Saturday, June 25, 2005

"Harry Potter and the President of Uzbekistan"

Subject: Cinema
...or whatever it's real name is. *ahem*

There was one point, some number of years ago, where I would hungrily latch on to any effects-laden movie because, well, because of the effects. One of the things I thought of pursuing in my film & animation studies was a career in FX, and back at the beginning of the 90's, it was a special, esoteric thing. Every year something new would come along that would totally knock the socks off of any previous effects effort. I'd snatch up copies of "CINEFEX" magazine and scrutinize frames on laserdisc.

Remember "Terminator 2"? These days, it's, well... kind of quaint. Maybe a little cheesy. And nowhere near as gripping a film as the original lower-budget intro to the franchise. But, ooh, it was a big deal when it came out.

These days, I still have friends who rush to see the latest blockbuster, "to see the effects", mostly. Last year, the 3rd "Harry Potter" film was one of those. I finally watched it (in HD) on my DVR last night.

I suppose if I were a lot younger when the whole "Potter" franchise got started, I might have been more caught up in it. When I first heard about the books and the sensation they were causing with the kids, I figured that was a good thing, and hoped it wasn't just a fad. It's an interesting and detailed little world that Rowling has put together (well, assembled and derived from dozens of different classic elements, but there's nothing wrong with that per se). And I figured it was only a matter of time before someone attempted movies. And again, nothing wrong with that, per se.

And I really have no complaints about the movie overall; it was another brief bit of escapist entertainment that didn't make me need to use my brain in any meaningful way, and it looked pretty good. Definitely effects-laden, to a level that, back in the early 90's, would have been mind-blowing. But now I'm kind of numb to all that.

The "magic" of special effects has worn off for me. I take it for granted the kinds of things you can do when you throw enough talent and software (and money) at a visualization. I know how it works, and could probably do much of the same (if I wanted to work 100-hour weeks in a Santa Monica sweatshop). We've finally achieved the mastery of the technology that it can be subservient to the story, instead of the story itself. And that exposes the stories for the bland blah mush that they'd been all along. So I've never really been in a rush to see them.

Anyway, ponderous navel-gazing over for the moment. In other news, the first part of my deeply-discounted DeepDiscountDVD order showed up, and a box full of goodies it was! I finally caved in and bought the whole "Star Wars" orginal box set (speaking of effects vs. story!), and a couple of gifts: the "Noir" thinpak box for my little brother, and the set of "Kino's Journey" for my good friends' baby shower. Other stuff in the box -- a 5-disc set of independent short films, and the just-released collection of "Jan Svankmeijer" animations. Oh, and I grabbed "Roman Holiday" for some reason (*ahem*). And a bunch of other stuff, some of which shipped afterwards. So I've got to update my DVD library page one of these days when the rest of it gets here.

And then actually watch them or something!

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