Sunday, April 02, 2006

TV Lost and Movies Found

Jim Thompson had two "mini-posts" on his blog the other day about LOST that got me reflective.

The last episode of LOST Lavie and I have watched was "The Hunting Party" that aired back in mid-January. I've taped two more past that but we never went back to watch them. Quite a few more have come and gone, untaped as well. Lavie's concerned that I am loosing interest in the series like I did with Desperate Housewives. (I must confess, I watched it for the first season--but mostly because I still think Teri Hatcher is a babe--but its plotting and Terri's calves finally turned me off. I'll save that discussion for another post!)

So what's my deal with LOST? Well, I've invested enough time in it that I'm still keeping up with the plot-line on the Wikipedia: Episodes of LOST (season2). And I think that is the issue. While the plot still intrigues me, and I wonder what the final "payoff" is going to be, I'm finding the issues the characters bring to be tedious to sit through. Geesh. We have so many issues in our own "real" lives that maybe I'm not finding the heightened "drama" in theirs to be refreshing or entertaining to me. But as the occasional writer, I am still intrigued by the plotting and the meaning of the Numbers (4 8 15 16 23 42). Maybe I'm just afraid I am going to be let down in the end, kinda like my "Oak Island" post. So I'm taking the easy way out, Cliff Notes style--follow the plot. If it recaptures my fancy, there is always iTunes downloads or DVD releases in the future. I'm not knocking any fans or the show itself--I really did/do enjoy it. But (right now) it isn't entertaining me any more where I can devote myself and my time to watch it.

I'm really ticked off about the Sci-Fi's "mini-series" Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King. I chanced across the first episode late one weeknight and stayed up watching it. The plot was strong and the acting sufficient. I really was enjoying the sets and costumes. Even the special effects were balanced and reasonable. I explained it to Lavie and Alvis as being kind of like "Lord of the Rings" diet style. I enjoyed the freshness of the Norse mythology. Then came the second episode. What a let-down. The plot went south fast. Events were rushed and I felt that I was in one of those childhood "choose your own adventures" except someone had ripped out the pages of the choices I wanted to make and I was stuck following. Characters I had been intrigued by became suddenly shallow and weak. Then it was over--almost anti-climatically. Ripped. So now instead of it being LOR-diet, it was LOR-flavored water.

Speaking of this--since when is a "mini-series" just two episodes? Rantage breaking through... When I was a kid, we watched SHOGUN. That was and remains the high-water mark for me in calling any show a true "mini-series." It ran for several hours each night over the span of what...a week? We were glued to the TV and life stopped as we new it to watch it. Others came and went that were close, but that will always be a mini-series to me. Nowdays maybe the TV gods think too low of us and our attention span (yes, I am remembering I just wrote how I've lost interest in LOST) to really invest that much effort so any show that is aired back-to-back over two days is now a "mini-series." Sheesh.

Just about the only (non-anime) series show I've been watching faithfully lately is Dr. Who. I convinced Lavie and Alvis to watch it with me Friday night and we really enjoyed it together. It was still as zany and campy as ever, but the sets and (some alien costumes) slightly more modern. Just have to love that wickedly polite British humor. The Wiki has quite a lot of good info on the whole Dr. Who series. I wasted an hour (of my lunch break!) at work last week on it. Lavie and I really enjoy the current Dr. Who actor, but must confess...for some reason, Tom Baker (the fourth Dr.) remains my eternal persona of the "true" Dr. And that wicked theme music is an instant attention grabber.

Why Dr. Who? Mostly because it is light and entertaining and (mostly) tongue-in-cheek-humorous. Each episode is mostly stand-alone. And it really doesn't matter where the plot-arc is going because it will probably all turn out OK in the end. Heck I haven't watched it since the Tom Baker period, but I could dive right in and not feel I lost anything...and since it is on cable, if I miss an episode, I have about 10 other re-air dates to pick from!

Going further afield, the only movies I've really been interested in lately have been Asian films. These (the ones I watch at least) tend to be more character driven and based. Conflicts are mostly with self and against others rather than "save the world from the giant monkey" type. My source has been pretty limited to AZN Channel offerings which have been kinda slim lately.

Some of my favorites have been:

Travail - Two sisters battle their inner demons as they face off in a game of Shogi. Slow plodding movie but deeply introspective of inner desires and self-conflict. (Japanese)
Aruku, hito (Man Walking on Snow) - Another slow, plodding character movie about a man facing his old age. The scenes of Hokkaido are really spectacular. (Japanese)
I Wish I had a Wife - Lovesick goofy banker hooks up with a awkward teacher. Kinda like "You've Got Mail" but with an even slower pace. (Korean)
Gomen - This is a "coming of age" movie about a boy in Japan. The frankness of the content (kinda like a Judy Blume story for boys) left me quite uncomfortable at first (maybe it hit too close to home) but as I stuck with it I really began to enjoy it. It really highlights the differences in cinematic themes between Western films and Asian ones of this type. I'm hoping it re-airs so I can have Lavie watch it with me. (Japanese)
Ikinai (aka: Suicide Tour Bus) - A young woman is given a tour-bus ticket by her uncle and (eventually) finds she is on a journey with a group of men who are taking a "final-tour" before having the bus plunge off a cliff-suicide style-so their beneficiaries can reap some $$ and they can regain some honor. Has a very Japanese-style ending. It takes the viewers deep into the heart of men. Downer of a title-but a thought-provoking film. (Japan)
A Laughing Frog (Warau Kaeru) - "Dead" husband returns to the wife he abandoned and all the hijinks that follow. An amusing (romantic?) comedy. Sometimes we can leave the pain of the past on better terms. (Japan)

Two good resources for Asian Film lovers:

MidnightEye: The latest and best in Japanese cinema
Asian Film Connection Summing up some of the best Asian films.

Enjoy your weekend,

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