The Hot Blog Archive for August, 2019

BYOAutumn Movies

red leaf

89 Comments »

“Raise A Glass To Peter” Fonda

Peter Fonda

8 Comments »

BYO Break In Summer Dog Day Dog Movies

46 Comments »

BYO Anima: Trailering HIDDEN LIFE

1. The trailer is cut to suggest that the historical moment is not then, but now.

2. Those pull-quotes are…

3. Jörg Widmer.

11 Comments »

BYO Ides of August

Pendleton wildfire

54 Comments »

2 Key Issues From Disney’s Q3 Fiscal Announcement

Neither has anything to do with their making or not making financial projections.

1. The only thing really left from the 20th Century Fox studio that was operating for 84 years as a major is Fox Searchlight.

Aside from the indie arm, basically Disney purchased a big library (including IP rights), some cable positions, and a controlling position in Hulu. Yes, they have kept some of the Fox people and fired their Disney counterparts instead. Yes, Emma Watts is of value. And yes, they recover some IP segments they wanted (already noted).

But basically, they have Icahn-ed the shit out of Fox.

And the DOJ didn’t blink an eye. A major studio disappeared… and all we got was this lousy feeling of nostalgia.

2. Disney just slowed down the transition to streaming. A lot.

What went unsaid in today’s quarterly is that the integration of Fox into the digital future of Disney, which is the primary reason Disney moved on the Century City studio, is not going to happen in a hurry. There was an offering of Hulu pricing, but no real content pitch. The next quarterly will coincide with the launch of Disney+. No doubt, when Hulu get serious, it will be part of a price expansion by the company.

The studio dropped the ad-supported version of Hulu to $5.99, down $2 a month, in February of this year. Their announced price for Disney+ is $6.99. So, essentially, you get ESPN+ (normally $4.99 a la carte) for just 1 penny in the bundle announced today.

Why?

Because they are pushing for market share, not for as much revenue as possible, at this time.

Netflix is $8.99, $12.99 or $15.99. So in 2 of 3 situations, the full Disney package is the same cost or less than Netflix.

Netflix should have raised prices, but they also got pushed by Disney, as the “normal cost of streamers” will now be set at $13 for everyone. So expect WarnerMedia to follow suit and lower the cost of their streaming package from the previously announced $16-$17 a month.

But also expect the WarnerMedia offering to be less good at the lower price.

Comcast set their number at $12. Expect it to move to $12.99.

Bur back to Disney…

All of this suggests a strategy that is about withholding a good amount of content, looking to add clear value as these prices rise. And this will become the strategy that everyone starts following, at least for a while.

That means that Hulu will not be changing dramatically when Disney+ launches in November. (Dear Lord, I hope the change the interface.) I’m sure there will be some titles from the Fox library to spruce things up. But the library is more than 4500 titles deep. There is no question that there is a strong demand from film lovers (and some lovers of film junk) for most of that library. Some is tied up past this November in different ways, no question. But while I had hoped that Disney would load up Hulu with at least 1000 Fox titles, my guess is that they will now keep it around a few hundred.

Disney knows, as any smart company would, that once you give it away, people come to expect whatever has been available at whatever price, even if they don’t take advantage of that content. There is a thing about cycling content, which Criterion Channel is doing with its site, but even for the small group of movie lovers that subscribe to that great app, the question of “Why is there a time limit on Ace In The Hole?” strikes many subscribers, even if they have seen the film before and wouldn’t watch it again before it cycles back in. Human nature.

So expect the aforementioned Criterion Channel to remain a separate stream until WarnerMedia decides it can make it a $3 a month premium option with the overall service. And look for a fuller TCM service than they start with to make that $5 a month. Less than the $9.99 a month now charged, but a significant premium as part of a monthly stream.

Expect Disney to make a significant Fox package to add to the existing Hulu package by November 2020.

Look for UniversalNBC to start accumulating data to figure out how to move forward with their streaming package, still anxious about promoting cable/satellite while trying to find a way to add paying subscribers. I predict their eventual product will look the least like what they first launch next year.

And what of Sony and Paramount? That’s another column for another day.

2 Comments »

Review: Hobbs & Shaw

I have an on-again, off-again relationship with the The Fast & The Furious franchise. I remember seeing the first film in the run, directed by the ever-cinematically flatulent Rob Cohen, 18 years ago in a room somewhere at Universal that I can’t ever remember being in before or since. And it was flawed. But it was fun. And intimate. And weird. And it was great to see in-camera car stunts that we hadn’t seen in a while.

In 2002, Spider-Man launched the CG era of movie franchises, though the work seems primitive these near-two-decades later. It was truly revolutionary at the time.

But The Fast & The Furious was about real cars and real people (ha!) and the grit of it all. So 2 Fast 2 Furious stayed in that pocket. And when things went a little sideways and they headed to Asia for The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift, the emphasis was still on what could be done in-camera (as was true of the other car action landmark of that period, The Bourne Supremacy).

Things changed with the Justin Lin era, starting with 2009’s Fast & Furious, which played it kinda close to the vest on the CG until it rolled a flaming gas truck over some cars. Fast Five and The Giant Safe that did things that are impossible in real life. Fast & Furious 6 went all the way down the CG rabbit hole. Furious 7 chased. Rinse, repeat.

As the F&F8 train smashed into theaters in the summer of 2017, David Leitch was going over the top with Atomic Blonde before taking over the Deadpool franchise from Tim Miller (whose Terminator reboot is due later this year) on his way to this spin-off from the F&F franchise, which leans heavily on Deadpool 2 as Leitch and Drew Pearce and Dwayne Johnson seem to want to lean into the silly, edgy, more R-rated tone, while being checked by F&F veteran writer Chris Morgan.

I think it worked.

There is too much movie here. No question. Two hours and fifteen minutes is just unnecessary. At some point, it all gets a bit blurry and repetitive.

But don’t touch the 7 or 8 minutes of cameos, please. They are silly and fun and smart.

There is a bit of the F&F problem of stunts in cities getting so elaborate that the reality that they are taking place in a real city gets lost. Guys like Dick Donner used to fix this kind of problem with recurring street characters who seemed meaningless until we saw them the third time when something crazy was going on. The intensity was heightened by them as much as by the stunts.

Some of the clearly CGed stunt effects with Idris Elba, however, are magnificent and better than we have ever seen before… however unrealistic.

This is a giant, dark cartoon. It’s a boy movie with two differently attractive men and a hot blonde and a superhero villain that almost out-watts them all combined. The stunts are huge. These four characters are compelling. But the story really, really tries to be complex enough to put us to sleep in between.

The storyline has a virus that will end all life on earth… but this line seems almost boring in context. Why not ramp it up a bit? Personally, I am sick to death of “we can save the world if only we kill most of the population.” This has become the Nazi-fighting of this decade of action filmmaking. Yawn!

There is the classic role of The Professor, here handled by Eddie Marsan, but somehow, he doesn’t get to chew the scenery enough. He seems realistic in this story of insane size. Marsan can rip up some scenery. Give the man a giant kink. Give him another layer of conscience. Something! Make it happen!

Leitch and Company don’t quite trust the “no guns… all family” bit when they end up in Samoa. And that’s a shame. There’s only so long you can sustain bat-to-bat combat, but it is the kind of compelling idea that makes movies great. In years past, Mama would be hitting someone in the head with a pot lid before going back to stirring her stew. And that would be a bit gross in 2019, yes. But instead of just avoiding it, find a modern-thinking alternative. Use the old racist tendencies against the new bad guys.

But I didn’t sit at the keypad to rip this movie. The stars are always fun to watch and they are fun together. Elba gets all serious when he is being reloaded with power, but most of the time, he is the Coyote to their Roadrunner… oh so close, but never quite close enough and he doesn’t go campy with it, but has some fun (which we share). Vanessa Kirby is attractive and believable kicking ass and outthinking her male counterparts, though she, like Marsan, could have used a few more colors.

I enjoyed the fights. I enjoyed the broken glass. I was good with the car stunts. And helicopter stunts.

And mostly, I enjoyed the tone. There was an element of the spoofs of Bond, like In Like Flint, but done with the highest end stunts and explosions. Great. If you had teamed James Coburn with Charles Bronson way back when, this would have been the kind of movie you might get.

But it would be 100 minutes long.

And it would have been great fun… but not as great as this movie almost is.

It’s the second-best action movie of the summer, after Spider-Man: Far From Home. And what keeps it from being an instant classic for which we would clamor for a half-dozen sequels instantly is that it won’t let the motor completely loose. Men in Black International and Godzilla: King of The Monsters and, in an odd way, The Lion King all suffered from the same problem. The pieces were there, but somehow, the will to rebirth was restrained.

Ya gotta break some eggs if you want to make an omelet. And while the CG spends get bigger and bigger and bigger, it’s time for studios to wake up and realize that it was never the CG we showed up to watch. It’s a great addition. And in the case of comic book movies, the CG was required to make the unreality of comics come to life so we lose our resistance to looking at what is clearly impossible. But it is a tool used in the kitchen, not the meal.

What is frustrating about Calvin & Hobbs or whatever it’s called (what a horrible, unmemorable title) is that they seemed to get the joke. Big time. The 30 minutes of loosey-goosey silly joyous macho gay-subtext sexually frustrated madness was exactly what I wanted it to be (well… “exactly” is perhaps too much). But they (the collective filmmaking “they”) get the joke. But then they go back to the same old stuff that made me see and forget the last few F&F entries.

I liked. I want to love. And unrequited love is a sad thing.

29 Comments »

The Hot Blog

palmtree on: BYO I Yi Yi

movieman on: BYO I Yi Yi

BO Sock Puppet on: BYO I Yi Yi

Stella's Boy on: BYO I Yi Yi

SideshowBill on: BYO I Yi Yi

movieman on: BYO I Yi Yi

Hcat on: BYO I Yi Yi

SideshowBill on: BYO I Yi Yi

Stella's Boy on: BYO I Yi Yi

Hcat on: BYO I Yi Yi

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I always thought that once I had lived in Chicago for a while, it would be interesting to do a portrait of the city – but to do it at a significant time. Figuring out when would be the ideal time to do that was the trick. So when this election came around, coupled with the Laquan McDonald trial, it seemed like the ideal time to do the story. Having lived in Chicagoland for thirty-five-plus years and done a number of films here, I’ve always been struck by the vibrancy of the city and its toughness. Its tenderness too. I’ve always been interested in the people at the center of all the stories. This is a different film in that regard, because we’re not following a couple of individuals over the course of the project in the way that a lot of the films I’ve done have, but I still feel like people’s voices and aspirations and hopes are at the center of this series.

It wasn’t easy. We started back in July 2018, it was actually on the Fourth of July – that was our first shoot. It’s like most documentaries in that the further you go along the more involved and obsessed you get, and you just start shooting more and more and more. We threw ourselves into this crazy year in Chicago. We got up every day and tried to figure out if we should be out shooting or not, and what it is we should shoot. We were trying to balance following this massive political story of the mayor’s race and these significant moments like the Laquan McDonald trial with taking the pulse of people in the city that we encounter along the way and getting a sense of their lives and what it means to live here. By election day, Zak Piper, our producer, had something like six cameras out in the field. You could double-check that, it might have been seven. We had this organized team effort to hit all the candidates as they were voting, if they hadn’t already voted. We hit tons of polling places, were at the Board of Elections and then were at the parties for the candidates that we had been able to follow closely. Then of course, we were trying to make sure we were at the parties of the candidates who made it to the runoff. So, yeah, it was kind of a monster.”
~ Steve James On City So Real

“I really want to see The Irishman. I’ve heard it’s big brother Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece. But I really can’t find the time. The promotion schedule is so tight, there’s no opportunity to see a three and a half-hour movie. But I really want to see it. In 2017, right before Okja’s New York premiere, I had the chance to go to Scorsese’s office, which is in the DGA building. There’s a lovely screening room there, too, with film prints that he’s collected. I talked to him for about an hour. There’s no movie he hasn’t seen, even Korean films. We talked about what he’s seen and his past work. It was a glorious day. I’ve loved his work since I was in college. Who doesn’t? Anyone involved with movies must feel the same way.”
~ Bong Joon-ho