On one fateful day in May, I was all set to watch an obviously non-cerebral, funny-ha-ha Filipino film called Here Comes the Bride. While I wasn’t buzzing with excitement and anticipation, I was, on some base level, looking forward to it. I mean, I guess. I wasn’t prepared to arrive at the cinema and… be faced with Miley’s big mug.
But, alas, the world has its ways of turning a night filled with the potential of senseless humor into one filled with a lot of confusion and questions (i.e. “Why?” times infinity, and “How did you get made, movie?”).
As a movie person (not a buff, just someone who enjoys watching movies in general), I’ve come to the realization that I shouldn’t really expect much from Nicholas Sparks adaptations, especially those that he’s written to maturate Hannah Montana’s “squeaky-clean image.”
There are several things that are “wrong” with the movie, and very little “redemptive” elements. The characters were, in fan-fictional terms, “Mary Sues”1 with certain character quirks meant to wow the audience, but resulted in turning me and Raymond into a groan-y and eye-roll-y mess. Oh, she loves sea turtles and reads Tolstoy on the beach, oh, he loves sea turtles and quotes Tolstoy in its original, untranslated text. Give me a frakking break.
The movie was so unremarkable that I needed to Wikipedia the main characters’ names just to be sure that I remember them. (It turns out that I do.) Ronnie, played by Miley Cyrus, is this rebel-IDGAF-but I’m talented on the inside classical pianist with a penchant for the environment, lost causes and shoplifting. She meets Will (Liam Whatshisface) when he is playing beach volleyball and crashes into her and her milkshake. Cue painfully unfunny banter.
She got into Juilliard School2, but doesn’t want to go because of Daddy Issues with Greg Kinnear (who was awesome, obviously). He got into Columbia, but is being pressured by mommy and daddy to go to Vanderbilt instead, as it is their family tradition. Oh, my sorrowful life. What a frakking tragedy.
The movie stretches to great lengths, focusing on an on-again-off-again, I-love-you-no-I-don’t love affair, complete with random, hormonal outbursts care of Miley. The supporting characters were also cookie-cutter and annoying, serving no other purpose than furthering the “plot” and filling in the non-kissy gaps. See, there was a fire in a church, a dead brother, an ungrateful friend that needed to be saved from Bad News Boyfriend, a “precocious” (but actually annoying) kid, hot ex-girlfriends, and a barely-there mother played by a high-profile-ish actress.
I get the intention of “off-beat” characters, I really do. But the movie does nothing to make any of these work. Out-of-place quirkiness is what I’d probably call it, because the film spews so many details that has no place in the story. I mean, so what if she’s vegan?
Nicholas Sparks is an author who has been so commercially known and globally lauded, and whose movies have been box-office hits and mushy favorites over and over. The trouble with this sort of fame! is that people become way too oriented with the stuff he churns out. After Tweeting about coming home from the Miley Movie From Hell, Kit @-replies me with, “Let me guess, it’s a Nicholas Sparks movie so SOMEONE DIES.”
Such tired clichés that have been inserted so the movie has some semblance of substance is what ruins it, ultimately. The problem with Nicholas Sparks films is that he uses the same elements over and over again, and because of the frequency of his film releases, people begin to see the patterns form into their heads. Sparks movies capitalize on sap, and (usually) attractive lovers overcoming the “odds.” In other words, they are unabashedly formulaic.
The film could have worked if there was some sort of connectedness of all the tiny little details that could have been wonderful. What could have worked as a totally different, lovable film (because I honestly believe that it could have been one) did not. The Last Song was inauthentic and lacked a lot of heart. My favorite parts were the baby sea turtles and the raccoon that was trying to eat them. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I think that that’s an indication of a movie failing to deliver.
In the end, after much snickering and wisecracking, we still didn’t know what we were watching, and we weren’t sure if we wanted to find out.
If this review and low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB don’t convince you to avoid wasting your money, just make sure you bring somebody with you to snicker with, or a vial of enough fuel to write a whiny review after you’re done seeing it.
1 A Mary Sue is, “a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader.” (Wikipedia. It’s a credible source, shut up.)
2 Despite its average 7.58% acceptance rate in real life, Juilliard School in the Fictional Realm has accepted Ronnie Miller (Cyrus in The Last Song) and Sara Johnson (Julia Stiles in Save the Last Dance). It has also given scholarships to Ryan Evans and Kelsi Nielsen (Ryan Grabeel and Oleysa Rulin in High School Musical 3: Senior Year).
Ministry Work (and Wood Textures)
I don’t get to do a lot of ministry work anymore, so when someone contacted me to design something for CCF, I got excited. After a bit of bumps, I was able to layout a few pages and I made a cover for the materials. This isn’t the final design, though, but I’m posting it because I’m kinda liking the pretty lightbulb (c/o Jeanine Garcia!) with that wood texture.
Television: Watching and Writing About It
Currently spazzing over LOST and a few comedies (e.g. Community, Modern Family, Parks & Recreation). Also getting into animated series (e.g. Ugly Americans, Archer) and this HBO series called How To Make It In America. I know, I’m a little bit crazy but I really can’t say ‘no’ to good T.V.! Sometimes, I can’t even say it to bad T.V. but that’s beside the point.
However, I still do love my old favorites, so I wrote a piece on New Slang about Jordan Catalano and Brian Krakow. Please read it, if you please!
To be honest, the whole thing kind of felt a little exclusive (as in… excluding a lot of us, LOL. Just kidding. But I felt a little alienated is all, I guess), but I was with great people, and there was great music, and there were great films. So more or less, I had an O.K. time. :)
Making a Blue Roast video… Or trying to. Stay tuned for it!
I already posted one over here, but it’s so fun to use to write or draw with. Try it!
My friend Carla found this little gem and gave it to me. I was super happy because I’ve never seen a license plate with my name on it (I usually end up getting ‘Samantha,’ which is my second name). So, thanks, Carla! I really love it so much, I could cry.
You could say that, at one point in my life, I was a pretty big Gleek. I can’t help it; the show has appeal. It’s like High School Musical, but with songs I already know, sung by mostly good self-deprecating teenagers and also, it has Jane Lynch. Glee has been on hiatus for months now, and will be until April, so in some weird, desperate need to get a fix, I started watching reruns. And as I watched it again, I stood by as what seemed to be the most promising show in television today crumbled right before my very eyes.
To say that Glee is a terrible show is unfair, because it does have its merits. But Glee capitalizes on the knowledge that their songs are catchy and their leads, attractive. The ensemble cast is funny enough, the milieu is safe enough (Come on, who doesn’t like a good coming-of-age setting?), and the song choices are also pretty palatable to the ear. The show is so complacent in its obvious appeal that it neglects real and solid character and plot development. The characters are caricatures that exist only to sing and make jokes, and to sometimes add in a few minor plot points, some of which seem to have no bearing, at all, to the general, encompassing story, and are not even referenced again.
The characters are vague and stereotypical, it’s easy to write in whatever sort of personality to them, making it convenient for the writers to put in whatever sort of tension that they need to keep things interesting. In “Mash-Up,” the show introduces the Rachel/Puck angle… and abandons it, completely. It makes you root for Will and Emma, because Emma is likable and Will’s conniving wife, Terry, is her complete foil and has no redeeming qualities to her, whatsoever.
This wouldn’t be such a problem, since good, well-sung songs and humor seem like sound qualities to build a show on. But because it seems that Glee is trying to make a connection with the actual, alienated teenagers that they try to portray. These characters exist for the audience to be able to relate to them. But the problem is that there is no consistency to their characters and the things that they do. The third episode, “Acafellas,” which aired prior to Kurt’s coming out to his father in “Preggers,” shows us that his father disapproves of his homosexuality (he took away his car!), but we see them bonding the episode after, and beyond, particularly in epsiode 8, “Wheels.” Jane Lynch’s character, Sue Sylvester, is portrayed as a jerkface but humanizes her in the same episode by giving her a sister with Down syndrome, and then the show steals back the humanity almost instantaneously when Sue sabotages the Glee club by leaking their set list to their competitors in “Hairography,” just because she can.
Glee is funny, and I really do admire this kind of humor, having been a fan of creator, Ryan Murphy’s previous teen-oriented series, Popular. But it seems like the show often overshoots and misses the mark. Buried in the songs and the jokes are “heartfelt” and “touching” scenes end up seeming like affectations. It seems like the show’s creators know where they want the show to go, but add so much extraneous details that cause it to look overworked, uninspired and just messy. They tackle issues such as premarital sex, disabilities, popularity and infidelity, but they take them so very lightly. These issues are usually approached humorously, and it is unnerving because there is a certain disconnect, with what it seems they are trying to do — which is communicate and connect with their audience.
There is also very little extended narrative, and it bases the progression of the story on what would likely be the most well-received stories. As if to say, “Never mind the already established relationships and backstories, we give the audience what they want.” And it’s just so messy. It feels, to me, that the awards that Glee has won are premature. There is a lot of space for Glee to grow, and I do think that it has potential, but I don’t think they deserve their awards just yet.
I’m still going to be watching, because I’m a sucker for musicals (and Lea Michele is fantastic as Rachel Berry). Hopefully things will turn up, by the time the show starts up again, because I genuinely think that Glee could be much, much better than what it is now.
And this scene from Community‘s 18th episode, “Basic Genealogy,” just because it’s funny and timely:
capped by JP del Mundo
Pierce: It’s okay, it’s okay. Let it out.
Jeff: We always used to watch the shows she wanted to watch. I hate Glee.
Pierce: Eh, I’m not crazy about Glee either.
Jeff: I hate it. I don’t understand the appeal at all.
Ever since November 2009, I have been itching to write this entry on Doctor Who. The thing is, I couldn’t because I hadn’t finished viewing all of series 1 (traditionally, series 27) through 4. I was taking a television class under Andrew Ty last semester, and before I knew it, I was hooked. We ended class, exactly, with the last episode of series 2, a two-parter that left me wanting to find an empty bathroom stall and just cry.
THE PREMISE OF THE SHOW: Doctor Who isn’t about any doctors, ironically. In case you are not in the know (which, I find, most people outside of Britain, including me, are), Doctor Who is about an unnamed character simply referred to as The Doctor. He is a Time Lord from a planet called Gallifrey, and he goes traveling in a blue Police Box called the TARDIS, or Time And Relative Dimension In Space. Essentially, it is a time machine.1 Occasionally, the Doctor has a companion with him. The Doctor’s companions are usually there to help him “operate” the TARDIS and go traveling with him, but more often than not, they end up assisting him in, usually, saving the Universe.
If you’re going to start with Series 1, then the companion you will meet is Billie Piper. (If you don’t remember who Billie Piper is, let me refresh your memory.) The Doctor is played by Christopher Eccleston, who is brilliant in his portrayal of the Time Lord. He is menacing and endearing at the same time, simultaneously beautiful and terrible.
However, the most famous and iconic regeneration (we’ll get to this in a while) of the Doctor in recent years is played by David Tennant, who also played Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Before I prattle on and on and on, here are five reasons why you absolutely must watch Doctor Who. In list form, just because I love you.
Why you should watch Doctor Who:
- IT’S IMPORTANT.
This is kind of a lame reason, but it’s true. Doctor Who is a British television series that began in 1963, went on hiatus in 1989 and was resurrected in 2005 by BBC. It’s important because majority of the people who grew up in London, grew up with Doctor Who.
Now, Reason Number One isn’t necessarily a “convincing” criterion, in terms of why you should watch it, but it’s something to be considered. Discounting 7th Heaven (because it is obviously crap but that is a different story altogether), most shows that last this long do so because they are integral to popular culture as well as society. They perpetuate some longstanding legacy, with a “character” that develops alongside the context within which it operates.
People have been watching Doctor Who since the 1960s. There have been ten (eleven in April) reincarnations of the Doctor, by way of regenaration, which is a process Time Lords undergo in order to somehow “cheat death”. I won’t go into the specifics, but that’s a basic explanation as to the change of casting for his character. Fans have their own favorites, and have dubbed each of them, fittingly as “my Doctor.”
There are also, in existence, several Dalek (Time Lords’ sworn enemies, basically) costumes, and cookies, as well as recreations and references to the TARDIS, like such:
Pretty much, all I’m trying to say is: it’s a pretty big deal. And there’s a good reason why.
- IT’S FUN.
Come on! Time-travel. History. Aliens. Bad Guys. Good Guys. Silly Guys. Meddlesome (but somehow charming) Family Members. Running, lots of running. Chaos. Madness. Explosions. Suits. A Police Box Flying Through Space. Space! Seriously, how could you ever have resisted?
Any way you look at it, there is really just an inherent fun element in Doctor Who. There’s usually a bunch of new characters (although sometimes they reprise bad guys and other familiar faces), new settings, and new old settings in an episode. There is also always some ridiculous element that somehow works to the advantage of the show. The TARDIS itself, when you think of it outside of the context and the developed “lore” of the show, is pretty ridiculous. However, this peculiarity gives character to the show that is so distinctly itself.
And while Doctor Who is decidedly a science fiction show, which puts a lot of people off because they think that it is largely set in outer space (i.e. Battlestar Galactica), it actually explores and speculates already established historical events such as the fall of Pompey, Shakespeare’s lost play, the origin of werewolves and the disappearance of Agatha Christie.
- It’s funny.
I’ve tried very hard, but I can’t put my finger on why Doctor Who is funny, or in what way it is. I’ve chalked it up to the fact that the Doctor is an alien. So he’s naturally funny. (Flawed logic, I know.) But, sometimes, it just really seems as though he does not mean to be funny at all.
How to describe it? Some of the companions are funny (Donna is my favorite), and they poke fun at everything. Their mannerisms, scripts, speculations almost always have humor. The aliens are sometimes funny (The first meeting with the Ood in a series 2 episode, “The Impossible Planet,” always has me in stitches), as are some of the guest/minor/recurring characters. It’s silly, obvious fun, but never of the slapstick kind.
If you would be so inclined as to direct your attention to this spoiler-free collection of funny clips that I did not make:
And this other one, just because it makes me giggle:
- It’s interesting.
Aside from the stuff I’ve mentioned, there’s more to Doctor Who. Loads of themes are explored in the series that are dark, serious and, surprisingly relevant. Although contextualized in an often alien environment, issues like slavery, morality, ethics, existentialism, family, loneliness, technology, the abuse of power, and so on, are actually sort of illuminated very effectively. Even though they’re set in a different context, there is still some sort of familiarity present because they’re tackling issues that could very easily have been experienced by the audience.
The program also lends two perspectives: a more removed, learned and strange one from the Doctor, and a humanized and emotional one from the companion. Because there is a certain detachment from the issues, we are given the opportunity to confront them in a much different way than we do in real life.
- It’s not the kind of show that takes itself too seriously.
Let’s face it: the downfall of a lot of television shows that are currently on these days is the constant pursuit of Being Taken Seriously. Good news is that Doctor Who doesn’t really care whether or not you take it seriously. While difficult themes are tackled by the show in each episode, Doctor Who is not afraid to laugh at itself.
The show effectively combines humor, science fiction, theoretical physics2, drama, adventure, and suspense (I’m looking at you, Steven Moffat) altogether, resulting in a very lovely hour each week. The scripts are well-written, the actors are brilliant, and it approaches each episode with a certain playfulness that doesn’t sugar-coat the dark stuff, but also doesn’t present them in a melodramatic manner, or as an affectation.
In many ways, the show is like the Doctor, who bears such a heavy burden on his shoulders, has had such a dark history, and has lost a lot of what he holds dear, and yet: he manages to crack up a smile, and carry on.
If you’ve read this far into the entry (meaning, you actually finished it), it means that you are interested, even if only vaguely, in the show. Do yourself a favor and watch it already. Allons-y!3
1 It is also bigger on the inside!
2 I might just be making this up.
3 This is French for “Let’s go!” Ten says it all the time.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been meaning to write about something but I can’t seem to get started on it until after I get this off my non-existent chest: I love television. There’s just really something about it that “draws me in,” so to speak. I love it so much that, I took a class on Television as an elective on the last semester of my entire life as a student. (Maybe.) I love it so much that, instead of writing a paper for Political Science due tomorrow, I watched five episodes of a T.V. show that I had already seen. Thank God for afternoon classes, am I right?
I love it so much that even my e-mail seems to know, as in the process of writing this entry, this appears on my inbox:
I know, precious. I know.
I don’t even know where I’m going with this, I just felt the need to write about something that I love so much. I guess it’s partly the fact that the last season of LOST is airing tomorrow (inwardly flailing… as well as outwardly) and also partly because the last episode of Dollhouse, ever, aired last week. It’s a mixture of excitement for something I have waited for for so long, and also of sadness and relief due to the semblance of closure I was left with when Joss Whedon answered all my questions and justified (most of) the mindfrakkery that went along with watching his most recent series.
I suppose, in a way, that’s exactly what I’m setting myself up for, for the sixth and final chapter of LOST. This season is decidedly important because a) it will reveal to the world the secrets behind the island, and b) we finally get to know who (what?) Richard Alpert is. Those aren’t the only unanswered questions, obviously. I mean, considering everything that’s been happening to that show since the first season, I think the writers really have some ‘splaining to do. I only wish I had the time to list them all down.
And I just know that when it airs tomorrow, I will be excited and frightened and also, sad, because it’s just another step bringing us closer to the end. And even though I want to watch them forever and ever on my television screen, I know it’s not going to be possible. The wonderful part of being attached to T.V. characters is that you (hopefully) get to see them grow and be the people that the writers and visionaries intended them to be. The sad part is that you really have to let go of them, eventually. (I’m talking to you, 7th Heaven.)
But I still do miss you, Topher Brink.
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight franchise is arguably the most popular young adult series in the market today. Anyone who argues this statement is an idiot. If you watch television, spend a considerable amount of time online, or go outdoors and talk to people, then you will have heard of Edward Cullen, a “vampire,” and his unmatched love story with Bella Swan — holy crap! — a mortal. Lots of stuff happens in between but that is the main idea and Meyer hammers that into her audience’s head time and time again.
I have not been a very big fan of Twilight. On the contrary, I’ve spent many a-time online devoted to its mockery. A week and a half after New Moon, the much-awaited Twilight sequel’s adaptation to film, opened here and I still had not been able to see it. Until 10:00 P.M. tonight, when the lure to mock the series intelligently was too great for me to ignore for another week.
And so, I watched it alone.
In case you were interested, New Moon in a nutshell: loads of heavy breathing (not due to sexual activity), fast cars, glittery people with weird colored eyes, Jacob Black!, wolves!, sage advice completely ignored by Bella, and “intense” close-ups and slow-motion sequences chosen to convey several emotions… I’m just never sure what kind.
New Moon in an even smaller nutshell: Facepalm (but sounds good, man!)
In case you are still interested, The Unabridged Version of My Aversion To Twilight will be under the cut. To be fair, I do have some nice things to say about the movie. But, a word of warning, there’s not really a lot of nice things I can say about this movie. So, leave if you think you might be a little sentimental or protective of the characters in Meyer’s universe.