Talking Movies   (2016Jan27)


Goosebumps

Wednesday, January 27, 2016                                          12:55 PM

I saw “Goosebumps” last night—I doubt I enjoyed it as much as a fan of the book series might have, but I enjoy Jack Black in anything and I enjoy any story where horror gets a light touch—the paranormal is usually treated with such darkness in films. I also saw the re-boot of “Fantastic Four”—I wondered at a re-make of such a recent film, but then I remembered the original had Chris Evans playing Johnny Storm and he’s now obliged to play Captain America in the whole tapestry of Marvel movies. The good news is that this new cast allows for a meeting of Fantastic Four and the Avengers in some future ‘free-for-all’ Marvel movie—wouldn’t that be cool?

FantasticFour

DC Comics is making up for lost time with their new WB series “Legends of Tomorrow” and the upcoming film “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice”. Marvel has done a great job of translating their comics library into films, but DC has made more inroads into the television-series-adaptation and the animated films (I also watched an excellent animated “Wonder Woman” yesterday)—in a way, DC is more true-to-form in that comic books are for kids, and TV series on ‘the WB’ and animated films are more kid-centric, where Marvel sticks to live-action cinematic realizations meant to cover all age demographics.

DCsLegendsOfTomorrow

I preferred DC Comics as a kid in the sixties—but now that I’m sixty myself, I lean towards the Marvel efforts. I can see how “Legends of Tomorrow” would appeal to the young—it has as many characters as Pokemon and it plays with time-lines and time-travel, creating a wealth of niggling details that appeal to obsessed kids, but are a turn-off for grown-ups. The WB already had Green Arrow and Flash series (and Supergirl is on CBS) which provide a steady stream of villains, co-heroes, and sidekicks—meat for endless discussions over ‘who can beat who’. The ultimate ‘who can beat who’ is, of course, “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” But I’ve never seen the fascination—Superman is Superman—Batman could spend his life in a gym and it wouldn’t help much—besides, who wants to see to good-guys fight each other? Aren’t there any villains, for crying out loud?

BatmanVsSuperman

Anyhow, my VOD menu is pretty empty now—I’m trying to psych myself up to watch Spike Lee’s “Chi-raq”, but I expect it’ll be fairly heavy sledding. Greek Tragedy and Inner City Violence—not a light-hearted combo—but Spike Lee is a great filmmaker, so I’m going to watch it—I just need to steel myself first.

My biggest problem is the passage of time—I’ve watched a lot of movies. As a fan of the classics, I’ve seen silent films, black and white films, the classics, the not-so-classics, and ‘the essentials’ (as TCM calls them). I’ve seen many movies in drive-ins, in old movie palaces in NYC, and in local theaters—and since my illness, I’ve had ample opportunity to watch films on TV—some of them multiple times. With the exception of a few genres, like straight horror, I’ve seen every movie there is. I’ve thought about their stories, their plotlines, the process of movie-making, the work of acting, and the possibilities and the confines of dramatic tension—if I were any more involved with movies, I’d have to get a job in Hollywood.

This is a problem because I have acquired some pretty high standards—and originality is pretty hard to come by, after a century of creative people racking their brains for new angles, unexpected twists, and engaging serendipities. It’s been said that there are only a few stories—and that all stories are variations of these few ‘wireframe’ concepts—but I don’t know about that. There are a lot of stories out there—and while many of them are ‘road trips’ or ‘buddy’ films, ‘quests’ or ‘comings of age’, there are also a lot of unique stories that have no variations or spin-offs—modern-day fairy tales, and fantasies of myth, romance, or science that are unique in both plot and setting. Still, while there may be more than a handful of basic story ideas there are still not enough of them to fill sixty years of movie-watching with unending surprise. I’m in danger of outgrowing movies entirely—though I’m sure there are those who might think I should have done so long ago.

After all, movies are meant to be diversions from real life—and when illness took away my ‘real life’, I leaned heavily on diversion as an anchor for my sanity. Unfortunately, diversions are not meant to be the whole of a person’s life—so I’ve come to ask of movies rather more than they can possibly provide.

And now for the musical portion of our presentation—two improvs from last night that I share with you now. I’ve recently begun to question whether I should bother to post my improvs—their uniqueness is questionable and while they may each be technically unique, their style and sound is deathly familiar. I’m only one person playing one piano—the same person playing the same piano—and I’ve been posting improvs for years now. That’s my excuse, but it still makes me wonder some days why I bother. By my calculations, a person could listen to my YouTube improvs for a solid week-and-a-half—that’s hundreds of two-to-six minute improvs—and even Beethoven and the Beatles would get tiring in such large doses, never mind that I’m no Beethoven.

Still, here are two more. The first one, “In The Old Town” is followed, at the end, by a rendition of “A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight”—a song old enough to be in the public domain, so I don’t give it ‘cover’ status on YouTube, even though, officially, I should. The second improv is so weird that I had to call it “Spaghetti Fingers”. I hope you like them.

 

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