Me And Earl And The Dying Girl: Trailer Reflections

1. “So if this was a touching romantic story, our eyes would meet and suddenly we would be furiously making out with the fire of a thousand suns; but this isn’t a touching romantic story”.

  • I hope this isn’t a case where a film tells us everything it isn’t going to be without actually being about anything. People often forget to have an endgame when rebelling against established narrative practices.

2. Token black best friend saying stuff like, “punk ass cat”, makes me go “ughhhhh!”.

3. Annoying trait of novice director showcasing their knowledge of film by having their main characters be knowledgeable about films in a way that most normal people aren’t.

4. What is it with the recent trait of white women finding themselves by way of fatal disease? Between ABC Family’s Chasing Life, the film adaptation of The Fault In Our Stars, and this, I can safely say it’s a trait I’m growing tired of. Soon you’ll have young girls trying to get diagnosed with cancer so they can “find themselves” and date sensitive guys. I know movies are supposed to have a little romanticism but having all these women’s lives suddenly open up and become fulfilling once they get cancer seems a little self centered/indulgent.

  • Even Michel Gondry’s 2013 film Mood Indigo gave a grounded portrayal of what havoc a fatal disease can wreak on a young woman’s life and the people who love even with Gondry’s requisite whimsy.

5. Molly Shannon. It’s good seeing her. She’s so talented and so much funnier than Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and most other modern female comediennes. It’s a shame her movie career never took off. She had the goods…….has the goods.

6. Anyone notice  at about the 1:37 in the trailer another girl appears? She’s pretty, vibrant, caring and seems to be cancer free. Glad to see the movie has another girl lined up for Greg (the main protagonist) after his current crush becomes worm food.

7. Dealing with cancer can be magical when you have health insurance.

8. Do kids still hang out on steps eating rocket pops just shooting the breeze or is that just nostalgic wishful thinking?

9. “Life can keep unfolding itself to you as long as you pay attention to it.” Huh?

10. In all fairness it does look like the guy who plays Earl (R.J. Cyler) brought his A game. The scene where he confront’s Greg near the end of the trailer looks pretty intense.

11. Lastly, and not to make this a tribute to Michel Gondry, but doesn’t Greg and Earl’s practice of remaking classic films cheaply and stupidly (yet with heart) mimic what the main characters did in the film Be Kind Rewind?

12. I know the context is different but it still seems like a stolen idea.

Burying The Ex: Trailer Reflections

1. Why are people not more excited about this?  Joe Dante is directing films again. Forget how formulaic the plot looks. If Ingmar Bergman had decided to direct a boy meets girl rom-com, no one would dare utter the word formulaic. Instead they’d say, “how brilliant of Bergman to use genre conventions to subvert audience expectations”, or something. I think Dante deserves the same amount of respect and trust in view of his remarkable body of work.

Joe D and Gremlin.0

2. I could care less that “Burying The Ex” has a surface resemblance to “Life After Beth”. I don’t care because the director is Joe Dante…..the great Joe Dante. Lets not turn this into a Chasing Liberty vs. First Daughter thing.

3. Big ups to Dante….he always pays tributes to his influences/forefathers. At about the halfway point in the trailer you see our hero outside a movie theater. Advertised on the marquee are two films: “Cat People” (1942) and “I Walked With A Zombie” (1943). Besides being great films (especially “Cat People”) they are both the work of renowned horror/noir filmmaker Jacques Tourneur.

4. Kinda wish the trailer didn’t reveal that the main character’s brother gets eaten by his zombie girlfriend.

5. Does every affable-quirky leading man in a movie have a slothful, slovenly, wise older brother/best friend? Besides the obvious potential for cheap jokes, it seems like a way to show the audience what the main character would be like if he gave up on himself. Another good example is Jack Black’s character from “Orange County” (2003).

6. I know that execution-wise the movie will be excellent cinema (it’s Dante after all), but in idea form it seems like a discarded plot for a “Masters Of Horror” episode.

7. Speaking of Joe Dante’s TV work, when will we get an “Eerie Indiana” movie, or TV revival?

8. It seems the main character has difficulty choosing between Ashley Greene and Alexandra Daddario? Boo-Hoo. I know one of the girls is dead but excuse me if I reserve my sympathy for someone with real problems and not “Andy Hardy” problems.

andy

9. The 2008 anthology film “New York, I Love You” (spun off from the excellent “Paris, Je t’aime”) was an altogether terrible film. It’s one redeeming quality was the segment directed by Brett Ratner (not kidding) starring Anton Yelchin. Check it out.

10. Anton Yelchin wasn’t terrible in J.J. Abrams “Star Trek”.

11. Nil Baskar wrote a terrific book on Joe Dante’s work as a director that encapsulates his impressive oeuvre. The book features a great interview with Joe Dante along with in-depth reviews and analysis of his landmark films. It’s a great read.

12. Lastly, keep and eye out for Dick Miller. Dick Miller is the man.

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Fantastic Four (2015): Character Trailers Reaction

 

Four separate trailers/featurettes for the four leads of the new Fantastic Four film have arrived. Like most of you, when it comes to recent news about the new Fantastic Four film, I head straight to the comment section. This is where a good collection of the Internets racist bigots are too be found. They’ve been congregating there ever since news broke that an “n word” would be playing Johnny Storm. Of course, following hot on their heels are the reformers. These tireless souls make it their duty to correct the inevitable racist arguments that arise online in discussions regarding topics like politics, feminism, religion and entertainment just to name a few.

 

 

Watching the bigots and reformers go at it is equal parts hilarious and saddening. On the one hand, people getting so worked up about a simple casting decision is amusing. On the other hand, I know the fury and consternation behind all this goes a lot deeper than simple pettiness, revealing the struggles America’s had coming to terms with who we are as a people and what we’ve been though as a country. This gives me pause…..

 

 

Personally, I try to keep my views simple regarding the new Fantastic Four film. I’m a fan of Josh Trank’s first film Chronicle so I’m definitely going to see it (although, I think the true strength of that flick lies with the script). As for Micheal B. Jordan being cast as the Human Torch, I say; Why not? We already saw what happens when an “ideal” white actor gets a chance at the part.

 

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I’m sure Micheal B. Jordan can do better than that. Furthermore, people can go ahead and stop with the whole, “Kate Mara is white and Micheal B. Jordan is black, so they can’t be brother and sister”, argument. Forget for a second how this statement shows a complete ignorance of science, genetics, and the adoption process. Instead, for comparisons sake, let me draw your attention to the great chemistry Chris Evans (Johnny Storm) had with Jessica Alba (Sue Storm) in Tim Story’s Fantastic Four films. Here is a clip showcasing their chemistry:

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Oh, that’s right. There is no footage of Chris Evans and Jessica Alba’s chemistry because they had none. They were believable as brother and sister in the same way Leonardo Dicaprio was believable as Jay Gatsby. In other words, not at all. They failed despite having everything the racists say the new versions of Johnny and Sue Storm should have (namely, a more visible form of a familial bond). So what does that tell us. Maybe that an actors melanin levels should not be a deciding factor in picking them to play a part. I think its best to stick with choosing people for parts based on stuff like acting talent, chemistry with other performers, and charisma.

 

Thoughts About Survivor Trailer

Thoughts About “Survivor”:

1. Is this the most high concept/biggest budget Lifetime movie ever made?

2.You think the guy would stop killing people if they gave him a better criminal nickname? The Watchmaker?……..Really!? I’d kill people too if I was named that.

3. James Bond gone rouge. Just joking, but it’s sad that Pierce (a very capable actor) gets kind of pigeonholed in the James Bond mold; even in his non-Bond films. I mean, look at him in this trailer: he’s a terrorist bomber that dresses like he works for MI6. He even uses high tech James Bond type gadgets and gizmo’s in bomb building making it look like he raided Q’s warehouse. Aren’t mass bombers supposed to be crazy people who live in the woods making bombs out of toilet paper, fireworks, and ammonia?

4. Robert Forster deserves better than this. He also deserved an Oscar for his role in Jackie Brown. Seriously, he was fantastic in that.

5. Angela Basset is taking over the role of the “token black woman whom the studios wouldn’t cast in the lead so to pacify her (and the ever more diverse movie going audience) they gave her a small part with very powerful implications in the story. Couldn’t Angela Basset have played the lead in the movie, and Milla have taken the secondary part.

For other examples of this type of typecasting  see:

  •  Viola Davis in Black Hat
  • Angela Basset in This Means War
  • Viola Davis in Night And Day
  • Pam Grier in Escape From L.A.
  • Hattie McDaniels in Gone With The Wind

6. What hath Liam Neeson wrought? Am I the only one kinda over the whole aging action hero (or villain) thing? It’s getting ridiculous. Can’t you just defeat one of these guys by pushing them down the stairs, or denying them their medication. What’s next? How about Woody Allen as a CIA operative,or Alan Alda as a contract killer?

7. They stole the whole falling down the stairs while shooting scene in the trailer from The Bourne Identity.

Also, everything else in the trailer was stolen from the Bourne franchise, down to the blue color tinting of the film.

Dubstep in the trailer is always a No-No

I liked V For Vendetta. Director James McTigue took the Wachowski’s otherwise ham-fisted script and gave it a nice energy and injected some much needed humor. He’s also has shown himself to be very adept at directing action. That alone make this project not completely uninteresting

Then again, he also directed Ninja Assassin and The Raven….so yeah.

He was also first assistant director to George Lucas on Attack Of The Clones which is akin to the The Aostle Paul being tasked with holding the coat’s of the Sanhedrin as Stephen was being stoned.

Was Milla Jovovich called Alice in the trailer?

Milla Jovovich……so it’s not a total loss. Although having her play the harried heroine doesn’t work so well in my opinion. She has such a strong will and presence on screen that’s its hard to believe she’d be threatened by the likes of suave Pierce Brosnan in a suit. Because of this, none of the victim roles I’ve seen her play over the years, have ever really worked for me.

When I think Box Office, I think Dylan Mcdermott.

Dylan-McDermott-Hostages

 

Laugh: Movies With Hilarious LGBT Scenes And Jokes

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I wanted to stay out of this. I’ve put up with all the complaining and moralizing. I ignored the reports from SXSW where the film was deemed racist and homophobic. I winced my way through review after review where critics felt it necessary to explain the ethics of comedy in relation to LGBT people. I withstood it all, weathering the storm of mediocre film criticism gracefully. Regrettably, I can remain quiet no longer after reading this:

http://www.hitfix.com/news/cringe-13-movies-with-blatantly-homophobic-scenes#disqus_thread

That pissed me off. Its not enough for you to lose your collective cool over one slight comedy, but now you condemn other popular movies people have enjoyed for containing “homophobic” scenes that you deem offensive .

All I want a critic to do is tell me whether or not a movie worked, and then explain why. Furthermore, it’d be nice if that why wasn’t based on a film offending your own personal political and social beliefs

Hitfix highlighted certain scenes from random movies deeming them offensive because they ridicule people who are LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender). To serve as a bit of contrast I will post some scenes from popular movies that contain jokes, situations and characters that could be construed as offensive or mocking toward LGBTpeople but still work regardless in the film they’re apart of.

 

Airplane

In Airplane, the classic 1980 send up of 70’s disaster flicks, there’s a character named Johnny. Johnny was portrayed by gay actor Stephen Stucker. In the film Johnny is a worker in the control tower helping to safely land a plane where a major indecent has occurred. Johnny is Gay. He is hilariously, sterotypically gay. Enjoy.

 

 

Dirty Work

Dirty Work is a 1998 comedy staring Norm Macdonald. It’s about the exploits of two guy’s named Mitch and Sam (played by Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange). They decide to open a revenge for hire business and capitalize on their superior pranking abilities. A showcase of their talent comes early in the film when Mitch and Sam get jobs at a local movie theater. Their boss, Mr. Hamilton (Don Rickles) is a colossal jerk. He humiliates Mitch and Sam, making an example of them in front of the theater staff. They take revenge on Mr. Hamiliton by embarrassing him in front of his superiors who’ve come for an inspection. They sneak a very special edition of Men In Black into the projection booth of the theater. Needless to say, it’s probably not the Men In Black the crowd was expecting to see.

 

 
Later, Mitch and Sam’s antics land them in the slammer. Sam, being a big dumb ox, is more than able to handle himself, but Mitch is a bit uneasy. He’s heard rumors about what inmates like to do each other behind bars. Soon Mitch’s worse fears are conformed as a group of inmates come and select him for a very unpleasant welcome to the penal system.

 

 
Treasure this one folks cause its one of the only instances in modern comedy where a rape joke is done right.

….and by right I mean funny.

 

Scary Movie

Although the Wayans Bros. have a history of hilarious gay comedy in their films, they reached their apex with the character of Ray (portrayed by Shawn Wayans) in Scary Movie 1 & 2. Of course we know that the strength/weakness of most slasher movies are the simplified characterizations like the jock, the slut, the prude, the clown, the token black, ect. The character of Ray is a jock. He’s a jock who has all the stereotypical earmarks of a flaming homosexual yet doesn’t believe himself to be gay. I don’t quite understand the origins of the joke in relation to the parody at hand. Maybe its an out of place commentary on latent homosexual urges in the male sport athlete? Maybe It could be that Keenan Ivory Wayans thought it would be funny if the character of Ray was a blissfully unaware flaming homosexual? In that instance, Keenan was right.

 

 

Just Friends

In Just Friends Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) has transformed himself from high school loser to big success yet finds his money and looks don’t impress his old high school crush Jamie Palamino. In desperation, he transforms into his old brace faced, khaki wearing, awkwardly sensitive high school self. Since he and Jamie were best friends back then she’ll probably be attracted to the older model instead of the new. He goes method in his performance, sacrificing comfort and his “man card”, to accompany Jamie to a screening of the 2004 film The Notebook. To describe his agony at viewing the film Chris uses a word that, while not exactly politically correct, is hilarious nonetheless. However, the payoff to what he says, involving the couple a few rows in front of him, makes the joke kind of brilliant.

 

 

Rush Hour 2

Yes, Brett Ratner sucks. Can we move on?

A blind squirrel occasionally finds a nut and even an inept “action comedy director” like Brett Ratner can occasionally hit bulls-eye with his material. The film in question is Rush Hour 2. Not a good film mind you, and a noticeable step down from the Rush Hour 1, but it has it moments. Cheif among them is a cameo by Jeremy Piven playing a overly stereotypical gay man, selling clothes in a posh Las Vegas boutique. The main hero’s of the film, Carter and Lee (Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan), stop by to get some nice threads in order to blend in better with the Vegas crowd. They’re mistaken for a gay couple by Piven’s character and despite Carter and Lee’s objections, he can’t be convinced of the contrary . Its a funny scene thanks in part to how well Chris Tucker and Piven play off each other, with Jackie as the straight man (no pun intended). Enjoy.

 

 

Money Talks

I really don’t see how anyone, even the most hardcore L.G.B.T. advocate and gay rights supporter could not find this funny. Let’s leave Brett Ratner (the director of Money Talks) out of this one and focus on how brilliant Chris Tucker and Faizon Love are in this scene. Chris Tucker plays Franklin Hatchett; con man with a heart of gold. Given the nefarious nature of his profession Franklin soon finds himself in jail. His cellmate is Faizon Love’s character playing an obviously gay cellmate clearly attracted to Franklin. It’s a pretty cheap set up. “Hey the main character is in prison and his cellmate is gay. Isn’t that hilarious!”. For the lazy version of this joke check out the 1982 Ron Howard film Night Shift. If you want to see that same joke performed brilliantly then watch the scene from money talks.

A little advice:

Focus on the individual characters in the scene. Watch how Chris Tucker reacts, and how Faizon Love seduces. It’s the little things they do both in ignorance and in full knowledge of the situation that makes the scene into pure comedy.

 

 

Dumb and Dumber

I never got the joke as a kid. Written on a bathroom wall was:

“For Manly Love Be Here March 25th 2:15 Sharp”.

I had no idea what was meant by “manly love”. Now I know that it was another way to say gay sex (forced or consensual, the movie is never clear on which and that the Sea Bass, a violent, ill tempered truck driver wanted to give some to Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) in a gas station bathroom. Earlier in the film Lloyd and Harry ran afoul of Mr. Bass earning and his ire. After Lloyd and Harry had been bullied into submission, they pulled a killer prank on Sea Bass and got revenge. (Go to 1:00 mark for Sea Bass)

 

 

Sea Bass disappears from the film following this incident, which makes it all the more surprising when he returns. He doesn’t come bearing fists and fury but, ironically enough (based on how homosexuality has been stereotyped in relation to typical manliness), he shows up at a gas stop on the highway for a homosexual encounter with another random man. It good luck for Sea Bass that Lloyd Christmas happens to be in the wrong place at the right time.

 

 
What so funny about this scene funny isn’t the surprising aspect of a big tough trucker being secretly gay but that Sea Bass sought to exact his revenge in a way that the audience (and certainly Lloyd and Harry) never expected or even considered in the realm of possibility. We laugh in recognition of having our own narrow worldview and prejudices (relating to what kind of man Sea Bass is) turned against us. I’m not trying to suggest that Dumb and Dumber is some landmark of gay cinema, but it’s a lot deeper than you think.

 

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Speaking of Deeper:

In Ace Venture: Pet Detective, Ace (Jim Carrey) has been hired by the Miami Dolphin’s to locate their missing mascot Snowflake. In the following scene Ace figures out the culprit in the Animal theft. The culprit is Lois Enhorn, who happens to be Lieutenant for the Miami Police department. It was an inside job from the start and Ace was hired only to make the investigation look serious enough so that no one would ever suspect Einhorn. Thankfully, Ace solves the case but before he can call in the cavalry there is something he must do.

 

 

It’s not how one would normally celebrate breaking a case. What we actually see is a hilarious overreaction to a past encounter between Lois Einhorn and Ace Ventura. We’ve learned from the clip above that the perpetrator behind the theft of Snowflake was Lois Einhorn and that Lois Einhorn is the transgender cover of disgraced Miami Dolphin’s kicker Ray Finkle. Finkle/Einhorn kidnapped the dolphin (and Dan Marino) to get revenge on the team. Lois Einhorn is constantly on Ace’s case throughout the movie, helping keep up the appearance that Ace was hired reluctantly and not to feed into a sham. However, when she had Ace behind closed doors, a different side of Lois Einhorn came out.

 

 

When Ace finally realized who Einhorn was, he reacted as any straight man would who almost made love to a transgender man believing he was a woman. It’s a ridiculously over the top reaction and is only pulled off because Carrey is such a brilliant physical comedian. How anyone can look at this scene and cry homophobia or gay panic is beyond me. Even if it was, it’s not mean spirited or intelligently presented homophobia (if such a thing was possible). He’s using a plumber to try and suck the kiss of a transgender man out of his mouth. This isn’t exactly the Westboro Baptist Church we’re dealing with here.

 

Toy Story 3

“A gay joke in Toy Story!? I don’t believe it!”

Well start believing.  The joke originates from the Barbie and Ken story line which ran sort of parallel to the main story. As the lead characters of Woody, Buzz, Rex, Jessie, ect have their adventures at daycare, Barbie and Ken (new additions to the franchise) meet cute and fall in love. Only when it’s convenient to the story do they interact with the other characters. On one such occasion Barbie double crosses Ken who is in league with the main villian of the film to obtain some critical information that can help Buzz Lightyear. She ties Ken up then uses one of his many disguises to obtain information from behind enemy lines (start the clip at 3:20 for the gag).

 

 

Whew, thank God that the other toys think Ken is a bit of a “twink” or else Barbie would have been found out.

In all the positive reviews I read for the film (including the gushing review from Hitfix) no one mentioned this little bit of kiddie homophobia. Shouldn’t we condemn a film in which it’s okay to look down on a male toy who expresses his sexuality by wearing high heels? What is that teaching our children?

Why was there such a massive oversight where missed this joke? Could they have been so entranced by the magic of Pixar that they didn’t notice? Maybe. Or perhaps most film critics didn’t see it as homophobic but just though it was a great joke?

 

Blazing Saddles

No introduction needed. Ladies and gentlemen, “The French Mistake”.

 

What’s Going On

Before I dive into the mess lets do a quick recap of what has been happening in film culture since I vanished.

1. J.J. Abrams, otherwise know as a subpar director, has been given the helm of the Star Wars franchise (at least for one film anyway).

I’ve seen the trailer and I’ll admit it has some nice visuals, but then again its a trailer. At his worse J.J. Abrams can produce good looking stuff. It’s the other stuff, the constructing a good narrative stuff, and drawing good performances out of your actors stuff, that I’m concerned about. I’m not trying to be a hater. I understand the love for the Star Wars and the mythology. I just can’t get excited about a new Star Wars film knowing that the person making is not a good director. Ask yourself, wouldn’t you be kind of upset if you heard that Uwe Boll is directing the next Indiana Jones movie. You would still love the subject matter and enjoy the mythology, but you would know that the story would not have received the best presentation it could have gotten had it been handled by a more capable craftsman.

2. Ant-Man has found its yes man.

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Rather than dive into the whole sordid history of what happened, I’ll just post a resent excerpt of an argument I had in a comment section concerning Peyton Reed replacing Edgar Wright as the director of Ant-Man and how some people were defending Marvel in this decision:

“They chose to dispose of a creative original voice because he didn’t want to contribute to making another part of their massive product masquerading as a film franchise. Also, Peyton Reed……really? He’s only made one good film and a bunch of terrible ones. Where is all this goodwill for Peyton Reed coming from. If you are a fan of good cinema and art than I don’t see how you can in any way be happy with Marvel having Peyton “Yes Man” Reed directing Ant Man.”

“Look at these responses. I can picture the movie brats of the 1970’s somewhere in a corner crying. Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg, Bogdanovich, Milius, Altman. They fought the system to make original groundbreaking genre defying films. We championed them and now we are spitting in their faces. People are no longer defending the artists. They are defending the product makers. No one talks about ideas in relation to a film or how movies make us feel. Its all box office numbers and grosses, as if money has any bearing on emotional and creative impact. If you dare speak of a films quality or execution you are attacked and dismissed. You are called a troll, or old fashioned. Its dangerous having high standards these days.”

3. Hollywood Is Still Racist As All Get Out

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Really, I’m surprised at how shocked people still get by racist responses to casting choices in Hollywood. Did people really think we’ve come that far? Are people still that naive?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/between-ferguson-and-the-_b_6255596.html

http://popwatch.ew.com/2014/04/30/lupita-nyongo-jungle-book-oscar/

http://www.thewrap.com/michael-b-jordan-fantastic-four-racist-backlash-expected/

http://screenrant.com/exodus-gods-kings-race-controversy-ridley-scott/

Some food for thought on racist Hollywood.

http://www.cracked.com/quick-fixes/the-5-most-insulting-defenses-nerd-racism/

 

 

Been Gone For A While….

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I”ve returned. I’ve been gone for a while. I apologize for the abrupt stop in my contributions. I’m back and I’m ready to wreak havoc on this industry.

 

Star Wars Episode 7: Return Of The Abrams

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Imagine that a fantasy property has just been optioned in Hollywood. This property is very famous and beloved the world over. Soon it will be a film. From the moment it’s announced there is a ground swell of excitement. Things start to come together. Locations are scouted. A script is written. Fan posters have started to show up online. Then it happens. The one step in the filmmaking process that’s a sign it’s “really” happening. The cast is chosen. Whether or not the cast selected is universally loved or abhorred is not important. What’s important is that the imaginations of the fans have been ignited. Who will these ordinary people be embodying? Will they measure up to how we’ve imagined them in your mind or will they look completely different? How will they look in their costumes?  Who knows? That’s the fun in speculation.

Speculation, however, can cover a multitude of sins. Lets say this imagined film, complete with a dynamite cast, crackerjack script, spectacular set design, and dynamic score was being directed by a no talent hack. It’s no secret that the best ingredients can produce a nasty mess if not properly mixed together. Look at those Night At The Museum movies (or just read the plot synopsis online…..don’t actually look at those films). You take a multi-million dollar budget, a slew of A list actors, a score by a Hollywood vetern (Alan Silvestri) and other top notch assets, mix them all together and what do you get? Unwatchable garbage. Why? Because the guy doing the mixing is none other than Shawn Levy. Shawn Levy is a director of motion pictures. Shawn Levy is an awful director of motion pictures. If you give Shawn Levy the best tools for filmmaking, allot him a few months, and then return to see the finished product you will be disappointed. Why? Because, (say it with me now) Shawn Levy is an awful director of motion pictures. Even when given the best assets he has turned out nothing but duds time and again.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0506613/

Now lets jump from the imaginary to the real. Star Wars 7 (or VII) is happening. The script (at least a first draft) has been written, the sets are being assembled, John Williams is writing the score, and, as of about 24 hours ago, the final cast has been revealved and the assorted players assembled

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Now, before I start let me just say that yes, I am excited. It would be a lie to say I wasn’t. A new Star Wars film is actually happening. One of the most successful motion picture franchises of the past 30 years, instrumental in shaping the imagination for millions of people living in this modern age is getting another installment. Yes, I will eagerly await and watch the first trailer over and over. Yes, I will visit the fan boards to see the exicted chatter. Yes, I will probably buy my ticket early to ensure I will see it the first week and yes, I will likely skip work and play hooky wooky to see the film. Still, I wonder about myself on that day. As I stand in line with millions of others waiting to see the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker and Co., what, perchance, will I be feeling: excitement, apprehension, doubt, joy, stress, peace? Maybe all of these or maybe none, but one feeling I can count on to be present will be regret. Regret about the fact that I just paid 15.00 dollars to see an IMAX 3D presentation of the new film by none other than J.J. Abrams.

You know who J.J. Abrams is don’t you? Take a closer look at the picture above. See the guy awkwardly gesturing near Harrison Ford, kind of doing an annoying Spielberg impersonation? Yeah that’s him. Want a closer look?

jjabrams_aap_1200

Now that you’ve been properly introduced let me regale you with the only information you need to know about J.J. Abrams; he is not a good director. Rather than bore you with all the facts of his artistically unfulfilling career, we’ll just stick to analyzing his career as a film director (mercifully overlooking his writing and producer credits for TV). Suffice to say, of the few big screen credits he has there is not a good film among them.

  • Mission Impossible: 3 (A.K.A. Alias the Movie) was nothing more than a multi-million dollar TV movie with all the lazy staging and cliché dialogue we’ve come to expect from most prime-time TV nowadays.
  • Star Trek (2009) was revisionist storytelling of the worst kind, wherein Abrams took solid characters residing within an interesting canon and reduced them to a slick, narrative-bankrupt reboot devoid of any good cinematic ideas except for whip pans, bad Dutch angles, and lens flare
  • Super 8 plays like a montage of scenes deleted from superior 80’s children’s entertainment (E.T., Explorers, Goonies, etc). All the scenes that didn’t move the story forward, dialogue the kids spoke that felt forced and fake, and bad special effects shots which couldn’t pass the mustard in those films were included in Super 8 strung together with a convoluted alien plot featuring the Cloverfield monster.
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness provides the greatest example of J.J. Abrams’ lack of talent. It’s essentially a convoluted remake of Wrath of Khan, performed by your local high school drama team, but lacking the sincerity or potential found in such productions. Oh wait, it did have lens flare though. Redemption!

Yes, we have a cast, we have a writer (the great Lawrence Kasdan), and we have the wonderful John Williams back writing music. All that’s well and good but at the helm of the ship is still one of the most inept directors working in Hollywood today. I find it hard to get excited when a new film on the horizon is being made by an untalented filmmaker. Maybe if Brad Bird, Steven Spielberg, Genndy Tartakovsky, or John Woo (my dark horse pick) were directing the film I could muster some genuine excitement that extended past the realm of morbid curiosity. As it is, that’s about the only kind of excitement I can muster for this project.

Come December 18, 2015, I don’t want a good Star Wars movie ; I want a good movie period. Abrams can cram the screen with weird and familiar characters; give them lines to say; call action and make them perform, but he can’t give the film any real life or kinetic energy. He doesn’t seem to have the same preternatural cinematic instincts of his “mentor” Spielberg. His style has never risen above the level of a slightly above average TV director. Come December 18, 2015 all the familiar faces, as well as some new, will be in a brand new Star Wars story. It’s sad that the aesthetic value of the film won’t be any higher than an episode of Castle.

 

 

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

James-Cameron-Rolex-Submariner-0011

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!!!

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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