Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Mnah Mnah

Yes! Yes, yesyesyesyesyesyesyes! This is an excellently written, smartly argued close reading/review of Gimme Fiction and an eloquently conceived, passionately convincing case for Spoon as one of the premier rock bands working today (via Said the Gramophone). I narcissisticly love having my own opinions corroborated by other denizens of the blogosphere.

Will someone please explain to me why I absolutely agree with Michelle Collins's indifference toward Ricky Gervais and The Orifice? Although I haven't yet seen the Christmas special, I finally got around to watching seasons one and two within the past two weeks, and I have to say I'm also resoundingly underwhelmed. The first season beats the shit out of the second, that's fer damn sure, but I was nevertheless nowhere near as wowed as I expected to be. Maybe my expectations were too high, based on all the "BEST EVER!" chatter surrounding it, and it does certainly possess that British je ne sais quoi where the comedy can't fully blossom until you've not only watched it but also talked about it and quoted the funny bits with someone else, but I still can't help feeling that it's not actually as sociologically trenchant as popular opinion claims it is. I dunno. The second season started to go wrong for me when it actively began painting David Brent as a bigot, rather than just making him a clueless dipshit who happens to accidentally say bigoted things. It's a subtle distinction but one that, I think, the uncomfortable humor really hinges on. And, as for the uncomfortable humor, there is a tremendously fine line between what is uncomfortable because it's something that actually happens in life versus stuff that's uncomfortable because it makes you say "gosh, wouldn't that be uncomfortable if that happened?" Watching the first season, I actually felt sick to my stomach because of the devastating accuracy of some of David Brent's character tics, especially all the cross talk in situations where his power is threatened (with Jennifer, with the facilitator during training day, etc.). Whereas in the second season, especially during the unfortunately unfunny comic relief episode, you get the cruel de-pantsing of one of the anonymous drones and the whole interpretive dance sequence. Those moments are just begging to be declared "ooh, awkward!", but, both of them seem a little too over-the-top to really feel intrinsic to the office setting, and, isn't that the whole shtick this series is riding on? That, here we're shining a light on all the fleeting moments of discomfort that arise in this specific setting that most everyone has experienced yet no one really talks about? De-pantsing is cruel and awkward anywhere (and, let's face it, do people really get de-pantsed anywhere other than in a middle school locker room?), and calculatedly "wacky" and oblivious interpretive dancing...well, does that actually happen anywhere outside film and TV sets where comic actors and writers are just getting off on the idea of their comic actor and writer friends doing outrageous things to make each other laugh with the tacit assumption that the audience will automatically find anything they shit out of their gifted little comic sensibilities howlingly funny as well?

Are these pointless arguments? Are these the kind of arguments that I scoff at when other people launch "but that would never happen in real life!" critiques at me about movies I love? I don't think so...the "that would never happen in real life" defense absolutely does hold water when the piece in question is rolling mockumentary style. If you're going for veracity, you can't be selective about it. You can't decide it only applies to some of the characters, but not the ones being played by the writer/director/creator/mastermind/mouthpiece.

OK. Enough with eviscerating Gervais. There are plenty of things I did adore about the show. The Tim/Dawn arc was incredibly satisfying (not to mention that I might have a little crush on Martin Freeman) and I think Gareth might actually be the most funny, interesting, and accurate caricature/character in the whole series. And I have to say that the two line outro at the end of the third episode in season two--"My knees hurt."/"No they don't."--made me laugh way harder and way longer than I thought it would.

Has everybody already seen this faux-preview that makes The Shining look like it was directed by Cameron Crowe? A friend forwarded it to me this weekend, and Nerve highlighted it as their favorite pic of the week. As I've stated in this forum before, I totally love previews, and I think this is a brilliant way of exposing how you can manipulate anything to look like anything given the right editing and music.

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