Steven Spielberg’s Next Project Will Be An Unneccesary Remake

Steven Spielberg Wallpaper @ Go4Celebrity.com

Apparently Steven Spielberg has lost his natural born mind. Everyone knows that since Munich he’s been in a bit of a rough patch. First he struck out with Indiana Jones 4, a movie that was campy and overblown in the worst way possible. Next we got The Adventures of TinTin which how well Spielberg can pick up Zemeckis’ sloppy seconds. We also got War Horse that year as well fondly remembered as a beautifully shot film about near anthropomorphic horse and his ridiculously overwrought bond with his owner. 2012 brought us the latest Daniel Day Lewis Oscar grab in the form of a Spielberg film called Lincoln. Now, with all hopes of a Robopocalyspe movie fading away, we’re presented with news of what may be the new Steven Spielberg project: A remake (reinterpretation, revision) of West Side Story.


Its common knowledge that remakes are a nasty boil on the behind of the modern cinematic landscape. Still, I find myself able to take solice in the fact that only sellouts associate themselves with such trash. You know the type: young upstart directors looking for a safe project after their freshman film was a surprise success (see Matt Reeves’ Let Me In), or weirdo European directors with dubious track records that somehow trick studio chief’s (through witchcraft) into letting them remake a beloved property (see José Padilha’s Robocop…..not technically European but still). Never in my wildest dreams, would I imagine Spielberg attempting something so obviously stupid. George Lucas maybe but not Spielberg.

Does he really think he can improve upon what Wise did? Not many directors of this current generation are worth anything but Spielberg has been one of the shining lights. Still, when you match him up against one of the greatest directors to ever handle a camera, working at the peak of his powers (Odds Against Tomorrow, West Side Story, The Haunting, and The Sound of Music would all come out within five years of each other), and collaborating with some of the most talented musical minds in the history of….well music, to produce one of the most enduring cinematic classics in the history of moving pictures you have to wonder how exactly can Spielberg hope to come out ahead in all of this.

Could it be that he has a vision for the story so radicial, so revisionist, so brilliant, so vibrant, so joyous, so enrapturing that it’s the likes of what has never been seen before on film? No. That’s not the case whatsoever. Remember this is modern day Hollywood. Remake today is code for unoriginal, uninspired, and ultra cheap, a sad truth for many directors and I have no reason to think that Spielberg can escape that group. I suppose if we have to look on the bright side we can see this is as Spielberg’s way of trying to beat the system. He probably knows that he couldn’t get a studio to back an original motion picture musical. Perhaps he thought he could just use the name West Side Story, strip the story down to its bare bones, and then use the play as a spring board to create something truly original. Either that or we’ll get another cinematic abortion of Spielberg proportions. Of those two outcomes what seems more feasible? While you mull that over take a look at what Spielberg could (can?) do with music and a story all his own.

James Cameron Declares Gravity A Triumph….Still Can’t Write Good Scripts

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James Cameron, a noted engineer and inventor who occasionally moonlights as a “filmmaker” has declared Alfonso Cuaron’s upcoming space drama Gravity to be “the best space film ever”. Highly Ironic seeing as James Cameron is responsible for what is perhaps one of the worst “space” films ever (Avatar). His praise concerning the project (which he was an adviser on) is nothing less than masturbatory.

I was stunned, absolutely floored. I think it’s the best space photography ever done, I think it’s the best space film ever done, and it’s the movie I’ve been hungry to see for an awful long time. What is interesting is the human dimension. Alfonso and Sandra working together to create an absolutely seamless portrayal of a woman fighting for her life in zero gravity.

Couple of things:

What exactly is a space movie?

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What is the criteria? What are the trademarks that define the genre? Is it simply a movie that takes place in space or contains references to space travel? It is a movie in which one of the characters looks up at the stars longingly and plaintively. Really now, I wonder what would happen if this type of lazy genre stereotyping was applied to others persons, places, or things. Could there sky movies, water movies, sand movies, or black hole movies. It seems nowadays that any kind of movie plot warrants it’s own special classification. Does you movie have zombies…well that’s a zombie flick. Does your movie have a masked killer…..its a slasher movie. Does the film take place in a prison…that’s a prison film. Does the film have boxing it it….well you got yourself a boxing film. Forget what the character motivations are or what the focus of the narrative is. A puddle deep analysis of a film is all that seems to be needed for today’s film fans.

What people fail to realize is that such unimaginative and uninspired labeling can damage a movies reputation and negate its reach and impact. In case you were unaware, people have a tendency to only judge a book by its cover. Imagine how angry you would be if for years you avoided watching The Shawshank redemption having heard it was another ordinary prison movie. Imagine the surprise when you find out that The Shawshank Redemption has about as much to do with exploiting the typical conventions of a prison movie as ID4 had to do with being a Merchant-Ivory flick

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I do value how a detailed categorization of film genre can enrich ones understanding and joy of the medium by creating personal and revelatory bonds between the film and viewer. Yet at the same time I am vehemently against categorization for categorization’s sake. The amount of genres and sub-genres around today have reached ridiculous proportions. Film fans need to dial it back a bit and not let their tastes be subverted by simple genre labeling and segregation.

Now about Mr. Cameron

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Its sad to see the amount of respect most  film bloggers are giving Cameron seeing as he cares absolutely zero about making a good film. Not a good special effect mind you, but a good film. Check out what Slashfilm writer Germain Lussier had to say about him:

James Cameron is a filmmaker with high standards. His last two films were both the highest grossing films of all time and each took multiple years to get just right. In the interim, he’s been working to advance performance capture technology, high frame rate technology, 3D technology and probably more. So he knows what’s up.

Really……….Cameron is “a filmmaker with high standards”. Since when does having expensive production values equal high standards? Also what does the amount a film earns and how long it took to make have to do with its quality. In each instance both observations (time frame of production and gross) provide a case against Cameron’s since all the time he took to make Avatar and its subsequent box office gross didn’t change the fact that it was a derivative, poorly written, badly acted,  piece of sci-fi garbage. So excuse me if I don’t think Cameron’s opinion of Avatar is worth spit. Excuse me again if I don’t consider any of his thoughts about film-making to be anything more than foolish grandstanding. Here’s a good rule of thumb; if a person who makes bad movies recommends another filmmakers work then you should probably take his/her recommendation with a grain of salt. At the very least realize that any appreciation offered by such an individual likely steams from such an asinine and shallow artistic perception that any resulting opinion is barely worth any serious consideration.

Lastly about Gravity

Gravity trailer -- Pictured: Sandra Bullock (Screengrab)

Yeah I’m excited. I’ll admit it looks good. However the more I hear the more I don’t like. Its not that I’m being a hater or that the early buzz has been negative. It’s just that the praise seems to ring of typical Hollywood hogwash. In other words, all the praise I keep hearing concerns only the look of the film and none of its substance. You’ve heard enough of it by now: Gravity has the best space photography ever put on film, the longest most elaborate tracking shots, and the best use of 3D ever.” With praise like that it’s no wonder people think most film bloggers are shills.

Even the acting, when actually spoken of, is given such hollow praise that you find it hard to get excited about it. Am I supposed to be impressed by Sandra Bullock’s performance or impressed that she acted out her part in a painstakingly recreated “zero g environment”? Are we establishing a new form of acting method here. Should we now consider any performance done in “low gravity” to be Oscar gold. Give me a break. What good is a “zero g” performance without any weight to it. Even 2001, widely considered to be the greatest science fiction film ever made, usually can find some detractors when it comes to the human element of the story. The late science fiction author and screenwriter Ray Bradbury once spoke concerning 2001 saying that:

“,it’s really a big dumb idiot of a film…..the characters are all wrong because there are no characters. When Hal, the computer finally decides to kill them all off, you’re only too glad to see them go because they’re bores. You don’t know the identity of any of the people killed. 

If all the groundbreaking special effects utilized in 2001 couldn’t make the characters come to life what makes you think it will be any different with Cuaron. Not that I want the film to fail. I do hope that Gravity doesn’t follow the same course as 2001. Here’s hoping the performances are excellent in spite of and not because of the flashy special effects, tracking shots, or 3D. Here’s hoping Gravity isn’t just an empty spectacle like Avatar was. Here’s hoping……

Running without gravity……I smell Oscar!!!

Transformers: Age of Aquarius…..er….. Extinction

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Good Evening Filmcyclers. I hope that your day has gone well and that your sleep is deep and peaceful. All that of course in spite of the awful bit of film news I leave you with.

Transformers 4 Got a new poster and official title. Are you ready for it. Alright, here you go:

Transformers: Age of Extinction !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Its okay I guess. I would have thought they’d have went the obvious route and called the film:

“Transformers: The next film in the series that has only one good movie (the first one) and two cinematic abortions to its name, and is only being made because people unwisely spent mountains of cash to see the previous two sequels….also these movies are  still being written by that Ehren Kruger guy. Yeah the same guy who thought Skids and Mudflaps and Robot Heaven were a good idea. Also there are Dinobots. Yeah, dinosaur robots. Even for a Transformers movie that’s ridiculous. Please don’t see this movie. Instead take a hammer and repeated pound the top of your head till flat. You’ll have a better time.”

Too long? Perhaps? Well at the very least I get to see Mark Wahlberg tell a Dinobot “say hello to your mother for me”

Amy Schumer Presents: What You’ve Already Heard Before

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You’ve heard of Amy Schumer right? That momentarily famous female shock comic who has been burning up the airwaves at Comedy Central with her ribald sense of absurdist humor. Gee, I can’t help feeling I’ve heard that before. Lets try it a different way.

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You’ve heard of Whitney Cummings right? That momentarily famous female shock comic who has been burning up the airwaves at Comedy Central with her ribald sense of absurdist humor. A clearer picture perhaps but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Let me try one more time.

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You’ve heard of Sarah Silverman right? That momentarily famous female shock comic who has been burning up the airwaves at Comedy Central with her ribald sense of absurdist humor. That’s it. Now the circle is complete.

You do realize of course thats all it is; a circle.

Every couple of month or so the modern cultural landscape unleashes upon the world a new stand up comic of the female persuasion. They always seem to follow the same format. Young-ish, legitimately pretty, white, foul mouthed, obsessed with their female anatomy, obsessed with the male anatomy, obsessed with fluids, and obsessed with all the things you normally are too shy to tell your doctor about.

They’re hailed as a modern prophet. A kind of feminist revolutionary if you will. Audiences howl and gasp as they stand on stage and spout every kind of sexual, racial, scatalogical, and ribald epitapth known to man. Men for the most part don’t find this junk funny but they find the lady so attractive that they watch anyway. Women for some reason (call it a warped form of feminist empowerment) find the lady to either be a role model or a threat. The women in the role model camp find the fact that a woman who can speak of such awful atrocities while wearing high heels and blush to be immensely empowering for some reason. The threatened women however don’t find the lady funny at all but tag along with their boyfriends to the comedy shows so they won’t lose them.

Either way by hook or by crook, said female shock comic eventually sells a crap load of concert cd’s, has a few successful stand up specials on Comedy Central, appears on a few of those awful crucifictions masquerading as roasts, and finally lands a television or movie development deal. Thankfully this last part of the process usually spells the end for these young ladies for they are soon faced with the harsh reality that no form of narrative construct known to man could support (for a long period of time) their hollow, baseless, fowl, unsubstantiated, and uninsightful form of disposable comedy.

Soon after the public tires of this masquerade and looks to find a new woman shock comic that makes their ears burn as well as their loins. With this in mind I guess I should view it as good news that Miss Schumer has finally got a movie deal. Thanks to Judd Apatow (thought I’d never utter those words) the world will finally see Amy Schumer’s comedy stick get exposed for what it really is; a flash in the pants……..get it I said pants instead of pan…….cause thats where the penis and the vagina are at. Where’s my movie deal.

Finding Nemo 2: The Search For More Money

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Here is the official press release from Disney regarding their forthcoming film “Finding Dory”, the sequel to the 2003 blockbuster film “Finding Nemo” (the really stupid and asinine parts are in bold for your viewing pleasure).

When Dory said “just keep swimming” in 2003’s Oscar®-winning film “Finding Nemo,” she could not have imagined what was in store for her (not that she could remember). Ellen DeGeneres, voice of the friendly-but-forgetful blue tang fish, revealed details today about Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory”—an all-new big-screen adventure diving into theaters on Nov. 25, 2015.

“I have waited for this day for a long, long, long, long, long, long time,” said DeGeneres. “I’m not mad it took this long. I know the people at Pixar were busy creating ‘Toy Story 16.’ But the time they took was worth it. The script is fantastic. And it has everything I loved about the first one: It’s got a lot of heart, it’s really funny, and the best part is—it’s got a lot more Dory.”

Director and Pixar veteran Andrew Stanton takes audiences back to the extraordinary underwater world created in the original film. “There is no Dory without Ellen,” said Stanton. “She won the hearts of moviegoers all over the world—not to mention our team here at Pixar. One thing we couldn’t stop thinking about was why she was all alone in the ocean on the day she met Marlin. In ‘Finding Dory,’ she will be reunited with her loved ones, learning a few things about the meaning of family along the way.”

One thing we couldn’t stop thinking about was why she was all alone in the ocean on the day she met Marlin. In ‘Finding Dory,’ she will be reunited with her loved ones, learning a few things about the meaning of family along the way.

Done retching. Okay, lets break this down. I’ll start with a question. When in the history of either the Disney, Pixar, or Disney/Pixar enterprises has a sequel to one of their films ever been a good idea. If you’re finding it hard to get beyond “Toy Story 2″ (it was okay people, not groundbreaking), and the “Shaggy D.A.” then you would understand why I’m so saddened to see Pixar, an other wise reputable studio go down the sequel route. Typically when a sequel is done by Disney it is solely to make a cash grab. That’s why most of their putrid spin offs to their animated classics, both from the golden age and second renaissance, have only been released on home video. They had no real cinematic value and Disney, even in the bowls of unabashed capitalism that produces such films, would not disgrace their cinematic track record with such trash.

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The Disney sequels were not movies at all really. They were babysitters. They were distractions put on by frazzled adults so their screaming children could be quiet. Unlike their typically superior predecessors the plots of these Disney sequels and prequels tended to have uninspired plots, lazy motivations and second rate animation. Sadly those three attributes have come to define the upcoming slate of Disney and Pixar animated features on the horizon. For those that think I’m being cynical or negative a simple compare and contrast will easily show how superior the original Disney/Pixar product is in comparison to its forthcoming prequel/sequel/ or spinoff.

Compare this:

“Monsters Inc.”: Fear is not only a defining aspect of childhood, it is a business. The Boogeyman doesn’t just scare you for the heck of it, but to make a living, supporting himself and the society in which he lives. That society is Monstropolis: the world on the other side of your closet door. The central (primitive) source of power is the screams of human children. There is no better harvester of screams than James P. “Sully” Sullivan. Along with his one eyed assistant Mike they help provide Monstropolis with as much power as they can which is not easy thanks to Sully’s rival Randall always looking to sabotage him and the simple fact that children are getting harder to scare. But beneath the rivalry and the daily macabre grind lies a more sinister conspiracy. Power plays, unholy alliances, and hidden secrets combine to uproot the very structure of the Monstropolis society and only Sully and Mike can save the day. With a plot containing elements of corporate intrigue and societal growth coupled with sly yet innocent humor, Monsters Inc. is a workplace comedy that both kids and adults can enjoy on many different levels.

With this:

“Monsters University”: We take a look back at Sully and Mike’s college days. Hilarity ensues. Seriously, isn’t this the kind of idea screenwriters get fired for. Who the heck looked at Monsters Inc. and thought the characters would work just as well in a college type setting. No one, that’s who. I’ve actually heard this described as a sort of tribute to “Animal House” or some such nonsense. That funny because when I first saw “Monster Inc.” I thought the only thing that was missing (besides cowbell) was a little bit of raunchy frat house humor.

Compare This:

“Finding Nemo”: The beauty and danger of the ocean is home to a simple yet textured tale of a father and son. We watch them grow together and grow apart as they figure out who they are in the big anemone that lies within the deep. Themes such as fatherhood, letting go, coping with loss, finding your way home, sacrifice, and finding your inner strength are all explored with humor and great pathos. All the elements come together to make “Finding Nemo” a wonderful parable of life under the sea.

With This:

Finding Dory: Remember the quirky forgetful fish from the first film Dory who almost sunk the film with her tired shtick featuring pop culture references (Fabio…really) and saccharine signing. Well now she gets her own story in which we get to meet her equally eccentric and annoying family. Isn’t that basically the plot from “Nutty Professor 2: Meet The Klumps”. 

Compare These:

“Cars”, “Cars 2″: Pixar phones in a serviceable cash cow. Its basically the cinematic equivalent of an A student bringing home two B- papers in a row.

With This:

Planes: Followed by a D+ travesty. “Planes”. “Planes!!!!!” Whats next? Will we see talking trains or boats? Maybe a hang gliders that does a soliloquy? With “Planes” we’re surely starting to see the cracks in the Pixar formula come through. What once was brilliant and intuitive storytelling prompted by imaginative and honest probings into humanities most enduring meanderings (i.e., what happens to your toys when you put them away, what happens inside that ant colony, or is being a superhero really that super?) gets replace by hokey premises and uninspired stories (i.e., wouldn’t it be cool if a car could talk, a boat could talk, a plane could talk, monsters went to college, ect).

Pixar is slowly abandoning all the good will they’ve built up by releasing these lame “what if” concepts masquerading as movies. A return to storytelling with substance is needed before I have any confidence in plunking down my money on any future Pixar films. Until then most every prospect Pixar has on the horizon looks completely:

Percy Jackson and the Lowering of Cinematic Standards

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Hey check out the new trailer for Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1704670/percy-jackson-sea-monsters-trailer.jhtml
(Sorry I couldn’t embed, wasn’t working)

I expected to see an attack but instead I get bemused indifference. I understand that the constant barrage of substandard material has deadened the internet film community’s ability to respond accurately and vigilantly to both good and bad film news. As a result discerning the steps taken either forward or backward in cinema have become an altogether muddled affair. Either people don’t see the problem, are unwilling to admit their is a problem, or they just don’t care anymore. Probably a combination of all three. Still, the deteriorating standards of the modern film community notwithstanding, its very easy to see that with Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monster we are witnessing a clear (if not slickly presented) step backwards in cinephilia. Just don’t look to the film blogs to tell you that.

Based on the popular YA books by Rick Riordan, Chris Columbus’s PERCY JACKSON & THE LIGHTNING THIEF was evidently profitable enough to compel Fox to keep the series running. I thought the first film worked as a glossy Greek Mythology primer for kids (it was certainly more enjoyable than Louis Leterrier’s CLASH OF THE TITANS), so I’ve no issue with more of the same. Not that it matters. I’m not the target audience for this stuff, and, unless you’re a precocious eight- to twelve-year-old reading this website, neither are you.

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And honestly, it does look kind of fun. Like the first film, it appears that the sequel will play around with the adult actors cast in very silly roles, like Stanley Tucci as Dionysus, Nathan Fillion as Hermes, and Sean Bean as Zeus. It looks like they are having an absolute blast, and it’s possible audiences could, too. It’s also worth noting that the screenplay was co-written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who wrote “Ed Wood,” “The People Vs. Larry Flynt,” and “Man in the Moon,” and Marc Guggenheim, a beloved comic book author.

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With Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, we are thankfully getting a more manageable title and from the looks of this trailer, a more ambitious attempt at epic adventure.

The exchange of director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter 1 & 2) for director Thor Freudenthal (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) is somewhat dubious – if only because Columbus has more experience with filmmaking on this scale than Freudenthal does. Still, the trailers looks like what you’d expect, given the first film, with some nice (if moderately budgeted) effects shots.

Sea of Monsters also features a nice supporting cast of fan-favorite actors like Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle), Stanley Tucci (Captain America) and Anthony Head (Buffy) – along with Missi Pyle (The Artist), Leven Rambin (Wizards of Waverly Place) and Yvette Nicole Brown (Community).

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Even though the first Percy Jackson was both a bit muddled and leaned a little too hard on the silly, we liked the gags and the world-building. Plus it got points for turning Pierce Brosnan into a centaur that will forever haunt our dreams. And now, there’s a second Percy Jackson movie, and… it looks cute. Maybe even decent.

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When I interviewed Abel about The Host last week it was interesting hearing him admit that the Percy Jackson series is pretty much exclusively for kids at this point, which might be tough for a twenty-something actor making his way in the world but also provides a pretty steady paycheck. And as evidenced by all the work these actors have gotten since Lightning Thief, it’s definitely not hurting that they’re most recognizable to elementary schoolers. You’d think the original Percy Jackson film might not merit a sequel, making just $88 million in the United States, but with a $226 million worldwide total it’s enough to move forward even without Harry Potter orHunger Games-sized grosses.

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Like many YA adaptations outside the Harry Potter and Twilight series, The Lightning Thief didn’t quite wow audiences. Unlike many stillborn series, however, this one is actually getting a sequel. 

This chapter features Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T. Jackson returning to support Lerman’s hero, and we get to see Stanley Tucci as Dionysus. Oh, and Nathan Fillion plays Hermes, which might be enough to get people watching.

The trailer doesn’t even think that audiences remember the first film, as it spends thirty seconds refreshing us on the series’ storyline. After that, it does get down to business, with the sort of big CG visions of mythological creatures that populated the first film.

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Thats all quite of lot of pandering to take in so if you don’t mind I’ll sum up the general points most of the internet film community made about this upcoming film.

1. It understandable and forgivable that a new sequel is being made to an awful film just because that first film netted a huge profit.

2. Well it looks like the adult actors are having fun in their roles which is all that matters anyway.

3. Nathan Fillion is a god. Worship him and give him money. Browncoats forever! Forever!!!!

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4. Well its for kids anyway so if it sucks thats okay. Having high standards for cinema only should apply to adults. At the very least our kids are getting an introduction to Greek mythology.

5. The first film sucked less than “Clash Of The Titans” and Eragon so it gets a pass.

Geez. I hope you enjoyed that set visit and free swag guys. I hope it profited you to gain all that stuff at the expense of you collective cinematic soul.  Must I reiterate that if we don’t start demanding more of the studios and filmmakers of this present age then things will continue to get worse. You may think I’m making a big deal out of this (“its only Percy Jackson!”) but its the little things, not the big, that over time build up until the problem is almost to big to solve.  Think of the all style and no substance money driven film culture we’ll be leaving behind for the next generation. They wont have stories with depth and artistry but only garish forgettable popcorn flicks to look forward to. But do we even consider the next generation at all anymore. We’ve already resigned to letting our kids (and ourselves) be receptacles for this kind of cgi laden garbage so who knows what we’ll allow in the future.

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Well excuse me if that’s not the way I want to respond to our film culture. Let me provide you with the response to Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters trailer debut that the other film blogs should have been more responsible enough to give you:

Hey did you hear! That mediocre piece of crap film that insulted audiences a few years back is getting a sequel. Yes Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters is upon us. What better chance will you have at the cinema this year to watch otherwise serviceable actors phoning in performances though belabored prosthetics and phony c.g.i.? At least you wont have to worry about any scenery chewing since 99.9 percent of the sets aren’t even there. You know who is there? Nathan Fillion. Bow down and sacrifice your daughters at the altar of Nathan Fillion. But it gets better. You remember the wunderkind turned hack director Chris Columbus? Well he’s history. We scrapped the bottom of the barrel, then lifted the barrel up and looked under it and found another guy to direct the film. Remember that instant classic Hotel for Dogs? The film that made Beverly Hills Chihuahua look like Citizen Kane. Well we got the guy who directed that (Thor Frudendthal……real name) to helm this turkey. Are you still there? Have you fainted from the amount of pure awesomeness we’ve assembled to make this project? Well you will when we tell you who we got to write the film. You know Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who wrote “Ed Wood,” “The People Vs. Larry Flynt,” and “Man in the Moon”? Well we payed them enough money to squander their talents and sell out by writing this new film. On top of that we hired a comic book writer to help with the scripting duties to trick nerds into seeing the film. Top that off with a couple of scenes and scenarios lifted from likewise sub-par films (Pirates of the Carribean franchise, Harry Potter franchise, Clash Of The Titans, ect) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. But as long as that disaster nets the studio about 120-200 million you can be sure another sequel is on the way. But hey…..the film has Nathan Fillion. See you at the cinema!

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“Hey, You Got Some D.E.A. In My Special Forces!” “You Got Some Special Forces In My D.E.A.”

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A quick statement before we get to the trailer.

I wonder if you would take a second and compare and contrast Denzel Washington and Nicholas Cage careers. If you were to do so I believe you would find a lot of commonalities. The biggest one being they have forgotten how to chose good scripts and are consequently starring in formulaic, asinine genre movies. Occasionally each can strike gold with a project. Denzel seemed to find a meaty performance in Flight and Nicholas just happened to star in one of the greatest film of the past 20 years in Knowing (not kidding at all). Yet, for the most part we sit and watch two men who once were considered two of the greatest (or at least most promising) actors in their generation practically defecate over the prestige of their careers. The funny thing is, only one of the two actors seems to have become the object of parody; Nicholas “BEES!” Cage.


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Now to be fair Denzel has taken his fair share of criticism for his current string of one note performances. His particular brand of smooth heroic masculinity that once proved uniquely watchable has by now lapsed into parody. Still the mild chiding he receives for those performances doesn’t begin to compare to the hate a genuinely gifted actor like Nicholas Cage receives. Roger Ebert made a great observation about the Nicholas when he stated that:

Cage is accused of showboating, but I prefer to think he swings for the fences. Sometimes he strikes out but more often he connects (he took enormous risks in “Leaving Las Vegas,” “Bringing Out the Dead” and “Adaptation”). He has a kind of raging zeal that possesses his characters; what in another actor would be overacting is, with Cage, a kind of fearsome intensity.

Even in the worst movies Nicholas Cage always comes to the plate and swings for the fences. The same, as of late, cannot be said of Mr. Denzel Washington. Especially when you see him in trailers like this for his new movie like 2 Guns. Yes that’t the title. 

Couple of things

1. Despite his age he was serviceable in Book of Eli. Not so much nowHow old is Denzel gonna have to be before he is not able to do action roles anymore? I’ve come to terms with the fact that Hollywood  often sinks its teeth into its black cash cow’s like Denzel and milks them for all the box office potential but this is getting ridiculous. There has to be thousands of other black actors out there vying for roles in buddy cop pictures/biopics/and other various sidekicks roles. Keep using Denzel like this and eventually all that’s left is going to be a chocolate skeleton on screen sitting next to Jonah Hill in the next big buddy cop flick. 

2. Does anyone actually write these types of movies any more or do the actors just wing it. If its the former then I think we should pray for the talent of our Hollywood writers. If its the latter then screen acting in terms of improvisation has truly taken a nosedive. Did you actually listen to some of that inane dialogue in the trailer.

Denzel: You ever heard the saying never rob the bank across from the diner that has the best donuts in 3 counties?

Mark: That’s not a saying.

Denzel: Yes it is.

Mark: No its not, I get what your saying, but its not a saying.

Denzel: You never heard it? Maybe you’ve never heard it?

Mark: Okay.

Denzel: It is a saying. It’s a saying to me.

Mark: (laughs)

Denzel: (laughs)

Audiences: (cries)

Talk about bad overlapping dialogue  Seriously, that is just plain lazy. Just because Tarantino was able to get away with the whole “low life” “tough guy” banter thing doesn’t mean it should become the norm in Hollywood  Screen writing is an art unto itself and to see two actors fumble their way jokingly through their lines like that is just plain awful. The actors may find it fun (or easy) but it comes across as smug, boring, cloying and insulting to the audience.

3. Paula Patton like Rosario Dawson in Unstoppable, Eva Mendes and Sanaa Lathan in Out of Time, Paula Patton in Deja Vu, and Mila Kunas in The Book of Eli, is playing a role so clearly designed to net a paycheck that you can almost hear chi-ching every time she opens her mouth.

4. This trailer seems less like an advertisement for the movie and more an advertisement for car crash porn. After seeing Tony Scott and Micheal bay roll cars up down and all around the past 20 years, the sight of a couple of trucks playing tag isn’t really doing it for me.

5. Jimmy Hendrix has apparently spun in his grave so hard that he tunneled all the way to China.

6. More Bad Dialogue:

Denzel: The Bank was a set up. We gotta figure out whose money that was.

Mark: (super-excited) What, like we’re working together?

Denzel: No, not like we’re working together.

Mark: Yeah!

Denzel: Naw, like we’re working in the same vicinity.

Mark: Together!

Denzel: Like we’re working in the same Area code.

Mark: Together!

7: Paula Patton I can understand. Paychecks are hard to come by in Hollywood for black actresses. But what excuse does Bill Paxton and Edward James Olmos have. They’re two of the best character actors of our generation and they’ve reduced themselves to doing slop like this. And don’t give me that “it’ll be fun to watch them chewing the scenery” garbage. If the scenery around them is moldy and gross (i.e. a badly structured film) then they’ll just end up regurgitating garbage to the audience.

8. Also did anybody notice James Marsden was in the movie. Exactly!

9: “Incentivized”

10: A final bit of bad dialogue that probably mirrors the screen writers approach to writing this movie:

Denzel: So partner, What’s your plan?

Mark: I’ve got a plan. I mean I’m capable of coming up with a plan.

Denzel: I’m not saying you’re not capable. I’m just saying you haven’t told me. What is it?

Mark: (annoyed) I’m working on it!…. Screw it!

Drives through fence

Denzel: That was your plan?

Mark: No one expected it. You should have seen you’re face.

Audeience: (cries)

I understand that the buddy cop genre has never been considered the height of cinema, but does that excuse the makers of this film of having such low expectations for themselves. As trivial as this genre may be it’s still capable of producing such entertaining fair as 48 hrs, Die Hard With A Vengeance, Alien Nation, Bad Boys, Mississippi Burning, Hard Boiled, Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour (yep). Sadly it seems the makers of these kinds of films don’t feel the need to try anymore. They have their formula. They know their film will at least net a profit of 150-200 million dollars no matter how good it is. From there moving forward they can option any other sub-par buddy cop script they want and develop further plans to bilk the American public with garbage product. To borrow a phrase from buddy cop veteran Roger Murtaugh, I think its time we let the actors, directors, writers and producers who make these films know that,  “We’re getting to old for this….stuff (T.V. edit)

Film News Worth Your Time 10/23/2012

We at film-cycle like to shine a light on film news that we believe is worthy of your time. Every week we showcase a new collection of articles and websites  that provide only the most articulate and mature film journalism (with some levity thrown in as well). You will encounter film news that will leave you stimulated, provoked, challenged, enlightened and ultimately hopeful about film and the interesting pathways it’s taking.

Linda Holmes of NPR has written a very in-depth article that examines the birth and evolution of the regan era working woman in contemporary 80′s cinema as examined through two films: Baby Boom and Fatal Attraction. Good Stuff. http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2012/10/14/162895778/two-very-different-working-women-at-the-movies-25-years-ago-this-week

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Different shades of Hitchcock. The genius’ at the Movie Morlocks blog over at TCM attemt to trace the stylistic influence of Rear Window throughout a myriad of different films both classic and contemporary. Do they succeed? Find out for yourself. http://moviemorlocks.com/2012/10/20/rear-windows-for-everyone/#more-56283

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Give the Movie Geeks credit. Unlike most of their contemporaries in the movie podcast realm, they actually try to delve deep into cinema by covering a variety of different subjects ranging from Kubrick to De Palma (although I think they’ve beat the whole 80′s thing to death). Their latest challenge has been the seemingly impossible task of decifering the cinematic process of David Lynch. I give em credit for even trying to do this at all. Give a listen. http://www.moviegeeksunited.net/lynchseries.htm

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I feel sorry for what has become of Stan Lee. What once was probably a very astute pop personality has been relegated to a sort of theme park attraction monstrosity  I see him in interview after interview, asked the same asinine questions over and over, poked and prodded into saying the most grating of catchphrases (excelsior!!!). I appreciate all he has done just as much as the next guy, but isn’t there more to his process and genius than red tights and web shooters.  I’ve always thought so, and apparently so does Turner Classic Movies. Check out an interview Stan does with Scott Mcgee of Turner Classic where he talks about the influence classic cinema had on his creative process. http://www.tcm.com/this-month/podcast.html

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Iron Man 3: The Big Tease

Forget Christmas, film is the most commercialized entity in america. We’re at a place now where even the teaser trailer isn’t enough anymore. We have teases of teasers.

http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Iron-Man-3-Reveals-Sneak-Peek-Trailer-33695.html

http://www.slashfilm.com/heres-a-sneak-peak-at-the-iron-man-3-trailer-premiering-tuesday/

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/iron-man-3-footage-unlocked-by-superfans-from-facebook-20121021

http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/10/21/iron-man-3-sneak-peek-trailer-video/

The hype surrounding the release of a new superhero movie is usually ridiculous (especially if you consider the inferior end product). Fanboys and internet film nerds (the kind who give cinema a bad name) clamor in front of their computers waiting for the tiniest morsel of info about the latest toy commerc…..I mean superhero film on the horizon. They’ve gone from patrons of the cinematic arts to product testers. The only questions they have about a new superhero film is how cool will the footage be, how shiny are the suits, and will their favorite hero will get a cameo. Rarely, if not at all, do you find people wanting to know more about the ideas and themes of a superhero film (or film in general). You don’t see people on the Imdb message boards talking about The Avengers as cinematic art in relation to their humanity, but rather as product and how well it follows comic books continuity. I remember a time where movie producers would ask audiences to believe a man can fly or simply be brave enough to save his city. Not anymore. Now they want to us to be excited to the point of frenzy so that we are blindly caught up in the hype for their new product. At that point you hand over your money just to see what all the fuss is about, and not because you want to see a great film. Sadder still is the modern day audience which complies dutifully with the commercial empty headed commands of this modern movie production hype machine.

But I guess it doesn’t matter if the machine is shiny.

Armond White “Masters” The Film Bloggers

At the beginning of the week I post another edition of “Film News Worth Your Time”. However, a more pressing matter concerning journalistic integrity and persecution has taken precedent.

Film-Cycle Hall of Fame film critic Armond White has aroused the ire of the film blog-o-sphere with his dual article reviewing both Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master and Paul W.S. Andersons Resident Evil 4: Retribution. White makes the bold and well-defended claim that Paul W.S. Anderson is the superior of the two and calls PTA’s  “The Master” trash. The Twitter-verse is already ablaze, the review is inciting shouts of “troll” and “hack”. If being a troll means writing daring and frighteningly intuitive cultural commentary, then Armond White is the biggest troll the world has ever seen.

I have a question.

Has cultural commentary and criticism devolved into such a state of herd mentality that the mere suggestion of someone bucking a popular trend or denouncing a fad is sacrilegious? I would have to answer yes, based on the juvenile, asinine, and off-color responses White’s review is drawing. Why is Armond White a troll? Is it imperative that one like The Master to gain acceptance as a film critic? Do you have to thumb your nose at the work of those considered “unimportant” and  untalented (like director Paul W.S. Anderson) so that you can seem smart? It’s not like we’re talking about some internet film nerd whose knowledge of cinema is threadbare, at best, and thinks black and white films are “boring.” Armond White’s critics should actually read some of his other less “incendiary” articles, such as his think pieces on David Lean and Vincente Minnelli. Then they would see that he is not a troll, but an uncompromising, intuitive, and challenging film mind. People don’t see this. Why? He offends them by daring to dislike films they “love” (like The Dark Knight,  Inception, and There Will Be Blood). However, their love and appreciation for a film and its director is not the pure kind that breeds understanding and growth, but a dark kind that causes jealousy, ignorance, and rabid fanaticism. Sadly, more unsavory off-shoots of the dark kind are now the typical calling cards of most cultural criticism today.

I wrote this article to defend Armond White, but in truth, he doesn’t need my defense.  The pride he takes in his profession, the focus he has on the arts, and the childishness of  his critics’ opposing arguments, has freed him from any need of defense.

Besides, he has said all he needed to say about the sad state of cultural criticism in his brilliant and timely article, Discourteous Discourse. In the article he asks us to:

“Consider how film criticism now works: Publicists select favorable media outlets to create advance buzz (embargoing others) and then, with frat-boy mentality in effect, no one else in cyberspace dares dissent from the hype.

A new model of cultural response is taking over: criticism of criticism—and critics—as a pointless, snaky substitute for examining films themselves.”

(Are you paying attention Matt Singer, and Paul Brunick? Why don’t you actually try discussing and dissecting some actual cinema instead of discussing and dissecting a critic?)

“Attacks from bloggers—crude interlopers of a once august profession— are not about diversity of opinion. What’s at root is an undisguised rivalry. Every moviegoer with a laptop claims equal—vengeful—standing with so-called professionals.  Professional dignity is the last thing Internetters respect. Their loudmouth enmity and lack of knowledge are so overwhelming that it is imperative to put this crisis in perspective.

These new social networks overturn the informed judgments and occupational decorum of journalist-critics, substituting the glib enthusiasms and non-discriminating devotion of apparently juvenile cliques. Worse yet, this schoolyard style of peer group fanaticism has devolved into all-out, ugly intimidation: Internet bullying. It has begun to sway the professional ranks already frightened by media transitions that have cost many of my colleagues their jobs.

The most important concern exceeds the critical profession; it’s the danger these changes pose to the culture in general. Ridiculing the need for mature thought and discriminating judgment diminishes film culture. Any opinion that challenges the blockbuster market gets punished. We never experience a healthy exchange of ideas. The social networking approach to criticism encourages anti-intellectual harassment and the excoriation of individual response; it may spell the end of critical habits altogether.”

Testify Armond, testify.

Hollywood Essays ♛

by Alicia Mayer

Things 90s Kids Realize

A warm & fuzzy cup of nostalgia for my fellow 90s kids.

moviemorlocks.com

MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for Turner Classic Movies (TCM). No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.

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