Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Non-Die Hard's Thoughts on Gilmore Girls A Year in The Life

I wasn't quick to jump on the Gilmore Girls band wagon in it's original release. My wife would watch it and I would join passively, at first - until I found myself enjoying the quick witted dialogue and the combination of quirky Stars Hollow characters.

This past weekend Netflix released it's miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life which delivered a 6 hour catch up with the characters.

In reviewing my previous posts on the series, I realized I had previously in a 2008 post requesting this type of thing...In my post I wrote:
"After finishing this last season of Gilmore Girls, I could definitely go for a 10 year reunion show 2017...hey even a 5 year reunion show in 2012."

And here, they have delivered - delivered the reunion, that is -- whether they delivered on the promise of a great reunion series, now that is a different question.

I joked with my wife the first night watching the show in it's early hours of Netflix release that the show was rated higher than The Godfather on Netflix. Early die-hards appeared to embrace the release, while I was perhaps a little more on the fence, or at least open to see what this would really be like.
Catching Up
The first episode (Fall) is begins a little slow going, but I extend grace, because I assume there will be a little bit of the sloppy unnatural dialogue that catches a viewer up on previous changes and developments that will drive the rest of the plot forward. This certainly happened in episode one. 

The unfortunate thing is that this slow "catch up" happens all the way through each of the four episodes. Every episode reintroduces characters from the show that instead of creating something new and exciting instead provide a "wink-wink" type of gift for dedicated fans instead of providing something new.

In that vein, from the standpoint of a stand alone show, this would be the type of show that I would suspect would disappoint a first time watcher - you can't just jump in here on the new series because you'd be annoyed with things like why are they spending so much time talking about Lorelai's jeep or lamenting about Sookie St. James' absence from the kitchen at the Dragon Fly Inn.

I can commend the show for getting so many returning cast members -- I'm sure this in itself was special for those involved, but while this created something special for a die hard fan, it took away from the show itself, and made it take a long time to get moving with an actual plot.

Stars Hollow The Musical
This oddity in the series was horrible. This scene just went on and on. Summer (episode 3) was by far the weak link in the series, and this scene alone did me in.

Existential Crisis
One of the things that I found interesting about this mini-series was the crisis experienced by the three leading ladies (Rory, Lorelai, and Emily). 

There is major life incident defining this series' conflict, other than the passing of Richard Gilmore (played by Ed Hermann who died December 31, 2014). This is a catalyst for crisis, but not financial ruin or fear of genetic link to anyone else's long-term mortality - rather it's a piece of existential crisis they each face, where they ask "Who am I? What am I doing? Am I just standing still in time while the world is passing be my?"

While they flounder in their own crisis, I can appreciate that the show let them wallow in their own confusion as we saw in the main series -- there is certainly that millennial bent layered into Rory's story fighting being a part of the "30 something gang" of which, she certainly fits the mold. But really, while I wouldn't expect this show to kick off with Rory married with a gang of children, there is something in her crisis that frankly is sad as she's wondering through the four episodes -- and really her sexual activities are frankly depressing (Chewbaca!?)

Lauren Graham's Lorelai has her own brand of crisis here, that really snowballs in the underwhelming Spring episode, but the Pacific Crest Trail "Wild" Scenes in Summer may be a worthwhile payoff (except for the unnecessary wink-wink cameos of Parenthood stars, following another similar cameo from the prior episode).

Even Kelly Bishop's Emily portrayal has her crisis -- a little more in a typical vein of what you might expect from the death of her husband, although the final payoff in that Nantucket scene is pretty memorable.

Final Thoughts
Not quite like watching a train wreck, but not something that has that classic and engaging feeling. Frankly, the only way to save this mini-series is to somehow go back to the drawing board and hope commitments can be made for a second try with a second mini-series. Now that they've gotten over the hurdles, now is the time to decide if they want to dig in and write a new chapter, but this time with creativity, not gimmicks, and release themselves from the characters that aren't going to drive the story forward.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

What I haven't seen from the IMDb top 250: 2016 Edition

I've done this post before, three years back - but the list and the rating change. So here's my update of what I haven't seen off the IMDb top 250. There's a few I'm not interested in seeing -- but others I need to track down and check off this list.

30. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
32. Interstellar (2014)
41. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
45. Whiplash (2014)
54. The Great Dictator (1940)
57. Paths of Glory (1957)
58. Django Unchained (2012)
64. Princess Mononoke (1997)
67. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
74. M (1931)
95. The Kid (1921)
100. 3 Idiots (2009)
109. Yojimbo (1961)
119. Children of Heaven (1997)
120. The Great Escape (1963)
121. Heat (1995)
123. Inside Out (2015)
126. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
128. Ikiru (1952)
130. The Gold Rush (1925)
137. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
138. Casino (1995)
140. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
145. Sunrise (1927)
147. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
148. V for Vendetta (2005)
152. Tokyo Story (1953)
154. Dial M for Murder (1954)
167. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
168. Mary and Max (2009)
171. Come and See (1985)
175. The Message (1976)
178. Nights of Cabiria (1957)
186. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
189. Wild Tales (2014)
191. Persona (1966)
199. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
201. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
202. Stalker (1979)
203. Memories of Murder (2003)
210. Diabolique (1955)
213. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
214. 8 1/2 (1963)
217. The Terminator (1984)
224. Barry Lyndon (1975)
225. La Haine (1995)
228. Sin City (2005)
231. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
232. Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)
237. Song of the Sea (2014)
238. Ip Man (2008)
239. Deadpool (2016)
241. Castle in the Sky (1986)
243. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
245. Fanny and Alexander (1982)
248. Paris, Texas (1984)
249. Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India

That's 58 of the Top 250 I haven't seen (76.8% viewed). Let's see if I can knock out some more of this list.

Tweet Too Quick - But Nice Observation for Me, Strangers on a Train

The other night I was watching Strangers on a Train, while my wife was practicing her dance moves for a flash mod at work (I can't make this stuff up).

And I was struck watching the film how much the movie reminded me of Talented Mr. Ripley -- namely the manipulation between two male leads, one who is wealthy/playboy style character.

Of course, I tweet without researching (that's what twitter's about, right?).

And I quickly fact check myself (I'm not popular enough on twitter for other people to do it for me).

To my personal self-satisfaction it was based on a story by the same author -- both books (Strangers and Ripley) are written by Patricia Highsmith.

Still pretty pleased with myself.

Which also reminds of another thing - about three years ago I posted the Top 250 films I hadn't seen yet -- this is one of them. Check it off the list, done!