My review of 1974’s “Chinatown” opens by revealing the answer to the story’s mystery. A commenter complained:
Geez, John: How about a spoiler alert for those who never saw Chinatown?
At what point can we stop issuing spoiler warnings? And it’s not just that “Chinatown” is almost four decades old, but it’s also one of the most famous movies ever. So it’s not as though I’m revealing the plot to some under-seen sleeper.
Would revealing that “The Wizard of Oz” was all a dream be bad form? What about revealing that Bogart gives up Bergman at the end of “Casablanca” or that John Wayne doesn’t kill Natalie Wood in “The Searchers?”
My question is a serious one, but my answer is that it would feel silly to worry about “spoiling” something that is now common knowledge.
Another one but a mild one (is there such a thing?). Reports say he is okay now. But they’ve said that before.
You watch a trailer like this with a major star like Mel Gibson and ask yourself if it’s worth $10.99 as a VOD through the DirecTV.
The answer of course is yes.
The trailer looks good, the story looks good, Gibson looks good, and there will be no hassles involving lines, parking, talkers, texters, or ridiculously-priced concessions.
Keep an eye on this. If Gibson makes this work, it will be remembered as a watershed moment in the move to premiere films on VOD. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be movie theatres, but those will be more for event-driven films like “Hunger Games” and the kind of epics that demand a big screen. The question is whether VOD can deliver an audience for the kinds of films the tent-poles crowd out.
AICN has an interesting tidbit on one of the most openly patriotic and pro-military films to come out in years:
We’ve just started the script now, so that’s where we are. We have just begun the script. Just because I don’t want the studio to get pissed at me, I’m not sure what I can and can’t say about it. But what’s exciting is it sounds like the budget will be as big. They’re really going to make it an event.
That quote is from director Jonathan Liebesman.
If you remember, the original not only ended on a perfect note but did so leaving the possibility for a sequel wide open.
If a sequel is realized, let’s just hope Liebesman puts down the shaky-cam and holds on to the elements that made the original story so moving and special. We like seeing our men and women in uniform portrayed as the heroic, selfless individuals they are, and we like to see them kick ass. Betray those themes in order to satisfy left-wing critics and you betray those who helped make the original a hit.
LAST NIGHT’S SCREENING
Via Redbox, I saw a couple of new movies that I wasn’t able to get via a screener, though I did beg.
Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) – With his first feature, writer/director Sean Durkin has probably guaranteed he’ll get a shot at a second one thanks to his fine work here. In the opening scene, our title character (a terrific Elizabeth Olsen) escapes from a creepy rural cult, run by the always great John Hawkes, and moves in with her estranged sister and her sister’s husband. From there a quietly tense psychological thriller emerges that mesmerizes and slowly tightens that knot in your stomach. Good stuff. A climax would’ve been nice, but we can’t have everything.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – Man, what a disappointment, especially from a director like David Fincher. With all that talent and cash, you would think this would be quite the improvement over the 2009 Swedish film, but it actually falls well short by comparison. Other than the lack of a compelling mystery, the first problem is the casting. As Finch’s Lisbeth Salander, Rooney Mara is just too small to come off as any kind of physical menace. She could easily be confused with a ten-year old boy. In the original, Noomi Rapace was a threatening physical presence and the presence that made the overall film (which is really just a pulpy serial killer mystery) so compelling. Without saying a word, you understood that this was a damaged and dangerous young woman. Mara’s performance lacks this depth, as well.
Another mistake is the way in which Finch has Daniel Craig play crusading left-wing journalist Mikael Blomkvist. At times, he plays it for laughs, which just comes off as bizarre. There’s also no emotional connection between his character and Mara’s Lisbeth. In the original, though the two had a sexual relationship, the unspoken poignancy in their relationship (which lasts through the two sequels) comes from his paternal desire to protect and save her and her unwillingness to let anyone in.
Finch betrays this central characteristic in Lisbeth by turning her into someone who eventually becomes a little needy, which undermines everything we had come to know about the character — including her most compelling quality, which is her fierce independence.
It was also a mistake to remove the looming jail sentence faced by Blomkvist. Fincher puts the consequences of the libel court case completely behind the character, which not only removes the tension but makes the last 20 minutes feel unnecessary.
Finch’s version is slicker and opens with a wowser of a credit sequence, but once you’ve sat through it all you begin to understand why a no-brainer adaptation of a worldwide literary sensation fizzled at the box office. I’ll be shocked if Sony bothers with part two. Best to just cut your losses.
COMING SOON TO HOME VIDEO
Dirty Dancing Collection: Check out the 2-Film Blu-ray Disc Set of the Dirty Dancing Collection featuring the classic Dirty Dancing along with the Blu-ray Disc debut of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, available on May 8th, 2012.
The Dirty Dancing phenomenon returns to captivate fans in High Definition with the Dirty Dancing Collection. Just in time to celebrate Dirty Dancing’s 25th anniversary, this 2-Film Blu-ray Disc Set includes both the original Dirty Dancing as well as the Blu-ray debut of its sequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights for a special price. Enjoy both films together on Blu-ray for the first time. Not only is this the perfect Mother’s Day gift, but the collection proves to be a must-have for all fans of this perennial favorite. Both film discs are loaded with special features including audio commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, multi-angle dance sequences and much more!
SCOTTDS’ EPIC LINKTACULAR
CLASSIC PICK FOR TODAY
8:00 PM EST: Cape Fear (1962) — An ex-convict plots to destroy the district attorney who sent him to prison. Dir: J. Lee Thompson Cast: Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen. BW-106 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format.
Truly brilliant psychological thriller with Mitchum playing one of the scariest non-monsters (in the literal sense) ever to hit the screen. This is also much better than the Scorsese remake, which stupidly went over the top with the climax and just couldn’t make it a clean-cut tale of good vs. evil — which is one of the factors that makes the original so gut-churning.
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