“After 23 years of business, we have decided if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” the statement reads. “You can still shop with Laser Blazer at LDDB.com for LaserDiscs and our Amazon store for Blu Ray and DVDs. Starting January 31, 2012 you can visit our rebuilt site here to purchase Blu Ray, Laserdisc and DVD collectibles. We are sad to close our doors, but are looking forward to continuing our relationship with our loyal customers in cyberspace.”
Two days ago as I was running around and preparing to fly to Manhattan I read Claude Brodesser Akner‘s New York piece about how David Fincher‘s The Girl With The Dagon Tattoo isn’t tracking all that well with women. This, Brodesser reports, is why Sony has moved the opening day up to 12.20 — i.e., to get a little jumpstart on the word-of-mouth.
My immediate thought was, “Wait…it’s not tracking well with women? Under-40 women are supposedly the core audience for this film, no? Aren’t they the the ones who’ve been reading the Dragon Tattoo books for the last three years? I’ve seen them myself in cafes and airport lounges and on subway cars. So I don’t get it.”
Brodesser nonetheless reports that “insiders tell Vulture that the real reason for the move is that the studio is concerned about the $125 million film’s inability to get more traction with females, who have been largely responsible for making Stieg Larsson’s trilogy a global hit in the first place.
“And yet [the book’s] female fans seem to be backing away from Fincher’s dark film adaptation” he writes. Brodesser qotes a former studio marketing chief saying that the film “has had a problem with women since it came on tracking.” Awareness is deep and wide, “but only 36 percent of [older or younger] women expressed ‘definite interest’ in seeing it. Men are about five percentage points lower in awareness in both demos, and yet at about the same percentage of definite interest.”
“The movie is hardly tracking to be a bomb,” Brodesser writes. “The issue is more that by scaring off women, it could be leaving money on the table, or at least in purses and handbags.”
So what’s the problem exactly? Most likely “the unforgivingly creepy and dark marketing for the movie that has scared off female fans of the book,” Brodesser writes. He quotes a marketing exec saying that “hyper-realistic violence against women is very different from the average horror movie. They’re escapist, ‘movie-date’ oriented. This is different, and I suspect the female numbers…are inflated by title recognition, not actual desire. Do women really want to see a movie like this at this time of year?”
So I happened to stop and look at the Dragon Tattoo poster last night as I was waiting for the J train. All along I’ve been processing this film as a sequel to the Danish-Swedish original and as the latest Fincher and so on. So I took two steps back and just looked at that gray-and-black image, and I began to understand all of a sudden why some women might be a little antsy about the film.
The tones in the poster look quite grim and somber and oppressive, in a way. This, of course, doesn’t represent what the film is, at all. In my mind there can no such thing as a lifeless or oppressively drab or excessively somber-toned David Fincher film. But if you look at the poster from the perspective of moviegoers who are staunchly opposed to any kind of thoughtful, all-things-considered reactions to this film — people who refuse to think beyond their instantaneous gut response to the ad materials — then I understand the reluctance.
I’m sorry but my 12.12 phoner with Albert Brooks is generally easier and more enjoyable than this Brooks-Poland chat. But Poland gets some great stuff about the particulars of financing and the various frustrations and roadblocks that Brooks suffered through in the ’70s and ’80s.
I presuming this was recorded before the SAG nominations, as Brooks seems to be in a relatively good mood.
What a great relief and comfort it is that a significant portion (though not a majority so far) of the elite critics are giving War Horse the slapdown that it deserves.
The Playlist‘s Todd Gilchrist says Steven Spielberg‘s film “comes to us overloaded with nostalgia [and] a joylessly persistent sense of nobility…Spielberg dials up the sentimentality to almost unbearable levels [as] War Horse is the type of film for which the term ‘Oscar bait’ was invented, precisely because it feels like there’s no motivation for it to exist except to win awards.”
And Variety‘s Justin Chang says it’s “beautifully composed” but “falls short of the sustained narrative involvement and emotional drive its resolutely old-fashioned storytelling demands.”
And yet it’s ironic that the barbed-wire scene has drawn oddly divergent opinions from Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy and Box Office‘s Amy Nicholson. McCarthy’s review is mildly approving (or at least forgiving) but he finds the barbed-wire scene problematic, and yet Nicholson praises it in the midst of an otherwise blistering pan.
“The best ten minutes of the movie are pure theater,” Nicholson says, “in an eerie stretch when two enemy soldiers meet in No Man’s Land for a horse rescue operation. If you can forgive that amidst this mass slaughter of man and beast, the entire front takes a time-out to save one living thing, the scene is a masterpiece of hushed tension and bleak humor. And tellingly, it’s the one scene in the movie that doesn’t announce how you should feel.”
And yet McCarthy notes that “when Albert and a German youngster recklessly venture out into No Man’s Land to try to save Joey, who has entangled himself in barbed wire, the essential realism of the cinema begins to show up the symbolic artificiality and essential implausibility of the young men’s private detente.
“Onstage, the barbed wire incident is properly appalling emotionally and morally, but decidedly abstracted due to the dramatic lighting and virtuoso puppetry; onscreen, the reaction is more, ‘oh, poor horse, and why can’t warring nations get along just as these two fellows do?'”
McCarthy adds that “what follows next runs even deeper into audience-pleasing wish-fulfillment and sentimentality, topped by a grandly phoney ending that will set many tears flowing but feels overweening artificial, partly because of the Gone With the Wind-style colored lighting in which it’s bathed.Along with the universal thematic notes, the eager-to-please elements assert themselves increasingly as the film marches forward; neither aspect was necessary to stress.”
Dark Knight Rises star Christian Bale and a couple of homies and a cameraman were roughed up yesterday by plainclothes Chinese thugs. Bale was trying to visit Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese lawyer and civil rights activist who’s been under house arrest in China for over a year, blah blah, same old, etc.
They goons chased the Bale gang in their van for an hour after the altercation. If I’d been at the wheel I would have gone all Ryan Gosling on their asses. I would have suddenly stopped, shoved the van into reverse and tromped on the accelerator and slammed the rear of my van into the goon car. Or better yet, I would have circled around and slippped in behind the goon car. like Steve McQueen did in Bullitt, and tailed them. Or I would have taken out a pistol and shot their tires out.
A friend has described this trailer for Dario Argento‘s Dracula 3D as “unintentionally hilarious.” But I’m getting an agreeably classic Hammer vibe, particularly a recollection of Terence Fisher‘s The Horror of Dracula (1958), the first Hammer film in which Lee played the immortal seducer.
Yes, the praying mantis is a problem. And yes, most 40-and-under connoisseurs of horror will find Argento’s film comical. Perhaps most 40-and-over connoisseurs will agree. But I’m intrigued.
The death of Christopher Hitchens, the barbed and brilliant essayist and anti-religionist and enjoyer of drink and tobacco, was announced last night. Hitchens’ departure point was the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston after an 18-month bout with esophegal cancer. He was 62.
“You can tell a man who boozes by the company he chooses…”
Hitchens was a militant atheist, renowned in part for having declared that “the real axis of evil is Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” He despised Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton and the Tea Party and ignoramuses of all creeds and persuasions, but he also really, really didn’t believe in any sort of soul travel at the moment of expiration.
Now, apart from having finally escaped from the long, agonizing downswirl and diminishment of the last year and a half, he knows the truth of it. Apart from a final and absolute shutting down of all circuits, Hitchens now knows (or knew, at least, for an instant as he gave it up) whether some form or sense of cosmic ecstasy and spiritual transference comes with death, or he now knows (or knew during that same instant) that dying really is nothing more than the flatlining of everything, including the slightest thread or dream of the eternal.
I ran into Hitchens twice — the first time just before at a New York Film Festival panel discussion in late September 2001 called “Making Movies That Matter: The Role of Film in the National Debate” (my account of which I reprinted in an April 2006 article) and the second time in a 59th Street hotel three or four years ago. He was a bit gruff and tart both times, but that’s where great minds tend to go when they’re not lifting themselves and the level of conversation off the ground.
I’m glad, at least, that his pain has come to an end, and that whatever serenity-by-way-of-finality death provides, he has it now. I’m especially glad and grateful that Hitchens was around and punctuating the conversation as long and perceptively and excitingly as he did.