Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Caramel is Just Sugar, When You Boil It Down...


2015 is coming to a close. It's been a terrific year, all things considered. No, I'm not going to get all maudlin and do some personal "year in review" nonsense! Fear not!

In fact, tonight's post is likely going to be brief. As in, I'm wearing briefs on my head, as is my year-end custom. Hey, we all have our quirks, don't we..?

I primarily came in here to post the video of this year's Christmas play, called "Out There", which was performed on December 20 and starred Jennifer Scibetta, Andrew Ian, Mario Ortiz and Hanna Halland. It was, by all I could see, the most well-received play we've ever done. I'm immensely proud of the job our cast did...

As usual, there's something about seeing a play, live, in person, which does not translate well into video form... so even though the video turned out great for the most part, it just doesn't have the same punch to me that it did in person...

If you do watch it, be prepared for a weird little buzzing noise from 1:23 to about 1:50, it was a technical feedback glitch, and Bill O. handled it. After that, the play really takes off. It's about 30 minutes long. It doesn't look good full screen, sorry... I don't know how to get it to upload to YouTube at anything higher than 480p...



Again, many thanks to everyone - both the cast and the crew - who helped make the play happen. I think it bodes well for future productions... perhaps I can get even more local actors to participate.

Christmas was mellow, as was our 25th wedding anniversary, and we have nothing really planned for New Years... but hey, that's ok...


OK, I'm going to talk briefly about Star Wars vs Star Trek, and I shall keep things spoiler-free in case you haven't seen The Force Awakens yet... yes, I'm going to nerd out for a few minutes...

So, the age-long debate over Wars vs Trek is, in and of itself, well-trodden ground... but the fact that the same director has now made solid cinematic efforts on both sides of the debate lends new wrinkles to the discussion....

The punchline to what I want to talk about is thus: I really liked Star Trek: Into Darkness, while I was greatly disappointed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I have never really considered myself a "true" fan of either franchise, really. I mean, I like them both, as much as the next guy. That being said, it seems that "true" Star Trek fans (whatever that means) had substantial problems with the way JJ Arbams handled Into Darkness, while "true" Star Wars fans can't gush enough about how incredibly good The Force Awakens is. My 2 favorite online movie reviewers -- Jeremy Jahns and Chris Stuckmann -- each said The Force Awakens was their favorite movie of the year. For comparison - for Into Darkness they each gave their highest possible rating at the time, but in the year end list, Jeremy put it at #9 in his Top Ten Films of 2013, and Chris Stuckmann gave it an Honorable Mention - not even top ten...

Now, being a casual fan of both franchises, I went into each movie with an open mind, hoping to see a great movie. I didn't expect anything from Into Darkness - and I loved it. I thought it was a fantastic action film, with great moments, characters and performances. I went into The Force Awakens with an open mind - though admittedly, with everyone saying so universally how awesome it was, I took it for granted that I would love it as well. And surprisingly (to me), I thought it was a bit of a turd. It was sappy, ham-fisted, and filled with uninspired characters, dialog and performances... it did have great visuals and some great moments, but overall, the more I ponder the film, the less I like it. The opposite was true of Into Darkness...

The reason I bring this up is the irony, and also the idea of the impact that "true" fan-ness may have on a person viewing the properties. I had nothing really invested in either franchise - I liked them both, for the most part. I wasn't anchored in the lore, or the canon, or expectations based on things that have gone before. In each case, I just wanted to see a good movie. "True" fans disliked Into Darkness, "true" fans love The Force Awakens. To me, the better film is easy to spot a mile away...

I could go on at extreme length about all the questions and concerns I had about The Force Awakens - but I know it would be wasted. I think that the vast majority of the population is willing and able to overlook every possible weakness in the film and label it amazing, which is fine. Unplug your brain and enjoy the ride, that sort of thing. I say, go for it. I'm not wired to do that. I have to think about what I'm seeing - and if things go clunk, I need to figure out why....

Bottom Line: Without a "true fanboy" filter to hinder my assessment, I give Into Darkness a very solid 9.5/10 and I give The Force Awakens a very generous 6/10.


So the final blog post of the year is in the bag. And yeah, it was boring. What can I say? One of the drawbacks, I suppose, of winging it.

Lots of great things on the horizon for 2016, in both writing and acting (and possibly directing). I will keep you all updated as things continue to evolve.

Thanks again for your support and silent readership (lol... leave a comment, dangit!).

Have a great New Year's Eve/Day.

Adios for now,

Dave the Contrarian

2 comments:

lawrence wagner said...

Feel the same way about the movies and am looking forward to viewing the play again on film. Have a great 2016. Pop

Anonymous said...

At first I wondered at the direction of your play, but as I prayed, I saw the greatness in simplicity. Many of us can listen to sermons, attend church, but fail to walk out our call Monday-Saturday, at home, at work and neglect the most important elements - pray and Bible study. No church is immune during these deceptive times, so I'm sure it touched some of the congregants watching and was a blessing to the diligent who find great joy watching God work in our lives and others. Good job, Dave. BA