Random Thread for July, 2017

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For the Americans among us, happy Independence Day. Don’t blow off any fingers, and keep your pets indoors.

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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.

54 responses »

  1. Despicable Me 3 is as meh as it gets. The second sequel is typically where it’s wise to change up the formula a little, but Illumination decided to go the safest route possible.

    Shame they went from their best film (Sing) to their second worst in the space of half a year.

  2. Sing was hardly their best film. It was bland and boring. I’d put it in Hop territory. The original Despicable Me is still the best thing they’ve done (caveat: haven’t seen The Secret Life of Pets)

  3. Found nothing bland or boring about it. I’d say the energy is one of its greatest aspects.

    SLOP was ok. I enjoyed it more than Dory but far far less than Zootopia or Sing. Moana would be somewhere in the middle.

  4. Anyone hoping that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will be any good? You might want to adjust. Here’s the first graf of the Hollywood Reporter’s review:

    The Razzies don’t need to wait until the end of the year to anoint a winner for 2017. The Golden Turkey Awards should be republished with a new cover. Euro-trash is back, while sci-fi will need to lick its wounds for a while. Dane DeHaan, who has starred in two of the most egregiously bloated misfires of the year with A Cure for Wellness and now this, should do a couple of indie films, while Cara Delevingne needs to learn there is more to acting than smirking and eye-rolling. Rihanna should pretend this never happened. And the Hollywood studio chiefs can breathe easy that, this time, at least, they’ll escape blame for making a giant summer franchise picture that nobody wants to see, since this one’s a French import.

  5. News all over the Web that Tarantino’s next film will be on the Manson murders. No other info, other than Jennifer Lawrence has been approached but would NOT be playing Sharon Tate.

  6. Even speaking as someone who’s had a level of interest on the topic over the years (including listening to Karina Longworth’s podcast series on it), a film on the Manson murders seems pretty redundant in the late 2010s.

    What else is there left to say on it that hasn’t been stated in the endless, documentaries, books, miniseries, movies and TV series on the topic over the past few decades? A pretty fair argument could be made that it’s one of the most overexposed events in the last 50 years of US history.

    And in anycase, can’t imagine someone like Tarantino shedding anything new on it, apart from the inevitable graphic violence at the centre of it all.

  7. And Jacqueline Bisset is in it too! What a bizarre cast. And they straight out call the film 9/11. Couldn’t they show a bit of deftness with the title? It’s been a really bad year for movie titles.

    Just on Sheen, looking back at that 2011 period when he seemed to become the biggest story in the world over the ‘Two And A Half Men’ saga is a pretty apt summation for how the media and culture is in the 2010s. Even here in Oz it was a massive story; his celebrity roast got prime time coverage and I even walked passed someone wearing a shirt with Sheen on it saying “Winning”.

  8. John Heard passes away at 72. Had a good run in films from early 80s to mid 90s but even though he kept busy, there was precious little of note after that. A shame, as he was an enjoyable actor to watch.

  9. Always liked his work in After Hours. Despite being in his 40’s, he seemed primed to breakout in the early 90’s until his legal troubles hit.

    He was still busy, but the quality of projects nosedived and his career never recovered.

  10. Word is that Justice League may be it for Ben Affleck as Batman. After bowing out as director and then having his script trashed, he may not star in the Batman stand alone (currently titled “The Batman”)

  11. John Heard was amazing in The Sopranos.

    And Dunkirk is an astonishing technical and emotional masterwork, every bit of what they’ve said and more. Simply breathtaking, and some of the best editing I’ve ever seen.
    Saw it in IMAX 70mm. and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything more remarkable than what they did with that format.

  12. So with just 17m this weekend, we can toss Valerian into the ever-growing pile of failed cinematic passion projects. Any thoughts as to why this is so often the case?

    My guess is that, in most cases, the issues (creative, technical, cost, niche appeal) that have prevented a film from being made are rarely actually solved. A story about 17th-century missionaries or Georges Méliès is going to be expensive and appeal to very few people even if Martin Scorsese directs it.

    Creatively I question how damaged and warped a vision becomes when someone has been running it through their head over and over again for years on end. Things inevitably become muddled.

  13. I think for Valerian you had some built-in problems: based on a comic book no one in the U.S. has heard of, no stars, and one of the leads is a model who can’t act, and very bad advanced word.

  14. And in relation to Hugo, that had a 94% RT rating while Valerian only has 54%.
    I think Hugo’s problem – as fine a film as it was – was that it felt like a film geared towards film critics and aficionados, especially the ending. So while that group liked it (and obviously well received by a significant section of filmgoers), I think it made it a hard sell in terms of a big-budget children’s film.

  15. I don’t see Hugo as a failure, as Marco said it had many fans, it got a lot of Oscar nominations, and it made 185 million. it might not have made back it’s cost, but a lot of people saw it. Compare that to Silence’s 16 million. That was a flop.

  16. It’s interesting looking at Scorsese’s box office record on Box Office Mojo in inflation adjusted terms; I’d forgotten how big a hit Cape Fear was.

    ‘New York, New York’ & ‘Raging Bull’ have reputations of being flops but they actually did relatively decent business. But ‘King Of Comedy’ was unfortunately seen no one back in the day.

    As for ‘Silence’, yeah that really was seen by hardly anyone (it barely made more money than Scorsese’s Rolling Stones documentary) although I think the relative lack of critical and award kudos would’ve hurt more.

  17. Let’s put it this way–Valerian, tagged as a flop already, made 16 million in North America it’s first weekend, which is the worldwide total for Silence.

  18. Some extra money might be coming to Dunkirk’s way out of a casting choice. Apparently teenage girls are attending the film in droves because Harry Styles, late of One Direction, is in it. Supposedly Styles auditioned against hundreds of others and Nolan had no idea who he was. Right.

    Also, anyone see the next Spielberg film’s trailer (Ready Player One)? Maybe I’m just an old fart, but it doesn’t look interesting to me, it just looks like a video game. Maybe that’s enough for the younger generations.

  19. I don’t see Hugo as a failure, as Marco said it had many fans, it got a lot of Oscar nominations, and it made 185 million. it might not have made back it’s cost, but a lot of people saw it. Compare that to Silence’s 16 million. That was a flop.

    Hugo lost over 80m, definitely a major failure financially.

    And that’s kind of my point, even if a passion project comes together creatively (like Hugo, a great film) the same issues that prevented it from being made for years are unlikely to resolved. In this case, Scorsese’s vision was just too damned expensive for anyone to make money on it.

    Everyone hates the Hollywood system for good reason, but sometimes we have to accept that certain projects are filtered out for a reason.

  20. Styles was every bit as good as the others around him, and had a pivotal role that he played as well as possible. He was great, really. So it all worked out, I guess. God, that movie was so fucking good. Flawless. Emotional. Important. So good.

    And Ready Player One was a great book and the entire ‘video game conceit’ is the point of it — it just basically is a video game, a modern Tron if you will, and the trailer doesn’t look bad. I’ll certainly see it, but it’s not a must see. I can definitely see how or why Spielberg chose to do it, it’s an 80’s paean that is the kind of movie someone would make to emulate the kind of movies Spielberg always makes.

  21. I went to Hugo not wanting to see it at all, and was pulled completely into its story and performances and world. I’m glad I saw it, but did it feel necessary? Not at all. …but what a love letter to cinema.

  22. Like I said, I’m an old fart and don’t want to watch a modern version of Tron (they redid Tron a few years ago and it wasn’t very good).

    I’m afraid I can’t jump on the Dunkirk bandwagon. I’ll have a review up tomorrow, but it was overly confusing to me (there are three timelines) and the English accents, except for the classically trained Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance, were indecipherable to me. Beautifully shot, though.

  23. Would you say it’s still a lock on the Oscar BP nomination? I’ve read some dissenting views on it but overall, it appears to be a lock on getting one of those spots.

    Speaking of which, I know ‘The Beguiled’ was mentioned as a potential Best Picture nomination here a while back but the overall reaction seemed pretty underwhelming (as was the case with JS here) so I think that can be crossed off.

    I’m no expert on this but it seems a pretty weak Oscar year so far; still reckon ‘Get Out’ is a big chance of a BP nomination.

  24. I think its reception has guaranteed it a slot. Get Out’s chances will depend on what’s coming. The Beguiled is done except maybe for costumes.

  25. Yeah, The Beguiled is done. Despite only grossing 5m domestic, I feel like The Bling Ring received more attention in the press.

    I know she flirted with a Disney film in the last couple of years (The Little Mermaid, I think?) she’s going to have to do something mainstream pretty soon.

  26. I think ‘The Beguiled’ winning Best Director at Cannes was a prime reason why it had such hype surrounding its leadup.

    It’s easy to forget how tiny the audience for Coppola’s films is. Lost In Translation aside, Marie Antoinette is her next biggest grossing film at approximately $15m.

  27. Just nuts. The three timelines were edited flawlessly and come together perfectly and lead the viewer just where he or she needs to go while making you feel like you’re directly in the thick of a war, where nothing is understood and anything at all can and will happen at any time.

    Didn’t feel it was confusing at all.

  28. I’m kinda with Nolan on this one, if you can’t understand his actors, get a hearing aid.

  29. “It’s easy to forget how tiny the audience for Coppola’s films is. Lost In Translation aside, Marie Antoinette is her next biggest grossing film at approximately $15m.”

    While I’m sure she rejected many, many offers over the years in favor of making low budget indies, but I’d love to see what she could do with a studio film.

  30. Incredible how much Roland Joffe’s reputation has fallen after getting two Best Director Oscar noms within a couple of years in the 1980s. Never seemed to recover from the notorious failure of The Scarlett Letter.

    Trying to think of another Oscar-nominated director whose career also sunk into constant mediocrity; J Lee-Thompson looks a standout.

  31. So far the Emoji Movie as a Metacritic score of 8 and a Rotten Tomatoes score of Zero. Parents, this is going to a tough one to sit through. When your kids give you a hard time when they’re teenagers, remind them that you took them to see this.

  32. “So far the Emoji Movie as a Metacritic score of 8 and a Rotten Tomatoes score of Zero. Parents, this is going to a tough one to sit through. When your kids give you a hard time when they’re teenagers, remind them that you took them to see this.”

    Saturday morning. 10:00 am. Is it too early to drink?

  33. Emoji did increase to 8% on RT but is currently at 1.4 on IMDB and in 8th place on IMDB’s worst ever films list.

    I’m sure the film is ordinary but is it amongst the worst films ever?? Doubt it. That rating feels like a pile-on by people (some who probably haven’t seen it) and are resentful of a film being based on such a topic.

  34. Absolutely. Having seen it: it is bad, but it’s not even the worst animated film released by Sony this year (that would be Smurfs: The Lost Village)

  35. Famed French actress Jeanne Moreau and actor/playwright Sam Shepard pass away over the past 18 hours.

    Re: Shepard, was a highly acclaimed playwright back in the day which is beyond my scope to comment (I’m guessing JS knows his work pretty well). I haven’t seen many of his films but I did see ‘The Right Stuff’ not that long ago which is a terrifically entertaining and canny film. Strange how that didn’t break out to be a big hit when it seemed perfectly attuned to early 80s America mindset of the day.

    Speaking of ‘The Right Stuff’ the person who Shepard played in it (Chuck Yeager) is still alive at 94 years old. Reminds me of how Oliver Sacks outlived Robin Williams (who played him in Awakenings) despite being decades older. Would be pretty rare that a real-life person depicted in a film outlives a clearly younger actor/actress who portrayed them.

  36. Yes, I studied Shepard in school and have seen a few production of his plays. I remember seeing The Curse of the Starving Class with Bill Pullman and Kathy Bates before anyone knew who they were.

    Actually, Shepard died on July 27th. They kept it hushed up until today. Some sources are saying he died July 30, but apparently that’s not true.

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