Random Thread for November

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Today is Día de los Muertos. Take a moment to think about a person who is gone who loved you and believed in you.

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

59 responses »

  1. Universal has seemed like the most regressive of the major studios for a long time now. Everything with them seems to be a get-rich-quick scheme:

    1) Like the other studios, they seem focused almost exclusively on franchises and tentpoles, but unlike the others, they seem content with second-rate properties.

    2) Unlike some other studios, like Paramount or Disney (live-action division), they’ve offered a semi-decent selection of catalogue titles on Blu-ray, but they’re notorious for their cheap work. Again, it seems like they have a vague idea that there’s money in Blu-ray, but want to cut corners while exploiting it.

    3) The VOD debacle speaks for itself. Regardless of whether it’s a good idea or not in principal, they plainly botched the hell out of the Tower Heist rollout, and in a way that basically betrays an attitude of “hey, we can make a few bucks here” and not really thinking beyond that at all.

  2. That Meyer interview ticks off every box of negative stereotype about studio hacks. Even the obligatory self-aware bit about openly bagging their own failed films has pretty much become a cliche.

  3. At least he defends Scott Pilgrim, which, as he says, was really pretty good. It was pretty dumb to think that it could become a franchise, but I guess that speaks to my point #1 above.

  4. The act itself is pretty cliche. It’s his ‘Jerry Maguire’ moment. Who even wants to listen to an executive in this climate talk about how he knows he makes shit. Really? Shoulda just gone the whole nine yards and said ‘Show me the money’ somewhere in there.

  5. The Meyer interview seems even worse looking at it again. One minute he’s talking about the bottom line being all that matters, the next minute it’s about how much pride he had in United 93 and wished every American had seem it. Spare me.

    And I reckon the positive reference to Pilgrim was a somewhat cynical move to demonstrate how in tune he is with trendy such films (although he sure as he’ll won’t be greenlighting such a project again).

  6. If you’re wondering who added the author’s widget, that was me. I kind of like how it looks and having everyone pictured, so to speak. Let me know if you don’t like it.

  7. I like it.

    Actually I was thinking that a wholesale template change might do us some good. I’ve always liked ours but it’s gotten stale. Haven’t looked into the alternatives yet and I know it’s a divisive topic, but I think it’s time.

    Also, in blog news, I don’t expect anyone here to care much, since I think the only big baseball fan we have is Jackrabbit Slim and he’s not a Cubs fan. But I’m writing about the Cubs again after a hiatus of nearly 8 years.

  8. Eh, whatever. I never saw the Murphy gig as all that promising anyway. Since the host only gets 15 minutes or so of the show these days anyway, it will be pretty much the same show no matter who they get to do it.

  9. Agree with Brian that whoever hosting matters little for the Oscars. It’s such a bloated, self-indulgent spectacle that it seems designed to avoid entertainment. Even if you had Groucho Marx in his prime hosting it would be a bore to sit through.

  10. Re: reboots sequels and remakes galore, while depressing they’ve always been a part of Hollywood industry. After all, the just reviewed here Maltese Falcon was the third version in 10 years!

  11. Sure, but at least studios were willing to make original films back then. The economics of Hollywood today seem to render the major studios completely toothless, and the innovative stuff is left to the independents.

    As for the Oscars, I see where you guys are coming from, but I usually like them. Last year was a disaster, but when you have a good comedian, like Steve Martin, at least the first fifteen minutes are good. Crystal is good at this sort of thing, just like Bob Hope was. His movies have usually sucked, but he knows how to do this.

    And I would have loved to see Groucho host the Oscars.

  12. Well, before the ’70’s renaissance, they were making big, bloated musicals that no one really wanted, so maybe it will lead to the ‘second Hollywood renaissance’.

  13. Re: HAGEBOC – I think Twilight would be a good place to start, considering midnights might break records.

  14. I am looking forward to HAGEBOC this year but will likely have trouble running it (new son, Alex, arrived last weekend). Anyone interested in taking the helm?

    Shame we weren’t running a contest for Puss in Boots’ insane second weekend. I doubt anyone on the planet could have predicted a 3% drop.

  15. I was somewhat excited for Murphy (probably foolishly so) Crystal is fine, but about as safe as you can get. He certainly won’t stink up the joint, but I doubt anyone will remember his performance by the time Best Picture is announced.

    His Twitter post announcing the gig was quite lame.

  16. Congratulations, James! I could give running it a whirl. I won’t be as good with the bonus questions, though. I’ll start with Twilight’s opening next week.

    ETA: If Nick ever shows his Scandinavian self hear again, I would welcome him to run it.

  17. So looking back on the year as a whole, how was it for each of your in terms of film-going?
    I surmise Marco has seen a lot of random romcoms…(not entirely of his own doing)…but other than that, how was everyone else’s year viewing-wise? I saw a distressingly limited amount of films, and for a couple of days, I’ve been down about how little I felt I wanted to see in the theaters-

  18. I feel like things have really picked up lately, and I think there’s still a lot that hasn’t come out yet that I want to see. On the whole it’s about the same as last year.

  19. Well, okay, perhaps for lovers of artistic, indepedent cinema, this is a good time. (I’m not judging, I love a good independent film, too…) But the middling action movie, blockbuster and original large hollywood-budgeted film by a big star…which I am longing to see…(hey, don’t judge)…is depressingly absent.

    We’re getting Harry Potters and Twilights and ridiculous superhero movies (of which I’m quickly boring) and Liam Neeson and Jason Statham convincing the likes of DeNiro to stare in their mindless movies for 15 year old boys. It’s been a long distance between District 9 and something like The Dark Knight. And Margin Call isn’t got sate that desire…
    Now it’s Hugo, The Muppets, ANOTHER Tom Cruise Mission Impossible…things can’t be THIS bad for the blockbusters…can they?

  20. Yeah, blockbuster stuff’s been miserable. No doubt.

    But it’s been that way for years. Nolan’s films have been major exceptions. Even District 9 was a low-budget thing ($30 million budget according to wiki) that got lucky, not really a blockbuster.

  21. Sorry about the lack of blog presence. Lot of work at the new job.

    Did go to the Stockholm Film Festival a couple of days ago and saw a film, one of the few in the last few months that I’d been dying to see. Did not disappoint. Writing a brief review now.

    Oh and congratulations, James!

  22. I’ve given my view on the dearth of original blockbusters before and I still argue that videogames like Call of Duty and Bioshock are the new (and in some ways improved) outlets for that kind of entertainment.

  23. Glad to hear from you, Nick! Good to know your absence has been from something good. If you’re too busy, I’ll start HAGEBOC tomorrow. Working hard trying to think of good bonus questions!

  24. You know, I never even thought of that. And I even wrote on here that Mass Effect 2 was the single greatest entertainment experience I’ve had this last decade.

  25. Terrific article and interview with Alexander Payne by Scott Foundas in the current issue of Film Comment. Unfortunately it’s not available online. Also an article about the tendency towards misery in British films. I’m going to have to subscribe.

  26. Film Comment is a good magazine. Its biggest problem is that, like all print magazines these days and especially as a quarterly, it can occasionally feel like old news by the time a new issue even hits shelves.

    But it’s a high quality publication, no doubt, and their interviews in particular are usually excellent. I prefer it to Cineaste and would probably have a subscription if there was more room in the budget.

  27. Well, that the current issue features The Descendants seems timely. Last issue’s cover story was A Dangerous Method, which hasn’t even come out yet. I know what you mean, though, which is why the articles on cinema history are good, because they have no freshness expiration.

  28. Also an article about the tendency towards misery in British films.

    I can’t express how much this sentence makes me weak in the knees. I am swooning.

    And Brian: I hope you’re playing HAGEBOC…

  29. Well, that the current issue features The Descendants seems timely. Last issue’s cover story was A Dangerous Method, which hasn’t even come out yet. I know what you mean, though, which is why the articles on cinema history are good, because they have no freshness expiration.

    Right. I meant more in terms of festival coverage, DVD releases, etc.

  30. I can’t express how much this sentence makes me weak in the knees. I am swooning.

    Haven’t read the article yet, but they do include a photo from This Is England, which made me think of you.

  31. Slim, did you see the Woody Allen documentary on PBS this weekend?
    The first half was a close-to-remarkable look at one of our elder film statesmen. The second half…fizzled put pretty badly. Kinda like the arc of his movie releases.

  32. Yeah, I saw it. I liked the second half. Of course, there were less great movies to cover during that period, but I didn’t detect any drop off in the quality of the production. Interesting that they didn’t sweep under the rug the Soon-Yi business.

  33. Just FYI, but I’ll be in Wisconsin for a couple days, so Openings will be up either late Friday or (considerably more likely) Saturday morning.

  34. Slim: It was pretty amazing to watch the scene between Farrow and Allen after she found out what happened.
    To just watch their faces and the acting knowing what’s going on behind her eyes…

  35. In case anyone missed it, here were the New York Film Critics Circle awards:

    * Best Picture: “The Artist”
    * Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for “The Artist”
    * Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin for “Moneyball”
    * Best Actor: Brad Pitt for “Moneyball,” and “Tree of Life”
    * Best Actress: Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady”
    * Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks for “Drive”
    * Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain for Tree of Life, The Help and Take Shelter
    * Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for “Tree of Life”
    * Best First Feature: Margin Call
    * Best Documentary: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
    * Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation

  36. On the Margin Call note: They had about the same screen time. And Albert Brooks was good, but Jeremy Irons was far better.

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