The Hot Blog Archive for March, 2006

what will your movie weekend look like?


Too Soon? Too Much?

Some people have said that some of the materials involving Universal


Horror Porn Is… A Response To 9/11!!!

Dallas/Ft Worh Star-telegram’s Christopher Kelly makes the argument for Horror Porn here… you see, the adults just don’t get it!
It would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragically deluded.
Teenagers have been consuming massive amounts of crap forever… and adults have always winced.
Comparing Wolf Creek to Hitchcock… or Eli Roth to someone who can direct?!?!? Come on!!!
Horror films, like most of cinema, is cyclical. Scream marked the end of slasher horror in 1996. In a few years, someone will come up with an all-out satire of Saw and the others. And horror will be dead. And five or six years later, it will come back again. And so on and so on and so on.
The current trend is similar to tattoos… faster pussycat, kill, kill. How can you rebel against a generation that grew up smoking pot and getting laid? Tattoos, random oral sex, and more realistic movies about killing people.
For me, Roger Ebert has been the front man for “the adults,” which is to say, if its the emotionless cartoon violence of Tarantino and Rodriguez, great…if it is really disturbing, piss on it and set it on fire.
Me? I am okay with the cartoon stuff or with the realistic stuff. It’s about how the experience connects with me. There has to be a reason why some people connect so well with Eli Roth. To me, he is an aesthetic con artist who is not as clever, funny, or dark as he and his followers claim. Hostel was not crap because it was too tough… but because it wasn’t tough at all.
And throwing 9/11 into it? The horror of 9/11 is how short our memories are in this country, not how it is manifesting in our culture. New Yorkers do still live with that experience. For the rest of the country, it has already been reduced to jingoism. We are affected by the roll-off. Airports aren


Topics On The Cyber Table

Things are quiet on the Westside front… so here are three odd stories that might be worth discussing…
Harrison For “hates the internet”.. but if you really read this story, he is saying that he hates not being able to control his image and private life because of the 24/7 hunger of the web for info. Does he have a point?
Waldenbooks and Borders will not put a magazine on its shelves because it contains the cartoons of Muhammad that sparked riots overseas. Censorship or safety?
As a potential ticket buyer for Mission: Impossible 3, will it bother or distract you that a guy who got burns on 60% of his body on the set in an accident – though any fire on set is extremely specific in its calibrations – is not getting a few million thrown at him by Paramount to compensate or even, legally, overcompensate.


Boy Is It Quiet Out There

There is a lot of gossip floating around, but bottom line… we are in the pre-summer lull in a big way.
Anyone awake out there?
(Return Of The Blair Witch? The Leprchaun in Mobile, AL)


Why Doesn



Not Thrilled With This One…

If you go to the front page of imdb in hopes of entering a name in the search engine, you have to wait a few seconds for King Kong to shake up the search slot.
There is no advertiser who has ever been benefited with me by interrupting the course of me trying to do my basic online functions.
Kong hanging out on the search slot? Cute. Slowing me down? If there was a way to punish imdb and Universal for it, I would.


Why Snakes On A Plane Changing Dates Makes No Sense

So. there is now this hum out there… “If I had Snakes On A Plane getting all this online buzz, I’d jump on it and put it out right away!”
The most obvious reason not to leap as though choices were free, specific to New Line, is called The Real Cancun. New Line got excited about the film after some strong early screenings. They rushed it into theaters, trying to catch a wave, and got slaughtered for their effort… more because they had to overspend on ads because there was no time for a proper publicity campaign. You can say, “But that film sucked” all you like. But for one thing, you have no idea of Snakes is any good. And second, test screening audiences really liked Cancun.
This is the arrogance of the media, on and off the web. If it’s on our radar, it must be on everyone’s radar. Well, it isn’t. As I have always said, the internet geek audience is worth $5 million – $8 million. If you want more than that, you have to reach the rest of the audience. And the trend in youth oriented movies is great success with looooooong lead campaigns and not quick hits.
To go into the summer, May-July, would be idiotic on every level. It’s incredibly expensive to get attention and if people are into Snakes On A Plane, they might also be the audience for, say…. I’m just guessing here… M:I3PoseidonX3NachoLibreClickSupermanPirates2. Those are 7 sure-fire MUST SEES in 10 weeks… all grounded in the same Snakes demographic… most reaching far beyond.
And besides the fact that New Line already is selling an April movie and has a May release on their schedule, ramping up a full campaign while still making changes in post is like throwing money into the garbage and then pulling the can into your living room, next to the drapes, before setting it on fire.
And where is the obvious argument for an August release of Snakes? A $16 million opening and a $58 million domestic gross for Red Eye. If New Line is lucky and good, they can improve on that opening. If they are good at selling and the movie is actually entertaining and they can find a way to get someone with a vagina in the door, they could take that better start and reach a similar 4x multiple.
But most importantly of all… and this speaks to much of what I feel about the media’s rush to push this industry into fulfilling our whims with their hundreds of millions of dollars… the excitement of the film is not going away because some journalists just figured it out. Snakes will be a great media story in July, when the hard push starts. And it will be the change of pace movie after a steady diet of very expensive big action films (which incidentally, is also the strategy on Miami Vice).
When did very smart, very experienced people turn into hyperactive puppies licking the glass as soon as they get a whiff of dinner? As Samuel L. Jackson once said, by way of QT, “Come on, Yolanda! What’s Fonzie like?” “Cool..” What? “Cool.” “Correctamundo! And that’s what we’re gonna be – We’re gonna be cool.”


More Trouble For Traditional Media

It’s just a small thing, but i is illuminating.
This morning, on my return to Los Angeles, the LA Times ran a TV spot touting a 125th Anniversary edition. And what were they selling? 125 years of images of great moments in sports.
What’s wrong with this?
While I am sure the LAT package will be excellent, these are the kinds of events that used to be unique to Traditional Media. How else could the average person get access to decades and decades of cool images and memories?
But now, this kind of thing is endlessly available via the web. Moreover, there is the sense that the LAT is, in this ad, attaching themselves to these events as though the insititution naturally has something to do with them. What the LAT does own… what they are empowered by… are the words of their writers who analyzed those moments.
The notion that Traditional Media still owns the news is over. The new model is choice. Too much choice perhaps. But choice. And that choice is driven, as ever, by the offer of materials better or different than the rest of what has become everybody’s bottomless slush pile.


Klady's Friday Estimates – 3/25/06

Okay… get this… the Friday estimate for Spike Lee


Ring? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Ring!

No, It

Randy Quaid: Futurist Or Fuck Up?

So word hit the street, via a website that Variety, of course, does not credit, that Randy Quaid is suing Focus Features for “tricking him” into taking what is likely scale to do Brokeback Mountain by representing the film as a low-budget indie.
Though the media sucker… uh, reporters reported on the “indies at the Oscars” over and over and over and over and over and over, anyone thinking straight always realized that $15 million – $20 million movies are not indies, no matter what division of a massive conglomerate is releasing them. Now that The Weisnteins are in bed with MPAA signatory MGM, Lionsgate is the only true indie still in this sbudget range. Fox’s The Family Stone cost less than Brokeback… is it more, less or equally indie?
So with the line utterly blurred and the studios long using the “indie arms,” their Dependents, as a negotiating tactic to get names to work for less than their normal price, is Randy Quaid striking a blow for actors’ rights or is he just a guy past his money making prime trying to cash in and shooting himself in the foot while hoping to get a multi-million payday just to go away?
(Maybe someone needs to send him a BBM postcard. And maybe agents or SAG will soon be negotiating a price for this form of now-standard talent exploitation.)


New Look Michael Douglas In Newsweek

And you can vote for the new look


The First Gay Superhero Movie?

Larry Gross writes in MCN
What do you think?


Bits & Pieces

Just some things that may or may not be of interest…
*Warner Indy is waiting to find out from the production team that made March of the Penguins whether there will be a sequel. Apparently, they are going back to the same area where the original was spawned to try to shoot the part of the story where the female penguins leave the male penguins behind with the egg to thoroughly understand what happens then. If there is footage to get, it will be a sequel within 2 years. In the meanwhile, the National Georgraphic kinda-sequel, about a Polar Bear, a Walrus and some other such ice lovers, The White Planet, may not get into the summer action this year after John Lesher took over the project hatched by Vitale & Dinerstein.
*Roger Durling was just extended for another year running the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
*One of the interesting aspects of the Shmuger/Linde hire at Universal is that it marks a directional shift for the studio towards the international, where both men have experience. Yes, they also have a lot of experience on the marketing side and there is an absolute acknowledgement that the marketing minds is a big part of how the movie business works now. But the vision at the studio (where as far as I know, neither man will work in Black Rock as reported in some TradMedia paper last week) is much more Mechanic or Giannopoulos than Dawn Steel.
*Don’t know if you saw Criticker on MCN… I’m not sure I would be willing to spend enough time to give the thing enough info to make it work well, but it is interesting…
*Roger “Make Me Do Right Or Make Me Do Wrong, I’m Your Puppet” Friedman “reported” on Monday that “friends in Memphis” told him that Isaac Hayes didn’t quit South Park and hinted that it was some sort of conspiracy. Does anyone buy that exretia?

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