Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

My Favorite Themes - Part XII

Score: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events by Thomas Newman (The Shawshank Redemption)

About the film: After losing their home in a fire, the Baudelaire children end up with a new guardian: actor Count Olaf (Jim Carrey), who is less interested in their well-being than he is in the fortune they are to inherit. This is a lavish and entertaining adaptation of the popular books. Though Carrey Carreys it up a bit too much as Olaf, he is an effective villain, ably matched by Emily Browning, Liam Aiken and Kara & Shelby Hoffman as the children.

Title: “Count Olaf”. The string and percussion melody, featured in “Chez Olaf” and “Verisimilitude”, seems a perfect match for the character’s duplicitous manner. The violin playing in the latter track is particularly enjoyable.

Other themes of interest: This is one of those scores that’s more atmospheric than thematic. However, I was able to pick out a few motifs: two piano melodies, one representing loneliness (“One Last Look”, “The Baudelaire Orphans”) and the other showing the children a glimmer of hope in their situation (“Resilience”, “The Letter that Never Came”); a sort-of ‘danger motif’ on strings leading to a James Horner-like horn swell (“Curious Feeling of Falling”, “Hurricane Herman”); a music box theme for the family that once was (“VFD”); a nervous, chirpy tune for Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep) in “Interlude With Sailboat”; a flute and plinking string melody for the children themselves (“The Bad Beginning”, “Lachrymose Ferry”); a somewhat bouncy melody that seems to suggest moving on to a different chapter of life (“The Reptile Room”, “The Wide Window”). Okay, so maybe it’s more than a few.

Availability: Released on Sony Classical, it should still be readily available.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Cause celebre?!

Another day, another animated feature. Today brings us Sony's Open Season, about a bear (voiced by Martin Lawrence) and a "half-doe, half-buck" (voiced by Ashton Kutcher) trying to fend off hunters in the forest. Very nearly sounds like a pitch meeting, doesn't it? Personally, I'm not terribly interested in this film. It's not that it looks bad. It's just...I don't really care. However, it does serve an interesting purpose: it allows me an opportunity to riff on animated films of the present.

For an animated feature to be made in today's climate, the following things are apparently needed:

1) A voice cast full to bursting with the biggest names in showbiz. Granted, a lot of these people are used to acting with expressions, body language and the occasional accent, but are their voices capable enough? Who cares? It's not like people go to see these movies for their voice work. As long as there are big names in the cast, that can make up for any other flaws. If worse comes to worse, you can always design the characters to look like the people voicing them.

2) Pop culture references. After all, who really needs character and situational humor when you can just throw in references to things that the characters couldn't possibly know?

3) Animals and various non-ambulatory things as characters. Humans as characters in an animated feature? Passe! Who needs people carrying on conversations when you have a baseball and a '78 Pinto chatting away? You've got kids to market to, you know?

4) Three letters: CGI. Ink and paint? The stuff of cave paintings! Look to the future, where computers can and will become the dominant technology. In fact, one could say that it already has.

5) A strong story, with heart, warmth...oops. How'd that get in there?

Okay, so maybe I'm being a bit facetious, but you look at some of the animated features of the last few years and, well, they do fit this criteria. I'm not saying that these things can't work. It's just that you have to be smart about it. Pixar is too obvious an example of a studio smart about this, so I won't offer anything further.

Dreamworks, on the other hand...well, their stuff needs to be more like Shrek or The Road to El Dorado (hands down, their best work) and less like...Shrek 2 and Shark Tale, which were more lazy than terrible, but still...

It was a joy seeing a traditionally animated feature this year, and while Curious George was a little too geared toward kids, it still made for an entertaining feature.

Out of all the features to come out this year, the best had to be Sony's Monster House, which featured a cast of humans (!), character humor and a good story.

Here's hoping for some changes in the animation field.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Lights out.

No, really. For, about a minute, the lights cut out. Maybe a fuse blew or maybe the rain outside was stronger than I thought, but the only source of light I had...was my computer screen. Here I still am on my bed, listening to my "Invader ZIM" music CD - which a) you need to acquire if the opportunity ever arises and b) I'll post a review for, sooner or later - delivering this news to you.

Sleep tight.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

'F' is for foundling.

A woman (played by a multiple Oscar nominee who essayed the role of FBI agent Clarice Starling) is grieving over a loss. If that weren't bad enough, her child disappears, seemingly into thin air. On top of that, everyone around her is convinced that she never had a child. To the strains of unsettling James Horner music, she searches desperately for her child, refusing to believe what she's being told.

Yep, that's pretty much the plot of The Forgotten. No, wait, that was Flightplan, wasn't it? Nah. I'm quite sure that it was The Flightplan was that film...right?

Actually, it was both The Forgotten and Flightplan. I mention this seemingly useless bit of cinematic trivia because both films were released on this, the fourth Friday in September, last year and the year before.

In the future, I'll have much more to say about their overwhelming similiarities and surprising differences. It's not like something like this can be let go.

Friday, September 22, 2006's not that hard.

In the last year or so, one of my main addictions has become the puzzle game Sudoku. Basically, it's a matter of putting the numbers 1 to 9 in different squares in different boxes, forming lines where none of the numbers repeat from top to bottom or left to right.

I had attempted to post my own tutorial earlier this year, but the crappy computer I used to frequent crashed on me.

This site offers up pretty much what I was going for.

Hurrah for less work for me to do.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Moichandising! Moichandising!"

"Where the real money from the movie is made!" -
Yogurt (Mel Brooks)

According to Variety, Spaceballs is being turned into an animated series.

As much as I love Spaceballs (even co-opting the name Lonestarr for many a website), I'm unsure how to react to this. I mean, once the stigma of 'OMG! One of my fave movies is becoming a cartoon!!' wears off, one remembers that the film was basically a parody of Star Wars. Worst case scenario, the show is remake after remake of the film (as with Disney's hugely disappointing "The Emperor's New School"), but there was a rich gallery of characters in the film (albeit borrowed from previous characters) and the writing will be supervised by the film's co-writer, Thomas Meehan, so maybe it'll turn out fine.

Incidentally, this title's entry also acts as a reminder (to me and others) that John Morris's fine score will be released by the really cool guys and gals at La La Land Records in a matter of weeks.

Looks like the Schwartz is with me, after all.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Three years sober.

One of my many hobbies is writing fan fictions. To commemorate the third anniversary of the first story I ever wrote, I would like to expose to you, the blog-reading public, my complete works.

A lot of people usually write stories that are continuations of movies, television shows, books and comics. I mainly gravitate toward cartoons, as reader and writer. The stories I’ve written seldom veer away from a few fandoms: “Hey Arnold!” (HA!), “Kim Possible” (KP), “Danny Phantom” (DP) and “The Fairly Oddparents” (FOP). Fanfiction represents, to me, a chance to hone my writing skills and seek some entertainment. I like to think I’ve gotten better over time. The fact that I’ve stopped using headings for each scene change (a side-effect of my burgeoning career as a screenwriter) is such an example.

Here are my fan fictions, plus a little comment on each:

“Love Hurts (no, really!)” (HA!; Arnold is still torn between Helga, now a writer, and Lila, an aspiring actress.) - My first ever story. Though I made an outline, as I did for all of my multi-chapter stories, this had kind of a ‘made up as I went along’ feel, especially when you consider the latter half.

“The 40th Night” (40 Days and 40 Nights) - I f**king hate the next-to-last scene of this movie; hateful, pointless, disgusting. It ruined what could have been a passable youth sex comedy. This serves as a good example of a not-bad piece of advice: “When in doubt, make stuff up.”

“Love Probably” (HA!; Helga gets married, and the groom isn’t Arnold.) - Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’ve never liked the pairing. I have my reasons. Having her go toe to toe with another guy, especially one willing to put up with her attitude was interesting, and the ending, in my opinion, is one of my proudest moments as a fanfic writer.

“Behind the Door” (KP; College roommates Kim and Bonnie find surprising comfort one night.) - My first and only lemon. It’s pretty good, though I can’t help but wonder if I made it dirty enough. Now, I’m not the type to hold chapters hostage if I don’t get reviews, but if someone were to contact me directly about a follow-up…well, we’ll see.

“Hearts Afire” (KP; Only days before the school dance, the students of Middleton High find themselves in various romantic entanglements.) - I love ensemble stories, so the idea of writing one was a joy. Also, I liked running through various stages of love, adding to the variety.

“Someone to Watch Over Me” (DP; Sam has a terrible nightmare, but there is hope to stop it.) Yes, this one-shot is perfectly indistinguishable from the thousands of fluffy D/S stories at the site, but it means much to me, as it is my one and only songfic and the rare story of mine inspired by a picture, as opposed to the other way around.

“Life Goes On” (FOP; Timmy and Tootie are, at last, a couple, but a pair of adversaries won’t let them be.) - My first “Fairly Oddparents” story and one of my overall best. Re-writing these characters to be recognizably human is always fun, almost like they were my own.

“One Girl’s Musings” (KP; Tara tells all about the one that got away.) - A lot of the show’s fans - read: all of them - support Kim/Ron. I am among them, but I also feel that a great opportunity was squandered by casting off the possibility of Ron/Tara. I imagine that she felt sad about this. Hell, if someone you loved didn’t know you loved them, wouldn’t you be?

“From A to Z” (KP; Zita reflects on her life and friendships.) - In the shuffle of the third season, it’s like Zita, of “Grudge Match”, was swept under the rug, which is unfair. I just wanted to see her side of the aborted relationship between her and Ron.

“Wanna Play?” (KP; A young girl has trouble fitting in on the first day of kindergarten.) - One of those stories inspired by someone else’s picture. This indelible image cried out for some kind of literary accompaniment.

“Cutter’s Way” (KP; A real estate agent is kidnapped and forced to perform an assassination, leaving her son - Josh - looking for answers.) - Almost no one at the site is willing to develop Josh beyond the roadblock to Kim/Ron. I enjoyed having carte blanche on developing him and his family.

“All of Me” (FOP; Tim’s serene family life is interrupted by an intruder…one he can’t see.) - I liked doing a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ story with Tim. Bringing back Cosmo and Wanda for his kids was interesting, as well (and much more organic than the ending of “Channel Chasers”).

“Sister Act” (KP; Bonnie is confronted by her sisters, who have something to tell her.) - The episode “Bonding” was a puzzler. It actually asked me to feel sorry for the one-dimensional girl, which was a mistake. That it did so using characters with even less dimensions made for an even worse mistake. This is just my opinion, of course, but one can’t deny the hint of truth.

“Last Dance” (DP; After the events of “Parental Bonding”, this young man could use a dance.) - Still my fave episode, and the ending, to me at least, could have been built upon.

“Anything is Possible” (KP; Simply put, what if, in “Sink or Swim”, Ron didn’t make it back to the cheer squad in time to avert their mutations?) - My second fave episode, but I couldn’t help but wonder ‘what if?’. I really enjoyed going over the top with the wackiness and risqué business. (Note: the sadly short-lived Adult Swim acquisition “Shin-Chan” very much reminds me of what I did here…but those guys went even further with it, God bless them.)

“Blushin’ Roulette” (KP; Her life in danger due to one of Drakken’s schemes, Kim decides to stay at home, little dreaming that this doctor makes house calls.) - The episode “Blush” is pretty decent…then Kim accepts Josh’s offer to go out and, like a contact lens in a fog, it lost me. There is great potential and imagination in the idea of Kim disappearing bit by bit. Sadly, on the episode, this was not to be. However, I think my story does a pretty good job. (Note: I was still on a kick after writing “Anything…”, so watch for some…naughty bits.)

“Christmas Rush” (FOP; Having to play ‘Secret Santa’ for Tootie, Timmy finds out what she wants for Christmas.) - Somehow, I think this would’ve made for a better holiday episode than what got made. It’s clever, funny and touching - everything you could want for the season.

“Some of a Batch” (FOP; An assortment of stories, some funny, some touching and some…strange.) - I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of these stories. It’s pretty neat creating a different universe every month.

“Tricksy” (FOP; Feeling that ‘the only way to win Timmy's heart is if I could be like Trixie Tang’, Tootie wishes to be like the rich girl.) - Very, very loosely based on a piece of fanart I encountered at DeviantArt. Think of it as “Fairly OddPersona“ (an Ingmar Bergman film). I think that this story, much like “Christmas Rush”, could’ve been an actual episode of the show…that is if the writers hadn’t exhausted the single brain cell between them. Not only did fill the story with humor and heart, but I also got to indulge my love of transformations.

“A Hole in the Head” (FOP; Inexplicable nightmares are another thing that a sullen, 26-year-old Timothy Turner deals with while working at a mental institution.) - Looking back, I had a lot of fun mining my emotional pain for a fanfic. This marks another of those rare times writing from first person POV. Hell, that’s how I view my life sometimes, so it kind of fits.

“I’ve Got a Secret” (DP; After a close encounter with Jazz, Tucker can’t get her out of his mind.) - This couple may never be recognized on the show (and I thank Heaven for that), but it is quite attractive and a number of talented writers have made much of it. Besides, the geeky Black dude ending up with the cute, brainy redhead…what’s not to love?

“Turnerabout” (FOP; A trip to the museum gives Timmy and Tootie new outlooks on life.) - Now, I’m still in the midst of writing this, but I think it’s shaping out pretty good. See for yourself.

I do hope that more people read these. I know I’m good, but I can’t be sure if others don’t tell me.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"They're called ruins, Ed."

I came across one of the most hilarious reviews. It tears down the notorious 'flop' Hudson Hawk. Granted, the film is chock full of logic holes and overripe acting, but damned if that's not part of why I love it so.

Someday, I'll post my own thoughts defending it, but for now, enjoy.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ajax was right.

From the first episode of "Duckman" entitled, "I, Duckman", the following exchange occured:

Ajax: "I had a thought."
Charles: "Did it hurt?"
Mambo: "First one's always the most painful."
Ajax: "Is it possible to love a sandwich so much, you don't want to eat it, because then it would be gone?"

I mention this because of the Turkey Bacon Guacamole sub I had today at Quiznos. It was close to perfect: the flavor, the way the ingredients were packed into the bread, yet they looked as if they would fall out of it at any moment (kind of like a well-endowed woman in a too-small halter top; you want to embrace it, but the consequences cross your mind all too quickly...but I'm getting off the subject). If you're ever in Quiznos, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Who doesn't love cartoons?

There are a number of posts in the coming weeks about my feelings about cartoons and certain facets.

Hey, not everything can be about mice, can it?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"So long, you little rat bastard."

The mouse was caught. Same way as last time, same friggin' place.

I may have had to rush part way down the street at night and dump it in the sewer, but the deed is done. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"Nostradamus didn't see this coming!"

I saw not one, but two mice (or it may have been the same one; perhaps to be optimistic, I'll entertain this theory) skitter into my room.

God only knows what will happen now. Alive or dead, I just want them gone.

Monday, September 04, 2006

"You know, I almost feel sorry for the little fella. Almost!"

I was surfing the net as usual, when I hear this...squeaking from outside. I ignore it for a bit. My keyboard does that, sometimes. I stop for a moment...and there it is again. I look outside where one of the sticky traps is set, and there is a little mouse. I kind of had these delusions of keeping it as a pet, but instead, I alerted my father. He told me to put it in a bag and toss it out, trap and all. I had to act fast; there was a lot of fight in the little guy.

The mouse is gone...but I can't help but wonder if there was more than one of them. Perhaps I'll find out the hard way, but for now, peace.

Winging it.

Who'd have thought that a throw-away gag in a half-assed comedy would lead to something of substance?

The half-assed comedy was Osmosis Jones, which is really worth watching for its animated parts. The throw-away gag was that the main character in the live-action bits, Frank (Bill Murray), wanted to go to the Chicken Wing Festival in Buffalo.

Strangely enough, we hadn't had one at the time the film came out, but that didn't deter our citizens from launching one. I went there today, in the rain. I had started out going to a restaurant for breakfast. Had a pretty good omelet. I wasn't going to go, but since my parents figured I was, I thought, why not?

Truth be told, I was there more out of curiosity than out of my love of chicken wings. They're tasty, but not something I'd want to eat all the time. Overall, it's a good festival, but it's no Taste of Buffalo.

Walking home, I felt a little tired. As I mentioned, I've been putting on some weight. I didn't want it to get to me...but it has. Part of it is because of a story I read the other day. Now, I'm not saying that a lot of it could happen to me, but it did get under my skin like few stories have. In spite of my contempt for the elderly, I do want to have a long life with someone who I truly care for and who cares for me. I've already had one heart attack, which is one more than I need. If I can lose these extra pounds, I'd be really happy.

Oh, and I found a really neat soundtrack site today. Later.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

"A new kind of family."

Yeah. The kind that gives you silence and the occasional beating instead of anything remotely resembling love.

So, I'm checking the TV listings like I religiously do every day and I happen across ABC Family's line-up. Apparently when they gave up Jetix (now exclusively on Toon Disney), that meant giving up on animation completely. This reminds me of when NBC gave up airing Saturday morning cartoons nearly a decade ago. The big difference is that the NBC line-up wasn't particularly special. ABC Family, on the other hand, is owned by Disney, which (to my understanding) also owns the Saban and Fox Kids programming. So instead of dipping into a vast reservoir of quality programming (and Power Rangers), exposing these fine shows to new generations of viewers, we get even more re-runs of "Dukes of Hazzard" and "Full House". Pussies.