Archives for posts with tag: TV

You know the question some people have to think long and hard about and others snap out an instant answer? The one that goes: If you could go back in time and have a conversation with anybody from the past, who would it be? I’m one of the snap it out people. Rainer Maria Rilke (though I will admit Nikola Tesla is a close second).

I first discovered Rilke’s poetry through the beautiful TV series Beauty and the Beast. The Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton one, not the CW one. That show made me fall in love with poetry. I’m not quite sure how Rilke’s distinctive, gorgeous, and not as accessible as many others poems struck such a cord with me that they rose above all others, but I’m grateful for the introduction to what has become a lifelong love for all things Rilke.

Yes, all things. In addition to his poetry that paints word pictures with its rhythm and lyrical descriptiveness, he also wrote equally lyrical prose. His book Letters to a Young Poet, in which he instructs and encourages a young friend, serves to do the same for me. There’s a particular line about creativity and the ability to write on command being different for different people and the way it must rise as sap in a tree (paraphrased, but the way I remember it many years after reading it), that resonated with me at a time when I struggled to fit into the molds of others with rigid ideas about how one must write. I felt that I had been “given permission” by my mentor from long ago to write the way my brain insisted was my way. That that made it THE way for me. Even still, when I rue the way I work, taking however much time my way needs to plot, and name characters, and order stories, the words “as sap in a tree” creep into my being, I relax, and go about my thing, my way. Even in a passing comment in correspondence, Rilke enhanced my own life, so, so many years after his death.

His death…. I read a story that he pricked his finger on a rose thorn, contracted blood poisoning, and died. What a tragic, yet romantic story. How fitting, though terrible, for a tragic, romantic poet.

This Brain Pickings article gives a taste of Letters to a Young Poet, and a flavor of Rilke himself, a man with such talent, such wordsmithery that he made me love the line “my feeling sinks, as if standing on fishes”.

Some visits with my mom in the nursing home are better than others. There are times when she’s a bit snarky, times when she feels bad, and times when she’s sound asleep and I don’t even get to talk to her. Then there are times like tonight.

As I walked in I saw that she was watching The MTV Movie Awards. She was doing well and we chatted about all kinds of things. I noticed that her gaze kept turning to the TV, even as my head swiveled periodically to see who was onscreen. So of course our conversation was interspersed with exclamations about celebrities, hairstyles, and ceremonywear. Even that most dire of antagonists named Alzheimer’s cannot make her forget her love of Hollywood.

She always loved to read about
movie stars. Back in her day the royalty of Old Hollywood reigned on the pages of myriad movie magazines and the ever evolving technology of television. I distinctly remember the moment when I pulled open the doors of a large cabinet under our dining room buffet as a child, and discovered the aging paper of her old magazines that were a record of her love for those old movies. Her sister, my Aunt Pearl from previous posts, had an old photo album with crumbly cutouts cannibalized from her own collection pasted in for posterity. The apparent genetic pull goes even further back and all the way to Hollywood itself. My grandfather’s niece moved “out there” and became an obscure part of Hollywood history as a stand in during Old Hollywood’s hey day. So my childhood was filled with references to movie stars, movies, and even family lore from The Golden Age of Hollywood.

I fell under the spell of Old Hollywood as well, from watching a TV channel that showed the old black and white gems late at night and on weekends. Such classics as It Happened One Night, Arsenic and Old Lace, Mrs. Minever, The Thin Man Series, Being Up Baby,  Manhattan Melodrama…and more than I can record or recall. They all went into the giant mental vat that became the origin of my urge to write screenplays, though it was a long time before I realized it. Little did I know as the kid who loves old movies that one day I’d write screenplays that do well in some cool screenwriting competitions.

I didn’t really put it all together until tonight, as my mom and I found a moment when we could both be together in the same time and place, through that fantasy world called Hollywood. It had never really occurred to me how deeply my life has always been connected to movie magic and people who love it, even lived it. It makes me feel as if every screenplay I write is part of my heritage. A heritage and history I’ve become a real part of, in ways so unexpected that tonight, suddenly, I feel awed by just how deeply my love of Hollywood runs through my veins.

If you’re a fan of The X-Files, the series’ best show runners, or both, you saw the headline of this New York Times article and the episode “Home” popped into your head. In a series full of stories ranging from creepy to scary to outright terrifying, Ma Peacock and her boys stand out as unforgettably horrifying. In a good way, as well as the stuff of nightmares residue watching it leaves on the back of your brain. The good way part is the storytelling that lies behind the masterful creepout.

Glen Morgan and James Wong intentionally wrote a scary story and unintentionally created a TV episode that became so notorious that it was banned. In this insightful, fascinating article/interview they tell their story behind that story. Filled with behind the scenes recollections and information, it’s a must read for X-Files fans.

This article is the most comprehensive I’ve seen about one of my favorite actors, Ben Whishaw. His place in global pop culture is firmly set with another turn as Q in the upcoming Bond outing, Spectre, but here people who only know him as Q can learn about the many roles he’s seemingly effortlessly made his own. There are bits about the private person Whishaw prefers to be as well. Every new piece of the intriguing puzzle that is perhaps the finest actor of his generation makes him more accessible, and ever more admirable.

This Variety article has some interesting insight from creator Julian Fellows on his feelings about the series and the possible future incarnations of Downton Abbey, as well as a really lovely one minute Season 6 teaser trailer that includes just about all the main cast.

I’ve found the current season of Hannibal strong and compelling and unsettling and frustrating. As a great admirer of Thomas Harris and his creations, I’ve found it tempting and difficult throughout the series to reconcile Harris’ vision with Bryan Fuller’s, though I know it’s best not to try.

The past couple of episodes in particular seemed to focus on shock value…violence for violence’s sake. The incongruous beauty of slow motion blood drips and Hannibal’s meal preparations all but replaced with Mason Verger’s visceral thirst for revenge and his sister and therapist’s subtly blatant affair didn’t sit well for me. Something I love about Thomas Harris’ writing is his fine touch with sophisticated violence. The TV series has always been sophisticated in a different way, with its violence both surreal and artistic. I feared all of that was being lost.

Then tonight the series fast forwarded itself three years. Events shifted drastically and it was as if the entire construct righted itself and came back into sharp focus. The Red Dragon was born.

And The Tooth Fairy, with his bloody murders and obsession with reflection, appeared. Finally we get to the book the series is based upon and so far I am not disappointed. Richard Armitage is emerging as a formidable opponent for Will, the FBI, and Hannibal’s great mind.

As an aside I now feel I know more about tattooing that I ever have before. Suffice it to say that after seeing the process so close up, it’s pretty amazing that the end result is often very beautiful.

While the past couple of weeks of Hannibal left me wondering what happened to this series I admire so much and diving deep into think-of-it-as-alternate-reality-Doctor-Lecter mode, the hour I just watched left me wanting more. I read somewhere that Bryan Fuller has said this season is the story he really wanted to tell. Going by the latest episode, I’ve decided it’s also a story I really want to see play out. I’m so sorry Hannibal has been cancelled, and I’m equally grateful the network is airing the final episodes. I hope it goes out with the same fascinating blend of beauty and horror it thrilled us with from the start.

Catching up on some movies again. I’ve heard so much about The Hunger Games that it almost seems like I’d already seen it. Once I had I thought it lived up to its hype, which is a difficult feat. Especially these days, with movies constantly trying to one up each other more than ever before. The glut of big bang franchises makes it ever harder to grab enough spotlight to stand out, entertain, and be memorable. The Hunger Games managed to hit all three.

My favorite thing about this movie was the way the simplistic lifestyle of the regular people was constantly thrown visually against the sleek, modern way of life of the government seat. Particularly during the fight to the death in the wilderness, and the way it would cut to the high tech behind the scenes machinations. That was one of the most shocking  juxtapositions of the haves and have nots I can remember seeing in moviedom. As well as the contrast of the Tributes fighting with blades, bows and arrows, and bludgeons, while the techies sat at their consoles gleefully sending in predatory beasts and finding new ways to pit Tributes against each other. Add in the giant screens the folks back home were glued to throughout, and you have a crazy, relentless, brutal and primal version of The Truman Show, as a peripheral plot.

Some of the violence was shocking, edging into The Lord of the Flies territory. I thought it was very realistic. Take anybody, even children…perhaps especially children…and give them no choice but to fight, little hope of survival, and the promise of great spoils for the victor, and the flight or fight adrenaline rush becomes the driving force of their existence. On some level as well the celebrity status attainable by the victor would be an almost irresistible goal.

Enter Katniss Everdeen. A young girl who impulsively takes the place of her little sister. How unlikely is that? About as unlikely as her progress through the game using her wits, her courage, and her compassion, unlike her tooth and nail opponents. However unlikely, that too is realistic. In most groups of even the most down trodden, forced into ruthless brutality, desperate people, there lurks a hero. It would be easy to dismiss Katniss as a fictional device, but it happens in real life enough to make us proud to be human beings. The funny thing is that true heroes don’t usually set out some day intending to achieve something amazing. They fall into situations that lead them to rise above the circumstances… rise even above themselves.

That Katniss also managed to outsmart the system was the coolest part. Unlikely? Maybe. One James T. Kirk set an impressive precedent, though. That Katniss Everdeen Kobayashi Marued the Hunger Games a la  our beloved captain made her a hero for the ages. Okay, so maybe my enjoyment of the movie  skewed a bit Trekward. At least I didn’t place mental odds on who the Redshirts were. I have actual Star Trek movies for that.

The Hunger Games (2012) Official Movie Trailer

Kobayashi Maru