Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Technologically Advanced: "Gossip Girl" (TV) and "Cloverfield," Pure Genius

Gossip Girl here, giving you the DL on all of the hidden, most unexpected genius of the film and television elite. In a world where the upper echelon of entertainment has become an artistic cluster fuck in indie film and HBO, it's sometimes difficult to strain the flair from the bare. But, as always, I have my own opinions to flaunt. I also have a tendency for the underdog. I like to find innovation in things that some might view as...sophomoric, at best. In any event, I'd like to talk about two of my favorite new jabs in film and television and why I think they bring something spicy to the table. Disagree if you want. I don't mind. You know you love me.


"Gossip Girl." Let's be honest. It is unlikely that anyone reading this right now has indulged in the guilty pleasure that is the plight of Serena Van der Woodsen. So...what are you waiting for? The genius of "Gossip Girl" lies in its complete and total embrace of the modern teen lifestyle. The show is made of a reckless abandon, a knowledge that, at this point in the post-WB-Buffy-Dawson's Creek world, there really is nothing a TV show aimed at the Millenial can do but put it all out on the table. And by all, I mean TEEN CHIC CENTRAL.

The OMFG marketing ploy (see above) is fabulously genius. Why? Because the entire show is set in the world of cyber space. It's basically a giant myspace page with a schweeet wardrobe and Sunday brunch at the Palace Hotel. It's narrated by the ubiquitous Gossip Girl, an anonymous social queen who knows everything about everybody who's anybody in the elite Upper East Side of Manhattan. Teenagers walk around with their snazzy cell phones in hand, jumping at the sound of a hasty text cluing them into GG's latest discoveries. The sex is ample, the poison served on the rocks, and there is definitely some envelope-pushing--but the show is mostly about the determination of one socialista to change her ways from drunken, moneyed whore to well-dressed, merciful dame. Plus, you have to admit it, the pathologic social habits of privileged teens in New York is a lot more interesting than the irritating tans of privileged a-holes in LA. Although, I do think that some of the post-modern, edgy, fourth-wall-breakage of "The O.C." was also kind of genius. Either way, "Gossip Girl" is like a glitzy AIM conversation full of three-dimensional characters, most that have plenty to deal with BESIDES the stereotypical plights of high society's youth. It's just shallow enough to work, just smart enough to make a killing. XOXO. A teen show with innards.

I've seen "Cloverfield" twice, and, both times, it shook me. Like "Gossip Girl," "Cloverfield" takes a few hints from the Millenial/Gen. Y lifestyle: fancy cell phones, gorgeous flats with concrete walls and steel columns, and a neurotic flare for documenting EVERYTHING. I tell you. My sister takes pictures of EVERYTHING. Her room is a haven for black and whites. And "Cloverfield" reminds me of that. It's genius, however, lies in the way that it reveals its fears: Through the creation of Twenty-something Survival Skills 101. The characters in "Cloverfield," a bunch of, IDK, twenty-three year olds, are so believable that, from the first explosion in Midtown, I swear I could have been any one of them. The girl dating her best friends handsome older brother. The faux-Bohemian type passing through to say hello, the unsure, young professional with a hasty future, or even the camera man, a semi-clueless BFF with a knack for comic relief.

Some of the best stuff right now is a product of the C. Guest Mockumentary. "Cloverfield" is, I think, one of the keenest derivatives so far. Not only is it shot in the hand held style, wreaking imperfection in every shot, but it's also mostly improvised, and I LOVE that we get a glimpse of the monster. I think that it's a common misconception that the monster should be kept a secret. The monster and its icky lice thingers often reveal themselves in shards, but there are moments of the loftiest display. These displays are then met with reactions. Characters on a seemingly bravado quest to save the Queen Bee--the friendships seem real. So much is at stake, and that makes it that much scarier. In a movie like "The Ruins" or "The Mist," the pay-off really is just so minimal, because the interpersonal relationships among the characters are not there. When you can really relate to what it's like to care about someone, and then you can relate to how it would feel to watch that person die in a flash of red. That's fear. Plus, the shaky cam is no slouch either, and there's really nothing like that swaggering J.J. Abrams style.

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