Category Archives: Theatre

10 Great Characters Entertainment Weekly Missed, or I guess I don’t really understand the parameters of your list at all…

Last week’s Entertainment Weekly had pretty much one HUGE feature article: “The 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years.”  I had fun flipping through the list and then, at dinner the next night with my boyfriend, it turned into a really fun game, with him trying to guess who was on the list and me trying to remember what I had read at 2 am.

We quickly learned that it’s a fun guessing game because of the parameters.  The magazine has been celebrating its 20th anniversary, which I believe prompted the time limit.  But as we both scanned our brains for great characters, we realized that there must have been many more rules to help with the selection.  You have to narrow it down somehow.  Otherwise you could just have every character from The Wire listed as numbers 25-100 and call it a day.

First of all, I really appreciate that the list is about characters.  Not the best acting performance, best movie, or best story.  But that brought up questions of what the heck were they considering made a character “great.”  Why this guy over that guy……….Best character arc?  Most memorable?  Largest influence on our popular culture?  Coolest in the eyes of whoever was in charge of compiling this thing?  Most recognizeable?  A game-changer?  I think that some of the influence/recognizeable idea could be ruled out, or a lot of really annoying, flat, not thaaaat creative characters, but ones that are still quoted now and had a huge influence in their heyday, would have been on there (i.e. I thought of Steve Urkel). 

So we started guessing the rules and found ways to rule out our many good ideas.  However now, looking back at the magazine with the list in front of me…I have no idea how they chose to do it.  Our parameters, what seemed logical to us and made sense based on those I could remember, are all broken by the magazine.

First problem: that time period.  20 years gets confusing because there are so many remakes, sequels, and movies made for the first time from much older books that came out during that period. 

Our parameter: The character had to have been first created between 1990 and 2010. 

Proof: For example, there were no Lord of the Rings characters,*** but that seemed to make sense because the book came out much much earlier.  This helped explain the absence of John McClane (Die Hard) because the first movie came out in 1988, though the others all were in the right time period.

EW’s Stance:  No.  See #33 – Sarah Connor from Terminator 2 (specifically listed as coming from the sequel).  I call bull s**t.  Sure she changed a lot by the 2nd movie but her character was created in 1984 in the original The Terminator (not to mention who knows when the idea occurred to James Cameron knowing his storymaking time schedule, but then that’s not how this is being counted either).  Why include her but not any of the other amazing characters whose sequels came out after 1990?  And The Joker from The Dark Knight?  I suppose I can see how it’s such a different creation than previous Jokers, but that character has been around forever.  And Tony Stark???  No way!  Iron Man, the character, debuted in 1963!

Second problem: many great characters in one project.

Our parameter: Only one character allowed as representative of a show/particular actor/specific world to help maintain diversity. 

Proof: It seemed they were trying to spread the love and that made sense.  While stories with one great character often had many more, you had to choose so that you could have a broad diversity in every sense of the word.  One Pixar representative (Woody from Toy Story), one Joss Whedon creation (Buffy), one Friend (Rachel Green), one from Seinfeld, one from The Wire, one Christopher Guest-universe character, one from Lost, one from The Office, I could go on and on.  Why not others from some of these masterpieces?  “Great” must mean “best.”  I thought it was a rule. 

EW’s Stance: Eh, not so much.  There are two Johnny Depps (Edward Scissorhands and Jack Sparrow – the only actor repeat, not including voices of animated characters), two J.J. Abrams creations (Felicity, and Sidney Bristow from Alias), and two Tarantino’s (Vincent and Jules from Pulp Fiction and The Bride from Kill Bill).  I suppose there are no two from one piece of art and maybe that’s it.

And while I love the diversity of genres they had – besides movies and tv shows, they drew from plays, books, and video games, and include cartoon characters as well, making it truly about the search for a great character – they may have taken it a little far trying to fill the slot of a certain “type.”  Maybe this was to please their various readership (something for the teens – Twilight, I’m looking at you, for the old ladies, for the guys, etc…).

In the end, maybe there were no rules, and maybe it’s just a matter of taste and I just did not agree with all of their choices.  I’m sure they’re receiving tons of e-mails telling them who they forgot.  I’m thinking of writing one myself, however, I was going to try to stay within their parameters.  But as #13 once said of the rules, “They’re really more guidelines.”  To that end, here’s who the boyfriend and I would have added if repeats are fair game (though I still think the time period thing is crap and all of ours were publicly released between 1990 and 2010).

1. River Tam or Mal Reynolds, Firefly (2002) & Serenity (2005)

2. Some combination of Nemo, Marlin, & Dory, Finding Nemo (2003)

I also thought Wall-E should have gotten his own spot, not just in a sidebar of other couples below the chosen Noah & Allie from The Notebook (WHAT?).

3. Amélie Poulain, Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain or Amélie (2001) 

I wanted more internationally created characters (ones that did not start in America).  There were very few and Amelie was only to be found in the notes below Jerry Maguire because Cameron Crowe was asked for his five favorites.  That needs to be rectified.

4. Lola, Lola Rennt or Run Lola Run (1998)

5.  Either Joel Barish or Clementine Kruczynski, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

6. Bubbles, The Wire (2002)

They could all be on here, and I was very glad with their choice of Omar, but Bubs was the other one we wanted to see and guessed immediately.

7. Yorick, Y: The Last Man (2003 – graphic novel)

8. Nancy Botwin, Weeds (2005)

9. Olive, Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

I would also accept Grandpa or brother Dwayne.

10. Adrian Monk, Monk (2002)

How, HOW???!!!!, was he not on their list???

Admittedly, my choices are certainly influenced by me, my taste in entertainment, my desire to see more women on the list, etc…

I guess it just depends on what you think makes a character not just good, but great.

I can’t link to their whole list (here’s the most you can get online, I think you’d have to buy the magazine*)**, but who would you like to see on there?

*And because I know you’re wondering, on their list, #1 is Homer Simpson and #2 is Harry Potter.  You’re welcome.

**UPDATE: I just discovered the list recreated here, if you want to see who made it! – http://mix1041.radio.com/2010/06/02/the-top-100-character-of-all-time-so-says-entertainment-weekly/

***UPDATE #2:  Okay, I’ll admit I was wrong.  They do have Gollum on there.  So who the hell knows what they were doing.  I still say that if you say it’s from 20 years, then stick to those 20 years.  John McClane, people, come on!

5 Comments

Filed under Movies, Theatre, TV

Dear wonderful readers,

Thank you so much for your patience and, I hope, for sticking with me! 

I am sorry for my complete lack of posting during the last month.  I was in Scotland for the entire month of August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, seeing as much theatre as I possibly could.  My grand total is 46 shows in 4 weeks, and I am pretty damn proud of that number! 

But now I am back and able once again to attend to your entertainment-related listing needs.  I hope I have not lost you over the last month, but hopefully I can make it up to you now.  Please come back soon; I am posting once more!

Also, I have exciting news that I will be sharing…in the next post!

To welcome us all back, here are 

10 random things I learned in Scotland:

1. Most websites where I normally watch tv/movies do not let you view their content when out of the country (this includes network websites, as well as Netflix!).  Here’s to YouTube trawling!

Also, please accept this as a small part of why I haven’t been posting.

2. If you have a show in a botanic garden, pool, bus, boat, or while keeping the audience blindfolded, or giving us free croissants and tea…I am so there.

3. Everyone is better as a zombie.

4. I have a love of good cabaret. (who knew?)

5. There is a lot of sheep poop.  Don’t step in it.

6. The hot thing to do at the Fringe was apparently white clown makeup, in varying degrees of melting off your face.  I saw this a lot.

7. Swine flu jokes get old.  Fast.

8. I love porridge. 🙂

9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson is the perfect book to read while driving around Scotland.

10. I want to go back!!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Shop Talk, Theatre

New Favorite: Conversations with Other Women

So I’m adding a new “section,” as it were.  New discoveries that are so amazing that they are immediate favorites, automatically best friends forever.  And to start us off on this exciting venture into the unknown is a wonderful wonderful movie that I watched…hmmm…sometime in the last month.  I mean, you know I haven’t been the greatest about updating this here virtual whatnot.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I strongly encourage you to watch: Conversations with Other Women, starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart, and here are 10 Reasons Why:

#1, 2 & 3 – The Cinematography/Split Screen

This movie is shot beautifully.  The film follows two people, who obviously have a past of some sort, as they see each other for the first time in a long time at a wedding, and the entire thing is presented in a split screen.  So many things to love.  For much of the movie, this means that each side is focused on the point of view of one of the two characters,  so you really see each one’s reactions to everything.  Not just one viewpoint.  You can tell that there were 2 cameras on them at the same time for a lot of filming because you can see reactions and little tiny mannerisms, as well as background stuff, happen at exactly the same moment in both frames.  Things that in my opinion you couldn’t recreate and do exactly the same twice separately from different angles.  This seemingly more singlular filming actually makes it feel more like a play to me.  It’s full of longer shots that let them just be in the moment together and react to each other and not have to worry about what I think is called “coverage”.  Maybe I’m wrong about the word I mean, but the technique lets the characters breathe.  And that’s another thing that makes it like a play – the huge emphasis and exploration of character and one very specific, intimate relationship.  That’s all it is, a one-night examination of the relationship between these two people.  And it takes the whole movie for you to understand it fully.  Okay, maybe #1 should be that the movie is like a play, but it does obviously utilize movie-only techniques to huge advantage – you couldn’t tell this story this way without the split screen and it’s many uses…

And it is just used so brilliantly!

a. It’s really fun as an audience member (or “viewer,” if you will, but I’d rather go with the collective here) to spot things move from one frame into the other (i.e. extras walking past).

b. And you know it’s going to be so extra important when one of them passes from their own frame into the other’s.  And you’re just waiting for it…and it’s so satisfying.

c. The split screen also shows backstory, moments or memories from the characters pasts, either as they talk about them or to add to what we’re seeing in the present.

d.  It even begin to break the rules and let time split a little and show alternate endings to a moment, alternate reactions, in the split side.  Whether it’s just something a character is wishing had happened or a true alternate reality they never fully explain.  It’s just really fucking cool.  Kind of a double take moment.

And all of these other uses begin coming in right when you think that a split screen might become boring if each side is just focused on following one of the two main characters around.  That’s not it at all, and just when it might get old, it begins to be utilized in all of these other unique ways to help illustrate these 2 people.

It also facilitates…

#4. The Coolest Sex Scene I Have Ever Seen

Think about it…SPLIT SCREEN

One word to fuel your musings – kaleidoscope. 🙂

#5, 6, & 7 – Helena Bonham Carter

As if I needed more reasons to love this woman (ummm Harry Potter, anyone?) she is just…well, every word I can think of right now sounds like a smarmy critic word that would be reprinted on a poster and that I would never believe they really could have meant.  “Luminous.”  “Virtuostic.”  “Brilliant.”  C’mon, really?

YES.  All I know is I couldn’t take my eyes off her.  Aaron Eckhart deserves major props and he held up his end very well; I wouldn’t love the movie if I only loved half of it.  But she’s the one I couldn’t stop thinking about afterwards.  Fuckin’ awesome.

#8 – The writing

Oh the words, glorious words!  With it’s unique filming style to help examine these characters, the writing holds up its end in creating them and letting them play out.  It just does such a lovely job of letting these characters show us who they are and what they mean to each other…at their own pace…nothing forced.  Revelations are a joy, not too obvious, a sweet surprise, and they come so naturally and sort of slowly. 

I have discovered that I really like to use the word “heavy-handed” in reviewing things, in trying to describe what I didn’t like about them, and you’ll see it all over the Hate portion of this blog.  This was how to NOT be heavy-handed.  Just lovely.  Quiet and creeping up on you and lovely.  And fucking cool to watch too.

#9 – No Easy Outs

The story stays true to the examination and the fact that these are real people with real problems that won’t necessarily work out perfectly for them or the way that you want them to.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such loving discord.  Such a loving not-happy ending.  You’ll see.

#10 – And all these things added up just makes me say “mmmmm.”  That = SATISFYING

Worthy of the “New Favorite” mantle, no?  I leave it up to you as to whether you’re adding it to your Netflix Queue (how the hell do you spell that word?) right now as you read this – side note: it is an option in Netflix Watch Instantly if after this glowing review you just can’t wait.  I know I’m not saying much about the plot, but I don’t want to take any of the enjoyment away from you.  All I know is I’m in love.

 

I hadn’t noticed before, but even the poster is split, if you look closely!

3 Comments

Filed under Movies, New Favorite, Theatre

Click Here: Graham Norton Does High School, or The Best New Play Reading of 2009

The following clip is an exerpt from the Graham Norton show yesterday, March 26th.  Zach Efron was on to promote 17 Again, as well as David Walliams of Little Britain.  The entire interview is really very hilarious and you can see it all, but at the end of the segment, in honor of Zach’s movie, Graham had people in the audience submit pictures and memorabilia from their own time in high school, and one American woman in the audience submitted a note for all the world’s scrutiny. 

Norton presents said note as a reading, himself playing Carrie (Kerry?) and Walliams reading the part of Chrissy, and I have to say, this is one of the best new short plays I have heard in a long time and as a playwright, I am really quite jealous.

Bring on the Broadway premiere (original cast only, no subsitutions)!

YouTube – Zac Efron on The Graham Norton Show 26th March 2009 Part 3

2 Comments

Filed under Click Here, Movies, Theatre

Friday Afternoon Thoughts – Subtitle: An Afterlife Rock Opera

From this week’s “Bullseye” in Entertainment Weekly:

“The movie Ghost is being turned into a stage musical.  Lyricists grapple for words that rhyme with pottery.”

I had already heard about this, though I think I had blocked it out.  As a playwright, this piece of news brings up obvious burning anger over the things that they (the man?) are choosing to make into musicals these days.  There really are no new ideas and all these remakes are a pretty sad state of affairs.  Not to mention, with all of the struggling writers out there, pushing the envelope of what it is possible to do, of what theatre and film and fiction and art fundamentally are (and I’m not talking about myself here, I’m talking about friends and contemporaries and amazing artists I know and don’t know and discover on a daily basis), THIS IS WHAT THEY CHOOSE TO SPEND MONEY TO FUND???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Are you shitting me?

But, on another note, I am also able to find this bit of news rather amusing for a few reasons:

1. Can you imagine how they are going to do the scary animated black hell guardians or whatever they are that come to take away the bad guy at the end?  I’m seeing some pretty awesome interpretive dance here…

2. Speaking of dance, I suppose when you have a movie that starred Patrick Swayze the dance number connection is easier to see.

3. Someone gets to play Whoopi!  And think of the songs!  Think of the “How to Scam Rich People as a Fake Psychic” hoe down!

4. How are they going to do the Whoopi channeling Patrick straight to Demi part – not necessarily that hard, but will definitely be interesting…three way kiss, anyone?

5.  I am easily amused–

  • lottery
  • slaughtery (as an adjective)
  • pot of tea
  • off of me
  • bottany
  • bought an E (could work with a sudden excursion to Wheel of Fortune.  Ooh, or Patrick’s watching the show at home and Demi comes up singing – Demi: I made you some nice pottery. Patrick (yelling at the tv): Dumbass!  He should have bought an E!  And no, I don’t know the characters’ names.)
  • boss of me
  • mockery 🙂
  • Gotta pee!

And I do.  Fin.

1 Comment

Filed under Friday Afternoon Thoughts, Movies, Theatre