Thursday, November 05, 2015

Hollywood's latest panic

The studios are all up in arms because recent releases starring big name stars Bradley Cooper and Sandra Bullock bombed horribly. Hollywood pays these stars stupid money so that their films will open big at the boxoffice.

The theory is that audiences go to the movies to see movie stars. And even Nancy Meyer films will open big if they have mega star power.

But that’s changing.

Franchises now open movies. Hence all the sequels. No one went to see FURIOUS SEVEN because Vin Diesel was in it. Or even Jordana Brewster. When Daniel Craig is James Bond his movies open huge. When he’s some schmuck dealing with emotional problems audiences shrug.

Everyone is all geeked up to see the new STAR WARS movie and they would be no less excited if I were starring in it. At this moment in time, TOY STORY’S Woody is a bigger draw than Tom Hanks.

Once upon a time movie stars were aloof. They were larger-than-life. You only read about them in gossip rags. They only came out and mingled with mortals during red carpet events. The only way to really feast on them was to go to your local Cineplex when their dazzling new movie opened. Even it was SAHARA.

Today Oscar winners are doing car commercials, reality shows, and ELLEN. PEOPLE Magazine shows them paying at Jiffy Lube.  The better dramatic roles are in television, and stars who once looked down their surgically-repaired noses at TV are clamoring to be in something streamed by Hulu. There is no such thing as the “big screen” anymore. A handful of movies are in IMAX, and the rest are just fine for viewing on your iPad. You don’t go to IMAX movies to see “stars.” It’s not like you need eighty-foot screens to fully appreciate Anne Hathaway.

And who today is even considered to be that big a star that he alone could open a movie? Denzel? Not many lines around the block to see THE EQUALIZER. Will Smith? Puh-leeze. George Clooney? How’d he do in TOMORROWLAND? Or THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS? Or BATMAN & ROBIN for that matter. He couldn’t even open a franchise. The truth is any star you name, no matter how big, how popular, how zeitgeist beloved – is guaranteed to open big at the boxoffice.

I would like to think (in the fantasy world I live in) that movie audiences are more discerning today. (I'll pause while you laugh.)  There is so much good entertainment on television and movie prices are so high that folks are less apt to just throw down their money because their favorite star is in it.

But that said, a movie star can greatly elevate a decent movie into a much better one. Just imagine THE MARTIAN starring Keanu Reeves. There are certain actors who just command your attention. There’s something about them that is special. So you put them in a project with an interesting story and give them good writers, directors, and top notch crews and you have the recipe for POSSIBLE magic. I say “possible” because you still never know.

But no one wanted to see a film about a political campaign in Bolivia. Even with Oscar winner Sandra Bullock. And no one gave a shit about another prima donna chef. Even with flavor-of-the-month, Bradley Cooper.

Another reason studios are always so willing to pin their hopes on stars is because they can use those stars to cover their own ass. “Hey, I got you Sandra Bullock. Who knew people didn’t want to see her as… what was she in again?”

So lots of movies are coming out this holiday season. Tina Fey & Amy Poehler have a comedy. So does Seth Rogen. Bryan Cranston is in a drama that’s getting good buzz. But the real talk is all the franchises. STAR WARS, James Bond, a new Tarentino, HUNGER GAMES, Alvin & the Chipmunks, and PEANUTS. If there’s any one star who’s big enough to still open a movie today I’m going to say it’s Charlie Brown.


Bankable said...

Watch John Wick, starring Keanu, and tell me he doesn't elevate it from super dumb action movie to the best action movie last year.

Robert "kebernet" Cooper said...

No mention of the fact that these movies are just BAD? I mean, I went to see "Crisis" because, yeah, I'm the kind of guy that finds the idea of a political campaign in Bolivia to be an interesting topic, but geez, that movie is a DOG. I haven't heard anything good about "Burnt" either.

Mike Barer said...

I didn't even know these movies were released. I had seen the trailers on TV, but not heard about them appearing in the Seattle area.

Tudor Queen said...

To me, the 'franchises rule' trend is troubling. With a few exceptions, most franchises become mind-numbing at some point - but they still make money, so guess what? The lousy "Part Whatever" you saw last year is already gearing up to give you "Part Whatever Plus One" or even three new films. It smothers creativity under a blanket of CGI and reduces the chance that something quirky and interesting will be promoted, or even made at all.

Not everything needs a sequel - or five.

Stu West said...

Star power has ALWAYS depended on the right material. No one cared about seeing Clint Eastwood play John Huston in White Hunter, Black Heart but they went nuts for him in Unforgiven. '70s Steve McQueen at the height of his fame couldn't even get theaters to show his version of Ibsen.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

If franchises are bigger than stars, how in the world Robert Downey Jr. manages to earn a 50 million+ dollar paycheck for each Avengers movie? Would they even try to do those films without him?

JW said...

By Star Trek, you mean Star Wars, right?

McAlvie said...

The main quibble I have with today's post is the "franchises rule" theory, but I do agree that it takes more than having a big star to get people into a theater these days. Considering what a ticket costs, you'd better have a pretty decent hook if you want a big draw.

A franchise in itself is not a draw unless it has a market, and if the story isn't there, the franchise will still tank pretty fast. I read that the latest installment in the Bond series is bringing back all the gimmicky stuff, the cool gadgets and lots of chases and explosions. It turns out that Daniel Craig just staring at the enemy was a bit of a yawn. That wasn't Craig's fault; audiences have an expectation of a Bond film. And does anyone even remember the last Mission Impossible movie?

Studios keep churning out franchise vehicles probably because it seems like a safe bet, not to mention faster and cheaper to make. F&F doesn't even require a plot line, let alone stars, just a bunch of stunt drivers. But mainly I think it's a bean counter thing.

It's the same problem whether it's movies, tv shows, books, or any other entertainment media. One new idea becomes a hit, and suddenly we are overwhelmed with rip offs because someone behind a desk decided that vampires/politics/cooking shows/whatever are "big, really big!" They don't care that it's badly written with plot holes you could drive a truck through. It fits the model and that's all that matters.

The best actor ever can only do so much with bad material and cheap production values. So I can understand the franchise draw for an audience. At least it's familiar and they know what to expect.

Bill Avena said...

I'm still disappointed the Joaquin Phoenix "Inherent Vice" franchise didn't take off despite Reese Witherspoon. I really wanted a Doc Sportello series...
Here's a Friday question: Ever consider doing a show like "I'll Have What Phil's Having"? Former Everybody Loves Raymond writer hobnobbing at LA restaurants with Ray Romano and other cronies, Allison Janney etc. You could do one with Rob Long and make it a Siskel and Ebert type show.

Rich Shealer said...

When I was a kid it would take years for a movie to show up on TV with commercials. Even though a year doesn't seem as long as it did way back then, it doesn't take long to have an alternate place to see it. Usually a few months.

I wanted to see the Martian. I'm busy right now and would like to read the book first. Even though it probably looks fantastic on the big screen, it will be fine on my TV and probably in a format without commercials.

Back in the 80's I saw almost every movie that came out in the theater. I'll probably go to see Star Wars next month, kind of a special deal there. But if I can't make it I'm not too worried. I'll get another chance.

Rick Wiedmayer said...

I am waiting for the new Bond film to come out. Doesn't matter who is playing Bond. Beyond that I could care less about the movies.

Howard Hoffman said...

CHEF worked as a tortured chef flick because it was FUN. Sure, Favreau's Carl Casper was a prima donna, but Carl had every right to be. And he wasn't a, well, TOTAL jerk about it. He was a multi-dimensional pro and family guy. We knew he'd nail it going in. And we were also delighted by the surprises we got as the cast unfolded. Hey, Dustin Hoffman! Yeah, Scarlett Johansson! Robert Downey, Jr? Nice! And John Leguizamo successfully launched "amuse douche" into kitchens across the country. A great cast and great performances (Oliver Platt does a great weasel), but the premise and the word of mouth is what got asses in the seats. Good films, cast or not, will always win out.

Teller of Yarns said...

Ken, if I hadn't already heard Honey Boo Boo is coming back, I might have disputed your claim of "so much good entertainment on television". And just to clarify, is this entertainment where television is used for good?

Ryan E said...

I think people are playing the odds at the theater and taking their risks at home. This is not a new phenomenon, but the wait for content at home is shorter, the home viewing experience has improved, and the convenient delivery options have multiplied, so watching at home is more attractive than ever. If you have kids, home viewing is the only convenient and economical way to regularly see content for adults, too. If you're going to bother to pack up the family, drive to the theater and blow all that money, The Avengers 2 is a pretty safe bet if you liked the first one.

John in Ohio said...

I used to go to a lot of movies. However,
It wasn't so expensive then.
The wait before seeing it at home (VHS, HBO, TV) was longer.
Home wasn't as convenient.
I was younger and less picky about what I saw.

It costs more.
The wait, especially for DVD isn't bad.
DVDs are better than VHS.
Even if you watch from basic cable, DVR it and watch when you want.

Truth is, there are a lot of TV shows and movies that I missed while I was busier. Like Ken just watched Breaking Bad - I'm also catching up on a lot of shows. Would I rather go watch a blah at the movies, or Breaking Bad, Dexter, Sopranos, Deadwood, or 100 others that are in my queue? That I already paid for. That I can pause when I want to.

There are movies that should be watched on a big screen. Bond, Star Wars/Trek, Harry Potter, Hobbits, etc. Big spectacle movies. Even then I don't always make it.

Igor said...

Leonard, Part 7

Mighty Dyckerson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Peter said...

Off-topic - I'm very sorry to read that the screenwriter Melissa Mathison has passed away from cancer. She wrote a true classic in E.T., a film I adore and is one of the greatest films ever made. It's wonderful and now also rather poignant that 32 years later she reunited with Spielberg to write the adaptation of The BFG, which will no doubt be dedicated to her memory when it's released next year.

VP81955 said...

Just a reminder that "Mom" makes its belated, post-football season premiere tonight at 9/8c on CBS. Hard to believe its last new episode aired April 30 -- more than half a year ago. Hard to get traction for a series that way. Anna Faris (another film star who found refuge on the small screen), Allison Janney and Chuck Lorre deserve better treatment.

BTW, I attended the first filming for season 3 on July 31 at Warners in Burbank, but it wasn't for the episode airing tonight. It's obviously not uncommon in the industry; producers are under no obligation to film eps in chronological order of scheduled airing.

H Johnson said...

You are right on the mark with most of the post but I think the reasons for the these recent bombs goes further. I don't buy that franchises are the answer. They may be the rule but there has been more stinking sequels than successes.

Average folks spend more time than ever working just to get by. There is a shit load of entertainment available. If I feel like a movie, I can watch it at home without fighting for parking or putting up with some douche in front of me yakking his way through the film.

Most theaters only show 'big' movies. Smaller films have to be hunted down (back to no time for this). And all these comic book movies suck. Come on. The original Iron Man movie was entertaining enough, but each sequel gets more, no wait, just less and less. These movies are insulting. Remember when comic book stories were 'B' movies or serials? Now they're the main attraction?

The usual group of 'A' listers are getting old. Just because Sandra Bullock was cute and perky twenty five years ago and put butts in the seats back then doesn't mean we want to watch everything she does for the rest of her life. Good things have a shelf life. George Clooney may have the looks of an old time movie star but he just doesn't have the draw.

Maybe if the large studios started making and distributing more films that cost less by scaling down the mega salaries, they would start to see maybe smaller % profits but much, much smaller losses when a film just doesn't hit.

Quit insulting the audience and play to the smart crowd. If they'd do that I'm sure folks would find they're way back to the theater.

But perhaps it's just inevitable that movies in theaters will go the way of radio shows, bowling alleys, and peace loving policeman.


Unknown said...

Marvel was not excited about RDJ playing "Iron Man", they wanted a big name like Tom Cruise. But RDJ owned the part and became Iron Man, so Marvel had to keep him. He makes big coin on this franchise because he got a "Nicholson-Deal" and gets part of the merchandise money. RDJ needs the franchise nd vice versa, because no one wants to see him in Movies like "The Judge"

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,

First off, the lead commenter is correct- Keanu in John Wick was fantastic. I wasn't expecting much but it's a great, over-the-top-shoot-'em-up. You will laugh & enjoy the action throughput the movie.

You are correct when you say that franchises run movies & not stars. It used to be automatic for Tom Cruise or Jim Carrey or Will Smith or Julia Roberts to have a smash hit opening weekend- NOT ANYMORE. I think it's a combination of a lot of things: cost, lack of free time, bad movies, the internet (mobile devices, streaming, Netflix,etc) Great TV, rude people in the theatre, more choices than ever for your entertainment dollar.

Generally the movie making industry is in a blah period IMHO. There aren't a lot of movies that wow you, again IMHO.
I'm not a big budget, super hero, CGI kinda movie person. I like movies that don't require car chases, lasers or dinosaurs.
Well, some of the time, not most of the time.

Looking forward to seeing what other people think, --LL

BigTed said...

The time to make a movie about a cool chef with problems was 10 years ago, before it had already been done a dozen times (and before we got to know every actual celebrity chef from televised cooking competitions). (And also before Bradley Cooper had already failed as an Anthony Bourdain-like character in the quickly canceled sitcom "Kitchen Confidential.")

I also think Cooper has squandered his star power a little bit by appearing on TV in "Limitless," a pale imitation of his 2011 movie that keeps repeating the same creepy 15-second closeup of his face.

MikeN said...

> F&F doesn't even require a plot line, let alone stars, just a bunch of stunt drivers.

No, it only boomed after Vin Diesel came back and adjusted the plot. It could do well even without the driving.

Justin Russo said...

The Studio System was incredibly flawed, but it ensured GARBO would forever be larger-than-life. When the stars were controlled and hidden away from reality, one could crave them.

Roland Barthes summed it up best in his essay "The Face of Garbo":
'Garbo still belongs to that moment in cinema when capturing the human face
still plunged audiences into the deepest ecstasy, when one literally lost
oneself in a human image as one would in a philtre, when the face
represented a kind of absolute state of the flesh, which could be neither
reached nor renounced.'

'Viewed as a transition the face of Garbo reconciles two iconographic ages,
it assures the passage from awe to charm. As is well known, we are today at
the other pole of this evolution: the face of Audrey Hepburn, for instance,
is individualized, not only because of its peculiar thematics (woman as
child, woman as kitten) but also because of her person, of an almost unique
specification of the face, which has nothing of the essence left in it, but
is constiuted by an infinite complexity of morphological functions. As a
language, Garbo's singularity was of the order of the concept, that of
Audrey Hepburn is of the order of the substance. The face of Garbo is an
Idea, that of Hepburn an Event.'

Stardom has changed and has been evolving since the 1950's when actors became accessible. Though this is a good thing for the star, sometimes pathos takes away the star power and suddenly we are watching any Tom, Dick, or Harry on screen.

Then again, most star-driven movies are utter crap.

RyderDA said...

Disclaimer: I haven't seen a movie (other than a Pixar movie) in a theatre in months, possibly years. And I couldn't tell you who did their voices.

I find it astounding that audiences can figure out a movie is not good almost before it opens. I am fully aware that opening weekend is "everything" to Hollywood. But how can a movie with limited hype totally tank as it opens? My limited understanding is that both BURNT and OUR BRAND IS CRISIS are terrible movies; a review I read of the latter today said it was being generous at giving it 2/5. Amazingly, word got out by the Saturday matinees of opening weekend.

I want to believe that a great movie is made up of great characters telling a great story. I think Ken is right; a great actor can bring greater depth to a great character and almost save bad writing. To me, Ms. Bullock always plays the same character. I don't know who the other guy is at all. So you have crappy movies that have marginal stories told badly with faces, not characters. Meh. No wonder they tanked. But how did they tank so fast?

Bryan L said...

I think it's already been summed up pretty accurately, but it's a new world for entertainment. Movies just don't offer a solid return on your entertainment dollar. Currently, the wait to see a movie on DVD is about 90 days or so, and buying the DVD is almost always significantly cheaper than movie tickets. The last time I took my wife and daughter to a movie, it cost over $35 for tickets alone. Catch a sale on the DVD (and Target and Best Buy almost always discount new movies), and you can own it for $15 ($20 for Blu Ray). That's not even counting other viewing options, like streaming or checking it out from your local library.

Franchises are a more-or-less known quantity for the viewer. If I'm dropping $35, I want to have the reassurance that I will have a fighting chance of seeing something that makes that price worthwhile.

Even then, economics often dictate waiting for the DVD. Hell, my wife will tell me, "You know you're going to buy it. Just wait until then." I've got a big TV, a nice sound system, and there's very little probability that anyone will walk in and start shooting people.

Mark Fearing said...

Franchises are the McDonalds of film making. People know what they are going to get. And they please most of the people most of the time. Of course not everyone all the time.

The 'celebrity culture' we now live in has taken some of the power of being a movie star, you're right. More so than in the 1940's when movie stars were hardly of this earth. Imagine the impact of meeting Clark Gable in 1939. The stars ONLY lived in Hollywood. This was a special land where commoners didn't step.

But as you point out, a 'movie star' is just another attention seeker on a webpage now. While there has always been a 'celebrity culture' it used to be molded and powered by the studios to a great extent. Now celebrity culture is out of their control. They created a Frankenstein. It's on the lose now!

Diane D. said...

I think the answer to your question may be that the reviews come out before the movies open in most areas, and many people won't go if there are lots of bad reviews. I think that is very unfortunate. I have read some reviews in which it was obvious the reviewer had not even seen the movie, or he/she didn't get it.

I agree with you about Sandra Bullock, but I think she plays that character well, and I was VERY curious about American campaign strategists going to a South American country to work their magic. I wasn't disappointed. It wasn't a great movie but it was very intriguing, the dialogue sounded real, and Ms Bullock played her character very well. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

I think the most talked about movie of the holiday season will be Concussion.
Likely firestorm for the NFL right around playoff time.

cityslkrz said...

True! However I will go to see Tina Fey & Amy Poehler in anything they're in. I also think since there are so many venues now, because I do like Bradley and Sandra, I'll wait til it comes to Netflix or OnDemand. The big franchises, they're better on the big screen. Seeing the Millenium Falcon in a theatre will be thrilling.
Living in NYC, I go to see film festivals and documentaries that probably won't be coming to Loews. And no, they don't usually have big name stars either.

James Van Hise said...

Whether people go to theaters, I think, depends on whether you're in a big city or a smaller one. I tend to see films during the day and pay an average of $7.00 a ticket. In big cities ticket prices start at $10.00 and some IMAX theaters charge as much as $18.00 a ticket. I'll pay more to see something special, like last weekend I paid $13.00 to see a limited showing of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, which began as an album narrated by Richard Burton in the late 1970s and is now a stage play with an elaborate film backdrop narrated by Liam Neeson. Yesterday I paid $6.50 to see a little known new movie called Labyrinth of Lies, a German language film set in the late 1950s about a criminal prosecutor uncovering the truth about Auschwitz (which amazingly had been suppressed by the German government, dismissed by the public as American propaganda and overlooked by the Nuremburg trials). Seeing a film in the theater is still the best way to go unless you have a home movie setup with a 20 foot screen.

Tom said...

I have to think that your inclusion of Seth Rogen in the list of stars of upcoming movies was another in the long line of snarky joke inserts into a comment, because anyone who expects that talentless douche to open a film as the lead deserves what they get.

cadavra said...

One thing you also should acknowledge is that the studios themselves are responaible for destroying the star system by 1) moving all the credits to the end of the film, which nobody watches, and 2) not mentioning the stars in trailers, TV spots, etc. "Oh, yeah, that guy, whatshisface" is not going to open a picture.

Coupla corrections: THE EQUALIZER was one of Denzel's biggest films, and he's signed on for his first-ever sequel. As for Clooney, I think the OCEAN'S franchise qualifies, but more to the point, he consciously makes small-budget films that are not expected to bring in huge grosses (GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK, THE IDES OF MARCH, GOATS, etc.), so it's a bit unfair to attack him for not opening pictures to big grosses when, with an occasional exception like TOMORROWLAND, he's not trying to.

Andy Rose said...

I think the strangest bit of "star casting" in a franchise is for the Alvin and the Chipmunk movies. Instead of having Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and his wife voice the Chipmunks like they'd been doing for decades, they hired a bunch of semi-known actors. Which is fine... I get why you might do that for an animated movie. Except that they still hype the chipmunk voices so that they're completely unrecognizable. Pretty much everybody has the same "chipmunk" voice when you speed up a recording of them, so why bother to do star casting? Just so they'll be in a DVD extra? Is it really worth the extra money?

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem I see with last weekend's box office duds has been that Bradley Cooper is said to be considered a "big name" star. Since when? By whom? Besides THE HANGOVER and movies in which he's starred with J. Lawrence, what other film has he had a leading role in that one can claim was a blockbuster because of Cooper's talents, alone? (AMERICAN SNIPER does not count because that movie's success was not due to Cooper's acting so much as it was due to the rhetoric and director).

Anonymous said...

Oops. Forgot to leave my name. Anonymous above = Orleanas

Pat Reeder said...

I used to be a regular moviegoer, now I find that months go by without me ever going near a theater. I've never cared much for big, comic book CGI movies (I remember seeing the original "Star Wars" as a teenager, coming out of the theater saying, "Wow, that was really cool!," then never giving it another thought.) So special effects (which CGI has made utterly non-special) don't get me into theaters. I don't need to see a city destroyed in CGI over and over. I want a good story and interesting, relatable characters. Which, oddly enough, means that about the only new movies I pay to see in theaters anymore are documentaries. I might make an exception for the James Bond movie, but that's the only thing I've heard about that raises any interest.

BTW, I do have cable and Amazon Prime, so I see some of the big blockbusters and franchise flicks on TV from time to time. I have yet to see one that made me regret not paying to see it in a theater. Most make me regret wasting my time watching them in my living room for free.

I want movies about human beings! After all, I just proved I am not a robot!

cadavra said...

Pat, within the last week or so I've seen three "human being" movies that are among the best of this year: SPOTLIGHT, TRUMBO and TRUTH. You won't regret shelling out to see them in a theatre, plus this kind of grown-up enterprise needs to be encouraged. (I haven't seen SUFFRAGETTE yet, but it also seems to be an excellent picture.)

Jay Jones said...

I'd see Keanu Reeves in the The Martian many times before I'd see Matt Damon (who to me exudes smugness on screen) once.

Speaking of chef movies, I thought Chef was sweet and entertaining. Favreau's character wasn't a dick, like Cooper's character in the new movie apparently is. I also enjoyed the vicarious fantasy that somehow Jon Favreau's ex-wife would be Sofia Vergara and his girlfriend would be Scarlett Johansson.

MikeN said...

Cadavra, I'd rather not see movies that are filled with lies. Tough to say if Dan Rather is lying or he just doesn't know any better. However, Mary Mapes must know.
The guy who invented typefaces did an analysis and definitively stated the documents were forgeries, but here they are acting like they believe a story about this guy got the documents at a rodeo.

Anonymous said...


Didn't you have a blog post once about an episode of The Bob Newhart Show that bombed because it was about Bob's relationship with his business manager (or something?) and no one in the audience could connect or relate to that story?

(tried some quick google digging and found nothing.)

But that's immediately what I thought of when I saw the trailer for "Burnt" - are we really supposed to give a shit that this cranky asshat chef is gunning for a THIRD Michelin star? That seems like the most unrelatable set of stakes in movie history.


Joe Blow said...

In the movie, TRUTH, although they spend a goodly amount of time trying to prove that typewriters existed that could have produced the memos, they repeatedly point out that even if they were forged, the story they tell is true, because other sources tell the same story. I have to say that I felt more sympathetic to Dan Rather and Mary Mapes after seeing this movie. It certainly wasn't the best investigation ever done, but the consequences seemed out of all proportion to the transgression.

tb said...

It's stupid to pin all this hope on the OPENING WEEKEND. Movies I want to go see (just not on opening weekend) I have to hear that they are BIG BOMBS already!! Two hours after they open. OMG, TERRIBLE NUMBERS!!etc.. blah, blah...Come on. Shut up for a week, then talk about whether it met expectations. Big pet peeve of mine. Talk about a rush to judgement. As if nobody goes to the movies on a Wednesday

MIKE said...

Agreed with Pat Reeder, saw Star Wars when it came out when I was in high school and though, 'Gee, cool effects,' and gave it no more thoughts until thirty years later when I thought, 'Gee, a lot of people are obsessed with these films.'
And I think it's sad that people are focusing on minutiae like font sizes when the evidence is clear that the figurehead of the Cheney administration ducked his duty. Got away with it just like he got away with lying repeatedly to justify torture and mass murder. Rather & Mapes lost their careers but the perp got away again. Moral: don't cross the ruling class!

Joe Blow said...

Just went to see BURNT and loved it. Bradley Cooper was terrific as the asshole Chef, and I finally understood why lesser chefs stay around and take that kind of treatment. It may just be perfectly prepared food (like Everest is just a big mountain) but it is magic for the people who can do it and those whose goal is to do it.

MikeN said...

Joe that whole thing about the typewriters is false and disproved by analysis done at the time. It was an attempt to try and cling to the false story that had been debunked, claiming there were these very expensive typewriters, which of course no military base would possibly buy. But even then it was wrong.

Mary Mapes had spoken to various sources that showed the overall story was false as well, but it didn't fit the narrative. This was the same newsgroup that tried to hold a story to drop until just before the election, about looting of Iraqi museum or loss of weapons, but the New York Times ran it early. I suspect the whole AWOL story was deliberately left unanswered by the Bush campaign along with the cocaine story to keep people from searching for something else.

Joe Blow said...

Yes, MikeN, it's true the movie is totally sympathetic to Mary Mapes version of what happened, and even considering that, it was still obvious that it was a sloppy investigation. I guess at that level that is an unforgivable lapse, but it just seems that the consequences were so draconian--the lives of so many people ruined beyond repair. What the movie did quite effectively was show how easily that kind of transgression can occur when time is short and the story is so explosive.

Oddly, in an interview, the Director talked as if he thought he had given a balanced view of the story which allowed the viewer to decide for himself who he thought was at fault!

MikeN said...

Time is short and the story explosive? It was about something that happened more than 30 years ago.

dwibs93 said...

I too have noticed when big-name actors fail to help the film's box office chances.

The worst cases are when you cast actors who (good or not) are not big draws yet give them top billing anyhow, especially when the movie they're in is mediocre or worse.

Like Tomorrowland for example, an enjoyable yet derivative film that shot itself in the foot with it's out-of-place third act. George Clooney (the actor who received top billing) despite his good performances in the past and in this film, is not a big draw, which meant that, along with the film's middling reception, caused it to be Summer 2015's biggest bomb.

halojones-fan said...

It is worth keeping in mind that all of Marvel's current secular godhood exists because RDJ was so cute as Tony Stark back in 2008. Uoure right that we didn't go see Guardians of the Galaxy because Chris Pratt was in it, but we *did* go to see it because of RDJ...