The Hot Blog Archive for June, 2005

Sometimes, You Just Have To Break Your Own Rules



Chicken Little Has Become The New Emperor

If you don’t understand why I get so nuts about this stuff, take a look at the L.A. Times story today.
Horn and Abramowitz do more appropriate hedging on stupid stats than most


Box Office Evolution, Pt. 1

So you can comment…
The Slump Isn’t Real, But Change Is, Part 1


Hide & Go Seek Blockbuster Numbers

Well, at least we know what Sam Rubin thinks!
There is a minor skirmish in the Critics Wars this summer, as Steven Spielberg and Paramount has made the decision to go 2004 and to sit on War of The Worlds as though it was an egg in need of a lot of protection.
Well, kind of.
And that


It's Monday…

What do you folks want to talk about?


Early Box Office Analysis

The 3 Rings movies, the 3 new Star Wars movies, both Matrix sequels, both Jurassic sequels, the


Why Does It Make Me So Sad?

Tom Cruise is acting like a guy who walked into the casino, won huge, and is on a losing streak. The smaller the stack gets, the more desperate he is to play bigger and bigger amounts to get back the winnings he has “lost.”
Unlike a gambler, Tom Cruise is beyond the point where he will go home broke. But does he know that?
This is instructive about a guy like Tom Hanks as well. The heat has faded a little. And what does Hanks do? Whatever the hell he wants. You don’t see him making tabloid noise or co-starring in Superman Returns (or whatever it will be called) or seeking the most commercial things he can, even if The DiVinci Code might be very commercial.
Anne Thompson compared the publicity efforts on Cruise’s and Brad Pitt’s behalf. But there is nothing magical about the Pitt effort… just good, solid publicity management. But the biggest factor is not the publicist, but the actor. Pitt seems not to care very much. He’s not a gambler. He won the lottery (genetic and otherwise) and he seems to be enjoying the ride. He appears to have taken Troy as seriously as Snatch… and on he goes. He makes some clearly commercial choices, but in the end, choosing to play pocket pool with Angelina Jolie is not a hard decision…. well, insert pun… and insert pun on the word “insert.” See how easy it is to build a Pitt story?
A 40-year-old man marrying a 24-year-old less than two months after they met is desperate. There is no other appropriate word. It doesn’t matter if you are Tom Cruise or if you have a movie coming or whatever else.
Listening to a report of their engagement, at a press conference a reporter floated the question of whether they got engaged at the Eiffel Tower and they confirmed. Fuck! There is no way that was not a set up. The reporter was told and given the opportunity to ask the question, rather than Team Cruise sending out a press release. Double fuck! The reason so many people think it’s movie promotion is that it has all the hallmarks of something so obvious that it can only sustain for a few months, like a movie promotional scheme.
And now, they have to get married, stay together for at least 10 years, and probably have some kids or Cruise becomes nothing but a public joke. Think it would be cynical to suggest there is a contract? There is no way that Tom Cruise got engaged without a pre-nup… none. And Katie Holmes is no Lisa Marie Pressley. She will never talk or even hint. And sadly, Li’l Katie is not half the actress Nicole Kidman is… so as a career move (outside of the millions she will walk away with before the age of 35), it’s very Marion Davies/Susan Alexander Kane.
Anyway… I find it all very sad. This is, for me, completely analagous to “I love children… having them in my bed is an act of love.” Once you are this deep in the water, all you can do is fight to justify your behavior… and the water just keeps getting deeper.
And let this mark the day that MovieCityNews got out of the Tom & Katie business. Our writers will write whatever they like in their columns and features, but this story has crossed some horrible line and it is time for any news outlet that doesn’t want to be in league with something this cynical and ugly to get out. We will cover the movies and at some point, if there is a tangible shift in the story that matters, we will cover that. But until then, look for your “TomKat” headlines in the tabloids and Defamer, not on MCN. Cold turkey.


Bill Goldman Was So Right

If you have a little time and are interested, the good folks at Slate spent some column inches today touting an economic study of the film industry that defines the phrase “knowing everything and understanding nothing.”
Okay, I take it back. They don’t come close to knowing everything.
The study, “The Motion Picture Industry: Critical Issues in Practice, Current Research & New Research Directions,” is here as a pdf file.
And if you can hear A.O. Scott spinning in his desk chair, it’s not your imagination. Anyone who loves movies has to hate this absurd paper and anyone who wants to sell movies better be careful before they talk themselves into going this far into the “movies as product” hell zone… they might mock Pluto Nash, but it is the thinking that this paper suggests that actually does explain how that film got made.
What do you think?



The New York Times’ No-One Culpa Story
My Response
Your thoughts below…


How Can They Say Eisner Has No Sense Of Humor…

… after he called his book “Kampf”
Now, if he went for “Mein Kampf”… well, that would have been genius!


Change To Commenters

EDIT – Turns out, we are having some registration problems… so until then, this move will be delayed… post free or die!!!
EARLIER – I decided to allow comments from unregistered commenters, but they will have to be “approved” first.
It seems like a lot of work for me, so I hope people will register so their comments go through automatically… but we’ll see how it goes. At the least, it should stop the spam.


The Next Cog In The Trend Wheel

Let’s start figuring out how Old Media journos will rationalize the box office success or failure of Lindsay Lohan in Herbie: Fully Loaded.
It doesn’t matter whether the film does well or poorly when it opens in 10 days. Ms. Lohan is tabloid fodder and the prism that Old Media will choose to see it through is sure to be about her celebrity.
My Early Guesses –
If The Film Opens – There will be lots of features in “legitimate” papers about Ms. Lohan’s travails and whether children should be exposed to her.
The opening will be used as proof that Pitt/Jolie tabloid buzz really did drive the opening of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
(Note: Many of us who actually pay attention to marketing noted that Fox turned the corner on the movie with advertising many weeks back. And we should not point out that the film didn’t open as well as, say, Scooby Doo and less than $6 million better than xXx.)
If The Film Flops – Out come the “parents fear Lindsay Lohan and her career is over” stories.
Lindsay’s father becomes a lynch pin in the “violence issue” that also allegedly chased Russell Crowe’s movie out of the marketplace.
(Note: Universal was very nervous about the numbers the movie opened to – days before the phone throwing incident – because they were under tracking… not because of the amount of money, but because of media perception.
Unfortunately for all of us, writers who don’t hear about tracking very often don’t understand how often it is wrong. It was low on Mr. & Mrs. Smith and high on Cinderella Man, which means… taa daa!!!… what we have always know… tracking is better at capturing info on older moviegoers than younger or ethnic moviegoers. But instead, it is being used to hype one and to attack the other. The idea that quoting tracking as a target when the number ends up a few million higher or lower is just plain stupid. And the greatest irony is that the people who are most irritated by the numbrs obsession of Hollywood jump on that numbers bandwagon whenever it serves their personal purposes.)



Is Batman Begins being so well reviewed before its release (with WB selectively setting embargo dates to allow Old Media to suck all the air out of the story) that a backlash is becoming inevitable?
(Note: I agree with the positive notices… but backlash is an emotional thing, not an intellectual one.)


Reader Mail

I got this about… well, you guess what movie…
“Not all movies have to be about the meaning of life.
Not all books have to be about the meaning of life.
Not all conversations have to be about the meaning of life.
Over-analysis is an unhappy person trying to understand the meaning of life.
Does a Lion know the meaning of life? No. He is too busy being the king of the jungle.
Does a Sequoia know the meaning of life? No. It is stretching its way to the stars while the rest of us have to use zillion dollar rockets to get there.
Is a good football game about the meaning of life? No. But when my team wins I see things more clearly.
Do I go to the local cineplex searching for the meaning of life? No. I go there to dream about things I’ve never seen. Eat some popcorn, kiss my girl, and then dream some more.
Why? Because the meaning of life is life itself. If you are alive you mean something, whatever it is, good or bad, smart or dumb, but something…
When we see something bad and think to ourselves that we could do so much better, isn’t that a wake up call? Maybe we just have to take the challenge…”


How Do I Put This Gently?

The Rent Trailer


The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

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