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Monthly Archives: September 2007

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Will Smith to Trash Karate Kid in Remake

Oddly at some point in his career Will Smith became convinced that he could act. Then more disturbingly he became convinced that he could also create and produce. Not long ago he announced that he could even be president. Well not only can he not be President, he also can’t act or produce. That won’t however be stopping him from remaking Karate Kid and sticking in his own spawn as its star.

As vanity projects go this is right up there with Francis Ford Coppolla putting Sonia in Godfather 3 or as if Tom Hanks had decided to remake Crocodile Dundee and decided to cast Colin Hanks as Crocodile Dundee. I’m not one of the people whose childhood is inseparably attached to Karate Kid but I do have a certain fondness for it. But I also know this will make its 20 million at the box office before plummeting away while leaving the original intact. After all the movie has survived its share of terrible sequels over the years.

It’s ultimately a symptom of the collision of remake fever in Hollywood and vanity and ego in hip hop.

Can We Please Stop Jumping Over Every Cloverfield Tidbit?

Cloverfield film posterSometimes I think movie bloggers are worse than Pavlov’s dogs. If you simply feed them the information, they all but ignore it. Daily very nice girls who graduated from NYU in the hopes of getting into film but instead have to send out emails daily to various blogging sites beat their heads against the wall getting anyone to run the latest update on movies that are actually interesting. By contrast all J.J. Abrams has to do is leak another grainy photo or mysterious code number from Cloverfield and everyone is suddenly all over it.

But the problem with viral hype is that it often hides a lack of content. Remember EA’s Majestic and how many gaming magazines seemed willing to fall for phony stories about how scary the game was and how it was driving Beta players over the edge? Oh what’s that, you forgot Majestic even existed. How about the X-Files? Ever find out what was happening there? No and pretty soon you didn’t even care. What about Cloverfield, a Japanese monster movie set in New York with lots of steadicam and assorted wackiness? Good and good riddance.

Until JJ Abrams puts out something more than viral tidbits, why even bother?

Back to the Stars

It’s probably a good thing that we’re actually having debates over manned missions again since it says that after the longest time when the only manned missions involved the space shuttle releasing another satellite or pointless experiment on whether ants can assemble screws in space, we’re actually having the debate, propelled in part by Russian jingoism as usual “The moon, she belong to Russia!”

And this is how the AFP spins it.

The United States has pledged to colonize the Moon by 2020 and send astronauts to Mars, but many scientists say dangerous and costly manned space missions should be a thing of the past, not the future.

Most of those scientists by no coincidence love grants and have no interest in actually going into space. They’d much rather aimlessly send out 500 million dollar probes and spend the next decade of their career trying to prove some ambiguous theory based on the even more ambiguous readings taken by said probe, which is where the planetary science of the last few decades has been.

Intelligent robots and satellites such as those already exploring the Red Planet, they say, do a good job and are a lot less fragile than human organisms too easily stranded millions of miles from home.

Yes their good job consists of traveling a few miles in a year’s time without breaking down too much and returning some readings which after a few years still leave scientists debating the question of water on Mars. Absolutely smashing, also absolutely useless. We could send out another hundred probes and the debates will only keep going without ever being settled by scientific orthodoxy.

Delving deeper into the final frontier, however, is coming back into vogue.

NASA’s renewed commitment to lunar and Mars missions, entrepreneurial ventures ranging from space tourism to moon mining, and emerging “space powers” China and India are all promising to launch a new generation of flesh-and-blood explorers beyond the reassuring grip of near-Earth gravity.

“We are looking at the moon and Mars to build a civilisation for tomorrow and after that,” the head of NASA, Michael Griffin, told an international astronautical congress in India last week.

NASA has targeted the Moon’s south pole for a lunar base as a jumping off point for further exploration of our solar system. Mars is the primary target, with the Phoenix spacecraft set to land on its northern plains next year to see if the Red Planet can support human life.

Yes which is what we should have been doing all along. Instead we wasted decades on the Space Shuttle which is now a junkheap that’s falling apart and is truly dangerous. We had the lead in space for decades and we blew it. Now we’re playing catch up with the Russians and Free enterprise and that isn’t looking good.

A Right Wing Port for Hollywood’s Piracy Storm

The amount of publicity being given to the National Legal and Policy Center’s press release on Google’s piracy is ironic as are the sources which are happy enough to provide it with uncritical publicity such as the Hollywood Reporter.

The media is widely reporting that the National Legal and Policy Center is a non-profit and unaffiliated with any media company, which it certainly is. What they are not reporting is that it is a right wing group founded by two former folks from Citizens for Reagan which has become most famous for going after Hillary Clinton. The Hollywood Reporter however disingenuously writes,

The nonprofit group, which says it has no financial ties to the movie industry, is best known for helping to expose a 2003 corruption scandal involving the Air Force and Boeing Co. that landed two executives in jail.

More accurately though, the group is a right wing organization which exists mainly to bludgeon Democratic and Liberal figures. The attack on Google might be a bit of a departure for it, but you have to wonder about the real motivation. Google has its own liberal lobbyist in D.C. now and with the FCC Open Access mess has teed off a lot of telecoms. Either one is ground for some political tricks of the kind we’re seeing now.

Hi, We’re from the Weinstein Company…

Hi,

I work for the Weinstein Company and we were wondering if we could get permission to shoot some scenes of our movie at your concentration camp. What’s the movie about? Well that’s a really good question. Ummmm. Could we possibly dispense the part about getting permission first and then tell you what the movie’s about? No? Really?

Err okay. It’s based on a book. The book is set during WW2. Sounds good so far right? Yes. It’s about a boy. Okay so we have a boy, novel, WW2. What’s the novel about? Well ummm it’s about a 15 year old boy who gets an erotic education from a 30 year old Nazi lady. No wait, don’t hang up yet. Did I mention that Nicole Kidman plays the Nazi Lady? Does that change your mind any?

No, well did I mention we’re the Weinstein Company. We have Oscars and BAFTA’s. Also the novel is called The Reader and it’s very well regarded. So can we please use your concentration camp? Pretty please. Still no?

Sincerely

Ted @ The Weinstein Company

The makers of love story “The Reader,” which stars Nicole Kidman, have been denied permission to lense scenes at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, north of Berlin.

The Weinstein Co pic, which also stars Ralph Fiennes, is being directed by Stephen Daldry and produced by Mirage Prods. partners Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack.

In the film, which is set in contemporary Germany, a man recounts the story of his erotic awakening in a covert love affair with an older woman in the wake of WWII. Lensing begins this week on the pic.

Horst Seferens, a spokesman for the curators at Sachsenhausen, said that the filmmakers had written to inquire if they could use the memorial for a key scene, but the request was turned down.

Only documentary filmmakers are allowed to use the site, which is now a memorial to the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust, he said.

“Former concentration camp sites are cemeteries — it’s just not appropriate to use them as film sets,” he said.

Hotel Chevalier – Eh, So What?

Well the much hyped Hotel Chevalier finally stopped by iTunes and other less licensed sites where it could be seen and appropriately bore audiences. Hotel Chevalier was mainly generating interest for Natalie Portman’s nude scene and for those people really obsessed with seeing her naked, I suppose it might even be worthwhile. For me it confirms my worst impressions of Darjeeling, which is that it’s self indulgent and increasingly pointless. There isn’t much to say about Hotel Chevalier because there really isn’t much there, a few scraps of dialogue, another mopey character being played by Jason Schwartzman instead of one of the Wilsons and some great atmosphere and visuals expended on nothing so much in particular. You pretty much have to talk about the nudity because there really isn’t anything else to talk about.

Now I’m a Wes Anderson fan but Hotel Chevalier felt like the weakest moments of The Royal Tenenbaums and Jason Schwartzman has gone from playing a character who connected with viewers to playing another one of the mopey man-children who seem to inhabit Wes Anderson movies when they’re at their weakest. I have no idea why Natalie Portman thought this was worth her time except that she really has awful taste in projects as a cursory glance at IMDB will demonstrate. I’m hoping that The Darjeeling Limited is better than this prequel to it. Because Hotel Chevalier is not at all good advertising for the movie. I’m sure plenty of people will go take a look, more than a few because of the so-called nude scene, but how many people will go away wanting to see more of that, the movie, not the nude scene? That’s the real test and I tend to think Hotel Chevalier has failed it.

The Office 4×01 Fun Run season 4 premiere review

Well The Office’s fourth season is here. This season The Office is carrying much of the weight for NBC’s inability to find a sitcom and as a result NBC has ordered a whole lot of hour long Office episodes but as The Office Fun Run demonstrates there’s a serious difference between an Office episode created by restoring deleted scenes and one created as an hour long from scratch. Or there should be.

But like some of the later third season’s hour longs, Fun Run felt awkward and poorly structured, like a collection of weak ideas thrown together into a generally unfocused mess. Fun Run drags out two ideas with potential, Michael hitting Meredith and Michael trying to raise money for charity with an office fun run into one long drawn out awkward episode that goes nowhere. At their best episodes of The Office feel like snapshots of people’s lives and make the dull and the everyday somehow worthwhile. At their average, they’re filled with jokes involving wacky characters. At their worst they fall back on random jokes while taking every character’s behavior to the extreme.

A large portion of the Fun Run audience no doubt turned in to see where Jim and Pam are going and as it turns out they’re pretty much going where we thought they would, despite a weak attempt at a surprise. But Fun Run is dominated by desperate attempts to fill 40 minutes with random shenanigans by Michael, overshadowing the genuinely funny stuff like Dwight’s idea of pet care. Oddly Pam is wildly out of character buying a sex tape at the beginning, commenting on seeing Michael naked to Michael while Jan has degenerated into a character too painful to watch, which for a show with Michael Scott in it… is really saying a lot.

Return of the Resident Evil

Even after the Resident Evil franchise seemed to have sunk into the doldrums of direct to video or near direct to video, Resident Evil Extinction took the box office with a high of 23 million dollars. Not bad especially when you consider that far more hyped movies recently didn’t do nearly as well.

The Resident Evil have usually been the whipping boys of zombie movies sneered at by the very same people who can’t helping talking up mediocre efforts like 28 Weeks Later or the latest George Romero attempt to cash in on his own evil dead franchise. Now while the Resident Evil movies are a long way from being particularly worthwhile, Resident Evil Extinction is doubtlessly better than say 29 Weeks Later in virtually every department but the outright acting, which might matter if either movie had much in the way of an original story or dialogue in which acting actually mattered.

Resident Evil Extinction has found ways to improve on Resident Evil Apocalypse, it blends in Mad Mad and lots of stylish visuals. It certainly boasts a better story if not a better setting than 28 Weeks Later, which did little but rehash the same old “Fascist government can’t keep us safe from the zombies” bit and it’s a lot more fun to watch. And in the end that’s why we go to zombie movies, not for the deep zombie philosophy but for the zombie killing.

Windows XP To Stick Around Nother 6 Months

Well the big Vista experiment proved to be a flop, instead of Vista becoming the next XP, Vista instead looks more like the new Windows ME or at best the new Windows 98, an also ran OS with unclear benefits that don’t weigh high enough on the scale to even get anyone enthusiastic about the new OS let alone spur large scale adoption.

And so while buyers keep demanding their XP and rejecting their Vista, Microsoft has been forced to allow its OEM customers and custom builders to keep on selling XP well past the point that Redmond hoped we’d all be living in a Vista universe. Well it was not to be.

Businesses for starters have gotten tired of constantly upgrading OS’s every few years and with heavy investment is software see no real benefit to shaking up their operations and jumping ship for Vista. Neither do home users who are generally happy with XP and find the Vista generic promises unconvincing. Right now Microsoft needs to start looking past Vista, which has failed to become the transformative OS MS wanted it to be.

Sep 21 – Sep 23 Box Office Roundup

Despite the usual carping of the critics, Resident Evil Extinction had a surprisingly strong opening with 23 million. That’s a very solid opening considering that far more heavily hyped films have gone for much more. Good Luck Chuck which was going for the same young male audience wound up with a debut of only 13 million, after vile reviews and the prospect of being forced to endure the loathsome non-comedy of Dane Cook.

The Brave One keeps slowly chugging along with another 7 million to total only 25 million. To put it into perspective, Resident Evil Extinction made nearly that much in one opening weekend. This puts The Brave One in as one of Jodie Foster’s bombs and really it was an odd movie to like.

3:10 to Yuma has picked up another 6 million for a total shy of 40 million dollars. Not exactly the redeeming numbers Crowe had hoped for after the disasters of A Good Year and Cinderella Man. It should make money but it isn’t looking like the revival of the Western is quite done reviving yet. Though 3:10 to Yuma may well make 60 million yet.

Eastern Promises and Sydney White, both movies most have never heard of, have pulled in around 5-6 million both. Mr. Woodcock has struggled off the athletic mat with another 4 million to make it 15 million dollars. Superbad is approaching the 120 million mark and will probably pass it on the way out in the next week or two making it a bona fide hit.

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