Whenever a fall movie presents semi-adult themes, attitudes and stylings, journalists and industry spokespersons always voice respect for the distributor having taken a huge risk. Let’s all give a hearty round of applause for this or that distributor having released a film that’s not aimed at the ADD-afflicted, raised-on-videogames generation! Because we’re living in a zip-zip dipshit digital culture that has trouble getting into films with any kind of meditative, slow-and-steady vibe, or those which focus on character or subtlety or anything low-keyish.
“Paramount was very courageous in making this movie,” Flight director Robert Zemeckis said during last night’s q & a from New York,” but they really did want to make it and they left us alone.”
“The Master is a very difficult film to sell,” Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock told TheWrap‘s Todd Cunningham. “It is very obtuse, and in almost every way, a dreary arthouse film. The fact that it went into wide release and [earned] what it has is a triumph in itself.”
Last week Not Fade Away exec producer and music supervisor Steve Van Zandt told me that due to test-screening responses, director David Chase had to insert narration that explained that the Beatles became popular in the U.S. only about three weeks after the JFK assassination, and explained that May to Labor Day 1967 became known as the “summer of love.” Because otherwise under-30s wouldn’t get it. Jesus.
If you want a snapshot that explains precisely how bone-dumb a good portion of the moviegoing public is, consider this excerpt from my review of Twilight: New Moon, which ran on 11.18.09:
“The thing that defines the badness of New Moon is an extended circular tracking sequence showing Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) sitting in her room, immobile and depressed after her vampire lover Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) has broken things off and moved away. Director Chris Weitz moves the camera around her three times, which gives the audience three views of her front lawn as it changes with the seasons — greenish brown during October, totally brown with leaves being raked in November, and finally snow-covered in December.
“Except someone decided that this visual information wasn’t explicit enough for some in the audience, and so little white titles have been inserted, appearing each time the camera moves around and behind Bella’s back, that say ‘October,’ ‘November’ and ‘December.'” Obviously because some test-screening viewers had said they couldn’t figure what was happening with the weather.
It’s an old lament but because of this idiot mentality very few of the great films of the ’70s (Dog Day Afternoon, All The President’s Men, All Night Long, The Outfit, etc.) would be green-lighted today if they were presented as fresh concepts. I know it sounds cranky but in some respects we really are living in a cultural ape hell. If Ben Hecht, D.H. Lawrence, Lytton Strachey, Honore de Balzac, John Reed, William Blake, H.L Mencken or Samuel Taylor Coleridge were to be time-travelled into present-day Los Angeles they would be dead by their own hand within 24 to 48 hours.