azdak: Face of Klimt's Music II (Default)
posted by [personal profile] azdak at 08:28pm on 22/04/2005 under
Today I received the most exciting piece of post I've had in - well, possibly ever. It was from [livejournal.com profile] executrix and catered in one package to no less than three of my obsessions - there was a copy of the Buffy and Philosophy journal, which I can't wait to sink my teeth into; the NY Times review of the Broadway production of The Pillowman, which I'm directing next term as my first full-scale production (I howled with laughter on reading that the attempt in London to have the Pillowman actually appear on stage failed because he looked too much like Mr Blobby); and a review of the Vienna Volksoper production of the Sound of Music. Ahem. This last makes me immediately go all defensive, so I hasten to add that my long-lasting fascination with SoM stems not from any OTP sort of reasons, but because, thanks to my long-standing love affair with Austria, I find the distorted fantasy version of Austria's past absolutely riveting (not to mention the constructions of masculine and feminine identity, or the presence of the single most unerotic love scene in the history of cinema right at the centre of the film). A few years ago I wrote what I'm pretty sure is the world's only Blake's 7/Sound of Music crossover, so of course I was delighted to see that the stage version still generates enough interest to warrant a big spread in a prestigious American paper. Edelweiss forever!

I know [livejournal.com profile] executrix is still waiting to hear my opinion of Firefly, so by way of a thank you I'm offering up my tentative first impressions. I've only seen the first three episodes so far (we're watching another tonight), not because of lack of interest, but because of a combination of my outrageously busy term and the hard disk on the laptop going kaboom. I have to say, I don't think the mix of space stuff and Western stuff works too well - I find myself growing increasingly critical of it as time goes by (the Train Job was kind of a fun reworking of Western conventions, but Shindig would have been a lot better if Jane Espenson had actually had to put some thought into constructing a Posh Ball in a Future Society instead of just falling back on a few Deep South cliches). As for the characters, I like Wash best, closely followed by Mal and Kaylee (once we got past the Pollyanna-ish first episode). River has far and away the most interesting backstory, Mal is the one who comes closest to being fanciable (though alas he doesn't *quite* cut it), and Inara is starting to annoy the hell out of me. This is partly because, although she's undeniably beautiful, she hasn't got any acting range beyond looking beautiful, and partly because the whole Companion thing is so poorly thought out and self-contradictory. I mean, it's kind of cool that the Guild of Seamstresses has got its act together and is now a majorly powerful organisation, but it seems to me that either they're now utterly respectable, in which case why does Mal blather on about whores all the time, or else everyone secretly thinks they're just whores, and the whole bowing and scraping bit is pure hypocrisy, which it doesn't seem to be. I do like the way strong men's knees buckle when faced with her, but it annoys me when the camera asks us to lust over her too - like when she's having a wash all by herself, but still acts up the eroticism for the TV audience. There's no investigation of what it's actually like to be a professionally successful prostitute, it's just a device to work up some sexual tension as far as I can see.

That makes it sound as if I don't like Firefly, which isn't the case. I think Wash is terrific, I'm really glad Kaylee actually seems to think like an engineer as opposed to just being titled one (I always felt on Buffy that Willow was one of the world's least convincing intellectuals because when she wasn't producing a research rabbit out of her hat, she evinced no intellectual curiosity whatsoever), and I'm hanging on in there for Shepherd to be hiding a really nasty secret. Oh, and Simon's a much better actor than I expected! I'm not yet feeling the Jayne love though, because so far he seems to be nothing but a psychopath, and not even a conflicted one (and did I spot a Blake's 7 hommage in there? - "I was aiming for his head").

More thoughts, and hopefully more profound ones, when I've seen a few more episodes.

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