Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Keepin' It Really Reel Award - July '09

Really Reel Reviews started as a simple idea that we hoped would pass the time for us and occasionally bring us some amusement. The venture has lasted a little over two months, but it has been exhausting. We have been tiring ourselves by watching movies, going through drafts for various blog entries, and arguing tons of topics and points for podcasts, many of which we never discuss on air. Mix that with family, work, and a recession and you’ve got a recipe for burnout – not to mention I’ve just started my PGA season on Tiger Woods golf! When can a guy get a break? So here we are. Let’s take a knee and grab some water and reflect on the summer of movies since its end is just over one month away…
Most of the blockbusters have already come and gone. When you listen to our podcasts there are only a few movies we strongly recommend, and only one of the much anticipated summer releases do we outright encourage seeing in theaters– STAR TREK. Admittedly, our reason for wanting to see Star Trek and wanting it to succeed was more for J.J. Abrams, not the Star Trek franchise, and that is why Abrams is July’s recipient of the Keepin’ it Really Reel Award.
I never saw Felicity, never saw much of Alias, but I did see the pilot of LOST and that was all she wrote. JJ Abrams directed the pilot of LOST (in addition to his writing and producing responsibilities), and if you haven’t seen it then you are missing something special. The way he handles chaos and presents it intricately, but clearly (which ends up being important to the theme of the show) is unlike anything I had ever seen…until I saw the bridge scene in Mission: Impossible III. But all the explosions, time traveling, and intricate action sequences aren’t what make Abrams amazing.What separates Abrams from McG and Michael Bay is the same thing that makes Star Trek better than Terminator Salvation and Transformers – it’s the story. Yes, the actual story.

Story is an ancient term some of you may not remember, but it is very important to Abrams and what he does. From Felicity to Sydney Bristow to the entire ensemble of LOST; characters are what drives Abrams’ work. Even in "MI3", Abrams’ directorial debut, characters that we had known for two previous movies seemed to have newfound depth to them. I mean, everyone looks better compared to John Woo’s doves and motorcycle ballets, but "MI3" made a legitimate stance as story based action movie. And that’s exactly why the franchise, for the first time in its brief history, will use a director for more than one movie.

I could go on and on about Abrams, but what really makes him deserving of this month’s award is his own words at the TED speaker series. There he talks about his passion for story and mystery. He also mentions why many sequels fail – because they “rip off” the wrong elements of the original movie. I highly recommend listening to that portion of the clip. Abrams Keeps it Really Reel by injecting our otherwise dull, lackluster, and cookie-cutter summer with some life, energy, and ingenuity.
Allow yourself to actually watch some of Abrams’ work and forget about the vehicle he uses to set up his plot; forget the plane crash, the time travel, the black hole, and allow yourself to get to know the doctor or the con man, the aspiring starship captain, or the secret agent and I guarantee you will be amazed. Thank you, J.J. Abrams for your many stories that go beyond the common ploys and tricks of cinema and TV. And we’re all looking forward to 2010 when Destiny is Found! (Lost fans, you can now go change your shorts.)

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