My Week: March 17, '12

The Big Swallow
James Williamson, 1901
AKA "A Photographic Contortion". A film only one minute in length, but from an age of cinematic birthing that makes it an important and simultaneously delightful and fascinating in its experimental nature. The two edits - simple by today's standards - are purely magical in the truest sense of the term, and the focus pulling is phenomenal. I'm not sure I've ever been more impressed by mustache stubble.

Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass, 2012
Many of us live with some form of amorphous, ambiguous and arbitrary mysticism that we either pragmatically ignore or allow to guide us beyond a life of nobody-dom. Jason Segel's Jeff, who stagnates while humorously but affectingly following "signs" in an aimless search of some greater destiny, teaches us that even if we don't believe in deeper meanings to coincidence, having some similar form of positivity in our lives is never a bad thing. "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" feels at first like a midseason episode of a television program in the sense that much information about our characters is left as read, despite the fact that we haven't "read" it. This leads to my only real complaint, in that Ed Helms' Pat's storyline feels underwritten to the point that I don't know what to feel about it, even from an objective stance. We are simply not given the backstory required to really ground the issues, leaving Pat's conflict difficult to connect with but on vague levels. Its emotion hits hard, regardless, as do the many other tough emotional moments. For as funny as the film can be, it revels in its ability to make us weep - and many of the tears come as a result of joy and beauty. One moment in particular seems to mirror a past time in which Susan Sarandon and Judy Greer played mother and daughter - in "Elizabethtown" - although this time it's Sarandon basking in the spray of fire safety sprinklers.

Further first-time viewings:

The Big Shave - Martin Scorsese, 1967

Upright Citizens Brigade: Asssscat - Eric Cochran, 2008
Yep, funny stuff. I'd not seen any of UCB's improv before, so I suppose it was interesting. I'd rather rewatch episodes of their Comedy Central show, though.

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil - Eli Craig, 2010
What do you get when two well-meaning hillbillies haplessly stumble in to a series of slasher movie clichés? A sorta halfway decent movie, I guess. I do love Alan Tudyk's "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" reference, though. The man dances almost as well as Leatherface.

Total: 5

Rewatches (1): The Skin I Live In (Pedro Almodóvar, 2011)
- "The Skin I Live In" is even better the second time around.

Episodic Television (2): Parks & Recreation (Ron & Tammy - Meet 'n' Greet), The Walking Dead (Better Angels)
- It's almost counteractive to subjectively compare "Parks & Rec" to "The Office", because in doing so one compromises the originality each possesses, but I'm just going to bluntly state it - "Parks & Rec" is the better show... to the point that it makes its predecessor look like it's trying too hard. I say that from a technical standpoint, but also from a personal one as no show has drawn me in this deeply since I discovered my beloved "Scrubs" (I'm obsessively binging, clearly - I reached the current season in a week!). The subtle character development that skirts clichéd relationship scenes is borderline genius, and in turn makes episodes that are less shameful in their approach to relationship building such as season 2's Christmas episode all the more endearing. The gradually, gracefully established emotional core is so strong, and every character is so winning. Leslie Knope may seem definitively bumbling to the casual viewer, but she is the backbone of her department. Ron Swanson may similarly appear gruff and weird - and he is, to be sure - but he is a giant sweetheart and I nearly wept when his favorite steakhouse was shut down despite the scene feeling more geared toward comic effect. Tom Haverford is the dopest dope, and his own worst enemy. Andy is my favorite character, Chris Pratt plays dumb better than just about anyone and his romantic arcs have been the most involving of the series thus far, for me. I believe one day Jerry is going to come in and shoot everyone. I could go on. I almost wish I were even further behind in the show, because once I catch up with the current season, I'll be left waiting week-to-week just like everyone else who realized the show's greatness sooner!

Episodic Television Rewatches (1): Parks & Recreation (Pilot - The Banquet)
- Looking back after falling in love with the series, the "Parks & Rec" pilot really isn't as bad as I've been feeling it is for however long it's been since I first viewed it. Not in the least, in fact. It perfectly sets up the characters. I was resistant at first because it felt unoriginal (ostensibly a copy of "The Office", which is already a copy of "The Office") and it co-starred the paragon of anti-quality, Aziz Ansari. Oh, how those conceptions have been dashed.

Video Games (2): Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, Kirby's Adventure
- Finally, a fifth shard of the "Amazing Mirror"! These buggers are tough to find. It helps that I finally managed to uncover Carrot Castle and Peppermint Palace. Phew! Now where the heck do I go...

Comic Books (New!): The Walking Dead (#91 - #94)
- It's a credit to the best comic book title I've ever read that even repetition is riveting; the current reminiscence of the Woodbury arc is all the more haunting because we know what could occur based on what's come to pass, rather than just feeling like it's just an uninspired retread (like just about every episode of the show is, even this early on). Considering the recent injury suffered by Carl and the outsider from another community taken prisoner, it makes one wonder if plot points from the current issues of the comic are being purposefully utilized in the bafflingly subpar television adaptation.

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