1. RIP: James Rebhorn Dead at 65
Great character actors accomplish two things. The first is that upon arrival, they make the audience feel better. It is not just about familiarity and comfort, but also competence. No matter how bad or good the movie or television show might otherwise be, This Guy showing up makes it better. You are now in good hands.
The second thing is that upon arrival, you have absolutely no idea where this actor’s character is coming from: Is this a good guy? Is this a bad guy? Can I trust him? They create anxiety and conflict, but in a good way.
For over thirty years, James Rebhorn accomplished both of these things, and then some. A great example was “Homeland.” In the wildly overrated Showtime series, Rebhorn played Carrie-the-Crybaby’s dad, and his arrival immediately put you on edge because you could never relax safe in the assumption that he wouldn’t turn on her in some way. Was he really the devoted dad or was he capable of something else?
Rebhorn made his extraordinary talent look easy and he will be and is already missed.
2. M. Night Shyamalan Turns to Low-Budget Filmmaking
M. Night Shyamalan made two and two-thirds great movies: The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and the first two-thirds of Signs. Then it all fell apart. What hasn’t been mediocre the past dozen years has been a disaster.
Shyamalan is only 44 years old. He should be hitting a prime that lasts at least another ten years.
Maybe a low-budget project will help the director regain his mojo. Back to basics. I sure hope so.
3. Headline #12,385: Hollywood “Stunned” By Christian Film’s Success
It has been a full decade since “The Passion of the Christ” broke box office records, and yet Hollywood is still “stunned” when Christian films make money at the box office.
There are over a hundred million people in this country not being served by the mainstream news media or mainstream entertainment providers. I get that these two bigoted institutions will always try to make money by trying to attract enough customers without having to appeal to Christian conservatives, but if you are still “stunned” by the success of Fox News, talk radio, and these films after ten years, you might want to remove your head from your backside.
It is not only that the film business has changed to such a degree that films that appeal to tens of millions of Christian conservatives can now be produced, but there is also an entirely new media structure in place to support them.
The link above takes you to an interesting interview with “Boyz In the Hood” director John Singleton, but what specifically is he talking about — what stories about black people are not being told? Singleton argues that today’s black films are too cookie-cutter and generic (he probably means Tyler Perry). Fine. But what’s missing?
I can’t imagine he wants to go back to the Boyz in the Hood/Menace II Society/New Jack City earlier-nineties.
Back in December, Singleton cheered “12 Years a Slave,” “Fruitvale Station,” and “The Butler.” His complaint, though, was that they were all financed outside of the studio system.
As much as I like to see a director like Singleton rip on “Hollywood liberals” as practitioners of “latent racism,” these films are getting made and the studio system does support them through distribution.
The studio business has changed over the past decade. Fewer films of all kinds are being made. Unless you have “Transformers” in your title or a high-concept gross-out comedy idea, hustling money outside the comforts of a studio is a way of life for a lot more than just black people today.
But Singleton is not alone…
5. Can ‘Cesar Chavez’ Finally Make Hollywood Pay Attention to Latino Audiences?
“This community has been represented in very disrespectful ways, falling most of the time into the cliche,” director Diego Luna tells TheWrap
Maybe everyone just needs to stop complaining about Hollywood and do what Christian conservatives are doing. Please see above – story number three.
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