If You’ve Seen What I’ve Seen…

I’ve only been a cinephile of sorts for almost two years. I’ve have read several film encyclopedias and textbooks and made careful note of where to find each film. So far, my journey has had several twists and turns that I haven’t thought of before until recently. Why do I go out of my way to find and watch movies that I’ve never heard of, only to be surprised or disappointed when all is said and done? I do it to challenge myself.

Before I became a film major, I wasn’t too thrilled about seeing films that were beyond my comfort zone. I stuck to the Disney/Pixar/DreamWorks style because it was where I thought I would be. Things changed and I wanted to do something more. In order to do that, I knew that I had to become film literate.

That spring semester, I took a class on Film as Art and editing. Just glancing through the films listed in the back of the book, I recognized a handful just from previous viewings. There were several that I had heard of but never seen, while the rest were completely new to me. My mind figured that they had to be important enough to be listed so I tried to find them. This led to the “365 films in one year” resolution that I’ve kept last year and close to keeping this year.

I purchased several film encyclopedias, including 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Browsing through that alone, I came across some films that would be difficult to sit through. After one viewing of said films, I became angry at what I saw because a book said it was a “must-see”. I saw them and I wanted nothing to do with them.

The problem is how I reacted. Some of those reviews have cropped up on this site, based on my initial feelings and minimal post-research. In retrospect, I should have distanced myself from the first viewing and waited my usual six months/one year before returning to it.

I admit that I don’t go out to see current movies much and only go if I decide that the trip is really worth it. This leads to another obstacle when I talk with friends. I get gasps and some playful reprimands when I say that I haven’t seen a specific recent movie that the majority of my peers have, even months after the DVD release. At the same time, I ask if they’ve seen a film that most haven’t seen (if only for the fact that it’s out of their perceived comfort zone). 95% of the time is a “no” but when the 5% respond “yes”, I get excited because of this common experience.

I’ve exposed my friends to some interesting material, like Rabbits, Quasi at the Quackadero, One Got Fat; films and shorts that I felt comfortable showing people without too much trouble. Others are only mentioned in discussion, like Eyes Wide Shut, Eraserhead, and Salo; I can only hint at what goes on and that they should watch these films at their own discretion (well, maybe not Salo…). The more adult films like the aforementioned are talked about like scars from a traumatic battle (if you’ve seen what I’ve seen…).

But why so serious? It’s a way of saying that I’m not afraid to go beyond my comfort level. I don’t do it a bragging style; it’s not how I do things. Rather, I relate my experience and let people glean from that what they want. I do my best to recommend them (even some of the bad ones), but I can’t make them watch what they don’t want to. The initiative has to come from within.

Farewell, My Captain

8/12/14, 6:30 AM. I flip through the newspaper when I saw the news placed with the local obituaries. I didn’t see this coming, but then again, who could? All of my news feeds were filled with condolences. The entire day was cold and gray with some rain showers; it could’ve been a coincidence but I like to think otherwise. 24 hours later, it struck me that watching Aladdin will be more emotional than usual.

I’ve only seen six films with Robin Williams; Aladdin, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Robots, Dead Poets Society, and Good Will Hunting in that order. Out of those, Aladdin and Dead Poets Society stick out the most. I should be more well-versed in his filmography but I haven’t had the time. I’ve heard that some are hit and miss but I’ll find that out for myself.

As a kid watching Aladdin, I saw the Genie as someone who was comedic and just all-around fun. Sure, a lot of references flew over my head but as I grew older and more familiar with pop culture, I began to understand what he’s talking about. I had seen his image the most for a trailer for the third Aladdin movie on one of my tapes.

With regards to Dead Poets Society, I’m certain that it’s required viewing in a high school English class. I ended up seeing it in two separate classes in high school. As a sophomore, it was shown during a poetry unit. To me, it was a guarantee that for the next three or four days, there would be no classwork. I walked away from it under the impression that it was a good film.

Flash forward to senior year. My creative writing class teacher thought it’d be best to put this on as a way to kill time during a poetry unit (odd how similar the circumstances were). The initial reaction was surprisingly positive. This was the first serious movie my peers had looked forward to watching. I’d wish that if we had the chance, we’d stand on the desks if it weren’t for the computer monitors underneath.

In college, I met a guy who collected movie props and autographs with a penchant for Robin Williams. At one point, he obtained one of the facial masks from Mrs. Doubtfire. I’d link the site but it’s no longer active. Right now, it’s probably one of the most, if not the most valuable collectible in his possession. I know for a fact it’s not for sale and probably will never be.

Hearing how he died, the thing that came to my mind is Pink Floyd’s “Keep Talking”. A sample of Stephen Hawking states that “It doesn’t have to be like this. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.” If only. If you need help, seek it. Talking about feelings does a lot more than keeping it to yourself.

I know it’s not much of a tribute but it’s something that I needed to say. Farewell, my captain.

Are Movie Trailers Too Long?

Apparently so, according to new guidelines established by NATO (National Association of Theater Owners, not the other NATO). New rules that plan to go into effect on October 1, albeit voluntary, appear to be a step in the right direction.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

  • Trailers can be no longer than two minutes
  • Said trailer cannot be shown for a movie more than five months before its release
  • Marketing materials for said advertised film cannot be displayed inside a theater more than four months away from the release
  • Distributors will be given two exemptions per year for trailer length and marketing time

Notice how there is nothing said for content within the trailer or how many trailers can be released for the theater for one film. I would limit it to a teaser with absolutely no footage from the film and then a one-minute well-crafted trailer that does feature parts from the film but with a 2:1 ratio of scenes from Act I to Act II respectively. That way, the occurence of spoilers is potentially lessened.

I have not worked in a movie theater but I could imagine that seeing the same exact materials day in and day out would be boring or, at the very worst, become counterproductive in terms of marketing. With these guidelines, it provides a faster change of scenery.

The two exemptions will have a lot more pressure on the film’s success. After all, nothing kills a movie faster than poor marketing. The gamble will be greater and will be a part of a film’s history. Can’t wait to see what happens.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that I will go out and see any of the films advertised. More than likely, there will be maybe about 20 films that I actually want to see. Out of those 20, I will actually go out to see 10 of them and wait for the others to come out on DVD. Then again, if I actually want to see a trailer for a movie I’m interested in, there’s YouTube and IMDB. At least then I can skip the ads for products I have no use for.

It will be a while but I’m interested to see how this plays out. What do you think?

Why Save Christmas?

As per usual Christmas fare, one section of Christmas specials deals with the fact that some curmudgeon hates Christmas and wants to spoil the mood for everyone. In fantasyland it involves some kind of hocus pocus, a renewed belief of The Spirit of Christmas, musical numbers, a common moral about the season (religion optional), and Christmas Day is saved (or ruined if you look at the Hoops and YoYo special). Or is it?

The only way Christmas will never come is if the entire universe collapsed upon itself. This fact renders one major part of the “Christmas Crisis” useless as no one can stop it from coming, as explained in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Poor Santa. No wonder he needs a break. Can you imagine the kind of security upgrades needed at the North Pole after each breach? It’s insane.

With the number of “X Saves Christmas” specials, you have to wonder how it all goes down. I see it as a Hunger Games kind of lottery. Each fantasy character has to place their name in a giant box and whoever gets chosen must “save” Christmas. After the job is done, always successful, they are inducted into a Hall of Fame and then are exempt from the task for the rest of their existence.

On the other side of the good vs evil battle, the villains do their own thing. Each special is a final exam for a sister college of the Evil League of Evil that has a course in destroying Christmas. The one who scores the best on the prelim gets to carry out their own plan. Granted, nobody passes the final but still.

But why Christmas and not some other holiday? There are Easter specials, Channukah specials, Valentines Day specials, even Arbor Day thanks to Charlie Brown. But are they subject to the same risk that Christmas has? Nope.

Well, there are the Guardians and Santa’s Prep and Landing crew, Rudolph, belief, and a host of other safeguards but it still isn’t enough. I can’t think of anything else that could help.

In any case, Christmas needs to be “saved” every year and it is up to someone to do it. Glad I’m not in charge.

Registration Day: Biannual Nightmare

Once a semester, each grade has a separate day to register for classes for next semester. Time is of the essence and each minute that goes by is one minute that may result in a class filling up and end up far down on the waitlist. Needless to say, it’s a stressful experience for me.

In the past, I would register online. Each second before the 7:00 start is another frantic click on the refresh button. When 7:00 hits, the Internet connection slows down to the point where it becomes impossible to work with. Everybody tries to log in and register at the same time because, again, time is of the essence. There were times that I would be in the middle of registering for a class and the browser would freeze, making me very anxious and nervous. If the class I needed would fill up, it would be a scramble to find a substitute class that would fit my schedule. After all was said and done, my nerves were wracked for the whole day and I would complain that things didn’t work out.

This time, I decided to not do it online. I sat outside the registrar’s office Black Friday style (except indoors) at 4:00 am today. I heard positive things about having it done in person. Figured I had nothing to lose, I waited. When the time came, there was a shortage of faculty but that was fixed. When all was said and done, I was able to get what I wanted without any problems. After this, I am NEVER registering online again.

I will admit that I do not like it when things that are out of my control do not go my way. When things like that happen, I do get stressed and start to freak out. I try to explain my problem as best as I can after it’s over but I get worked up again. I make the situation larger than it should be and I let it cloud my thoughts for the rest of the day. Yes, I know it’s a bad thing to let happen but I let it get the better of me. I’m working on it, bit by bit.