A Few TV Thoughts, All About Movies, Purely Production

A New Year of Cognitive Dissonance

Or Movies and TV Shows I’m Anticipating in 2014

A stellar actor can elevate the worst tripe, while special effects tend to plasticize story, yet the right art direction will add to not only the world but the characters as well. Purely Production is a monthly post where I explore the different elements that affect a finished media, for good or ill. We’ll forget about writing for a moment and delve into all the bedazzling doodads that dress a story. 

Purely Production #3: Can I guess a good movie or television show based on their trailers, posters and premises? Let’s commit to a list and find out in 2014.

Every year we are bombarded with a plethora of new movies and premiering television shows, so many there aren’t enough hours in the day to watch them all. And we haven’t even talked about the cash we’d need to shell out to see all the movies. To wade through all the trailers, posters and premises we need to develop good judgement in picking a good movie based on these advertisements. We can start developing this skill by making a list, seeing these movies and shows and deciding if it really was worth our time and effort. The danger here is cognitive dissonance.

Stress and discomfort arises within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction. This experience is cognitive dissonance. Most people want to hold the belief that they make good choices. When a product or item we purchase turns out badly, it conflicts with our previously existing belief about our decision-making abilities.

I’m no social psychologist, but you get my point. You can convince yourself you liked a movie for ridiculous reasons because you already spent your time and hard-earned cash on watching it. We all want to believe we already have good judgement.

Dilbert Cognitive Dissonance Cartoon

A litmus test to see if you are a cognitive dissonant is to think about your “favorite” television shows. Do you watch every episode as it airs on television? Do you periodically miss episodes but pick up the story easily the next week? Do you watch the show online where you know it is streaming because it’s so popular?

You won’t be cured of this bad habit overnight. It’ll take dedication and commitment. 2014 is your year to develop good movie and television judgement. The first step is to make a list of your top 10 movies and television shows you anticipate coming in the new year. You’ve seen the previews and the trailers. The posters have caught your eye in the theaters. Articles about this or that director’s newest project are listed in your browser histories at work. So write them down. Here are mine, in no particular order.

Movie #1

Edge of Tomorrow Poster

When: Released June 6, 2014 by Warner Bros.

Premise: Edge of Tomorrow is based on the Japanese light novel All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Lt. Col. William “Bill” Cage (Tom Cruise) and Special Forces soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) team up to fight a hostile alien race known as Mimics, with Cage continually returning to a fatal battle through a time loop.

Love: The use of Fieldwork’s This Is Not The End really caught my attention right off. It spoke to good production decisions. Follow this up with Emily Blunt and the trailer sold me. I also happen to love big suit solders and stories where against their own weaknesses these solders persist and win.

Worry: Tom Cruise is always a worry when it comes to story. He loves to stick his huge ego in the pot and stir. If he restrained himself then we are green light for a go!

Movie #2

Jupiter Ascending Banner

When: Released July 18, 2014 by Warner Bros.

Premise: Jupiter Ascending was written, produced and directed by The Wachowskis. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is an unlucky Russian immigrant who cleans toilets for a living. She encounters Caine (Channing Tatum), an interplanetary warrior whom the Queen of the Universe sent to kill Jupiter. Caine tells Jupiter that the stars were pointing to an extraordinary event on the night she was born, and that her DNA could mark her as the universe’s next leader.

Love: “You are a Perfect Hunting Machine” start in the trailer. Go on listen to it… See what I mean? So cool! It goes a long way that Sean Bean is the one mentoring Channing Tatum. Also loved “It can be hard for those from under developed worlds to hear their planet is not the only inhabited planet.” And “Some lives will always matter more than others.” All three bits of dialogue helped clarify what the basics of the story were, a good combination of premise and visuals.

Jupiter Ascending Mila KunisWorry: Mila Kunis does not chose roles well. She could throw the entire story off. Also the poster was not well done. Will the movie be sloppy too – only full of high moments while the little details are allowed to slide? I hope not.

Television Show #1

Orphan Black Banner

When: Season 2 premieres April 19, 2014 on BBC America

Premise: Orphan Black is a Canadian sci-fi starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical women who are revealed to be clones. The series focuses on Sarah Manning, a woman who assumes the identity of her clone, Elizabeth Childs, after witnessing the latter’s suicide. Issues are raised about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning and its impact on issues of personal identity.

Love: Love it when an actor can embody several characters at once so the cloning angle really works for me. I can’t believe I missed the first season of this show but it means I have a lot I can catch up on before April! And I love a show with a lot of mystery that I can think about and ponder. BBC America is awesome, love that they have a supernatural programming day!

Worry: I don’t love watching other people have sex. It doesn’t say anything to me about the character. Also if Sarah is going to go around killing versions of herself, also not interested. Moral ambiguity only goes so far then I want the character to decide what side of the line they really are on.

Movie #3

Maleficent Banner

When: Released May 30, 2014 by Disney

Premise: Maleficent is an upcoming 2014 dark fantasy film directed by Robert Stromberg, starring Angelina Jolie as the eponymous Disney Villain character, the film is both a prequel and a re-imagining of Walt Disney’s 1959 animated adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, and portrays the story from the perspective of the antagonist, Maleficent.

Love: Angelina Jolie is powerful in almost anything she does. The premise of following the antagonist as the protagonist is a good one if we are going to go over the old story, Sleeping Beauty. “Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom – and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.” Sounds intriguing, right?

Worry: Disney has been making some major production missteps lately. Always unexpected, these missteps almost never have to do with the story yet ruin the movie for many people. Robert Stromberg as a first time director could be another major mistake by Disney. I am assured that the production design will be excellent but does he have his eye on the story too?

Television Show #2

When: Premieres March 19, 2014 on The CW

Premise: The 100 is based on a book of the same name and follows a group of 100 juvenile prisoners who are secretly exiled by the Ark’s adults to the Earth’s surface to test whether it’s habitable. For the first time in nearly a century, humans have returned to planet Earth and it’s a mysterious realm that can be magical one moment and lethal the next. With the survival of the human race entirely in their hands, they must find a way to transcend their differences, unite and forge a new path on a wildly changed Earth that’s primitive, intense and teeming with the unknown.

The 100 Banner

Love: The premise. The CW successfully creates good environments for story to evolve. Love the contrast of the adults’ conflict above and the teenagers’ conflict below. Paige Turco was a great production decision so I hope the other less experienced actors will be as good, especially, Eliza Taylor, as the lead teenager.

The 100 Cast

Worry: There is a lot going on with so many characters and so many possibilities. With a smaller cast it is easier to let plot follow character and thereby create a perfect environment for those characters to play out their lives, with a massive cast, not so much. Will the cast come together and create characters we want to follow? Will the writers get too crazy and destroy any ability we have to believe in the plot? Unfortunately The CW is infamous for having this problem with their shows.

Movie #4

When: Released May 2, 2014 by Marvel Comics and Columbia Pictures

Premise: In The Amazing Spiderman 2, Peter Parker continues to struggle with balancing his life as a high school student, and his responsibilities as Spider-Man. When Peter begins to investigate more about his father’s past, thanks to the help of his friend Harry Osborn, he begins to realize that the new threats of Electro and the Rhino all have one thing in common: OsCorp.

Spiderman2 - Andrew Garfield Dane DeHaan

Love: Andrew Garfield rocked in the first movie and I felt his was the best Peter Parker and Spiderman. Dane DeHaan as the new Harry Osborn was sharp, such a good contrast to Garfield. He really gives depth just to the look of Harry and his voice, wow. I hope his acting is on par with Garfield’s – if it is we will all be happy.

Spiderman2 - Banner

Worry: The villains. The Rhino, Electro and setting up the Green Goblin. It’s a lot to cram into one film. Still, no wonder Peter is worried there will come a time his enemies will be too powerful for him to overcome!

Television Show #3

Mind Games Banner

When: Premieres March 11, 2014 on ABC

Premise: Mind Games is about two brothers who run a problem solving firm that employs solutions based on psychological manipulation. With a little bit of science, a dash of con artistry, plus a smattering of Jedi mind tricks — brothers Ross (Christian Slater) and Clark Edwards (Steve Zahn) can tailor a plan to influence any life-altering situation, thereby making their clients’ dreams come true and their nightmares go away.

Mind Games Christian Slater

Love: I try anything Christian Slater stars in. He seems to have good chemistry with Steve Zahn and the writers are banking on what was good from Slater’s past television shows. I love the premise as well, the best premise for a Slater show. Period.

Worry: That isn’t to say Christian Slater doesn’t have a television show curse. It’s brave of ABC to risk another pilot on Slater.

Movie #5

When: Released March 28, 2014 by Paramount Pictures

Premise: Noah is the retelling of the biblical story Noah’s Ark from the point of view of a non-Christian.

Noah - Animal Special Effects

Love: The special effects were said to test even ILM’s capabilities. That’s pretty wowing to my mind. As my favorite effects house I need to see Industrial Light and Magic’s best work for myself – on the big screen. I also believe that Noah’s ark really happened so it’s pretty cool to see it happening live action. With all that in mind I’d go in expecting to be wowed by the effects and the acting while not loving this clearly un-religious version of the story.

Worry: The changes from the real story are rather disturbing. Particularly that all the people in the area seem to believe Noah. Uhhh…why didn’t they get on the ark then? And where is Egyptus? These are just two of the changes you can see from the trailer alone! Do I want to waste my money and time in the theater? Perhaps this is a streaming or rental choice already? It’s not good when you start to doubt a movie before it even hits theaters!

Television Show #4

When: Premieres Summer 2014 on TNT

Premise: Legends is based on the book from spy novelist Robert Littell and follows deep-cover operative Martin Odum (Sean Bean), who has an uncanny ability to transform himself into a different person for each job. But his own identity comes into question when a mysterious stranger suggests that Martin isn’t who he thinks he is.

Legends - Sean Bean

Love: Sean Bean is awesome and he’s pairing up with Homeland’s Executive Producer Howard Gordon. As I’ve never gotten to see Homeland I’m intrigued to see another show he’s producing. And did I already say Sean Bean stars?!? It bears saying again.

Worry: Gordon has many shows up in the air (with pilots at FX, Tyrant, with director Ang Lee attached, CBS, Anatomy of Violence, starring Skeet Ulrich, as well as the upcoming third season of Showtime’s Homeland) and I wonder if this one will get neglected for one of the others.

Television Show #5

When: If you’ve never heard of k-dramas, now is the year you should try them. They can be found on Netflix, Dramafever and on Huluplus.

Premise: I love k-dramas, South Korean made television shows. Some are historical and some are modern. It’s pretty split down the middle and there are some crossover with historical settings but modern stories so everyone can find something they would like. And all the old favorites are still available so even if this year’s story trend isn’t your style there possible is a trend you would like from a past year’s worth of dramas. I can’t find much on what’s coming up in 2014 and after hours of searching the internet I’ve given up. I know there is good stuff coming down the pike. This year’s trend is Second Chance Love and I have to say isn’t my most favorite of romantic story-lines but the South Koreans always mix up their story arcs with their favorite stereotypes which make them totally unique from anything you’ve seen in America.

Lee Min Ho, one of the best young South Korean actors working today. His City Hunter was excellent and if you love action, this is your k-drama gateway show!
Lee Min Ho, one of the best young South Korean actors working today. His City Hunter was excellent and if you love action, this is your k-drama gateway show!

Love: I have a list of South Korean stars I love and I try ALL of their newest dramas while catching up on any I’ve missed in the past. Not many of them have new shows though. Boys Over Flower’s Kim Hyun Joong returns to drama-land in Age of Feeling in 2014. A historical with lots of young independence fighters based on a manhwa by Bang Hak-gi it looks like a stellar vehicle for Hyun Joong’s powerful gaze. You’re Beautiful’s Lee Hong Gi also hits another drama as the lead in Hundred Year Bride, about a curse that has followed the conglomerate’s family for hundred years that the first bride of the eldest son will always die. That’s right up my alley and I can’t wait to see my favorite Jeremy in a lead this time! I’m also looking forward to the new OST’s that will be hitting the air waves – Korean dramas feature some of my most favorite songs each year.

Kim Hyun Joong returns to drama-land in Age of Feeling and while his intense stare hasn't changed a bit, his look is totally revamped! Without the long hair or even bangs his face has taken on such steely strength.
Kim Hyun Joong returns to drama-land in 2014’s Age of Feeling and while his intense stare hasn’t changed a bit, his look is totally revamped! Without the long hair or even bangs his face has taken on such steely strength.

Worry: That I don’t know what or when my favorite 2014 shows are coming. A lot of my favorite Korean actors are all lined up for movie roles to film in early 2014. These stars rarely take on more than one project at a time and typically rarely more than one a year. That means I’ll have to find NEW South Korean stars to love. I have a lot of watching to do! I know it’s hard to try something new but that’s all part of developing your better judgement.


Now for the hard part in developing good movie and television judgement. Don’t rationalize. Yes you drove over to the theater, watched the previews, lingered for an hour and a half to two hours to watch the film then drove fifteen minutes to home. That doesn’t even count your ticket costs or food costs (since you came straight from work). Forget about all this. Did you laugh? Were you supposed to laugh? Can all you remember about the movie is the big explosions? Were you wowed by the characters’ ACTIONS or by their weaponry? Admit to yourself if the movie just wasn’t worth it. Recall the trailers and the posters that lead you to making the decision to watch this movie. Next time your gut will be better equipped in making the best movie and television watching decisions.

Good luck in your 2014 movie and television watching!

2 thoughts on “A New Year of Cognitive Dissonance”

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