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David Poland

By David Poland

Ebertfesten Thursday

Thursday at EbertFest brought The Weather Man, which I saw for the first time here. Seeing it, it was clear that Paramount blew the marketing utterly. But it was equally clear to me that the biggest mistake was that this very smart, very indie screenplay was made by a director who creates images that were too beautiful for the material contained. Of course, with all of these kinds of comments I make, they can be proven wrong by special execution. But all through The Weather Man, I was struck by how distracting the images were, even simple character shots, blowing past the intimacy that was inherent in the script.
I also felt that perhaps Gore Verbinski has seen some of the Swedish comedies, particularly Songs From The Second Floor, which had some of the slick style of this movie while dealing with some similar content. But in spite of some of the absurdism of this screenplay, it’s really an intimate, fairly direct examination of self-awareness.
Thinking about who would have been the best director for this material, Peter Yates came to mind. And part of that was that he was the very wrong director for a great Bill Goldman screenplay, The Year of the Comet, missing the movie it should have been by a mile. But Gore Verbinski would have been a great choice to make that script, as Yates would have been great for The Weather Man.
I didn’t get to attend the great Moolaade, which I saw earlier, but the powerhouse seemed to blow away audience members who dragged themselves out of the theater last evening.
Finally last night was Perfume, a movie that died in the U.S. by way of little marketing, few screens, and a misconceived release date. This is a film that grossed $130 million overseas and $3 million in the United States.
What fascinated me most on this film, which I quite like, is how it has become even more relevant since I saw it last October. The third act speaks rather profoundly to the politics of the world right now as well as the ugliness of mass thought. We are so vulnerable… because we want to be. But like Spielberg, the film definitely suffers for some audiences for lack of irony.
And we found Sanjiya, who has found a job quickly after being rejected by the American Idol public, perhaps in a career to which he is best suited.

12 Responses to “Ebertfesten Thursday”

  1. teambanzai says:

    I could not figure out just how they were trying to sell the Weatherman. Some ads made it look like a quirky comedy, some came across as a straight drama.

  2. Hopscotch says:

    Oh that Alan Rickman. Seriously, my fiance has a huge crush on that dude, his powers over the ladies is quite impressive.
    The trailer of Perfume was greeted with laughter at one movie house I attended over the christmas season. Loud laughter. Someone even shouted, “Must Miss”.

  3. Hopscotch says:

    I’ve heard incredibly mixed reactions on Weather Man. But everyone agrees it’s mildly depressing, so I passed.

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    I am a fan of The Weather Man and Perfume. Both very good movies IMO.

  5. jeffmcm says:

    I love Perfume, hopefully my recommendation won’t turn people off from it.
    The Weather Man, though, I think DP nailed on the head. It was clearly a personal film for Verbinski as self-reflection of a guy who has become immensely successful despite having what he knows to be a frivolous job; but like so many music video/commercial directors, the emphasis on the visuals took away from the story and characters. If Verbinski had chopped his budget in half or a third, it could have been a masterpiece.

  6. I loved THE WEATHER MAN and agree the marketing screwed the movie from the get go. I’ve only seen it once but it was in my top 5 for the eyar.
    As far as it being “depressing,” meh. I prefer to think of it as black comedy. I saw it on sale at Hollywood video for $9.99…I may need to go grab it now.

  7. movielocke says:

    sometimes I think studios deliberately drop the ball on international hits (like Perfume). Howl’s Moving Castle was exciting, a celebrity laden dub (that was actually really good) and not at all dependent on quirky Japanese history or aesthetics of storytelling like Mononoke or Spirited Away were. And it was deliberately dropped. Had it been given just a smidgeon of advertising and sold even as much as other Disney pickups like Valiant or the The Wild and it could have broken 50 million. If they’d sold it like a Disney or Pixar A-list production it could have cleared 100 in the US. Instead they didn’t even give it the chance the crap canada and british animated pickups get. Fuckin ridiculous.

  8. Me says:

    The Weatherman finally turned up at the top of my queue recently, and I was surprised by it, because it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, namely an American Beauty. It seemed to me to be a fascinating failure, in that it was a little comedy, a little seriousness, and a whole lot of unlikeable, unsympathetic people. I didn’t like spending time with these people, and yet, there was something there. I definitely had a reaction to it, but I wouldn’t go far enough to say it was good. But it was worthwhile watching.

  9. Me says:

    In the case of Howl’s and others like it, sometimes I feel that studios are probably underestimating American audiences in their decision not to promote them. But, then again, I’ve tried showing some of these movies to friends with more mainstream taste, and they don’t seem to get them (like Kiki’s Delivery Service – which I’ve always thought as the most Western-accessible Gibli). So sometimes I feel like film fans overestimate how much good marketing would do for their pet difficult film.

  10. Geoff says:

    I must say, this analysis of The Weatherman is intriguing. Like many others I passed on this film because I heard it was ridiculously depressing. It’s just an interesting comment on how Verbinski’s visual talents overshadowed the film. So it was the director’s fault, in a weird way, not the script. Interesting.

  11. ployp says:

    I wasn’t aware that Perfume did that poorly in the US. I haven’t seen the Weatherman but I will certainly do. What is it exactly about? Is it a comedy/drama?

  12. jeffmcm says:


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