Dark Water

DVD Cover

I’m not yet sure how I really feel about this movie. I want to like it more than I do considering the cast and the cinematography. Certainly it has some very chilling moments and I understand that it is a “horror” film more in the vein of Polanski or Hitchcock, but there just seems something missing. Despite the intentions of the writer and director to create a character driven ghost story as a metaphor of the human psyche, we really don’t get to know the characters well enough. We don’t dive deep enough into the desires of Dahlia (Jennifer Connelly), Ceci (Ariel Glade), or Jeff Platzer (Tim Roth) for us to really make a connection.

Spoiler Alert

Really, don’t read the rest of this entry if you don’t want to know about the ending of this film

I have no problem with unhappy or complex endings in movies. Yet there was something about Dahlia’s death that rang false to me, as well as Ceci’s complete lack of traumatic breakdown after being nearly drowned by a ghost and watching her mother die from supernatural causes. (For those who might argue the possibility that there was no ghost and it was all in Dahlia’s mind, the film contradicts this several times, most specifically by showing us, from Ceci’s POV, Natasha in the bathtub.) Don’t get me wrong, I think Jennifer Connelly’s performance was subtle, layered and complex. Perhaps my issue is with the ambiguity of her decision to die as a way to keep Ceci alive. Or perhaps I just really wanted a happy ending for the film and Dahlia’s death disrupted my own desire for the film.

I’m curious about the original film (Honogurai mizu no soko kara) and the book by K√?ji Suzuki (who also wrote the novel that Ringu was based on), and would particularly love comments from those who have seen or read the source material.

I have to admit, despite my reservations, the film definitely stayed with me for a couple of days which is a good sign for the power of a movie. I would recommend the movie for the performances and the mis en scene–and for a good scare here and there!

Cafe Press

I have put up some t-shirts over at TheLiminalShop at CafePress. I added a banner to the sidebar as well, so you can always wander into the store and check out the merch. I have some further ideas for t-shirts and other product that I will be adding to my inventory over the next couple of weeks.

I’ve kept the mark-up to only $1 or $2, so I don’t expect to get rich, but they might make a great gift for that special someone. 😉

Enjoy…

Doctor Who

I can’t believe that it has been over a year since Doctor Who has returned to television and I haven’t said one word about it on my blog. It has been like an old friend returning after a long absence. I can remember as a child sitting in front of my grandparents old Magnavox Stereo Theater console television – you know, the old fashioned “entertainment centers” with a record player and radio on one side, the whole thing encased in wood and probably weighed as much as a Mini Cooper. When you turned it off, it would quickly shrink down to a point of light in the center of the screen that would hang there, glowing for what felt like minutes. Like it was holding its breath. Like it was reluctant to go to sleep. Like it was, somehow, alive. Then it would wink out. I would sit in front of the television, cross-legged, or sometimes lay on my stomach with my chin in my hands and become lost in time and space with my doctor, the forth: Tom Baker. His scarf and anti-authoritarian glee, his poetry and his foolishness, his bravery and his heroism that were somehow so casual and accessible.

When I moved to Berkeley and found out that the PBS stations carried the show I was so happy – I hadn’t been able to watch the show regularly for at least five or more years. Every Saturday (or was it Friday) I would watch the show, usually making a bit of a ritual of it by getting something fun to snack on and maybe a good beer or two. As they showed a story-line every week and had a good number of the early Doctor’s I had never seen before, it brought me back to a younger time, a time before I had lost myself to the world, before I had come into contact with my “darker” sides and habits and thought-patterns.

Maryland also aired the show, so I was able to watch and tape it for the three years I lived there. After the first year or so, I stopped watching religiously, unless it was either Sylvestor McCoy or a particularly good Tom Baker episode. No matter how often I hear the theme music, to this day I still feel that seven year old inside me leap for joy and excitement. Dave White is probably the only person I’m close to who is a bigger fan than I am and I’m really glad we were both at VCU last year when the new series started, because having another fan to watch them made the experience all the more enjoyable. Joya enjoys the new episodes (which is great and I love that we can watch it together), but she didn’t grow up with it and there is something inaccessible to her about my feelings regarding the show, something only those of us who grew up with the Doctor can feel. We incorporated the characters and stories and universe into our imaginations with the depth and intensity that only children can bring to narrative and something of that incorporation remains in our minds and bodies. Or at least it does for me.

Chris Eccleston

Bless Russell T. Davies for making the new Doctor Who series happen. More importantly, bless him for making it so darn good! Yes, Chris Eccleston was on for too brief a time. His Doctor was goofy but with a core of sadness and pain that created such an intense performance. There was no question that the Doctor was back and that the show was in capable hands. From his first word “Run!” to his response to the question of who he is: “D’you know like we were saying, about the Earth revolving? It’s like when your a kid, the first time they tell you that the world’s turning and you just can’t quite believe it cause everything looks like its standing still. I can feel it. The turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles and hour and the entrie planet is hurtling round the sun at 67,000 miles an hour and I can feel it. We’re falling through sapce, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little world and if we let go… That’s who I am.”

Doctor Who has always been at its best when it makes us see our world in different ways, when it makes us question what it means to be human. Indeed, that is what makes good story-telling in any genre. Of course, as a seven-year-old boy, I was not thinking about the show on this level, instead I was caught up in the story and the characters, borne on wings of narrative and imagination, adventure and horror, humor and heart-quickening fear. Perhaps the reason I still love the show is much is that it wakes up the boy inside of the man I’ve become. When I sit down to watch it, there is a part of me that can analyze different elements of the production, such as the writing, the acting, the music, etc. But there is another part of me that is flying, in the TARDIS and with the Doctor, to a simpler time and a safer place.

Yet, it is not simply about returning to my youth. Russell T. Davies understands exactly what The Doctor in particular and heroes in general offer an audience. He has Rose speak the words that ring true with every fan of Doctor Who, or Buffy or any other story of a true Hero:

“But it was. It was a better life. I don’t mean all the traveling and aliens and seeing spaceships and things. That don’t matter. The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life… That you don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand, you say no. You have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away.”

We all have different heroes in our lives. Some are fictional, some are real. Some have adventures through time and space while some get up at 5:30 every morning to go teach English; some fight aliens or vampires while others fight drug or alcohol addictions day by day, hour by hour in the hope and promise that they will do right by their loved ones. Despite the infinite variety of heroism in this world, the underlying message that the hero embodies is exactly what Rose says: that you don’t give up, you don’t just let things happen and that you have the guts to do what is right. Am I more “heroic” now that Doctor Who is back on television? Probably not. It would be ridiculous to hold any television program up as an enabler of moral courage. However, in a landscape of public corruption, political dishonesty, rampant corporatism and the media’s endorsement of extreme individualism and greed, perhaps The Doctor provides just a tiny dose of medicine to a sickly world. If we all had the “guts to do what is right” just a little bit more often than we do, our world would indeed be a better place.

David Tennant & Billie Piper

Graduate School

Is over!!! At least for a while. For those of you who don’t know, I am taking a leave of absence from CUNY’s The Graduate Center as I pursue creative goals and figure out if I do indeed want a Ph.D. in Theatre.

Last night was my last class and I turned in my last paper for a good long while. Lest you think I’m not still a bit of an academic geek, I do plan on completing and submitting an article for publication in a theatre journal. Plans now include a staged reading of my play Massive Gravitational Objects and then further drafts of that; work toward a small, micro-budget film that I want to shoot next summer (more info on that as soon as I have a few details nailed down); a renewed focus on music and songwriting; finding a job that doesn’t suck too much; creation of a full website instead of just the blog as well as more regular and cohesive essays here on music, film, television, books, philosophy and politics.

It should be lots of fun!!

Misc.

I’ve read a good 800 or so pages of books in the last three days. WHHHEEEEE! Ask me about Augusto Boal and Theater of the Oppressed. Go on, ask me anything you want. Last night I went to Warsaw and saw Minus the Bear, and mewithoutYou (there were a couple of other bands performing, but I didn’t watch them). Saw a decent show and had great perogies as the club is in the Polish National Home of Greenpoint. More clubs should have freshly cooked food at the venue. Both bands were really good, very fun to watch and have music that I kind of wish I liked a bit more than I do. Don’t get me wrong, I like both bands, but find myself not entirely connecting to them. But they could certainly rock! And Minus the Bear is a tight band, very technically accomplished and very very precise, yet they somehow perform wild. It’s a fascinating dichotomy.

The lead singer of mewithoutYou reminded me of Jeff J. — not so much how he looked or sang, but how Jeff might peform if he were the lead singer of a band.

Other news… Joya’s show The Answer is Horse has been picked up for the Midtown International Theatre Festival; check out Noelle W’s entry for best new religion at WinneroftheWeek – neither of us had realized that we both were in the top ten until I mentioned I had placed second, and Andrea P. is going to be appearing in a One Act series at the Villagers Theatre in Somerset.

Coming soon… my CafePress store.