29 April 2011

Christopher's Law

I just invented a new adage that has to do with events that happen in your life: "As you get older, events in your life happened longer and longer ago." Kinda makes you think, doesn't it?

16 April 2011

Goodbye Old Hollywood, Hello Crap!

I don't know Stephen Simon, and I have not read his new book Bringing Back the Old Hollywood; but I totally agree with everything he says is wrong with Hollywood today in this interview.

10 April 2011

Freaky Weather

In Phoenix:

Friday, 01 April 2011: high temperature of 100 degrees sets new record for that date.

Saturday, 09 April 2011: high temperature of 54 degrees sets new record as the lowest high temperature for that date. It ties as the second lowest high temperature ever recorded in April in Phoenix (all the way back to 1896).

08 April 2011

Brilliant Move, Oscar

What's the smartest thing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscar people) has done lately? Hiring this woman as its new CEO. Independent film's loss is independent film's gain.

07 April 2011


Because it is so difficult to make mashed potatoes from actual potatoes, there is now potato pearls. Has the world really come to this?

06 April 2011

China Syndrome

If you are as much of a foreign film geek as I am, and if you watch as many films from Asia as it is possible to see in America, then you will likely find interest in an article that recently appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Films coming from China today are really interesting. It's amazing to see the freedom being enjoyed (or, I guess, taken) by some filmmakers. Of course, certain artists are being muzzled as is always the case in a restrictive culture; but there is apparently an independent streak in films that is able to work around government restrictions.

You can read the article here.

02 April 2011

Dear Hollywood:

Why does it seem like the people writing television programs and movies have never seen very many quality television programs or movies -- or, it appears, read many books? Your products of late are nothing but a series of cliches strung together. Remember that cliches become cliches when everyone uses them. So, if you don't know that everyone has already used them (by reading books or seeing older movies) then you are doomed to repeat them.

We recently watched Dana Delaney's new television program "Body of Proof." (We like her work, and still think "Pasadena" was criminally cancelled after only one short season.)

"Proof" is filled with just about every cliche known to human kind. The fat gruff male police detective who doesn't want any outside help -- especially from a woman. The black female police detective (the wonderful Sonja Sohn from "The Wire") forced to stand around and basically do nothing useful. The fiery female protagonist who is hated by everyone but who is (surprise!) always right. The lead character who is recently divorced and is not allowed to she his/her child by the ex-spouse (can you say "Hawaii 50" reboot?). The lead character who lost his/her family because s/he was married "to the job." The goofy novice who does not know his ass from a hot rock and is always cowering in fear of the protagonist who knows all. And, of course, the gruff boss who must "watch the budget" but who is finally won over by the fact that the protagonist is always right. I mean, really: "Proof" is a perfect example of the "one item from column A, one from column B, and one from column C" school of writing.

Then there is "Battle Los Angeles." Man, has THAT movie been done before (many times and MUCH better). The list of cliches here is very long, but the most egregious include:

The group of soldiers separated from their squad who must make a perilous journey to get back. The lone female soldier who, in doing something particularly well, is suddenly accepted as "one of the guys." The addition of civilians who must be protected. The addition of KIDS. The moment when the movie makers try to make the audience think one of the kids is about to die when -- surprise -- the kid's okeh. The washed up military leader who "made a mistake" and let his men die who ends up convincing everyone that he really knows what he is doing. The military leader who, fresh out of school, freezes up but, in the end, kills himself so that others might live. There are more examples, but these are the most obnoxious.

To add insult to injury you could have easily mixed up even these stale old cliches and made better entertainment.

A few quick improvements to "Proof": why isn't the main police detective played by Sohn (pictured)? Having a gruff female police detective, while not new, would certainly have been a better mix. (For that matter, why isn't Sohn the lead in this show? Will someone please give this fine actor her own series?) Couldn't you have created a boss who actually trusts his employees to spend money wisely? And how come no company (in this case, a medical examiner's office) hires employees who are actually competent? Why do they always hire people who are too stupid to know what to do and must always rely and the sage wisdom of the protagonist? Those three changes alone would have greatly reduced the annoyance factor. (And don't get me started on the novice's mistake of having the guilty party be a character that was not even introduced until s/he was found out.)

"Battle" would be harder to save, but I think right off the bat a good fix would have been to have several women soldiers in the cast -- ALL of whom were already considered "one of the guys" so we would not have to waste valuable story time on that. And, seriously, can you ever make a film that has kids in the cast for some reason other than to be in peril? Can't we move on from that hoary old cliche?


A Film Fan