Random Thoughts: Beijing Olympics 2008

The Beijing Olympic Games finally concluded last sunday. Finally sound like such a heavy words, because like most of these moments, when it’s over, it always seem having passed too fast.

A few words can be considered to be intrisecate part of the 29th Modern Olympic Games:

  • Beauty.
  • Record-making.
  • Polemic.

– China’s representatives were trying really hard to make it as less polemic as possible, especially with all that talk about this being a world wide sporting event, so it shouldn’t be stage for political dispute.

For the games which used as main line, “One World, One Dream”, it’s stupid  to ignore all the discrepancies out there. Treating the games as a detached parallel world, is not only wrong, but it goes completely against the “world as one” spirit from the games.  It’s not giving it a blind eye that things will disappear. It doesn’t make China more democratic, or any less deserving criticizing their take on human rights and freedom of speech.

It was a major cultural event for all “Hua Ren” descendants, but just like Football World Cup, shouldn’t be immune to scrutiny.

– For a closing ceremony filled with singers from mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, what was South Korean Rain doing in there? It was just weird. For people who wasn’t paying attention, or for clueless western commentators, who were calling him Chinese. Just weird. Onto this, wonder what Stephen Colbert though about Rain infiltration into that.

They did make an effort to be as welcome as possible, and despite not being one, they did gather the “Hua Ren” as one. Anyone caught all the fuss about Dalai Lama in France right before, the end of the games?

The following video was definitely one of these major investment to make the major cities attractive. Still so much was still left untold.

But I was really frustrated by the lack of use of songs from the Olympics official soundtrack in the ceremonies, especially LeeHom Wang’s theme titled “One World One Dream”. I know it completely goes into denial with with some things I’ve questioned here, but I’d love to watch him perform it live.

– Something that really bothered me from Brazilian media coverage, was how much they were trying to do those quirky pieces about Chinese culture and food.  They do brushed onto how many ethinicities were in the whole mainland China, but just kept treating all Chinese as all the same.  And at the same time they were talking about the almost freedom in Beijing, not much were said about how people was living in completely in quite different conditions in different part of the country. It was fake. Like Nicole Kidman’s face full with botox.

– I wans’t at home when the Women Volley Ball Gold Medal Final was going on, for reasons I’ll clear in my next post. I think Volley Ball has always been my favorite game to watch (both in-doors and beach versions), I was never an eager follower, but I do like to watch it whenever I had a chance. I was able to catch the final points from that game live, which might have been some of the most exciting minutes from these Olympics. I was ecstatic that the girls won the game.  I came home really wanting to watch the whole game, but I never planned into it.  There’s no TiVo over here yet. I used to use a lot of pre-programming recording from my Video Cassete, but since the remote control broke, I kinda just stopped using it, and anything I missed, most of it I could track it online. And a copy of the game available at torrents sites, made it quite practical.

It was funny to watch it with the other side – the other side in case the US team, sometimes is hard not to cheer for the country I grew up in -, commentating on the game.  At least they are a lot less troublesome and much more subdued compared a certain Mr. Galvão Bueno, from Brazilian Globo network, and they at least were commentating the game, and not pointless things that he just keeps throwing histerically to the public. I’m so glad that there’s cable at home.  But I pity who were watching through NBC, for some much cuts in the game. You people do miss a lot of passes for the sake of the sponsors.

– I was so glad to hear the mandarin accent from the announcer during the cerimonies. Untainted clear mandarin. That’s so rare nowadays. That’s what used to be the Beijing accent, long gone. The current one can be so heavy sometimes, to the point of being too annoying. Schollars used to say that Taipei, used to have the best clear mandarin. That was back in early 80s. Now, also mostly gone.  There used to be a day, when actors couldn’t speak proper mandarin in night-time dramas, they were just dubbed over (they still still do it from Family Taiwanese dramas, for actors who can’t speak Taiwanese properly). Especially when they invited actors from Hong Kong, who have heavy accented mandarin, or back in the 80s, almost none mandarin at all.

Now teenage girls follow actors who can’t even speak properly, they’re mandarin are so bad, that is hard to believe they actually grew up locally. You can find one of these “actors” in the pic at right (top one, if you must ask). These guys as role models, are as disturbing as Bella (hope you don’t know who I’m talking about) being a role model for how teenage girls should behave.

I’ll be back next, with some nice stories from my lastest work trip.

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American remake of “Life on Mars” recasting completed.

Life on Mars US

Original US' Life on Mars Cast: Lenny Clarke, Jason O'Mara, Rachel Lefevre and Colm Meaney.

As entertainment news sources reported in the last couple of weeks Gretchen Mol is the new Annie, and Harvey Keitel is the new Gene Hunt.
The picture you find as the startup from this post is a promo pic featuring the original people cast in those roles.
After having watched the original version of the pilot episode for the US remake, I had a strong point for really being bothered by what was done, and as you’ll see below, when I reproduce segments from a review I sent my friends a while ago, and an excerpt from a relevant Whedonesque post.

This is what I said about the original pilot episode:

Well, now as someone who did watch the first version for the US remake pilot, definitely the most noticeable element lacking in the show is the cast, which lacked the personality that the Original one had. And the first episode, was mostly an almost identical reshoot of the original first episode of the UK, version, only set in Boston, and with other people playing those same characters. I don’t think they even bothered changing the names, like The Office did. I’m so glad they’re recasting, but still something is missing. And I shouldn’t even mention that what bothered me the most, is the unavoidable fact, that despite Jason O’Mara’s (who happens to be another european import) strong presence, he just ain’t John Simm.

Will the recasting, save the US’ Life on Mars? Don’t know. I’m curious about the recasting and the new pilot. Whether they’ll still keep the script that David Kelley worked on, or they’ll change more things (names could be changed, I’d feel so much more comfortable if Jason wasn’t playing Sam Tyler). Though, there’s a lot more in a tv show, than just the cast, the writing and producing team behind it, must also be taken into account. Guess, we’ll have to wait and see.

I went further, when I shared my views of it with a few friends, as I gave details about how the pilot, was a pretty close at times to a shot by show re-filming of the first episode from the original series, but the fact that the series has at this point, potentially no endpoint, and if accepted well, might even have a longer first season, that’s longer than both of the British original series combined.

Anyway, after reading about those recasting news, I finally realized what’s really bothering me about this remake. They’re only changing the setting from Europe to America, but they’re sticking with the names, who are so intimately linked with the original cast who gave birth to them. Yes, the new showrunners, are saying that they’re going to develop another storyline, or at least develop it in a different way, so the ending result will be somewhat disparate from the source material.

But as they’re doing that, why keep the names? Why not change them, even if it means the most silly change (life Tim to Jim from the UK Office to the US Office), even if the archetypal character is still the same. It does get them even more leeway to play with the characters, as their only come from the same root, so they could change and develop them anyway they want, without being compared all the time with the original show’s characters, especially for the most iconic ones, like Sam or Gene.

LIfe on Mars

Original "Life on Mars" Cast pic: Marshall Lancaster, Phillip Glenister, John Simm, Dean Andrews and Liz White.

Another thing that bothers me from the non changing name situation, It’s the fact that most of the characters from the original show aren’t gone, as most of them continue to live on in the sequel for “Life of Mars”, “Ashes to Ashes”.

Ashes to Ashes

"Ashes to Ashes" Cast Pic: Marshall Lancaster, Phillip Glenister, Keeley Hawes and Dean Andrews.

I’m curious if the new cast will have any effect to the remake, but I’m in one of those rare occasions, that I’m actually hoping that the show will fail. Let’s wait and see…

Review: “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”.

It feels better the second time around. I was actually very skeptic towards the movie, since I was getting very excited about it after watching two of the trailers they’ve released, and when I raise expectations I tend to get disappointed. The Harry Potter movies been the best example of being very disappointing, even under average expectation levels.

Mummy Tomb of Dragon Emperor

I had the chance to check it twice during the weekend, and wasn’t disappointed at all, and the change of voice from this movie, compared to the previous ones, was not only very welcome, it was one of the strongest standpoints from this movie. I liked about how they were able to keep the same comedic tone from the previews movies, and kept a strong emphasis on the O’Connel family. At the end, I was more satisfied by the experience that this movie provided me, than the one I got from some of the other big summer movie releases from this year.

Li’s Emperor Villain, lacked some of the charisma from Imhotep, but definitely carried more weight than Johnson’s “Scorpion King”, who only more detailed when he got his own movie.

Been a big fan of what Stephen Sommers did with the previous movies, and I’m no hater of the introduction of the kid, in the second movie. I might be in the group of those few who really liked the second movie more than the first one. I think mostly credited for how there was a lot less damseling from Evy, not just for her being able to handle herself in a fight, but for other gestures of her as an stronger female character.

Alex O’Connel
A lot was discussed about the comparisons between making Alex older, and the fact that we had also a son been introduced in the recent Indiana Jones movie. The interplay is quite different, unlike Mutt’s rapport with Indiana, we’ve seen Alex O’Connel before, and a lot about how the O’Connel family works, can be implied through the movie. Rick and Evy did both raise Alex, but once the kid grows up the interplay of the child with the parents changes, even when sometimes the parents still want to see their offspring as kids, and not as an adult, who got their own identities. There were a few things about this during the movie.

The Recasting of Evelyne O’Connel.
I can understand why Rachel, was unwilling to play an older version of herself, despite the character being just a few years older than herself. I missed her presence in the movie, but did enjoy Maria Bello’s take on Evy. Her Evy, was taken from the standpoint of woman 10 years older, who’ve through other things, been through the war.

Historical Setting
I don’t think that’s pointed elsewhere, at least in the several reviews I’ve read , I think that it’s quite interesting that the movie is set in 1947. Not only that’s set about 10 years after the events from the previous movie, not only because it’s after the Second World War. As the movie is mostly set in China, the year is right around the time of another major historic event which is the the Communist Party overthrowing the Nationalist Government, only a couple years later, having them fledging to Taiwan. That’s curious, as we have an emperor characters as the villain, one who aims to conquer and re-establish his control over China, and seeking to be the “King of the World”.

Fox new marketing action: Was it really a success?

According to several (for example) websites Fox’s latest marketing campaigns was a huge success.

The tale in a nutshell, for people who don’t speak Portuguese, Fox launched (look how carefully I’m attempting to use classic Marketing tool words) a big promotional 3 day long campaign, called “Quero sair daqui” (I want to get out of here). They set up a large cage in one of the most busy commercial avenues in São Paulo, where they locked an Actor in there, who’d stay there up to 3 days, without leaving. People could try to let him out, buy figuring out the password, through the campaign’s website (which included a live video feed to the cage) and clues were left through some websites, who somehow collaborated with them, and players would be competing to the chance to win a Plasma TV. The whole point, is was a massive action to promote the premiere of the 3rd season of “Prison Break” over here.

I get the thematic take of their marketing plan, but I do question making a  actor (who I hope was at least really well compesated for this work) undertake 72 hours  of work in those conditions, it’s sound almost like slavery. Yeah, I didn’t pass in front of the cage (it’s not in my route to work or back home), so there’s a chance that I’m over-reacting.

Okay, at some extent they did succeed, after all, I am talking about them, and a lot of people were disucussing, if not about them, about the campaign which generated traffic to the campaign’s website. I just find the content of the campaign something quite questionable, I don’t think they’d be so reckless to not at least provide the least human right conditions for the actor and verified with Human Rights organizations, since they were under such public eyes during the whole action.

They did try to combine web with traditional media, and it had a certaing amount of viral pontential, as well as asking for other fan sites, including tv shows websites and blogs to play some role in the campaign. They were definitely out there, if it’ll return as actual audience for the premiere, that’s an issue for another discussion.