Sunday, September 16, 2012

IS CLINT EASTWOOD NUTS? AND OTHER QUESTIONS PLAGUING HOLLYWOOD


Since the early days of silent pictures, Hollywood has always been a land that sees things in black & white. Too often it’s an industry that practices in extremism. If one zombie movie does well, why not make five more? If Jim Carrey can get 20 million for one movie, why can’t every superstar? If one studio’s making a movie about an asteroid, why shouldn’t the competition make one too and release it at the same time? It seems that there is seldom subtlety or nuance in the town’s approach to anything.

In the last weeks, there have been some utterly ridiculous examples of Hollywood extremism and they’re dominating the narrative coming out of Tinseltown. These stories continue to show how extreme Hollywood can be, and they also contribute to an awful film year thus far. One that is as baffling and disturbing a year as any I’ve encountered. Here’s my take on the extreme stories dominating the town right now:
Protestors in the street in Libya.


Did a movie really cause the current Middle East riots?

The unrest in that region of the world has been brewing for years. And the violence was planned, as we now know. But a portion of blame can easily be placed at the doorstep of the troubling new movie THE INNOCENCE OF MUSLIMS. Its overt anti-Muslim posturing has at the very least fanned the fire. And its narrative is a terrible embarrassment and insulting to the Muslim religion. Now, what’s the solution to avoiding such horrors in the future? Well, you can’t stop free speech. But the least Hollywood could do is to do a better job of checking out who you’re renting your sound stages and crews to. If they’d known the film being made would be such utterly tasteless propaganda, perhaps it would never have been enabled.
Bryan Cranston and Ben Affleck in the new thriller ARGO.


Why did Roger Ebert already predict ARGO would win the Best Picture Oscar?

The Oscar predicting business has become a lucrative cottage industry. And critics like Ebert and blogs like Awards Daily (http://bit.ly/OY6GX) or In Contention (http://bit.ly/QAcuK5) are getting lots of revenue and attention for such early forecasts. Then there’s the Toronto International Film Festival that lately has become quite the predictor of Oscar gold. The audience and critical reactions to TIFF’s premieres of THE KING’S SPEECH and THE ARTIST in past years started their path to the top prize. Still, Oscar prognosticators like Ebert & company are going out on limbs with such soothsaying about ARGO before it’s even opened nationally or before they’ve seen everything else that remains to be released this year. Is that good journalism? Heck, I’m not sure that’s even journalism, merely opinion. And those who feel the need to rush to judgment strike me as more than a bit desperate.

Is Clint Eastwood nuts?

No. He’s just angry, frustrated, and driven by a lifelong Libertarian philosophy with GOP leanings around the edges. Still, he got a lot of his facts about Obama and the last four years completely wrong. And his stand-up routine with the empty chair was insulting to the office of the Presidency, the GOP and the political process. Those who should have their heads examined are the party idiots who thought it was a good idea to put ol’ Clint on without checking his speech. Especially an hour before Romney’s big one. They thought “Dirty Harry” was on their side and would make their day. Instead, his debacle has really damaged Romney’s chances and Eastwood remains unforgiven. (Assess the damage yourself on the clip here.)

 Why are movies so terrible this year?

Last night the Creative Emmy Awards were held and a number of shows like GAME OF THRONES, MAD MEN, DOWNTON ABBEY, BREAKING BAD, BOARDWALK EMPIRE and MAD MEN did very, very well. Those superior dramas are all up for Best Drama Series (What a category!) and they prove week in and week out that small screen fare trumps big screen fare these days. I don’t think there has been a big screen drama yet this year as good as any of them. None are as good as TV movies GAME CHANGE or SHERLOCK: A SCANDAL IN BELGRAVIA either. Now, upcoming movies like THE MASTER, ARGO and LINCOLN look very promising. But there should be 20 such films a year, rather than a mere handful.
Daniel Day-Lewis as our 16th POTUS in the soon to be released LINCOLN.
But hey, there’s a fifth RESIDENT EVIL movie that Hollywood put out this weekend that just had to be made! It’s about more zombies. As brain dead as some studio heads, no doubt. I realize that studios want to make money. It is called show business after all, not show art. But the TV series up for Emmy’s Best Drama are both art and business. They’re critically heralded and ratings winners. If you build it, they will come. The movie folks should take a page from the TV playbook and start making smarter, fresher, more involving entertainments for the big screen. Not every movie has to be about comic book heroes or paranormal activity. (Even the zombies on TV are better. Geez!)
Why does Kim Kardashian make utterly foolish statements?

And why are we paying attention to her? Her comparison this week equating her bad marriage to cancer proved how utterly self-absorbed she is. She's been bellyaching about that break-up forever and needs to get over it. And her constant presence on TV and the tabloids is a continuing insult to worthy stories in the entertainment industry. Especially when you consider that there are literally a thousand women in town just as beautiful and sexy, and eminently more talented. Kim's 15 minutes were up a long time ago. (And wasn't that about how long that sex tape of hers lasted anyway?)

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