Saturday, August 7, 2010

TRAILER PARK: Three thoughts on current movie trailers that inexplicably seem to be attached to every movie I see of late:
  • As we've previously noted, the Social Network trailer is great, but at least the past couple of times I've seen it, I've noticed that it's been just slightly recut, I'm guessing in response to MPAA concerns, to remove a shot at 2:05 that Linda Holmes was surprised made it past the censors.
  • Devil certainly has a stylish trailer, with the Panic Room-esque letters hanging in air, and a high-concept premise (five people are stuck in an elevator, and one of them is, unbeknownst to the others, the Devil) that would seem to sell itself, but when "a new nightmare from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan" has come on screen, it's been greeted by some audible derision--perhaps that could be edited out.
  • Yes, Zach Galifianakis is quite funny in the Due Date trailer, but doesn't it need to sell the concept of the story to at least some degree, like why they are going to LA together?
THEY NEEDED A BETTER TAILOR: It's rare you can see the seams in a movie as much as you can in Dinner For Schmucks. Not only can you blatantly tell that some parts were written for performers other than those playing them (I'd be shocked if the Jemaine Clement part wasn't written for/envisioned as Russell Brand, for instance), you can readily see where scenes got trimmed for being too cruel, and there's a major performer (who's unbilled in the opening credits) who seems as though his scenes might have been entirely added in late reshoots. Add to it Steve Carell basically playing Michael Scott at his most oblivious/awkward/painful, and it's a film that has a bunch of very funny people in it who clearly had the time of their life making the movie that nonetheless manages to be not-terribly-funny. If Carell wants to have a post-Office career as a movie actor, he needs to step away from Michael Scott, and this is a step back.

Friday, August 6, 2010

THE UNLAWFUL OBJECTIVE IS UNMISTAKABLE: Believing itself to be delivering unto the world a Dharma Drop worth of awesomeness, one of the Gawker Media sites this afternoon posted the full video of the twelve-minute epilogue to Lost which constitutes the most anticipated addition to the Season 6 DVD set.

Shame on Gawker Media for doing so.

[They have since reduced it to a three-plus minute clip from the end of the video which contains perhaps the more shocking elements of the full epilogue. It is yet unclear whether this was a voluntary action or was prompted by legal threats.]

We here at ALOTT5MA HQ take seriously the notion that the people who generate good content have the right to seek payment for it, and those who attempt to circumvent their efforts to get paid are stealing. Period. And, obviously, a good way to encourage people to buy a DVD set of a tv series folks have already seen -- especially when it comes to a series for which folks were frustrated by inadequate answers and closure -- is to provide them with answers, closure and content they haven't already seen.

But when you set up a system in which writers get paid based on their hit counts, as Gawker Media has done, all you're doing is encouraging its writers to locate potentially popular content which one cannot find elsewhere. (HT: Matt.) Otherwise-protected intellectual property is obviously one such area -- steal the content, ring up the hits, take (some of) it down when you receive a cease and desist letter, pay a settlement if you have to, repeat -- ritualized intellectual property theft as business model, a Napster of text and video.

[Heck, you may recall they even grabbed Isaac's Tiger Woods parody without initially crediting our site (see #8 here), not that we were asking for money. Just a link. Of course, there's also the athlete "dong shots" and rumors regarding too-much-fun-loving gunslingers and their texting habits which no other media will touch. Whatever draws a crowd.]

But the latter stuff is mostly rude and privacy-violating; stealing intellectual property directly takes potential money from content creators. That's bullshit. I'm glad they cut it down from twelve minutes to three minutes, but, really, it ought to be none minutes. Let ABC, Damon and Carlton decide how much free content with which to entice fans. Namaste.
I KNOW NOMI MALONE. YOU'RE NO NOMI MALONE: This September will mark 15 years since the release of Showgirls, and for those looking for its heir, seems we have it in Burlesque, which seems like Showgirls minus nudity plus Cher, with Christina Aguilera as the plucky small town girl, a brunette Kristen Bell as the designated bitch, and a script (according to Wiki) that's been touched up by, among others, Diablo Cody. I'm not sure if this is going to be awful or so completely awful that it's amazing, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be one of those two.
THIS WILL NOT GET HIM HIS THIRD PIECE OF THE EGOT: You know how much we love Justin Timberlake around here as musician, SNL host and most-likely-to-succeed-for-a-long-damn-time superstar. Well, the trailer for Yogi Bear: In 3D, with him voicing Boo Boo and Dan Aykroyd as the lead (and a live-action Anna Faris), squanders a little bit of that goodwill.

Next month will mark four years since the release of his last album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, which was only his second solo work. Enough dabbling; if he's not going to join Studio 8-H full time, it's time to get him back making music.
WHERE THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT BEATS TOY STORY 3: Mark Harris' column in EW this week (not online) prompted me to locate the site which administers the Bechdel Test for films. The three questions: does the film (1) have at least two women in it, (2) who talk to each other, (3) about something besides a man? (There's also, per Harris, a (1)(a) -- do the women have names?)

What's disturbing about the Bechdel Test is, indeed, how easy it should be to fulfill, and how rare that it is.
IN CASE YOU CAN'T REACH 92-YEAR-OLD GAZILLIONAIRES DIRECTLY: Tell us what your recommendations would be to Sidney Harman regarding his purchase of Newsweek. (Other than mine, of don't buy Newsweek because print is dying and the brand's not worth it.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

HOT OR COLD? YES OR NO? When we heard "I Kissed A Girl" on the radio for the first time, I'm sure the response from most of us was that this'd be a flash in the pan, but 4 subsequent top 10 singles (including an additional #1 in California Gurls), is Katy Perry the new Madonna, the new Britney, or something entirely different? I don't know if the Rolling Stone cover story on her (sadly, only an excerpt is available) answers that question, but it certainly suggests there's something a lot more complicated there than we might expect from a pop tartlet.
FROGGER IS BURNING: Given how much everyone seems to love the Arcade Fire, is it time for me to join the bandwagon? If so, 'splain how.
I ONCE WAS BLIND, BUT NOW I SEE: Look, I'm all for the fun of guessing blind items in gossip pages, but if you're going to write a blind item, at least go to the trouble of making it a little bit blind. (The ones about "which member of the cast of The Expendibles went on a massive bender" and "who's Keith Urban having an affair with?" are at least semi-blind.)
JUMPED THE FONZ: On the occasion of Shark Week 2010, a friend noted that (a) there is a new shark documentary approximately every ten minutes and (b) each shark documentary mentions that we know very little about sharks meaning that (c) all of these shows are 100% rehashed and haven't contained an iota of new information in many years. That said, even with the cool new Expedition Great White, have shark documentaries -- has Shark Week in particular -- jumped the shark?
WHITE ELEPHANTS: J.T Ramsay has a plan to revive the moribund Oakland Athletics franchise -- relocate it back to its original home, Philadelphia.

In other Athletics news of interest to the blog, Royce Clayton is playing Miguel Tejada in the Moneyball adaptation, this guy is Alex Rodriguez, and this guy was an extra and wrote about a night at the ballpark with Jonah Hill.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

ANYBODY WANT A PEANUT? HitFix's Drew McWeeny sits down with Rob Reiner for a career retrospective interview. Much talk of The Princess Bride and Stand By Me (and what it was like working with the original authors of both), of seeing and developing Aaron Sorkin's talents, the state of the film industry, and what it was like to cast Fezzik:
[It's] not like you throw a stick out and you hit 50 giants. I mean there’s not that many giants in the world. So, basically when we started this, Bill Goldman said that Andre’s the only one who can play this part. He said you’ve got to get Andre the Giant.
Sadly, I think it's now fifteen years (The American President) since Reiner directed a good film. Still, worthy interview.
THERE'S ONE THING I WANT YOU TO DO FOR ME.... WIN: Or, there's also the answer that Muhammad Ali said to the screen when watching Rocky II with Roger Ebert back in 1979. A great read, with Ali critiquing Stallone-as-fighter, Apollo Creed as Ali stand-in, the film's realism ("In a real fight," Ali said, "they would never allow the eyes to be closed that much and let the fight keep going. They would stop it") and the racial implications of the ending. (HT: Chuck.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NOW IMAÄ GONAÄ LET U FINISH: New Yorker cartoons recaptioned with Kayne West tweets.
BONER OF THE DAY: Tough call -- is it the political candidate who tweeted "Barebacking again in northern Indiana... Oh my goodness, I'm gonna be sore tomorrow!" only to later state, when being apprised of an alternate meaning for the first word, "OH MY GOODNESS!!! Seriously??? Wow. Let me clarify: I was on the back of a horse for the sole purpose of transportation." (HT: Bilerico.)

Or this guy (HT: Deadspin):

The video was staged, as the reporter explains to Hugh Hewitt (audio).
NO, HE WILL NOT COVER YOUR TORAH PORTION: Do you want to see an early 90s Paul Rudd in his first career as a Bat Mitzvah MC? Of course you do.
WORSE THAN LAST NIGHT'S CARLOS SANTANA INJURY: Check out what a pair of vandalizing thugs did to one of the Phillie Phanatic statues around town. It is unclear how much Tommy Lasorda paid them.
YOU THINK I'M CRAZY? YOU CALL ME CRAZY, YOU THINK I'M CRAZY? YOU WANNA SEE CRAZY? Some things never change -- four years ago today on the blog, we asked what it would take to kill Mel Gibson's career.

Monday, August 2, 2010

NEEDS MORE MUMMY: Oh, those jokers at Slate, trying to make us think they're serious when they ask why Mad Men receives a more fawning critical reception than True Blood.

By way of rebuttal, let me describe one scene from last night's True Blood: Sookie, a young telepathic muse/waitress lies comatose in a hospital bed. She is surrounded by her loved ones: her dim brother; a vampire boyfriend who got confused and sucked out all of her blood; a werewolf; a tough-guy short-order cook in halfhearted drag; and a woman who a few weeks ago was hypnotized by a confusingly female minotaur into polyamorous cannibalism. One friend is absent because he is busy turning into a dog to rescue his brother, who also turns into dogs, from his job, which is dog fighting; her other suitor also is missing because he's a viking secretly carrying out a millenium-old blood feud, the present step of which involves playing best man in a coerced royal vampire wedding held in a torture-chamber basement and officiated by a veteran of the Spanish Inquisition. Sookie awakens and screams, because they are all from the same town, but nobody has the same accent. And also because her name is Sookie.
I HEARD YOU LET THAT LITTLE FRIEND OF MINE TAKE OFF YOUR PARTY DRESS: For thoughtful, cogent analysis of last night's Mad Men, go see Sepinwall. For thoughtless, rambling reactions to it, wait 18 or so hours and check here.
THE TALL ONE WANTS WHITE BREAD, TOASTED, DRY, WITH NOTHIN' ON IT: For the first time, whole wheat bread sales figures have surpassed those for white bread. [Technically, only on the revenue side; in terms of volume, "Americans bought 1.5 billion packages of white bread in the last year, a 3 percent decrease, and 1.3 billion packages of wheat bread, a 5 percent increase."]
SPOILER ALERT! The Awl's Nate Freeman traces the history of the term to 1982 and offers thoughts on its usage, with David Haglund suggesting no great work of art can be spoiled:
Put simply, a truly ambitious and successful work of narrative art is spoiler-proof. If a show or movie or book is really, truly great, you can watch it again and again and again, well after you know what's going to happen, and the aesthetic pleasure you derive therefrom will not diminish. It may even increase. This is an essential part of the work's greatness.

Consider this: Alfred Hitchcock knew as much about creating suspense as perhaps any narrative artist of the past century; and when he made what is, hands down, his most artistically ambitious movie, Vertigo, he went out of his way to spoil the mystery halfway through. Vertigo is the story of one woman pretending to be another in an effort to deceive a man, and Hitchcock easily could have preserved the mystery of that woman's identity until the end of the film.

But the pleasures and satisfactions of Vertigo don't depend on not knowing a basic aspect of the plot. They derive from the movie's brilliant illustration of love and desire and the ways we idealize and romanticize particular human beings and then become disappointed or even disgusted by their simple, physical humanity. It's the best thing Hitchcock ever did, and knowing who is actually who doesn't change that.

Back in 2008, Dan Kois suggested statutes of limitation for when it was no longer necessary. Boy, that Don Draper last night, wow ....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

AT LEAST IT'S KEEPING CARLA GUGINO EMPLOYED: Some questions begged by tonight's Entourage:
  • Who on earth thought it would be a good idea for them to write Aaron Sorkin and Jessica Simpson a scene to perform together? What sort of drugs did they give Sorkin to make him perform in such a scene?
  • Because we're a pseudo-family-blog, I'm not going to get into the lengthy E-Sloan plot in tonight's episode, which was handled with much more dignity (and humor) on Sex and the City with Charlotte some years ago, but who thought that was a good idea?
  • Who thought that what Entourage needed was a female porn star playing herself, but who spends the entire episode in network-safe level of clothedness?
  • Let's assume that someone just started watching Entourage this season--wouldn't they have the view that there are actually two completely separate shows going on--one about Vince and his buddies, and one about Ari running the agency--which have effectively nothing to do with one another?
NEITHER FEATURED IN CHELSEA CLINTON'S WEDDING COVERAGE: Two items of note from the NYT Sunday Styles section today:
  • What I believe is the first reference to a profile subject (not in the wedding announcements section) having, or at least claiming to have, "a friend with benefits." (And man, do those two dudes sound douchey.)
  • An analysis of 30 words you might not expect to have appeared in an NYT announcement but have, including what, as far as we can all hope, will be the only reference to iCarly ever to appear in the wedding announcements. (It also provides a link to WeddingCredential, which lets you search the last 3,910 announcements to appear, and which I'm sure will yield interesting results in y'all's hands.)
POOR, PREDICTABLE BART. ALWAYS TAKES "ROCK": A helpful infographic on rock-paper-scissors strategy.