Open Thread for February 28, 2009

Simpsons did it! Simpsons did it! And they’ll probably do it again before 2011.

Movies are a wasteland (Jonas Brothers? Chun-Li?). Early reviews for Watchmen are a mixed bag. Dollhouse does one cool thing.  There’s a bailout and a budget. Somone apparently believed Jeremy Piven’s fish tale. There’s a fetus on American Idol.

Oh, and Simpsons gets picked up for two years.

What’s on your mind?

20 Comments on “Open Thread for February 28, 2009”

  1. Rylee #

    Most of the Dollhouse episode I was saying to myself ‘This is it, this is the last time I’m going to watch this’ because while it was throwing the very odd interesting thing out there it just wasn’t enough. And then the end of the episode came. Frig. The ending of the episode was really good despite the lackluster rest of it and the preview for next week actually looks pretty good.

    Yes, I will be TiVoing Dollhouse next week. (Because I’ll be at Watchmen when it’s on of course.)

    Speaking of Watchmen, the reviews I’ve seen so far aren’t so far from what I was expecting. It’s just too much to cram in to a movie without losing some of what made it such a compelling work. I’m still looking forward to it, and I’m still hinged on Kevin Smith’s ‘It’s F**king Astounding.’


  2. Gab #

    (_Dollhouse SPOILERS ish) Yeah, the Russian guy thing blew my mind. I think what I want to know, now that it’s clear there are at least two characters controlling the actives and that have moral qualms with it, is WHY those two are still doing it. It seems the actives have shady pasts they’re trying to escape (from the opening scene in the pilot), so what about the people working there in full awareness of what’s going on? And a little detail about the episode: the neighbor of the FBI agent with the crush on him? How she was hovering by the door and waiting for him (as was pointed out)? It creeped me out a bit, even IF she caught someone trying to break into the apartment, but I have the feeling it’s meant to be more like she’s pathetic/doting/adorable and sympathetic; BUT, if it had been a man listening for a woman’s return, it would be labeled as stalker-ish and scary and creepy. Just a nugget that jumped out at me.

    The Jonas Brothers are baptizing members of their cult. White means pure in Western society, and you know, they *do* have purity rings. They are preparing their followers for the coming Rapture, and the state of fangirl ecstasy the audience reaches is comparable to religious ecstasy. Now someone else take on the sex imagery.

    Speaking of the _Simpsons_: I know this is late, but how about the new opening? Does this mark a moment in history?

    _Top Chef_ ended this week, too. I was a little surprised in terms of the result in relation to overall skill, but not in relation to the particular challenge being judged.

    Am I the only one still watching _Lost_?


  3. RRedman64 #

    What my wife and I wondered about this week was the head shake between Sierra and Echo at the end. Yeah, the Russian guy got gasps, but we accepted it as part of the world Joss Whedon is trying to create. That head shake suggested some continuing memories or ideas. Or did we just miss something?

    What’s really on my mind is how we have so many unemployed people in the US that the states can’t process all the paperwork. It seems like part of the solution to the former is included in the latter, but apparently that’s just me.


  4. Trevor #

    Not to get political, but Rush Limbaugh got some big award from the Conservatives. God, how I wish he’d pull a Mr. Cresote from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life and explode already.


  5. Gab #

    RRedman64: I wasn’t surprised by the head-nod at all, given how they were talking about how special Echo is- she’s fancy, so of course *she’s* going to have residual memories and stuff. I guess Sierra’s reaction is something to think about, though…

    Trevor: I would love to talk politics! Hey, Franken is right about him: he’s just a big fat idiot. The man is white noise. If you *really* care to discuss politics, check out this article:

    I’m particularly fond of the last paragraph, and I wonder if Burris will take that into consideration. His narcissism is only hurting the other Democrats, and if “GOP political operatives” are members of groups supposedly to support him, that should be an indicator to him- it’s the same tactics they use during elections when GOP fundraisers pump $$$ into the campaigns of third-party candidates or pundits pass themselves off as “neutral” to promote someone whose success will bolster someone from their own party and deplete Democratic support. Democrat or not, anyone with half a brain can tell Burris is behaving selfishly- the difference is the solution each party wants.


  6. stokes #

    There was at least one other cool thing about Dollhouse. In an earlier thread, a reader who goes by the handle “dLo” made the totally on-point observation that the FBI agent is a more obnoxious version of Mulder from the X-Files. With this in mind, revisit the scene from this week where he busts into the abandoned building. The visual sense is all smoke machines and halogen flashlights, just like Vancouver circa 1995. I don’t know if this was intentional or just a coincidence, but either way it was pretty hilarious.


  7. Swirthe #

    Any thoughts on the Dragonball movie?

    I never had high hopes for it before, but the trailer looks pretty awesome. I like the look of the dragon especially.

    However, trailers = fancy lies. There is nothing there to prove that this film will work, and I’ve fallen for the advertising companies’ tricks before.

    This leads me to a question though: could a trailer be considered an art form? They take specific points from the movie and piece it together in a new way to appeal so much to the viewer that they are convinced in to seeing the entirety of the original works. Does this make it a seperate art form than the film itself? Can this even be called art, or does the strong link to financial gain (causing people to go buy tickets/dvds etc) ruin this?

    I really want the dragonball film to be good, but I still just don’t see it happening.


  8. Matthew Wrather #

    He’s less brooding. Mulder’s unique value was his brooding.


  9. Gab #

    @Swirthie: I am of the opinion that trailers are an artform of their own. Just the other night, I saw two different commercials on TV for _Australia_- the first made it look like a war/action movie, the other an epic/timeless romance. In other words, it was like watching two commercials for two completely different movies with two distinct plots and purposes. There is a certain art (and most definitely a lot of skill) to that, I think, and the purpose is to portray the movie in whatever light the execs want that particular trailer/commercial portrayed in. It may be commercial, but all *movies* are commercial, too. Granted, some to a greater extent than others, but if they weren’t, if $$$ was not of any tiny bit of significance, they’d be made in family garages and circulated via hand-made copies and word-of-mouth, and studios wouldn’t exist.

    @Wrather: He may prove more brooding, especially given what happened to him in this past episode. I wouldn’t rule it out quite yet.


  10. Swirthe #

    @Gab: Having two separate commercials for Australia like that sounds absolutely fantastic. I love the idea of being able to get across two completely different sides of the same film, as well as the obvious commercial value of getting a larger number of people interested in seeing it. I haven’t seen Australia, so I don’t know if this was possible just because of the film itself – whether the entire storyline comprises aspects of different genres of film, which I suspect it does. But I’d like to think this can be done with any film. If trailers can be produced to make Saw seem like a rom-com, for example, then that definitely proves it to be an art form in my eyes. Taking one thing and presenting it as something completely different is what art is all about, naturally.
    Plus it gives me an excuse to spend several hours with various films and some video-editing software – looks like some crazy saturday nights are coming up at my house!
    This has also made me think of movie posters, especially those for very old films. Those are obviously just another form of advertising (or were at the time of release at least) but many of them are beautiful, exciting pictures and paintings that are just nice to look at. I think decent movie trailers (I may have gone off the original topic of the dragonball one here – there are some far better trailers, I’m sure) are the modern(ish) equivalent of those (I know you still get posters and things for these films – but they’re just not as good as the old ones, and don’t seem as effective in making me want to see the film).


  11. Gab #

    Well, to bring it back to the Dragonball movie, I give credit to the trailer-makers: I think the trailer looks pretty awesome, too, and have high hopes. But there’s a difference between hope and expectation. Since trailers are meant to draw in as many people as possible (as you said, in so many words), it follows for the DB trailer to look totally amazing, even if the movie itself sucks. Given the source material, I’m thinking it will probably be total eye candy and *maybe* try to have some depth, but nothing that will change my life at all. I’m anticipating a total fanservice film, not the epic melodramatic action the trailer depicts. And honestly, I don’t see it capable of being anything life-changing; and if it takes itself too seriously, it will be painful to watch (like _Daredevil_).

    But this makes another issue an easy segue. If trailers and ad campaigns are so important, why aren’t there award categories dealing with them in awards ceremonies like the Golden Globes, SAGs, and Academy Awards? For a while now, I’ve felt trailer-makers deserve something, since it’s their babies that get the films seen (or at least contribute a lot to the viewings). Ads are a key aspect to the entire film-making process (as in the whole timeline, from script to home release), and heck, it sometimes feels like shots or lines are in there for the single purpose of being fodder for the trailers. There is an entire group of creative minds being ignored every year, and… well… it (like a lot of things) irks me.


  12. Hazel #

    @Swirthe: Here’s a fabulous example of the kind of trailer you’re thinking of, done for “the Shining.”

    But yeah, advertisers definitely make different trailer cuts for different audiences. For example, “Twilight” had a at least two types: they had the ones aimed at the core audience, which chock-full of romance and they also, oddly enough, made some action oriented ones in an attempt to tap into the superhero market appeal.


  13. Trevor #

    Gab, I was thinking to myself yesterday how on-point Franken was when he did his book about a decade ago. What strikes me is how, some ten years later, Limbaugh is still the gold standard for “conservative thought” (surely an oxymoron when it comes to the current crop of less-than-stellar pundits).

    Like Chris Rock, I’m conservative about some shit and I’m liberal about other shit. Anyone who identifies himself as solidly one or the other is immediately suspect in my book. In Limbaugh’s case, I think this says it best: Those who talk the loudest often have the least to say. If no one’s laid dibs on that, I’d like credit for the thought.


  14. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @Trevor: “Anyone who identifies himself as solidly one or the other is immediately suspect in my book.”

    Just curious: why? This statement only works if you immediately assume that both sides are equally wrong in their worldviews. Moderation isn’t always the best answer. If you have one party saying the earth revolves around the sun and the other saying the sun revolves around the earth, both parties are not equally and immediately suspect. In this case, the moderate answer would be something like, “Maybe the earth revolves around the sun in summer and the sun revolves around the earth in winter.” How is that any less suspect?

    I agree that we should avoid sticking with one party or the other just because of family (like, “We Smiths have always been proud Blue Dogs”) or because of regional differences (“I live in Oklahoma so therefore I must be Republican”). But if you’ve done your homework and made the rational decision to say you’re firmly on one side or the other because one side just makes more logical sense, then there’s nothing suspect about it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t sometimes reanalyze your positions, of course.


  15. Swirthe #

    @Hazel: Thanks for that link, that thing is brilliant!
    I’d never actually noticed a film having different trailers appealing to different genres before, I’ll be on the look out for that from now on!

    @Gab: Agreed, trailer-makers should have their own category in awards ceremonies. It could be the only case in which the category montage contains the entire piece of work!


  16. Gab #

    Trevor: I have all of his (Franken’s) books. All of them. I thought ages ago that he should run for office. He outlined so many political scandals and called so many people on what came back to haunt them long before anything became public otherwise. He and Rush have a special relationship. It’s rather fun to watch, actually. But you’re right, the loudest ones are the ones easiest tuned out by their opposition. I put Anne Coulter and Bill O’ in the same category as Limbaugh.

    I’d have to agree with Mlwaski about moderation, though. I understand what you mean, but she makes a good point. It is, admittedly, rather difficult to say one is ONLY a Democrat or ONLY a Republican, ONLY a liberal or ONLY a conservative, because there are so many issues that even people within a proclaimed ideology/group position fight about. For example, Ron Paul proclaims himself against government intervention and invasion of privacy, yet he wants a Constitutional ban on abortion. Whether you are for or against abortion itself, it follows Libertarian ideology that this should be left up to the individual (Libertarians are against seatbelt laws and drinking restrictions, for crying out loud) because this is a TOTAL invasion of a woman’s privacy; so it is VERY anti-Libertarian of him to hold that view. He’s just the first example I thought of, but that happens all the time, with every party and ideology. I think what happens is people just choose what they want and select as their label, if they select a label at all, the term that MOST of the choices they make fall under. They may register as a Democrat, but they may not necessarily vote Democrat every time- they do what makes them feel most comfortable. Usually. (Because then I could get into how broken our election system is and third parties are bad in the execution of OUR government, blah blah…)


  17. Trevor #

    Yeah, what I meant is someone who identifies himself/herself as having *always* been one or the other. I went through a conservative period (shocking, considering that I’m from the South. We’re such a hotbed of liberal Socialists), but changed my ways when in the middle of the Clinton-Lewinsky mess I realized that I didn’t share the same sense of outrage as a lot of people on the right (or at least the loudest ones) seemed to have. So I’ve been quasi-liberal ever since, with the caveat that I sometimes find myself at odds with whatever the liberal hot cause of the day is (gay marriage, the music of Sheryl Crow, etc). To my thinking, if you never question your belief system at least once in a while, you’re not really being honest with yourself. Even if you stick to your convictions, you have to admit for some self-doubt once in a while, some fly in the ointment of your belief system that gives you pause before you say matter-of-factly “this is what I believe.”


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