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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Funny What Gets Us Excited This Time Of Year…

Over the weekend, BFCA members got a note from The Angellotti Company explaining tha we won’t be getting Munich, King Kong, or The Producers screeners until after release. And this:
“Universal wishes to convey that there will be no press conference with Steven Spielberg of anyone attached to MUNICH as there will be no junket for the film. No other press group will receive an opportunity to interview the cast or filmmakers until much closer to the film’s release on December 23.
Also, we have just been informed that, sadly, Mel brooks will not participate in THE PRODUCERS junket in New York. Mr. Brooks will not be available to any other group or journalists either.”

Never occured to me that Spielberg not junketing Munich was news… since we all knew this was the case since early October. In fact, there was talk amongst his production team about actually releasing the film with no trailer, no poster and no screenings until the first public screening. That idea didn’t even get into meetings at Universal.
The history is that Spielberg doesn’t test screen and tends to say “no junket” until at the last minute they decide there might not be enough buzz and they throw something together. Spielberg had Tom Hanks dump a lot of media obligations to reshoot the ending of The Terminal less than two weeks before release. For a long time, there was to be no junket for Saving Private Ryan. And I wouldn’t be shocked if a small junket suddenly comes together either right before X-Mas or right after New Years.
Steven does what Steven wants to do. Period.
Anyway… if this is news, I guess Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh’s decision not to come to L.A. at all to promote Kong is news. Old news.
Meanwhile, Tom O’Neil is crowing about George Clooney moving to Supporting Actor for Syriana… where they obviously hope he can movie star his way to a nomination in what is the leading role in the film. Good luck to them. To me… still not news.

11 Responses to “Funny What Gets Us Excited This Time Of Year…”

  1. Scooba Steve says:

    “Munich” not having any Oscar campaign is very much news to me.
    Spielberg is finally seeing the bigger picture here… that his movies are more important than the Academy Awards.

  2. jeffmcm says:

    I never heard that story about The Terminal before. That may explain why the ending is so underwhelming.

  3. Nicol D says:

    It would be a great thing if more and more people of Spielberg’s calibre quit campaigning for Oscars. No ads…no nothing. Then more would catch on and the Oscars would begin to mean something again.

  4. Crow T Robot says:

    Well put Nicol.
    And after his (legendary?) cameo in “Austin Powers Goldmember” how could Mr. Spielberg ever take winning another Oscar that seriously again?
    That shit was heart attack funny.

  5. EDouglas says:

    At the War of the Worlds junket earlier this year, I arrived in the morning to be told that Steven Spielberg wouldn’t be there since he went home after doing the TV interviews…later in the day, when everyone showed up for the ridiculously overcrowded press conference with Cruise, sure enough there were two chairs there and Spielberg did show up.

  6. PandaBear says:

    Munich doesn’t need a campaign at this point since it has been annointed leader.

  7. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    This is news to me as well. Well, I heard about it a few days ago, not months.
    But it could be said that it won’t remain the leader if they don’t even publicise for it. The Academy could take it to mean that he doesn’t want any awards. He already has a bunch, so why give it to somebody who doesn’t want it.
    Similar to Woody Allen, except he’s been absent for ages, they’ll probably WANT to reward him.

  8. joefitz84 says:

    If it is as good as they say it is they won’t need to dump a lot of money into advertising for it for awards. What else is there for awards?

  9. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    As good as who says? Nobody’s bloody well seen it.

  10. martin says:

    kathleen kennedy says it’s great. she didn’t say that about war of the world, so she must be telling the truth. right?

  11. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Er… that’s one person.

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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