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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Where Have You Gone, Jack Valenti?

If the endless droning about

13 Responses to “Where Have You Gone, Jack Valenti?”

  1. Bruce says:

    Valenti was never appreciated for all the work he did. He was one premiere lobbyist.

  2. bicycle bob says:

    u answered it yourself dave. they like the slump talk. gives them an excuse when a film under performs. not their fault.

  3. Wrecktum says:

    Talk of “the slump” takes the pressure off of bomb-happy development execs and allows them to point fingers elsewhere. “It’s the slump!” they Blackberry. “It’s not my shitty film! People don’t want to see movies because they hate going to theatres!!”
    Self fulfilling prophesy, assholes. Blame the theatres and the public and the media will continue to write about it. The NY Times will print their thousanth slump story. Entertainment Weekly will publish their umpteenth “why we hate going to the movies” story. And the moviegoing public will start to believe it.
    So keep at it guys. Keep telling the world about the paradigm shift in the taste of moviegoers and how technology has impacted the business. You’ll soon be talking yourselves out of a job.

  4. BluStealer says:

    The blame, everyone knows, is focused squarely on the quality of films. That’s it.

  5. Skyblade says:

    I generally. And when movies that, at the very least, consist of a more strenous effort than to simply cash in, like “Kingdom of Heaven” dissapoint, while fare like “Fantastic Four” hits the top of the charts, well, it’s not a quality issue. Everyone always talks about a downward spiral. If quality had anything to do with anything, 2001 would be the summer of the slump, not this year.

  6. David Poland says:

    Yes, not a quality issue at all… a “do people want to see it” issue only… and that likely means more crap which sells better…

  7. sky_capitan says:

    Well what’s to prevent him from writing an op-ed piece somewhere. No one ever really retires in the movie business, do they?
    Dear Mr. Valenti,
    Would you like to write a piece for us at MCN? I’ll let you look at my Jeff Wells autographed copy of Entertainment Weekly.
    Best Wishes, David Poland

  8. Bruce says:

    You have a Wells autograph? Did you have to pay his son for the privilege?

  9. sky_capitan says:

    No I didn’t, I traded my 8 Legged Freaks dvd for it. I wonder if he’d like to contribute to my own tuition though, it’s due in less than 2 weeks…

  10. Terence D says:

    I wonder if I can put a donation thing by my posts here. Just giving a little never hurt my bank account.

  11. BluStealer says:

    The Fantastic Four was going to make its money no matter how good or bad it was. It is one of the most famous and well loved comics of our time. As long as they made it semi fun and sold it well, it was going to do good business. The problem is it could have done triple what it made.
    Kingdom of Heaven wasn’t very good. A story no one cared about. A star who isn’t a star. And it is not exactly summer fare.

  12. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Oy, can we get over the fact that F4 is one of the successes of the Summer. There’s always a bad cartoony movie that makes lots of cash. Why should this year be any different.

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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