Wednesday, 21 July 2010

You've got a friend in me...

On Monday evening I was lucky enough to have the chance (by lucky enough I mean had enough money for tickets) to see Disney and Pixar's latest collaborative effort with the highly anticipated Toy Story 3. The film was shown using the currently popular Digital 3D technology, which meant that the tickets cost extra and plastic glasses were to be worn, although said glasses have been kept as it will save money to reuse them. The glasses did come in handy during the showing however, as they did hide the teary eyes of everybody in the audience. That's right, I'm not ashamed to admit that I shed a tear of two during the film. I would like to make it clear that I have never to my memory cried at a film before, and that this was the first time.

This truly is a testament to Pixar's storytelling powers, as I am one of those people that despite becoming gripped to a good plot and somewhat attached to characters, will always turn around and say 'It's just a film, it's not real'. I can watch any film shot with real actors and any character can go thought the greatest of emotional traumas and my eyes will remain dry even if I do feel awfully bad for that character. This also applies to real life, I haven't been much of a crier since I was a kid. Yet, you take some computer animated toys, put them in any kind of jeopardy and that's it, I'm trying as hard as possible to fight back the tears. The reason for this is that Pixar over the years have become masters of cinematic storytelling and use this to toy (pun not intended but appreciated) with the audience's own emotions. The last time previous to Toy Story 3 that I became in any way choked up at a film was during last year's Up, which was also a Disney Pixar production. If you haven't had the chance to watch Up yet I strongly suggest that you track it down! To give you an idea of what it is all about, just watch the opening montage...

To get the full effect of that clip, you really do need to see the whole movie, although I do hope that you at least see what I am getting at there. If not then all I can say is that you must have a heart made from the coldest and hardest of stone!

Up, didn't actually bring tears pouring, or even trickling from my eyes, it merely produced a lump in my throat. Toy Story 3 on the other hand did produce salty liquid from beneath my eyelids. The reason for this I feel is that in its third edition, an edition that has taken over a decade to reach us, the Toy Story franchise is one that I have grown up with. I was five when the first film was released at the cinema, nine or ten when I went with my family to see the second one, and now at twenty-one I have been reunited with Woody, Buzz and the gang. In a sense, I guess that part of me felt that those were the toys that defined my childhood, causing me to be much more emotionally invested in their well being.

I'll leave you now, and do hope that you'll all see both films that I've mentioned in this here blog of mine. If neither of them causes any emotional reaction from you, then it's either because you're an uncaring monster, or because I've become girly when it comes to Pixar films. Either way, I enjoy watching them because of the memorable characters, great storytelling, and because of the emotions involved, as these films also cause laughter, gasps, and smiles throughout.

To infinity... and BEYOND!

Monday, 12 July 2010

'Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs' - My how my tastes have changed!

Very recently I have gotten into, and become rather obsessed with another sitcom. The sitcom of which I speak in case you hadn't already guessed from the title of this blog (which most likely means you don't watch said sitcom) is Frasier.

Yes the year is 2010 and I have begun to view a television programme that is no longer in production, having run from 1993 (the year that I turned 4 years old) to 2004. This got me to thinking last week about how my tastes have changed in the last decade since growing up. I think back to when The Simpsons was my favourite show on the box. I used to laugh from beginning to end of every episode and always looked forward to Sunday evenings when the new episodes would air on Sky One. As the years have past though, The Simpsons has given way in my viewing schedule to a number of other shows that I now deem to be more essential viewing than the comedic yellow family. The show has been running for over 20 years now, so maybe it's a simple case of it having run its course and growing stale. On the off chance that I catch one of the newer episodes, I often find myself feeling that the writers have run out of ideas for Homer and his dis-functional family, or even worse, feel that they may even be trying to rip-off certain other successful animated sitcoms such as Family Guy (which I also seem to have grown a little tired of) or South Park. On the flip side, maybe The Simpsons hasn't become as stale as it seems inside of my head. It could be a simple case of me having overexposed myself to it throughout my life, causing myself to grow bored. It's only recently that I've resumed watching the occasional episode of Friends after having not watched it for a couple of years due to it being shoved down our throats once in a while.

Scrubs is another example of what I am talking about. Back in 2005, which is alarmingly 5 full years ago now, after finishing my GCSE exams, I started following the adventures of JD, Turk, and rest of the staff at Sacred Heart Hospital. It was something new to me despite being on the air for half a decade already at that point, it was fresh and different, and I therefore found it extremely entertaining and soon became obsessed with it to the point that I own all of the boxsets available. I even watched all of the episodes again with the audio commentary on. Yet, as the years have passed, and I have learnt much of the memorable dialogue spawned from Scrubs, the show has faded into the background to the extent that I haven't watched any of the DVDs in over a year now, and quite often opt to watch something else if it's on TV. I do still like Scrubs, I love it in fact, but right now I feel I need to distance myself from it as I did with Friends so that I may enjoy it again in the future. When the newest series is released on DVD, I will once again join, and enjoy the company of the Scrubs cast.

So currently Frasier is sitting in my DVD player. That's right, I went out and bought the boxset, all 11 series spanning 44 discs. That's how into it I have gotten. What got me really thinking though, is that if I'm enjoying it this much at moment, then how come I was never a fan of it before. At first I felt that the reason was most likely due to the sophisticated and intellectual level of the script. Maybe I simply didn't get that kind of humour a few years back, after all I have changed an awful lot the last few years what with becoming a 'man' and all. I now believe though that the scripting of the show and the level of intellect is at most only a part of the reason, the main reason is simply the due to the sheer amount of media available to us in this day and age.

Back when my parents would have been my age, near enough everybody could have spoken to each other about the television shows that they watched the previous night, as there would have been a good chance that they would have watched the same thing. I said when my parents were my age, but in fact, this was also common in the early years of my life. There were less than a handful of television channels, and no internet in anyone's household. Today though, we have all sorts of media and multimedia vying for our attention that it is almost hard to keep up. We have blockbuster Hollywood films released at the cinema and on DVD and now Blu-Ray every week. We have thousands of television channels to pick and choose from, and now the internet and recordable hard drives so that we can watch what we want, when we want. This isn't even taking into account all of the great books and videogames to read and play.

My main reason for only truly discovering the comedy gold that is Frasier recently is that I had never properly watched it before. I mean, I'd seen the odd episode, but never paid it much attention and wouldn't watch another one anytime soon after. To get into a good television show you must watch several episodes to fully understand the plot and to get to know the characters, much like to get into a good book you must read past the first few chapters. It was because of all of the other shows, websites, games and books in the world that I simply never gave Frasier any time until now. And I'm glad that I eventually did, or else I would have been missing out on a well-written and performed sitcom. I'm only now left to wonder: What else am I missing out on?