Sunday, September 21, 2014

FIVE STORIES FROM THE FILM INDUSTRY THAT LEFT ME FLABBERGASTED THIS WEEK


If you think it’s been a confounding couple of weeks with a new war in the Middle East, Scotland voting “no” on separation, and all the NFL domestic violence issues, they were equally troublesome in Hollywood. Granted, much of what I am writing about today does not reach the level of drama as those more important stories, but nonetheless, the following five items left me flabbergasted.
 
Olympian soccer star Hope Solo
WHY CAN’T THEY CATCH THE HOLLYWOOD HACKER?

Can’t they nab the jerk who’s assaulting women online with his release of their most intimate photos he’s stolen? I wrote about this a few weeks ago (http://bit.ly/1rJGLLN), and it strikes me that this might be an inside job at Apple or the NSA. How is this creep able to hack into over a hundred accounts? Apple blocks anyone after three mistaken password guesses, so how did he hack all those celebs so easily?

Well, now he’s dropped a second round of hacked photos from various iCloud accounts and the FBI or Apple still don’t seem to have an UNSUB (unknown suspect) in their sites. Seriously, with all our NSA spying and CIA eavesdropping capabilities, how was this allowed to happen twice in as many weeks? I feel especially sorry for soccer star Hope Solo. She sure didn’t need her candid shots exposed like they were when her week already was awful due to her domestic violence charges remaining in the news.


WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH JOHNNY DEPP?

Can Johnny Depp play real people anymore? In the 2014 thriller  TRANSCENDENCE he played a virtual human being, and now in TUSK, an otherwise good horror movie, he gives a performance that would graciously be called a caricature. It’s so over-the-top hammy that it ruins the last third of the movie. Time was Depp could make normal people interesting like in WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE or DONNIE BRASCO, but those days seem long ago now compared to all the wigs, putty noses, and goofy accents he’s trotted out for films like CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

Gene Wilder created his Wonka without changing his looks or voice, but Depp seems to lately be feeling the need to act with a capital A. I still am a fan, but it’s getting awfully hard to remain so these days.
Julianne Moore in the yet to be released STILL ALICE.
WHY SO MANY OBSESSIVE OSCAR PREDICTIONS?

Websites like GoldDerby.com and Sasha Stone’s AwardsDaily.com exist to predict and pontificate over movies and their accolade potential. But this week, Gold Derby’s panel of awards prognosticators almost unanimously declared that Julianne Moore would finally win her Oscar for the yet-to-be-released STILL ALICE (http://bit.ly/1p8Di2L). Elsewhere, others are as certain about Steve Carrell’s chances as Best Actor for FOXCATCHER, a film only festival attendees have seen.

Look, I love a good horse race as much as the next movie fan, but some pundits’ certitude borders on asinine. I remember how so many thought Matthew McConaughey was a lock for a Best Supporting Actor nomination two years ago for MAGIC MIKE. Some practically were trying to will it to happen. It didn’t, of course, though MM did take Best Actor the next year for DALLAS BUYERS CLUB.

The problem is that these 'expert sites' are potentially robbing some chances of films before they’re even seen. Even worse, some voters just read these sites and vote accordingly with what's said without honoring their responsibilities as Academy members to judge things for themselves. I’d love to see Carrell win, or Michael Keaton, or Benedict Cumberbatch, or Eddie Redmayne, but I’d like to see their movies in contention first before the game is called "over".


THE DOMESTIC BOX OFFICE IS DOWN SO THAT MEANS MORE MOVIES NEED TO BE MADE TO PLAY IN CHINA?

In the Hollywood Reporter this week, some studio executives said that because American audiences are unreliable, that put more pressure than ever to create tent pole movies that play overseas, particularly in China. Ah, no. Here’s the way to make more movies that play at home and abroad. Make better ones. Make more original ones. Stop with so many sequels, reboots and superhero sagas. As David Fincher said, superhero movies are boring because we know the stories and we know the hero will prevail. Stories succeed best when they keep the audience in rapt attention and uncertain of what's to come next. If we get ahead of the story, we’ll become bored. That’s why the nation’s 2014 box office has been so tepid. Too much Wolverine, and not enough wow.


WHY DO YA TITLES HAVE TO BE SO DEPRESSING?

This weekend THE MAZE RUNNER kicked ass with a weekend gross of 32 million. A lot of teens, particularly young girls, showed up for this one, as they have for THE HUNGER GAMES, DIVERGENT and of course the entire run of mediocre TWILIGHT movies. But all of these stories are downers. Even the excellent THE FAULT IN OUR STARS was about terminal cancer, for heaven’s sake! And the theme of teenagers trapped in a dystopian society with few choices or pre-ordained tracks they're forced to take, seem so one-note to me. And not really a reflection of today's times. I know college degrees don’t mean much these days, the 1% are still too few of the population, and the world is filled with more and more chaos and strife, but I’d think younger people would gravitate towards something less depressing in lieu of such realities. Can't movies be Xanax or Zoloft?

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