Today’s discussion fodder links roundup includes stuff concerning “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” “Iron Man 2,” “Harry Potter,” “Paranormal Activity,” “Black Swan,” “Top Gun,” “Jaws,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” “RoboCop,” “Equilibrium” and “Superman: Man of Steel.”
– Devin Faraci at Badass Digest explains what getting a ‘Director’s Fan Cut’ of “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” means for movies:
I mean, we’ve all talked about it, but suddenly Paramount’s desire to milk every penny from Bieber’s mindless tween fanbase puts it into action – the digital distribution model allows for dynamic changes, updates or tweaks to movies as they play in theaters. On the one hand there’s a dark side to this – imagine George Lucas fucking with movies in between showings! – but on the other it’s showing the way of the future. Imagine if good movies could have director’s cuts in theaters two weeks after opening. Imagine if that old Clue system of different endings could be cheaply put into effect, a gimmick less headachey than 3D.
That “Clue” thing better be implemented for he remake, I guess? Regarding the Bieber: what I think would have been more interesting, particularly given the context of Bieber’s origin story, is for fans themselves to get to participate in the recut(s) that end up back on the big screen. Bring the YouTube model — and more respectably, the collaborative documentary model — to the capabilities of satellite digital projection.
– Germain Lussier at /Film jumps off from Faraci’s post with more reason to care about the immediate re-cut re-release of the Bieber movie:
The other reasons you should care about Justin Bieber: Never Say Never being re-released, like I said above, all center on the fact that the film is actually pretty good. I understand the teen pop singer has the stigma of being just for young girls. Get past that. Grow up. If you can’t, that’s fine, but you have to forget about it to understand my points. Bieber’s rise to stardom – grassroots and almost strictly through the Internet – is a fascinating, significant and timely story. The film is almost more about our current culture than The Social Network. It’s nowhere near that level of excellence, obviously, but in a conversation about movies that speak to life in 2011, Never Say Never, merits a mention.
– From Patrick Boivin, maker of the awesome “Iron Baby” short, here’s “Black Widow Gone Wild,” in which we get to watch the title femme fatale take down everyone from Batman to Predator to the T-1000:
– Michael Cieply of the New York Times looks at the continuing found-footage trend and specifically Paramount’s role in these ‘camera-themed films,’ like “Paranormal Activity” and now “Super 8.” A quote I disagree with:
“People feel less distance between themselves and characters on the screen when they feel those characters are filming each other,” theorized Mr. Blum, who, is a producer of not only “Area 51” and the “Paranormal” series but also “The Bay.”
I believe that conventionally shot fiction films are more apt to have characters who are identifiers for the audience to relate to and connect with, whereas documentaries — and documentary-like fiction films — are more distancing because the camera is more apparent and as much as it’s the gateway identifier for their films it’s also a kind of interference. I can’t offer another reason for why these kinds of movies are successful, though.
– Last week we spotlighted a controversy of a commercial potentially plagiarizing a short film. Now we have an animated short film potentially plagiarizing a silly YouTube video. The alleged culprit, which won the top prize at Tropfest Australia over the weekend, Damon Gameau’s “Animal Beatbox,” is below. Then, underneath that is the claimed original, EustusComedy’s “Dog Cat.”
In her Girls on Film column at Cinematical, Monika Bartyzel looks at “Black Swan” and the history of ‘Crazy Characters Mark the Path to Hollywood Success’:
Take a look at nearly all of the crazy women Hollywood has offered forth. They are objects of overt fetishism — vixens ready to conquer, to stalk, tortured by their sexuality or ready to share it freely and happily. They don’t so much offer up views of dysfunction, but rather the dark, forbidden, sexual nature of being a little off. They titillate and tease danger while being held safely in the confines of the screen. It’s the forbidden extension of the gaze, the woman as a sexual predator, off-kilter and unpredictable.
It’s a habit that serves the fetishized forbidden over forays into mental trauma. It’s a method to provoke tantalizing danger just as much, if not more, than it is a moment for actresses to delve into raw mental frameworks. Though ‘Black Swan’ has a very beautiful metaphor between the white and black swan and a passive woman trying to battle her inner demons, it also relies on the unleashed lion hungry for blood and sex, willing to bite the advance of unwanted lips, or seduce with fiery intensity. In Nina’s toughest, wildest moments, she’s still chained to that gaze.
– For fans of both “Harry Potter” and “Calvin and Hobbes,” a mash-up t-shirt available from RedBubble
Mark Harris in GQ pinpoints ‘The Day the Movies Died’: May 16, 1986, with the release of “Top Gun”:
It’s now a movie-history commonplace that the late-’60s-to-mid-’70s creative resurgence of American moviemaking—the Coppola-Altman-Penn-Nichols-Bogdanovich-Ashby decade—was cut short by two movies, Jaws in 1975 and Star Wars in 1977, that lit the fuse for the summer-blockbuster era. But good summer blockbusters never hurt anyone, and in the decade that followed, the notion of “summer movie season” entered the pop-culture lexicon, but the definition of “summer movie” was far more diverse than it is today. […]
Then came Top Gun. The man calling the shots may have been Tony Scott, but the film’s real auteurs were producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, two men who pioneered the “high-concept” blockbuster—films for which the trailer or even the tagline told the story instantly. At their most basic, their movies weren’t movies; they were pure product—stitched-together amalgams of amphetamine action beats, star casting, music videos, and a diamond-hard laminate of technological adrenaline all designed to distract you from their lack of internal coherence, narrative credibility, or recognizable human qualities. They were rails of celluloid cocaine with only one goal: the transient heightening of sensation.
– John Nolte of Big Hollywood responds to the Harris article:
But Harris gets to the real meat of the problem at right around word 650:
“The scab you’re picking at is called execution,” says legendary producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network, True Grit). “Studios are hardwired not to bet on execution, and the terrible thing is, they’re right. Because in terms of execution, most movies disappoint.”
Rudin is correct. The simplest answer is usually the right one and the problem, of course, is execution. Period. End of story. Harris then goes on at length to blame marketers running things, the franchise mentality, an over-reliance on high-concept, and executive cowardice when it comes to taking chances on something new and fresh like an “Inception. ” But those are separate problems and have nothing to do with why movies suck. Since the beginning of the film business, movie makers have been told by others to fit whatever it is they’re doing into a certain box. If that box today happens to be franchises and high-concept, that doesn’t excuse every high concept franchise film from sucking. It’s perfectly valid to complain about the box, but the box didn’t force Pirates 3, Transformers 2, G.I. Joe, The Bounty Hunter, most every RomCom of the last five years to be so bad. Lousy execution did.
– Relative, Cracked lists ‘5 Hollywood Secrets That Explain Why So Many Movies Suck.’ On the problem of there being no original scripts, the writers say:
So what about those screenplays that your friend working at the video store is constantly writing, in hopes they will some day get made and star a naked Natalie Portman? In reality, even the great ones are treated as spec scripts (basically, a literary audition). The script is proof to the people in charge that the writer is, for the most part, not illiterate. So if you submit a powerfully emotional piece that deftly explores the facets of love and loss, you might impress someone enough to get a job co-writing Transformers 4.
On the rare occasion that an original script does get picked up for production, it’s likely to get swept up by one of the big franchises. I, Robot was initially an original script called Hardwired that no one would touch until a famous Asimov title was attached to it. Die Hard 2, 3 and 4, Ocean’s Twelve and Starship Troopers were all original ideas that were snapped up and rebranded as franchises. So if you’re working on a passion project, maybe it’s time to let the dream die and just start focusing on a gritty reboot of She-Ra.
– This “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” sweded in 60 seconds video makes me remember the movie being a big waste of time. Since I know it wasn’t, I now need to revisit the damn thing. Also, this reminds me that I wished a certain somebody was in it:
[via Live for Films]
– I always loved when R-rated movies were turned into cartoons, but I didn’t really notice because I was permitted to watch R-rated movies when I was still into Saturday Morning stuff. Jon Gutierrez at Topless Robot lists ‘8 Movies That Inexplicably Got Cartoon Spin-Offs,’ reminding me of some, like “Rambo” and “Toxic Avenger.” But I had no idea “Highlander” had a cartoon. Here’s the #1 pick for most inappropriate, “RoboCop”:
While the Toxic Avenger was violent in a, well, cartoon-y way, Robocop is simply one of the most disturbingly violent films of the ’90s (I’m still having nightmares from Peter Weller’s arm being blown off by a shotgun.) More disturbingly, this toon tried to keep pretty close to the original film, with the opening credits even showing an animated version of Weller getting gunned down! And if you had any doubts that the makers of the show were expecting kids to have watched the original film, they brought back Clarence Boddicker into the show. That could only appeal to people who’d seen the film… unless they just thought that Saturday Morning cartoons needed a bunch more Kurtwood Smith.
– “RoboCop” also obviously appears on Sam Kurd’s list of ‘Top 10 Disturbing Dystopias’ at Den of Geek, which features the expected films like “1984,” “Blade Runner” and “Children of Men.” Also included, at #4, is the underrated “Equilibrium”:
“Without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock ticking.”
In the future, everyone is equal. War, crime and hatred have been eradicated. But at what cost? It’s not just negative emotions that have been purged: there’s no more love, no more friendship, no more laughter. By taking daily doses of an emotion-suppressing drug, mankind has essentially turned itself into a race of automatons.
They don’t live, they simply exist. And if anyone doesn’t take their meds, there are a group of enforcers called Grammaton Clerics seeking out sense offenders to eradicate the threat.
– Kevin Costner will reportedly be playing ‘Pa’ Kent, the adopted father of the title hero in Zach Snyder’s “Superman: Man of Steel.” I wonder if he’ll be building a baseball diamond in his corn field when little Kal-El arrives. For a reunion, let’s hope they cast Amy Madigan as ‘Ma.’
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