Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Personal Update, October 2010

I am writing this to keep my Domain blog going. There is no one subject to this entry, so its pretty much all over the place. I am learning to take advantage of my own individuality, and letting a lot of stuff out. I've been negligent with this blog for months, mainly for a couple of reasons.

Image from Barton Fink (1991), illustrating the self-righteous writer.

The first reason is that I have taken up a new practice of writing as much dribble as I can each week (and hopefully each day). My one requirement for this practice is to write at least 1000 words in one day. I just pick a subject thats nagging at me, and then dribble the hell out of it. Some of this stuff gets really personal, so its not stuff I want to post here, or share with everyone. But I don't consider these journal entries. I'm simply just trying to better my own writing, and search for new ideas.

Second, my movie reviews have slowed down, primarily due to my financial state. I have to be more selective when going to the cinema nowadays. I can't afford to see anything all the time, even though this past summer was particularly slow in terms of interesting movies. I did see movies, but I neglected to review them, as I couldn't write up enough to say about them.

Seeing recent previews for the DVD release of How To Train Your Dragon isn't helping me at the moment. I saw the movie when it came out back in March, and at first I was excited to see it, as it marked Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois' return to feature directing. However, I came out of the movie feeling rather disappointed. While the movie looked very impressive, I was unimpressed and uninspired by the story, the acting, and the character development. I later looked up the original source material, and found that the filmmakers chose to downplay the more whimsical elements of the original material, and focus more on an action/adventure tale. I felt very displeased to know that nearly everyone else I know loved the movie, and considered it the best Dreamworks movie to date. I felt very alone.

Now at the time I saw HTTYD, it was during a week that did not go well for me. I got screwed over by two jobs, which temporarily shattered me. I reasoned that the disappointment of that week colored my viewing of HTTYD. The only way I can know that for sure is if I watch the movie again, preferably during a more relaxed period. But so far, looking at the previews and watching the clips, I am still reasoning that I am still disappointed by the story and minimal character development. Nothing about it surprised me. Even more disappointing is I feel like the only who feels this way. Still, the movie is only months old, and the recently announced sequel may prove to be a better movie (of which there's a 70% chance of happening).

Other movies I have seen are Bill Plympton's Idiots and Angels, playing at the IFC Centre here in New York City, and the Social Network. Idiots and Angels may be Plympton's best feature so far, a long time coming. One thing I admire Plympton for is his ambition and drive to finish what he thinks and starts. So far, he has done nine indie features and countless short films. His features, however, have had trouble finding larger audiences outside of his cult following (due in some part to his lack of feature writing experience). But with Idiots and Angels, he seems to have found a style that works with a feature length, one with little dialog, musical emphasis, and solid pacing in terms of the plot.

The Social Network is an easy one for me, having been a devoted Facebook-er for over four years now. I really enjoyed this movie, and it paints an intriguing picture that is both dark and funny. I don't know Mark Zuckerberg enough to judge him or this portrayal, but it seems to be an excellent representation of the Age of the Individualist. Everyone goes from being in clubs to being their own entity. I'm usually pretty cautious with David Fincher's movies, and I was very relieved with how much I enjoyed this one.

Recently, my preference for independent animation has been re-awoken after some time. After two years out of college and struggling in the animation industry, I have found the commercial world to be full of nepotism, two-facedness, and blind irony. Now granted, the last two years saw the Entertainment industry ravaged by the financial recession, I can't say any other industry is better. But as I have lost friends and faith, it has forced me to re-evaluate where I stand in this industry and other directions to look in. From the recession, I have lost some idealism, and developed a cynical attitude that arises at the sight of any injustice.

But independent animation and independent artists have their own world, far from the prying eyes of the commercial world. Its a small world where everyone influences one another, and can get instant gratification from their art and other art. Its a world I enjoy poking my head in from time to time. A recent Cartoon Brew article, written by Amid Amidi, has just spelled out the end of the creator-driven era in the animation industry. I insist anyone reading this also read that, as it makes some lucid points.

In the past, I have hoped to be a part of something that would occur again, but I can't let that guide me anymore. I am looking in other areas not just for ambition, but for survival.

Recently, my coverage for ASIFA-East's Exposure Sheet has given me some attention for my writing. I am getting encouragement to try my writing elsewhere (although the tricky part of that is not having a journalism degree). There will be things to look forward to in the future of animation and film. I have already figured out that nothing is pre-meditated. Its all a matter of being at the right place at the right time.