Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): The Last Viewing Marathon (#WatchlistScreenCaps, 1/5)

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Last Viewing Marathon (#WatchlistScreenCaps, 1/5)


On Sunday I watched a dozen movies and began three celebrated TV shows. This will be my last viewing marathon before I end #WatchlistScreenCaps in a month (for all the images included in this hashtag since last February, you can visit my viewing diary archive). I used the day to catch up with the last batch of films on my backlog, mostly unseen till now (though a few were revisits). From now on, the rest of the movies will be Netflix selections watched at my leisure; just as with books and music, I'm trying to let myself be more casual and less structured in what I watch.

Mostly by coincidence, the first four films I watched were kids' films centering around a journey, followed by four 80s action classics (none of which, believe it or not, I'd ever watched before), and after squeezing in a couple more random films I finally watched some notable television pilots (I don't usually include screen-caps from TV episodes unless I'm documenting a viewing marathon). Until now I'd avoided these shows, knowing their addictive reputation. Now that my movie backlog is cleared, maybe I can finally make room for them.

So here is the first #WatchlistScreenCaps round-up of 2014, and the last to focus on a single day's lineup...

A Disneyland for little devils
Pinocchio (1940), prod. Walt Disney

"Someone might find you someday in a cold fjord in Norway, or a warm beach in Africa"
Paddle to the Sea (1966), dir. Bill Mason

Big Bird sings the blues
Follow That Bird (1985), dir. Ken Kwapis

A treehouse is not a home
Kooky (2010), dir. Jan Sverak

"Welcome back, John"
Commando (1985), dir. Mark Lester

The All-American strip becomes a war zone
First Blood (1982), dir. Ted Kotcheff

Here's one way to exorcise the ghosts of Vietnam
Rambo: First Blood II (1985), dir. George Cosmatos

True barbarians always bite back
Conan the Barbarian (1982), dir. John Milius

Ra parks his spaceship for the afternoon
Stargate (1994), dir. Roland Emmerich

The original Toontown was in Georgia, not California
Song of the South (1946), dir. Wilfred Jackson, Herve Foster/prod. Walt Disney

Somebody has to pay the piper
Premiere of The Wire: "The Target" (2002), dir. Clark Johnson

How not to win friends or influence your neighbors
Premiere of Mad Men: "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (2007), dir. Alan Taylor

Money isn't real, Walt
Premiere of Breaking Bad (2008), dir. Vince Gilligan

3 comments:

Mike said...

Wow- You've got a hell of a journey ahead of you with those three shows. I've stated my case plenty of times over at Wonders in the Dark (as I imagine I will do again in the future when the American TV countdown kicks off there) that I think The Wire is the greatest TV series of all time, followed not so closely by the still brilliant Mad Men and Breaking Bad in third. But all three shows consumed my life while I watched them. One of my dreams actually is to do an episode by episode review/analysis on my blog for The Wire a la your Twin Peaks series. Sounds like a good summer project.

Do keep tracking your own progress with the shows.

Joel Bocko said...

Yeah, part of the reason it took me so long to begin is because I knew how absorbing these shows could become. But with the end of 2013 & beginning of 2014 I've rescheduled my blog time so that all work will be done in one big block on Saturdays. I am planning to avoid stockpiling DVDs to watch and books to read, or even album-playlists to listen to and even my #WatchlistScreenCaps project will be wrapping up in a month. Furthermore, I make sure that 8 hours every week - typically Sunday morning - will be devoted to developing screenwriting ideas (and for the moment, I've put off any practical deadlines for when/how I could shoot something - focusing on story ideas right now rather than execution) so that I won't feel I'm wasting free time when I'm not writing.

All of which is to say that I can delve into these shows without feeling like I'm distracting myself from other matters anymore. Even so, I'm treading lightly at the moment. I've been told it usually takes a half season to a season and a half to completely fall under their spells though I know that moment will hit eventually though I enjoyed watching all three right now.

My impressions thus far:

The Wire - I'd never seen anything from this show before, though I've heard a lot of chatter. I enjoyed the first episode and suspect this might be the series I like the best of all 3. Sometimes the police lingo was confusing, but I like a series that challenges me to pay attention so this should be good. I really like the conceit of covering the drug war from both angles from the get-go.

Mad Men - Of the 3, this is the only one of which I've seen several episodes before. I found the pilot laid it on a bit too thick with all the look-ma-how-different-things-were-in-the-early-60s! schtick (the moment where they agree cigarettes are healthy and simultaneously start coughing was way too on-the-nose, and I got the whole gay-guy-in-the-closet thing with the first hint or two and didn't need the dozen or so they provided). But later episodes didn't give me that same impression, so I'm not too worried. And the characters are fascinating - my guess is this may have the most absorbing ensemble of the three shows.

Breaking Bad - This is probably the show I'm going into the most blind, because I've read less about it than about The Wire, and have only seen one scene from one episode. As such, it fascinates me the most because it's easily the biggest phenomenon of the three (if I had a penny for every time I've heard it described as the greatest show of all time, I could probably invest in my own meth lab). It's like going to see Star Wars a year after its release, knowing nothing about it except that it takes place in outer space. I look forward to the surprises. Among those in the pilot alone, I was astonished by how different Walt looked from his iconic appearance by the end of the series as captured on numerous T-shirts and billboards - I didn't even know it was him until he said his own name a minute or two into the first scene. Also, it was more comedic than I thought it would be; indeed if the tone shifts as much as I suspect it will, than it will mirror Sopranos which also began in a jollier mood than it finished in.

Mike said...

It took me a good half a season to really get hooked on The Wire. It's never really too confusing but yeah, it's definitely not a show you could have on in the background or jump in on a random episode, which I did a few times for Mad Men before I actually started from episode 1.

It's interesting to me how may people got on Breaking Bad late, and how much the show snowballed in popularity leading up to its finale. I got in before season 5 aired based on the recommendation of my father, whom I generally trust in these matters (he only got in a little before I did), but I was still very wary of the overall concept. But when I started it I knew I would be hooked up till the final episode. In between then and the final episode airing, I have witnessed and heard about many people starting the show and then losing their lives to it through binge watching. By the final episode it seemed like everyone had gotten there their separate ways, but the finale itself was something everyone experienced together.

And good luck with your screenwriting- perhaps these shows will give you a creative boost, but regardless I'm sure the finished project will be strong, based off of your previous work (congrats on the 1 year anniversary by the way).