Archive | April, 2012

The Vampire Diaries: Kevin Williamson is a Master of the Love Triangle

25 Apr

Has anyone seen last weeks episode of ‘The Vampire Diaries’, because if you missed it you are missing out. It was hot, steaming hot. I haven’t seen anything that hot on TV for quite sometime and I’ve watched every episode of ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’.

The moment when two characters finally get together is a vital one in the success or failure of any TV series. In some series it happens too quick, everything seems meant to be and after a few minor obstacles the couple gets together 6 episodes in, 10 episodes later the couple has broken up and no matter how much you loved them to begin with, the on again off again can never compete with that pre kiss, pre anything sexual tension.

The OC is a perfect example of this Marissa and Ryan get together eight episodes in and sure it was great but for longevity’s sake it was terrible move. They became a super annoying couple and Marissa’s constant flakiness is no longer seen as damsel in distress but as an idiot looking for trouble.

Getting your meant to be couple together too early, burns through story lines too quickly and doesn’t allow for the vital ingredient in any successful TV romance, the longing. And no I don’t mean the longing between the characters I mean the longing from the audience for it to finally happen. That longing or hope or obsession from an audience member is a powerful tool, it can turn minor flirting into major entertainment and it can power otherwise dull stories, but if you don’t build the longing you can’t use its power.

But that is not to say that you should never get your couple together, the excessive use of the longing is also a crime. Shows like the X Files, Gilmore Girls, Castle are massive abusers of the longing. Once the audience begins to feel that the couple who are essentially perfect for each other will never get together simply because the writing team don’t want them to, the power of the longing disappears and is simply replaced by irritation. Characters can only have so many interrupted moments and lost opportunities before the possibilities of the sexual tension grows stale.

So what’s the solution, how can we have the longing without the irritation, without the feeling that nothing is happening and nothing ever will. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the love triangle. The love triangle allows for there always to be longing for one side or the other and for there always to be action, for the point of the triangle to be swinging from side to side with never ending romantic fodder. Kevin Williamson the writer of Dawson’s Creek, Scream 1-4, Teaching Mrs Tingle and of course The Vampire Diaries is the master of the love triangle. BTW the love triangle always works better with two guys, just saying.

The best thing about Mr Williamson’s love triangles is the slow burn, he totally convinces you that one pairing is meant to be and then slowly and subtly manipulates the story and the characters until you are on the edge of your seat voting for pairing number two. Dawson’s Creek is the first time I was introduced to Mr Williamson’s talents. I was 100% Dawson and Joey all the way but then slowly and sneakily they didn’t seem right anymore. Dawson was immature, he didn’t love Joey enough and Pacey, he was self sacrificing, gentle and rugged. The next thing you know Dawson was chopped liver and I would have been fine with Pacey killing him. And so we have the beauty of the love triangle we get to do the longing over and over again, the writer gently manipulating us one way or the other.

Well fool me once same on you, fool me twice shame on me. Mr Williamson’s new series The Vampire Diaries, is pretty damn awesome but even I didn’t see how Elena and Stefan we ever going to end up in a triangle. Sure Damon has always wanted Elena but given that Stefan is perfection and incredibly moral and Damon on occasion snaps and kills people it seemed unlikely Elena would make the jump. But this season when Stefan agrees to help the evil Klaus to save his brother Damon and gets hooked on killing again, Mr Williamson got a chance to weave his magic once more.

The most important thing is that the switch seems plausible, your character can’t just throw over the love of their life, they have to slowly fall in love with someone else without knowing it. And that is what happened to Elena. Stefan is evil now and Damon is trying to help Elena get through it. Her influence is turning him around and he’s challenging her. Suddenly even when Stefan comes back to the light, Elena is torn and so am I. And so Mr Williamson does it again, turned my sympathies and put me into a truly awesome love triangle.

And this week was the reward, the forbidden make out that finally confirms what the rest of us have known for weeks, Elena has feelings for Damon. Beautifully staged with very little dialogue and tonnes of sexual tension, the couple explode off the screen in a scene, that I had to rewind and watch a second time. Hats off Mr Williamson you’ve done it again.

How I Met Your Mother: You’ve got to have a Plan

22 Apr

Is it just me or is HIMYM really going down hill these days. It’s kind of become the sitcom version of ‘Lost’ your always trying to get off the island or in HIMYM case your always trying to meet Ted’s wife. What is annoying in both cases, is you never succeed. There are very few times in TV history that ‘Lost’ looks well planned but standing in the company for HIMYM is one of them. This show has spent seven seasons hinting at a fictional women who so far has a calf, a yellow umbrella and a roommate.

Forgive me for judging but these things are not part of a complex story tapestry, they are just a way to lead me on. Don’t get me wrong I love the show but I was told that it was a story with a higher purpose and like I did with ‘Lost’ I’m beginning to lose faith.

I expect a lot from TV, perhaps more than it deserves. Maybe it’s because my love of TV, began with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With Joss Whedon, you always felt like there was a plan, you felt like he was taking you on a journey and he knew exactly where it would end. I’m pretty sure he didn’t know that Willow would end up a Lesbian or Buffy would end up sleeping with Spike but you felt safe with him like everything happened for a reason and nothing was done in without thinking.

That feeling of safety, the feeling that my favourite characters are always going to be well cared for and true to themselves, it’s what keeps me watching. In “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” when a character did crazy things that I didn’t understand I had faith that it would all make sense.  I not longer have faith in HIMYM.

Now when I watch it, I sit there worried wondering what their going to do next and if they can come back from it. I’m just waiting for Carter Bays to jump the shark and for there be no way back. I hope that through some miracle Ted can meet his wife or Barney can marry Robin and Carter Bays can restore my faith. But somehow I feel the days of Slapsgiving are long gone.

The LA Complex: Canada Does It Better

15 Apr

From the creators of Degrassi High and Instant Star comes ‘The LA Complex”. I have to say I love Canadian Drama, whether is be ‘Being Erica’ or ‘Instant Star’ or ‘Rookie Blue’, I can not get enough of what Canada is making these days. Unlike Australia, it manages to achieve a perfect balance of being home grown and international. You know it’s Canadian but the show isn’t trying to shove that fact down your throat like they do in Australia. The story and the characters are what matters not the fact that it’s Canadian.

This series is a great show for people considering moving to LA to make it in Hollywood. I myself have considered moving on many occasions, how else am I going to achieve my dream of being the next Joss Whedon, Shonda Rhimes or Kevin Williamson. In case you don’t know these people create and executive produce television, which is my dream.

All living in a tiny one bedroom apartments in a Melrose Place type establishment called the Lux, these young up and comers many of whom are Canadian try to make it in LA and achieve their dreams.

They are wannabe dancers, actors, comedians, writers and hip hop producers, a lot with their own shadow of a chance of making it in a saturated market. We follow this group through the grind of auditions, showcases, tempting but immoral opportunities and the trials of following your dreams and making it on your own in a strange city. While a lot of this series is dictated by the demands of complex characters, it’s good to see as a basis some reflection of what it might be like trying to make it in Hollywood.

This series takes a lot of what is great about Degrassi, characters involved in controversial and timely issues, and amps it up for an adult audience.  This show hasn’t fallen for a lot of the cliches that it could of and isn’t like watching Fame. The stories are different and out there while still feeling realistic making it very compelling viewing. I watched the first 6 episodes in two days.

It’s coming back to the US network the CW at the end of April so I encourage you to get out there and watch this show it’s like Degrassi High but for adults.

TOMBOY

11 Apr

Run to Nova to see this film before it finishes its inevitably short season! Tomboy is refreshingly sweet and often excruciatingly honest. It’s dialogue feels unscripted and it’s drama unfolds naturally. A film about gender identity in childhood has definite potential to be preachy but this film is anything but. It tenderly explores the way gender is performed. Jeanne dances around the living room in a tutu, Lisa puts her mothers makeup on her new ‘boyfriend’ and, at the stories centre, Lore allows her new neighbours to mistake her as a boy.

Such a beautiful film- be sure not to miss this one.

Sadomasochism and ‘The New Twilight’

5 Apr

Went to see ‘The New Twilight’ aka The Hunger Games last week and left equal parts bored and horrified. I was bored by the character of Katniss, which is almost ironic considering she is a character designed for girls like me to applaud. She is strong, independent, resourceful and can still look great in a ball gown. But, in the film version at least, she has no depth and no flaws. It seems as though in their attempt to create a character that is a good role model for young girls they forgot to actually create a character at all.

I was horrified by this film because of the extreme violence toward children. Thinking about it afterwords I realised I was mostly shocked because this film is so mainstream- designed for pure pleasure. Since when is watching the brutal slaughter of little kids become popcorn entertainment?

The Hunger Games has been compared endlessly to Twilight in it’s box office results, book sales and attractiveness of its leads. In Lisa’s review below she calls Bella a ‘whiny submissive’ which is all together true. But I think therein lies the magic of Twilight and why it appeals to so many. It is incredibly masochistic. And not just Bella- all the central characters of the film and books are obsessed by pain, both physical and emotional. In this world of masochism, Bella is in fact the most dominant. The two male leads fawn around her, constantly feeling the need to endure intense pain to serve her. It’s awesome.

It’s interesting that this is so often compared to The Hunger Games, a film which trades completely on sadism. Within the film, ‘The Hunger Games’ themselves are a sadistic television broadcast, communities gather to cheer as one kid maims another. Even we the audience go into the film looking forward to watching a bloodbath. So, Twilight v The Hunger Games? I guess you’ve just got to decide, as far as Tween blockbusters go, is Sadism or masochism more your cup of tea?

The Hunger Games: Not as good as the book but isn’t that always true

1 Apr

So I actually did quite a bit of research before this review. I wanted to see ‘The Hunger Games’ film but I decided that I needed to read the book first. I knew I would totally regret it, if I saw the film loved it and then decided to read the book. All the good bits would be given away and I would spend hours wading through the book with only half the enjoyment.

So a couple of weeks ago on the way back from seeing my current abode in Sydney I bought the book at Sydney airport and started reading it on the plane. I finished the book within 2 days. The book is beautifully written, with a great eye for intriguing details and the ability to completely absorb you in another world. The love triangle is perfection and completely confusing as all love triangles should be and most importantly it is nothing like Twilight.

“What critics predict will be the new Twilight”, this is all I’ve heard since the movie adaptation of the book was announced 2 years ago. I know they think they are making a selling statement but for a lot of us it wasn’t. Glitter vampires and whiny sub-missives aren’t that great people. I will confess I have read all the books but still, it’s not that big of a selling point. Knock offs of Twilight are all that the book stores are filled with these days and it’s super irritating.

Now the film lacked the beautiful details of novel and the intricacies of the universe but in most other ways was very faithful. The character of Katniss was cast perfectly and Liam Hemsworth actually sold me on the appeal of Gale. Peeta was accurately if not attractively cast and the rest of the cast particularly the characters of Rue and Haymitch very convincing. Cato the brutal tribute was a low point because he was too much of a pretty boy. I think the best scene for me was ‘The Reaping’ when Katniss volunteer’s as a Tribute. That scene was as stirring if not more so than the novel.

The film was far too long and yet I felt it didn’t have enough of the details from the book. I think this proves that adapting a novel for the screen in incredibly tough and it’s very hard to please people. The film had information that wasn’t in the book and this I felt was an excellent idea giving the fans more than what they already know. This was given credibility by the fact that Suzanne Collins was one of the scriptwriters. I as an audience member felt like I was being told more background from the lips of the writer not just an easy storytelling fix from the screenwriter.

Unfortunately one of the downsides of reading the book is I can’t look at the film objectively. I know that I love the film but I can’t tell you if I’d love it if I hadn’t read the book. The film failed to capture some of the key emotion scenes for me and some of the intricacies of Katniss’s character were also lost but I filled in the blanks for myself. This film was very satisfying for a fan of the series but I can’t guarantee it will be for everyone. So I won’t recommend the movie, but I will recommend that you read the book, it is excellent and may even change your mind about the film if you didn’t like it.

21 Jump Street: Oh Channing Tatum you are actually funny.

1 Apr

While most would easy expect this film to be terrible it is fact excellent. A perfect example of why we in Australia need to make more fun films that don’t take themselves so seriously.

First off 21 Jump St, the film is completely different in tone from the original series. It is in fact more of a parody of the action and teen genre’s, rather than a new imagining of the same show. This makes this film completely accessible for audiences who aren’t familiar with 21 Jump Street, which I think is essential when you are making a remake of a series that is 20 years old. The fans are also catered for with references to the original series and 4 cameos from cast members, including it’s most famous.

A good friend of mine commented that the real revelation in this film is how funny Channing Tatum really is. Having previously played bland action stars and cheesy romantic leads, excluding ‘A Guide To Recognising Your Saints’, Channing hasn’t had much of a chance to show his range. But in this film you really see that Channing Tatum has a talent for comedy. I loved him a popular kid turned nerd in the new world of  2012 high school.

Jonah Hill’s character was less inspired. He was a little too cliche for my tastes as the geek seduced by the lure of popularity. I have seen far too many teen films about kids abandoning themselves to be popular and this choice was too played out.

What makes this film great is the parody. It picks up on every cliche from both action and the moral teen TV series created in the late 80s like 21 Jump St and Degrassi High. I particularly loved the party scene when Morton and Greg throw a high school party to smoke out the drug suppliers. ‘Where are we going to get the alcohol’, then they both look at each other and burst into laughter.

This film is very enjoyable easy watch for a Sunday afternoon. I totally recommend it.