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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Is The Deep End Too Shallow Or The Shallow Too Deep?

From Today’s THB
“When MovieCityNews came into the world three years ago, it was simpler. Instead of rewriting other people’s stories as our own, we linked to the papers and web sites who we felt did the best job with the stories or if we could, to the reporter who originated the story. We also created our own content – and a lot of it – with writers who were veteran professionals more than capable of handling top reporting jobs at any outlet.
But as the blog world grew, the discussion about the aggregated stories expanded. A thrown telephone could be discussed for months. And, as usual, the really important stuff that is hard to report slipped between the cracks in most quarters. Suddenly, tiny stories that were really quite meaningless started to become “news” because there were so many people looking to make news, that they needed more fodder.
And now we see a more aggressive approach to the web by traditional media. On the film side, there is The Hollywood Reporter’s Anne Thompson assuring on hiring that her weekly column will be freely accessible on the web and then starting a blog of her own under the Reporter banner. The L.A. Times starts The Envelope, featuring a grand total of zero writers who have ever delivered news on a daily basis scrambling to do daily news (in an arena where there is almost no real news

25 Responses to “Is The Deep End Too Shallow Or The Shallow Too Deep?”

  1. BluStealer says:

    Dave,
    Don’t listen to the naysayers who tell you “not to do something” or even worse call you smug or other names.
    It takes as guys say balls to be a leader. Be that leader.

  2. Josh says:

    Stick to anything you want to write about, David. That is your privilege.

  3. Angelus21 says:

    I read Defamer for good laughs. I read The Hot Button for good industry, all encompassing stuff. I read ESPN for sports. I don’t read The Hot Button for sports, ESPN for movies or Defamer for anything more than laughs.

  4. jeffmcm says:

    Gotta love defenses of authority.

  5. ManWithNoName says:

    DP, is there a reason you put the comment raving about the column first, you smug, self-serving POS.
    j/k….

  6. Richard Nash says:

    I would love to know who the kinds of people are who take the time out of their days to write in to David about how much they hate what is he is doing. Are you that lonely and have that much time on your hands?
    If you have severe problems with what he’s writing about why don’t you get proactive and start a “Cold Blog” or something.

  7. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t want to condone the haters out there with their rants, BUT, I’ve been reading Poland for about six years now and he’s gradually spent more and more time covering things like other writers and media trends and relatively less time actually reviewing movies. Just my observation.

  8. Sanchez says:

    Isn’t that part of his being in charge of MCN? To cover other writers and how others perceive the industry?

  9. David Poland says:

    First… I have no problem with the first e-mail at all. The reason I posted it is because I believe there is a significant percentage of people who read me who agree with it.
    And there are others who agree with the second e-mail.
    And the majority is probably somewhere in between.
    I don’t know, J-Mc. There was a lot of (too much) AICN in the early years. And I feel like I don’t have to write about every movie I see, as I once did. There is still a lot of movie writing here. But there probably is a little less.
    But man, I do write a lot. I would guess that even as it is, I write more actual content about movies themselves than 90% of critics.

  10. Blackcloud says:

    “that german word I can’t spell about taking joy in the misery of the elites,”
    Schadenfreude: joy in the misfortunes of others (not just elites).

  11. PandaBear says:

    Can I see thankfully you are NOT AICN?

  12. Blackcloud says:

    Lisa: Dad, do you know what Schadenfreude is?
    Homer: No, I do not know what shaden-frawde is. [sarcasm] Please tell me, because I

  13. jeffmcm says:

    DP, perhaps we need a graph for your writing output over the years. If ‘movie commentary’ has stayed roughly level’, and ‘AICN attacks’ has gone down by, say, 50%, then ‘old-media/new-media observations’ has probably gone up by about 300%. Mostly I guess a result of your self-employment and greater writing output.

  14. Crow T Robot says:

    GUN STORE GUY: ‘There’s a five day waiting period on the handgun.’
    HOMER: ‘Five days?’ But I’m angry NOW!!!’
    GUN STORE GUY: ‘Yeah, well, that’s the law.’
    HOMER (grumpy): ‘I’d kill you if I had my gun…’
    (Blackcloud, you’re such a Simpson’s quote baiter, dude. And I’m such a bitch for it.)

  15. Blackcloud says:

    Crow,
    Yes, it’s true, I have a problem: I quote The Simpsons too much. That Schadenfreude one was a curve ball, man, and I just couldn’t resist swinging at it. I’ll try to cut down on the references from now on. But can you blame me? They really do apply to everything. Truly, they are cromulent.

  16. Angelus21 says:

    Stop right there! I have the only working fazer ever built. It was fired only once to keep William Shatner from making another album.

  17. Blackcloud says:

    ^ LOL
    What’s that law about how the longer a web discussion goes, the likelier it is that someone will invoke the Nazis? I think there must be a similar one for The Simpsons.

  18. Crow T Robot says:

    Marge: “How could you? Of all the terrible things you’ve ever done in your life, this is the worst, the most despicable!”
    Homer: “But Marge, I swear to you, I never thought you’d find out!”
    Okay. No more quotes, Blackcloud. I promise. Let’s keep off the Simpsons grass. We could sit here and trade em back n forth again and again. But who would dare talk in circles on a blog?
    In fact any more references will be met with a glove slap. So shut your big yap!

  19. bicycle bob says:

    the simpsons. greatest show ever.

  20. Sanchez says:

    It peaked 5 years ago. I am not bashing it. Simpsons at 50% is better than 99% of everything else out there.

  21. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    The best thing about that quote is that it’s from when Homer hid the gun in a fridge crisper. heheh.

  22. Blackcloud says:

    It doesn’t get commented on much, but the show really misses Phil Hartman.

  23. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Everyone and Everything misses Phil Hartman.
    (er, of those that had some connection to him obviously. ER doesn’t miss him or anything like that)

  24. Angelus21 says:

    I miss Lionel Hutz.

  25. Blackcloud says:

    Troy McClure. “From chimpan-A to chimpanzee.”

The Hot Blog

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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