The Hot Blog Archive for September, 2007

Das Vaknifeya

In Eastern Promises, Cronenberg takes on Knight

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Just Making Sure…

After some blog commenters accused me on not writing about movies and only business, I wondered if it was true… after looking at the last month of blog entries, my guilt was relieved.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Before The Devil Knows You

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Docs

Kim Vonyar does a nice job starting down the doc road for the year in Cinematical.
But she misses the most important doc of 2007 by a country mile… Tony Kaye’s best-ever-in-the-category Lake of Fire.
If you think I am exaggerating, go see the movie. It’s no cuddly Moorian tour of abortion clinics with wacky right-wingers out on the lawn, happy to be humiliated by a celebrity.
If you haven

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Klady's Sunday Estimate – Sept 30

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Klady's Friday Estimates

If you are looking for history this weekend, the last weekend of September will find you The Rock in The Rundown ($18.5m start) and Disney releasing The Guardian ($18m start) . Or perhaps you like Remember The Titans ($20.9m) and Open Season ($23.6m) and The Corpse Bride ($19.1m).
Actually, last year it was Open Season vs The Guardian

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Hot Button – You Are What You Emulate

Truly original films are a rare commodity. They always were. But upon passing its hundredth birthday, the film industry is evolving in the way all the other arts have. There are plenty of remakes, but more interestingly, there are now more and more films that involve high quality talent, with high end aspirations, that can be tracked back to earlier film, particularly the early 70s era of independent minded studio magic.
There are two different forms of this phenomenon. The first form is film that flatters past greatness by Evolutionary Imitation. Those include:
Network + Erin Brockovich + Syriana = Michael Clayton
Days of Heaven + Heaven’s Gate + McCabe & Mrs. Miller + Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid + The Long Riders = The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
In the first case, there is story subtext in the first act that is clearly reflective of Network. I completely believe Tony Gilroy when he admits he admires the film and when he says he wasn’t cribbing. In the case of Jesse James, there are a variety of wildly familiar style points that Andrew Dominik has built into his own vision of this not unfamiliar story.
The other form, which I find more interesting, are the Completionist Films, such as:
Prince of The City + Superfly + Hoodlum + The French Connection + Mr. Untouchable = American Gangster
Hotel Rwanda + Shooting Dogs + Shake Hands With The Devil (the doc) = Shake Hands With The Devil

The rest…

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Box Office Hell – Sept 28

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(updated Fri night with EW and BO Prophets)

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How Do You Know A Studio/ Producer/ Filmmaker Is Staining Their Jockey Shorts?

They show their Oscar-chasing art film to Fantastic Fest or Butt-Numb-A-Thon, where they know they control the dispensing of opinion, before they show it in less tightly controlled circumstances….
And sometimes, they even get a sweet kiss from a trade blog

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Maybe Some Bionic Writers?

I watched Bionic Woman tonight… and I have to say… zzzzzzz…
And not the way something like Desperate Housewives just isn’t my taste. This show is trying so hard to be yet another version of Heroes that it is little more than a bunch of mediocre action and tough talk. What makes Heroes work (at least in the first season) was the sense of mystery. You liked the characters and you wanted to know how it all came together. And about half way through the season, it was, like, “Get On With It!” And they did.
This one has the Matrix sequel problem… in the pilot there is already no where to go… the woman gets bionic and already knows how to use all the tools. And so the drama? Bad on one shoulder and Worse on the other?
This show may be the biggest hit out of the box to crash and burn by season’s end.

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Not New, But…

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Who'll Do It?

It occurred to me last night…
The battle between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD is hot and heavy… both companies are willing to spend millions to get studios to join the effort on one side or the other…
The biggest challenge for the marketers is to get people to, finally, commit to buying these machines.
And what group would be an obvious key demographic for the players involved? How about 6000 members of The Academy and the 9000 or so people who are in guilds, groups, and media who also get screeners?
Of course, the majority of these folks can afford to buy machines if they so choose. But getting them/us off the dime is a challenge.
So what if either Sony, on the Blu-Ray side, and Microsoft on the HD side made a play to make sure that those who get 50+ screeners this awards season get them in traditional DVD AND in the High Definition version of their creation?
If I have 20 of the top movies of the year sitting on my shelf in one of these formats, even if I can just pop in the regular DVD, isn’t the temptation to consider a new player increased significantly… especially if I have the hi-def TV, which this demographic has more in larger numbers than most?
It’s the old razors and razor blades concept, except that in this case, the cost of the initial razor is what is prohibitive… and if you can get them to buy the razor at all, there is an incremental value to selling these blades instead of the old one… but the bigger issue is not making a fortune on DVD “razors,” but market share for these players, which is life and death… especially to the Japanese business model.
Of course – and not entirely unfairly – some of you will think I just want a bunch of free High Definition DVDs on my shelf. Guilty.
But had I not recently joined the hi-def game. After a week with a souped up DVR

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Do You Know The Way To Chevalier?

I have tried conventional means to find Wes Anderson’s Hotel Chevalier on iTunes… but nope.
However, this link on Defamer got me there and the same link came back to me when I “Send To A Friend”ed it to myself.
Odd.
The link opens my iTunes program to Home-Movies-Short Films-Fox-Hotel Chevalier… which doesn’t exist if you go, for instance to Home then Movies then Short Films… there is no Fox link available at this time.
Really odd.
Does Fox Searchlight want it to be mysterious and hard to find? Or is it really just meant for the wank sites?

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GREAT News for Hot Blog Fans!!!

(The following came from a promotion house… a few minor edits are italicized)
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HOSTILE: PART II –
UNRATED (HACK)’S CUT

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is gearing up to release the Unrated Director’s Cut of Hostile: Part II which (abuses) Lauren German, Bijou Phillips, and Heather Matarazzo onto DVD and Blu-ray. The “shocking(ly hateful)” sequel will be available to own on both formats as of October 23rd. Of course I could go into more detail as to the insane amount of extras this release boasts (like the Cat O’Nine Tails With Lube In The Handle and the How To book on stalking those teen bitches who won’t give you the time of day in history class), but I figure it would be best just to let you hear it from the (genius auteur’s) mouth himself.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE:
ELI ROTH breaks down the HOSTILE: PART II DVD releases (with utter sincerity/contempt)
OHHH.. and don’t forget to brush up on your Slovakian!

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Agreed

For weeks, said Mr. Ross, NBC producers and executives had declined to comment for his piece. Then, last Wednesday, NBC News president Steve Capus had publicly questioned Mr. Ross

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Gurus O' Gold: The Early Days

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The Full Charts…
Once again, we have launched Gurus o’ Gold for the awards season. This year, there is a bit of a shake up in the line-up, which we are trying to address for those who are not on this chart this season

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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