Orlando Bound

I'm here in Orlando, Fl. Sure as I know anything, I know this: I aim to misbehave.

Location: Orlando, Florida, United States

Monday, October 10, 2005


I only caught a few episodes of Firefly when it first aired on television. The random airing of the episodes made it a low priority for the already small number of hours I could devote to what little good television I could find while working 60 hour work weeks, getting married, etc. That said, I do remember thinking, this is great, I’m sure it would get better play if sci-fi channel or WB picks it up next season. Alas, that never happened and the characters I had just begun to know faded away.

But with Joss Whedon, nothing ever really fades completely away. Buffy dies and comes back, toys come to life after humans leave the room, real people have real lives on TV (Whedon wrote for Rosanne) and after the episode is over life goes on. So it did not surprise me when Whedon took advantage of strong DVD sales numbers for the series (the DVD’s included two unaired episodes, which I’m sure helped to drive the sales) to leverage the success into a feature length movie to continue the story arc he had created for his characters.

This would be the spot in the review where I examine the plot, the characters, the films motivations, the fun allusions to other movies and characters (real and fictional), etc. But there are plenty of other places to get that info. Instead I want to spend the rest of the review telling you how the film made me feel as I walked out of the theatre.

I felt elated. Although the story involved the deaths of a few of the ensemble cast -- characters that I cared about, although at 45 million dollars you just can’t afford many of the seamless special effects movie viewing audiences are used to these days (which brings me to my chief complaint; that Whedon’s directorial bag of tricks is still rooted in television (but you can forgive him that once the story takes off)), and although the plot had a few holes you could fly whole armadas of ships through, I was changed by the film and the filmmaking.

Whedon’s script is as close to Elizabethan prose as we get these days. All his characters are embodied with real human motivations and they express them wonderfully through dialogue and personal interaction. The dialogue is never hokey and never flowery, in fact it is rough and at times I thought I was listening to Daniel Day Lewis’ character in Last of the Mohicans, but the richness of it makes you think about what they’re saying and as you decipher the words the meaning gets deeper. For example, choosing to use the word ‘keen’ instead of ‘knowing’ brings with it the feelings of ‘sharp edge, cutting wit, intellectual quickness, quickening’, not just knowing, but really feeling it in your bones.

I left the theatre feeling chatty. I felt I’d just left a salon discussion with 8 of my closest friends where we drank of each others thoughts, fears, hopes, and loves. Never really talking directly about what we felt, but rather in layers and innuendos. When they had to go, I was left wanting more. I usually try to be careful with the words I choose to use. Serenity makes me want to be even more selective, to ensure greater meaning and understanding in what I say.

I left the theatre wanting more. Some have been comparing Serenity to Star Wars and Star Trek, obvious comparisons based on the setting and similarity between a few of the characters. In fact, I’ve read people who dismissed Serenity stating we don’t need another Star Wars series. Serenity assumes a certain knowledge of the sci-fi lingo among the viewers. References like there being no sound in space, no space battles in orb-clouds, or holographic security records are assumed to have entered the common vernacular and no explanation is offered for them in the film. Instead Whedon builds on these, plays with them, greets them like old friends, then makes subtle twists that change their meaning.

Star Wars and Star Trek became too predictable in their use of the sci-fi universe. The Star Wars prequel trilogy went back in time so there was literally nothing new there. Star Trek’s last TV series, Enterprise, continually rehashed the same themes over and over resulting in ‘do good’ fatigue among even its most ardent fans. For the most part Serenity avoids these traps by accepting them and then bringing them back to what’s real. The crew of Serenity aren’t heroes in the classic sense, they’re much too flawed and broken for that. And yet, they overcome their flaws to do heroic things for the right reasons.

Apparently the DVD with Director’s Commentary comes out in December. There’s also a host of comic books that extend the TV series leading up to the moment the movie starts. I might have to go round those up (they are reported to have sold out many publishing runs). In the meantime, I’m left reading and discussing the success or failure of the movie in the blogosphere. I did my part, I went to go see the movie in the theatre. Hopefully Serenity will earn enough to warrant a sequel or at least a return to TV (not that all the actors will want to go back to the grind of television – it was a miracle this talented cast was assembled in the first place).

So please, if you haven’t yet seen Serenity, get yourself out to the movie theatre this week and do so. You’ll be entertained by a great storyteller, talented actors, and you’ll leave feeling like those were two hours well spent. Your help is needed to make sure the world of Firefly and Serenity does not fade away and that good sci-fi is rewarded. Because, sure as I know anything, I know this: I aim to see more misbehaving.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cindy Sheehan

I met a new friend today named Jewel whose son was a medic on the front lines in Iraq and has tried to commit suicide three times since he returned from the desert of pain. The distraught Mother who is beside herself with worry said if something isn't done about it and if her boy doesn't get help, he is dying. His superiors will not allow him to be diagnosed for PTSD so he can't get the treatment he so desperately needs. Jewel is Buddhist and I told her: "You realize your son died in Iraq." She replied to me: "We have all died because of this war." She is right. On April 04, 2004, Cindy Sheehan died, but Cindy Sheehan was born. The dead Cindy Sheehan lived for her home and family. She kept a neat and tidy house, often cooked meals, did everyone's laundry, entertained friends, laughed more than she cried, worked at various jobs, and her family meant the entire world to her. She lived an insulated life filled with Thanksgivings and Christmases and Birthdays and other celebrations. The Cindy who was born on 04/04/04 still adores her family above all things but now knows that the human family is worth struggling for too. (more)
Read all her posts at the DailyKos.