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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Santa Barbara Time

Sorry about the absence of postings… enjoying the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the films here.
All I can say about Crazy Love, which I caught today in non-jury (well, not my jury) competition, is Jesus H. M-Fing Crikey & A Side Of Fries. It’s not the best doc I have ever seen, but on a small, human scale, it is one of the greatest personal stories you will ever see in a doc. And by the end, it does become about more than these two jaw-dropping individuals and their personal choices. Wow.
Bill Condon was honored here tonight, reminding me both of how good Dreamgirls really is and how much of a miss the Academy made by not nominating it. I can’t really say I think any of the five nominees doesn’t deserved to be there, which is the real story of the season, as opposed to the drone report by Laura Holson in the NYT yesterday. But five, ten years from now, the movies of this season that will be remembered are Dreamgirls and The Departed, far more than the others. And neither is likely to win the Oscar. (ha ha) But seriously… those are the two movies that will be watched over and over and over again with people stopping when they catch a snippet on cable/satellite and are stuck watching for an hour or two. The others are very good films, but the flavors of those just won’t last as long.
I am really enjoying the festival, the people, the films, and the hospitality of Festival Director Roger Durling… but I am really in need of a few days of brain stoppage. Too much of a good thing is too much… at least at film festivals.

61 Responses to “Santa Barbara Time”

  1. James Leer says:

    “I can’t really say I think any of the five nominees doesn’t deserved to be there, which is the real story of the season, as opposed to the drone report by Laura Holson in the NYT yesterday.”
    So the story of the season is that you think all five nominees deserve to be there? Wow, that’d be a compelling story! I can just see the headline. I mean, even though Laura Holson got Bill Condon on the record for the thing EVERYBODY IN TOWN (including you) was talking about vis a vis the Oscars, she’s clearly on the wrong track. Stupid non-MCN reporter.

  2. David Poland says:

    You might want to cut down on the caffeine there, champ.
    Or maybe you really think that I think my opinion is the story of the season.
    The story of the season – duh! – is that there isn’t a lot of disagreement about the five nominees… and there wouldn’t be any if Dreamgirls was in and any one of them was out.
    As for the Holson story itself, it is simplistic, thoughtless, and fails to show any insight a week after the nominations. It is, for a NYT perspective story, an embarrassment. (And that would be above and beyond the pathetic unwillingness to name this site after naming a gossip whore hack who sells his words for crumbs just a few sentences before.)
    But I assume you don’t really care much about what I actually mean. Since our website posts scores of links to non-MCN writers every week with perfectly positive headlines… well… if you actually have something to add, JL, please feel free. If you just want to attack me, sorry again for not giving you enough targets this week.

  3. PastePotPete says:

    I really doubt anybody’s going to care about Dreamgirls ten years from now. Hardly anybody cares about it now.
    I don’t see why these recent Broadway adaptations are always instantly the frontrunner, regardless of content. Remember how everyone thought the Producers was a frontrunner that year, until people saw it? Why? Because it won some Tonys? So what? Does it just have to be a musical now to be considered a front runner? No doubt Sweeney Todd will be, despite Burton never really ever coming close before(maybe Ed Wood or Big Fish, but those would be a stretch).
    From what I’ve seen most of these broadway shows are the stage equivalent of summer action blockbusters. There are good ones and bad ones, but even the good ones are largely just a lot of spectacle and very little depth. Which is not to say Dreamgirls is a bad movie. But strip out the songs(bear with me) and you have a pretty obvious and generic story. I doubt an equally well-written movie about the actual Supremes would have gotten as much upfront attention.
    Which is not to say musicals can’t be good. I consider The Umbrellas of Cherbourg to be one of the best films ever. But these Broadway adaptations don’t even need to be seen to given awards buzz anymore.

  4. anghus says:

    I’m with Paste Pot Pete. I’m not sure why on Earth the award crowd gives so much credence to musicals. It does seem like after a long absence from the public eye, musicals have this kind of ‘kitsch’ factor going for them, and people just give them this automatic award credibility.
    The Producers example is a great one.
    A musical? Released in December? It won some Tony’s? OSCAR CONTENDER.
    Let’s hope this trend dies.

  5. “But these Broadway adaptations don’t even need to be seen to given awards buzz anymore.”
    Er, that’s just like a lot of movies. A lot of the time the buzz isn’t justified or doesn’t eventuate into anything (I remember at the start of the year all three Good films (Year, German, Shepherd) were considered big contenders) sometimes they do. It’s the nature of the Oscar season in this day and age of the internet.

  6. EDouglas says:

    I think there’s a lot more anger right now at the chance of Little Miss Sunshine winnning than I expected….but this is the internet and the 20-40 something male fanboys want The Departed to win because it appeals to the dick-grabbing machismo that rules on the internet. Maybe that’s the case with the tech departments of the Academy, too. I would think it’s between LMS and The Departed right now, but the fact that the only thing the latter won was Broadcast Film Critics and a couple smaller critics group awards makes me wonder where the precedent is. Meanwhile, there is a really strong precedent for LMS winnning and if it takes WGA, then that’s just more strength.
    I wonder why they schedule Santa Barbara so close to Sundance. It’s like with Telluride and Venice/Toronto, and I’m curious what the thinking of scheduling a smaller film festival so close to bigger ones knowing that many of the journalists will be worn out (or preparing for Toronto/Venice in the case of the latter).
    It does sound like the panels/discussions are the highlight of the SBF though and I’m glad to see that you and he-who-must-not-be-named-on-this-blog are providing coverage.

  7. EDouglas says:

    “I really doubt anybody’s going to care about Dreamgirls ten years from now. Hardly anybody cares about it now.”
    I think $86 million proves otherwise… like I said, it’s all about the dick-grabbing internet fanboys who are so against it. Me, I’m finally going to see it again (Dreamgirls) on Sunday and I can’t wait!

  8. waterbucket says:

    Actually no, I don’t think any film from this year will be remembered except the Departed because it belongs to its famous director’s catalog. Maybe Children of Men and Pan’s Labyrinth because of their fantasy and geek factors.
    Dreamgirls is very well made but it just really doesn’t resonate.

  9. Josh Massey says:

    “I really doubt anybody’s going to care about Dreamgirls ten years from now. Hardly anybody cares about it now.”
    I completely agree.
    I think the story of the season is that mediocrity rules. There are a staggering number of “deserving” films this year, and yet only one – The Departed – made the final five. And if any of the 2006 films are still talked about in 10, 20, 50 years, they will be Children of Men, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Departed. And Night at the Museum, of course.

  10. Chicago48 says:

    David is so right about the late night cable viewing of DG over and over…it’s a ‘cult’ movie…and when people walk by their TV set and it’s on, they’re going to sit down and watch it. I did the same the other night with Catch me if you can. Just happened to turn on the TV and sat and watched the whole thing all the way through. There are some movies that may not make the awards, but they’re worth a 2nd, 3rd and 4th look because they are damn good.
    I couldn’t watch the AVIATOR again, sorry, but I don’t see the great admiration for that movie, although Dicaprio as always was good.
    DP, I liked the NYT story yesterday and her interview with Condon who seems to be resigned that somewhere it missed the boat, and as he stated “no one is entitled” to BP – way to go Condon! and the studio is saving money NOW and don’t have to chase the Oscar. Just sit back and watch the movie and Soundtrack receipts and overseas receipts come in.
    I don’t understand the dislike of the Departed. As a consumer, like stated before, it’s one of the few movies last year I didn’t leave to go to the bathroom and almost sprung a leak. It was engaging, suspenseful…well acted. As for LMS, deep down I hope it wins only because it’s a small movie that made great strides for ‘small’ movies, it’s the little movie that could. But it’s not BEST.
    DP – After thinking about DG, I sincerely wish Condon had rewritten that 2nd half better and more fluid and with more ‘songs.’ the first half is the best picture by itself and it reaches an apex, but the 2nd half doesn’t reach that same apex. It’s watchable and enjoyable, but after the end of the 1st half, you just wish the movie could have soared like the 1st. Just IMO.

  11. jeffmcm says:

    So if Dreamgirls’ $86m gross means that people in the future will love it, I guess that Night at the Museum’s $200-odd gross means that in the future it’ll be Mary Poppins wrapped up inside Pinocchio?

  12. aking says:

    DP – Caught Sunday’s “Lake of Fire” screening. It was outstanding. Unfortunately, Tony Kaye missed the screening. Probably a good thing since the Lobero was half full.
    If you’re still there Feb. 4, drop by Shorts Program #2. I’ve a got film there called “Redemption Maddie”

  13. Sunday was DEAD at SBFF…I saw FIRST SNOW and it too was half full. Good flick too…

  14. right says:

    But seriously… those are the two movies that will be watched over and over and over again with people stopping when they catch a snippet on cable/satellite and are stuck watching for an hour or two.
    Since when is that the criteria for winning the Oscar? Schindler’s List was clearly the deserving winner in 1993, but I’m much more likely to re-watch The Fugitive or, hell, Jurassic Park. Maybe they should have given the Oscar to Mrs. Doubtfire — it’s still hilarious!

  15. wholovesya says:

    Anyone who doesn’t think Dreamgirls will resonate 10 years from now is just basking in their own ignorance and misplaced hatred for a movie millions of people love — and honestly, its starting to sound pathetic.
    Go to YouTube and do a search for “Dreamgirls” look at the many homemade submissions from young girls (and boys) lip syncing to scenes and songs form the movie (and we’re not talking the Broadway show). Four white surburban girls recording themselves singing “Cadillac Car” alongside Eddie Murphy? A young African-American girl who knows all the dance moves from the “Dreamgirls” song? Two frat boys singing drunkenly to “One Night Only” for their girlfriends?
    Yeah, that sure seems like culturally irrevelant and forgettable to me.

  16. jeffmcm says:

    Culturally relevant, sure. Forgettable, also sure. Youtube is nothing if not a resource for time-wasting garbage.
    I think in the future Dreamgirls the movie will have about the same fate as Dreamgirls the original Broadway musical had before the movie’s release: popular with devotees, unknown to everyone else.

  17. Hopscotch says:

    What will be written about Dreamgirls in the next 10 years? Easy, and honest comparisson to it’s peers. “Chicago”, “The Producers”, “Hair Spray” (god forbid), “Rent”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Mamma Mia” and “Dreamgirls”. All very successfull broadway/London musicals turned into movies in a five year time span. How does “Dreamgirls stack on that list?
    Actually, probably at the top. Granted I have seen just bits of Rent and Phantom on HBO and decided I didn’t need to see anymore. We’ll have to wait and see for Mamma Mia and Hairspray obviously. Chicago has a love it/hate it reaction. I’m in the middle of that one. Good entertainment, but I didn’t think it was Awards-worthy.

  18. Kambei says:

    My problems with Dreamgirls stems from the coy, almost-telling of the Motown story, which, by any stretch of the imagination has better “characters”, better “story” and much, much better music. Why bother making a film that obviously wants to tell the Motown story (witness the look-a-like, sound-a-like Jackson 5 sequence), but then has anachronistic song-writing, singing and production? Motown changed the way entertainers sang (or the way people on the radio sang), the way songs sounded and the way they were written. Doesn’t making all that into Broadway pastiche negate the point? The mistake was in making this film at all. A musical version of the story of Motown with the frikkin’ songs of Motown would have been a movie worth seeing. Why not play it “for real”? Wasn’t Berry Gordy enough of bastard? Didn’t Smokey Robinson muscle his way to the forefront of The Miracles? Didn’t he write some brilliant songs? Weren’t Holland/Dozier/Holland interesting enough without a fictional “brother” character? Those songs have/had cultural impact and meaning, whereas only one song in Dreamgirls has even made the slightest impact on popular culture. I guess Dreamgirls just disappointed me greatly, because it was a such a missed opportunity.

  19. movielocke says:

    Whatever happened to the musical with all Beatles songs? That’s one I really want to see, moreso than any other musical.

  20. Stella's Boy says:

    Across the Universe. According to IMDB, it’s being released in Germany in April, but there’s no US release date.

  21. bmcintire says:

    That seems to be the division here – cultural relevance vs. artisitc merit. Having grown up in the ’70s, I still wince at the utter adoration heaped upon GREASE. Girls/women of my generation watched and listened to it endlessly. I guess it was crafted well enough, there were certainly catchy songs, but would anyone ever have considered it for Academy Award material? It was the last successful musical breath before the gasping that was CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC and XANADU. I realize that CHICAGO may be loathed by some for its style over substance (I, having an affinity for Kander & Ebb, loved it) and MOULIN ROUGE! got nailed for it hyperkineticism, but DREAMGIRLS fucking put me to sleep. And two or three good songs surrounded by cringe-inducing (and convention-breaking in the case of the horrible “Family”) throwaways puts it right up there with MAME in my book.
    And as for the folks who criticized THE DEPARTED for not having any “there” there, please explain the presence of any “there” in DREAMGIRLS. I can only think it serves as an object-lesson in the wholesale whitewashing of Black American culture, right down to its soul-sucking 2-disc disco-remixed soundtrack.

  22. MarkVH says:

    “Having grown up in the ’70s, I still wince at the utter adoration heaped upon GREASE. Girls/women of my generation watched and listened to it endlessly. I guess it was crafted well enough, there were certainly catchy songs, but would anyone ever have considered it for Academy Award material?”
    Thank you. Grease is a terrible, terrible movie that has been unjustifiably praised to the heavens by generations of people who wouldn’t know a great musical if it danced on their face.
    As for Moulin Rouge, it’s one of the great cinema crimes that Chicago was awarded the Best Picture Oscar with the logic that it “made up for” Moulin Rouge not winning in the previous year. Rouge was and remains a true original, played to the hilt by its leads and supporters who seemed to know EXACTLY what the film was supposed to be. Chicago, by comparison, is a fun but lazy stage adaptation directed by someone who didn’t seem to know he was supposed to be making a movie, except when he’s trying to cover up the fact that two of his leads can’t dance.
    But in looking over those musicals that have won Best Pic Oscars, how many can you really say “deserved” it? Broadway Melody of 1929 – nope. An American In Paris – nope. Gigi – nope. My Fair Lady – you can make a case, but ultimately I’d say nope. The Sound of Music – nope. Oliver! – nope. Chicago – nope. West Side Story – only one I can think of.
    Meahwhile, the Astaire-Rogers musicals, Singin’ in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, On the Town, Busby Berkeley, Love Me Tonight, Meet Me in St. Louis, and on and on…
    Face it – this is one genre that has never been properly recognized by The Academy. But hell, at least they didn’t give it to Brigadoon.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    Grease was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. So times haven’t changed that much.

  24. bmcintire says:

    With the odd exceptions of 8 MILE and HUSTLE AND FLOW, the Best Song winners (and the majority of nominees) have been among the least relevant music to come out in the past 30 years. I nearly swallowed my tongue when Phil Collins beat Aimee Mann with yet another factory-produced Disney song. Why do they even bother amymore? The Grammys aren’t painfully outmoded enough?

  25. movielocke says:

    Ahh, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, my single favorite musical, such brilliant pointed satirical lyrics while still working perfectly as genuine and sincere. That’s a hell of an achievement. Sobbin Women always nearly makes me cry with laughter.
    But I still enjoy Chicago, Grease, Moulin Rouge and Dreamgirls, though I’d say the latter two are my favorites of those four.
    As for the best picture musicals, My Fair Lady and Sound of Music definitely deserved to win. Sound of Music is a perfect film and everything about it is amazing–it was when I was eleven and it still is now. :)
    On the other hand, American in Paris is very good, and I Got Rhythm is one of the great musical moments, but the ballet is a bit much, and in comparison with the unnominated Singin in the Rain, well, there’s just no comparison.
    Adam

  26. Rachel says:

    Hey there. Long time lurker here. I usually just read the comments and move on but I finally felt motivated to get an account and write my own opinion. I don’t think there are many other women who write comments on this board. And I haven’t seen too many people identify themselves as a person of color. So perhaps as a young woman of color I can give a different viewpoint.
    In addition to going to school, I work at a multiplex movie theater. Not only do I get to see many films, but I also get to see people and their responses. Of ALL the movies that played in out theaters this year (and there were MANY), the only 2 that really got a big response, that really sent shock waves, were Borat and Dreamgirls. People came out of Borat still laughing and instantly talking about their favorite scenes. Dreamgirls gets applause at the end of almost every screening. And let me tell you, that NEVER happens. The Departed didn’t get applause. Little Miss Sunshine didn’t get any applause. The manager of the theater who works there said that he has never seen a movie get such a big response from an audience.
    It seems to me like you guys (especially this jeffmcn person), are completely out of touch with what the public enjoys and what is meaningful for them. I can’t tell you what an all black musical means to me. I’ve walked into the theater towards the end of the movie and I see people crying. Not just women, but men. Its amazing to see a film that really touches people. The Departed? All I tell you is that we had more people ask for their money back on that one because of how unnecessarily violent it was.
    Hey baby, it ain’t your cup of tea, but why trash a movie like Dreamgirls when it means so much to so many people? You can like your own favorite but to trash someone elses makes you sound bitter and cynical.

  27. Rachel says:

    Hey there. Long time lurker here. I usually just read the comments and move on but I finally felt motivated to get an account and write my own opinion. I don’t think there are many other women who write comments on this board. And I haven’t seen too many people identify themselves as a person of color. So perhaps as a young woman of color I can give a different viewpoint.
    In addition to going to school, I work at a multiplex movie theater. Not only do I get to see many films, but I also get to see people and their responses. Of ALL the movies that played in out theaters this year (and there were MANY), the only 2 that really got a big response, that really sent shock waves, were Borat and Dreamgirls. People came out of Borat still laughing and instantly talking about their favorite scenes. Dreamgirls gets applause at the end of almost every screening. And let me tell you, that NEVER happens. The Departed didn’t get applause. Little Miss Sunshine didn’t get any applause. The manager of the theater who works there said that he has never seen a movie get such a big response from an audience.
    It seems to me like you guys (especially this jeffmcn person), are completely out of touch with what the public enjoys and what is meaningful for them. I can’t tell you what an all black musical means to me. I’ve walked into the theater towards the end of the movie and I see people crying. Not just women, but men. Its amazing to see a film that really touches people. The Departed? All I tell you is that we had more people ask for their money back on that one because of how unnecessarily violent it was.
    Hey baby, it ain’t your cup of tea, but why trash a movie like Dreamgirls when it means so much to so many people? You can like your own favorite but to trash someone elses makes you sound bitter and cynical.

  28. jeffmcm says:

    Thanks for singling me out. I didn’t ‘trash’ Dreamgirls, I just think it’s completely mediocre and plenty of people agree with me. What the public thinks is interesting (‘cultural relevance’) but doesn’t change my opinion of the film as art.

  29. Cadavra says:

    Greetings, Rachel. A bit of diversity is always welcome, at least by this white guy.
    There’s an old joke: opinions are like assholes–everybody’s got one. The problems arise when people think their opinions should be treated as fact (Stephen Colbert has built an entire show on this concept). If DREAMGIRLS gives aid and comfort to some people, then good for them and nothing else should matter. (Have yet to see it myself, so I can’t comment.) I felt the same way about THE PRODUCERS last year, and got pretty much hung out to dry. And life goes on.
    I truly believe we don’t argue here because we think we’ll change anyone’s mind; we argue because the arguing itself is fun; what George in WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? called “walking what’s left of our wits.” So please stick around. Gooble gobble and all that…

  30. Rachel says:

    Jeffmcn,
    Glad you feel that what the public thinks is ‘interesting’. I don’t know how many people you mean when you say ‘plenty’ but when I saw audiences are applauding, I’m meaning over a hundred EACH showing. Is that more than plenty?
    Oh, and I singled you out because you sound the most arrogant of the bunch around here.

  31. jeffmcm says:

    I’m sorry you think so, but stick around and you’ll see much worse (from others).

  32. jeffmcm says:

    By the way, I don’t see how my three comments on this thread are in any way ‘arrogant’. When I used the phrase ‘time wasting garbage’ I was referring to homemade Youtube videos, not Dreamgirls the movie itself.

  33. jeffmcm says:

    By the way, I don’t see how my earlier three comments on this thread are in any way ‘arrogant’. When I used the phrase ‘time wasting garbage’ I was referring to homemade Youtube videos, not Dreamgirls the movie itself.
    And it’s ‘jeffmcM’. Everyone seems to miss that.

  34. Rachel says:

    As I said, I’m a longtime lurker…I’ve been reading these for quite a while and that is how I’m basing my opinion. You’ve been the most arogant on this board for a looong time.
    Oh, and your note to me about finding what the public thinks is “interesting” but how it doesn’t change the way YOU feel about film as art, says it ALL, sweetheart.
    My apoloiges for not getting your name right. No one ever gets my name right which is why I just go by Rachel.

  35. Lota says:

    rachel
    Jeff is painfully pedantic and splits hairs to the 32nd-th degree and he thinks Brian dePalma is a good director. he needs help on all those issues but other than that he is ok. most of the time.

  36. CaptainZahn says:

    I don’t think Dreamgirls will necessarily be quickly forgotten, but I think it will probably be surpassed in quality by some of the films that will focus on stories that resemble the one in the film in order to appeal to the same audience.
    Getting right down to it, Dreamgirls might be the best musical movie since Chicago, but I still don’t think it’s that good. As talented as Bill Condon is, watching the film, it seems like he second guessed himself a lot and wasn’t sure how to handle some of the “bursting into song” songs. By having non-performance songs take place on stage it seems like he’s trying to pacify both people who love traditional musicals and those who don’t. He tries to play it safe in an awkward way and to me it comes off like his vision of the material lacked a certain something that would’ve made it really crackle on screen. At this point, the fact that so many directors don’t seem to be able to make musicals work as movies kind of just makes me wish they would stop making them. However, it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. As long as one of the next batch of film musicals is relatively successful, there will be more. Hopefully I’ll be satisfied with Hairspray or Sweeney Todd or Across the Universe, but I doubt it.

  37. Lota says:

    I think I liked Dreamgirls on stage as a kid better than the movie just because I tend to be underwhelmed by any musical ‘movie’, I’m not sure why but it is my least favorite genre of movies.
    In fact if this same cast were on stage in NYC it would be so killer it would sell out for 2 years.
    Rachel I’m a girl, well half human female anyway (Lota is a human panther from an old horror movie) but a friend from India (and boy did he Laugh) informs me that a Lota is sort of like a foul term so I am considering changing my name:
    Lota (Urdu: ????, Hindi: ????) is a Urdu and Hindi word for ‘pot’. Though it may refer to any pot, the term is most commonly employed for a container filled with water to facilitate the cleaning of one’s anal region after defecation.
    Goddam that’s f*cked up.
    And here I thought I had a cool mystical feline name.

  38. Rachel says:

    Well, I think Carrie, Dressed To Kill and Phantom of the Paradise are classics. I also enjoy Obsession, Snake Eyes, Sisters, The Fury and Blow Out. As long as we’re not talking about Bonfire of the Vanities or Black Dahlia, then maybe we can still be friends. Not too many people of color in his movies though, are there?

  39. Lota says:

    there aren;t many people of color in any type of Hollywood movie. I think most execs making decisions seem to think that everyone is 23, pale and from the upper middle class suburbs.
    truth is that many scripts don;t specify a person’s skin tone or cultural background so there aint no reason for the lack of tonal rainbow.
    Its’ the one nice thing about american TV over theatrical movies is that there’s color everywhere, and even old 70s sitcoms on cable are full of shades.

  40. jeffmcm says:

    Hey Lota, I appreciate your honest semi-defense of me and I think it’s cool you managed to get those Sanskrit (?) characters into the discussion.
    Rachel: I’m not trying to fight with you, but I mean it: other people loving a movie that I don’t has absolutely no impact on my opinion of it, except in a critical ‘I wonder what nerve it touches in them’ kind of way. There are plenty of people who watch, say, American Idol but I don’t think that means I need to change my opinion of that either.

  41. Lota says:

    Jeff I am always ready and willing to semi-defend all but maybe one or two on this blog.
    hindi & urdu are based in Sanskrit but I don;t think that word, is actually sanskrit, but probably changed in pronunciation or slightly in character as Sanskrit is a “dead” language like Latin, even though it forms the basis for a number of Asian and indigenous languages.
    Some of my elder relatives still use the Sanskrit word for “fire” and I can’t remember why that word was retained in many parts of the world in many languages, as such, except fire was pretty important for pillaging and razing for about 1000 years.

  42. jeffmcm says:

    It still is today!

  43. qwiggles says:

    “It seems to me like you guys (especially this jeffmcn person), are completely out of touch with what the public enjoys and what is meaningful for them. I can’t tell you what an all black musical means to me. I’ve walked into the theater towards the end of the movie and I see people crying. Not just women, but men. Its amazing to see a film that really touches people. The Departed? All I tell you is that we had more people ask for their money back on that one because of how unnecessarily violent it was.
    Hey baby, it ain’t your cup of tea, but why trash a movie like Dreamgirls when it means so much to so many people? You can like your own favorite but to trash someone elses makes you sound bitter and cynical.”
    Rachel, I take offence. I was moved by The Departed every moment Leo’s twitchy, tortured A-student out in the wilderness was onscreen, and it makes you sound bitter and cynical to dismiss it as “unnecessarily violent,” suggesting that that’s all “the public” can get out of it.

  44. “I don’t understand the dislike of the Departed… it’s one of the few movies last year I didn’t leave to go to the bathroom and almost sprung a leak.”
    Well, firstly, we’ve already discussed this, and secondly, thanks for telling us your bathroom habits. If you need to go to the bathroom during (it would seem) every movie you see then I think you need to see a doctor, or just cut out the soft drinks.
    On the matter of musicals, the best ones to have won Best Picture are West Side Story, Chicago and An American in Paris. Sure, Chicago gets a bad rap, but as someone who had never seen the broadway show I was happy to be able to see it and feel like I was actually seeing a show, what with big fantasy sequences, great catchy tunes and, for the most part, interesting actors (Zeta-Jones definitely deserved that Oscar). Boo-freakin-hoo that it beat The Pianist. The Academy giving the prize to a WWII movie? Now that would have been disappointing. Instead they chose the fun, lively spectacle. Good on ’em.
    And you guys obviously have no sense of what it’s like to see a movie such as Grease at a young age. It has the same effect that many older men have when they see stuff like The Departed. Or, wait, is that not allowed. Your rules are frustrating.
    You know what the best musical of 2006 was? Not Dreamgirls. Not A Prairie Home Companion or Happy Feet. It was Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. “You Got Me” by The Roots with Jill Scott and Erykah Badu was pretty much the most exhilerating and exciting and mindblowing scene of the entire year.

  45. Jonj says:

    KamikazeCamel is right about seeing Grease as a kid. It was a big deal. It was great. Today, it doesn’t hold up very well. You have a cast better suited to “thirtysomething” and it all comes across as rather silly. But as a kid, it was a great moviegoing experience. And at the end of the day, isn’t being excited about a movie or moved by a movie or affected by a movie what it’s all about. That said, I don’t want to see Grease again.

  46. Stella's Boy says:

    So Rachel you are an expert on what the public likes and dislikes because of what you have seen in one theater? Is that one theater an accurate representation of the entire country? I highly doubt it. As much as I personally didn’t like it, LMS got a huge round of applause from the audience I saw it with. I remember looking around thinking, “What the hell are all these people clapping about?” The audience I saw The Departed with loved the shit out of it. Aren’t most theaters going to be different?

  47. luxofthedraw says:

    My money is on The Queen at 15 to 1 odds.

  48. jeffmcm says:

    Hey KCamel, Chicago: The Broadway Show didn’t have any ‘fantasy sequences’. Those were how Bill Condon got out of the ‘why do they just start singing?’ problem with Harvey Weinstein.
    But in any terms other than escapist spectacle, The Pianist was the better film that year. Yeah, it’s another WWII movie, oh well.
    I don’t know what you think is ‘not allowed’…I would assume certain young guys were as excited by The Departed as by Grease…more likely young females, but that’s a different story.
    But DC’s BP is indeed pretty good.

  49. hcat says:

    I think the whole

  50. bmcintire says:

    DREAMGIRLS “why” of when they just start singing didn’t bother me half as much as the “when.” Having to suffer through that horrible “Family” song as her fellow cast members explain to Effie why it is best for the group that she no longer sing lead was bad enough. Then that very same song – presented first as a substitute for dialog – appears as a musical number onstage later in the film. It’s not even breaking convention, it’s flat-out ignoring the rules you’ve already set up. Symptomatic of the inherently lazy script.

  51. jeffmcm says:

    Regardless of what you think of the narrative or the characters, it seems clear to me that Rob Marshall is better at staging spectacle )also in Memoirs of a Geisha) than Condon is, with Condon’s flat staging and okay-but-not-spectacular command of cinematography and production design.

  52. The Carpetmuncher says:

    I’ll take Chicago over Dreamgirls any day, and think Condon is overrated as a director, but Memoirs was garbage. I don’t hate Dreamgirls, I actually enjoyed it, but it just wasn’t great – much too all over the place in the story, and didn’t have any songs or big numbers that I liked, outside of the Eddie stuff, which was all done better by James Brown, RIP.

  53. Chicago48 says:

    Well being possessed of DG, the movie, I sort of agree with everybody. But the problem was the first act had a lot of singing and dancing, (Stepping to the Bad Side was well directed and choreographed) music was practically non-stop and it took you to highs…….and then the 2nd act just sort of lumbered along as a melodrama….I didn’t find Deena interesting and thought her character was non-existent to a degree…I expected her to be more forceful, more diva-like and she was like a ragdoll…LOL…and truth be – Beyonce couldn’t pull off the dramatic parts. With Murphy and Hudson missing it seemed to fall flat. It was entertaining… I danced in the aisles the first act, but sat and watched the second.
    If you have the CD, you hear the BEST songs in the first act and the second act has decent songs. If the movie had stopped after that first act, it would have won a BP, it was just THAT good.

  54. Chicago48 says:

    Addendum — and for those who are asking WHY Hudson and Murphy are nom’d and winning awards, it’s because they MADE the movie.

  55. Chicago48 says:

    “You know what the best musical of 2006 was? Not Dreamgirls. Not A Prairie Home Companion or Happy Feet. It was Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. “You Got Me” by The Roots with Jill Scott and Erykah Badu was pretty much the most exhilerating and exciting and mindblowin” How can Chappell’s movie be a “musical” it was more a documentary-music-concert than a MUSICAL…not the same my friend. But it was excellent and I was surprised it didn’t make more money…
    Anybody remember Little Shop of Horrors with the big “eat me” plant? Now, that was hilarious when it was on screen…I’m not sure it has held up well, but it was fun & entertaining, and like somebody said – it’s how a movie makes you feel when you walk out. I walked out of DG (2 x’s) and felt good, so good that I bought the CD.

  56. CaptainZahn says:

    I think Family might’ve worked better if they had just sung half of the song in the dressing room and then dissolved into a shot of the girls rehearsing the song as a performance song with Effie still appearing uncomfortable and unhappy with the change.

  57. “Hey KCamel, Chicago: The Broadway Show didn’t have any ‘fantasy sequences’. Those were how Bill Condon got out of the ‘why do they just start singing?’ problem with Harvey Weinstein.”
    I know, but it felt theatrical. Not like Dreamgirls where the characters just stand around singing about how their family is growing into a tree or whatever the ridiculous song was about.
    I think Dreamgirls would have been much better if they stuck with a Chicago behind-the-scenes team. Marshall directing (he has big giant talent with musicals) and Condon writing (he has big giant talent writing). The moments when they randomly started singing offstage were odd cause there didn’t seem to be a pretence for it. We weren’t given any inkling that they live in a world where singing is normal and then they just start singing in the middle of a scene. It was strange. Got used to it, but it could’ve been handled better.
    Chicago, a lot of Dreamgirls‘ scenes are songs performed on stage like a concert. Sure, it’s a documentary, but it’s still singers singing and artists performing.
    “(Stepping to the Bad Side was well directed and choreographed)”
    No it wasn’t. There was about 30 seconds of Jamie Foxx singing and dancing and it could have been good, but then they cut to characters doing stuff (in this case, gambling) and it was like the song got reverted to soundtrack. It happened a few times during songs, actually.

  58. Chicago48 says:

    Kami – if you recall the orig. play on Broadway MOST of it took place behind stage, on stage, in clubs. I think he followed it pretty true to form. He couldn’t have them sing in “dream” sequences like in Chicago…I wasn’t bothered by that…and Stepping was a BAD-ASS song and arrangement.

  59. Chicago, I’m from Australia. We don’t get many Broadway shows, especially not “urban” ones. The movie was the first experience I, and many people including Americans, had with the musical so it was odd.
    I think it could have been pulled off better. Have a scene where they’re coming off stage and they sing a song or something. I mean, the first non-stage musical number came about 40 minutes into the movie.

  60. hcat says:

    I also felt there was very few exterior shots in Dreamgirls. That’s something that has always been done with musicals and other stage adaptions is get them outside and open up the frame so it doesn’t feel so stagey. The whole thing felt like it was shuffling from one set to another with a fashion montage seperating the scenes.

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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