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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar Voynar@moviecitynews.com

The Art of Movie Titles

Just got an email announcing that Homework, the Freddie Highmore/Emma Roberts teenage-angst-slacker drama that Fox Searchlight picked up at Sundance, is getting a title change to The Art of Getting By.

Personally, I think this is a good move on Searchlight’s part. Homework was a bland title that had “working title until we think up something better” written all over it. The Art of Getting By, in any case, is both catchier and more fitting for what the film is really about. I bet they had a lot of brainstorming meetings over bagels and coffee with a white board figuring out something better to call this film. Hey, at least they didn’t go with “Annoying Rich White Kids Get Life Lessons” or something.

Now, if they could just find a way to cut the diabetic coma-inducing sugariness of the script down just a notch (no, I will NOT use the words “twee” or “precious” to describe it, no matter how apropos they may be) … we might be getting somewhere. I felt when I was watching Homework at Sundance that it wanted to be edgier and braver. Terri and Submarine both, for me, dealt with teen issues and angst with more honest and real — and interesting — characters. But at least it’s got a better title now.

John Hughes’s movies often had great titles for what they were. The Breakfast Club. Sixteen Candles. Pretty in Pink. Weird Science. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Some Kind of Wonderful. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Home Alone. (Come to think of it, I like all those movies, even now. Yes, even Home Alone — the first one, not the sequels.)

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet … or would it? I’m kind of with Anne Shirley, who didn’t think a rose would smell as sweet if it was called a skunk cabbage. Would those Hughes films have been the same movies if they’d been titled … Detention? I Can’t Believe They Forgot My Birthday? Wrong Side of the Tracks? Two Geeks and a Hot Babe? Get Me Home for Thanksgiving? Crushing on the Wrong Girl? Playing Hooky? Bad Parents Forget Kid?

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“I always thought that once I had lived in Chicago for a while, it would be interesting to do a portrait of the city – but to do it at a significant time. Figuring out when would be the ideal time to do that was the trick. So when this election came around, coupled with the Laquan McDonald trial, it seemed like the ideal time to do the story. Having lived in Chicagoland for thirty-five-plus years and done a number of films here, I’ve always been struck by the vibrancy of the city and its toughness. Its tenderness too. I’ve always been interested in the people at the center of all the stories. This is a different film in that regard, because we’re not following a couple of individuals over the course of the project in the way that a lot of the films I’ve done have, but I still feel like people’s voices and aspirations and hopes are at the center of this series.

It wasn’t easy. We started back in July 2018, it was actually on the Fourth of July – that was our first shoot. It’s like most documentaries in that the further you go along the more involved and obsessed you get, and you just start shooting more and more and more. We threw ourselves into this crazy year in Chicago. We got up every day and tried to figure out if we should be out shooting or not, and what it is we should shoot. We were trying to balance following this massive political story of the mayor’s race and these significant moments like the Laquan McDonald trial with taking the pulse of people in the city that we encounter along the way and getting a sense of their lives and what it means to live here. By election day, Zak Piper, our producer, had something like six cameras out in the field. You could double-check that, it might have been seven. We had this organized team effort to hit all the candidates as they were voting, if they hadn’t already voted. We hit tons of polling places, were at the Board of Elections and then were at the parties for the candidates that we had been able to follow closely. Then of course, we were trying to make sure we were at the parties of the candidates who made it to the runoff. So, yeah, it was kind of a monster.”
~ Steve James On City So Real

“I really want to see The Irishman. I’ve heard it’s big brother Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece. But I really can’t find the time. The promotion schedule is so tight, there’s no opportunity to see a three and a half-hour movie. But I really want to see it. In 2017, right before Okja’s New York premiere, I had the chance to go to Scorsese’s office, which is in the DGA building. There’s a lovely screening room there, too, with film prints that he’s collected. I talked to him for about an hour. There’s no movie he hasn’t seen, even Korean films. We talked about what he’s seen and his past work. It was a glorious day. I’ve loved his work since I was in college. Who doesn’t? Anyone involved with movies must feel the same way.”
~ Bong Joon-ho