Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Celebration and Suspense

Interesting title, is it not? There is a reason for such intrigue, as always and for everything, except government conspiracies which are fueled with energy by the development of conspiracies. (On a brief side note, I, for one, have an insatiable obsession for conspiracy theories, much like the ones found in the remarkable Robert Langdon series of Dan Brown. Now if only he would write more. Just because you're the highest-paid author does not give you the privilege to be lazy, in fact quite the opposite. Keep your admirers interested. Moving on.) This past weekend (and by "weekend", I am referring to my recent visit to my dad's haven of film), we watched the ever-so engrossing Emmy awards show as well as a pair of excellent suspense films. The following is my analysis of each celebratory-slash-suspenseful evening. (I sounded like my--former--physics teacher. Worth mentioning, and thereafter regretting.)

The Emmys - Ah, the most prolific event for television, aside from the Golden Globes. Though it is rumored that they even surpass that event, which is odd because IMDb lists the Golden Globe wins of actors ahead of the Emmys. Plus the Golden Globe winners are among the potential Oscar candidates, which is thrilling, no question. But I digress. This event was, certainly, eventful, though the host could have been better strategically chosen. In other words, someone other than Jimmy Kimmel, a pseudo-witty late-night talk-show host, could have assumed the helm. Bill Maher, the television equivalent to Ricky Gervais, perhaps? Now, that, I would both watch and enjoy. Alas, Jimmy Kimmel was there as the master of ceremonies, which wasn't as annoying as, say Jane Lynch or Neil Patrick Harris. (Conveniently, both are homosexual. Was it wrong to point out this blatant actuality?) One little stunt that did bother me was Jimmy Kimmel's supposedly-funny parody on the "In Memorium" tradition of every awards show. He decided to commemorate those still living, which could prove to be interesting, but then it turned out that he was just bragging about his own accomplishments. Oh, ha ha, you're still alive and successful, but there are still those truly talented who have tragically passed on. (Thankfully, there was an "In Memorium" portion of the show.)

Ideal winner.
Anyway, onto the victors of the evening. When it comes to television, my purpose for watching is to await the comedy achievements, and the reason for this is that, well, no one truly has time for one-hour dramatic programs. At least I don't have such a luxury. Therefore, the dramatic winners had an indifferent effect on me. I didn't care who lost or won, simply put. That said, allow me to discuss the comic victories of the night, starting with the ultimate champion, Modern Family. Let me just quote my dad on saying that this show is revolutionary, a distinctive landmark in television history. On its third season--third season-- it has become an icon of television, worthy of a place among such great comedy shows as Seinfeld. For a consecutive third year, Modern Family has dominated the categories, including Best Comedy Series, an impressive feat matched not even by Seinfeld itself. Even its more-similar counterpart, Arrested Development, achieved such fame; sadly, that show was prematurely cancelled, to the eternal shame of FOX. Modern Family gathered a total of five Emmys this evening, in addition to its overall total of sixteen wins, which (last Sunday) included Eric Stonestreet and Julie Bowen receiving Outstanding Supporting Actor statuettes. I must comment here: While Eric Stonestreet is wonderful as the overly-dramatic, and therefore hilarious, Cam (Mitchell's significant partner), and I am glad he received the award as opposed to that guy from New Girl. However, I was very much hoping that Ed O'Neill would take home that interesting-looking statuette because, for one, he's never had the honor of accepting one. And isn't that just appalling? Not only has Al Bundy never been revered for his fantastic portrayal of the typical lower-class American, but now Jay Pritchett is damned with the same disrespect. Utterly reprehensible. Ed O'Neill's hilarious yet also heart-warming performance as the Pritchett patriarch is one that should not stand to be ignored for long. Either he receives a Golden Globe this January, or the Academy (all Academies, I'm sick of them) can just rely on the audience of uninformed gossip hounds. There's my passionate statement of the day, let's continue.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus received the title of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, to my delight and relief, as I did not want to see either Tina Fey or Amy Poehler walking on that stage, which is reserved for true talent only. Seeing Elaine Benes up on that stage, looking as incredible as she does at fifty, was such a pleasing nostalgia, bringing me back to when she was funny. It took me a while (in this case, two episodes of Veep and five years after New Adventures of Old Christine had its plug pulled) to finally take her seriously in a funny way as Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Yet, I still see her as Elaine. Those who are smart enough to watch Seinfeld would probably agree. For the Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series, Jon Cryer, assuming the lead acting position for the first time since Charlie Sheen departed, received the honor, to which I respond with satisfied indifference. Why? Because I did not wish to see either Jim Parsons or Louis C.K. walk up on that stage and accept an award they absolutely did not deserve--I repeat, they are not worthy of that title. I honestly anticipated one or the other to win, on account of that aggravating buzz surrounding each of them. Especially Louis C.K., who, to my dismay, won two other awards that evening for his stand-up act. I have to be frank here, I watched a few clips of that performance, and it was so familiar. By familiar, I am not complimenting him, if it could be wrongly interpreted that way; when a comedian's show comes off as familiar, it means that he is repeating a fellow comedian's act, which is considered plagiarism. Let me emphasize: Louis C.K. is in no way funny. No, he is unfunny. I dislike him very much. How he has become so blown up in fame, as well as in ego, is one of those arcane, unsolvable mysteries in life. As for Jim Parsons, he stole this award from Steve Carell twice in the past, and I really don't find The Big Bang Theory as funny as critics are portraying it to be. Like Louis C.K., that show is unfunny. That just about does it for the Comedy sector. As for the Drama, I've mentioned how none of the results affect me, so I will not mention anything about it. Apologies to those Homeland and Mad Men viewers.
The main attraction in the Miniseries category was Game Change, a great political movie enlightening viewers on the circumstances of John McCain's 2008 campaign, where the truth of Sarah Palin's shocking stupidity was revealed. Julianne Moore received the Outstanding Actress accolade, rightfully too, as she depicted the striking image of Sarah Palin, including her mannerisms and accent. The fact that I disliked her character in the film displays her excellent performance, for only greatness deserves an award. I highly recommend that you all watch Game Change, as it will change your entire perspective. (Mediocre attempt at a pun. Disregard it, and watch the damn film, will you?) In the Variety category, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart won everything once again. I'll alert the media.

Now, let's move on to the suspenseful portion of the post. I have to warn you, it may be frightening....

Captive Suspense - It took me about fifteen minutes to come up with that subtitle, which signifies an upcoming shortage of thought and ability to write well. The following films are not preferably my choice of genre, as I enjoy the warmer, romantic/comedic types of films, or serious dramatic pieces that involve tears or invoke poignancy. This particular night was an exception. (Read the remaining post with an eerie tone.) On an evening that has grown more and more common, one where my dad and I are clueless as to what to watch, we settled on a film called Derailed (after close to an hour filing through an array of genres). The film stars the dashing Clive Owen, who everyday I regret is not James Bond, and the oddly sexy Jennifer Aniston, who everyday I see on paper. I'll try to be vague about the film because there is a shocking twist I really don't want to reveal. Even that was too much. The film starts out like any other suspense: slow with that "what could possibly go wrong" vibe that often accompanies it. When the movie is successful in puzzling the viewer, in that the viewer has absolutely no idea where the suspense could possibly emerge, then the filmmaker has achieved the coveted task of making a good movie. (Quite a mouthful of words.) Basically, Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston spark up an illicit affair upon meeting on a train. And that is all I shall reveal. How's that for staying true to my promise? Earlier, you may have noticed that I called Jennifer Aniston "oddly sexy", and this is because I thought I would never characterize Rachel from Friends as anything near to sexy. Such a seductive term applies to more than just appearance, but also and especially to attitude and acting. Here, Jennifer Aniston has proved that she is more than just romantic-comedy royalty or that widely-loved actress in magazines; she has unleashed a side I never imagined possible. She actually acted, and well at that. While she is nowhere near as great as Angelina Jolie, whose performance in Changeling still has me enthralled, Jennifer Aniston is still a damned good actress for her "area of expertise". I don't see her winning an Oscar, nor do I see her deserving a Razzie. Perfect balance. Clive Owen was marvelous, as always, and so incredibly attractive that it pains me that he is absent from the screen today. And now he's sprouted a mustache? Oh, Clive Owen, what I'd risk to have you in Daniel Craig's shoes. Did I mention that Daniel Craig is terrible? Anyway, Derailed was a shocking film, in that I did not expect to like it as much as I did. Though I didn't tell the story as usual, it should make you want to watch it that much more. Because how often do I exclude the entire plot synopsis? Watch it, I implore you, as the twist is an experience worth waiting for.

The next film, which really wasn't planned at all, according to my dad who "just wanted to give me a taste". It transformed into an extended evening involving two movies instead of one. Still craving suspense, I requested another blackmail/ransom subject and had my wish met with Trapped, starring the beautiful and enormously talented Charlize Theron and Kevin Bacon, in a role that allowed him to express his acting ability. The basic plot involves a kidnapping scenario, though here the criminals are conducting their fifth "smart kidnapping", so there won't be any unexpected complications. (Oh, but there will. Bad guys finish last.) Unlike the previous film, Trapped does not have much of a surprising element, like a shocking twist, but that certainly doesn't diminish its great quality. Acting is the primary attraction here, as Charlize Theron, naturally, delivers a phenomenal performance as a daring mother willing to make potentially fatal mistakes in order to ensure her daughter's safety. (Here's a shock: little Dakota Fanning plays her daughter. There's a hint of sarcasm there, for she was taken for any child role back in the day, that day being ten years ago.) Kevin Bacon, likewise, was chilling as the demented kidnapper with a hidden motive that will place you in a state of shock and awe. Not really, but it is pretty surprising if you're not expertly intuitive. One performance I will admit is worth a Razzie, and that would be Courtney Love, who acts as if she's both high on dangerous drugs and a sick mixture of sleepy and horny. When she's on the screen, I really want to look away, and I do just that. Look away, because she is truly a ghastly sight. Aside from that minor flaw (depending on how you view it), the whole film was definitely top-notch for a suspense, and keep in mind that I'm not as experienced in this field as most. Therefore, if you found this movie to be a typical, overblown kidnapping thriller, well, I thought it was very entertaining.

I'm going to end this fine post with an outburst of relief because I am simply exhausted. I hope you appreciate my labor of fatigue which produced this (hopefully) comprehensible post. Enjoy the remainder of your week, and, please, follow at least one of my recommendations. You do follow recommendations, right? Or listen to them? One or the other. Good night, and good luck.

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