Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Praising Michael C. Hall

Recently, I have been watching a DVD set of Six Feet Under (I know, I know, I'm way behind on my quality TV watching...but a lot of such shows were unavailable to me until recently. Before now, I was only left with network TV, with my beloved Lost, House, and now-cancelled Pushing Daisies. Forgive me.). I'm only on season one so far, but I'm loving the fantastic blend of reality and surreality, dark humor and drama. This is coming straight off of watching the first two seasons of Dexter, which, by the way, is perhaps one of the greatest shows currently on TV, I have become amazed and enraptured by the wonderful Michael C. Hall. I first became aware of Hall through Dexter. I had always wanted to check out the show, but without a Showtime subscription, I was never able to watch it. However, in discovering the joys of watch instantly on Netflix, I decided to give the show a try. I finished the first two seasons within two weeks. The show, though incredibly well-written with a fantastic supporting cast, at it's heart is all about Dexter and, more specifically, Hall's masterfully charismatic performance. Hall nails exactly what you expect from a serial killer of Dexter's level: he's unbelievably likable, carrying an aura of innocence underscored by a sinister wickedness (or is it the other way around?). He's a CSI- more specifically, a blood spatter analyst- and a family man- his girlfriend's kids love him- and a gentleman, but when he kills he unleashes a viciousness that is surprisingly....relatable. In Dexter, the audience can feel the release of all the stresses and bottled emotions that we hide, and through his kills we get to live our own dark (metaphorical, I hope) fantasies. And Hall becomes that Everyman for us, and gives a performance that has the hallmark of all great performance: the line between character and actor disappears to the point that they are indistinguishable; the actor becomes the character. After watching Dexter, I decided to pick up Six Feet Under, where, I later discovered, Hall made his screen debut (this same research also resulted in my discovering that he is a Raleigh, North Carolina native and that he is a Ravenscroft graduate, a school that I have several friends at). His character in SFU, David Fischer, shares several characteristics with Dexter: he is tightly wound, with a lot of pint-up feelings in need of a release. He is also very business-oriented, this with a funeral home rather than killing (though the death theme seems to follow him), and he isn't exactly an expert at handling relationships. The major differences here, though, is that Dave is much more open about some of his feelings, and his big secret that he tries to hide from his loved ones is not that he's a serial killer, but that he is gay. And Hall takes that role on full-force. His portrayal of an older closeted gay man is brilliant, never relying on gay sterotypes. He's not a gay man; he's a man who happens to be gay. Though the show makes a big deal out of the fact that Dave is gay, Hall never plays it as if its too major of an issue; Dave is uncomfortable with certain people knowing, but he is comfortable with himself (to an extent) and with his boyfriends. It takes a true gift to bring such a layered gay character to such vibrant life, and Hall truly has that gift. For my last remark, I would like to say that I'm going to return to my Six Feet Under, pray that season 3 of Dexter will start streaming soon, and wonder why Hall's movie career has to start with a movie like Gamer, in which I'm sure he will be the only thing worth watching.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Intriguing...

I never noticed the change that this blog has taken since I made it. For future reference, this blog, which will be renamed from Nosce Te Ipsum, will most likely focus on my opinions of movies and/or TV, since I am an aspiring screenwriter and entertainment addict. There might be things about music and stage from time to time as well. Until next time.

Defining Films

Recently, I was on IMDb when I noticed one of their suggested links asked, "What is the defining movie of the 2000s?" I was intrigued, clicked the link, and taken to The Popcorn Trick's blog (http://thepopcorntrick.blogspot.com/). I am impressed by his selections and his process, but the films that he has chosen I would not call defining, just great. The truth of the matter is, its simply impossible to define an entire decade by a single movie. The 2000s, as well as any other period in which cinema has existed, require a vast catalog of movies in order to be defined due to the complexities of the world we live in. For one film to define an entire decade, it would need to be beloved worldwide, critically acclaimed worldwide, and address issues that affect every individual in the world. No film can accomplish all of this. Instead, every country that creates movies would have its own set of defining films that encompass its audience's life experiences. For example, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 would not speak as powerfully to an Italian audience as it did to American audiences, but it could be considered a defining film of the 2000s in America. Though some films do cover universal themes, these are usually timeless ideas: they don't define a single time period, but rather the entire human experience. Even when you narrow the selection down regionally, you would still need a large library of films to define the decade. The Dark Knight could be considered a defining film in that it is a perfect representation of Bush-era paranoia and fear, with a terrorist whom you never really know much about to a hero who utilizes wiretaps to track him in the name of the defense of the public. Wall-E not only carries an environmental message (in my opinion, its more effective than An Inconvenient Truth), but also criticizes our consumerist culture, all the more relevant as the economy falls as big corporations swell to their breaking point. The Lord of the Rings series (Return of the King in particular) examines numerous themes of hope, friendship, and good-vs.-evil, and could be considered defining in that it was the epic of the 2000s, beloved by critics and audiences alike. The 2000s was a decade in which gay rights became a prominant nationwide topic, and no film better captured the debate better than one that internalized it rather than externalized: Brokeback Mountain, which treated a homosexual relationship as if it were as natural and beautiful as a heterosexual one. The 2000s, as far as America is concerned, is a decade marked by tragedy, loss, and dread. It was a dark period, and Hollywood reflected this in many of the films that were made. In defining the decade through film, one cannot choose just one film, but rather a large selection of films that encompass the political climate, economic status, and pop culture of our time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Long-Awaited Next Post

It's been a long time since my last post now (nearly 8 months), and, to be perfectly honest, I don't really remember my last post, the one with the gajillion pictures (I feel almost certain that it was not me, but rather my girlfriend, who put it up). But I'm back. And I do hate the fact that I never finished my Oscar predictions. Having seen a lot of the nominated films now, I can say the following: -Yay Slumdog Millionaire! -Heath Ledger totally deserved his posthemous Oscar, though a tie with Robert Downey, Jr. would've been cool too. -Yay: Kate Winslet finally won an Oscar! Boo: It was for her dreadful role in the abysmal The Reader. In my opinion, she should have won back in 2004, when she was nominated for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but whatever.... -I'm really glad I got Clint Eastwood wrong in the Best Actor predictions in exchange for Richard Jenkins. Bummed that I was only three for five in Director and Picture, though. -I haven't seen Doubt (yet, its next in my Netflix queue though), but so far the Supporting Actress nominations I've seen have been....disappointing. Neither Penelope Cruz, nor Taraji P. Henson, nor Marisa Tomei really amazed me. They were good, just not great. -Foreign Language Film voters got it wrong. Again. -10 Best Picture nominees next year? I say great, as long as you pick 10 quality movies and not just commercial crap to boost ratings. That's about all I have for now. Until next time.