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make.phpThe state of American movies can best be summarized by the old Borscht Belt joke employed by Woody Allen in Annie Hall as his metaphor for life. Two old women are suffering through a miserable meal at a restaurant. One says to the other, “This food is terrible!” And the other says, “Yes, and such small portions.” In 2016, American movies are terrible – and there are way too few of them.

There are a handful of reasons – some obvious, others not. Hollywood has become obsessed with gross over profit. Prestige is now measured almost strictly in box office grosses. Studios focus narrowly on numbers, particularly those generated in the opening weekend. The business model behind this approach is that individual movies are of far less importance than properties than lead to franchises that provide the opportunities for additional products. If you watch certain films as simply two-hour commercials of the type that generally run during Saturday morning children’s programming, they make a great deal more sense. The aim of the movie is motivate you to buy something: tickets to another movie, admission to a theme park, a comic book, an action figure. And when I say you, I don’t mean you. I mean the 10-year old kid sitting in front of you. (more…)

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Money Money MoneyThe oft-cited smart ass definition of insanity is the act of doing the exact same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Week in, week out during the summer of 2016, we have seen a vivid illustration of textbook corporate insanity, courtesy of the Hollywood studios. With metronome frequency, a new release  – new being relative as it is most often the case a sequel or reboot – comes out on Friday (Thursday night, actually). It plays wide, underperforms at the box office, is ravaged by critics not on the payroll or motivated to see their name in blurbs, falls off a cliff in its second week in the theaters, and then is forgotten.

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“It’s blame the bros” time once again. Misogyny led the Ghostbusters reboot to sputter, don’t you know. Much as the intensity of Bernie Sanders supporters was explained by some in the media as a matter of frat boys (and the girls who chase them, according to Gloria Steinem) gone wild, the all female Gang of Four who are out to bust some heads, in a spiritual sense, never had a chance to succeed. Dudes did them in. (more…)

The Hateful EightQuentin Tarantino wants you to know that he has now directed eight feature films. “The Eighth Film by Quentin Tarantino,” appears in the opening credits of his latest work. His eighth film even has the word eight in the title. Short of pulling a Chad Johnson and changing his name to Ocho, there seems little else Tarantino can do to convey that (1) he has done seven films before The Hateful Eight, and (2) he attaches great importance to the number. To celebrate the accomplishment and further his self-sustaining image as a film buff extraordinaire, the director turned the premiere of The Hateful Eight into a week-long event by releasing a “Roadshow Edition” of the movie to be shown in 100 theaters before the wide release of the standard version. (more…)