The Hot Blog Archive for August, 2005

Still Slow…

Anyone have anything they want to talk about?


Slow News Week

A sneak peek at tomorrow’s Hot Button…
“What went so wrong with The Brothers Grimm and Proof?


The Conspiracy Against The NYT Continues!

I’m just going to link to this… you tell me.
Mark Cuban Meets Andrew Ross Sorkin


Sunday Estimates – 8/21

The only August release ever to make it to $100 million that opened after the first weekend of the month was American Pie 2


Revisting Ms. McAdams Before The Notebook Hit

I actually did a sit down with McAdams sometime last summer, but I don’t know whether I ever wrote about it. But as recently as a few months ago, I seem to recall being mocked for picking her as one to bet on. Here is the piece from May 2004… the first blush of what seems obvious now.
And just wait until you see her in another different yet similar (definition of a movie star) supporting role, expertly chosen and chased, in The Family Stone


Very Bloggerific

There is an exchange that stretches out over the last two weeks of the NYT Sunday Book Review between Richard Posner and NYT Exec Editor Bill Keller. (Posner’s original piece is here and Keller’s response is the second “Letter To The Editor” here.)
Posner suggests that news outlets that lean left or right (and he seems to think that all outlets do) are both lowering standards and leaning further in “their” direction because of increased competition. Keller disagrees.
Posner attempts an intellectual pose and often overreaches. Keller speaks more to the soul of journalism and, in light of some choices his paper has made recently, also oversells a bit, though a die-hard romantic, I would lean towards his argument over Posner’s… though Posner’s should be taken very, very, very seriously even if it makes too many assumptions.
Ironically and tellingly, right next to Keller’s letter in which he writes, “We are unquestionably in the business of satisfying a customer demand, but our customers


Is It Just Me Or…

… does Flightplan look like the kind on mid-summer, Harrison Ford thriller that is just exactly what people really love and enjoy… in the end of September of all places…


Shocking Rotten Tomatoes Report

Tomatometer Report: “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” is the Best Reviewed Film of the Year
Two of this week’s wide releases, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Red Eye,” would appear to have little in common. One is a comedy that mixes sentimentality with the profane, and the other is a Hitchcockian thriller aboard a plane. Yet both films are among the best reviewed of the year.
“The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” starring Steve Carell as a dork with all the wrong moves, is currently the best reviewed wide release of the year, at 90 percent on the Tomatometer. “Red Eye,” Wes Craven’s thriller starring Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy, is also soaring; at 83 percent, it’s the fourth-best reviewed film of the year. “Red Eye” is just behind “Cinderella Man,” at 84 percent, and “Batman Begins” at 83 percent. Rounding out the top five is “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” at 82 pecent.
There have been 82 wide releases in 2005 (we’re not including films that start in limited release and slowly move wide, like “Kung Fu Hustle” and “March of the Penguins”). Here’s the list of the best reviewed so far:
Best Reviewed Films of the Year with Wide Release Debuts
(Does not include films with platform releases)
1. The 40-Year Old Virgin – 90%, 102 Reviews
2. Cinderella Man – 84%, 171 Reviews
3. Batman Begins – 83%, 217 Reviews
4. Red Eye – 83%, 101 Reviews
5. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – 82%, 229 Reviews
6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – 82%, 185 Reviews
7. The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants – 82%, 105 Reviews
8. Hustle & Flow – 81%, 121 Reviews
9. Sin City – 78%, 212 Reviews
10. Crash – 77%, 154 Reviews
11. Pooh’s Heffalump Movie – 76%, 68 Reviews
12. Wedding Crashers – 74%, 151 Reviews
13. George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead – 73%, 146 Reviews
14. War of the Worlds – 72%, 218 Reviews
15. Hitch – 68%, 168 Reviews
16. Sky High – 67%, 103 Reviews
17. Unleashed – 66%, 109 Reviews
18. Coach Carter – 65%, 122 Reviews
19. Robots – 63%, 164 Reviews
20. Fever Pitch – 63%, 163 Reviews”


Early Box Office Analysis

Both The 40 Year Old Virgin and Red Eye will be behind only Freddy v Jason and Mortal Kombat as the biggest openers in the third weekend of August in history.
Does that seem like splitting hairs? Not to me. The first 10 days of August have become



The story about Tom Cruise got squashed and I was stupid to even bring it up before it was actually out if I wasn’t going to cough it up myself.
My sincere apologies… not that I think the story is false… just that I made the mistake of ever bringing it up.


Separated At Career Path?



Pop Quiz (Testosterone Edition)

If you woke up one morning and found this pen sticking out of your neck, would it be okay because you knew that Rachel McAdams had put it there?


Reviewing The Movie Or Your Life?

Pronunciation: tran(t)s-‘f&r-&n(t)s, ‘tran(t)s-(“)
Function: noun
1 : an act, process, or instance of transferring : CONVEYANCE, TRANSFER
2 : the redirection of feelings and desires and especially of those unconsciously retained from childhood toward a new object (as a psychoanalyst conducting therapy)

How much of film criticism is transference rather than analysis?
This thought occured to me after reading one particularly odd pair of conflicting commentaries on similar pictures. How could these opinions be so at odds? It finally occured to me… one film features guys who are “winners” who thrn think they are losers, but end up wining even more… the other film features losers who even after having ups and downs, still end up losing, the lead suffering the pain of ending up with a woman appropriate to his age, attractive, but not a Maxim-esque trophy.
Trying to comprehend why some critics seem to be willing to roll along with Proof… a movie about a disconnected, but brilliant father, who creates such a shadow that no one can believe that his child is his equal…
If you had a parent in whose shadow you felt stuck, this might be the movie of the year for you.
My most often thought of disconnect in this regard is Roger Ebert’s love of Kill Bill, Vol 1 and hatred of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, two highly violent movies released in the same month. What separated them into four star and zero star reviews?
What strikes me is that Uma Thurman’s character in KBV1 is a clear hero, her past as a murderer never touched on, and her disposal of the villains who thought they had killed her was, in its way, moral and completely lacking in ambiguity.
On the flip side, all but one of the teens who confronts Leatherface & Family in TCM survives… and most of them go through grueling torture before finally being put out of their misery.
I recently saw Wolf Creek, which gave me some of the same feelings that seemed to mark R.E.’s pov on TCM. There was no reason for me to be watching the movie. It was fairly cleverly made and extremely coarse and unpleasant. And my line that got crossed was that it really had nothing to say or offer in structure that engaged me. It was – and look away if you think this movie can be spoiled for you…. if you like this kind of film, it can’t – a simple case of drug ’em, torture ’em, kill ’em. Boring and unpleasant.
For me, TCM offered more intrigue. I was more creeped out by R Lee Ermey than by Leatherface. For me, the girls, thinking that a killer is on the loose, are face down in the dirt, slowly figuring out that the Sheriff is as dangerous as the guy with the chainsaw, was the most harsh and compelling scene in the movie. And I will admit, a camera moving through the hole in the suicide girl’s head amused me in much the same way as I assume Lucy Liu on a boardroom table amused Roger. The family was more interesting to me. The back story on Leatherface interested me. And the idea of characters being put through a maze that they don’t quite realize they can’t escape intrigues me. Hope… loss of hope… hope…loss of hope… drama.
I might also add that I really like movies that believe in the power of people to dig deep within to overcome adversity. And I guess that is my admission of transference for the day.
In a critical world where personalities are less and less strong, those who do have the freedom to emote… Armond White being the most personally driven of all film critics, it seems to me… walk an interesting line.


Pay To Stay

Should the State of California, in the midst of a fiscal crisis that, for one thing, continues to deeply damage education, be throwing hundred of millions at the film industry to promote stay-at-home production?
The New York Times’ David Halbfinger got a look at the proposed bill first.
And… as a small note… that seems petty even to me, but still makes me wonder… both films that are used as examples of projects that subsidies could help keep in California – Herbie: Fully Loaded and Wedding Crashers – were shot here in LA County. Wedding Crashers did 2 weeks on the Maryland shore both for incentives and because 2/3rds of film was set in the moneyed bay areas around Washington. Fact check!
But that is an aside. What do you think of CA paying for a higher percentage of production to stay here… especially in light if a shrinking Canadian runaway biz.


Crazy Site Of The Day

The wild & crazy Mark Ebner has finally become blogged… and the results are for adults witha wicked sense of humor only.
Hollywood, Interrupted: The 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