Friday, August 21, 2009

A-List Stars Flailing at the Box Office? Try Again.

It's the bold new declaration being screamed across the Entertainment pages and segments of
LOS ANGELES - OCTOBER 29:  Actors Denzel Washi...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
the news media today: Highly respected movie stars, usually considered huge box-office draws, are suddenly failing to bring in the big bucks when their highly anticipated films hit the big screen. With films like Funny People, Land of the Lost, Angels and Demons, Public Enemies, and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 not performing as well as expected, the powers that be behind the scene are blaming their current understanding of who the top box-office performers are.

The only problem with this allegation? It is complete and utter crap.

Scapegoating might not be new or unusual in Hollywood, but this is the kind that insults everybody. Did these movies do poorly because of their stars? No, of course not. They did poorly because they were either uninspired remakes or sequels hoping to cash in on a previously existing successful franchise (brace yourself, because that is all you are going to see in theaters come the summer of 2010), or simply didn't inspire people with the subject matter at hand. But this would be admitting that Hollywood was wrong. No, it can't be the fault of the heavy hand of the studios
Mission: Impossible IIIImage via Wikipedia
bankrolling these films. It must be because American audiences have soured on a particular actor or actress, and are now avoiding that star like a former boyfriend at a New Year's Eve party.

This same argument was used against Tom Cruise during the late part of his past slew of releases, and despite how much you don't like Mr. Scientology, it isn't a sound argument. Did audiences really hold back on investing their box-office dollars on Mr. Risky Business because of his unorthodox antics? Of course not! People didn't shun Mission Impossible 3 because the leading star flipped on Oprah Winfrey's couch and reads Dianetics religiously. They shunned it because they were already sick to death of the franchise and listened to the horrible critical response.

You want an example of how much American movie-goers don't actually care about tabloid scandals? Mel Gibson. The Passion of the Christ makes more money than God, but just as Mel's the new favorite golden boy, he gets caught up in a huge antisemitic drunk-driving scandal. In fact, I think it was the first ever combination DUI/Antisemitism
incident ever. That's Mel, always ahead of the curve.

So, Mel not only cruises around under the influence, but he hates the Jews as well. This would be the perfect excuse for audiences to avoid paying to see his upcoming Apocalypto, beyond the fact that it is all subtitles and brown people. But the movie did extremely well, with no apparent boycott of the personality behind the film. Why? Because it was a good movie.

This is the blame game that constantly kills our chances of getting decent films made and delivered by the Hollywood Dream Machine. The latest star-studded blockbuster release had a more than lackluster opening weekend? It couldn't be because the script was drab, boring, or intellectually insulting to a five-year-old with ADD, or that the direction and set design was either over-the-top or uninspired. No, it must be because the lead actress is losing her "Box Office Appeal."

I just caught the trailer for Sandra Bullock's new upcoming romantic comedy, All About Steve:

I would like to make a prediction on this one. This movie will not do well, and when the "lackluster" opening weekend numbers are release, studio heads and those in control of green lighting this kind of crap will not admit that it didn't do well because it is obviously an unsuccessful attempt at some kind of half-ass American stab at a Bridget Jones romantic comedy with a weak premise, recycled jokes (one in the trailer is actually lifted straight from Bridget Jones' Diary), and no real narrative hook.

No they'll blame Sandra Bullock. And they won't even take partially responsibility for attempting to continually shove the aging actress (who seems to have chosen Plastic Surgery over the Aging Gracefully route) into younger and younger roles instead of trying out some fresh new talent.

So fear not, movie-goers. You might get the same recycled crap shoved down your throat at the theater next year, but you can rest assured that there will be new shiny happy faces in those lead roles to make the bitter pill a tad easier to swallow.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Classic Bad Cinema: Dr. Caligari

Café FleshImage via Wikipedia

I still remember this gem from when it hit the video stores while I was still in high school. Written and directed by Stephen Sayadian, who was also responsible for the classic adult features Cafe Flesh and Nightdreams (both under the pseudonym Rinse Dream), this is an ultra-surreal pop sequel (supposedly) to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

In this new wave followup, the descendant of the original Dr. Caligari (Madeleine Reynal in her only starring role) is a sex-obsessed psychiatrist whose controversial experiments invloving electroshock treatment and hypothalamus injections is concerning her fellow physicians. There really isn't much else to say about the film; most of it is intentionally and blissfully inexplicable. A bizarre cross betwen Pee-Wee's Playhouse and Behind the Green Door, it's hard to attempt calling this a bad film. On the contrary, it is more possible that this film does exactly what Sayadian intended it to. And if you figure out what that is, be sure to let me know.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]