Scott Ellington's Blog

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The Avengers — 3D

Well…that worked!

Despite my misgivings (expressed in summarily reviewing Graphic Novel Movies) the strengths of the legendary writer/director carried the day out of the stadium and off the battlefield with fanfares, banners and there might have been some bunting, beating the pants off Hollywood chic, money and the tradition of big-dumb tentpole blockbuster junk.  It’s a fine film that’s packed with clever dialogue delivered with consummate grace by a very-deep bench of seasoned, professional actors portraying characters whose depth telescopes a bit from film to film, but dramatically and dimensionally in this film.

It’s weaknesses derive from Hollywood’s embrace of a medium that Hollywood doesn’t understand. Perhaps Hollywood never will.

3D produces a perceptual effect in an audience that jittering multiple-camera operation defuses and MTV editing obliterates.  These fashionable devices grate against the 3D viewing experience by jerking the audience around the mise en scene arbitrarily in ways that resemble a psychotic episode that culminates in nausea and neuralgia.

My concern for Whedon’s shortcomings in visual storytelling persist even after my thorough enjoyment of this kickoff blockbuster that relies on the current licentious abuse of point-of-view (of a nonentity) to tell a tale that’s far more than merely big&dumb, it’s enormously-spectacular and profoundly hearty.  The 3D experience is an ideal platform for pomography (post-modern; self-aware, relativistic graphic storytelling) and pornography, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant.

I fiercely object to the way The Avengers was shot and edited, but in spite of those counterproductive hurdles, it’s about stuff that’s eminently worthy of concentrated contemplation, and nobody I know who’s writing and directing films is better qualified than Joss Whedon to provide clever, pithy, insightful, joyous entertainment that knocked my socks off while stimulating my brain beyond its accustomed limitations, and will continue to do so when I own a copy that complements the growing list of narratively-complex shortform blockbusters that tie the bow on this fascinatingly-continuous tale of the Cosmic Cube.

Talkytalk is cheap, but an action movie that repeatedly differentiates sentiment from faith from conscience from confidence from hubris is worthy of very close scrutiny.  Talk persuades, action inspires faith (which is neither sentiment nor sentimental).  This action-movie is, at its root, a religious experience for devout agnostics.

“Moments not moves!”  I always wondered whether that Mutant Enemy axiom was about camera moves.  The action-moments are deeply satisfying, but they set up moments of buttery serenity so rich and smooth I hoped they’d never end.  The camera moves and the varieties of flobotnam are a fundamental problem that belong to/on this kind of turf.  They’re counterpointed and greatly mitigated by the heroic strengths (creative, rhetorical, personal and interpersonal) of a filmmaker I greatly admire, but they’re flaws in the fabric of two industries that demand a whole lot of love.  Whedon does.  More like this (but even better) would be great! and sooner would be best.

Conversely, Haywire shows all the flaws in the absence of love.  There are worse ways to spend 92 minutes, but most of them involve waiting in line at the department of motor vehicles.  Gina Carano needs her some Whedon.  But then, who the hell doesn’t?

05 May 12 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Digital Television a follow-up report

Speaking as someone who’s over the hill in a line-of-sight broadcast environment, Digital Television Sucks!

The 19″CRT I bought in late 2001 still works with my newish set-top digital tuner and my ineffectual 12-position RadioShack antenna (that looks a lot like a radar-recon aircraft, for no discernible reason).  Unfortunately, they all work together to  deliver a greater number of crisp, pristine commercials that are frequently interrupted by the shows I actually want to watch — and those shows (no matter what I do to capture clear signal) reach my receiver with infuritating gaps in video and audio that I don’t want to get used to.

It bears repeating that the commercials come in loud-and-clear, while the programs I’ve tuned in to watch simply don’t.

Between my receiver and the two transmitters (at 12 and 20 miles from me) upon which I depend are:

  • the 2-story building next door
  • a 2-story waste-water treatment tank, 400 yards away
  • lots of tall trees, the ususal vagaries of Bay Area weather and more-or-less constant wind
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • and an industry designed to deliver compelling propaganda that’s intersperced with content I value (and the broadcast industry regards as worthless in comparison with costly political slander and the gold mine of shameless, self-promoting Brand-Stroking).

BREAKING NEWS:  Direct to you from the Oval Off___.  “My Fellow A__________.  Due to ______s beyond __________and___ hostilities have ____________-_________ between the United State_of__________and________ coupled with _________ asteroid bombardment, sunspot ac___________and global thermo______._________ ____tsunami__ _is ____ly no alternative to war!” ________________”Tastes Great, Less Filling”…(a series of loud, clear, uninterrupted,  obnoxious, repetitive commercials)…What’s in your wallet?”

Broadcast digital television sucks because  It’s toasted.  So too is the broadcast television industry.

02 May 12 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment