335 in 5 and Turn Off the Damn Blackberry!

So it was a real-time message. That meant it was either from Hal himself or someone aboard Leonov. There was no perceptible time lag; the origin had to be right here.

     Then who was speaking to me?

     I WAS DAVID BOWMAN.

Floyd stared at the screen for a long time before making his next move. The joke, which had never been funny in the first place, had now gone too far. It was in the worst possible taste. Well, this should fix whoever was at the other end of the line.

     I cannot accept that identification without some proof.

     I UNDERSTAND. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU BELIEVE ME. LOOK BEHIND YOU.



A small bit of a large cup.

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote in here. My prediction about Franzen rattling Hiller seems to have come true. The Bruins have fallen apart, but are showing late signs of life. The Canucks are on the brink of falling into another late season breakdown. Canada couldn’t solve Bryzgalov in Berne and had to settle for Silver. The wound on my ankle is healing up nicely. I’ve seen two ‘blockbuster’ summer movies. And I’ve read Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey two from cover to cover.

The last of which is the most remarkable of the bunch. Star Trek, a close second, Abrams is a genius. I’m not much of a reader. Wait, that’s a lie. I read a lot, daily, but I never read novels. I read blogs and other things I come across online. I rarely have the time to sit down and read a good old paperback. Wait I lie again, it’s not that I don’t have the time to read a paperback, its that I’ve surrounded myself by consistent stimulation. I’ve made it difficult for myself to take the time to focus on the printed word. Also, I rarely find something interesting enough to warrant shutting everything down and focusing solely on it. World War Z was successful. Hey Rube was moderately successful, the great thing about collections of articles is that they’re quick and don’t usually require a long term of focus. A lack of continuing storylines makes it easy to put them down. Other than that, it’s rare when a book actually steals enough focus to tear through 335 pages in 5 days. I know many of you must be thinking “I’ve read through books quicker.” Hell, so have I, but not in a long time and very rarely that enthusiastically. There’s something about the romance and mystery of space that made this book a page turner.

I won’t dare touch the movie. I don’t know if I could stomach watching a movie done in the mid 80’s by the same director who has brought us gems such as Time Cop and The Musketeer (2001). With 2001: A Space Odyssey being one of my favourite movies, I’m afraid that it might be spoiled by the non-Kubrick sequel. Fun fact: Kubrick’s professional directorial debut was the movie Flying Padre, financed by RKO, a company noted for the original King Kong and Citizen Kane another two movies I fancy quite a bit.

Directing has been on my mind a lot lately after seeing two widely contrasting examples of how the movie making craft should be approached. I’m talking about X-men Origins: Wolverine and Star Trek. One of these two movies had the directorial due care and attention worthy of a summer epic. The other was trite with clichés and needless overhead shots of leading men screaming into the sky. Honestly, can anyone tell me they take a movie seriously when it uses the same set up and camera pans three times in the first two acts? I’m not a director, yet. And I’ll probably never have the task of presenting my take of a popular franchise to the masses. But I – the undereducated – acknowledge that there are certain things you need to avoid when directing a film. That’s why I respect Abrams so much, he trying to figure out new ways of storytelling and presenting it to an audience. Gavin Hood, not so much.

Holding two of the emotional high points of the movies against one another; the beginning of Star Trek against the end of the first act of Wolverine, it’s obvious which director looked at the script long and hard, then came up with a way to tug at the heart strings of the audience. Both movies attempted to showcase the emotional moment that is the driving force behind the character’s quest for revenge – or other motivations. The point is, I fucking hated Eric Bana’s character because of the emotional beginning to the story, I could empathize with Kirk’s disposition throughout the entire movie. Where as I could care less about the reasoning behind Wolverine’s rampaging quest to avenge a death. All because there was a poor emotional connection in the initial presentation.

I wonder what Zack Snyder would have done with Wolverine. I’ve gone on record lambasting his remake of Dawn of the Dead before settling that it was merely an interpretation, a poor one, but an interpretation of a classic. I’m of the mind that zombies can’t run, hearing George Romero debate on the subject during a 2004 Toronto ComiCon sealed that deal for me. But Snyder won me over with Watchmen , Wolverine could have stood as the tie breaker. On another plane of existence maybe. Now I’ll never know.

Of course, it could always come down to control. For all I know Fox could have pulled an Avi Arad and gone Spider-Man 3 on Mr. Hood.* Maybe Mr. Hood didn’t want to include those cliché’s, but was pushed into it by an executive number-cruncher who was completely and utterly convinced that the audience loves screaming-to-the-sky-overhead-pan-shots. The bean counter could have purchased marketing data from a information mining cellphone company and found that the scream-to-the-sky shot was the camera angle most texted about by the movie’s key demographic.

Of course if that key demographic could get off their phones, we might not have these problems. I don’t want to blame bad directing on in-theatre cellphone usage, but it certainly detracts from the experience. At very least, there’s a remote connection between using your cellphone during a movie and poor directing. I’m sure it’s funny to the parties involved to relay some of the witty thoughts about a movie, during the movie. But while that healthy little white glow that reflects off your face while you’re giggling in self satisfaction and documenting the clever commentary your brain has produced. The people who are trying to enjoy the movie behind you are being distracted and more importantly irritated. I’m sure that some of them might even be thinking of horrible the things they could do to you with the potential weapons they carry on them.

It’s Jim Balsillie’s fault. If the MO for Research in Motion hadn’t changed from securing the business market to reaching into the consumer market with what I can only imagine are amazing smartphones, we might not have this problem. If RIM didn’t push into the public marketplace with a superior product, none of the other companies would have had to pour money into R&D to catch up. The few kids who are hardcore enough to own a Blackberry wouldn’t be able to text their witty comments mid-movie to their friends sitting on MSN at home. They’d have to rely on their memory and wait until the end like the rest of us movie critics. (Don’t get me wrong, using a cellphone before a movie is fine, so long as it’s put away when the opening credits roll. Preferably during the previews.)

So Mr. Hood, you’re lucky. Balsillie will take the blame this time. As a reward for Balsillie’s foresight, Mr. Bettman give him a goddamn NHL franchise already. He sacrificed himself to give Gavin Hood the cinematic equivalent of a mulligan and an energetic new franchise owner in an already large hockey market might spice things up in the NHL a little.

~J

Advice: Turn off the Blackberry (or other smart-phone device) when in the midst of a movie. Whoever you’re texting can wait.

* – For those of you who don’t know the story behind that one. Raimi originally wanted to develop a Sandman film, but was convinced otherwise by the producer to introduce Venom as a marquee villain, citing his popularity. Which is why SP3 has a well developed sympathetic Sandman and a poorly done Venom who seems like he was added as an afterthought. Sadly, the movie did really well at the box office. Even sadder, Venom is dead, which cuts off Spider-man’s most memorable villain Carnage without some really clever writing, outright continuity breaking or a complete series restart.

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