Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Reaction

A preposterous (both in terms of details and high-level plot) action flick that never decides if it's an indiana jones movie or a parody of an indiana jones movie. The script is poor: there's stilted dialog in places (often using exposition) and the way the relationships evolve isn't plausible (Oxley, Marion, and Indiana; Mutt and Indiana). Relationships aren't built so insanely fast, and no one can be as accepting as the movie makes it appear. In addition, the ridiculous plot--almost a cross between the X-Files and Indiana Jones--is inexplicable at times. Also, it's a few minutes too long. Maybe this all adds up to a standard (not good) summer blockbuster.

The movie references past Indiana Jones movies. I probably missed some. Had I caught them, maybe they'd have made the movie funnier.

Aspects of the movie are even more over the top than past Indiana Jones movies. I hear there's a movement to replace the phrase "jump the shark" with "nuke the fridge" in reference to Indiana Jones surviving a nuclear explosion by hiding in a lead-lined fridge that is thrown by a nuclear explosion miles through the air.

This At The Movies discussion generally reflects my mixed (though tending to the negative) reaction to this film.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

This American Life - Reaction

On May 1, 2008, This American Life simulcast a live production of the show to many theaters throughout the country. (Well, for us west-coast viewers strictly speaking it wasn't a simulcast because they delayed the broadcast in order to show it at a reasonable time in the evening.)

This well-produced, entertaining simulcast was similar in feel to the radio show though the structure differed. Ira did some segments live, narrating, queuing clips, and balancing background music. In addition to these segments, other regulars appeared on stage to do pieces. It's amazing how fast I can recognize them from their voices. There was also an discussion segment where Ira and the This American Life's television show's producer talked about how they make creative decisions and what they're doing differently for the next season of the show (e.g., try omitting narration entirely). The simulcast wrapped up with questions and e-mails from the audience.

As for the content of the show, it had some clips that had been broadcast on the radio and on the television show, plus segments that didn't make it to air due to length restrictions. I particularly liked a cartoon they made for a radio segment and the talk-to-an-Iraqi segment. They also showed some outtakes. In addition, before the presentation began, the screen displayed animated games of hangman and anagrams to keep us entertained. (It worked.)

Ira didn't look like I expected him to. Indeed, he joked about this fact at the beginning of the show, remarking that he must remember that people who meet him for the first time don't hear anything he says for the first minute, instead attempting to integrate his appearance with their mental image of him. Later in the show, they showed clips of Ira's reactions he interviewed a guy talking about skinning a bull and crying. His facial expressions were hilarious, making it obvious why they don't show Ira's face during interviews in the television show--it'd be too distracting.

The theater was mostly full. I noticed a number of people, I included, craning their necks to look around to see what kind of people watch/listen to This American Life.

I wonder how much of Glass's motivation for this simulcast was a promotion for the second season of the TV show.