The Hot Blog Archive for December, 2007

BYO New Year

Happy New Year to all of you.
2007 was full of adventure, mostly for better in my personal camp. I hope it was for all of you too.
May the writer’s strike soon end… may movies be surprising in the best ways… and may we all indulge our passions and our empathy for the passions of others in the year to come.

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No Hi-Def Discs, Thanks

I adore having my Blu-ray and HD players. I have a 1080 set and the image is beautiful, more so than any other delivery, including high-def satellite.
But this NYT story on the ongoing failure of the formats is pretty much on target, with one exception… upscaling DVD players, which has become one of the top threats to the new formats. No one wants to replace their collection of DVDs. And while some discs don’t upscale so well – I really don’t know what makes the difference, but it is noticeable – once you see how most of your discs can, the need to own a Blu-ray or HD player is diminished.
Another interesting point is that Blu-ray owners are buying more discs than HD buyers. I have had the good fortune of two of the Blu-ray driven companies putting me on their publicity lists. And I haven’t really bothered the others about it. But I bought the HD player and have been buying discs in both formats, trying to figure this all out for myself. And it seems, as a consumer, that there are a lot more titles that are exclusively Blu-ray than exclusively HD. This is changing with Paramount content. But there was a 3-for-2 HD deal at a retailer recently and I had a hard time picking three films in the format that I really wanted. (I went ahead and bought Boorman’s Excalibur by itself on Amazon for almost the same price after accounting for no sales tax and free shipping.)
Also, there is the problem that if you are into Blu-ray or HD, you need to have players on all your HD TVs if you are buying only those formats. (Nor can you bring it to a friend’s home, even if they have an HDTV but no player.) I am still a one-HDTV household, so watching a DVD in the bedroom or guestroom in hi-def is not an option at all. I’ll buy a second screen eventually… and when I do, the additional costs of a HD DVR, an additional hard drive to make it capable of holding hundreds of hours of hi-def programming and not just 30, the added program fees to DirecTV, and at least one hi-def player will probably cost more than the 42″ LCD or plasma TV… and that is assuming that I won’t want to bother with surround sound.
I love the formats and especially some of the stuff that artists have done, pushing the technoology. But it is harder and harder to foresee a future that will not be driven by hi-def coming into homes by cable, satellite and, for a bit, internet. As most of you might have noticed, WalMart quietly got out of the download business this last week.
The key to the entertainment is not quality… it is, as it always was, delivery.

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The Writers Strike Back

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Sunday Estimates by Klady – Dec 30

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Friday Estimates by Klady – 12/29

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Holiday & Award Film Spoiler Thread

A couple of funky little things occured to me in recent days… neither is spoiler material, but it made me think that we should have a place to discuss all these films.
First, I finally saw Hellboy 2 trailer on DVD instead of Quicktime and the difference is of note, considering how visually dark the footage is. Much better on a bigger screen. Also, Del Toro offers an homage to John Landis in the trailer footage. Have you noticed?
Second, watching Sweeney Todd, which finally arrived on DVD (it’s been landing all over town and beyond since last Friday), I was reminded that one of Depp’s last beats in the film the film – which I will not mention in any detail here – but which you can in comments, where SPOILERS will be the order of the day – shares an idea with a Daniel Day Lewis moment in Gangs of New York… more so in the earlier cut. And now, they are duking it out for awards.
If you haven’t caught it – THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS SECTION IS FOR SPOILERS!!!
Since it’s not just one movie, please NAME THE FILM at the top of your comment, skip a line, and then start commenting. I know it’s a hassle, but others will appreciate it.
So…
“HAIRSPRAY
When Edna Turnblad has sex with Velma Van Tussle…”
And so on…

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Top Ten List at 155 – Pre-Publication Preview

(This entry was corrected at 2:40p on Saturday… more explanation below.)
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The Top 20, and particularly the Top 10, is getting pretty well cemented in.
Sweeney Todd and Michael Clayton keep going back and forth in the 9 and 10 spots. Juno keeps moving up. The Lives of Others could be knocked out of the 20 by The Savages, which is just a half-point behind. (Lives had 74 points last year. If added, the total would put the film in the current Top 15.)
No Country For Old Men no longer has a twice-the-next-highest-point-and-list-total status

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The WGA On The Letterman Deal

To Our Fellow Members,
We are writing to let you know that have reached a contract with David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants production company that puts his show and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson back on the air with Guild writers. This agreement is a positive step forward in our effort to reach an industry-wide contract. While we know that these deals put only a small number of writers back to work, three strategic imperatives have led us to conclude that this deal, and similar potential deals, are beneficial to our overall negotiating efforts.
First, the AMPTP has not yet been a productive avenue for an agreement. As a result, we are seeking deals with individual signatories. The Worldwide Pants deal is the first. We hope it will encourage other companies, especially large employers, to seek and reach agreements with us. Companies who have a WGA deal and Guild writers will have a clear advantage. Companies that do not will increasingly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Indeed, such a disadvantage could cost competing networks tens of millions in refunds to advertisers.
Second, this is a full and binding agreement. Worldwide Pants is agreeing to the full MBA, including the new media proposals we have been unable to make progress on at the big bargaining table. This demonstrates the integrity and affordability of our proposals. There are no shortcuts in this deal. Worldwide Pants has accepted the very same proposals that the Guild was prepared to present to the media conglomerates when they walked out of negotiations on December 7.
Finally, while our preference is an industry-wide deal, we will take partial steps if those will lead to the complete deal. We regret that all of us cannot yet return to work. We especially regret that other late night writers cannot return to work along with the Worldwide Pants employees. But the conclusion of your leadership is that getting some writers back to work under the Guild

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BYOB Weekend

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Writers On A Plane

Bill Carter breaks the news… WGA will give a waiver to Worldwide Pants – and whether they like it or not – Viacom/CBS to employ WGA writers.
If this was a response to the growing crowd of people arguing that the strike will go well into the summer or the float of same on Nikki Finke’s gossip blog, it may go down as one of the worst moves ever by a union.
We are now beginning to see a theme from union leadership of picking favorites in every fight. Yes to Time-Warner

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Box Office Hell – Pre-New Years

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Holiday BYOB

Wed 12 noon – This thread has, apparently, turned into a discussion of what movie-related stuff people got for the holiday… some electronics… some DVDs… some with High School Musical stuck in the sleeve…

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The Night After Christmas

‘Twas the night after Christmas’, when all through the town,
Not a writer was writing, not even scabs

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Strike!

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Odd Promo For TWBB National Sneak


Looks viral… comes from our friends at Par Vantage… interesting…

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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