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The Hot Blog Archive for November, 2008

Gurus o Gold – Darkhorses

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The full charts…

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BYOBox Office

Not at the real computer, so you will have to get numbers on front page, but here is some space to discuss…

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Bagger Goes (A Little) Native

My favorite person to read during Oscar season is David Carr. Too tired of it all to press his nose up against the glass, he sees the dirt in the corner of the panes and keeps it all in perspective.
And then, his first two Hollywood missives of the season

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You Have A $150 Million Movie… Now What?

Only eight movies before Twilight have cracked $100 million domestic from distributors that were not studio-affiliated. And the only company in that group that are still seriously in the distribution business is Lionsgate. And they got their one movie in 9-figures from Miramax, a Disney division. Avco, Newmarket, Orion, USA

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Friday Estimates by Klady

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Tracking aside, why would anyone be surprised by the opening of Four Christmases? Last year, Fred Claus got the worst possible reviews on the planet and with Vince Vaughn and the brilliant but not-box-office Paul Giamatti, and opened to $18 million. But even more interesting, This Christmas opened to a $26 million 5-day over Thanksgiving last year. The year before, Deck The Halls (does anyone even remember that film existed?) opened to $12 million. In ’04, the widely slammed Christmas with The Kranks opened to $22 million.
And look at the marketplace. If you want to go to a light comedy that is not for children, what are your options? This is the only movie out there. And then, add on the interest in Christmas movies. And then add Reese Witherspoon to Vince Vaughn. (I would say that WB learned the lesson last year that keeping Rachel Weisz out of Fred ads was a mistake… but 1) they didn’t make this film, and 2) there was no way that Reese Witherspoon, clearly a bigger rom-com draw than Vaughn, wasn’t going to be front & center here.)
Similarly, on the down side, who is so very shocked about Australia?
I mean, you know that the studio is not thrilled. If the film opened two weeks ago, as originally scheduled, this is the kind of weekend they would be expecting a Weekend Three for this film, not opening. But that said

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DP/30 – Kristin Scott Thomas


The star of I’ve Loved You So Long

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DP/30 – Michelle Williams


The star of Wendy & Lucy

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A Ben Button Quickie

I want to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button again before really digging into it. (Idiots who think that “yay” or “nay” is the same as a review deserve the shallow level of thought they embody.)
That said, what is intensely striking about the film, for me, besides the beautiful imagery and fine performances is that there is virtually no conflict in the entire film.
And I think that is what Fincher is chasing these days, artistically. Zodiac, which had more conflict, was certainly trying for a similarly minimalist aesthetic.
It is not an easy task… to make an epic drama with no central or even much secondary conflict. And I am not really sure whether he made it or not.
What I do know is that Slumdog Millionaire – still anticipating Gran Torino and Seven Pounds – is clearly the frontrunner in the Oscar race right now. In this season of mixed feelings, Ben Button is most likely good enough/big enough to be nominated… but is unlikely to win anything in the top categories.
If there is an Ambiguity Bowl, there will be a fight between Button and Rev Road for a Best Picture nomination, while clearer players like Slumdog, Milk, and Frost/Nixon seem much easier to build constituencies for.
And by the way… this film is NOT Forrest Gump in any real way. Everything that made Gump what it was, whether critics or memory likes it or not, is not in evidence here. And that is schmaltz and a character in the lead who while passive is actually an unstoppable forward moving object who pushes through a lot of real obstacles, which Ben Button never has to do in this film.
More next week, after another look

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Review – The Trouble With AUSTRALIA

I love Luhrmann.
I do. I think he is one of those directors who has incredibly good taste, loves to walk on the tightrope without a net (his logo at the top of Australia includes the line

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Documentary Short List

I was away when the list of 15 was released by The Academy

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Thankful '08

It has been a year of much turmoil in this country and in both industries of filmed entertainment and journalism. So much so that a list of my film pleasure thanks seems insanely indulgent. And unfortunately, in this year, far too limited. But it has been a tradition for a long time and one that gives me some perspective and no small amount of pleasure. And so

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BYOB – Return to L.A. (again)

I’ll be out of circulation for the next 20 hours or so… everyone play nice… have some conversations that are smarter than The Hot Blog deserves!

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Raddon Resigns

I don’t have the time to get into this in any detail, as I am about to catch a plane. And to quickly throw something up would be unfair. But I wanted to leave a space where people can discuss it if they like. And here it is…

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The Two Big Take Homes Of IDFA

The films here in Amsterdam have been quite good. I am sad to be headed home before seeing more of them

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Quickie on Hancock Blu

When the disc arrived, promising two versions (and a free digital download), I threw it in the PS3 immediately and took a look.
Yes, the infamous sex scene is in the

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“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

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