Stephanie Lechner: Nametags and Hairnets

Failing career assessments since the 8th grade

Month: February, 2010

Making Love out of Nothing at All

So I went to see Avatar tonight, in 3D no less. stupid glasses. Here are my thoughts:

As a one day hopeful filmmaker, I thought it was a good idea to go see what all the hype was about despite my strong aversion to 3D movies. I hate the very idea of them. Not sure exactly why it started, but it’s out there now. Now I’ll give James Cameron one thing: he’s good with “epic.” Terminator, Titanic, Avatar: all pretty epic. And they’ve all resulted in giving him
oodles of money and ego, so I see that is doing several things right. And I’m sure that he intended to touch on important themes: environmentalism vs corporate greed or perhaps the colonization of western civilization and its effects on indigenous people. But me, all I saw? 10 ft tall smurfs making out in a multi-colored forest and a solid demonstration of “Gee look what I can get computers to do!” I was underwhelmed to say the least. What pulls me into a good cinematic experience is a good story with an interesting plot, interesting characters full of genuine emotion, and cleverly written dialogue. Those are the things that suck me in and keep me invested–not whether or not those characters are seen in 3-D. I just felt like I was watching a fancy video game for two hours. I think that Avatar had some good moments but they rarely felt authentic to me and sometimes the plot felt a little contrived: like they had to figure out a slam-dunk story that could be mapped throughout the world that James Cameron was so desperate for us to experience. Cart before the horse. But, yeah it was a unique world to experience. Beautiful effects for sure. So if that’s all I needed to get out of it, consider it a success Mr. Cameron. Feel free to pass go, pick up your next Oscar and divorce your next wife.
If I haven’t already pissed off my sci-fi loving friends, I have one more comment. James Cameron is about as good at writing dialogue (particularly romantic dialogue) as one Mr. George Lucas. They should focus on imagining these fantastic worlds and figuring out the special effects to pull them off, BUT, I think they should consider outsourcing some of their scriptwriting. I’m just sayin, just an idea. Just one humble girl’s opinion. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe people weren’t mocking “I’ll never let go Jack, I’ll never let go” all those years after Titanic. Maybe it was just me.

Never Think

Continuing on my journey through the art of improv comedy, I’m realizing what habits I am going to need to break if I want to be any good at this: censorship and cynicism. Yes, friends, you read that correctly: I am going to try to tone down my cynicism. Let me explain.

I have a very active imagination. In my head, it’s not uncommon for me to do all sorts of crazy things. I dance and sing (loudly). I swear (a lot). I win Oscars (tons). I party with Johnny Depp. But I don’t do those things OUT LOUD. Since these things are not conducive to everyday life, I censor myself. All day, every day, I maintain a constant and automatic filter keeping my life in my head drastically separate from my real life activity. But these things are completely conducive to improv comedy and the quicker I remove the filter, the better I will become.
In addition to that, I am hyper cynical. My first reaction to a situation is often a blend of ridicule and criticism designed to locate flaws and exploit them for obvious laughter. It has served me well in social circles. It is my given role and I am happy to fill it. But in improv, specifically working with a team it is damaging to a scene to play the cynic’s card and point out all the things that are insane or implausible about it.
The instincts of a good improv performer are counterintuitive to me, and it frustrates me in the best possible way. I want to be better, to grow as an artist; that will never happen if I don’t force myself to break bad habits. I can see also, as a writer, how damaging these behaviors are because sometimes it is difficult for me not to censor my thoughts and just produce. It’s that sort of creative withholding that has kept many of my projects from ever taking off. So, here’s to breaking bad habits!
In other news, I had to rap in class tonight. It was not pretty.