Random Thread for March

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Happy anniversary, Gone Elsewhere! Six years and still going strong!

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.

75 responses »

  1. There were 25 years between The Hustler and The Color of Money. And 46 years between The Wizard of Oz and Return to Oz. Oliver Stone just made a Wall Street sequel, but that was only 23 years after the fact.

    That’s all I’ve got off the top of my head.

  2. I actually doubt this Top Gun sequel will ever happen. Still, Tony Scott doing a sequel would be infinitely preferable to Michael Bay doing a reboot.

  3. Yes and no, I have no doubt it will happen at this point (since Paramount, Cruise, the Scott brothers and Bruckheimer are all behind it) but I’d bet Cruise will fit in another Mission Impossible film first.

    Top Gun 2 is almost an insurance policy in case the MI series stumbles with the next entry.

  4. Those posters are weak, but I’m actually kind of looking forward to Battleship. Something about the absurdity in that first trailer roped me in.

  5. Brad Bird has come out swinging at the “media” for their reporting on colleague Andrew Stanton’s John Carter:

    http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/is-the-media-being-unfair-to-john-carter-brad-bird-thinks-so

    Odd situation, I can’t recall too many instances where a filmmaker has come to one another’s defense using the Conservative Republican playbook two weeks before something has even opened. It’s a curious move that seems unnecessary and desperate (particularly when the tide has been turning thanks to some positive early reviews). I’d have to imagine he didn’t speak out without consulting with Disney or Stanton first.

    In the end, John Carter is going to live or die by quality. No matter how ineptly Disney has marketed the film, people are going to show up if it lives up to Stanton’s previous efforts.

  6. Also remembered: Pixar was out there bitching in the press last month that the only reason Cars 2 wasn’t nominated for Best Picture is due to media backlash (not because that it was the worst film they’ve made).

    It’s almost like there’s a new, weird, awful strategy being employed over there. I do hope they stop it.

  7. Yes but … that linked article takes a few liberties as well. Rumors of the gigantic budget – are they true or not? I don’t pay much attention to industry reporting, I’ve heard a lot of that stuff, and it has nothing to do with the quality of either the marketing or the film.

    I’m not saying that all the negativity is unfair by any stretch (the title change seems especially stupid to me, and the trailers really have been pretty blah), but I think there’s unquestionably a piling-on effect. We see this in political reporting all the time (see Romney now), we see it in sports reporting (steroids in baseball), and our tabloid culture in general thrives on it.

    And that article seems to pretty much know it, which is why we get this:

    The overall tone of the tweets suggets that some (not all) sections of press or blogosphere or whatever are cynical enough to root for a movie to bomb. And that’s just not accurate. Most (reputable) movie writers do it because they love the medium and always want to see good work, however, no movie — big or small — gets a pass based on good intent or simply on the merits of not being a sequel or remake.

    You don’t have to be a rhetorician to see a couple of the tricks here, which are:

    1) Building a strawman – the idea that the movie should be judged on “good intent”, which isn’t at all the point Bird seems to be making, and

    2) The not-so-subtle insertion of the parenthetical “(reputable)”, which is a handy way to acknowledge that Bird probably has a point without actually admitting it. Sure, Bird could probably come up with examples to support his point, but those are all from “disreputable” sources!

    Again, we see this kind of thing in political reporting all the time. A reporter misquotes a candidate? Why, it’s the campaign’s fault for not adequately clarifying the candidate’s remarks! Substitute “marketing department” for “campaign” and the same thing is happening here. Being in the media means never having to hold yourself accountable.

  8. I wonder if “The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill and Came Down A Mountain” could ever be a releasable title today.

  9. I think there’s unquestionably a piling-on effect. We see this in political reporting all the time (see Romney now), we see it in sports reporting (steroids in baseball), and our tabloid culture in general thrives on it.

    I don’t disagree, we’ve seen it time and time again going back decades (with things like Last Action Hero, Waterworld and Hudson Hawk) and Bird has been in the business long enough that this shouldn’t be a surprise to him.

    I think part of Stanton and Bird’s reactions here may come from dealing with real criticism for the very first time. When you’ve had near-limitless creative freedom and critical acclaim for most of your career: it’s probably a difficult adjustment when the press turns on you.

  10. re: the piling on effect:

    The press tends to go after films that they perceive as defining everything that is wrong/out of control with modern filmmaking (insane production budgets, 9-figure marketing, hubris on the part of filmmakers, projects whose failure could topple a studio regime, etc) whether Disney/Stanton/Bird, etc. want to hear it or not: JC is all that.

    I agree there can be a “piling on” effect, but pointing out legitimate deficiencies in a marketing campaign, critiquing underwhelming screened footage or reporting on budgetary rumors doesn’t really meet that definition to me. It’s not like Stanton is Brett Ratner and his project is being attacked before a single frame is shot based on his name alone (deservedly or not).

    Regardless, I think Bird’s fears are going to be unwarranted. Another wave of reviews hit this evening, all positive to mixed/positive. There’s a very good chance they’ll be ok here,

  11. Say what you want about Jersey Girl as a movie, but there’s no better answer for the question “Just how much does a cinematographer contribute to the look of a film?” than that movie.

  12. Oh, man…did Will Smith actually say ‘shiz-nit’ in this trailer?! Really?! ….really.

  13. It was thirty years ago today that John Belushi died. I remember that day I also saw Chariots of Fire, and after coming out of the theater the afternoon newspapers had the headlines.

  14. Wow.

    Mass Effect 2 was the best piece of entertainment I witnessed in the 2000’s. Can’t wait to play this.
    From the Kotaku review: “Most of all, I am absolutely sure that fans will be talking and arguing amongst themselves at length about the entire final act and the ultimate conclusion of the story for months, if not years, to come. Mass Effect 3 is definitively the conclusion of that story, and with every moment I laughed aloud, with every moment I sobbed, and with every moment I shouted extremely unprintable words I knew that it was worth the wait.”

  15. The characterizations in this series and how emotional and invested you get over those characters is every bit as strong and as valuable as in any movie I’ve ever seen. And the fact that you are in control, your choices create the emotion, well, it’s the closest there is to choose your own adventure at the level of artistic merit of the movies. It’s amazing. So even though it may be lost on many, its core merits are easily understood.

  16. So I’d heard Battlefield Earth is bad but I didn’t know it was unwatchable. I couldn’t make it past fifteen minutes. It’s atrocious. And didn’t they have a
    ‘bubble level’ on the tripod? Wow.

  17. Yeah, I was working at a theater when that came out, and was going to give it a chance. I didn’t make it past 15 minutes either. I remember feeling bad for Barry Pepper.

  18. Yeah, it’s quite something to see a much-loathed film that – instead of not being that bad due to lowered expectations – is actually as bad as what people said about it.

    Top of my list would be ‘Batman and Robin’. Despite it’s horrid reputation and reviews, it still was worse than what I imagined. Styled in the 1960s TV version but on a much higher budget and none of the fun. And despite costing goodness knows how much, looked ultra cheap. Blessing in disguise though for Clooney that he failed so miserably in that for his long-term career.

    I’ve only ever seen more than a couple of minutes of it, but I’m guessing that Bill Cosby’s ‘Leonard Part 6’ would be another in that category – never found anyone who’s ever said anything remotely positive about that.

  19. This scene is pure awesomeness and Shane Meadows is really one of my favorite filmmakers working today. James, thanks for mentioning this, it’s SO good…

  20. Man…Woody Harrelson is good in Game Change.
    Anyone here think he’s an actor who isn’t taken seriously enough because of his past roles or what knowledge we have of him personally? He reminds me of a less-handsome McConaughey who can act.

  21. Movieline has launched a more thoughtful alternative to the Razzies, the Soily Awards. I think some of our contributors will find agreement. I hope Michael Bay wins the Worst Director, because then the award will be named for him in perpetuity, and who deserves that more?

  22. Yes, the array of selections does seem more interesting than the predictable Razzies. Brian would be in agreeance with J. Edgar and The Iron Lady noms. After seeing Carnage tonight, can’t say that’s undeserving of being there.

    I hope Michael Bay wins the Worst Director, because then the award will be named for him in perpetuity, and who deserves that more?

    Dennis Dugan would probably have equal claims.

  23. The idea of a bad director award named for Clint Eastwood has a high degree of transgressive appeal. I haven’t seen most of what he made before Unforgiven (which I do like), but the man’s turned out a steady string of mostly crap for several years now. And seeing the rather awful Play Misty for Me last year had me wondering if this wasn’t always largely the case. I certainly don’t remember critics busting a nut over stuff like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and True Crime back before Mystic River kicked off his latest “master of cinema” phase.

    Otherwise, if this panel really had balls, they’d have nominated Meryl Streep, who was really terrible in The Iron Lady, instead of Glenn Close, who was merely dull in Albert Nobbs.

  24. Anyone here seen John Carter yet? I thought Slim did a review for some reason….didn’t see it on second glance. Did I miss it?

  25. Otherwise, if this panel really had balls, they’d have nominated Meryl Streep, who was really terrible in The Iron Lady, instead of Glenn Close, who was merely dull in Albert Nobbs.

    .

    Maybe it’s not testicles that the committee lacks, but your minority view on Streep’s performance. I thought she was very good–not better than Viola Davis, certainly, but especially in those scenes in which Maggie is in her dotage I thought Streep was very effective. Given the number of critics awards she won (I’ll throw out the Oscar), you’ll just have to admit you’re in a smaller camp on this one.

  26. So the long gestating Three Stooges movie is not a biopic, as I always assumed, but simply a regurgitation of their old movies, with far less talented comedians. And Snooki is in it. Pass.

    And I see that Warner Brothers is developing Mandrake the Magician, based on a 1930s comic strip that no one under fifty remembers (I barely remember it). After the John Carter fiasco, I expect this to be 86’ed.

  27. Does anyone who rents DVDs notice that they are now restricting bonus features to DVDs that are purchased only? What a miserly concept. Sorry, I’m not going to buy Toy Story 3 to get the commentary. Fuck you, Disney.

  28. Yeah, that’s the new thing. I don’t care that much with most titles (as I will occasionally still buy a movie if it’s something where I can see myself delving into the supplements) but it’s just another instance of the studios trying desperately to cling to last decade’s physical-media sales.

  29. So John Carter is officially a 200M write-off for Disney, whereas The Hunger Games could make as much as 100-130M in one weekend. Crazy how the business rolls sometimes. Lionsgate obviously needs this far more than Disney does for their very survival.

  30. Hunger Games is going to make HOW MUCH?! You mean even WITH that Stanley Tucci wig? ….wow. Really?

  31. It’s supposed to be good, really!

    Someone I know is connected with an A-list director and mentioned their boss passed on HG and has a gun in their mouth right about now.

  32. It’s pretty exciting though, I love it when the box office goes crazy. It’s good for all films when a modestly budgeted, (apparently) quality film does well.

    I would still expect that Lionsgate/Summit is going to move like crazy on keeping Twilight alive. Why one franchise when you can have two?

  33. I didn’t say it wasn’t going to be good…it’s kinda staggering to think it might make that much.
    Isn’t it currently at 100 on rotten tomatoes?

  34. And if it’s an A-list director…they have no reason whatsoever to have a gun in their mouth. Perspective, what a strange phenomenon.

  35. And if it’s an A-list director…they have no reason whatsoever to have a gun in their mouth. Perspective, what a strange phenomenon.

    That’s the correct, healthy way to look at things. However, everyone has regrets in life, no matter how successful they may be.

  36. I didn’t say it wasn’t going to be good…it’s kinda staggering to think it might make that much.
    Isn’t it currently at 100 on rotten tomatoes?

    Yeah, I think so. Think of how lucky Jennifer Lawrence is right now with all these franchises. She has multiple Hunger Games and X-Men sequels on her plate, along with Winter’s Bone Too: Port of Call New Orleans.

  37. Hunger Games has a huge built-in audience of teens, particularly girls, which we know can be a swarming audience and a repeat viewing audience. The book has been number one on the YA list for over a year. Hell, even I read the book and will be there opening day.

  38. That’s the correct, healthy way to look at things. However, everyone has regrets in life, no matter how successful they may be.

    I’ll bet Chevy Chase is still regretting that he turned down Forrest Gump.

  39. It’s so far beyond that initial tween/teen audience now. It’s going to be a true four-quadrant hit.

    The good reviews weren’t even necessary, but now it’s going to destroy all expectations.

  40. However, everyone has regrets in life, no matter how successful they may be.

    I feel as though nowhere in America can this sentence be spoken and not be ironic. I don’t want to get into a huge philosophical discussion, and people absolutely have regrets, and I’m not knocking achievement or anything like that at all, I’m simply saying that I feel like it’s a strictly American thing that achievement in any form is never enough. Ahhhh…maybe I’m not saying it right, so I’ll leave it there. Sorry the director passed on that in terms of their career.
    It’s like a fortune 500 CEO. Once you’re there…what the hell is there to regret? The only thing left to regret may be the steps you took to get there, or the steps you’ll take to stay there. But regret?
    The odds are so astronomical on it even happening, what couldn’t be golden after that?

  41. Wait, Chevy Chase turned down Forrest Gump? Is that true?
    And Slim, this is not meant in any way as a dig, but why do I feel you’d wait in line to see Transformers if it was based on a female-centered YA novel?

  42. Just because you get to the top doesn’t mean you stay there, particularly in Hollywood. The director I mentioned is in no danger of starving or being denied hundred million dollar budgets, but that’s today.

    A few wrong moves and you’re directing Clive Owen in a DTV horror movie.

  43. Wait, Chevy Chase turned down Forrest Gump? Is that true?
    And Slim, this is not meant in any way as a dig, but why do I feel you’d wait in line to see Transformers if it was based on a female-centered YA novel?

    A: It’s true.

    B. A fair question, but I don’t think so. I saw the first Transformers (I rented it) and it was so bad and the reviews were the second film were even worse that I have foregone seeing it, despite Megan Fox being in it. And I went to see Jonah Hex because she was in it. And I just rented Passion Play for the same reason.

    Also, after seeing the first Twilight film in the theater, I have rented the rest of them. Transformers is so egregiously a stain on the bowel of cinema that I will not watch any more of them.

  44. Okay, two families on my Facebook
    said they’re taking their kids to the midnight showing
    of Hunger Games.
    Alright, they didn’t say this weekend.
    They’re taking their kids (one family of 6) at
    midnight.
    Where did this movie come from?

  45. Where did this movie come from? I’ve read about this since they made a big deal in who was going to get cast, which is over a year ago. It’s a huge bestseller. What’s to figure out?

  46. One family reports on Facebook that all 4 midnight shows are
    sold out at their theater. And this isn’t a metropolis.

  47. I went to see The Shawshank Redemption shortly after Oscar nominations were announced that year. I drove across Jacksonville to the only theater that was playing it, and I was the only person there. I told people I knew how good it was, and no one had the slightest clue what I was talking about.

    A year later, everyone had seen it and loved it. It’s just one of those movies. Near-universal, enduring appeal. I don’t think it’s the best movie ever, of course, but it is excellent, and it appeals to our better natures in a way that most movies don’t. I don’t really begrudge it its reputation.

  48. I haven’t seen it since the first time, but in consulting my records I gave it a B-, so clearly I wasn’t as thrilled it with you as you or many others. I stick by my claim it’s just okay, but acknowledge I’m not in the consensus.

  49. I haven’t seen Shawshank in a decade or more, but I can not think of a single person I know that didn’t like (if not love) the movie.

    I remember recommending it to a Professor that had given up on film completely and it basically reignited his passion in the medium. I don’t think we had a conversation the rest of the semester where Shawshank didn’t come up.

  50. It has an 80 percent on Metacritic and 90 on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s not unanimously praised. I’m surprised a film that is so steeped in sentimentality reignited a professor. Was he a film professor? Even stranger. If any film from that year should have reignited someone’s passion for film, you’d think it would be Pulp Fiction, released the very same month as Shawshank.

  51. I’m surprised a film that is so steeped in sentimentality reignited a professor. Was he a film professor? Even stranger. If any film from that year should have reignited someone’s passion for film, you’d think it would be Pulp Fiction, released the very same month as Shawshank.

    I can see it. Shawshank is a very strong piece of storytelling in a classical Hollywood mode, beautifully acted, shot, and scored, and with a social conscience besides.

    Pulp Fiction is essentially a goof-off. I mean, I like it, but it’s a novelty toy and, in retrospect, it always was.

  52. That’s basically it, Brian. It was the old school, earnest filmmaking that appealed to him. He was an English professor who dabbled in musical theater, probably in his mid/late 60’s back when.

    Incidentally, I Googled him before responding and found the original cast recording of a musical he produced on iTunes. He’d mentioned it many times as a dream of his, had no idea he’d finally made it happen.

  53. Pulp Fiction is essentially a goof-off. I mean, I like it, but it’s a novelty toy and, in retrospect, it always was.

    Suffice it to say, Brian, that I strenuously disagree. Pulp Fiction=best film of the 90s (in a tie with Fargo), and certainly better than Shawshank. Not a goof-off in any sense of the word.

  54. As an aside:
    Our screening for Retribution: Nina at the Garden State Film Festival went exceedingly well last night.

  55. For all the bad press Disney has been getting on the marketing on John Carter: I think Sony’s The Amazing Spiderman is giving them a run for their money with a uniformly bland campaign thus far.

  56. They’re doing a sequel to Twins as well, a movie that was pretty lousy even 25 years ago.

    I never understood the appeal of Carrie. Jodie Foster and Julianne Moore are both up for the part of the mother, which could be fun.

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