This Week in Geek (10-16/09/12)


Bit of a DVD splurge... Parks and Recreation Season 4, Castle Season 4, 30 Rock Season 6, Doctor Who's Planet of Giants and Vengeance on Varos Special Edition, God Bless America, Red State, Walkabout, Midnight in Paris, Chinese Ghost Story, and Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. The one I was most excited to see is already reviewed below.


DVDs: Parks & Recs Season 4 seals the deal as far as my contention that the show is more The West Wing than it ever was The Office. It's the year Leslie Knope runs for office, but that's not the reason. The reason is that Leslie has such a sincere love of government's potential for good and of the town of Pawnee specifically, it's something you don't normally see outside Aaron Sorkin's utopian series. It's The West Wing played for laughs, but in keeping with its spirit. There are very few shows that make me laugh out loud AND move me to tears, so I have to treasure them. Great DVD package too, with 4 of the 22 episodes available in extended cuts and more than an hour and half of worthy and funny deleted scenes. There's also a long gag reel punctuated by fake ads from the world of Pawnee, webisodes chronicling Andy and April's trip to the Grand Canyon, campaign ads, a music video (Warning: on Disc 3 which spoils Disc 4 episodes), various promos and sketches, and an awesome Knope 2012 campaign sticker I really want to put on something. But what?

Criterion's releases are so pricy, I'm always looking for sales, but I'm mostly happy getting their Essential Art House "on-the-cheap" DVDs. It omits most or all extras, and might even skimp on the size of the critical essay booklet. With Rashomon, you get something like three paragraphs and that's it. Thankfully, the film speaks for itself. Akira Kurosawa's 1950 classic was the first released to - or at least noticed by - the Western World, and it's since become one of the most referenced in all of cinema. Its structure - in which we see the same events from different perspectives - has been copied by everything from Hero to Star Trek: The Next Generation, but having never seen it, I still found it full of surprises. The central story is about a rape? That's really hardcore. I'm also shocked whenever Kurosawa springs a supernatural element on his audience. But most shocking of all is how moved I was at the very end, at what the film says about the human condition, at how profound it all is. And it's a shock because every other story that poached this structure has turned it into a reason not to connect emotionally with it. They're intellectual puzzles, and often quite satisfying, but because you can't trust the story tellers, a wall springs up between your mind and your heart. The secret is to make you connect with the people hearing the story's many viewpoints, because you're in the same situation. Rashomon makes you empathize with the smallest roles in the film. It's magic.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
III.iii. The Confessional - Fodor (2007)

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from Batman and Robin to Batman Family.


Anonymous said...

Good call on how most "Rashomon" homages fail to connect with the audience. Kind of like how most "Twilight Zone" remakes go straight to Dystopian Setting With Bleak Twist Ending (which usually isn't even a twist) and forget the human-ness that was at the heart of every good TZ episode.

Ever seen "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai"? It's got parts full of Rashomonny goodness. The movie's about Forrest Whitaker trying to live by the code of the Samurai as a hired gun for some mobsters going through hard times, and I could be wrong, but I suspect they have directly lifted lots of character types and themes directly from Japanese films. Someone more versed in Japanese cinema would know.

I am a 45 year old man and even I want to join the Pawnee Goddesses.

Siskoid said...

I'm a big fan of Ghost Dog. There must be a capsule review for it somewhere in here.


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