Getting these notes done early today. I’m feeling tired and burnt out after a stressful, frustrating first half of the week, ending with a long day on Wednesday putting the paper to bed, that may have caused by first bout of sleep paralysis in years. Fun times.
Still, other work is chugging along fine: things are being written, music is being listened to, films have been seen and scheduled to see.
It's not a notion that I subscribe to. Are you a critic writing for a general audience, or a critical theorist writing for film readers? I think most, like me, would be the former, writing for people who will likely only see any given movie once in the cinema or wherever (unless they love it so much they'll buy it) so will judge, like the critic will, based on that first and only impression. That's not to say there shouldn't be time for reflection (Mark Kermode even advocates for waiting a few weeks before putting fingertips to keyboard) but critics who evaluate new releases based on repeat viewings aren't seeing the same film everyone else is seeing. I think AO Scott, as quoted in this piece, has the best approach in trying to watch "twice in one sitting". #link
Some quick thoughts on last night’s Royal Rumble, then. First off, the WWE Network live stream worked great throughout, with only a handful of pauses for buffering that didn’t distract from the show. I can’t even blame the network for that as it’s more likely my ISP’s fault, considering the connection dropped in the last 20 minutes and even after a reboot we were stuck with a low-res stream for the end. Thanks, UPC.
Aside from the Royal Rumble match itself, it was a one-bout card, although it was interesting to note the undercard comprised all tag-team matches. Weekly TV calibre matches, yeah, but still. I’ve got my quibbles, particularly with the Ascension angle (why the hell are JBL and the other old fogeys going out of their way to bury them when the whole point is that they’re being booked like an old-school tag team that squashes jobbers?) but they served as a decent warm-up for the World Title triple threat match, which I’m gonna watch again because it was a Cena match and I naturally tuned out but that was unfair to Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar, who put on a hell of a show in the final few minutes (the only bit where I paid attention).
Went through very unofficial channels to see this one, but I’m glad I didn’t leave the house or cough up the cash because Inherent Vice isn’t worth it:
Adapted from the Thomas Pynchon novel, Inherent Vice is Chinatown in the gonzo sensibility of the Coen brothers or Terry Gilliam, except it’s a Paul Thomas Anderson film so it’s a million hours long, overly enamoured with its talkiness as it meanders from scene to scene, with an unnecessarily unwieldy cast to boot.
A couple of bad horror choices to kick off the new year, starting with WWE-produced slasher sequel See No Evil 2:
I expected much more from this sequel, coming from hot horror prospects the Soska sisters, and with a cast including genre stalwarts Danielle Harris and Katharine Isabelle. Only Isabelle really stands out as a knowing parody of the drunk party girl archetype, but she’s in a completely different movie to everyone else: a self-serious slasher with no plot to speak of, set in a bland, sterile environment, and with depressingly underwhelming kill scenes. The first film was pretty bad, but at least it had a semblance of a story, and a decent performance by Kane; this one’s so boring, it’s actually worse.
Besides my review of Whiplash on Thumped, and a few of my quick news bits for Afloat taking off with hits in the hundreds, which is always nice, there’s little remarkable to report in terms of the work side of the work/life balance.
So let’s talk life, and more to the point, my consuming passion: since Wednesday last week (after finding out about the soft launch) I’ve been mostly spending countless hours watching WWE Network, trawling the archive of WCW pay-per-views and shows that I never saw back in the day. I’ll be writing about it in greater detail soon.
I've been thinking of ways to improve my front page for a while now, and Jason Kottke's post on his own changes was just what I needed. When I first started Soon after starting my link blog it was pinned right after the first main post, basically copying what Kottke did then, and is doing again now. So why not steal from the best once more? (My rejigged front page also has the added bonus of introducing some colour (via the category banners, which I'll be tinkering with in due course) that's been lacking, I think; all these blacks and greys were bumming me out.) #link
I complained on Twitter a few days ago about the way Impact Wrestling is being shot for TV now, going by the newest episodes taped recently at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Completely aside from the precarious booking (forgivable; the company’s still ironing out kinks in its new creative direction) and the terrible lighting (ostensibly a decision by producer John Gaburick to put more emphasis on the ring but come on, it’s really to hide the poor attendance, a few hundred in a room that seats over a thousand), I was constantly distracted by the amateurish camerawork and direction (blame for which has to lay at Gaburick’s feet as well).
You might expect the perspective of this outsider who meets some of the tough-as-nails women vying for a spot in the UFC to err on the superficial, to play up the 'bloodsport' angle and decry the sexism and general bro-ness of big-time MMA. And Taffy Brodesser-Akner doesn't leave any of that out, because it's all there for the taking, but she's also savvy enough to see the UFC as showbusiness, as entertainment as much as if not more than the sporting championship it professes to be. It's funny how much Dana White, the Vince McMahon of MMA, and his ilk constantly rag on the 'fakeness' of pro wrestling when the UFC's recent success is mostly down to the oldest tricks in the kayfabe book. Brodesser-Akner doesn't make any explicit comparison, but it's impossible to miss the parallels between, say, the hooded, menacing Ronda Rousey marching to the ring to the strains of 'Bad Reputation' and the glass-smashing, ass-whooping heyday of Stone Cold Steve Austin. #link
Even if this tale is as embellished or kayfabed as the world of wrestling it depicts, it's still a wonderful story of rivalry among the top gals of grappling in the heyday of the territorial era. #link
"If the JoCo Cruise is a church, I am apostate. That’s why I couldn’t stop worrying and love the Sea Monkeys. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be a nerd anymore. It was that I did. Or rather, that I already, inescapably, was. That boat and those people? They were my hometown. Like everyone’s hometown, mine embarrasses me. I have worked hard to lose my accent. I know every back-alley shortcut and every bit of secret gossip. I couldn’t leave soon enough. I miss it ferociously. I’m always happy to meet natives and always trying to avoid them. I’ll defend it with my life against any threat, even when I’m wrong." Is it really about 'losing the accent', or being embarrassed by others who seem too conspicuously enthusiastic about their chosen obsession? If everyone relaxed a bit and didn't try so hard, maybe we wouldn't be so hung up about it. #link
Disappointing that this piece embellishes the valid criticism of Mayer's tenure at Yahoo! by putting across her general distrust of people without a third-level degree (strangely irrational for an engineer, that) as a specific dislike of other women-with-currency like Gwyneth Paltrow, handbags at dawn and all that. It's just one of a few asides and examples that lend this text an distasteful, condescending tone. #link