Keeping a a rather strange New Year’s resolution

Posted in experience,media, culture and society by thomas on the Februar 19th, 2011

People who know me a little better know that I am absolutely horrible at watching TV series or movies alone. See, when I was a kid, I always watched television with my slightly older brother. When we used to watch TV series from the Star Trek universe, or X-Files, or Dark Skies or Babylon 5 or whatever, the really interesting part often only started when we switched off the TV and started rather obscure discussions about possibilities, relationships, motives and causes in the universe or drew parallels to the actual world we were living in. And later, in high school I could be sure everybody had for example seen a certain comedy show on Monday night and a good deal of Tuesday morning was spent re-telling the jokes and mocking the guests he had on. Now, all of this is pretty much gone except for blockbusters and live events. Not only am I not able anymore to watch stuff with my brother (that’s the minor issue) but most of the time my friends have already watched episodes, seasons of current TV series (running in the US or UK and not on Austrian/German television) or movies alone already. Watching movies has been individualized. Or to say it in the cultural pessimistic way: the internet has destroyed the ‚fiction of the audience‘ within my group of friends, while creating a new and scattered audience connected entirely via ’social media‘. This leads to the sometimes odd situation where we meet and can’t talk about a TV series in a group anymore because one (usually me) is stuck at SE01E08, others are at SE03E01 and others again start to watch the whole series again from the beginning …

Anyways, 2010 has been a horrible year for me in terms of watching movies and TV series. I’ve watched less good stuff than I’d have liked to in the last few years already – with The Wire being a notable exception – but at least I went to the movies regularly. Last year however, my ‚moving pictures‘ diet was horrible. And as I love going to the cinema – heck, I’d pay to see the trailers – and usually enjoy watching series, I made the resolution to watch a little more, with quality considerations coming second. (There are some interfering variables in that development obviously, …)

What did I get exposed to so far? (Ok, some of those were December 2010 and I only list fiction here, but who cares …)

TV series

Modern Family

Great casting, witty, some easy laughs.

Pretty Little Liars

‚From the producers of Gossip Girl‘, this was called a mashup of ‚I Know What You Did Last Summer‘ and – surprise – ‚Gossip Girl‘. So far it’s entertaining in a Dexter kind of way. Not as subtle and more ‚American‘, high school-y and girly in every way, but still entertaining. Everybody is obviously extremely good looking and has and doesn’t keep a bunch of really dirty secrets, but hey.


The subtitle says „Men are the best medicine“ and from what I’ve seen so far, it’s really at about that level. Sometimes witty, mostly bland. Very popular.

Movies

Enter the Void

Enter the Void is a strange piece of film. It is most probably the most exhausting piece of film I’ve ever watched (Jerry by Gus Van Sant now holding 2nd place). It is at times annoying and frustrating to sit there and watch it. It goes on and on. It repeats points endlessly, it overly celebrates its own aesthetics, but, more than any other film this year (except for The White Ribbon even the second time I watched it), it made me think. About deep stuff and stuff that I usually don’t like to think about. Stuff like life and even more death. Enter the Void is a strong movie. One that could have been better, storywise, but one that made me feel something, even though if this means making me feel extremely uncomfortable at times.

Exit Through The Gift Shop

The Black Swan

I am not into ballet or dancing at all and my knowledge of classical music is very rudimentary. Still, I liked this one a lot. The dramaturgy, acting, sound and art direction made me sit in there absolutely tense, both of the times that I watched it.

White Ribbon

The White Ribbon is just a great film that you should definitely watch. I think the movie works well on the level of human universals, but it also gives an even better insight into some of the not so feel-good roots of German/Austrian culture.

Machete

A must watch if you can cope with someone using a gut as a rope. And with all kinds of other weird, violent and brainless stuff. Machete fits great in the whole Fortress Europe and WASP brain melt context, so it’s highly recommended.

El Secreto de sus Ojos

Underwhelming. I was pretty excited about this one, as it won the Academy Award in the year that The White Ribbon – one of the best movies I’ve ever seen – was released. I watched it in OV with English subtitles and had quite some troubles getting the Argentinian Spanish, so that might explain it, but I thought the film had incredible lengths towards the end. Plus, you could see the make-up of the ‚old‘ actors so clearly that I was taken out of the cinematic experience – which almost never happens to me.

Spartacus

Kirk Douglas has an enormous chin. The movie is very long. It’s not the best movie to start at 11 pm. Doesn’t feel overly Kubrick-esque.

Bran Nue Dae

Australian folklore apparently, but with some interesting twists. Stupid at times, rather lovely at others.

Hostel

While I’m certainly not the right guy for …. (everything is a remix 2), I do believe that this kind of stuff exists, so I’d actually love to see a decent movie about the topic in The Wire-style.

The Kids Are Alright

From what I read and heard before, the film was promoted (at least here) as an independent piece from the US. I don’t know all that much about independent US cinema, but this film shouldn’t have to be called independent in any country. Sure, I get the context and setting of the story itself is ‚alternative‘, but the film itself is done in a rather standard way. It’s a mostly lovely piece of film, partly witty, quirky and funny, partly cheesy, but at no time does it feel or behave unexpected.

My Sassy Girl

I watched the film in Korean with English subtitles, so I spent quite a bit of time reading this one. There’s also a Hollywood version, so some of you might know it. The first half is quirky and funny, but the second half of the movie is just incredibly cheesy. Incredible.

The Grudge

I’ve seen this one before, both in the US and the Japanese version but was up for seeing it again as I recalled it being scary as hell. I was slightly less disturbing this time, but I had the feeling that the story was way more coherent last time I watched it. Strange.

Dude Where’s My Car?

Yeah, I’ve never seen that one before. Now I did. A concept movie, ridiculously stupid, in a sometimes good way. Should probably be watched again on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a pint, or 7.