Pop culture consumption this weekend

The past few days were rather Pop Culture-lite in terms of my activities. I found myself working more on my personal projects - like my Egyptian holiday scrapbook - than embracing the lazy escapism offered by the entertainment industry. Plus, on Sunday I was in a bit of a funk, having been subjected to the dreaded question combo of "So what are your plans? How's the job hunt? Are you looking at going overseas?" These are all topics I am very sensitive about at the moment. But at least I didn't suppress my anger and anxiety this time, instead snapping "I'm scared alright? Is that what you wanted to hear?" It turns out that communicating your painful feelings does really work a treat, and ends interrogation then and there. Anyway...

On Saturday evening I hosted a little Watchmen Ultimate Cut party, inviting friends over to watch the DVD, which extends the 162-minute theatrical cut of the film to 215 minutes. You see, the Ultimate Cut takes the Director's Cut of the film, and integrates it with the animated Tales of the Black Freighter, which, in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' comics, served as a story within a story, mirroring many of the issues raised during the progression of the main plot.

For the record, the Director's Cut is great. It doesn't substantially change anything; rather it extends and enhances certain scenes. The only major new inclusions are more screen time for Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl, and additional scenes with Laurie, the second Silk Spectre. In the case of the latter it helps to explain her motivations more thoroughly.

While the Director's Cut content is a treat, the same can't be said for the integration of The Tales of the Black Freighter. It feels very out of place and jarring in a way that O-Ren Ishii animated sequence in Kill Bill Vol. 1 never did. Black Freighter emerges then as a disappointing distraction from the main Watchmen storyline.

On Saturday evening we also had a quick look at Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic, which had been released online to purchase (via the Apple Store) before the cinema release of Watchmen in March 2008. Basically the project animates the entire Watchmen graphic novel - leading to 5 hours of viewing.

Now while I enjoyed the Flash-style approach to animating Dave Gibbons' illustrations, I really can't say the same for the voice-over. The Motion Comics have the most boring male narrator in the world... who for some inexplicable reason (budget limitations perhaps?) also does all the female voices in the series. The end result is unintentionally funny. And I'm glad I didn't waste bandwidth on these segments.

I rounded off the weekend then watching chick-flick Confessions of a Shopaholic, and was completely infuriated. With these kinds of films I'm normally quite accepting of an accident-prone female leads who still manage to win the heart of the good guy male lead (I remain a big fan of the original Bridget Jones film). However, I found Isla Fisher's character in Confessions to be incredibly irritating, and, frankly, insulting. She's supposed to be a talented journalist, but she misses deadlines, lies, lets down everyone around her, is financially irresponsible, brings her publication into disrepute, and yet everyone, especially her editor-turned-love interest, still adores her.

Worst of all about the film is that basically every single woman is presented as being a hysterical slave to consumerism - particularly when it comes to brand name fashion. The frenzied shopping for frequently hideous clothing is very distasteful. Then again, perhaps it's just my feminist sensibilities reacting badly to this soulless gluttony and the film's generally negative portrayal of the female sex. Then again, perhaps I'm just peeved because one of the ex's biggest post-relationship complaints was that I didn't wear dresses and look sexy enough.

Well, I finished Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus this weekend. And I have learned some very big, very important lessons... like the need to lovingly and non-judgmentally communicate my sadness, frustration and anger instead of bottling it up out of fear I will upset my sensitive partner - and he'll hold it against me forever.

Now before I move onto the fantastically titled (though difficult to request in a bookshop) Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov, I have a little bit of fiction to amuse myself with. A friend loaned me the first 2 books in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse supernatural mystery series. If that name means nothing to you, then perhaps True Blood does? You see True Blood is loosely based on Harris's books, with each 12-episode season of the TV show roughly covering a different novel in the literary series.

I'm a chapter or so into the first book, Dead Until Dark, and all I can say is "Dear Stephenie Meyer, this is how you write a female character from a first person perspective - with wit, intelligence and regional flavour!"

The main portion of my gaming quotient for the weekend was intended to be some tabletop role-playing at the Durban Games Day. However, with its cancellation the only gaming I got done this weekend was of my usual electronic, computerised kind.

Although, this said, on Saturday I made the decision to quit World of WarCrack, probably until the next expansion comes out. In the past few weeks I have become very bored and lonely as apparently the only person from my real life group of friends who still plays on my server. And that's just not fun. Plus, I have a cupboard full of neglected single-player games that I should really be making my way through. So, yes, as of this Wednesday I will be off the juice when my monthly subscription expires, and saving myself some bucks.

For anyone who is interested though, here's what my blood elf paladin - who is based on my fantastically charismatic, very sexually ambiguous D&D character - currently looks like.


Terrance said…
I can recommend either the Director's or Ultimate cuts of Watchmen above the theatrical version of the film. The added scenes really do manage to flesh out the film and improve upon the theatrical release. I suppose the fact that I loved the graphic novel may have something to do with that though :)
MJenks said…
I liked how the Director's Cut included the murder of Hollis Mason, because it gave Dreiburg a little deeper development of character. You could see him become a bit more human.

I thought that, upon the second viewing, Laurie's story seemed more complete. I guess I didn't pick up on whichever of her scenes was now included in the movie. I just sort of realized that her story had been more fleshed out.
GreenLantern said…
Watchmen on DVD and the GN, pizza and miscellaneous munchables. You set a fine table!
Pfangirl said…
Thanks for the comments, Terrance. I agree!

MJenks, the only noticeable new Laurie scenes (well, that I picked up on anyway) involved her being interrogated after Dr Manhattan's disappearance. There may have been some other snippets of dialogue in other extended scenes, but in the Director's Cut you really start to get a sense of the claustrophobia she feels, and how she's still not her own person. From her mother's daughter, she's now Dr Manhattan's girlfriend, and seen as nothing more...

GreenLantern, why, thank you for the compliment! I can't claim that the munchables were all my idea though. The evening was bring-and-share foodwise.

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