Monday, July 4, 2011

Time To Rant About The Best Show You're Not Watching...


Yes, this is me Dave Voigt updating my long neglected blog. I am trying to get over the mental block that every blog post needs to be an epic and insightful and just get out of my own head and rant. Writing on Examiner.com doesn’t always allow for that, and as I sit here watching episodes of my favorite television show on Netflix for the umpteenth time it dawns on me. Just because I’m watching it, doesn’t necessarily mean you are. It’s time to enroll at Greendale for the antics of the gang at Community.

Community centers on Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), a disbarred lawyer going to school for the first time after his bachelor's degree is revealed as fabricated. The series focuses on the experiences of Jeff and the study group he accidentally forms while pursuing Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), a student trying to get her life back on track. The other members of Jeff's study group include Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase), a millionaire on a late in life voyage of self discovery; Annie Edison (Alison Brie), a young straight-laced student and former prescription drug addict; Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), a former high school star quarterback; Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), a single mother and vocal Christian going to school to jumpstart her brownie business; and Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), a pop-culture obsessed film student.

Best known previously for a writing credit on “Monster House”; the premise of Community was based on Harmon's real-life experiences. In an attempt to save his relationship with his then-girlfriend, he enrolled in Glendale Community College northeast of Los Angeles, where they would take Spanish together. Harmon got involved in a study group and, somewhat against his own instincts, became closely connected to the group of people with whom he had very little in common. "...I was in this group with these knuckleheads and I started really liking them," he explains, "even though they had nothing to do with the film industry and I had nothing to gain from them and nothing to offer them."With this as the background, Harmon wrote the show with a main character largely based on himself. He had, like Jeff, been self-centered and independent to the extreme before he realized the value of connecting with other people.

Hard to believe that such a genuine and emotionally accessible TV show could have you rolling in the aisles. Chevy Chase in the role of Pierce is perhaps the post pathetic and yet most hilarious character on television. Leaning heavily on meta-humor and pop culture reference this show has eclipsed 30 Rock as the wittiest perhaps the most well written show on Network Television.

In a world where television, movies and any sort of entertainment can be consumed on demand, I simply ask you to take a half hour every Thursday at 8PM to watch Community, because as we watch waiting for the third season to premiere this fall; the greatest crime we could perpetrate against modern television would be to let this show get cancelled, and if we don’t watch it at its allotted timeslot that’s exactly what will happen.

Friday, February 25, 2011

How "High-Definition" and "Netflix" beat me into submission...



For years I worked in the video postproduction/DVD industry, so I’ve probably forgotten more about video compression/broadcast video and the technical specs of DVD/Blu-Ray and streaming video then most people in the general public know or are even aware of. Blu-Ray came out, and yes I fully admit it was better, but the price to quality upgrade ratio was unimpressive, DVD to Blu-Ray WAS NOT VHS to DVD. As people were screaming from the mountain top, to ditch their DVD’s and upgrade, I stood pat.

High-Definition Television and Televisions began to proliferate more and more into the market and people would scream from the mountain tops to replace everything but I stood pat. Downloads and streaming became popular, “The Disc business is dead!” everyone said, but I stood pat all the while knowing I would eventually have to make the switch.

This February I got a letter from Bell Canada (My Internet and TV provider), that my current service was being discontinued as the technology was obsolete, the universe required I get to upgrading.

Bell Fibe TV offered a fantastic deal on a PVR /HD receiver along with their service and I doubled my internet cap to accommodate my new Blu-Ray player with built in Netflix connectivity. The prices are now at an all time low and I’ve officially made the switch.

The Netflix service is simply fantastic, granted its selection of new releases is to put it mildly…awful, but for some television and older movies it’s just great. On standard def streaming there is some slight video pixilation and break up, but for $7.99 nobody in their right mind will complain. High def streaming certainly does cut down on the break up, but being mindful of your internet cap, along with turning off HD streaming on your Netflix account settings, should keep most reasonable people safe from over billing.

It is certainly nice to have access to the improved pictures that HD television offers, but it’s something that could be lived without, at least until every broadcasting channel out there all go to High-Def and there is some sort of conformity on our (cable) airwaves.

I could go rant about the threats of UBB based billing, the general gauging that the service providers participate in and what the CRTC should and should not be doing, but much more knowledgeable people on the subject have produced much better reading material, so I will digress.

To those who think the disc business is dead, in my humble opinion you are wrong. With the variety of delivery systems that are out there to consume our various media sources it’s easy to jump on that bandwagon. I submit to you two simple points.

a. The optical disc, be it CD, DVD or Blu-Ray will be the LAST physical format.
b. The back catalogue physical media business is probably dead.

There will always be a percentage of the marketplace that wants to have a physical copy of whatever entertainment they are consuming, but for older titles(and especially with Film/TV) a streaming service will ultimately be accepted by the masses.

Our new world of entertainment consumption does not have one delivery medium anymore, it has several. Nobody needs to replace anything, but everyone needs to access these delivery systems in order to catch up with the technology that often leaves a fair percentage of the population behind.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Even As The Academy Gets It Right...they still get it wrong


As we enter the 2011 Academy Award season, every professional pundit to film fan across the land will be adding there two cents to this year’s Oscar debate and while I personally tend to take the handing out of these awards as a pseudo-political farce that Hollywood engages in each year and I am ultimately no different from anyone else and I will be throwing my opinion into the wind as well, but at least in my humble opinion the nomination is the award, the actual statue is B.S.

I could go on for hours about the categories (and probably will) but I’d like to bring two specific things to light.

Winters Bone with nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture has to be a huge feather in the cap for everyone involved in this fantastic film that began its journey at Sundance and is now ending at the biggest award show of them all. It probably won’t win anything but it always makes me happy when the little movie that could…does.

On the flipside of that Christopher Nolan’s mind bending dream of the world of Inception did get nominated for 8 Academy Awards(tied for 2nd most with The Social Network and behind the 12 of The King’s Speech). Those 8 nods are certainly a fine achievement, but how in the BLUE HELL did Chris Nolan not get a nod for best director! To me this smells like a bit of jealousy from the academy, since they don’t all get $160 million to make their vanity projects and make $825 million worldwide(before home video) when doing them. I’m sure the accolades would be nice for him, but making gobs and gobs of money doing what he loves is a pretty good runner-up prize.

Check out the links on the side to read my reviews on examiner.com, and I’m sure I’ll see you all as our asses go numb, watching the 83rd Annual Academy Awards.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Golden Globes: I'm done...



It was the 68th Annual Golden Globes tonight, and as a general rule these awards tend to be the main barometer for the Oscars when it comes to handing out the film awards for that year. Nobody undeserving won, but when it comes down to it, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is more or less a joke...and every celebrity in that room knows it.

It's a party thrown for the Brangelina's of the world where they basically get paid to show up, eat and drink and catch up with one another and pat each other on the back for making movies. It's a roast hosted by a man who has enought money that he simply doesn't care about the system, and will make fun of it while they pay him.

I love the arts, I always have and I always will but this is basically a televised party, and it's gotten boring. We as indviduals don't go to the same party all the time, you've got to mix it up and it would be nice if the HFSP would start to take this as seriously as the bulk of the viewing does.

Since this probably won't happen, all I can really say is that I'm out. You are now my professional baseball, I'll catch the highlights but I have no desire to watch the game any more.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Two Sides of I'm Still Here: Probably the worst movie of 2010


In a shock heard around the entertainment world in October 2008, Joaquin Phoenix announced his retirement from the acting world, brother-in-law Casey Affleck was there filming it all as he attempted to transition into a career in hip-hop which ultimately turned into a documentary about a star and his nervous breakdown which lasted nearly a year. In September 2010 upon the film’s release we find out what we had all suspected that it was all bullshit.

One could make the argument that this was a masterstroke in filmmaking, working the 24 hour news cycle in the media and the very Hollywood system itself in believing this farce and turning into a cunning social comment on the very system that Phoenix and Affleck make a living on…or it was just a couple of assholes running around doing whatever the hell they wanted. 2 talented actors got bored, got high and wanted to make their own version of Borat, Bruno etc, and is usually the case it was only funny in small doses.

There incessant insider references about the Hollywood would befuddle someone who works in that industry (it did for me) and the whole project came off like a vanity jerk off session, spitting in the face of an industry that made them. A 5-10 minute skit of Phoenix’s meta-satire riffs could have been funny, hell that’s what “Funny or Die” is for, but it just got stretched way too far.
I hope…no I pray that what passes for a mockumentary these days gets a serious upgrade, because this type of movie runs the risk of committing the worst crime in art, it’ll get played out and boring.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Perhaps the most brilliant and disturbing movie I've ever seen...



Danish director Lars Von Trier, has done some pretty weird and emotionally evocative stuff over the years, The Kingdom mini-series, Breaking The Waves, Dancer In The Dark, Europa, Dogville et others, but his latest quite simply tops them all.

Antichrist debuted at Cannes in 2009, with critical acclaim but also with some shock and awe due to it's explicit sexuality and moments of graphic violence. I wont bore any of you with a plot summary that can easily be found elsewhere(or in the trailer link below), but I am compelled to tell you, the avid readers of this blog that I have never found a piece of film so compelling, yet so uncomfortable to watch all at the same time.

This is why films(dare I say art) is made to challenge, to provoke, to spark any and all kind of observations and discussion about what ever we please.

You might not like this film once you watch it, but I guarantee you will talk about it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hw03QayJ2fU

Cheers,
DRV

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Retro Review: Jekyll


4.5 out of 5 stars

The North American television viewer suffers the disadvantage of not always having access to the finer small screen events from across the pond. The art of the television mini-series hasn’t been properly displayed since the 1980’s when we were treated to such sprawling epics like Shogun, The Thorn Birds & Roots. Thankfully our friends at the BBC still know how to get the job done.
Having first aired in 2007, Jekyll is the story of Dr. Tom Jackman a clinical psychiatrist with a dark secret. He is the only surviving member of a family whose bloodline can be traced all the way back to the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Tom Jackman is a mild mannered family man who will do whatever it takes to protect his family from his alter ego Mr. Hyde, who quite simply does what he wants, whenever he wants. Using every means at his disposal, Tom Jackman has made a deal with his very own devil, allowing his alter ego his decadent ways in order to buy himself time to find a way to keep Hyde under wraps for good. That deal begins to fall apart when a secret organizations century old plans for Jackman/Hyde begin to come together, with dangerous results for all.

This story works as either a retelling of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel or as an innovative sequel to that very book. Series creator Steven Moffat (previously of some notable Dr. Who episodes and the hit comedy Coupling) has crafted an immaculately balanced script that brings psychological thrills, dark comedy and some genuinely creepy moments. Not a single moment out of place for 6 straight hours, this is Moffat’s masterstroke.

The excellent ensemble cast hinges on the fantastic performance of James Nesbitt in the title role. Nesbitt truly dives into the role, making Jackman a nervous yet still exciting, emotional wreck of a man, while bringing Hyde that perfect combination of sexy, sly and sinister. His smile alone could charm and scare the pants off of you all at the same time. His performance is reminiscent of Jack Nicholson & Heath Ledger’s iconic turns as the Joker in the various Batman films.