What Am I Doing Wrong ?

I’m being distracted from doing my own work. Lectures on Transcendental Meditation talk about the busy ocean surface and the quiet stillness of the depths beneath.  When we spend any amount of time on social media or the internet in general it is the surface, choosing our words carefully but knowing that inevitably someone will challenge, reduce, misinterpret or misrepresent what you have said.  You can end up communicating more with people you dislike than supporting people you love. You can debate whether or not a movie studio deserves your admission fee and whether you should boycott Star Wars because JJ decided that the Death Star you saw incinerated into a cloud of tiny cinders has chunks that landed intact on Endor without bursting into flame entering the atmosphere and that the Emperor you saw dropped into a shaft and explode is still alive.  Even in these blogs, I have mentioned that too much.

You can enjoy the new trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife which seems like a respectful follow-through on the 1984 and 1989 films, perhaps the 2009 video game that involved the same cast.  Or you can be further distracted by dimwits who are now taking their turn at sour grapes upon realization that the 2016 Paul Feig iteration – a remake that pretended the events of the Eighties had not taken place – is wiped from canon with the corrective measure of the new Jason Reitman film. It is not worth engaging. There are some witty youtubers riding the coat tails of anything that has a marketing campaign, anything trending on Twitter. They have to because that is their full time job, uploading something with a headline that might get clicks.  It doesn’t mean that any of us need to know the judgement or expectations of these pundits.  A significant number will lure me in to listen about Hollywood trying to coax non fans of various IPs traditionally appealing to males by flipping them or using them as a vessel to carry an eye-roll ostensibly feminist message expecting to alienate the original built in fan base or shame them into accepting the change “because it is good for society.” I don’t think as a movie buff since about 1980 I have ever paid to see a movie for the good of society.

I once belonged to a screenwriting and script reading circle in which I was eventually asked to leave because I had not taken the same course as the rest of the group.  I had sat in to help read as a guest and they liked my reading and input; I had shot a film in the home of one of the members. It was years later before I learned that the reason someone in the group spoke against me was that I had written something that was not P.C. or was not advancing a progressive agenda.  This is both horrifying and comforting.  At least it wasn’t necessarily the work itself.  But I don’t know – especially in Canada which tends to lean to more ostensibly progressive and insular in terms of the left – whether I will get the traction required to beat the system and get my stuff out there.  Self marketing is the worst part of any creative life.  I have a book to publish, but have not yet reached out. I have several screenplays, but I don’t know for the life of me why anyone would invest money in them.  Even a good film is a huge risk. And am I willing to play ball, to change the nature and intention of a work to appease the taste or politics of an investor or collaborator?  Not really.  And that may well be a character flaw on my part.  It may also be the saving grace that allows me to continue seeking out and properly vetting collaborators who want to make the same movie or create the same final result or enjoy the same challenging process.  I don’t thrive on chaos. I don’t even trust what people call chemistry. I’d rather go from unknown to known.

I don’t have the power to say:  The next Star Wars movie will be Mace Windu starring Samuel L. Jackson. He has been consulting The Whills about an incident where someone has violated the World Between Worlds and messed with time portholes to throw off the balance of the universe and the birth or death of the wrong players.  Master Windu accepts their challenge to enter the World Between Worlds and set events back to to the way they play out in the (now non-canon “Legends”) books.  Mara Jade properly is allowed to meet Luke Skywalker as in Heir to the Empire.  Leia ends up having twins with Han, so she is already pregnant at a time when she might have conceived Ben Solo. When Windu is done setting time into proper motion again and undoing the damage, he destroys the tample that houses the World Between Worlds so nobody can infiltrate it with mischief again.

That would be my pitch to set Star Wars right. It would infuriate Kathleen Kennedy and the Lucasfilm Story Group that she hired.  But if I had the power, I would find a way to politely fire them anyway.

I don’t know what the result will be of changes to the James Bond world in its upcoming new film No Time to Die.  A woman taking the 007 designation may or may not work. I would have been happier to see what Danny Boyle would have done as a traditional Bond film.  You don’t pick up a sleeping baby.  Sometimes people get restless with formula. Mork and Mindy season one is great, and naturally fish out of water. Dexter season one has him seeming far more alien than following seasons.  Time is bound to soften a premise or eliminate the strangeness that defines it or even compromise the reality around it.  Some ideas can’t be sustained for a long haul.  That is a drawback of the Daniel Craig iteration of Bond using a continuing story and stretching to create connective narrative tissue. It will then feel the pressure of time.  When Bonds were barely connected (maybe having Richard Keil as the hit man “Jaws” in two movies), the episodic approach kept the character eternal.  An actor would age out and someone new could come in.  Dame Judy Dench as M was actually a smart move that in no way compromised the series.  She was able to bring a scolding tone to Bond without seeming like a reach.  Previous men as M were taken for granted and could not make much impression.  Desmond Llewellyn as Q, and eventually John Cleese were able to express irritation with Bond over the likelihood that he will destroy whatever gadget they give him. After this iteration of Bond, if there is a reset it should be to explore whatever Danny Boyle had in mind.

I would have accepted a Naiomi Harris Eve Moneypenny standalone film or a Jeffrey Wright Felix Lieter standalone.  Some wouldn’t but they could have been done for Netflix. It would be a leap to spend $200 million on a movie about the new actress playing an agent that takes over the number 007.  That would be a bridge too far. The brand is James Bond 007, not ________007. And if sexism is part of the appeal, frankly that should not be a concern.  Bond is a fast living character and may attract men who read Maxim or “bros” as you want to call them.  Even “assholes” should be allowed to enjoy your movie.  They shouldn’t have to pass the Phil Donahue Character test. And much of life’s humor is in the theme that the best laid plans of mice and men may not work out.

As I stare down the barrel of my own writing work, I admit I am spooked by “the moment we are in,” as Stephen Colbert once repeatedly put it to each guest.  Do I have to wait until the bubble of progressiveness bursts?  Is there a road back? Do I just sit back and enjoy my DVDs of movies from the Eighties?  There are still three major feature projects immediately on my plate.  One is in progress but being re-configured, another was cancelled but is still on the back-burner.  These, arguably the most important goals of my life, get sidelined from time to time either out of work or those ever-present surface distractions of the turbulent ocean.  Time to, as they say in Fight Club, turn down the volume on all of that.  When I am in process, and scrutinizing something in a scene or letting the urgency of a moment push it into shape I am feeling on track and engaged in something meaningful.  I am also in my comfort zone.  I know that actually making a movie is outside of that comfort zone, because of time pressures and coping with what might go wrong.  So before the crunch I have to stick to my principles and make sure that I am defining the project and not let it be set off balance by the interjection of inorganic input.  Engaging people can be the real challenge, because the project makes it conditional. We have to be up to compatible mischief.

Right now it is about dealing with what is in front of me, the things I can control, the progression of ideas and the shaping of a coherent premise and narrative people can grasp and dialogue that might amuse. I feel like I should roll back the clock 30 years. Don’t say “someday” to yourself.  Time is of such value. I love watching movies and TV series and tell myself this is all productive but even that needs to be a reward for making progress in my work. I might be doing a music video in coming months, and might help someone tidy up a long gestating script.  But these things will have my focus when they need it and I can’t be in suspended animation waiting for a shoot. If I had money tomorrow I likely would easily prep my suspended clown movie. That is in the best shape. And the novelization would be published with some of that money.  But even basic housekeeping has to be tended to.  I have old scripts and other writing on floppy discs (hard ones from late Nineties and early 2000’s). Have to extract files from Microsoft and Mac discs in a world where those slots for floppies just aren’t available so much. I have to also convert more VHS material to DVD or data with a new VHS to DVD machine. I have to sit through some poorly labeled tapes and get some of that done.  All big things are made up of little mundane things.

It could also be argued that I should get my personal life in order or all of my writing is about – one way or another – having no life.  But I’m prepared to accept that.  I mean I have no interest in just getting by.  There is that scary part of the brain that could dispassionately step off the planet earth at any moment unless there is a concrete follow-through on all the work I’ve done to this point.  So even if I have set some things aside from time to time I have not given up.  I am however prone to being seduced by the killer of time and the sapper of energy and vitality, wrong viewing, wrong reading, wrong food, wrong exercise.  I can be supportive of other artists, but even that has narrowed somewhat thanks to ideological divides and potential pissing contests that get in the way of the intricate goals on the horizon and not revising what is in the mind’s eye as excellent and worth working toward.

Template Manifesto

Aspects of this might have been mentioned in other posts, but it is something I turn over in my head excessively, like a crazy person, either for past meetings that could have been more efficient or future projects.  Of course, each creative person will approach a project in whatever way allows them to function and thrive and finally be satisfied somewhat and feel ownership for the results.  The following is just what seems to work for me, but feel free to copy and use or revise to suit yourself:

FOUNDATION PRINCIPLE OF PROJECTS:

It is better to have no movie than to have the wrong movie. Whether the story was broken with a group or written by an individual, once it is read and the tires are kicked in terms of story continuity and it suits the taste of the team leader or director, this is where the project is defined. The more general a goal, the easier it is to attract collaborators. The more specific it becomes, usually that weeds people out so that only those most appropriate for it are involved. So this is all about making sure nobody feels misled and needless upset on location under a time crunch is reduced.  No sense fixing something that is not broken. There is what John Cleese calls open system and closed system of working, the latter being the point where choices have been made and you get on with it.

Every investor, crew member, and actor – anyone involved – has to have one thing in common: They all must be willing to make the same movie as the director.  If the director has to – as part of a written agreement with an investor – initial every page of the screenplay to indicate he or she will indeed make the movie as described, that is a workable condition.  To initial the ether for the sake of promising improvisation would not be possible.

To be involved has to be an INFORMED choice, which requires reading the script so that all concerned know about anything controversial in the planned content.  Though my own politics may be left of the middle, I show no respect for the extreme right nor the extreme left.  Reading 100 pages of screenplay may be work, but nothing compared to the efforts of making a movie. Anyone interested is welcome to look at storyboard sketches also.   Exceptions to the rule might be background performers who only have t know the parameters of the event where they are needed to gather and none should be admitted (even friends who just want to get a message to someone and go) without signing in as part of the waiver / release for their image; It is too easy for someone to decide to hang around, be lost in the shuffle, and end up on screen without release which could compromise the production.  If you can reconcile yourself to the material, any rude jokes for example, triggering content, ideology or lack thereof, that is when to move forward and embrace the experience.

Conversely, should somebody not like the screenplay, my writing, my storyboarding approach to directing and have no confidence in the work or myself, then I would not have a leg to stand on with such a person who why would I walk into the burning house of working with him/her? So this brings us back to the primary principle of wanting to or being willing to make the same movie the director wants to make.

*** END OF MANIFESTO ***

Some people thrive on chaos.  That is NOT what this project will be about, nor will it be a repository for random shtick.  The fiscally responsible Roger Corman approach for low budget is to lock the script and storyboard everything so that the crew can anticipate in advance of a shoot what equipment is needed to achieve the shots and how much time is needed so that we can make the day.

Should the bulk of casting or crewing come from the same person, it is especially vital that this individual meet the above criteria and want to make the same movie. Otherwise the project can deteriorate into a popularity contest or an unstable democracy.  The one nod to democracy should be the informed choice made at the outset whether or not to participate. “You have to follow your own gut.  No hard feelings if you don’t want to be part of this.”

That is a sincere response to those who opt out or attempt to coerce a script change or omission to suit his or her personal peccadillo. I consider it a polite lie, but have said it myself. Many people I know lean so far to the left they would ban and erase every performance of “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.”  So there would be a natural clash with me.

My policy is this:  John Cleese, a co-founder of Monty Python, perhaps put it best quoting his friend and a co-author Robin Snynner of Life and How to Survive It:

“If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behaviors.”

This applies to trying to block or erase anything that may set off anxiety for those who have survived trauma. Good intentions or not.  Survivors have suffered loss of control, so they may act out in one form or another by exerting whatever control over others – if only on social media or campaigning to have something banned, censored or pulled from the airwaves or public spaces. For this reason, the sensibility of outrage culture is suspect and needs to be resisted.  This is a big part of the joy and satisfaction of my own writing, which may not apply if you are not burdened by my style or quirks.  The story and plot of a movie just a container for specific lines or shots I am passionate about putting into the world. I don’t especially embrace the “kill your darlings” credo because so much of my writing is JUST little darlings.

If they are delivered “fast and flat” as Barry Sonnenfeld like his comedy dialogue, that is usually best for anything I write.  Like a pebble skimming the surface of the water. When people read, they may come to a dead stop after a risky quip, but the movie doesn’t. If a table reading is organized it has to be without anyone checking their phone for texts and everyone engaged and energized so it isn’t just an intellectual recitation of content but we are selling ourselves on the potential fun tone (or whatever tone you prefer). A cold read may be a challenge some actors like, but it doesn’t serve to make the table read engaging.  You want to catch any words tough to pronounce or any speed bumps. But even saying that, coordinating a table read can be exhausting. But at least it can get across a version of the proposed content so that anyone attending or hearing a recording of the audio at least can get an idea of the music of the pacing in various runs of dialogue and what it really is they are making an informed choice to join.

 

 

Grinding Your Gears

In the past, each completed project gave me a morale boost to fuel the next.  If something goes off track or I’ve been given (and naively accepted) a false resource that collapses, it can be difficult to just transfer energy to something else.  I think people talking to themselves may be re-living conversations where they could have anticipated the worst and come away with dignity and saved some time.  I can grind my psychological gears in a quiet moment wasting energy on a “would-could-shoulda.”  Things may have gone the same way ultimately sooner or later.  Maybe sooner if you put a fine point on it.

If it feels like there is some Faustian embargo in the air, you might be making the wrong deal.  If someone wants to be the creative power behind the throne, they can get their own throne.  And as I’ve said before, if someone doesn’t have faith in you as a director or doesn’t like the script, you’ve got no leg to stand on with that person and why walk into that burning house?  If on the other hand they want to impose something on the film – random shtick, improvisation, ideology – it will negate or compromise your sense of authorship.  It is one thing to improve a script, kicking the tires, questioning logic or continuity. These are things the writer can answer and figure out without losing the sense of authentic authorship.  A full range of talents have clung to a credit even if it meant arbitration and even if it meant that everybody knew the best lines came from someone else.  But if what motivates you is the work itself and seeing your own ideas vindicated (or giving them every chance to be vindicated), it is worth remembering that Jim Jarmush claims that he writes a screenplay in longhand, one draft, and gives it to a typist and then just makes his movie. I suspect there are many critical darlings who do that and if something seems unclear in the movie it is taken as artistic ambiguity.  It is not unlikely that a first draft and final draft will have the same percentage of people who like or dislike the resulting movie.  Se7en famously had many drafts generated in the development phase, only to have its original shocking draft by Andrew Kevin Walker find its way to David Fincher’s attention so he could insist on reverting to that. The Verdict was adapted by David Mamet and then compromised by others until director Sidney Lumet insisted on discarding the development and reverting to Mamet.  Those seem like no-brainer choices, but it took a good cook insisted that not everybody had to piss in the soup.  Especially if you are a writer-director, you are gong to take the heat for a mediocre movie so you may as well be gambling on your own taste and your own work rather than someone else.

Discussion of movies from a fan perspective can generate some of the worst ideas for how it “could have been better.” One guy re-edited The Last Jedi just to make sure that in his version Admiral Ackbar is still alive. There are many things wrong with that movie, and that character should have had an on-screen death and one with nobility (maybe securing an oxygen mask onto Princess Leia before floating off dead in the vacuum of space). But even with a Lucasfilm Story Group and producers looking at the script, and hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, they went with Rian Johnson’s whims and took their chances.  Each writer has to take his or her own chances.  You might even be satisfied just writing character descriptions and an outline of scenes and letting others expand on that. But however long the process, you arrive at a point where you say THIS is the script I want to translate into storyboard drawings and finally stage for the camera.  Not a hundred other variations which you have considered and discarded.

The internet has accelerated the question, “Does this dress make me look fat?” and also the consequences of answering with honesty.   People can insist on being called something they are not. It may be personally vital to know that a writer-director credit reflects your actual writing and your direction. I would feel false if I did not plan my own shots and the progression of images. That is where my satisfaction comes from.  Simply gathering people together to shoot something is not in itself cathartic. It is kind of a necessary evil.  Most of the anxiety will come from just how the house of cards will fall. Some people thrive on chaos, but I don’t.  I wouldn’t invest in chaos.

There are people who push to destroy the auteur theory of direction, where “A film by” credits are seen as giving too much importance to the role of director. I don’t really come down on either side of those false binary options.  The designation of director – let alone writer – can be given to anyone from a fraud who shows up and takes credit for everyone else to someone coming from a Hitchcock perspective where film grammar and psychology motivate the shot choices and the audience is being directed by the person they have been told is doing so.  None of us has to be a genius or feel like one to achieve the latter description.  It might help to be obsessed with finding the best shot for a moment or an interesting and appropriate way to transition between scenes. I’ve done short films that people hated and written screenplays that some people did not get, but I honored my impulses in any case and that is a big part of it.

So many processes appear to be about stripping the finger prints from a work. The issue celebrated might be the subject matter or a sociopolitical bent and not the WAY something was written or the WAY it was directed.  Style may be stripped away, and for me style is a big part of what makes me love cinema.

Does this blog make me look fat?

 

 

 

 

Halloween Season Must Sees

They don’t all take place at Halloween time, or October, and they are not all horror. I am surprised that no Hitchcock films made the list.  Maybe Frenzy might have made it, but Psycho felt obligatory. The intention is to get people watching these films that enrich the viewing of anything that follows. The Babadook by Jennifer Kent didn’t make the list but it is very well done. Maybe that should be adjusted.

https://www.imdb.com/list/ls097576907/

 

Things to Do

What I call finding confidence, facing fear of rejection and risking my ego someone else today might call “straight white male entitlement.”  Each person has one degree or another of the still, quiet voice in the back of the mind urging on a nugget of an idea or something larger, a poem, a script, a joke, a short film, a longer story.  Ignoring it until it goes away or becomes just a thought or a memory of a vague dream just might be acceptable for some people.  If it won’t go away or you feel it nagging and wanting to live outside of your head, as custodian of that impulse or plan or whimsy it will be a challenge to wade through the noise and clutter of today’s outrage culture and the more amusing distractions of each day to keep an eye on that goal and keep on attempting the messy version of it or the interim version as it becomes more and more what you mean. It is the transition between the euphoric spark of an idea, which is perfect, and the execution of it which involves one or more stages of imperfection.

Right now I have some boring goals that might allow me to better get a handle on the work I have to do, even the work I have enjoyed and that is a part of me.  I have to 1. Lose weight, so that I can 2. reduce the medication I take, so that I can 3. better focus and hold a thought and think several stages down the line to complete creative works that had years before been my compulsion.  That’s a disclosure nobody needs to know, but maybe one with which others have to grapple.  I have to tie a lot of ideas together.  I have a considerable in-box of projects that have to be wound up and resolved into something entertaining to others.  But I also have to push past a sense of drifting and excessive relaxation.  It is deceptive.  And when I do drag my middle-aged butt to the gym early enough to avoid the crowd and get the right stationary bike that functions properly and then get into the pool while I can claim a lain for myself and feel like I have kick started my day in a responsible way maybe I’ll avoid foods that bog me down and make me sleepy and kill half my productive hours.

A blog or a comment on social media takes less energy, so it can be a lot of superficial remarks and half-baked thoughts that add up to nothing but make me feel as if I have done my duty as a citizen of the internet in correcting someone else’s information about whatever controversy or director or movie or politician.  And then I will still be left looking at that in-box of partially complete and existentially vital work to be done.

 

 

Who or What is It For ?

The question could be asked about this blog. or any blog.  Is it so that I can have more information coming out of my head than is going into it?  When the year began with my first few posts here on WordPress, I had a lot to unload for posterity.  You never know when you will keel over – and what a shame it would be to have not imparted anecdotes about having wallowed in your own short films and volunteering and bad judgement.

Instead, the question is about cinema in general.  What if it were possible to demonstrate in court that exposure to an interrupted narrative (a prematurely cancelled TV series) caused real psychological damage to the viewer and this opened up the possibility of class action suits against networks who failed to commit to a complete run or studios who fail to make the appropriate number of sequels to complete a story? What if creatives were legally bound to honor their core audience, and prevented from simply exploiting a known brand for the appeasement of investors only to alienate the built-in audience it was expected to attract?  What if studios had the sense of self-preservation to have each of its employees – especially writers or directors and actors – accept not only a non-disclosure agreement but also an injunction against abusive engagement with the public. especially those who claim to be fans and who are potentially the paying public?

Is this movie or content intended to appease the movie buffs or the statistic buffs?  Is it for people who enjoy movies or comics or any given art-form or is it for busybodies who just want to torpedo intellectual property that is associated with a “bro” audience or a politically uncommitted audience as a volley of preemptive attack in the culture war?

People are calling the latest female Terminator the LBGT-1000.  No matter what Tiki or Kevin Feige calls Natalie Portman’s character (they prefer simply Mighty Thor) the audience will call her Female Thor.  Will people complain that her costume (which according to the mythology of the comic book materializes without choice or design from the wearer) has a suggestion of breasts built into it?  Will they whine that there is anything gender specific about it?  Of course some will.  Not fans, but those who rarely pay to see a movie, let alone a pre-determined blockbuster muscling onto 4,000 screens. Filmmakers can alienate the most loyal fanbase once their own loyalty has been betrayed.  If there is pre-emptive shade thrown on anyone indifferent or outright rejecting a pending project, only a brave segment of the ex-patriot fandom will risk being falsely branded misogynist, racist, or homophobic by simply agreeing with Brie Larsen’s comment about A Wrinkle in Time, “It wasn’t made for you.”

In fairness, the argument has been made over and over – especially in the past ten years – that most movie fare has been male power fantasies aimed at the young, usually white, male heterosexual.  My response to this is to carefully keep my collection of physical media – mostly DVDs – in good condition, because re-watching them just might be the sole entertainment resource for me going forward. I can keep up with Stranger Things on Netflix as long as that platform exists, but even that has a fair helping of memberry content. I just have to tune out the busybodies on the internet, like Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) complaining that David Harbour’s character Jim Hopper was a “toxic male” and women should not date a guy like that.  There is a great deal of humor and pathos in his character, as well as surprise.  Wood’s remark is typical of the out-of-touch and gun-jumping know-it-all volunteer den mother activist who feels compelled to put fictional characters and storytelling into a box that is either pretending to be a role model or twisting its collective mustache in service of the patriarchy. This disregards that the actor himself Harbour has been firmly anti-Trump and progressive in his appearances at award shows.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/a3e7/87c5162a1afca08227bdf27662b29fead8a8.pdf

The Philosophy of Composition by Poe is mentioned by Signourney Weaver’s character in the Walter Hill movie The Assignment.  She explains that it makes a case that art should exist independent of politics and for the sake of aesthetic or style itself.  Such an essay might be very relevant in today’s climate.  People will behave like lemmings and make their judgments.  Am I to be excited about a new agent 007 being a black woman, or do I accept that as a detail and reserve judgement until I have borrowed the DVD from the public library?  There is so much content bombarding us now, partly as a function of the digital revolution, that it is hard to keep up.  We can’t all be excited about the same things. If I like a director for his or her direction (as opposed to de facto co-direction of a cinematographer or a studio boss who throws out storyboards and says “just shoot this”), I will most likely rush out and see the lastest work of this person right away in the cinema and happily pay to do so.  Spielberg, Tarantino, and Zemeckis are among the few in that category now. Often Scorsese.

I did not pay to see Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters: Answer the Call or Captain Marvel, but I did enjoy Wonder Woman and Alita: Battle Angel.  Frankly, The Assignment was quite good and unusual with Michelle Rodriguez as a hit man. Judge away as you may.  More than ever, I think we have shrug off ignorant leaps people make.  Some will be upset that The Assignment has a actress pay a male who then is involuntarily put through sex reassignment for killing the doctor’s brother.  By representation standards, the male scenes would have to be played by a male and the post transition played by a performer who is trans first and foremost and likely not a marquee value name.  Whereas, I have no problem picking up a DVD with Michelle Rodriguez holding a gun on the cover.  Ghostbusters was played up as a mission to portray women as scientists.  For that I say look no further than 1982’s Poltergeist where Beatrice Straight was a credible scientist with a couple of laughs and Zelda Rubenstien supplied the more otherworldly approach. Some activists grumbled that Gal Godot was too fit and pretty to play Wonder Woman, which begs the question of whether they have ever seen the comic book or the Lynda Carter series.  Wonder Woman should look like Wonder Woman.

Keyboard warriors are not the audience to appease.  Filmmakers definitely should be working on material they actually like and understand, and by extension they will be simpatico with its fanbase.  Otherwise an IP is just looked at as a delivery device for false messaging and something to subvert and kill off – taking what your presumed adversary seems to enjoy and adding an ingredient which will irritate and cause an allergic reaction.  Maybe they are okay with fans being more choosy and waiting for home video or a few weeks after an opening so any box office goes to the exhibitor and not to the studio. That might be a good way to support theater owners and not reward studios for their tone deafness.

 

On a lighter note, I am enthused about Jason Reitman redeeming Ghostbusters and the original iteration continuity with his 2020 installment.  That I will see right away.  I am posting this days before Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which I will also see opening weekend.  I admit that even as a life-long (with a gap between 1999 and 2005) Star Wars fan, I am undecided about when I will see The Rise of Skywalker.  I still enjoy movies, but I think more than ever we have to seek out the shows that maybe don’t get so many screens and might actually introduce fresh voices and aesthetics from the independent end of the spectrum.  Not enough people under 25 have seen the kinds of character driven indie movies from which pretty much all of the Avengers cast came from.  It is time to till the soil and plant new seeds and not live entirely off of what South Park calls memberries.

 

scene-with-beatrice-straight-poltergeist-1982-BP6YPX.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Shaft (2019) Is Better Than SJW Critics

If you want to see de-aging FX of Samuel L. Jackson, skip the over-rated and cloying Captain Marvel and just go see Shaft currently in theatres. The opening scenes set up the premise in 1989.

Just finished catching a matinee of the new Shaft film, which is either the second if you don’t recognize any movie before the year 2000 or it is number Five if you count the original Shaft, Shaft’s Big Score, and Shaft In Africa.  Richard Roundtree plays the same character in all of them, as well as a TV series indicated on imdb which few have heard about.  This time around, one throw-away line of dialogue corrects a bad call from the 2000 film in which Roundtree’s John Shaft was the uncle of Samuel L. Jackson’s iteration. There is a reference to him being a better father once he stopped, “pretending to be my uncle.”  I think they were being too logical when they did the 2000 reboot, factoring in Jackson’s age.  Now they place Jackson at age Sixty and presumably Roundtree is still a sharp-witted man of his Eighties.  The repository of all knowledge, rottentomatoes, has 89 critics giving it a green rotten splotch of 34% and yet it has a vetted, verified audience rating (3, 146 people who provided proof they have seen the movie) at 94%.  So who do you trust more?  89 critics who saw it for free and are focused on identity politics and whether Shaft adheres to the behaviour code and attitude of…. Twitter, Salon, and The MarySue or anyone who believes if you are not draped in a rainbow flag you are a Nazi? Or do you believe the three thousand, one hundred and forty-six people who rated and maybe commented for free? By now you know what kind of thing is your cup of tea, in any case.

Boxofficemojo today has it only ranking in #7 of the weekend’s movies with $9, 703, 744 domestic. So it has recouped at least what Netflix paid for it already.  Netflix will start showing it June 28, so it will have a short window to make whatever it can theatrically.  It was worth seeing with an audience, but partly for the reassurance that others are laughing at the same frank talk that some critics refer to as “dinosaur.”  The movie itself can feel like an episode and a procedural in that you get what you expect from a sequel. But the refreshing part is its willingness to embrace the point of view of the street wise elder Shafts and have fun with that somewhat at the expense of the more modern-thinking son.  The millennial does have his moments of dignity and the chance to kick ass, without the elders are not the butt of the joke.  They can humorously point out the absurdities and contradictions of modern sensibility.

Below, if you have the time, is an example of a sometimes entertaining pundit of fandom on the internet relishing the audience reception of this new Shaft and the fact that it is not politically correct which demonstrates perhaps that there is a demand for Hollywood to ditch its fake progressiveness and be more down to earth.