leung Kar-Fai. This is not the Tony Leung of 2046 or Chungking Express, it's another, who I shall henceforth refer to as Kar-Fai. Anyway, the opening of the film jumps all over, in an almost Lynchian way, blending time and memory, in a way that is confusing at first, but nicely sets the tone for the film. Evil East is being pursued by a dual personality woman, known as Yin, or Yang when she is dressed as a man. In the second, Ouyang commissions people to defend a town from a gang of horse thieves, and in the third, he reflects on his own life.

All of WKW's films neglect traditional ideas of narrative, but this might be his most abstract. He does a great job of just capturing feelings, rather than telling a traditional story. In the first segment, there's an amazing scene where Ouyang and Yin/Yang are in bed together, and each is fantasizing about the person they really love. It's the sort of thing that's confusing on first viewing, but once you know the basic character conflicts, it's amazing, because it places you in both of their minds. In the film, and all of WKW's work, most characters feel a longing for something else, another time or place. This scene prefigures the plot of 2046, in which Tony Leung sleeps with a bunch of women, all the while seeking to recapture the feeling he had with Maggie Cheung back in In the Mood For Love.

The film is a series of love triangles, in which people long for that which they can't have, and the people who do have love are somehow separated from the people they love. WKW does a great job of showing this visually, such as in the gorgeous scene where Kar-Fai goes to a cave where Peach Blossom, Tony Leung's wife is waiting for him. Her sensual ties to the water and the horse prefigure the similar scenes with the hitwoman in Fallen Angels throwing herself onto the jukebox in the bar.

The characters in this film are forced to choose between love and fighting. Leslie chooses to fight, and ends up regretting it, because he has become nothing more than a shell, asking people the same questions and continually watching his friends either die or move on, while he stays the same. He is a prisoner of his past, torn by his memories of Maggie Cheung. The scene between Kar-Fai and Maggie Cheung is heartbreaking, such that when watching the film the first time, I wasn't really sure what was happening, but I got the emotion. Having followed the story, it's even more effective, and in ten minutes, Maggie steals the entire movie. The fate she has here is probably the same one that befalls her character from In the Mood For Love.

The magic wine, which erases ones memory is thematically quite similar to the whole idea of 2046. WKW's films are frequently about people tormented by memories and past loves, unable to move on. In his films set in the present day, the people frequently do get over it. Takeshi in Chungking gets over Mae, and by the end of Fallen Angels, it seems like the agent has gotten over the hitman. Similarly in Happy Together, where for the first time, we see Tony Leung free of worry and doubt. In his films set in the past, the weight of memory seems more inescapable. Here, Ouyang finds himself crippled by his memories of Maggie, unable to move on, and unable to face her again. He is caught in a stasis, much like the one that Chow has in 2046.

The magic wine is seen as the solution to all the character's problems, because it just makes the memories go away. But, that doesn't work, Ouyang is still drawn to his hometown, where he knew Maggie. In 2046, the train represents the opportunity for a do-over, rather than forgetting the past, it's a chance to recapture and do it right, to never lose the emotional ties that have become a curse. In both films, love is a prison, presenting characters from moving on, and alienating those around them. It's heartbreaking to know that Maggie and Ouyang both love each other, but neither has the guts to go after that love.

Besides the thematic ties, the work uses the style that WKW developed in Chungking and Fallen Angels, and applies it to the wuxia genre. It's notable that this is a Wong Kar-Wai film that happens to be in the kung-fu genre, rather than a kung-fu film that happens to be directed by Wong Kar-Wai. It uses the conventions of the genre, but more notably uses the themes and style of Kar-Wai. During fight scenes, he uses the low shutter speed 'Chungking' effect, and absurdly quick cutting. The fight scenes are more about showcasing the editing than showcasing the fighting, and the fighting itself isn't particularly impressive. The really bizarre fight scenes are the ones involving Brigitte Lin that just involve huge torrents of water exploding into the sky.

I still don't have a great DVD, but even without great quality, the film is still visually dazzling. The cave sequence, the Maggie sequences, the desert vistas, I still prefer WKW's urban films, but this is a good looking piece. The thing I love about the film is that WKW makes these mythic figures real people. Even in a great martial arts film, like Hero, the characters are mythologized, as they are in most films set in the past. This is one of the few historical films where the characters feel painfully real, and have relatable conflicts rather than these sort of mythic ones about honor and loyalty. That's my primary problem with period films, the characters speak and behave in an artificial way, but WKW's people have the same problems as modern characters, they are just filtered through the lens of this past society.

So, this isn't an easy film, but it's one that's definitely worth checking out. It's full of the great images and style you'd expect with WKW, and it's interesting to see how he takes his usual themes and applies them to a different genre. I'm going to have to see this a couple of more times, and hopefully a better DVD, with the proper language track, and some quality bonus material will be released soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Bad Horror Movies

Why is it that any horror movie, no matter how poorly reviewed, inevitably opens at number one at the box office? This weekend, The Amityville Horror, which had no big stars, was a massive success. I'm a huge Philip Baker Hall and Melissa George fan, but I don't think too many people are going to see the movie just because of them. And it's not even just this one, earlier this year, Boogeyman opened at number one, and was a big success. I mean, the movie was called Boogeyman, there's no way that's going to be good, and yet it still makes so much money.

I guess what bothers me is that any bad horror movie makes so much money, and that means we're going to see more of those, while it still remains very difficult to get funding for quality indie movies. I've never been a fan of the horror genre, I liked The Shining and some of Hitchcock's stuff, but generally speaking, I prefer movies that aim to do more than just scare you. Horror is an element that can be used in movies to great effect, as in a film like Irreversible or Oldboy, but those films did much more than just try to scare you.

I think that's one of the basic rules of genre filmmaking, particularly comedy and horror. I love a film that's funny, but it's not enough to just be funny, there need to be good characters, visuals or something else to keep you interested. If you have really well developed characters, it's so much easier to do comedy. Looking at TV, on Buffy, the comedy episodes were much funnier than the material (which was still good) just because we knew so much about the characters, and the writers were able to play off their established traits. Similarly, the horror moments were more effective because we actually cared about the characters.

Watching The Grudge earlier this year, I saw a film that was little more than a bunch of scenes of people popping up suddenly, to startle you, not scare you. Most horrro films don't actually get under the surface, they just frighten you on the surface, then move on. I much prefer a film that is disturbing and lingers with you long after the initial viewing, but I guess most people don't, sicne they keep going to these bad horror movies. And, going to films now, at least half of the trailers are for this type of horror movie, the end is not in sight.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Yesterday, I watched Bulworth. I saw the film once before, back in 1999 when it first came out on video, and I remember liking it, so when I saw it on sale for $5 over break, I picked it up. Now, I wasn't sure if this would be one of those movies that I remembered being good, and then not living up the memory. Considering its emphasis on ebonics, it's the sort of film that could very easily seem dated, and in some ways, hte language is a little bit old, but its main points are even more relevant now than they were back in 1998 when the film first came out. It's an essential film for George Bush's America.

The film is about a senator who gets sick of talking about 'being on the doorstep of a new millenium,' in speech after speech and decides to actually tell the truth, in the process becoming something of a folk hero. Along the way, he moves through a poor black community and begins to understand the real effect that a lack of jobs is having on the community, all while trying to outrun an assassin. I think the film is very successful, both as a story and as a political statement. In 1998, when the film was made, the neoconservative movement was beginning to move to the fore in political discourse, and the idea that liberal is a dirty word became a common belief. Bulworth's opponent calls him an "old liberal wine trying to pour himself into a new conservative bottle," which is something I could easily see Bush saying to John Kerry, and in the next election, I could definitely see the Democrats bringing out an even more conservative person to appeal to the "family values" crowd.

The film is a fantasy, but it's one that really connected with me. Watching debates, and seeing candidates say the exact same things, never deviating from the script is frustrating. At the Democratic convention this year, you saw Kerry giving really coded insults about Bush, when he should outright tell people what he's doing. It's not that tough, and yet he never does, and that's what's so frustrating, that no one can simultaneously just tell the truth about what Bush is doing and present a compelling alternative view. So, when Bulworth finally does start telling the truth, it's riveting, and not just because I largely agree with what he's saying. Poliitics has become so much about masks and compromise, and it seems like the further up you go, the more compromised people become, until only the most bland person can become president, which means it would take a sudden rebirth, like the one by Bulworth here to really change things.

The thing that makes the film stand out from something like Fahrenheit 9/11 is that the characters are well developed and there's a sense of fun about things, rather than outrage. In most documentaries on these sorts of issues, especially Michael Moore ones, there's this sense of outrage that is just channeled into whining and jokeyness, there's a feeling of futility. What he does is try to get an awkward moment rather than dialogue. With Bulworth, there's a sense of empowerment and joy that comes with exposing the truth. He is certainly annoyed with the system, but he's also out there trying to change it, and that makes the film a compelling journey. You actually care about the characters, and the story is told in a really interesting way.

From a filmmaking perspective, there's a lot of interesting stuff going on. I really like the scenes in the ghetto, which are a great contrast to the early part of the film which moves through really wealthy areas. You get the sense of this place as a warzone, and you can understand what creates an operation like the one run by LD.

And, I think the film does a good job of avoiding the old white man raps and dresses like young black person cliches, especially considering the number of recent films that involve this sort of joke. What Bulworth does is basically adopt the posturings of the people he is trying to help, and places himself on their level.

Spoilers Below for the end...

And for people who see the film as merely a fantasy, the ending brings it back down to reality, becoming almost allegorical, as the symbol of big insurance gets revenge for what Bulworth has done over the course of the film. I really like the ending because of the way it breaks through the fantasy, and ties in nicely with the idea of the 60s as a liberal utopia. Earlier in the film, Nina mentions how all of the black leaders got killed, not to mention both Kennedys, so it's logical that Bulworth, who tries to change the system gets a similar deal. However, you can see that what he did has already changed things, particularly notable in the behavior of LD, who is now trying to use his power to help change things. So, the film seems to say that even though trying to change things might get you killed, it's still worth doing because just the disruption to the system will be enough to get things going right.

The film is just so relevant to today's political world, I really wish it could be rediscovered. In a world where the Janet Jackson scandal is bigger than Bush lying about WMDs in Iraq, we really need this kind of honest rebuke of the US political process, and most importantly pointing out the fact that even though they are marginally better, Democrats really are not cutting it as an opposition party. Could something like this ever happen? I don't know, I'd like to think that it could, but the fact that it never has would indicate we'll never see a politician do something so radical, even though I have the feeling that it would lead to him being embraced by the public. But, that doesn't mean it's not a good film, because by showing what a politician could do, it exposes the real failure of almost all today's politicians, something that's only gotten worse in the years since the film.

Next Year's Classes

Earlier this week I registered for classes for next semester. Unlike a lot of people, I'm pretty happy with it, and got all the stuff I wanted. I am taking...

Sight and Sound (Film Production)
History of the American Film Industry in the Studio Era
Colloquium on American Studies and Cultural Studies
It's About Time (Physics course)

I probably already know a lot of the film production stuff, since I work with the same cameras and stuff they have here at LMC, but I may get more of an artistic standpoint here, as opposed to just shine enough light on the person to make them show up. The studio era is an era I don't know that much about, so it'll be good to learn, though I'm not a huge fan of the films from that era (in comparison to the best of modernity), but sometimes it's good to branch out and to continue my study of the classics. The colloquim is a requirement, but I really liked the discussion oriented class on youth culture this semester, so hopefully another discussion oriented class will be equally good. This physics course is a risk, I'm hoping it'll give me some of the science background behind the Grant Morrison view of time, not just a bunch of equations. But, it's my farewell to math and science, so I might as well do something potentially interesting.

This year has gone by so fast, one could find it depressing, but I prefer to look at it as a good thing, since it means I'm doing stuff and am not bored. This summer I've got some good stuff coming up. I'm still hoping to track down an internship for May and June, before I return to LMC camp. You'd think it'd be easier to find a place to work if you are willing to do so for no money. but, I guess in the glamourous world of film and television, there is a labor surplus.

My birthday this year could be the greatest birthday of my life. At midnight I'll be seeing Star Wars: Episode III. It's been a long wait for this, sixteen years maybe, I don't even know when I first saw the original Star Wars, but shortly after that I heard about these prequels and I've been waiting for them. I remember years ago, in 1994 maybe, I was talking about how they were going to rerelease the original trilogy in 1997 (years into the future) and then the prequel trilogy in 1999, 2002 and 2005. 2005 seemed like a world away, but now we're here, and on my twentieth birthday, I shall finally complete the saga. It's appropriate because I don't think any experience so influenced me as seeing Star Wars. Without that, I don't know if I would have wanted to go into film, or if it would be such a passion for me. Then at night on May 19, I'm going to see Doves, one of my favorite bands, in concert for the first time. I really wanted to go see them back in September 2002, but I went to see Catch 22 instead, and I regretted it, but now I shall alleviate this and finally see them in concert. This is one massive day, with two huge events. It may be my best birthday yet.