Post-Post-Modern Possibilities

Today we have a special treat with a fun guest blog from Samuel Black. Please enjoy his quirky vision of a movie mash-up of Independence Day 2 and Jurassic Park 4. Thank you, Sam, for sharing your silliness (or is it INSPIRATION) for this week’s Toast to Cinema!

Follow Sam on twitter! Until some scientist/historian/artist/smart-person says otherwise, we are living in the Post-Modern era. We are allowed freedom to do what we want artistically, which means a lot in the movie business. In the days of yore, you had to stick to the boring old ‘riveting plot’ and that shallow attention-getting strategy of ‘in-depth character development’. Today, we have unlocked the world of explosions, sex, and for the new Godzilla movie, CGI (computerized giant iguanas).

The stark differences between the Modern era and the Post-Modern era often stir the innards of my head. What would the Post-Post-Modern era look like?

Fade in to close up of a well-trimmed hedge

(VO)

From the mind of Steven Spielberg,

Pan up to beautiful flower, above hedge, glowing in the sun’s rays. A purple butterfly lands on it with 52 black spots on each wing

(VO)

With the twists of M. Night Shyamalan

Butterfly explodes as large laser engulfs the screen in flames

(VO)

And the action, of Michael Bay

Pan across suburbs of New York as emergency sirens go off in background. As an eerie shadow spreads across the quiet (except for the sirens) streets, camera pans up revealing the rest of the city in the distance. It is exploding. Camera pans higher to reveal alien spaceship from Independence Day.

BLACK SCREEN WITH LOUD BOOM

(VO)

They came back

Fade into ({obviously} Female President’s office.) She has a serious look on her face.

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SIGOURNEY WEAVER

What are our options?

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ADAM BALDWIN

(He’s obviously been promoted to the best position that isn’t a president since the last movie)

Well, Mrs. President, they’ve learned a few things since our last run-in.

Fade to alien fighter ships flying over a group of police men. Then police are firing into the air at them.

ADAM BALDWIN

They are bullet proof…

BLACK SCREEN WITH LOUD BOOM

Fade into alien on fire but not caring.

ADAM BALDWIN

Fire proof…

BLACK SCREEN WITH LOUD BOOM

Fade into a alien ship taking out a large fleet of agricultural aircraft

ADAM BALDWIN

…and crop duster proof.

BLACK SCREEN WITH LOUD BOOM

ADAM BALDWIN

But there is a fourth option.

(BALDWIN emphasizes the word ‘fourth’)

Fade into back shot of JEFF GOLDBLUM as he turns around. He is wearing thick framed sunglasses that are more just like tinted glasses

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  SIGOURNEY WEAVER

Dinosaurs?

JEFF GOLDBLUM

Yes. The organization was created to bring back a species that was previously extinct. The program had been going on for years with only a few minor incidents.

Show clips from Jurassic Park 1 and 2.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER

(Turning to James Rebhorn)

Why wasn’t I informed of this?

JAMES REBHORN

…Plausible deniability?…

BLACK SCREEN WITH LOUD BOOM

Fade in on large poorly lit meeting room full of important people

OTHER WORLD LEADER

So you are suggesting that we build an army. Combining Dino-DNA with human fetuses?

SIGOURNEY WEAVER

It is no suggestion. We are building it as we speak.

OTHER OTHER WORLD LEADER

Whose DNA did you use?

Cut to booted dino-foot stomping heavily on the ground. Pan camera slowly upward. Fade to black. Cut to gloved dino-hands cocking shotgun. Continue with an upward pan, fading out. Cut to dino-face. It is much like SPIELBERG’S velociraptor, except that it now has more pronounced chin, and eyebrows, black frizzy hair, and thick framed sunglasses that are more just like tinted glasses

DINO-SOLDEIR

Nature will always find a way…

BLACK SCREEN WITH LOUD BOOM

(VO)

JURRASSIC PARK 4

BLACK SCREEN WITH LOUD BOOM

(VO)

2019

Cut to black

Take out a loan for fourth summer home

Grant Me the Serenity…

Are you a Firefly or Serenity lover? I am!

Yes, I admit I was a little late to the party. I didn’t see the original series on FOX until after it was cancelled. I did see the movie in the theatre, and I was addicted. Once hooked, I spent a Saturday watching every episode—including the ones that never aired on TV.

Firefly is one of those shows that catches your attention right from the beginning. It’s a futuristic space Western and a full-fledged Joss Whedon spectacle in every way. It’s humorous, fraught with sadness and suspense, and violent at times, with a healthy dose of sensitivity for balance.

Every character is loveable and loathsome—real, in other words. Nathan Fillion (now on Castle) is Mal Reynolds, captain of the Serenity. Alan Tudyk (now on Suburgatory) is the pilot, Wash. Gina Torres (now on Suits) plays Zoe, the first mate, as well as Wash’s wife. Adam Baldwin (from Chuck) plays Jayne Cobb, resident mercenary. Jewel Staite (The L,A, Complex) plays adorable Kaylee, the ship’s mechanic.

The rest of the cast is rounded out with Serenity’s passengers: Morena Baccarin (Homeland) as a “companion,” Ron Glass (from Barney Miller) as a priest, Sean Maher (from Make It or Break It) as a doctor, and Summer Glau (most recently on Alphas) as the doctor’s younger sister who seems to be a victim of Manchurian Candidate-type brainwashing.

To say this series was well-done or ahead of its time is understating the facts. Why was it cancelled then? There’s way too much to tell here in my little blog. Suffice it to say that it’s worth watching. To help you out, I’m adding a link to the special Blu-ray deal available today on Amazon. Watch the series and you’ll soon find yourself swearing in Chinese and replacing “cool” with “Shiny!”

And if that’s not enough, I’m including a link to a book about Joss Whedon written by my sweet friend, Candace Havens! Grab a copy of it as well!

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!

Chemistry 101

What is chemistry, and why is it important to a movie or TV show?

Chemistry is that mysterious thing that happens when the characters of a film interact like a fine Swiss timepiece. It isn’t necessarily the sexual tension between the leading man and woman in the story. Chemistry can (and should) happen between any characters.

It’s that magic moment when an onscreen relationship develops beyond the words that the actors speak. It’s the spark in their eyes. It’s the subtle timing that turns into a rhythm.

Chemistry may show through a romantic moment or a violent fistfight. It usually involves witty banter, but it may be accomplished in gesture and expression. Even a poorly written script gains credibility when the actors have chemistry.

Some say that either chemistry is there or it’s not, that it can’t be manufactured. I’m not sure I believe that, though I have seen several films in which there was absolutely no connection between the actors at all. If chemistry can be written into a book, which I have experienced many times, then I believe it can be affected between the players.

It lies within the actors to find the good and the bad of the characters they play, and then bring out hints of hidden traits for the audience to glimpse. When two or more characters have empathy for each other, even if it is just a suggestion of understanding, the audience connects with them and becomes a part of the story.

Ensemble television shows rely on chemistry to keep them on the air. A cast without it is quickly cast off. M*A*S*H* is a wonderful example of cast-wide chemistry. I remember spending many evenings laughing through episodes right up to the point when I would crumble into sobs. When Trapper John and Colonel Blake left the 4077th, I found myself inconsolable.

The most popular shows on TV today have amazing ensembles with chemistry oozing from every one-liner.

The cast of NCIS works together with the timing of a classic concerto. The audience knows that any gruesome morgue scenes will be tempered with a lesson from Ducky, an inappropriate comment from DiNozzo, or a well-placed Gibbs slap.

Castle features an ensemble of characters that love and hate each other with playful abandon and serious consequences. Even when Rick and Beckett are at odds, the audience pulls for them to work together—this is a key ingredient for a successful show. But the chemistry on Castle works beyond their relationship. Rick’s interactions with his mother and daughter are true to life and sincere. Beckett’s relationships with her peers and superior officers are deep and realistic as well. When guest stars make appearances, the cast incorporates them seamlessly into their magic. Last night Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion’s former Firefly costar, played Detective Slaughter. The instant chemistry created by these pals had me laughing out loud.

Chemistry makes a story real. It gives the audience cause to care. It offers something for which to cheer and to hiss, and the truly talented can stir the good and bad together at the same time.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.