The makers of movies in other parts of the world have a bigger problem than Harvey Weinstein. Their work, often far superior and riskier than what Hollywood hopes will connect with the great unwashed, barely gets a release beyond their borders, the allure of exciting subject matter and approaches trumped by a general dislike of subtitles and a feeling that foreign films are nothing more than the same old tired Tinseltown takes with a decidedly different vocabulary. Still, Weinstein is also a thorn in said cinema’s side. He is a ruthless businessman and a protracted fan of such arthouse fare, or so he would have you believe. Yet, recently, a notorious nickname associated with the former Miramax chief has come back to haunt him—“Harvey Scissorhands”—and it’s a reminder that, aside from differing dialogue, international efforts have a bigger barrier to aesthetic acceptance.
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In the last couple of days, I have read two very interesting articles about the state of Hollywood. One centers on the current beef between the cast and crew of The Lone Ranger and a ragtag group of pre-biased critics who were out to get the movie even before it opened. According to Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Buckheimer, the prerelease buzz over Disney’s desire to cut costs and the ballooning of the budget to near $250 million (rumored) resulted in a bull’s eye on the film’s back. Even before a single frame was unveiled to the public, these underpaid, jealous pundits had their reviews ‘prewritten,’ ready to dump all over the movie before the people got a chance to weigh in (funny, I always thought that was that the box office was for).
Leave it to George Clooney to try and put some perspective into the usual end of summer season speculation. The Oscar winning actor and producer (whose no slouch when it comes to directing and screenwriting, either), was quoted this past week in an article taking on noted hedge fund billionaire Daniel Loeb, who many consider to be an “activist” when it comes to his investments, particularly in Hollywood (he currently controls around 7% of Sony’s stock). Speaking exclusively to Deadline.com, the celebrated superstar took a break from promoting his upcoming film about an Allied effort to save important works of art and culturally significant and rare artifacts from Hitler’s destructive forces, a clear awards season entry entitled The Monuments Men, to blast what he considers to be a carpetbagger, making claims against an industry without firsthand knowledge of what he’s truly talking about.
We critics love to complain: about bad movies; about bad theater going experiences; about unnecessarily beloved actors and actresses or titles that get too much attention/credence from less than selective audiences. But nothing gets our aesthetic panties in a wad quicker than when an otherwise strong entry in the medium, something we believe viewers and seasoned moviegoers have been asked for over the years, goes unnoticed or underappreciated. Typically, it’s a smaller, independent film which tries to broaden the language of the artform while remaining recognizable as entertainment or message. In the case of Pacific Rim, however, it’s a huge Summer season tentpole that bests lesser examples of its similarly styles monster movie mayhem.
Dear J.J. (I hope I can be so informal…):
Just wanted to let you know that I have really enjoyed your revamp of the whole Star Trek thing. Yeah, I’m one of the geeks. One of the nerds. One of the Trekkers, or Trekkies, or Trek-heads, whatever they want to call us. I was a bit too young to enjoy the original series the first time around (I was five when it premiered on NBC) but I do remember seeing bumper stickers on cars suggesting that the network “save” the show. By the time the crew of the Enterprise went cartoon, I was 12 and a huge sci-fi fan. I enjoyed these animated adventures, but it made me hungry to go back and see what came before.