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by Bill Gibron

9 Jun 2011

Mae West definitely deserved better. A camp fixture for most of the ‘60s and ‘70s, she had taken her career as controversial early talky “bad” girl and transformed it into a combination of gay icon, culture curio, feminist fixture, and in her mind, still sizzling sex kitten. Never mind the fact that she was starring in vaudeville in 1907, and that the majority of her fame was achieved in the early ‘30s (when she was nearly 40). West was an institution, an example of a boundary pushing beauty that wasn’t afraid to flaunt what proper society (and its so-called moral watchdogs ) thought was perverse.

West was more than just her measurements and her ferocious frankness. She was a keen marketer, creating projects for herself when none were available or even being offered. She took her talents to Broadway, to regional theater, she toured the country with her revue, and kept her soon to be celebrated vulgarity as a topic of publicity rag reality. By the time the ‘40s rolled around, she was mostly forgotten, and during the ‘50s, her mantle was moved over to figures more formidable, such as Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield. Yet via radio or Las Vegas revival, West still kept her star. It may have dimmed a bit, but it certainly still held some show business sway.

by Bill Gibron

16 May 2011

As a tentpole, it tanked. As an example of the kind of suspect Summer popcorn fare Tinseltown regularly tosses on the movie going populace, it’s par for the course. Still, some held out hope that Priest, a big screen adaptation of a beloved Asia comic book, would live up to its several years in development promise. There has been both anticipation and apprehension about his movie ever since it was first announced. Early on, Andrew Douglas (The Amityville Horror remake) and 300‘s Gerard Butler were attached. Then the current creative team of Scott Stewart and Paul Bettany (responsible of the ridiculously awful Legion) took over, and with the help of a meandering script from first timer Cory Goodman, fashioned this $60 million flop in the making. Critics have been cruel, audiences uninterested.

That’s the issue with many of these so-called Goth Apocalypses. Filmmakers find interesting ideas, twist them up into the standard motion picture pabulum, and then the studios serve it up like the big steaming bowls of bullspit they are. Only the most devoted members of Messageboard Nation climb onboard for the ride. The rest, waiting for how word of mouth will play out along the slippery social network, guarantee that the only money this movie will make comes from endless repeats on and the lesser Showtime networks. But the bigger problem here comes from the creative, as well as the commercial aspects of the work. Vision is avoided for the sake of a watered down, weak willed sense of entertainment.

by Bill Gibron

2 May 2011

Summer indeed came early to 2011 as Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and a goatee-d Dwayne Johnson tore up box office figures with their near $90 million take for Fast Five. Clearly, after a Spring of almost completely diminished returns, audiences are eager for some of the mindless action and adventure the next four months promise. How else would you explain a two hour heist film featuring characters who used to be stunt savvy street racers raking in so much dough. Heck, between Fast Five, Rio, and a certain candy-coated bunny, it’s been a battle between the May to August standards - cloying kid vid vs oversized visuals. Anything more substantial or subtle fell by the wayside…usually, with good reason.

Oh sure, there were some worthy entries in the post-Oscar leftover parade, movies that made their attempt at standing out before being pummeled by the sun-bleached toys of the season. On the other hand, there were so many failures, so many films that deserved their spot in the sloppy seconds (or more like, unfathomable fifths) department that it’s easy to see why Hollywood turns this time of the year into the creative equivalent of a landfill. After all, when you bet nearly a billion dollars on product you are sure the public will love, there has to be a few missteps for every memorable mainstream entry.

by Bill Gibron

4 Apr 2011

Wanna know why movies suck today? Well, audiences just gave Hollywood $40 million beautiful reasons why. That’s right. Over the 1 April weekend (and we wish it were all a prank), supposedly fed up film fans, lovers of legitimate cinema and smart, satisfying movies, made Hop the number one box office draw. Argue all they may about appeasing their wee ones, or seeing something innocuous and cute this close to Easter. No matter the message or motivation, people sent Tinseltown an important mandate, at least in their eyes. Clearly, they want more of Hop, and less of anything else. Also-openers Insidious and Source Code—two much better movies—opened to a combined total $10 million less than this ridiculous rabbit test.

Taking a step back, for a moment, there is a real rationale for the otherwise unreasonable returns. Parents have long since given up on guiding their children in the proper direction, and instead respond like Pavlov’s pooch whenever something comes along that can silence the brat for a good 80 to 90 minutes. There’s no questioning the content or creativity—if it looks adorable and more or less inoffensive, it’s on everyone’s Saturday shopping agenda. Look at the average suburban DVD shelf and see the proof. If Mom or Dad can con an older kid into gathering up the neighborhood brood, plunking down the reduced priced tickets, and experiencing a bit of offspring-less freedom for a small smattering of the weekend, they will line up in droves/drones. Quality is of little or no concern. Word of mouth is often a legitimate litmus test (right, Mars Needs Moms???), but for the most part, almost anything will suffice.

by Bill Gibron

21 Jan 2011

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. If that’s the case, 2011 is already a most hated year. From the sudden studio drop off, another aggravating awards season in the books and banked, to the nonstop flow of publicity for titles too tepid to make it at any other time of the year (“Hey [insert name here], here’s the latest exclusive clip of The Mechanic for you to enjoy - and post to your blog…), it can be grating. But thanks to the Web and its relentless desire to scoop and one-up each other, we are bombarded, almost hourly, with unnecessary information and advertising trivia. Even worse, citizen on the Planet Dweeb mandates that each and every one of these “revelations’ be immediate shared and conjected upon by everyone with a Twitter/Facebook feed.

It’s no surprise then that I am already sick and tired of 2011 - and it’s barely even started. Actually, that’s not a wholly accurate statement. I am fed up with certain circulated stories, the last couple of months making it difficult to play Farmville or follow the latest Courtney Love meltdown without learning that Liam Neeson is reprising his role in the animated Star Wars TV show, or that Disney has yet another Pixar flick coming out in a few months. Such overkill is clearly living up to the second syllable of said sentiment, making me loathe the next 11 months with a special kind of spite. While I am sure I can come up with a dozen more if need be, here are the initial ten patience testers I can’t cope with right now. Of course, as with anything in the nu-media, additional entries are just a truncated 24 hour news cycle away.

//Mixed media

Supernatural: Season 11, Episode 12 - "Don't You Forget About Me"

// Channel Surfing

"In another stand-alone episode, there's a lot of teen drama and some surprises, but not much potential.

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