Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Artist

I'm looking forward to the Oscars Sunday night. It feels like a foregone conclusion that The Artist is going to dominate, and that's fine with me. I saw it a couple weeks ago, and I've been thinking about it quite a bit ever since.

I've seen the word "charming" frequently used to describe The Artist, and that's spot-on, it is charming.

It's also a great metaphor for the times.

The protagonist of The Artist, George Valentin, is a silent film star when technological advancement turns his world upside down.

The film industry is facing a similar time of great change.

The digital revolution is changing a lot of things, and movies are not immune. I can see a day where the overwhelming majority of movies are released online, streamed immediately at home or on mobile devices, movie theaters a thing of the past, much like their drive-thru brethren. I'm not exactly sure how that might affect the economics of movies, but I have a feeling many people involved in film are unsure what the future holds for their industry.

The Artist perfectly captures that feeling of uncertainty. Taking the analogy even further, the digital world changes things for a lot of people. What are the jobs of the future going to be? And will there be one for me? George Valentin found a way to adapt, and that, to me, is the theme of The Artist. Despite huge changes, creative people will find a way to adapt.

So yes, The Artist is charming. And yes, Jean Dujardin is a fine dancer.

The Artist resonates for me because it comments on the future by showing us the past. That's not easy to do, in any art form.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I'm a huge sports fan. In my mind sports is a collection of stories. The athletes are the characters, good guys and villians (yes, Lebron, you) abound. Each game/series has exposition, rising action, a climax, and resolution. The settings of sporting events are incredibly varied and vibrant. Sports is filled with themes, many of them cliched to be sure, but it's hard to beat a good sports story.

The latest sports story to cross over into mainstream consciousness is that of Jeremy Lin. His meteoric rise is the stuff of fiction.

Lin played basketball at Harvard, so his future was always bright. He could have pursued any number of high-paying jobs, but his dream was to play in the NBA. No team felt he was good enough to be drafted, and while two teams gave him a shot, both cut him after brief stints. Jeremy Lin wasn't good enough for them. In fact, the team he stars for now, the New York Knicks, was reportedly going to cut him the day before he finally got a chance to start.

Lin is a trailblazer. I've been watching the NBA since I was a kid, and I can't remember a single Asian American player. Let's be honest, I bet there weren't a lot of people in the NBA taking the Asian guy from Harvard very seriously, yet another hurdle in Lin's journey to play basketball.

Lin has jumped all the hurdles, perseverance a prominent theme in his story. Lin has been ridiculous since entering the Knicks starting lineup, and he is now the toast of New York. Even Spike Lee approves.

I normally detest all New York teams, but last Friday night, I found myself on the edge of my seat as Lin battled Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Then Tuesday night, Lin got me off the couch with a game-winning 3 in Toronto. For this year at least, consider me a Knicks fan. Lin's story is just too good to miss.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Madonna, Ferris, and oh yeah, a football game

For the third year in a row, the Super Bowl set a record for the most-watched TV show in U.S. history. Even though my Packers weren't playing, I was one of the record 111.3 million people who tuned in for the game. I didn't think the game was particularly well-played, and it didn't get very exciting until the last five minutes. Those five minutes were damn good though. Truth be told, I seriously dislike both teams (my mother taught me that hate is a wasted emotion), so I was more interested in the commercials.

A few commercials stood out for me. There was that one with the pug in red shoes racing the greyhounds. The pug blows away the competition, moonwalking across the finish line. I have no idea what product was being sold, but that dog cracked me up. I loved the Clint Eastwood commercial. Man, Clint's voice, that thing IS America. THE commercial of the night for me though was the Ferris commercial. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it. Did John Hughes roll over in his grave? or was it genius? If you haven't seen it, give it a look, and let me know what you think.

I wouldn't call myself a Madonna fan, although I did see her in concert in high school. I want to say it was 1987, Who's That Girl tour? I went with a couple friends, we drove to Alpine Valley in an orange Vega, there may have been a bottle of Jack Daniels involved. Front 42 opened, great show. I thought her half-time show started slowly, gathered strength, and "Like a Prayer" nailed the ending. My girls were excited to see LMFAO and Nicki Minaj. Good on ya Madonna, bringing the generations together. One of Madonna's guests, MIA, decided to spice things up by flipping the world the bird, and I'm pretty sure she dropped "shit" into her lyrics. Luckily my kids were oblivious.

I would have enjoyed Super Bowl Sunday a lot more if the Packers had been involved, but overall, not a bad way to spend a few hours. What were some of your SB highlights?