The Hot Blog Archive for March, 2005

Preston Sturges' Rules Of The Box Office

1. A pretty girl is better than an ugly one
.2. A leg is better than an arm.
3. A bedroom is better than a living room.
4. An arrival is better than a departure.
5. A birth is better than a death.
6. A chase is better than a chat.
7. A dog is better than a landscape.
8. A kitten is better than a dog.
9. A baby is better than a kitten.
10. A kiss is better than a baby.
11. A pratfall is better than anything.
Still true? Have any additions?

11 Comments »

One more Sin City thought…

I was in the book store today and looked through the “Yellow Bastard” graphic novel in the Sin City series. Amazing… intense… and emotional.
It is almost image for image, word for word, the same as the movie. But Miller’s drawings say more.
I guess the answer, for me, is that there is something literal about film that isn’t about most fine art. The edges of the images speak volumes… the jagged nature of them…
Here is a page that is duplicated in the film. It is just so much more powerful on paper.
And here is this rather smart film-to-comic comparison by FilmRot’s Mediamelt.

16 Comments »

Is this okay?

Welcome to the new page… but already one person said they liked the old one better.
There are limits to what we can – or will – do, but please let us know what we can do to make this blog page the best possible for you. Your input matters… almost as much as your output.

14 Comments »

More On Sin City

I wrote about Sin City in The Hot Button today

53 Comments »

More On Sin City

I wrote about Sin City in The Hot Button today

I had a couple more thoughts that I thought I’d add here…

I got an argument from a very smart guy this morning who believes that this film will be the most influential film of this decade. And what that got me thinking about was, “Have smart people started believing that the medium is the message?” Part of the argument, which is at the core of all but a sliver of Sin City support is… “It is unlike anything you’ve seen.” But is that in any way important?

Are we fetishizing filmmaking tools instead of drama?

I really have no argument with having made Sin City. It is not evil. It is not a waste of money… it will be profitable. It is not going to melt the brains of small children.

But it finally hit me… Sin City is the male response to the McG/Barrymore Charlie’s Angels films. It aspires to even less as a social statement. But since the C&A films failed to actually offer “girl power,” in the end the answers are the same. Harsh violence vs. cutesy violence, more male objectification vs self-objectification, hyper frame-loading vs. hyper editing.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Frontal was unlike anything we had ever seen. And to be fair, so was Romeo + Juliet/Moulin Rouge… again, using many of the same tools.

On the flip side, there was nothing in Pulp Fiction we hadn’t seen before. We just hadn’t seen it for, depending on the part of the film, a decade or two or three or four.

The other analogy that I meant to point out was Lucas’ recent run of Star Wars films. Those films were also CG, CG, CG… and the films are not given anywhere near enough credit, because of critical response, with breaking new ground in the technology. There are many arguments within the argument… I recently had a discussion with someone about how Lucas always made the cheapest decision instead of the best one… but big picture, Star Wars I-III made Sin City possible.

Meanwhile, MirrorMask is even more “you’ve never seen anything like it” than Sin City, but won’t get the embrace because it doesn’t pander to the geek thirst for sex and violence. (It also makes even less narrative sense and has even less emotionally connective characters, for the most part.)

The future of cinema is storytelling, not technology. When technology supports the storytelling, God bless… we all win. There will be better Sky Capatins and Sin Citys, using the technological opportunity to make real magic. Maybe it will be the Sin City sequel that is being talked about with QT as a full collaborator. I still argue that the 2 hour (aka, cut to the right length) Kill Bill might have been a masterpiece. QT understands character in a way that Rodriguez just doesn’t. And Rodriguez has visual skills that QT does not. I remain hopeful.

13 Comments »

IFP/West Moving To Dump The IFP

Variety reports that Dawn Hudson is finally tired of having to put up with those fussy New Yorkers (and others) who built the Independent Feature Project into a force for independent cinema over the decade or so before IFP/LA was anything more significant than an occasional seminar in L.A.
Sadly, this is no surprise. Back in November, when I seemed to be the only journalist in the country interested in the back room battle, Dawn Hudson refused to even discuss what was going on. To her credit, Dawn’s opposite number, IFP/NY’s Michelle Byrd, did sit down with me, though she refused to be tough on Dawn while still acknowledging the tensions that have always been a part of the national organization since Dawn took a dominant position in L.A.
The four month old Hot Button story is here, though Peter Rice will be unhappy to see the story back in front of people, as he later made the case for Sideways being made for only $16 million so effectively that I never broached the subject again.
The sad part of this seperation is that New York’s hands on efforts wil suffer. And NYC’s substantive indie filmmaking clique will be unable to take sides, since the marketing opportunity in L.A. is too much to turn their backs on. Even worse… they can’t blame this on the majors. Drat!

IFP/West Moving To Dump The IFP

Variety reports that Dawn Hudson is finally tired of having to put up with those fussy New Yorkers (and others) who built the Independent Feature Project into a force for independent cinema over the decade or so before IFP/LA was anything more significant than an occasional seminar in L.A.

Sadly, this is no surprise. Back in November, when I seemed to be the only journalist in the country interested in the back room battle, Dawn Hudson refused to even discuss what was going on. To her credit, Dawn’s opposite number, IFP/NY’s Michelle Byrd, did sit down with me, though she refused to be tough on Dawn while still acknowledging the tensions that have always been a part of the national organization since Dawn took a dominant position in L.A.

The four month old Hot Button story is here, though Peter Rice will be unhappy to see the story back in front of people, as he later made the case for Sideways being made for only $16 million so effectively that I never broached the subject again.

The sad part of this seperation is that New York’s hands on efforts wil suffer. And NYC’s substantive indie filmmaking clique will be unable to take sides, since the marketing opportunity in L.A. is too much to turn their backs on. Even worse… they can’t blame this on the majors. Drat!

6 Comments »

Photos: Bermuda Film Festival 2005

I did a column on the festival in The Hot Button today.
BUt now it’s time to get a real eyeful of the fun in this photo album

Photos: Bermuda International Film Fest 2005

I did a column on the festival in The Hot Button today.

BUt now it’s time to get a real eyeful of the fun in this photo album

3 Comments »

Photos: The Gates

I’ve been busy not putting photos up on the blog because it was a pain in the ass… turns out that TypePad makes it a lot easier than I thought.
So here is the first batch of shots… from The Gates, by Christo.

1 Comment »

Photos: The Gates

I’ve been busy not putting photos up on the blog because it was a pain in the ass… turns out that TypePad makes it a lot easier than I thought.

So here is the first batch of shots… from The Gates, by Christo.

4 Comments »

Universal Gets Out Of The Paper Pushing Business

From Universal Pictures…
Dear Friend,
We are pleased to tell you about a change we are making in order to make a wider selection of publicity material available to you faster. Effective immediately, we will no longer be mailing to you printed press kits for our films. An expanded selection of our publicity materials will be available online for viewing or downloading at www.xxxxx.net.
Replacing traditional hard copy delivery of our content with digital delivery not only allows us to expand our materials, but to make them available much faster by eliminating the time it takes for duplication, assembling and shipping. As soon as new materials are available, you will be notified by email, with a link to the newly posted content.
If you haven’t already registered for access to image.net, the process is very easy. Just go to www.xxxxx.net and follow the simple registrations instructions using the following referral code: XXXX.
Please note that the press kit for The Wedding Date is the last printed press kit you will receive from us.
If you have any questions please call xxxxx.net customer service at (888) xxx-1500 or email at customer-services@xxxxx.net.
Sincerely,
Universal Pictures Publicity Dept.

Universal Gets Out Of The Paper Pushing Business

From Universal Pictures…

Dear Friend,

We are pleased to tell you about a change we are making in order to make a wider selection of publicity material available to you faster. Effective immediately, we will no longer be mailing to you printed press kits for our films. An expanded selection of our publicity materials will be available online for viewing or downloading at www.xxxxx.net.

Replacing traditional hard copy delivery of our content with digital delivery not only allows us to expand our materials, but to make them available much faster by eliminating the time it takes for duplication, assembling and shipping. As soon as new materials are available, you will be notified by email, with a link to the newly posted content.

If you haven’t already registered for access to image.net, the process is very easy. Just go to www.xxxxx.net and follow the simple registrations instructions using the following referral code: XXXX.

Please note that the press kit for The Wedding Date is the last printed press kit you will receive from us.

If you have any questions please call xxxxx.net customer service at (888) xxx-1500 or email at customer-services@xxxxx.net.

Sincerely,

Universal Pictures Publicity Dept.

7 Comments »

Crisis Schmisis!

Sundance 2005: Crisis In Park City
Oy.
The reason why there is a crisis in Park City is because guys like Kohler, whom I like, and Amy Taubin, who I really don’t know, are busy screaming their danged fool heads off.
Sundance finally makes the forward thinking move of creating World Cinema categories and the softness of the first year’s choices are A CRISIS!
It’s called “the first year.” Sundance has had a decade of indie filmmakers timing their films to end up on the Sundance schedule, if they are lucky enough to get in. The festival has the absolute top choice of indie films from new filmmakers who are not likely to break into Cannes. But that is not the case with World Cinema. Films launch in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, San Sebastian, etc, etc, etc… the machine isn’t used to saving the best for Sundance.
That will change.
A few sales and that will change in a hurry.
As for all the Sundance parties… uh… stay off Main Street. There is only one theater there and nothing playing there isn’t playing elsewhere. And the hype machines have not invaded any of the other theaters. If you are obsessing on Sundance obsessing on Paris Hilton, it is no one’s fault but your own.
In other words… move along… nothing to see here…

1 Comment »

Crisis Schmisis!

Sundance 2005: Crisis In Park City

Oy.

The reason why there is a crisis in Park City is because guys like Kohler, whom I like, and Amy Taubin, who I really don’t know, are busy screaming their danged fool heads off.

Sundance finally makes the forward thinking move of creating World Cinema categories and the softness of the first year’s choices are A CRISIS!

It’s called “the first year.” Sundance has had a decade of indie filmmakers timing their films to end up on the Sundance schedule, if they are lucky enough to get in. The festival has the absolute top choice of indie films from new filmmakers who are not likely to break into Cannes. But that is not the case with World Cinema. Films launch in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, San Sebastian, etc, etc, etc… the machine isn’t used to saving the best for Sundance.

That will change.

A few sales and that will change in a hurry.

As for all the Sundance parties… uh… stay off Main Street. There is only one theater there and nothing playing there isn’t playing elsewhere. And the hype machines have not invaded any of the other theaters. If you are obsessing on Sundance obsessing on Paris Hilton, it is no one’s fault but your own.

In other words… move along… nothing to see here…

11 Comments »

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