According to this piece by Sarah Boxer, in The New York Review, I don’t know how to blog.
whatever you think you’ve been doing for the last 3 years, dude . . . you’ve been doing it all wrong.
My reaction? Kind of like the guy on his death bed said, after encountering the winning numbers printed on his lottery stub: “better late than never.”
According to Boxer, what distinguishes my work from true blogging is that I don’t:
thrive on fragmented attention (one-liners, song samples, summarized news);
(I mean, if you discount these bullets I’m just beginning to work through).
I also fail as a blogger, because I:
fail! To: punctuate?
eschew the use of punctuation and acronyms to express my feelings—a la :-) or ;-)
And, I fail as a blogger because:
I tend not to adopt the mien of an impresario, curator, or editor—picking and choosing the snippets and headlines found on-line;
PRESIDENT’S DAY NEWS FLASH: Elder Bush Backs McCain
Looks to get back in the picture as his new VP
Okay, so I’m having a little fun here, at someone’s expense. Yours, McCain’s, G.H.‘s. Mine. (But really, doesn’t that creepy sneer on senior and the semi-dazed, semi-satisfied look on McCain’s face make you suspect that something unsuspected is happening off-camera?)
Taking a position at a local high school/middle school library in the fall of 2007 held unexpected benefits. Sure, I thought being surrounded by books would be great, but arriving in time to check in books returned before school starts each day allows me a glimpse into the literary life of the teens here: I have the advantage of seeing which books go out over and over again. And I can grab them the next time they come through—if the kids are reading them and telling their friends, chances are that the story is well written. Attention spans are short in high school these days. And take out those earbuds, if you please.
Of course I try to be somewhat discriminating, and have managed to avoid the lure of Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries, Queen of Babble) and Megan McCafferty’s novels, wittily titled things like Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings, which appeal heavily to our older teen girls. Meanwhile I was glad I’d already read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy as with the first movie coming out in December the resident copies have been in high demand. I was quickly alerted to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse) about high-school-attending vampires and werewolves in perpetually rainy Forks, Washington (now in movie production) and tore through the first three novels. Although the premise may sound a bit dicey, the characters are totally compelling and the dialogue in particular is genius. I’m now pining for the fourth (Breaking Dawn), currently being written and due to be released in August 2008. Meanwhile I received a tip that led to my discovery of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, an account of late 19th century English boarding school girls dabbling in the occult, and whizzed through the first two novels. The third, The Sweet Far Thing, was just released in December 2007, and I was in a good position to lobby the head librarian to add the final chapter of Gemma’s adventures to our most recent order of books.
Having the opportunity to discover a whole new generation of page turners is just the thing for a jaded English major who remembers plodding through Dickens and Nabokov (excluding The Defense or Invitation to a Beheading, naturally). Sometimes a little light reading is enough to re-invigorate an appetite for the pure pleasure of fast-paced fiction. What are you reading this week?
Before I press the ‘play’ button of what seems to be an illegal recording (probably made by the projectionist of a north American cinema, early in the morning today) of the first Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, 2008) trailer, I try to think how many times I’ll finally watch these 103 seconds until the movie is finally released worldwide on May 22nd, even if a second trailer comes up before that day (it will only add to the obsession…).
When I think that I’m ready, I close my eyes for a second, take a deep breath and finally press the button.
It starts… Wait a second! What is this landscape shot before the Paramount and Lucasfilm logos? Just a jungle, but not a very spectacular one (if this were some Lord of the Rings’ stuff, it would surely be much better looking) and…Hey!...this is not a very surprising transition, between the classic mountain peak of the Paramount logo and this kind of inverted view of a mappa mundi. I really hope this is not the actual transition in the movie, because it doesn’t measure up to the ones we have seen in the past trilogy: the real mountain peak in Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981), the engraving on the gong in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Steven Spielberg, 1984), and the rock –no, not the so-called actor; an actual rock, made of stone– in the desert in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Steven Spielberg, 1989).
As far as fans like me go (and there’s a lot of Indiana Jones’ fans out there), every new detail of the upcoming film is important. I recall the famous tagline ‘If adventure has a name, it has to be Indiana Jones’ which served as publicity for the second film. And today we have been blessed with three new taglines that will be part of our fanatic lives from now on (I wonder who is responsible for these…) and they are:
“He protected the power of the divine”
Hmm… Was John Waters one of the many involved with this project, before he died? Jokes apart, this is not right; it’s ultra complicated: it will surely please both Christians and Jews; and taking into account that the only figure we have seen until then is Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) dressed in Arab robes, the word ‘divine’ might be an opened invitation to Muslims as well; and, why not? For the same reason, welcomed are Buddhists and people from any other confessions everywhere. But the tagline skips the name of the famous box that we see on the screen, the Ark of the Covenant. Is this because, as rumored, the relics will play in important part in the plot of the new movie?
“He saved the cradle of civilization”
Ah! Wait a minute! Are they implying that the old village where the Sankara Stones were stolen, in deep India, is where human life started? (Coincidentally I read the other day that Lucasfilm has offices in Singapore, and that they’re doing really well…) Are they implying that we all descend from that Indian village that already had far too many children to feed? Ok, I get it. It is just another joke! Lucas, you bastard! What a twisted way for referring to the increasing number of westerners adopting oriental children (that may explain why we don’t get a single glimpse of Indiana taken from the Temple of Doom movie, just shots of Indian children running and being embraced by their ‘real’ parents).
“He triumphed over the armies of evil”
This is very straightforward stuff. Nazis were evil. That we already knew. Then I notice something: the order of the two following brief sequences taken from Last Crusade is inverted; first we get a glimpse of the famous sunset prior to the final credits, in which Jones Jr. has to hold Jones Sr. (Sean Connery) up on his horse, in a classic gesture between alcoholics; and then we see the hand of Indiana anxiously looking for a glass. Is alcohol the real evil, and not the Nazis? Is that why the character of Marion Ravenwood is showing up in the new installment of the series? Because she was the one that could drink endlessly in Raiders? Are we going to be shown the consequences of heavy drinking? Is the ‘crystal skull’ of the title a metaphor for sick liver?
Then, as a conclusion and comment on what’s to come, we are simply told that “On May 22nd… The adventure continue.” What? After so many years, you introduce the man in the hat with a mere “The adventure continues?” Just that, something that could have been either said of The Bourne Ultimatum or The Da Vinci Code? Are you crazy, Spielberg? Was it David Koepp’s (the final script’s author) idea? We want to know…
There are simply too many questions.
And really, the new stuff, the first official images of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, won’t answer any. On the contrary, they will produce more.
The new material starts with something we have never seen in an Indiana Jones movie, and it’s the image of an USA flag. Is it some kind of reaction to the recent return of Rambo, as in this turbulent times, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were trying to say ‘Hey, Sylvester, Indiana Jones IS the one and only national American hero’?
We also see a desert and a caravan of military vehicles, but it instantly dissolves to a scene that I already dare to consider anthological, one that is right now part of the mythical imaginarium of the series: In an aerial shot, we’re shown a car, surrounded by soldiers, and a hat –the kind of hat we know so well– lying on the floor; after being extracted from the boot of the car, only the booted feet of Indiana Jones are really visible to us, just before his hand clutches the aforementioned hat and before we see the shadow of the man putting it on his head (and the number 1B7731 painted over the U.S Army Ford car behind him; you, deciphers! get to work!).
And then, the first funny line (it seems that, between action and humor, Lucas & Spielberg have finally opted to make fun of Indiana): Ray Winstone’s character says “This ain’t gonna be easy” and Indiana Jones replies “Not as easy as it used to be”. It is not a joke per se, it’s more like the first example of the self deprecatory Indiana Jones that we will surely see, as Lucas had promised: confirmed, the issue of Harrison Ford/Indiana Jones’ age is included in the plot.
The next scene strengthens this theory, as Jones, taking hold of his whip, swings on the air… but fails to land on the jeep that Cate Blanchett’s character drives, in what happens to be the warehouse taken from the last scene in Raiders –the one in which the actual relics are kept hidden, presumably forever– and crashes instead into the following vehicle, in a slapstick solution that Ford sanctions with the line “I thought that it was much closer”.
So Frank Marshall said the truth as well: this movie will have a similar tone to the Last Crusade, where humor reigned. There’s one more sketch, and it closes the show, for now. In the middle of a stormy night, while in an ancient Maya or Aztecan temple, Shia Labouf simply asks “You’re a teacher?”, and Jones seriously replies, “Part time”, in a concise dialogue-driven joke in the same vein of the many we saw between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery in Last Crusade.
All in all, the trailer reveals three different locations or/and parts of the movie. It is clear that there will be something going on in some south American jungle and ancient temple; and that the Russians will get into the famous warehouse (or maybe is just another warehouse, as I don’t recall the one in Raiders having highways in between the piles of boxes), and there’s obviously Roswell, New Mexico, as we can read on some metallic surface to which some glasses (Dr. Jones’?) get mysteriously attracted due to some magnetic force.
And, of the three locations, only one is where the opening sequence (the equivalent to the temple ransacking in Raiders, the club scene and subsequent escape in Temple of Doom, and the Cross of Coronado chase with a young Indiana Jones in Last Crusade) takes place; it can’t be the warehouse, as that would imply that the Russians, led by Cate Blanchett, would appear in both the prologue and the central storyline of the movie; it can’t be the jungle either, for the same reason (there are scenes with Cate Blanchett, along with the rest of the characters); so it should be that part that takes place in Roswell, where Jones is accurately presented, in the way described before. But who knows, maybe the script is really full of surprises and unexpected twists; after all, Lucas has had plenty of time to come up with something truly remarkable…
Either way, and apart from having an introduction like the previous films, the trailer gives clues about some other kind of homages or similarities that may be central to the heart of a storyline that, for a start, includes previous characters like Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). And these clues are, for example, the moment when Jones tries to push Cate Blanchett’s car out of the road (as he successfully does with a Nazi sidecar in the truck sequence from Raiders) or the brief moment where we see, from a subjective point of view, how some kind of debris is quickly approaching Harrison Ford, Karen Allen and Shia Labouf’s car, a similar peril to that in Last Crusade when one of the Nazi bikers manages to perch the front wheel of his vehicle upon the Joneses’ sidecar. And there is, again, a fight between Jones and some super villain, a part that Pat Roach (Chief guard in Temple of Doom and 1st mechanic in Raiders) would have surely played if he was still alive. And of course, there is a temple, there is a bunch of menacing natives and many reasons to run. And there is also a generous ration of tricky ancient mechanisms, like there’s always been in the series.
And all the way through the end of the trailer, we don’t get to hear a single new note by John Williams, but that’s right, as this moment, the first images of a moving Dr. Jones in almost 18 years, deserve no other musical accompaniment that his trademark fanfare. Yes, there’s some music we had never heard while we see the sequences from the previous movies, Indy’s past feats. But it can’t be John Williams’; it’s too vulgar, unspecific and out of place, it doesn’t belong to the saga, has nothing to do with its flavor.
And we neither get to see John Hurt -the rumored face of Abner Ravenwood, father of Marion–, I think… Wait, have I missed something? Let me see the trailer again… Ah, yes; there he is: hidden in one of the passengers’ seats of the boat that Indiana Jones rides on the edge of the jungle. By the way, there is something in the visual perfection of that aerial shot that makes me suspect of some digital effectification; maybe Spielberg and Lucas have not really stayed true to his promise of not using them? The truth is that the last thing we see, before the trailer ends, is the actual Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull logo. And it really seems more like a 3D Studio model than an old style drawing…
PS: I have already seen the trailer seven times today. Still 97 days to D-day and counting…