Thursday, November 20, 2003

#67. Lord of the Rings

Yeah, so I ended that caption thing Monday evening, not long after I made that entry. Yup.

Back to wrestling news, then. The question of whether I want to be spoiled seemed to be a prescient concern here. With, I hear everything that's rumored, am soiled as to what will happen; generally every development that happens becomes less about the experience of it, the surprise, than the scripted story that it really is. We all know professional wrestling isn't real. Sure, the athleticism needed is real, but the match results, the feuds, they're all predetermined. Champions aren't champions because they're the best (although this is true of every winner; it's more chance than necessarily worthiness that awards such titles), but because they're crowd-pleasing, or the development suits what the writers have in mind. (David Arquette as WCW champion was definitely more about stunt, the current angle.) used to do a lot of this, and regardless of the reasons why it no longer does, it serves my interests more now. The commentaries they manage are now mostly worthless, but they do have this "wrestler of the week" feature, and that's perhaps the best thing they've ever done, and unlike the wrestler rankings they tried some time ago, they've generally stuck with it. Sometimes they're massively hypocritical, but that's just life.

And to further embellish the Jackson of the Rings beef. I enjoyed Fellowship of the Ring. It's vastly superior to the hack work done in The Two Towers. Maybe this is because it made a semblance of a pass at characterization. Gandalf here not only has more to do, but Ian McKellan is allowed to do so much more. Is it the presence of Sean Bean as Boromir? Jackson has a complete story to tell there, and even though he botches the beginning of it in his efforts to minimize the council at Rivendell, he still must see it to the end. His embellishment of Boromir's demise is effective. But in the next film, Boromir's brother Faramir (the acting portraying whom looks nothing like Bean) is subject to another hack job, but there's nothing to this. Jackson has taken the approach that this film can't possibly be seen alone, therefore nothing really has to make sense since we're just passing through. Even in The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions there's a definite sense of where one story ends and the other begins. It's the old cliffhanger that does it. Jackson instead chooses an approach that on the surface is similar, suggesting in the end that Gollum is indeed leading Frodo and Sam into a trap, but he's used Gollum so much as a joke that this revelation doesn't have as much resonance. Bane is a mysterious individual whom the Matrix audiences have been given enough suggestions for as to what he's ultimately up to (no good), whereas Jackson has indulged himself in the computer effects of Gollum and the quasi-depth he has (the inner struggle) and how Frodo and Sam see different sides of him, but he portrays all this in such an ineffectual way that we never understand why Sam dislikes him other than he simply does and why Frodo cares for him other than he simply does. We are meant to believe that Frodo sympathizes with this creature, but this is more inference on the part of the audience than what's up there on the screen, and so the film itself comes of utterly lacking. And given that Jackson only goes with the minimal amount of suggestion in favor of his embellishing of a romance between Aragorn and Arwen (all the while ignoring other elements of Aragorn's character and development during the epic), we begin to see where his priorities lie. It's the look of it. Why do you think people were so awed by Gollum's appearance? Because the worth of these films is in the artistic achievement, exactly what Jackon's strength is. And I still have problems even with that. Gollum is not as impressive as he could be; he's another victim of Jackson's lack of refinement.

Must I go on? Well, not today.

Monday, November 17, 2003

#66. Captioning, Music, Survivor Series, Lord of the Rings, Poetry

First, let's address captioning. I turned it on last night in an attempt to understand what the good folks at Univision were saying (Univision's motto: Spanish, the Language of Hot Babes), but that turned out to be a bust. I was also watching the American Music Awards (since Alias had been preempted by them), and got to watch Outkast perform their current hits. Now I know wha else they're singing besides 'Hey ya!' and 'I like the way you move!' Life is grand, right? Then this morning, captioning still on, I finally found out what Rob Thomas has been singing about in "Bright Lights," which is a current favorite of mine. So that was good; captioning proved useful! How long will I keep it on? I don't know, but I'll be sure to check back in with the answer.

Hillary Duff sang at the AMA's, and it became clear that she should probably not think about making a career of it. Sure, "So Yesterday" is a fine song, but let's keep it at that, shall we? Sean Paul also performed in segments I saw, and he was fine. Clay Aiken and Ruben Studderd (I know I've misspelled something there) should quit singing professionally. American Idol is only a force for evil! Toby Keith changed his look from the last time I saw him, stopped singing about angry Americans. The Smothers Brs. shoveled in some more dirt as they aligned themselves with Michael Moore. I don't care for Moore, but I do support the Dixie Chicks, so one of the brothers can stay. They were great in The Truman Show, at any rate.

Also last night was WWE's Survivor Series. Kane helped bury his "brother" Undertaker alive, which might lead to the latter returning to his old gimmick of living up (no pun intended) to his Dead Man nickname. Golberg was allowed to retain the RAW world title against Triple H and Steve Austin's team lost to Eric Bichoff's team, which means Stone Cold is forced to leave WWE television, or at least RAW.

I add that provision because I surfed the Internet this morning to scout reactions. continues its four year slide to irrelevance (through sheer apathy and wrestling burnout, both with the sport and the visitors to the site) while provided me with a whole bunch of news, including the thought that Austin might actually return despite this setback, perhaps to Smackdown. I spent a good hour reading through their news items, until I started to come across items that were no longer news (to me). I was surprised at how much would have eben spoiled for me, and for how long some of these spoilers had been floating around. Kane's interference, for one, went far enough back to the point where it could easily have been Stephanie McMahon interfering on behalf of her father Vince, who she battled a month ago in a PPV match that cost her the general manager role of Smackdown. Who was going to win the Goldberg/Triple H match? That was up for grabs for a while, and Goldberg's next challenger has been in question as well. I found out that the role Batista filled in the month that has passed was originally slated to be Kevin Nash's until the surgery I had read about previously at took him out of the picture. I was even able to find a news item about Zack Gowan that corroborated something that got someone ridiculed at Powerwrestling's forums for lack of evidence.

Such joy! The story goes on and on. Have I mentioned how creatively bankrupt I think Peter Jackson has been with his Lord of the Rings movies? Artistically I don't think many could approach him, but as far as the rest of the realization is concerned, he's far behind the pack, even with George Lucas included, and Lucas has a good handle on the artistic angle, too. You bet, I like the prequels, no doubt more than Jackson's Rings. It boils down to character. If you can't differentiate character, get out of town. This is why I don't find Joss Whedon so hot, or worship J. Michael Straczynski, or adore Stargate SG-1. Characters are all a joke, interchangeable (which is not to say it's the actors that are the problem). This is why I admire Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, flaws and all; because its characters have character, personality, differentiality. They may be doing influential things, but there's more to them and their actions than the approach of a Babylon 5, which believes an epic is something that is riddled with complications but is incapable of portraying them in a realistic way; those characters are the kind that are caricatures because they have to be, because they are called upon to do everything, act more like icons than people. Big heads only get you so far, and allow you to do so many things.

So yeah, I'm into the "genre" stuff. I liked the Matrix trilogy. I like Star Trek (even the current stuff). I like odd things. Yes, I like wrestling. Some would automatically null my opinions because of that. Wrestling is lowbrow, right? I would counter that it's the highest and most pure form of showmanship we as a society have right now. Some of these guys are crazy enough to sacrifice their bodies for this "sports entertainment." Just read Mick Foley's story, as chronicled in his best-sellers Have A Nice Day! and (I can't remember what the other is at the moment, but it's subtitled and the real world is faker than wrestling).

I'm into poetry. You wouldn't believe how dense that community is. I say I'm into it, but I'm not "hep" to it; i know very little of it, both the historical stuff and the current scene. I wrote an essay about the current scene and how it is rather low-key, marginalized, and how this is giving it a misunderstood reputation. Sure, a lot of people enjoy being in the minority on a given subject. I pride myself on being one of the few people who still think Hideo Nomo is big news. But we're talking poetry here, something that used to unite people, an assumption classrooms and romantics still make. Why does it have to be so impenetrable? It's just another of those things that today rests within the realm of "interests," which means pockets of people clustered around certain things. We live in a world that is more aware of itself than ever before. The price? Everything becomes divied up, until you can't get a clear picture of what the whole looks like. I suppose that makes life fun, interesting.

It also makes the job of the Scouring Monk all that much more difficult. But he trudges on. There's plenty to keep him busy.


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