The Hot Blog Archive for November, 2017

BYOB – That Time Of Week Again

moneyScreen Shot 2017-11-29 at 4.22.34 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-29 at 4.22.11 PMSo… Anything besides these guys happening in The News?

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Weekend Estimate by Coco Clady

Weekemd Estimates 2017-11-26 at 10.51.58 AM

For those who aren’t  going back to yesterday’s comments, I made a mistake. Disney will not be up domestically this year. They will be down about $300 million… with three fewer movies. Still, everything else I wrote stands. And the principle of what I wrote stands. The media is in hysterical frenzy, anxious to move on from theatrical, with almost no effort at all to understand what that would mean to films, even on a purely financial level. I remind again… theatrical is the #1 revenue stream for films… not streaming… not VOD… not pay-TV… and certainly not Blu-ray and DVD.

Coco‘s open is hammocked in between November Disney animated releases Wreck-It-Ralph and Tangled. $200 million will the the domestic target.

No other wide openings and not much to say about holdovers,

Call Me By Your Name has, by estimate, failed to crack $100k per-screen after a $40k per-screeen start on Friday. Still, nothing to cry about… still the top per-screen of 2017 to date.

Darkest Hour‘s $43,650 per-screen estimate on four is good, in the area of Traffic and Black Hawk Down. As a movie for the older audience, it may take some time (and some awards for Oldman) for it to get rolling.

Lady Bird and Three Billboards are cruising nicely.

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Friday Estimates by Gobbler Len

Friday Estimates 2017-11-25 at 9.44.00 AM

We’re about $400 million behind the best-ever year-to-date gross… just under 4%. That’s one big domestic hit or two moderate big studio hits from even.

Paramount alone will be more than $300 million short of last year at the domestic box office.

Warner Bros. and Universal will all be up at the domestic box office this year.

(*Ed Note: Corrected 11/26. Disney will not top isn’t 2016 domestic gross.  Last year, the studio did $3 billion will 11 titles. This year, it should end up around $2.7 million with 8 titles.)

Last December was the second biggest December ever, after 2015’s biggest December ever. December this year will rely not only on another numbered Star Wars movie, but Ferdinand, Jumanji and Pitch Perfect 3. But it will likely be a Top 3 December again this year.

The media delusion that the theatrical sky is falling, fueled by execs who aren’t finding a way to sell under-quality movies this year, has to break. Anything less than a half-billion change in box office from year-to-year is not a cultural trend, but something that can be made up by or reduced by a single movie or two.

That said, Coco is a weak opening for Pixar and Disney, which cultivated the November holiday slot remarkably well in recent years via the reborn Walt Disney Animation Studios, which almost exclusively launched films in November. Coco  at much the same strength as Tangled.

Justice League is underperforming under the analysis of WB throwing the entire DC muscle at it and coming up well short of Wonder Woman. But is it a disaster, out of context? Depends on foreign. It may be okay. Warner needs to reboot the entire thing yet again. So there is a problem there that needs fixing. Obviously. Warner clearly knows this too… they just don’t know what to do.

Wonder is a shocker. It has a legit shot at $100 million domestic and it would be Julia Roberts’ first $100 million domestic grosser as lead since Erin Brockovich in 2000. Stephen Chbosky is having an epic year, having worked on Beauty & The Beast as well. In spite of being a white make, Chbosky should have studios chasing him for a big movie with feeling, and surely are… I’m just not paying attention to that stuff these days.

Thor: Ragnarok is running $70 million ahead of Doctor Strange domestically and is about even with Spider-Man: Homecoming after 22 days, with $800 million worldwide a sure bet. Universal is insane for not making a deal with Marvel for a Hulk standalone. That would be a billion-dollar movie. 50% of the profits on a billion is a lot more than 100% of the profits on a marginal grosser.

Murder on the Orient Express may suck, but it’s going to be a moneymaker for Fox.

Is this the year that studios get over the silly idea of releasing Christmas-themed movies in early November? Regardless of what you think of the films, A Bad Moms Christmas and Daddy’s Home 2 each cost themselves tens of million by coming out early in November. Daddy did almost $100 million international. Will it do anything this time? Paramount has to hope so.

It’s good news on the awards release front… except for Roman J. Israel, Esq. I don’t know what is going on at Sony, but they have released 14 wide-release movies in the last year and only three have opened to $20 million or more: Spider-Man: Homecoming, Baby Driver, and The Emoji Movie. Denzel Washington hasn’t failed to go wide with a movie to at least $20 million since The Great Debaters in 2007 and Fences last year. But Fences opened to just under $7 million on Christmas weekend and had $33 million in the bank by the end of the holiday. Roman J. doesn’t have a holiday to build with: they have one of the weakest weekends of the year ahead. The movie deserves a bigger audience than this, but Sony hasn’t found a hook, aside from Denzel’s changing looks and some snappy lines. People may have been unhappy with the dark places the film goes, but it could have opened stronger playing up Denzel as the weird underdog hero… heavy on “hero.” As is, Roman J. will likely be crushed by the December wave, before it gets to $33 million or the $58 million that Paramount squeezed out of the “unsellable” period drama, Fences.

On to better news…

Call Me By Your Name will be the top per-screen grosser of the year by the end of the weekend, pushing past Lady Bird‘s $91,109 per three weekends ago. This launch is ahead of Moonlight and Birdman and behind American Hustle and Moonrise Kingdom. This suggests that the film is close to a sure bet to be Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, which will be an achievement.

Darkest Hour also launched strong on four, though not nearly as powerfully. Expect that the demographic analysis will find an older audience that takes a few weeks to show up. Still, a solid start.

And Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri expanded well again, outpacing Searchlight’s Brooklyn while on fewer screens. December is the most dangerous month for this film, before Oscar shows its hand. But across-the-board support from awards and critics groups for the movie, Frances McDormand, and Sam Rockwell, could propel it through the danger zone and up over $25 million before the end of the holiday run. Then the Oscar nominations can propel it further.

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Thankful 2017

I am thankful for 33 years making a living in and around theater, television, and film, for 20 years as an internet columnist, and for 15 years of Movie City News. It’s been a privilege.

I am grateful for every day that passes, knowing that it is one less day that my country will have the lowest caricature of The American in the nation’s highest office.

I am grateful for the artists who talk to me for extended periods, their representatives who encourage and make time for it, and all of the people who facilitate my work.

I thank Mrs. McDonagh, who raised two rather brilliant sons who have found so many interesting ways of examining the human condition.

Thank a deity for Greta Gerwig and the undeniable light that she emits. I never know what to expect from her, except honesty.

I thank the young hustlers of this industry, like The Safdie Bros, who work their asses off and stay open to what comes and just keep getting better.

Thanks to Steven Spielberg for letting Gary Oldman out of movie jail so we can enjoy his mastery of the craft fully.

I’m thankful for my family, from the youngest (little Avi) to the eldest (that would be my mom, amazingly). But especially my wife and soon-to-be 8-year-old son.

I thank Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan and Asia Argento and Annabella Sciorra for changing the world by having the strength to speak out. It is now incumbent on the rest of us to build a future that makes silence about abuse for fear of retribution a thing of the past.

Thank the journalism gods for Kim Masters walking the walk. And jeers to The Hollywood Reporter for trying to claim the high road after refusing to run Kim’s first story on Roy Price and Amazon.

Thanks to Jeff Bezos for revitalizing the Washington Post and not getting in the way of a lot of masterful journalists getting it done when the press needs to express its power every single day as the fascists in the White House seek to trick the world.

New York Times, I thank you for being yourself, flaws and all.

I thank all the Republicans who see behind the curtain and have refused to stand with a wannabe monster.

Thanks to all the entertainment reporters who take this profession seriously, even if you are working for idiots at various levels of various publications. We will not always live and die by clickbait.

I am more thankful than I have ever been for people who really listen, for people who really want to speak truth, and for anyone who aspires to the same.

I don’t know of it’s time or a fluke or what, but I am thankful that there are more people for whom I feel a genuine affection in the awards game this season than ever before.

I thank anyone who has taken the time to read this, anyone who watches DP/30, anyone who survives my torrent of tweets or otherwise puts up with me spouting my opinion.

I thank Frances McDormand.

I thank everyone at the Farmers Market table, even as we lose members at too fast a clip, Charlie Bragg and Bob Stolfi heading off this year as another member had a baby with his wife this summer. Hanging out can be hard work.

I am thankful to everyone who helped me get here, whether Scot Safon at (then) TNT. or Laura Rooney at roughcut and then co-founding Movie City News. or David Dinerstein who asked me to do online video. or the late great Roger Ebert who did so much to promote my work early on. There are so many more. I don’t know what MCN would do without the efforts of Ray Pride, day in and day out.

Have I mentioned Allison Janney, Saoirse Ronan, Ben Mendelsohn, Beanie Feldman, Max Minghella, Joseph Cedar, Zoe Kazan, Sam Rockwell, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Guillermo, Andrew Garfield, Ai Wei Wei and Brett Morgan? Asking for a thankful friend.

Thanks to Jeremy Glenn, whose decency and skill should have him running physical production at a major studio sometime soon.

Thanks to everyone I forgot to thank. You know who you are.

And thanks to all of you. You are the wind beneath my… well, you are important to me.

There is a good chance that I won’t be writing a thanks column next year. We’ll see how things go. The world changes. I should change too. Change is good. Not for change’s sake, but to keep growing.

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Weekend Estimates by Justice Served Soft Klady

Weekend Estimates 2017-11-19 10AM

The pathetic opening for Justice League is as simple as, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you. Fool me three times? No, thanks.”

Warner Bros.’ effort to make the great fortunes that comic book movies could offer with the DC brand has been a disaster with intermittent bouts of mastery. Donner, Burton and Nolan are the masters. The studio learned the lesson that a strong, clear voice was important in building a solid franchise run. Richard Lester split Superman II with Donner and they all got lucky…. but the Donner vision would never have delivered a disaster like Superman III. Schumacher took Burton’s vision too far and crashed the franchise. Nolan came in to WB and took Bryan Singer’s X-Men model and topped it.

Then Jeff Robinov, who had overcommitted to Zack Snyder for three straight money-losing films before handing him the keys to the franchise the studio was counting on becoming the foundation of the entire studio as Harry Potter ended. The instinct to hand the keys to a single artist with a clear vision was the right one. But they picked the wrong artist.

Somehow, they were smart enough to stop making Bryan Singer Superman movies after one. And Green Lantern got the single shot. But Snyder got three.

And now, it’s over.

Warner Bros probably won’t lose money on Justice League. But they will come close.

They probably were hoping that they could convert inside of one movie from Snyder to Whedon with the same success as Donner to Lester. But instead, they got schizophrenia. And they got it so strongly that it came across in the marketing.

If I were Warners, I would put Superman and Batman on ice for two or three years and build a base. Keep the budgets tight. Build character over CG extravaganza… which leads to the next Wonder Woman. Do the Flash movie with Stephen Chbosky and Ezra Miller. If there is a good story for Cyborg, find it. Make the Batgirl movie. Try Catwoman again with a fresh take. And I guess, yeah… if you have a young, fresh take on Batman or Superman, for a price, do it.

I still want to see the The Dark Knight Returns done the way Frank Miller did it… bitter old guys. Or find the kind of director who would pair Gyllenhaal and Phoenix as Superman and Batman.

Just hire Lord & Miller and let them do whatever the hell they want inside the DC Universe. Hand Sofia Coppola or Greta Gerwig whatever character they want to make an intimate piece about being a superhero. Let’s see what the Safdie Bros can do with a villain on a $10 million budget. Let’s see Soderbergh’s $50 million Justice League.

In other words, shake it up. The characters will maintain their intrinsic value. Let DC be cool… for a minute.

DC remains the most squandered asset in all of moviedom. And Lucasfilm just tied up Rian Johnson for the next 5 years. AT&T is coming. Let it roll.

In other news, Wonder opened really nicely. Look at the Top 20 and except for third weekend of Bad Moms 2, find me a movie on more than 300 screens that women might want to see in large numbers. That would be Wonder.

Speaking of screen count… there are only eight films on 1000+ screens this weekend. Last year, on “this” weekend, 13. Overall the studio movie count hasn’t change much this year.

Disney -3 11 to 8
Fox +2 12 to 14
WB +1 16 to 17
Sony +3 19 to 22
Par -4 15 to 11
U -2 16 to 14

But release dates are in need of deep analysis. The August abandonment and the glut on too many weekends is of great interest. There are two limited releases in the Top 9 this weekend. They are two success stories of different colors. Lady Bird expanded to 238 and stayed over $10k per screen. A24 is pushing it out faster than Moonlight, and to bigger numbers as well. We’re a long way from the domestic total, but I’d like Lady Bird to get past $30 million before Oscar nominations and to crack $45 million if Greta Gerwig gets a directing nomination.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri did similar numbers to the second weekend of Lady Bird, but on more screens. Ironically, it was Searchlight that made Saoirse Ronan more marketable with Brooklyn and they now have a challenge with the brilliant 3 Billboards, which has great actors who have limited box office pull. A24 has to wait for the Saturday after Thanksgiving to start mining the benefits of Saoirse hosting Saturday Night Live. Her not being this last weekend’s host probably cost $3 million or more at the Thanksgiving weekend box office. But I have a feeling they will make up for it.

Roman J Israel, Esq did nothing to help itself with a four-screen release this weekend. 5000 or 6000 people saw the film. Meaningless sample. Paramount did this with Fences last year and did almost exactly double the gross. They didn’t need it either. But in their case, it was the weekend before Christmas and they probably would have had a hard time getting 2000+ screens they wanted with the Rogue One opening.

Roughly 500 people saw Mudbound in a theater.

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Friday Estimates by Waiting For Supe-ot Klady

Friday Estimates 2017-11-18 at 8.33.42 AM

(Did anyone see the earlier version of this post before it disappeared?)

Of 54 movies that have had a Friday opening of $38 million or more, only 4 failed to crack $100 million for the 3-day… 2 Fast/Furious films (#6 & #8), a Potter (Azkaban), and the most recent Godzilla.

So why are outlets projecting that Justice League will come up short of $100 million?

My guess? Because they were told to by Warner Bros.

It is possible that Justice League will, indeed, come up short for the weekend. Telling writers that it will be under that wire softens the blow if it happens. But more so, if the movie does pass $100 million, the idea has been in place that $100 million is a positive mark for the film… a surprise from Friday to Sunday morning. Writers will spin themselves.

Of course, underlying this is the fact that Justice League is a disaster for Warner Bros. opening to just over $100 million, as opposed to $130 million-plus. A Wonder Woman opening for the movie where the whole thing is meant to come together is a failure.

And WB has my sympathy as I watched their marketers struggle for months with signalling to audiences that Superman would be in the movie while trying not to tell audiences openly that Superman would be in the movie. It is a reminder, long before marketing, that Zack Snyder is an arrogant fool as a producer and that whoever greenlit the idea of killing Superman and then pretending he wasn’t in Justice League while DC was still struggling to find its commercial footing should probably be fired.

Regardless, the manipulation of box-office writers is a process of managing expectations for a group that isn’t all that interested in thinking for themselves. Problem isthat these ideas get repeated to the public ad nauseum with almost no detail. And with weekend box office, who really cares? Right?

But the problem is bigger than box office. Studios forget that every time they manipulate the truth for a small gain in marketing, they are feeding a monster that will come back to haunt them later. Box office has become a game. But so have reviews. Every time a quote whore gets quoted, studios are devaluing criticism and legitimizing the simplistic aggregation of Rotten Tomatoes. Don’t misunderstand me… nothing wrong with Rotten Tomatoes. It was a great idea and it offers a service that can be used in a positive way. But it can also be abused. And lately, studios have felt threatened by that RT score. That leads to efforts to manipulate the RT score… which is where madness lies.

Harmless lies or harmless thoughtlessness is not harmless.

Being moorless when things are bad gives you room to maneuver. Being moorless when things are good makes your success seem smaller than it is. Either way, choosing to work the fringes of truth does not actually empower studios. It is the corn syrup of Hollywood.

Wonder is the biggest opener for Lionsgate, aside from the Saban-controlled Power Rangers output deal, since Madea Boo! in October 2016. And I expect it will be leggier than anyone imagined because of a dearth of product aimed at female audiences and pre-college-age kids.

Expansions for Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri went well.

No idea what Sony was thinking with the four-screen run of Roman Israel, Esq… but it didn’t work. It worked for Fences last year… but Fences is a whole different kettle of fish.

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BYOHeroes: Justice League Spoilers Welcome Here

Philtrum
[“Uncanny philtrum” via Mark Harris/Twitter.]

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Erasing Spacey

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BYOGG

Here come the Globes: The august members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association says Get Out is a comedy.

What’s going to be the next strange moment in the unfolding awards season?

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Weekend Estimates

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Friday Estimates

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Kristen Stewart’s COME SWIM (17’58”) From Refinery 29

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BYOB: It’s Not Just For Harvey Anymore

byob ck moore

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Rian Johnson Gets His Own Trilogy

Good, right?

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Fresh Ideas In Hollywood? Start With Executives!

I was in the middle of writing a piece about the studio landscape this week and BOOM!, down goes Megan Colligan.

I expect that she leapt before she got whacked. Not shocking. New chiefs tend to clear the decks and bring in people who were part of the success that got them the job. Plus, Colligan was stuck with Brad Grey’s decade of horrible decisions, reaping the benefit of Grey overspending on Paramount Vantage, over-delivering on movies that didn’t deserve so much attention but which got it because there was so little on the slate, and smashing into walls trying sell Shinola, pretending all the time that it wasn’t really shit. Rise and fall… and she will rise again soon enough.

So. For new chief Jim Gianopulos, the marketer with whom he had great success would be…

Anyone? Anyone?

And there is the problem.

Who is in the top slot overseeing film at the six majors?

Tom Rothman, Jim Gianopulos, Stacey Snider, Alan Horn, Donna Langley and Kevin Tsujihara.

Donna Langley has survived many sales and nukes at Universal and has been there a long time. Kevin Tsujihara is the newbie, has been on shaky ground from Day One and It isn’t enough to change that, and is about to face a new owner.

And then, you have the history of leadership in the film business going back over 20 years still running four of the majors.

And when there might be an open slot, who do the owners cling to?

Oren Aviv, Peter Chernin, Dick Cook, Brad Grey, Sherry Lansing, Bill Mechanic, Barry Meyer, Amy Pascal.

New Business, Mogul-ing, Retired, Dead, Retired, Producing, Retired, Producing.

Who is the one person who hasn’t run a big show that people are still obsessed with? Elizabeth Gabler… because she keeps saying, “no.”

Scott Stuber is at Netflix. Mary Parent is at Legendary (for now). Where did Donald Tang go when he wanted to reboot Open Road? Rob Friedman.  And where did Friedman go for a head of marketing? His old young EVP from Summit, Jack Pan.

In the immortal words of The Joker, “This town needs an enema.”

With due respect to an excellent career by Jim G, he’s never had success in the top job as a solo act, so why assume that he will be able to fix all that is wrong with Paramount? Remember, they are cash poor and every time some company goes on an asset search, it’s “thumbs down” on the Paramount/Viacom B asset base. Paramount has a wonderful history, but a lot of their assets don’t seem ready to convert to The Now. Library is excellent, but probably the fourth or fifth best out there. The cable networks are tired. TV is not the powerhouse it once was. And Jim G’s boss wants to spin straw into gold. Is Jim G going to take a big swing, chancing a strike out?

Wyck Godfrey: The Hire says, “No.” It says that Paramount is going to be chasing what didn’t work out for Jim G at Fox. This is not an indictment of Wyck Godfrey. He is a producer of significance. But will his Paramount slate ever hit anything better than a double? Can a studio thrive on that?

We are at the very beginning of Fox demonstrating Stacey Snider’s voice. The biggest thing she can bring is stability and a safer work environment (which the Murdochs will have to support… and should).

Horn is overseeing the multi-pronged Disney IP machine. And the new chatter about Disney buying Fox would put Stacey Snider in place to fill Alan Horn’s space on retirement, which would kinda be perfect for another decade-plus.

Warner Bros is a troubled studio, even with a run of success in the last few months. Some people on top are incredibly talented, but internal politics have overwhelmed any vision for years now and it shows. And now, the shadow of AT&T is hanging over what, just a decade ago, was the Big Movie capital of Hollywood that also played well to the middle movie range of comedies and dramas… with much of the same executive talent making that happen.

I was not a huge Jeff Robinov fan, but at least he knew where he wanted to go.

Tom Rothman is in “prove it” space at Sony and Jumani better kill. I am not telling you anything that everyone doesn’t know… though some assumed his career dead months ago. Rothman has a vision. Lots of people don’t like his vision. But he has a real track record and he hasn’t tended to lose a lot of money. But he has over this last year… so we will see.

And Universal is pretty much golden about now. The internal ranks, with as much change has happened, have been remarkably stable through five ownership changes. Comcast isn’t going anywhere. The studio plays to all fields. Marketing is like a rock (not without flaws, but solid). And aside from the now-stalled monsters relaunch, they have avoided disaster for a number of years now. And it seems that the bosses at Comcast are happy with what they own.

With Colligan’s exit, the 3/3 balance of male/female marketing chiefs is in play. Strauss and Goldstine aren’t going anywhere. Pam Levine is freshly set at Fox. Blair Rich is good at WB for now… always a potential “it was marketing” target if things go flat again over there. And Josh Greenstein lasts if Rothman lasts… JUMANJI!

Who is left for Jim G?

Tony Sella? Tomas Jegeus? Paul Hanneman?

It’s funny. Because every once in a while, Hollywood reaches for something new. And you get MT Carney… an everyone goes back into the same hot tub for a decade or so.

And that is why change is hard. It’ is hard. It’s risky. And this industry loves playing the same record over and over and over again.

Meanwhile, the media is OBSESSED with change. Change is good. Not change is bad. To the point of dementia.

Somewhere in the middle lies sanity.

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The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Yes, yes, yes. Now I am also the producer on Jean-Luc’s films, so I need to raise the money. Yes, there are two projects in preparation with the pretext of virtual reality. We are beginning with two approaches: we can either do or undo VR. Maybe we will undo it more than we do VR, because thinking about VR leads to the opposite of VR. Is there concrete imagination in virtual reality? For me, cinema is concrete imagination because it’s made with the real and uses it. VR, virtual reality, is totally the opposite of that, but it might be interesting to use this and then to destroy it. No, we’ll see, we’ll see. First, it’s just an idea of a beginning. There is a forest to cross, and we are just at the beginning of the forest. The first step is development. As they say in business, first there is development and research. We have to develop somehow an idea for the film; I won’t say a script, but to see what we can do with this system, and what we can undo with this system.”
~ Fabrice Aragno On Godard’s Next Projects

“Why put it in a box? This is the number one problem I have—by the way it’s a fair question, I’m not saying that—with this kind of festival situation is that there’s always this temptation to classify the movie immediately and if you look at it—and I’ve tried to warn my fellow jurors of this—directors and movie critics are the worst people to judge movies! Directors are always thinking, “I could do that.” Critics are always saying, “This part of the movie is like the 1947 version and this part…” And it’s like, “Fuck! Just watch the movie and try and absorb it and not compare it to some other fucking movie and put it in a box!” So I think the answer’s both and maybe neither, I don’t know. That’s for you to see and criticize me for or not.”
~ James Gray