Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hours of Crime TV Every Week

In addition to COPS and America's Most Wanted airing all the time, it seems that American television viewers have an insatiable desire for the TV crime/cop/detective series.

Previously, I've discussed how it was interesting that cop TV succeeds, where as cop stories in film seem to typically be failures.

And looking at the 2010 Fall Line-up you can't help but notice an interest in this type of story.

You see every network trying to tap into the genre. You see long standing series surviving, and spinning off, and you see networks trying to find another spot for "more of the same" to make the 2010 calendar.

It's not my favorite genre, but with the number of options out there, it apparently is a lot of people's.

Here's a look at police television you can watch this fall, it's hours of crime, murder & suspects every week:

  • Blue Bloods (CBS, NEW)
  • Bones (FOX, 2005-present)
  • Castle (ABC, 2009-present)
  • The Closer (TNT, 2005-present)
  • Chase (NBC, NEW)
  • Criminal Minds (CBS, 2005-present)
  • Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (CBS, NEW)
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS, 2000-present)
  • CSI: Miami (CBS, 2002-present)
  • CSI: NY (CBS, 2004-present)
  • Dark Blue (TNT, 2009-present)
  • Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC, NEW)
  • Dexter (Showtime, 2006-present)
  • Fringe (FOX, 2008-present)
  • The First 48 (A&E, 2004-present)
  • Hawaii Five-0 (CBS, NEW)
  • Human Target (FOX, 2010-present)
  • In Plain Sight (USA, 2008-present)
  • Justified (FX, 2010-present)
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC 2001-2007; USA 2007-present)
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC 1999-present)
  • Law & Order: Los Angeles (NBC, NEW)
  • Lie To Me (Fox, 2009-present)
  • Medium (NBC 2005-2009; CBS 2009 present)
  • Memphis Beat (TNT, NEW)
  • The Mentalist (CBS, 2008-present)
  • NCIS (CBS, 2003-present)
  • NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS, 2009-present)
  • Psych (USA, 2006-present)
  • Ride-Along (FOX, NEW)
  • Rizzoli & Isles (TNT, NEW)
  • Rookies (A&E, 2008-present)
  • Rookie Blue (ABC, NEW)
  • Southland (ABC 2009, TNT 2010-present)
  • White Collar (USA, 2009-present)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Reel People: Jake Gyllenhaal is Jamie Reidy

The film is Love and Other Drugs, and is directed by Edward Zwick (Glory, Legends of the Fall, Defiance, Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai). The film is based on the non-fiction book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by Jamie Reidy.

Jamie Reidy

Jamie Reidy attended Norte Dame on an ROTC scholarship that landed him in the Army upon graduation. He was a lieutenant in the army for 3 years spending much of his time in Japan before jumping at the chance to leave the army early.

After leaving the army, he was unemployed and found himself living at his parents home until he got the opportunity to get a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep for the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer. Reidy jumped at the opportunity for a job and the $40,000 starting salary.

For 5 years, Reidy would describe in his book, he learned how to milk the system and minimize his own workload by meeting the quotes required in providing doctors with samples and having them sign off on various things that would indicate to Pfizer he had been working. Reidy states he spent most of his days at home, started work at 10am, finished before 3pm, and at times would travel overseas and fake calls to his boss' pretending he was in the United States outside doctor's offices.

This light work schedule allowed him the opportunity to write Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, although it was not published while working with Pfizer.

During time with Pfizer he was in urological sales division and prior to quiting was the number 1 Viagra sales rep in the nation.

In 2000 he quit to take a job with Eli Lilly where he sold oncology drugs, which he took more seriously. He and his sales partner became the number one sellers in the nation and he was moved from his role as a sales agent to sales trainer.

In 2005 his book was published, which led to Eli Lilly firing Reidy.

Reidy has sold the rights to his book to be made into a movie, and is working on a second book about his Eli Lilly experience which is tentatively called "Hard Feelings."

Love and Other Drugs

Edward Zwick is not none for his comedy or light hearted contemporary fair. He has attempted a romantic-comedy type of film only once before, and that was the 1986 film About Last Night..., staring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, based on a David Mamet play.

In the film Gyllenhaal will play Reidy (who is sometimes listed as Jamie Randall in some film listings). Anne Hatheway co-stars as Gyllenhaal's love interest in the film, named Maggie Murdock.

Other performers include Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt and George Segal.

Charles Randolf, Edward Zwick, and Marshall Herskovitz co-wrote the script based off Reidy's memoir.

Will Gyllenhaal's performance be one of the rare critically loved comical performances of the year? Could this portrayal of a pharmaceutical sales rep earn him his second Oscar nomination, and perhaps even a win for portraying this Real (Reel) Person?

Friday, August 27, 2010

No Last Name Needed

With a second child on the way, my wife and I've been talking a great deal about baby names. Which has led me to think about celebrity names.

Some names seem owned by celebrities, and to name your child a name of that celebrity beckons back to that name whether you intend to or not. For example, you can think you're being creative in naming your baby girl Miley, but everyone will think you're referencing (or stealing) from Miley Cyrus, whether that's your intention or not.

Where some celebrities have gone with a singular name (Madonna, Cher, Bono) there are other celebrities who could easily cut their surname and people would always know who you were talking about.

And I wonder (and I haven't done the research) as to whether they changed their names, and if not how unique it is for these stars to have such distinct one-of-a-kind names.

Here's some examples of celebrities who's first names alone don't even warrant a surname (If you're not sure about the star I'm talking about, freely ask in the comments and I will provide).

Sure I have a last name, but the first will do:
  • Aretha
  • Arsenio
  • Ashton
  • Atlantis
  • Benicio
  • Beyonce
  • Breckin
  • Charlize
  • Cuba
  • Denzel
  • Demi
  • Elton
  • Fairuza
  • Geraldo
  • Gwyneth
  • Heath
  • Jada
  • Keifer
  • Leelee
  • Meg
  • Miley
  • Montel
  • Neve
  • Oprah
  • Orlando
  • Tilda
  • Topher
  • Uma
  • Viggo
  • Ving
  • Whoopi
Can you think of more names that are owned by celebrities so strongly that the first name alone makes you think of the star?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Bells of St. Mary's: My Thoughts After Gushing For "Going My Way"

Early in the summer I sang my praises for the Oscar winning film Going My Way staring Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley.

The character and story of a priest who operates with a different set of rules, without sacrificing the honor of his position, but ultimatly practicing his faith in a sincere and influential way was touching.

So, you can imagine I couldn't help but follow up my watching of a film I loved with it's sequel, The Bells of St. Mary's.

This film is certainly not a critical flop - it's 8 nominations, including Best Picture show that it was respected. Yet, it's 8 nominations only garnered one win, and that was for sound (putting it into a category I've discussed before of the multi-nominated film with limited wins...usually indicating that it's a boring film).

Some people love this film...and to be fair there are some great scenes, and Ingrid Bergman as the nun and Bing Crosby reprising his role as Father O'Malley is enjoyable. Yet...this film is a complete character film with hardly any cohesive plot, making it bland and hard to put on any sort of "favorite's list."

In fact, some of the favorite parts of Father O'Malley get taken too far in this film, in my assessment, and here we see him essentially manipulate health records and blackmail someone to achieve his ultimate goal. Hardly the same guy I praised for his earlier film.

Alas, it seemed like a rushed sequel, and Leo McCarey is lucky to have been nominated. Again, some great scenes (like the children's nativity and Bergman's boxing lessons) but great scenes and characters without a cohesive story left me disappointed.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Reel People: James Franco is Aron Ralston

The film is 127 Hours. The film is directed by Danny Boyle and co-written by Boyle and Simeon Beaufoy. Boyle and Beaufoy worked together previously, their last project being the multi-Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire. This source text for this film is Ralston's own book Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

Aron Ralston

Aron Ralston was born to Donna and Larry Ralston in 1975.

When Ralston graduated from Cherry Creek High School in the suburbs of Denver it would seem that his life would seem typical of a high-achieving graduate.

Ralston attended Carnegie Mellon University, where he continued to achieve as an honor student and member of Phi Beta Kappa, a residents hall director, and active in the student body. With a degree in mechanical engineering he would go on an work for Intel in his field.

In 2002 Ralston decided to quit his job at Intel and decided to quit his job to climb all of the 53 Colorado peaks over 14000 feet (14ers). Raltson's goal was to be the first to climb all the 14ers solo in winter.

His passion for mountaineering led him to what would be an accident, and a Ralston's claim to fame. In April 2003, Ralston was in Bluejohn Canyon in Moab, Utah. While climbing his hand got stuck under an 800 pound boulder that shifted.

While pinned to the canyon wall, Ralston used his video camera to leave final messages to his family and explain who he was assuming he would die in the canyon.

After the fifth full day of being stuck and pinned to the canyon wall, Ralston took fate into his own hand by using a multi-tool devise to amputate his own right hand, and then repel out of the canyon to freedom. Where he was eventually rescued by a helicopter after a family hiking encountered him and was able to alert the authorities.

After the accident, he got various criticisms regarding his errors as a climber, but he continued to climb as well as become a motivational speaker sharing his story. He also gained tremendous fame, with multiple appearances on the talk show circuit and publication of his own book.

In 2005 Ralston did finish his goal of climbing of all the 14ers in Colorado in winter, even with his missing limb.

Ralston and his recently wed wife Jessica know live in Boulder, Colorado.

127 Hours

Aron Ralston has long been interested in his story being told on screen, but his interest has leaned towards the style of Touching the Void, the 2003 film based on the writings and story of Joe Simpson.

Yet, Danny Boyle and his team acquired the writes to tell Aron Ralston's story as a theatrical film, that as the title illustrates focuses primarily upon the time that Ralston was stuck in Bluejohn Canyon in Moab.

As a result, more so even that Emile Hirsch's role in Into The Wild, Franco carries this film as the central performer. Other performers include Amber Tamblyn and Lizzie Caplan.

The film also reunites much of the crew that brought that told the story of Slumdog Millionaire including producer Christian Colson.

James Franco has another bio-pic on his 2010 calender as he will be portraying Allen Ginsberg in the movie Howl.

As a critically acclaimed performer whose never been nominated for an Academy Award. Will Franco's portrayal as a mountaineer in peril will receive critical attention, perhaps even an Oscar nomination/win, for portraying this Real (Reel) Person?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Reel People: Rachel Weisz is Kathryn Bolkovac

The film is The Whistleblower. The film biography/expose the feature length debut of Larysa Kondracki who directed and wrote this script with co-writer Eilis Kirwan.

Kathryn Bolkovac

Kathryn Bolkovac, was trained as a police officer in the United States. As a mother of 3, the woman in her 30s left Nebraska when she was hired on by DynCorp, a US Military contractor hired by the United Nations to train Bosnian police in the country following the Bosnian war that ended in 1995.

When Bolkovac went to Bosnia she made some disturbing observations related to UN Peacekeepers and contractors engaging in prostitution, the purchase of young girls for sex slaves, and human trafficking.

Bolkovac seems to have connected with some women who had escaped injustice and abuse and began to collect information relating to horrible acts of human rights abuses of her fellow employees and government officials, she began to present her information she had found to higher ups within the organization of DynCorp.

Bolkovac exposed many details, including peacekeepers using funds to exchange hired sex slaves, many non-Russians transported from Russia, as well as peacekeepers exchanging food for sex with girls as young as 15.

Despite the evidence and information Bolkovac provided, she did not see a response. In fact, she was moved within the company, and terminated on grounds that she falsified her time keeping records.

Bolkovac is not the only one to have brought forth claims of trafficking of human sex slaves. Ben Johnson an aircraft mechanic in Bosnia also brought forth similar claims. Both Ben Johnson and Bolkovac were fired.

In 2002 in an employment tribunal in England, Bolkovac was deemed to have been unfairly dismissed and was to be paid by DynCorp for damages. From their Bolkovac has sought out opportunities to increase exposure to the problem of human trafficking.

She now lives in the Netherlands with her children.

The Whistleblower

The Whistleblower will tell this heavy story that on top of being filled with intrigue and powerful characters, also seems to serve as a purpose to further expose the issues associated with government employees and contractors committing human rights violations, often with limited or no punishment for their actions abroad.

Oscar winner Rachel Weisz will play this powerful lead character alongside Vanessa Redgrave, David Straitharn, Monica Bellucci, and Danish actor Nikolaj Lie Kaas.

Oscar winner Vanessa Redgrave plays Madeline Rees head of the UN Human Rights Commission in Sarajevo.

This certainly doesn't seem like one of the big popular films of the film season, but you can never underestimate the critical love that may be displayed when an actress like Weisz plays a strong female lead.

Will Rachel Weisz's portrayal of this vocal peacekeeper receive critical attention, perhaps even an Oscar nomination/win, for portraying this Real (Reel) Person?

Photo from filmofilia.

Bear Stories: News & Film

Probably one of the most bizarre news stories of the week was the story out of Christina Lake, British Columbia involving a marijuana growing operation near the Canada-United States border.
The story of this drug bust involves 13 black bears who served as "guards" over this pot plantation. The bears, who were fed dog food are presumed to have been lured in to ward of unwelcomed guest.

Yet, when the mounted police came in, the animals had been so humanized that they not only failed to attack, but they even got some comfortable as to get cozy and sit on an unmarked surveillance vehicle.

The news story actually immediately took me in my mind to the thought of this being a film story. Partially because it's so bizarre and really seems like a Will Farrell comedy...Farrell obviously playing a mounted police. Or, it could go by way of the Coen's in which the pot growers could be Frances McDormand and Steve Buscemi.

Of course...from there I remembered that "bear films" have a slow and boring tendency that make them films I usually don't enjoy. In fact, I quickly thought of the critically acclaimed 1988 film, The Bear (or L'ours in French).

The Bear, directed by Jean-Jeacques Annaud, is arguably one of the most boring films I have ever watched. This story, like the recent news story takes place in British Columbia and tells what I assume to some is a heart-warming story of a young bear cubs trials after it's mother is killed by a rock slide.

I also thought of the also less than amazing movie An Unfinished Life, which also has a bear as a central plot element. The Robert Redford/Morgan Freeman/Jennifer Lopez project seemed to have potential, but maybe it's something about bears that keeps a story from moving.

Of all the bear-oriented films I can think of, the documentary Grizzly Man by Werner Herzog is the standout. So...maybe there is a potential of a bear story, but maybe for me, it's far more interesting when the story is about the people (in the case of Grizzly Man, it was Timothy Tredwell) then a story where the bear itself is an actual character in the story.

Will Farrell...Coen Brothers...take note if you want to tell this story.
Actually, the further tragedy is that these bears will probably be put to death due to their comfort level around humans. Although that makes for a far less than comical story.

Source of image of police with bears here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pakistan Flooding: Image Deficit or Donation Fatigue

With over 2000 fatalities and a huge flood problem in Pakistan caused by monsoon rains that began in late July, the big story on the news seems to be why are donations from countries and individuals limited. The comparison seems to be either of giving during the the 2005 Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan or the earthquake in Haiti earlier this year.

To me the interesting thing seems to be that the central coverage of the event is this very fact, that giving is less. At least, that's the story I keep on hearing.

It would seem the most popular explanation is to suggest that there is a image deficit and that people, nations, and organizations do not trust the Pakistani government to help ensure that those in need get it, and that money is not exploited or placed in the wrong hands. I don't doubt this theory, especially since Pakistan has been in the news far more, and associated with issues with Afghan and Taliban forces more than it was even in 2005.

Another, less popular theory is that of "donation fatigue." I struggle with this question, because I think many people if given information about how they can help in a practical way often respond even in the smallest of ways (whether that be a small donation made through text message or collecting of goods and supplies locally to be sent abroad). Yet I don't think there has been many strong cases for support of this area. I'm certainly not saying "no support" but I think generally the opportunity isn't there...the organizers, the TV spots, the corporate and governmental support.

Honestly, I don't buy the donation fatigue theory, rather I think that if it's not an image deficit, there hasn't been opportunities or presentation of value to supporting this region of the world in this particular disaster. And honestly, I feel like the lack of support has given the media a "guilt burden" to talk about it more to put this situation in the eyes of others. Except...the story they present is all about why people aren't giving, so it may not create the emotional context for action.

I can give some credibility to the idea of image deficit, but I struggle with the idea that there is donation fatigue, I think that is an inaccurate stance.

Image from AP story at Boston.com

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer 2010 Launch Any Franchises?

Summer 2010 has generally been a bust in my eyes, with a few bright stars in a sea of smokey black sky.

But I was wondering today if any new franchises will be launched out of the gloomy dusk of Summer 2010?

The weird thing is, so many films were already reboots or sequels that when you look at the box office receipts, nothing shines to the top as a "starting point" for a franchise.

Let's look at this summer's current top 10 domestic grossing films, which will obviously adjust as summer wraps up, as many of these films are still showing.

1. Toy Story 3 - The wrap up to an existing franchise.

2. Iron Man 2 - Just one cog in the franchise-of-franchises.

3. Twilight Saga: Eclipse - Smack in the middle of a franchise.

4. Inception - I'm sure people might want to see one, but I can't see director Christopher Nolan franchising this story, but I suppose it's possible.

5. Shrek Forever After - The end of a franchise that should have been finished before now.

6. Despicable Me - The receipts and animated film track record would indicate we should PLAN on Despicable Me 2.

7. The Karate Kid - A surprise 80s reboot - rebooted enough for a part 2 of the reboot? I don't see it, but hey, I would have never expected this return either.

8. Grown Ups - Part of Me would say no, but the other part of me thinks that if Adam Sandler, David Spade, Rob Schneider and company are probably all pretty free, so they might jump on another gig if presented.

9. The Last Airbender - I imagine the series provides plenty of source material for a sequel, but for the big 4th of July feature, it doesn't seem like this film succeeded enough.

10. Robin Hood - Um....not quite a franchise, but a story that will surely be told again. But I'm not planning on a follow up story.

So, I suppose the only strong franchise launch is Despicable Me.

But I'd say it's too early to count out Salt and The Other Guys. But beyond that, not a lot of fresh franchise material from this summer.

Image by Holeymoon.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's in a name? Cobb in Inception

As I've discussed potential meaning behind many of the characters in the film Inception, I have delayed my post on Dom Cobb, the lead character played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Like the film, there is a lot of areas to explore with this name, and while there may not be one conclusive connection, I don't think that this name was chosen flippantly by Christopher Nolan.

An interesting thing about Leo's role is that if you had read spoilers about this film in 2009, you may have read that DiCaprio's character's name was Jacob Hastley. Part of me is tempted to dig into this fake name because many believe Nolan created it as an April Fool's joke...but I'll stick with Cobb primarily, although perhaps further review should be done into his first name Dom (short for Dominic it seems, but since the credits just list "Cobb" we'll stay there for this post).


This is by far in my mind the post important connection one should draw with this name. Although where you go from here takes another leap that simply seems trickier to make.

Following is the name of Nolan's first feature film which premiered at Toronto in 1998 before a limited run in 1999.

In this film one of the primary characters is named...wait for it...Cobb, played by Alex Haw.

In Following hardly anyone has a name this character does. In Following, Cobb, is a thief, but a very interesting thief, while he has a variety of motives the premise of his character is that while he breaks into homes his purpose is not for vast riches, but he enjoys creating psychological distress. One way Cobb does this is he looks for "the box."

Cobb (Following) advises, that "everyone has a box." And in this box is where they keep their life, their secrets, their memories. Cobb a petty theft of CDs he resells makes a point to find this box of photos, letters, secrets and disrupt it when he breaks into their homes.

The connection here, among other connections one sees in the Following Cobb along side Inception Cobb, are pretty clear. Granted these are different projects and this is not the same Cobb, but it's definitely an echo of a character. Not to mention the film's story arch much like Inception & Memento shows Nolan's creativity and ability to create a multi-layer narrative warranting a second viewing.

Other connections in the film is a unique relationship the two characters have with their love interest, careers, certain ways that the two Cobbs manipulate a situation within a situation within a situation to achieve their ultimate goals, and even their professional but almost-aggressive attitudes.

Defined, A Common Strategy

I've seen others point to Cob as being another name for a spider (where we get the term cobweb) and as such this story is a cobweb. Personally, I find that a limited reason for the name based on my theory of a stronger correlation and intention in name choice.

In fact, I find the spider theory as valid as saying that the name beckons back to Cobb Salad with it's multiple parts, or the corncob with it's unique core-construction. Or how about it's name for a swan or a pony? I'm not seeing those possibilities.

In fact, I am even quick to discount the use of the name to allude to Cob a building material of clay and straw. If it were not for the use of the name in Following I might be able to see it since Cobb is a talented architect but what he builds isn't very strong or sturdy in reality like the building material. But I don't think that definition works with the film The Following at all, and I have to think the connection gaps both films.

Potential Connections to People

The connection to people is possible in this case, and part of me wonders if Nolan's inspired by one of these people, or has a unique personal connection to one of these people or there work.

A few like Artie and Jayne I would count out if I force the name to connect the two Nolan films that use the name.

Andrew R. Cobb, the Canadian Architect; Artie Cobb, Champion Poker Play; Henry Cobb, Architect; John B. Cobb, Methodist ministers one of the developers of process theology, combining meta-physics and faith; Jayne Cobb, Firefly Character; Ron Cobb, concept artist for films like Aliens and Star Wars Episode IV; Stanley Cobb, Founder of Biological Psychiatry who's work often focused on the mind-body problem; Stephen Euin Cobb, science fiction author and futurist; Cob a character in the sci-fi children's story The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin.

If I Had to Chose an Inspiration for both Cobbs

I would chose the inspiration coming from the 1968 British television show The Prisoner. In this TV show, Patrick McGoohan plays Number 6, a secret agent who upon resigning is drugged and then taken to The Village, a place he cannot escape...much like the world's the architect's create.

Part of the reasons to trap him here seems to be a strong motive to check his motives for resignation. And if you've seen any of this series you might see how the duel world of this series as well as the protagonist fighting off manipulation would be something Nolan might appreciate.

I know that Nolan has seen this series is because in 2006 this was a film that Christopher Nolan often spoke of making it into a big feature film often siting his interest in this series and it's contemporary relevance.

In the first episode "The Arrival" there is a character named Cobb played by Paul Eddington. This first episode reminds me of Lost meets The Truman Show.

Cobb, a previous colleague also stuck in the village, dies almost as soon as he arrives by jumping from a window. Although even in this first episode this element is not all that it seems.

I think the entire concept of trying to capture mental information in this series is unique it's own regard, and I have to even think that this TV series played a striking influence on the story of Inception.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Here Lies Love

With an interest in biopics in the film world, I couldn't help but give a listen to the two CD album Here Lies Love, the collaboration by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim about the life of Imelda Marcos and the woman who raised her Estrella Cumpas.

Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of Philippians is an interesting topic for what Byrne and Fatboy Slim have titled "a song cycle." Marcos, who's probably best known for the image of a woman with thousands of shoes in a country that has plenty of poverty and needs.

The songs on this album play in a progression through the story of Imelda Macros, with a variety of women playing the part of Imelda through song.

With over 20 singers on the album, the artist make up includes names like Tori Amos, Cindi Lauper and Natalie Merchant.

This is the type of album that is probably a pretty polarizing album, particularly when it comes to musical reviews.

I think in listening to the album I found myself, particularly after multiple listenings having respect for the creativity, scope, and study that went into the album.

On the other side, I felt like I was listening to 1980s musical theater some of the time, and that I was listening to an unknown musical, or a musical concept that was never made.

But even more than musical theater, I found myself thinking of Baz Luhrmann. Luhrmann, most known for his music for Moulin Rouge!, has a wide range of musical projects from opera to commercials to a variety of concept styles that to me resonated with a project of this nature.

David Byrne (Talking Head member, Oscar winner his score for The Last Emperor) truly demonstrates his musical variety here, and finds an interesting friend in European DJ Fatboy Slim (most famous for his 1999 chart topping songs "Praise You" and "Right Here, Right Now.")

Despite all the female Lilith-Fair style artistry on this album, I think the best song is actually one of the few with a male vocalist and that is the "A Perfect Hand" sung by Steve Earle. This song almost has the potential for radio airplay on country cross-over stations.

Other favorite songs include "Men Will Do Anything" sung by Alice Russell, "Order 1801" sung by Natalie Merchant, and the catchy anthem that title's the album "Here Lies Love," sung by Florence Welch.

I'll be interested to see if this music ever hits the stage, the radio, or film. It seems like it was made for such a purpose, but for now, just seems like a concept project with out the legs to take it anywhere.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Field Trip: Museum of Bad Art

Okay, I haven't taken the field trip, but if it were closer I would. I think the idea is INCREDIBLE. I just heard about this today, and the concept of a Museum of Bad Art, is just fantastic to me.

Pictured above is an anonymous piece from the MOBA (Museum of Bad Art Collection) this piece is entitle "Wretch Like An Egyptian."

This art, like most of the pieces in the gallery (with plenty of examples online) strives to find art that clearly has an artistic intention but in the end is an absolute failure.

I love it, and honestly am surprised the collection is a unique treasure. As someone who finds modern art quite interesting, I am frankly surprised their collection isn't fuller, because even some of the work that makes to the nice modern art gallery's too me could be a part of the MOBA...but of course, including those works might just hurt some people's feelings.

Works such as the one's in this post ("More" by Anonymous, found in Trash, and "See Battle" by Viv Joynt) can be seen online at the Museum of Bad Art's Website, at their gallerys in Massachusetts, and in the 2008 published work The Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks.

MOBA, I surely have some contributions of art attempts gone bad.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ediaf Piaf & Zimmer's Inception Score

Talking about Mal the other day, and the use of Mal's name in Inception, only gives more reason to share a favorite thing I've stumbled upon as I've read about the film.

As you probably know, Mal's character is played by Marion Cottilard, a French actresses who's largest film role to date has been her role playing singer Edith Piaf in the film La Vie En Rose (pictured right). This role would lead to many awards including the Oscar for best actress.

One of the musical elements used in the film, is the song by Edith Piaf entitled "Non, je ne regrette rien" meaning "No, I regret nothing." This song used for the kick was a song.

Apparently according to a recent Los Angeles Times article, Nolan had planned on removing this song from the film in favor of another to avoid the contradiction that might pop up in people's mind by using an Edith Piaf song in a film staring an actress who was recently acclaimed for playing Edith Piaf.

Zimmer convinced Nolan otherwise suggesting this was an important part of the scoring he was doing.

How did this song impact Zimmer's scoring?

This video might explain that. Enjoy!

Talk about smart scoring, especially as it relates to the story of the film, and the element of time. I'm very impressed with this, as well as the discovery.

You can enjoy this full Inception Score By Hanz Zimmer by purchasing here.

(video discovered here)

Monday, August 02, 2010

What's in a name? Mal in Inception

Mal, Mal, Mal...I want to connect you to someone amazing. As I continue this series on characters in Inception, I was desperately searching for Christopher Nolan's inspiration for your name. Perhaps a psychologist named Mal who committed a famous suicide, or a train designer who was bi-polar, some fantastic (but challenging) architech or something else equally clear and connected.

One of the biggest challenges of Marion Cottilard's character is that while the credit's list her name as "Mal" the whole time it sounds like DiCaprio is referring to her as "Mol."

To make matters worse, some places (like wikipedia) list her name as "Mallorie" although no where do I have any recollections of her having this name in the film, nor can I find any solid reason for us to assume this is her name.

General Name Meaning

Mal is a pretty common Latin root that means bad, as a result French, Italian, Spanish speakers will quickly be able to identify that this name means bad.

And don't discount that a parent would name a child "bad" or a form of that, because...well, people still name there kids Mallorie or Mallory, and could easily call there child Mal for short. Not to mention the name Mallory means "unfortunate" or "unlucky."

Marion Cottilard's inception character can easily be viewed through these windows of either bad or unfortunate.

Clearly, when Mal invades the subconscious of her husband Dom Cobb she's always "evil" by ruining his plans, attempting to shoot him, shut down his mission, and foil his plans.

Mal (if she's Mallorie) can also be looked at through the lends of being "unfortunate" as she appears to have been a very pleasant person before her death, and before the inception was performed on her, causing her to loose a grip on reality.

This is the easy explanation, and perhaps this is the best explanation.

Some places I have read that the name Mallory/Mallorie can mean "beautiful" in French. I've tried to confirm this and have found nothing. In fact, here's a block of text translated with many words for physical attractiveness translated into French...nothing looks at all to be like Mal or Mallory.

belle attrayant beau beauté belle jolie mignonne adorable Devine ravissante belle angélique admarable séduisante appel charme magnifique sublime ravissante superbe merveilleux alléchantes alléchants beau teasing à couper le souffle incroyable magnifique agréable

I don't see anything that looks at all like 'Mal' or 'Mallorie.'

Mallory can also mean "mail" as in the iron mail worn by knights. Perhaps there is something here, as Cobb perhaps may be using Mal to protect him from something else, or protect him from others invading his own mind (if you follow the complicated theory that Cobb is actually the one being incepted during this film).

If her name is Mallorie

If her name is Mallorie, then there are tons of popular choices to chose for her relations or namesake in fiction, history, and modern science-fiction and fantasy.

If forced to chose a historical person I would chose Sir Thomas Mallory who put together one of the most popular collection of King Arthur writings that became much of the source material for later tellings. The Mallory version contains the stories of Lancelot, Guinevere, and many of the other knights we associate with this stories.

Why I would connect Sir Thomas Mallory, who's 1485 publication of Le Morte d'Arthur changed the telling of these stories is because Mallory took this story, a few centuries after it's initial creation and weaved and connected many popular stories into a consise tale with new riddles, characters, and myth then had existed before.

Sir Thomas Mallory is a genius creator of ideas, who's creation (like Mal's architecture) took time, was a massive construction, and past his death had a very powerful pull on later creators.

(Pictured right is one of many classic images from nineteenth century printing of Mallory's work, the art is done by Aubrey Beardsley).

Of course you may find this an ironic conclusion for me to make based on the fact I discount King Arthur as the inspiration behind Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character 'Arthur.' And honestly, I generally discount my own theory here as well based off the inclusion of the full name of Mallorie.

Other Possible References for Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fan

There are a few recent "Mal" characters who have shown up in science fiction/fantasy works that Christopher Nolan could have been playful hinting at. I don't know that this is the case, but I'll consider it.

One possibility is Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) from the Firefly franchise. He goes by "Mal" in the franchise, and does act out of personal lost.

Another possibility is the Mallory from the show Sliders. In the final seasons of this sci-fi show there is one character who exist in two alternate realities. There is Quinn Malory as well as the fraternal alternate who typically just goes by the name "Mallory" and there is a great effort to combine these two alternate world characters into one person.

My Conclusion

Frankly, it seems to me that Mal's character connected to some grander historical or fictional character while not only challenging, simply may not exist.

Instead I think it is important to ask the question "Is she evil?" because her name clearly presents that suggestion.

Personally, I like the idea that she was "Mallorie" [unfortunate] but upon her death, her role in her husband's subconscious has become "Mal" [evil].