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David Poland

By David Poland

Closed Set? Tee Hee!

Dave — It’s so funny — in that article you posted on “movie star” Naomi Watts (trust me, she wouldn’t trade it in for anything), the writer says, “Jackson has kept the film set closed during production with a strong expectation for the movie following the success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.”
Oh? Closed? Closed to what? Press from Botswana? Closed…except for the half-hour daily Internet diaries showing every last detail of the production from craft service to scenes being filmed and an AICN writer hanging out for, like, two weeks, and all the rest of the media hoardes. Except for that, sure, it was closed. What a joke.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with press on set (obviously), but why try and create this fiction?

15 Responses to “Closed Set? Tee Hee!”

  1. Terence D says:

    It’s what they do and how they try to create buzz. Works for both parties. Since guys like Jackson get access to fans and doesn’t have to answer much and the sites/journalists get a bone, some buzz and an exclusive story.

  2. Martin says:

    Nothing to do with this discussion at all, but am I the only one that looks at Lemony Snicket as a major misfire on the level of Godzilla? G98 = franchise ‘starter’ with $160 mill. budget, $130 domestic gross, perceived as a loser. Lemony snicket – same thing, except it did even less, only about $120 mill. Both essentially have no chance at a sequel. Yet somehow Snicket is seen as a ‘hit’ by many people. I don’t want to rag on the movie, it might be very good. But it’s box office has to be seen as kind of a disaster.

  3. jeremy says:

    I’ve been wondering the same thing for months. I thought it was getting off light due to the regime change; still, there’s no spinning it as anything but a theatrical disappointment. It’ll be interesting to see how it does on DVD.

  4. Angelus says:

    It got off light because I don’t know who expected it to be be a 200 million movie.

  5. jeffrey boam's doctor says:

    it wasn’t an open set. the entire online diary is what they allow the fans to see. believe me, there are certain things this production does not want to slip out. they have appeared open but in reality this is a tight tight production. the AICN guy was wheeled out to what they wanted and then escorted off. You want some real insider dirt about whats so secret? Just ask the Dr..

  6. Joe Leydon says:

    Doctor: You aren’t going to start telling us how you feed your people, are you?

  7. jeffrey boam's doctor says:

    only if I got demoted to being a script editor like the spamster

  8. jesper says:

    now now dear Dr. spill your beans and elaborate

  9. Don says:

    JB’sD is right….what *are* you seeing in those daily internet diaries? You’re seeing silly little stuff and alot of “fun” type things (interviews with crew, cast, the craziness of shooting such a huge film)…but you aren’t seeing anything that’s going to give anything about the movie away.

  10. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, I hear from a reliable source that it’s actually a remake of a Jeff Bridges movie. No kidding. Spam Dooley told me.

  11. PastePotPete says:

    What’s the big secret anyway? We know the plot(I’m not expecting any big changes to the “go to island, find monkey, monkey scary, bring monkey to new york, monkey get mad, monkey die” plot of the original. The only thing that can really be revealed about this production is how Kong looks, and from the productiona artwork that’s “leaked” it looks like a more realistic ape than the other ones. Until there’s some footage of Kong in action there’s nothing to see.

  12. jeffrey boam's doctor says:

    Hey pasty pete, believe me that there are a couple of MAJOR surprises coming to the fans. anyone know how much trouble you get in for breaking confidentiality agreements?

  13. bicycle bob says:

    spam dooley said peter jackson has a beard

  14. Mark says:

    We’re being spammed!

  15. roulette says:

    You may find it interesting to check the sites about casino casino … Thanks!!!

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin