Monday, July 09, 2007

On the Lot: more liveblogging folly

OK, so you're probably not watching Fox's director search ON THE LOT. If you are, you probably forgot that it's on tonight because of the All-Star game. (That's what digital video recorders are for.) Anyway, I'm home, the show is on, so following last week's attempt, let's do some liveblogging.

8:00 p.m. In the show's opening tease we see a Universal Studios tour group going by while the guide says that they can see "a lot of filming" for the TV series. And I thought it was too bad that the only film shooting when I went on a Paramount Studios tour was LUCKY NUMBERS.

8:03 p.m. Mateen basically calls Adrianna The Angel of Death. Heh heh.

8:04 p.m. Shira-Lee gets the heave-ho. Not a surprise considering she essentially said that she didn't know the genre she had to work in last week.

8:05 p.m. Adrianna informs the directors that their theme for this week is "when two worlds collide" and *gasp* two directors will be eliminated. This must be Fox's way of getting in an MLB tie-in. Now that the stakes are higher, it's for real, kind of like how the All-Star game stupidly determines home field advantage for the World Series.

8:06 p.m. This week's guest judge is who? Luke Greenfield, director of THE ANIMAL and THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, accepts the call. If this show had any traction, they'd be pulling better guests than this.

8:07 p.m. Zach's TIME UPON A ONCE sounds like it's going to be all about his special effects background. He's directing his actors to do everything backwards. Lin Shaye is back for more, and isn't that Reginald VelJohnson (you know, the FAMILY MATTERS dad)? (I think he was the head doctor in Will's comedy piece two weeks ago, but we didn't get a long enough look at him.) The conceit is that the new neighbors do everything backwards, and the effect he pulls off is convincing. The judges and voters are going to eat this up.

8:17 p.m. Hilary gives us THE LEGEND OF DONKEY-TAIL WILLIE. With her track record of lowbrow humor, that title portends all sorts of bad things but it's cute. She shot this like an old-timey western and employs a gauzy filter because nothing says fairy tale than having glaucoma. It's her best effort on the show, although I think part of it is the better production values. She's gone with the no glasses look this week. That's not important; I just don't have anything else to say.

8:27 p.m. Next week is action movies. Anything that spares us dialogue is a good thing. Speaking of which, here's Will. Hus SPAGHETTI has a present day couple finding themselves in a spaghetti western and has some spoken words. When two worlds collide! Or because Univeral Studios has an old west backlot set. Will's definitely seen a Sergio Leone movie, but keep this guy doing his silent movie thing. It's fine but zzzzzzz..... Like some other ON THE LOT shorts, it could have been a commercial with a tweak here or there.

8:37 p.m. Shalini's FIRST SIGHT definitely looks like it is shot on a studio backlot. The large building in the background looks two-dimensional. Her inspirational movie about a special pair of sunglasses that allows Tatyana Ali to see the true spirit inside people is heavyhanded but generally well exectued. Carrie Fisher rips it by saying that in Hollywood "if you want a message, leave it at the beep." Greenfield is similarly harsh. Leave it to that ol' softie Garry Marshall to stand up for it and defend the charge of lack of subtlety by saying, "Subtle is what they play in Connecticut when nobody goes."

8:47 p.m. An hour for five short films is way too much time.

8:48 p.m. Adam's WORLDLY POSSESSIONS has a military package accidentally delivered to a wealthy suburban couple. He's employed a lot of visual effects, most of them practical by the look of things. It's funny how Shalini just got hammered for a message movie, yet Adam just did the same thing. The difference, of course, is degree. It's a little too on the nose as well, but this features the best storytelling of all the shorts tonight.

8:56 p.m. A shocking elimination on HELL'S KITCHEN tonight. When isn't there? Last week, I guess.

8:57 p.m. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Adam couldn't look more uncomfortable on camera.

8:58 p.m. Favorite films? Carrie votes for Adam, Luke for Zack, and Garry picks Hilary. Adrianna says she'll see us next Tuesday. Sounds like a threat.

Now that we're a little deeper into the show we can see that the directors have professional competency, but I'd like to draw your attention to what Donna had to say about this in last week's comments:

"...the polish you speak of bothers me more week by week. It's like somebody taught these people a bag of tricks -- filters, angles, cuts, music beats -- and they pour it all over whatever the assignment is, every week. Kenny may be incompetent, but I'll take his rough-edged ignorance over the other directors' chrome sheen. At least it feels like his vision, not a Frankenstein monster stitched together out of the ultra-commercial surfaces that represent these contestants' highest aspirations."

I think that's why the show has become more boring, if that were possible, as the shorts have improved technically. We're getting more emphasis on visual effects, but assuming that all of these filmmakers have talented professionals assisting them--and who knows how much help they are getting--what does that tell us about their abilities? Rather than go for bigger and "better", I'd really like to see what the directors could do with just a conversation scene. It'd be a truer gauge of their directorial visions.

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