Sunday, March 06, 2005

What is Productivity?

Can I be considered productive if I did nothing significant this weekend? I did no work. I wrote nothing. The only time I worked on my laptop was to check my e-mail.

I did, however, start painting the kids' room. Pink. What can I say -- I have daughters. Hate painting. Actually, it's not the painting I hate. It's the taping of moldings and baseboards and the moving of furniture. The painting itself has a certain immediate gratification to it. Provided you've taped the moldings and baseboards properly and moved all the furniture. And now I'm thinking I should've listened to my wife and painted these rooms while we were waiting three days for all of our household goods to arrive on the delinquent moving truck.

So, DISH Network had this free preview weekend for the Showtime/The Movie Channel premium channels... okay, I stumbled on one of the channels on Friday night and wondered if it was a mistake for which I was being billed. So on Saturday morning, I called just to check (my wife thinks I am anal -- my thinking is, it's a lot easier to correct a mistake now than to get them to give me my money back later).

Anyway, turns out it WAS a free preview weekend. Which got me to thinking: what's the use of a free preview weekend if you don't, ya know, tell the subscribers that they have a free preview?

Anyway, the nice thing was that this suite of channels include the Sundance Channel, which I really want but which I don't want to pay for right now. Got to watch several of Sundance's "Anatomy of a Scene" episodes, which delves deeper into production choices in one scene of various films... great teaching tool, but it doesn't seem that they've released the series on DVD. If anyone knows otherwise, let me know.

I also got to watch Pieces of April, which I think of as the indie version of every movie ever made about Thanksgiving. In that genre, it's always about difficult family relationships and how hard Thanksgiving is for everyone. (What is it about Thanksgiving that lends itself to difficult famly relationships?)

So in the 'indie' version of this genre, it's not just a protagonist who has been away from home and estranged from her family. It's a goth-type chick who lives in a 4th floor walkup in NYC with her boyfriend, and her family hates her because she always came home with new piercings, drug problems, drug dealer boyfriends... and the mother is dying of breast cancer...

So, a lot like the traditional movies of the genre -- but indie... i.e., gritty. Shot handheld and digital. Which didn't make the movie actually any grittier, but did make it seem not as polished. Which is, I guess, what they were going for, but it struck me as a pale imitation of much better movies. My real problems -- the script was pedestrian (at best) -- just boring, with no real problems (the girl's oven breaks, so her plans for the 'perfect Thanksgiving' with her estranged family will be ruined if she can't get her turkey cooked in the various ovens of the kooky people who live in the same building)... and the performances defined 'average.' The timing was off, no one had any chemistry, lines that were supposed to be punchlines fell completely flat. The movie really wanted to have its cake and eat it too. It wanted to be gritty and 'street' and also heartwarming and precious. And it couldn't pull it off.

At least it was only about 90 minutes. Because if I'm going to watch a so-so movie like this, I don't want to be watching it all night.

Currently playing on one of the Showtime networks: Against the Ropes, a flaccid boxing tale starring Meg Ryan as a streetwise boxing promoter (he said before loudly guffawing). Meg Ryan's awful attempt at some kind of streetwise NY accent (at least, I think it's NY -- I'm not watching close enough to really say for sure, and I just don't care)...

I did, however, enjoy The Simpsons and Arrested Development tonight. Someone from one of those shows (I won't say who) is going to taking a cameo role in the movie I am shooting this summer. Which is nice, and provides some 'cred' with my students.

That's it for my weekend rambling... I didn't get a chance to watch any of my NetFlix DVDs yet... but hey, Spring Break is less than a week away!

2 Comments:

At 7:19 PM, Anonymous chuck said...

Missed these entries earlier. I kind of enjoyed Pieces of April even though I'm aware that it's not that interesting. But I liked a lot of teh actors involved Oliver Platt and Patricia Clarkson, and I'm not averse to watching Katie Holmes for 90 minutes.

Hey, Meg Ryan has more street-cred than Sylvester Stallone. Easily.

Hope you enjoy Hucakbees and Saved!. Will be curious to hear what you think.

 
At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Josh said...

The "Anatomy of a Scene" shows up, from time to time, on the DVD of the film in question. Offhand, I seem to recall One Hour Photo did this for sure, and there have been others.

 

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