Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Various items

Yeah, yeah, yeah, my final Ebertfest updates still haven't appeared. Those faithful readers who recall the promise of a FOURTEEN HOURS review are still waiting. (It's done but must be transferred from ink and paper to computer.) Now you know why I wanted to post while at the festival...

Hooray, ALIAS will return for a fourth season! The catch is that the new season won't start until more than six months after the completion of season three. Recent years have found the new fall TV season being pushed back later and later, sometimes to avoid competing with the Olympics or World Series. (For that matter, the idea of the TV season starting in the fall is becoming outmoded, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more of a year-round cycle within five years.) The new Halloween episode of THE SIMPSONS debuted before the season premiere this season, didn't it? So this isn't out of the ordinary, although it is an irritant for fans like me.

Still, waiting an extra two or three months isn't so bad when cancellation is a possibility. I didn't expect that to happen. Even if it doesn't pull top ratings, ALIAS is the rare buzz show on ABC. Although the media attention given the show and Jennifer Garner hasn't translated into a Nielsen hit, I expect that the tie-in merchandise (DVDs, books, magazines, video games) makes it profitable. The wait may help attract new fans. The third season DVDs will arrive in early September, so those new to or catching up on ALIAS will have some time to do so.

How about some film talk? THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA is a bad movie. It's intended to be. A goof on the unintentionally funny horror and sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s, THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA is as silly as the films it recreates and mocks. Unlike those duds, though, it isn't funny.

It's a short film idea stretched to an unbearable feature film length. The trailer is quite good at recreating the purple dialogue and narration, although it left me with the sneaking suspicion that the film could only disappoint. Whereas the trailer is succinct and punchy, the film is long and tedious. The same tepid jokes are flogged time and time again within the same scene.

The biggest problem is that the filmmakers set out to make a bad movie. If you look at those bad old films, they are completely serious. One suspects that the makers strove to make good films, even if the projects went horribly awry. It's the conviction behind the badness that makes them funny. The performers in THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA don't literally wink at the audience, but the direction and performances are dripping with postmodern irony. That's precisely why it isn't funny. Rather than making a film that is funny because it is terrible, they've made a film that is terrible because it isn't funny, because it is too self-aware.

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