Saturday, January 17, 2009


My last post about "The Man In The Moon" film brought to light the way subtlety can enhance an experience. Just the word subtle in itself represents so much. I think of it as clever. A clever way to create a complex and ultimately much more satisfying experience. I don't just mean in film either, I mean in life. And especially in humor.

Ricky Gervais is, in my opinion, the funniest man in the world.

He created The Office and has written probably the most subtle type of comedy I've ever seen. Chris Rock describes Gervais as having a very high level of confidence that in turn allows him to be so subtle. Rock himself admits that he screams and yells while telling his jokes because he doesn't have the self-esteem needed to be subtle in comedy.

This type of humor can actually be traced back to the film "This Is Spinal Tap", which Ricky admits to seeing over thirty times in his life. A film so subtle that moviegoers actually thought they were watching the lives of a real rock band on screen, "This Is Spinal Tap" is still ahead of it's time 25 years after it was released.

The first time I watched both "This Is Spinal Tap" and the original UK "The Office", I didn't really get it. I felt like I was on the outside looking in. The reason I missed out on the humor was that I wasn't prepared to watch them as closely as needed to really understand that type of humor. I was a casual watcher. I liked humor to be more in my face, more easy to grasp. I gave them more chances, and on repeated viewings I began to pay closer attention to the subtle parts of each scene: the body language, the eye brows raising, the way jokes were just being thrown out at a dizzying speed. But are they jokes? Where most Hollywood comedies go for the gross-out, over-the-top toilet jokes, Ricky Gervais creates comedy by portraying something that is ultimately so realistic, so close to home, that not seeing the humor in it would be to not see the humor in your own every day life.

Poetry in motion

Every now and again a film comes along that makes me think deeply about the art form. It doesn't happen very often for me. Most movies I watch I tend to think are "ok" or "not bad", but rarely do I find a movie that surpasses any expectation or premonition. In fact, I would go so far to say that prior to most movie going experiences I go in thinking that it's probably going to suck.

I watched the 1991 film "The Man In The Moon" tonight. I hadn't even heard of it before sitting down and watching it with my parents.

I did a bit of research afterwards and found that it is directed by Robert Mulligan, who also directed one of the greatest films of all time "To Kill A Mockingbird." I had a discussion with my parents about film earlier today, and we decided that just about any story can make for a good film if it is done right. I can watch a sappy love story and my grandmother can watch a comic book film, and we can both enjoy them if they are well done. This is where the art comes in. Camera angles, dialogue, pacing, soundtrack, cuts, duration of shots, closeups, slow motion - there's a million things a director chooses to do in order to tell his or her story the most effectively. I find that taking it back to basics is usually the best way to go. Robert Mulligan did this in "The Man In The Moon." He realized that less is always more. A shot of Reese Witherspoon giving a small smile or a quick frown says more than any words ever could. Silence in a situation where talking might make more sense actually creates the realistic tension that hits way harder.

Show, don't tell.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

For Starters

My first post! It's taken me a while to join the blogging community. I was quick to join myspace and facebook back when they started, but the blogworld has always been a vast, uncharted landscape for me. It seems like a good outlet so I'm going to give it a go.

This is an introductory post so I'll share a little something. I'm a musician from Michigan who has spent the last three months playing guitar every night in different locations around the world. The Stevie Ray Vaughan Custom Strat is the most comfortable guitar I've ever played.

I've chosen the word 'sparks' as the title to my blog for a bunch of reasons. It's such an electric word! I believe that a lot of things in life come from a spark. Love, creativity, friendship. A small spark can ignite and create the largest of things. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you around as I find my place in the blog world.