The End of a Short Era  

Posted by Alex Thompson

Over at EDAP I switched to Wordpress. I'm gonna do the same with this one. New site is http://theearlofessence.wordpress.com/

See you guys there.

I'm Sorry  

Posted by Alex Thompson in

It's been nearly a month! I'm sorry I've left you guys all alone here for almost a whole month. I know you need me every day and I just don't give you enough. I apologize profusely.

Since I am nearly done with the first half of the semester and have finally settled in, I'm gonna be updating this blog more regularly. I'm gonna have at least three posts here a week and you can get a daily fix over at EDAP if you really need it. So, get ready. I'm about to get even more awesome.

A New Way  

Posted by Alex Thompson in , , , , , , ,

Alright, it's that time again. I choose to make up a new rating device for my (Thursday)Friday writing. Here it is:


I’d like to talk with you today about something that is very dear to my heart. Ever since I saw Aladdin in the rinky-dink old theater near my house when I was four, I have been fascinated by the art of movies. The gen-pop thinks of movies only as entertainment and the people who are way into film think of them as art. I know both of these factions are wrong. Obviously, film is both art and entertainment. Every movie lies somewhere on the spectrum between the Mona Lisa and Dogs Playing Poker. No, that’s not right either. Let’s use the “horizontal” and “vertical” ideas from class to classify movies better. If entertainment value can be seen as a horizontal scale and the artistic nature as the vertical scale, every movie has a distinct x and y value (this is what happens when you take a former engineering major and turn him into an English major). If the x value is negative, the movie is no fun to watch, but if it’s positive you are gonna get some kind of pleasure out of it. If the y value is negative there is no art to be found, but if it’s positive you’ll see something original or perfectly executed. Allow me to give you some examples.

Recently, there has been a stint of what some people call “comedies” but I like to call “crap”. These are the Date Movie, Superhero Movie, Disaster Movie endless stream of ______ Movie “spoofs”. If I were to assign these films a coordinate on our art/film graph, they would have something like a (-100, -10000). Please take my word for it. I have seen them so you don’t have to.

Let’s now examine a good movie. Last year a French(ish) film called The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was released. It’s the story of the then editor-in-chief of Elle magazine who becomes paralyzed and can only move one of his eyeballs. The first fifteen or so minutes are shot from the point of view of that eye and it is breathtaking. There is a scene where his other eye must be stitched up and we see that from the POV of that eye and it is nerve-wracking. This movie is the perfect example of art and entertainment because not only is it technically marvelous, it is also a touching, funny story. There is a flashback to the main character shaving his father’s beard that made me cry. I would give The Diving Bell and The Butterfly a (80, 99) coordinate on my newly created scale.

Of course, there are films that are extremely well made but horrible to watch. The recently remade Funny Games is a perfect example of this phenomenon. It’s a story about a family on vacation who are basically kidnapped and tortured in their own house by two seemingly nice young men. This isn’t torture-porn of the Saw or Hostel variety, though. None of the violence is onscreen and the movie breaks the fourth wall several times. It is incredibly well made, but made to make you feel bad about wanting to watch movies that are entertaining because of their violence. There is no joy from watching the perfectly executed treatise on violence in movies, but you cannot deny that it is precisely planned to be that way. It would get about a (-50, 80) on the scale ‘o’ artertainment (I made that word up. I’m a regular Dr. Seuss).
I hope you have enjoyed your education. Now you know how to properly view films, or at least how to properly think about a film afterward.

The LHC and Super-Intelligent Rodent Creatures  

Posted by Alex Thompson in , , , , , ,


My latest Friday (Thursday) writing is about the LHC and what could have happened. Remember, this is for a class.

LHC

Guys That Lack Motor Skills(z)  

Posted by Alex Thompson in , , , , , , ,

It's another Friday (Thursday) writing. Here you go. It's not really fiction so I'm just gonna post it below:

Is there such a thing as being too cool for your own good? It’s a question that has been on my mind as we return to class. I see you, walking in with your hat with the sticker still on and your shirt and your clothes. Some say the clothes make the man but I say the man makes the clothes. Or at least sweatshop workers make the clothes for the man. That’s probably the closest to reality. Anyways, your hat with the stupid sticker. What does the sticker do? Does it signify how much you spent to look stupid? Does it show that you don’t have the motor skills to peel off a sticker? If that’s the case, doesn’t it also show that you shouldn’t be allowed in college?

There comes a time when we must all consider our place in life. You may think that comparing yourself to others is the worst way to do this, but I would say that, compared to you, I am a genius. If I had to place myself on the cool scale, I would put myself somewhere between the guy who wears girl jeans and the guy who wears the huge white tee-shirts. Funnily, I have seen both ends of the spectrum keep the sticker on their hats. Must have been a problem with schooling then. They were never taught how to hold on to stickers without having them stick to their fingers. Now they have stickophobia, a word I did not make up. Prove me wrong.

As previously established, there are two ends to the cool spectrum, neither of which is actually cool. The girl jeans guys (to be called from now to eternity Hipsters) and the big white shirt guys (to be called from now to eternity Guys With Big White Shirts On) are so opposite of each other that they are practically the same. You can see this phenomenon demonstrated in anything where there are two distinct sides of the same coin. The real question is whether the Democrats are Hipsters or Guys With Big White Shirts On.


The Man  

Posted by Alex Thompson in , , , , , ,

I'm back at school and that means back at writing. So here is my first Friday (or Thursday, I guess) post. I need to write one page on anything for one class every Friday. This one is a true-ish story. True in that it happened, -ish in that it happened in a slightly altered state.

I shouldn’t be afraid of this new school. All the same people are going to be there. Including him.


The Man

Top 20: Movies. Number 14  

Posted by Alex Thompson in , , , , , ,

Here is the first second showing by a director on my list. Confusicated yet?

Zodiac


This is one of the most underrated movies of last year (2007). It got no nominations at the Oscars and was poorly received at the box office. It is, however, a great movie by the great David Fincher. The movie focuses on cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his obsession with the Zodiac killer and his letters to San Francisco newspapers in the 1970's. At over two and a half hours long, it becomes a pretty in depth look at both the murders and the obsession that they caused.

Fincher is a director known for crafting beautiful films that also plumb emotional depths that aren't expected from the view that isn't in the know. I can't say that he has taken a wrong step (although I have not seen The Game) and his upcoming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (with returning collaborator Brad Pitt) looks to continue the stretch of outstanding movies.

Here is the Zodiac trailer (check out Robert Downey Jr.'s swanky threads!)


And a bonus! The Curious Case of Benjamin Button trailer: