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Movies and TV

Incredible Time Fu

06.15.07 | Comment?

First, apparently a Chicago Tribune columnist has written a so-called TV Viewer’s Bill of Rights in response to CBS’ call to action for all Jericho fans. (In case you hadn’t heard, the TV series was canceled then renewed after a groundswell of fan support.) The columnist, Maureen Ryan, thinks it’s cheeky that CBS expect the show’s fans to further tow the line despite the way networks (all broadcast networks) treat their viewers. While I wouldn’t characterize her list as a bill of rights per se, it’s certainly a roadmap of good business practices for a network that wants to keep and cultivate loyal viewers. Most of it should be common sense, yet it certainly isn’t common practice.

I’ve been trying to catch up a bit on my Netflix queue lately, which leads me to quickly talk about a Chinese movie called Kung Fu Hustle (US title). Incidentally, this is by the same writer/directed as Shaolin Soccer. Hustle is somewhat difficult to describe, but it’s definitely a must-see. In short, it is about a poor Chinese neighborhood’s kung-fu guardians who protect it from a vicious gang. But it’s loaded with humor. And cool special effects. And (of course) lots of fu. There’s kung fu, spear fu, stringed instrument fu, metal arm band fu, and old lady fu, just to name a few of the fu. This is one movie I plan on buying.

Prior to Hustle, I watched Timeline, which was just as awful as I’d heard–if not more so. To add insult to injury, the day after I returned it to Netflix my Tivo picked it up on cable. It certainly wouldn’t have lost anything by forgoing the DVD.

Speaking of Tivo, it also picked up Ang Lee’s Hulk. In giving this one a second try, I found that it actually grew on me. Eric Bana looks and acts the part, and Jennifer Connelly could belch “twinkle twinkle little star” and I’d still love her. Although I think the story could have been told more efficiently without the character, I have to admit that even Nick Nolte played his part well. I thought the Hulk CGI work was mostly adequate, and certainly conveyed the enormity of the creature. Using a big actor–as they’re talking about in the 2008 sequel–won’t have near the same impact. Critics also complained about Lee’s “comic” book style of scene transitions, but as a comic book geek myself I actually appreciate those flourishes. No, to my mind Lee’s failure was in pacing. The “Dr. Banner senior” subplot was bloated, and overall the movie was too long. It would have benefited from a tighter script and better pacing. If you compare the pacing of Spiderman (the first) to Hulk, you’ll see exactly what I mean. Seen in that light, Lee’s high-energy scene transitions are almost pathetic when paired with such plodding pacing.

Next on my Netflix queue is another movie that was something of a dud in the box office–The Time Machine. Am I purposefully picking duds? In a way, yes. Both Timeline and Time Machine were movies I was mildly interested in seeing, but not enough to actually watch when the were theatrically released. I know they’re mediocre at best, but chalk it up to morbid curiousity. And who knows? Sometimes the critics are wrong.

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