Friday, September 04, 2009
The View From the Phlipside
These are the scripts from my weekly media commentary program on WRFA-LP Jamestown
My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside
In the last couple weeks I've talked about the end of the world and really bad ideas for movies. How little I knew. Those stories that came before are the merest pimple on the complexion of reality. The apocalypse? Oh please in comparison to what I'm about to relate all those stories are more on the level of catching your grandmother in her birthday suit. Sure your eyes burn for a while but eventually the dreams will stop and all will be well.
Not like this. I warn you, what I'm about to reveal to you is going to hurt. It's ugly and horrible in the manner of all the great horror films and stories. You have been warned. Now I want you to think about combining the following words into a single gestalt. 3D. Musical. Disneyfication. And now the final horrible piece to this puzzle. Hamlet. Yes, as in Shakespeare's melancholy Dane. If you stop thinking about it and breathe deeply the madness can be held at bay for just a little while longer.
This is the incredibly, I don't know what to call this, idea of a British group called Shakespeare for Kidz. Naturally they do their name with the number 4 and a final z ( or zed as they would say). Their justification goes like this, quoting now from their website, their work is the "ideal introduction to Shakespeare". Really? 3D, Movie Musical. Best introduction to Shakespeare? The mind reels.
And the awfulness is not confined to a single moment of poor decision making. The company plans to make a total of 6 movies in the series to include Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest. The idea is to target the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, High School Musical crowd with these offerings. You do this by taking some of the greatest writing in the English language and adding, quoting again, "...a final sword fight that seems to be literally all around you". I don't know if I want to weep or be ill.
Actually I think the chance of these movies really catching the fancy of the teen aged audience is fairly slim. The concept is just too weird and the name Shakespeare isn't going to make it must see entertainment either. But I can imagine the poor actor playing Puck in Midsummer doing his closing speech - If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended, You at least won't have to endure having this turkey on your resume for the rest of your life.
Do you have an "essential mobile device"? I will admit to being an iPhone owner and while I like it a great deal if worse came to worse I could live without it. I will admit that with every passing day I have it becomes a little more "essential" to me. So what would you define as an essential mobile device? Your smart phone? Your laptop? Netbook? Some folks still hung on on a PDA maybe? How about...your car? No I'm not playing a semi-clever word game here. Could your car become an essential mobile communication device in your life?
Maybe not for the older generation but Nissan thinks that's the next big thing for the younger generation. When they surveyed members of the Millennial generation here in the U.S. ( in case you've lost track Generation Y, the Millenials, the Echo Boomers and Generation Next all describe people born in the late '70's through the early '90's) and discovered that a new car was no longer the great status symbol with which ti impress your friends. Nope it was an iPhone. So what's an auto maker to do ? Simpler, build a car that's actually a smart phone with doors.
Enter the Nissan Cube. In many ways it looks like an overgrown iPhone. The concept is to really put the mobile in mobile. to be honest to these baby boomer eyes this is just another one of those dumb square cars (we call them toaster cars in my family) and with all due respect most of the people on the road today don't drive very well when they're paying attention. So a car that is really trying to hook up the driver with more social media of all kinds while behind the wheel strikes me as a really dumb idea. The worst part is that very quickly the younger consumers will figure out that it's basically just a cute (I suppose) care. Most of the mobile related stuff is in its design and promotions. When you climb behind the wheel, it's just a car. At 14 thousand dollars a pretty affordable little toaster car I will admit.
I can't help thinking that Nissan is right on the cusp of something really interesting. That they stopped at the cutesy marketing approach rather than really trying something new and exciting. Maybe they'll take that next step and we'll all discover something new.
Or maybe we'll realize we really do need to pay a little more attention to our driving.
I keep trying to find the silver lining in the economic hammering so many of us and so much of the media world has endured over the last year. Every once in a while I seem to catch a glimpse. Recently it's popped up that, partially driven by economics, there's a strange concept that is getting more attention in the movie industry. It's kind of shocking really. You see, they're starting to think a little more about starting with a good idea for a movie.
That might seem obvious to you and me but very often movies are more about star power or successful franchises than whether or not they're good ideas. The last year has been really tough on some stars too. Names that used to pull in some pretty good sized crowds have been coming up flat. Names like Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks, Russell Crowe, Julia Roberts. So now folks are actually spending a little trying to think about good movie ideas. It doesn't always work.
Let's take a look at a couple ideas out there. First we have Leonardo DeCaprio and Ridley Scott looking to bring Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" to the screen. I was astounded to discover it's never been made into a movie. A couple of TV adaptations but never the big screen. As we move into a world with more survelliance, facial recognition software and more this book is as timely as ever. Great idea and some great people to help it along. This might work.
At the other end we have the Farrelly Brothers idea of bringing back...the Three Stooges. Virtually every woman in the listening audience just groaned audibly and rolled their eyes. Most of the guys are thinking about it. You can stop. This is an awful idea. Which is probably one reason why they're having a tough time keeping actors committed to the project. Spend a couple minutes thinking about it and you'll realize why this is a turkey.
Of course then there are the cases when nothing will help. Recently I went with my daughter to catch Johnny Depp's latest movie "Public Enemies". Big name star with some solid, name supporting cast members, and all about an American icon John Dillinger. It would seem to have everything. Everything except an interesting story line. The story plodded along, the cast of characters was incredily confusing and there was nobody to root for, everyone, cops and robbers, were nasty corrible people.
I guess sometimes even a good idea can go bad.
Call that the view from the Phlipside