Mar 18, 2012

oy, these shadows BE DARK.

My reaction to the Dark Shadows trailer. I'm not going to link to it because if you're reading this on the interwebs, you've seen it by now. Firstly, the music cues are really lazy to me. 'Superfly' is an awesome song but it's as fresh as using 'White Rabbit' during a 60s psychedelic scene. Actually, firstly, WTF? Secondly, really lazy music cues. Thirdly, this is going to be lengthy because I am going to get into not just the trailer itself, but cinema at large.

For me, what's so frustrating is that I genuinely WANT the Goth Trio to be better. They are all genuinely talented individuals and were once actual iconoclasts. But they frequently default to all the depth of, as someone at the pink place so brilliantly pointed out, cosplay.

I think Burton is many things - criminally overrated. Stuck in a weird developmental phase like some sophomore who took a class on existentialism and went to Hot Topic to express his pain and then never left. The man's films aren't directed so much as they're production-designed. Which, hell, Wes Anderson is guilty-as-hell of at times, but I also think his films, for all the actors-in-a-dollhouse-under-glass, almost always break out of that dollhouse for portions of their running time to deliver an emotional wallop. If you can think of the scene where Ritchie slits his wrists in the Royal Tenenbaums without being torn to shreds inside, I don't know how your heart works, man.

Most importantly - I don't think Burton, as a filmmaker, has shown much growth for such a long career and for so many films. The fact that his next project is literally remaking his first film, for Disney, when the result of the Frankenweenie short film in '84 was that Burton was fired from Disney for being too weird says *everything.* I know few people in this age think it, but selling out is still possible.

Seriously, think of the massive leap in, say, Fincher between Se7en, Zodiac and TGWTDT. Or Anderson from Rushmore to Tenenbaums. Think of Marty and his sweet, glorious Hugo. Which was the work of a man smarter, faster, better, stronger at filmmaking than the one who made The Departed or The Aviator. Or, if not better, different. I am not sure how much the Burton of 2012 is *different* than the one of 1984. Except, if anything, more cynical. More commercial. More satisfied to slap a crazy wig on Johnny Depp and call it character development and call it a day and call up Buena Vista for his big fact check.

Also, I know that my generation has known nothing BUT post-modernism but, I'm kinda sick of it being the default mode. I don't want an ironic detachment or distance all the time. Why can't I simply have a dumb teen party movie rather than a dumb teen party movie done as a fricking youtube video? How awesome - and rare - would a genuinely gothic or supernatural film or a feature of a daytime soap be that actually nutted up and was like "yes, we are actually taking this seriously." And not by claiming to be "based on a true story" shakycam mockumentary.

Saw what you will about the Pirates films but I do feel that the people behind them started out with an attitude of "hey, let's make a pirate movie!" - "like, a full-blown Captain Blood old-school swashbuckler?" "yes" - "even though that hasn't been done in years and kids might find it dated Cutthroat Island bombed hardcore and this is based on a themepark ride?" "Yes. PIRATE MOVIE. FULL STOP." Captain Jack might have been wacky but the film, to its credit, treated the Will/Elizabeth plotline - both action-wise and love-story-wise - for what it was. Swashes, they were buckled, as they darn well should be.

This feels to me like Burton took a look at the source material (which I just found out is indeed streaming and will watch as my BFF is a hardcore fan of the show and I have to see this Burton craziness due to allegiance to her) and instead of wondering, "I wonder what about this genuinely appeals to people" said "FUCK IT, I'll do it for the LOLZ" and then winking "Isn't the very idea of a melodramatic vampire soap opera HILARIOUS!? Isn't this premise essentially ludicrous!?"

Which is kind of annoying and patently offensive to anyone who has ever been a fan of melodrama or the supernatural or daytime soaps.

No. No premise or genre is, essentially ludicrous. A lot of people find musicals off-putting or stilted or dated but that doesn't mean that the genre itself is OMG PEOPLE SINGING AT RANDOM WTF HA.

Disclaimer: Because I am so torn by Luck's end - absolutely deserved due to the horse deaths and yet also JUST as I finally nutted up after 6 unseen episodes and started watching them on the DVR - I went into classic 'avoid promising shows I actually enjoy watching because all you will get is CANCELLATION and PAIN' mode by revisiting my favorite bad televisual boyfriend on Hulu Plus.

Yeah, you know I'm talking about Glee. What absolutely floors me about the show - to the point where I simply can not look away but must bear full witness to the trainwreck - is how often it FAILS outright at being a musical. Or, simply, frequently, doesn't want to be a musical. A musical has characters burst into song to express what they can not say. That is what it is. That is what it does best. And yet 80-90% of the time, there are these blah, samey, stagey production numbers - this is not Idol or the Voice. This is not supposed to be a talent show. It's supposed to be a musical. Or worse, literally spelling out in the most basic expository way what the purpose of the character singing the song is in dialogue moments before they sing it. Imagine Tony turning point-blank to a character or camera and announcing, flat-out, "I am now going to demonstrate my love for Maria by singing this song about her, called Maria." Good job, champ, but now you no longer need to sing this song because you just said it. Or, god, the absolute worst, doing virtual shot-by-shot remakes of iconic music videos. (Yes, I just finished the MJ episode.) I love Jane Lynch as much as anybody but a carbon copy of her as Madonna via Fincher is as semiotically and spiritually empty as Vaughn as Perkins by way of Van Sant by way of Hitch.

That makes no sense. Stop couching it. Stop distancing it from the thing it needs to be. Look, Milch could blow the Western's conventions to hell and back again, reinventing it and becoming something new and classic at the same time. But there were times when Deadwood, being a Western, needed to have a saloon, some whores and some guns.

Ditto Buffy's breathtaking implosion of pop-culture meets high-school meets horror cliches. Ultimately a show about a blonde Van Helsing (obligatory sidenote of: TWO. HUNDRED. MILLION. DOLLARS) needs to shove some stakes in some undead hearts.

Because Glee, when it actually IS a musical? When it actually does that thing that it is supposed to do? And, frankly, should be doing all the time since highschool is the emotional equivalent of a Michael Bay movie with even the most banal of things exploding into fireballs because so much hormones? When it lets the characters dream? When it lets them sing what they cannot say? It is glorious. Think of "Loser." Think of Kurt's beautiful, epic "Rose's Turn." Beiste doing 'Jolene.' Basically, think of any number that was born out of a need greater than "this is MJ week" and "we need to sell songs kids like on iTunes so MOAR KATY PERRY." It is astoundingly rare that more than one or two of these numbers happen per episode. And yet - they are what a musical is. Emotions can not be said and so they must be sung.

Don't be afraid to be what you really are, Glee. It's the irony of ironies that you keep telling that to the characters, to the audience, CONSTANTLY. To the point where it is literally the only "theme" in the work, displaying it with as much insight as "Free to Be You and Me." But the show can't tell that message to itself.