The Hot Blog Archive for April, 2007

Ebert Speaks!

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On the last day of EbertFest, we got a little Roger Time via the tech dept at University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign
QuickTime | iKlipz | YouTube

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The S&M Of SM3 In Review

How do I dislike thee, Spider-Man 3? Let me count the ways …
Been There, Done That
You Take Yourself So Seriously
Some Ideas Cannot Be Written Off As Noble Failures
Self-Parody Is Franchise Suicide
Coincidence Is One Thing, But …
Basil Exposition Not Only Lives, But He Appears Out Of Nowhere
Thought You Knew What Was Happening? FUCK You, You Don’t!
The Full Spoiler Heavy Review

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Keep Asking

A dance with American Airlines this morning in which one customer service person and then their supervisor gave me one set of rules that conflicted completely with a different customer service person’s advice of last week was followed by by a third person who put all the pieces together and came up with the reasonable answer after 30 minutes of effort on their part reminded me…
The answers you seek come with patience and effort. Luck helps, but even that can be wasted or overcome.
Do not seek the sound of one voice to guide you. Gather many voices in a sincere effort and then trust your own instincts in synthesis.
So, fortune cookies aside… is there enough information out there that you trust and respect to build opinions as strong as you’d like to hold?

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Friday Estimates by Klady

Is there really anything to say?
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Gail Berman As A Political Statement

How is it that after all these years, we keep on getting the same stupid

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Old Folkie

Jim Brown

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Ebertfesten Thursday

Thursday at EbertFest brought The Weather Man, which I saw for the first time here. Seeing it, it was clear that Paramount blew the marketing utterly. But it was equally clear to me that the biggest mistake was that this very smart, very indie screenplay was made by a director who creates images that were too beautiful for the material contained. Of course, with all of these kinds of comments I make, they can be proven wrong by special execution. But all through The Weather Man, I was struck by how distracting the images were, even simple character shots, blowing past the intimacy that was inherent in the script.
I also felt that perhaps Gore Verbinski has seen some of the Swedish comedies, particularly Songs From The Second Floor, which had some of the slick style of this movie while dealing with some similar content. But in spite of some of the absurdism of this screenplay, it’s really an intimate, fairly direct examination of self-awareness.
Thinking about who would have been the best director for this material, Peter Yates came to mind. And part of that was that he was the very wrong director for a great Bill Goldman screenplay, The Year of the Comet, missing the movie it should have been by a mile. But Gore Verbinski would have been a great choice to make that script, as Yates would have been great for The Weather Man.
I didn’t get to attend the great Moolaade, which I saw earlier, but the powerhouse seemed to blow away audience members who dragged themselves out of the theater last evening.
Finally last night was Perfume, a movie that died in the U.S. by way of little marketing, few screens, and a misconceived release date. This is a film that grossed $130 million overseas and $3 million in the United States.
What fascinated me most on this film, which I quite like, is how it has become even more relevant since I saw it last October. The third act speaks rather profoundly to the politics of the world right now as well as the ugliness of mass thought. We are so vulnerable… because we want to be. But like Spielberg, the film definitely suffers for some audiences for lack of irony.
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SPOT THE CELEBRITY AT STEAK & SHAKE
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And we found Sanjiya, who has found a job quickly after being rejected by the American Idol public, perhaps in a career to which he is best suited.

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I Miss Jack

I had a funny relationship with Jack Valenti (who barely knew who I was). I almost always disagreed with his spin on controversial issues, like the ratings. But I always admired his tenacity and skill set. The guy was a perfectly coiffed bulldog. And he protected the film business more aggressively and more successfully than 99.9% of people can begin to imagine.
Ironic that today the MPAA’s CARA board overturned an R rating on The Hip Hop Project, allowing the language to go so the film can reach its target market of kids who need to know there are better options in the world. I really like Dan Glickman, who seems committed to making the MPAA a more adventurous, fair place for the benefit of filmmakers and audiences. But Dan is no Jack. There is no other Jack, really.
He has been missed. He will be missed, especially by any of us who ever got to tussle with the man.

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Summer Preview

I do expect this to be the first $4 billion summer in history, beating the 2004 best ever.
We have never had more than two $300 million in a summer before. I expect three this year.
If my estimates are right, this could be the first summer with six $200 million-plus movies. We have had a few summers with five $200 million-plus movies in a summer before. But again, by my estimates this summer’s Top 10 will gross about 20% more domestically than ever before in the history of summer exhibition… nearly $2.5 billion.
But what will really be interesting is the second wave, not the Big Three. Evan Almighty will be a big family film, more so than Bruce Almighty, which sold itself with T&A jokes. How big can Ratatouille be after Shrek 3 sucks the market dry and it faces Evan, too?
How big will Transformers be? Will any adults go? And how will they do with Harry Potter opening one week later? The same fate that War of the Worlds faced with Fantastic Four smacking it down in weekend two by a 46% margin could happen again.


The rest…

And the chart

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In Champaign

Actually, Roger Ebert would prefer it to be called Urbana-Champaign. He grew up in Urbana, so he has a bit of a bias.
After some flight delays that had me arrive here after 8p last night after starting at 7am in L.A., I missed what apparently was a big parade of media here to see Roger come out. By the time I arrived near the end of opener Gattaca, there he was, in the Laz-E Boy, as promised. And smiling. And greeting wave after wave of well wishers, including family members who still live here in Urbana.
Roger

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Swingin'! (Like From A Noose)

Spider-Man (3), Spider-Man (3),
Screws up just like a sequel can
He

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Again…

Now, Reuters is running stories that there are pirated Spider-Man 3 DVDs on the streets of Beijing before actually playing the DVD (here is the link to the update after they tried to play the thing).
You think they coulda waited? Especially since anyone who hs ever bought a DVD in China knows that many of them are either defective of mislabeled. (Also reminds me of a Dark Water DVD I bought in NY 6 weeks before the Jennifer Connelly movie opened… and bombed. But when I played it, it turned out to the Japanese version with the American artwork.)
DOH!

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"It's mine you hear? Mine ALL MINE Get back in there. Down Down Down! Go Go Go! MINE MINE MINE!!!"

The a-hack of vulgaries is on now, as the big summer movies start landing and like the Oscar season last year, more publications crush to enter the movie gossip landscape, desperate for attention.
Not nearly as desperate as a few of those already in the space, seeing their position as Leaders Of The Hack slowly usurped.
Anyone who was actually paying attention knew last summer that Spider-Man 3 and Pirates 3 were heading where Superman Returns had already landed

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A New Film Movement?

When is it time to demarcate a filmmaking

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Hulking Out

Why do I sometimes smack down other media?
The story of the grey Hulk is a classic.
Collider sits at a Spider-Man 3 table. Avi Arad uses the phrase “new color” in the midst of a long quote about the changes in the next Hulk film.
There is a follow up question about color, which in Hulk history could be grey, and Arad answers, “We

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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