Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Things I've Seen Recently

1. The new Broadway musical, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," last week when I was in New York. The New York Times calls it "effortlessly endearing." Eh, I was less impressed. Here's the problem, as I see it. It's not terrible, there are some laughs... but it's throwaway. This may be the wrong standard to be judging something by, but it's got nothing to say. It doesn't stick. I also felt like the book and the music didn't match at all. The book was light and trying to be jokey. The music needed melodies. It wasn't catchy enough. It would have been cool to see it done with the "Avenue Q" songwriters. The acting was solid enough. I mean, like I said, not terrible. But, eh. They have a gimmick where they have 4 audience members come on stage as spellers, and interact with the cast. Today's Times has an article on that, which is interesting even if you couldn't care less about the show. Here's the other problem: the movie "Spellbound" was really awesome, and so anything else about spelling is kind of held up against that. And fails.

2. The movie "Crash," starring Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, and a whole bunch of other people. It's a movie about racism, structured sort of like "Love Actually," which is a completely different kind of movie, but has the same structure of interlocking characters and stories all about the same ideas. Roger Ebert likes it. He says, "[Paul] Haggis [the writer] writes with such directness and such a good ear for everyday speech that the characters seem real and plausible after only a few words. His cast is uniformly strong; the actors sidestep cliches and make their characters particular." I'll agree with that. I thought the movie was really good, and worth seeing. It's thought-provoking and engaging. It has something to say, unlike "Spelling Bee." Biggest negative: the previews! 5 terrible looking movies. Including one about a spelling bee. A fictionalized version of Spellbound, in the inner city... come on, Spellbound was good because it was a well-done, engaging documentary, not because Spelling is some magic subject that will make anything you put together a huge hit. At least I hope not. This is just hopping on a bandwagon. How about making good movies instead of just copying things that worked?

3. Today's Red Sox game, at Fenway Park. Was a fairly boring game for a while, Sox up 4-1 until the 9th. And then the A's scored 4 in the top of the 9th off Keith Foulke, all with 2 outs, to take the lead, 5-4. And then the Sox came right back and Jason Varitek hit a 2-run homer off Dotel to win it 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th. One of the best 9th innings I've seen, ever. Very cool.

4. Tonight's season finale (and hopefully not series finale) of "Jack and Bobby" on the WB. There's a rerun on Sunday. Watch it. It's awesome TV. Really, TV doesn't get any better than this, and they put enough catch-up at the beginning that you can figure out what's going on. This will be a good DVD set when it comes out. Unfortunately, it looks like ratings aren't high enough for them to really bring this show back, but I hope they do anyway. It's really quality TV. The Times likes it too. Check out the article, and then check out the episode. Shows like this are why writing for television would be so cool. Because you can tell real stories, and let them unfold over a season, and really hook an audience, and create compelling drama and characters... Jack & Bobby is the human drama side of The West Wing. There's something really cool about TV shows about smart, interesting characters instead of dull and vapid ones. Joey, I'm looking at you here. Yeah, yeah, I know 20 times more people are watching Joey than Jack and Bobby... but that just means 20 times more people are dull and vapid. Why should we cater to them anyway?