(Blog appropriated from my RT-forum comments earlier this week).
With THE EXPENDABLES surprising everyone at the B.O. this summer--(honestly, I thought it would quietly disappear from the cinemas with all the momentum of straight-to-DVD fare), Stallone is dropping major buzz about that inevitable sequel seemingly on a daily basis.
But I think before Stallone starts injecting more 'roids into his sequel plans, he ought to take a good, long, honest look at what [critically] was lacking in the first film. And all kidding aside, I really want Stallone to make the improvements...I would love to see the 80's action genre well and truly thrive. ('80's Action'...Stallone could actually help make this a cinematic sub-genre!)
Here's how I think he can make the sequel better:
In case you haven't noticed, 2011's X-MEN: FIRST CLASS is shaping up to become a predominately British Isles affair. Not since the BEATLES toured America in the 60's has a country had so much influence, so much adoration from the States. Whether we're beatifying 'God's Gift To Cinema Since Kubrick-Christopher Nolan' (an aptly-deserved moniker), fawning over the amazingness that was KICK-ASS, or ruminating over the tremendous possibilities of Andrew Garfield as the 'new' Spiderman, one thing seems clear:
The British ARE ably carrying the creative torch for cinematic comic book adaptations.
This is evidenced with the recent-casting confirmation of ABOUT A BOY's Nicholas Hoult in the role of 'Beast', beating out American Benjamin Walker for the role (who is still listed over Hoult at IMDB for the part at the time of this writing). But have a look at the conformed casting for the rest of the film: Alice Eve, Rosamund Pike, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and now Hoult makes the cast overwhelmingly British. Helmed by British-born Matthew Vaughn, and co-written by British-born Jane Goldman, this should come as no surprise.
(Fassbender & McAvoy's roles respectively are understood since they were preceded by British-born Stewart & McKellen).
Frankly, I'm not bothered to see this. After seeing Paltrow, Zellweger, and Downey, Jr 'steal' quintessentially British roles out from under the country's best and brightest, I think it apt that the Pendulum seems to swing back to the British Isles.
But what are your thoughts? Any misgivings?
Romeo and Juliet
Courtyard Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company
[FONT=Wingdings]«[FONT=Wingdings]«[FONT=Wingdings]«[FONT=Wingdings]«[FONT=Wingdings]«[/FONT][/FONT][/FONT][/FONT][/FONT]/ out of five
Friday 19 March 2010
Mercutio’s curse “A Plague on both your houses” could arguably be affixed to the interminable and unsettling trend both at the RSC--and beyond--for productions of R&J.
And because the cultural positioning of R&J is so entrenched in the national curriculum, productions – more often bad than good – are fated to appear on the RSC stage perhaps more than they should. In recent memory the two houses both alike, (the RST stage – currently under construction, and the Courtyard) have produced uninspired productions, from Boyd in 2001 (RST) to Bartlett in 2008 (Courtyard).
However, for the inevitable productions waiting in the wings after the 2010-2011 RSC Season, for the betterment of the art, they should take especial note from Rupert Goold’s remarkable and nuanced production.
Tom Scutt’s set design is surprisingly minimal, with a rising centre platform and a retractable staircase linking the action on a higher level above. Adam Cork’s music adds a terrific and enjoyable extra layer to the action especially in the Capulet dance scene. Howard Harrison’s lighting is restrained, but used effectively throughout and with particular brilliance in the wedding night scenes prior to the interval and directly following. This impressionable image produced is iconic and artful. It demands portraiture.
Productions looking for the ‘Fountain of Youth’ in their romantic leads have, by comparison utterly failed. (It is my assertion that productions that cannot ‘find’ their youth, fail aesthetically). But here in Goold’s production, he captures and luxuriates in a youthful ethos in leads Sam Troughton and Mariah Gale.
Troughton’s wide-eyed and passionate Romeo is electrifying and poetic. The scene where he learns of his banishment, in fetal position with hoodie pulled over his face in agony, is arresting and effective. His Romeo in an evening could drive away any romantic cynicism. Few will argue that his Hamlet does not await…
Goold’s Verona is presented to us [apparently] as a late-sixteenth century Italian reenactment at a museum of cultural arts, with the audience accompanying a modern-dressed, camera-toting (and camera-doting) Troughton for the show, ticket in-hand. If it’s a school trip abroad, Romeo has strayed far from the group. Here in Verona, the city is a tinderbox between the warring families of the Montagues and the Capulets; even the earth underneath the city shoots tumultuous ringlets of smoke and shafts of fire.
Troughton’s physical isolation typified emotionally and in costume, is echoed in Gale’s Juliet who appears to age before our eyes from 12-year old to a 14-year old. This is one of the play’s great charms. Her parents’ suspect she’s ready to be auctioned off to the highest and most impressive bidder, in this case Paris. All of which leads into a thinly veiled ‘get together’ between daughter and desired, future son-in-law masquerading (literally) as a party.
Joining the revels uninvited with Romeo and Benvolio, is a ribald, uninhibited Mercutio played devilishly by Jonjo O’Neill. It’s the embodiment of the 2nd Earl of Rochester sans a censor and provides ample comic oxygen in the tragedy.
The production teems with wonderful, fresh performances with an austere wine-throwing, fruit-spitting Lord Capulet by Richard Katz, a tobacco-puffing Nurse played wryly by Noma Dumezweni, and Dyfan Dwyfor’s mincing and amusing Peter. Forbes Masson’s Friar Lawrence plays the moral ambivalence of the play with aplomb.
As the play careens ominously to its inevitable end, Goold shows he’s got a few more tricks up his sleeve. This is evident in Troughton and Gale’s sudden and incongruous change from their modern-dress garb into renaissance clothing for the tomb scene. In death, it would appear that the star-crossed lovers having gone through the looking glass have been subsumed into their familial surroundings. But our expectations here are soon and surprisingly overturned, as an offstage police siren sounds, and, tumbling into the tomb, are the very modern-dressed Montagues and Capulets. This effect preserves a dignity in the young lovers’ deaths.
We're probably witnessing the greatest creative decline in Hollywood in motion picture history. It seems every week we're deluged with yet again another studio announcement of a reboot/remake of an existing film, and many of them classics in their own right. Whether it's GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, or KARATE KID, nothing is sacred in H'wood anymore. Today it's either sequels, or reboots...and the summer is just getting started.
But are all remakes/reboots bad?
Is it possible to remake something that deserves it?
I'm making the precarious decision to say, in some cases, that it would be okay. I can say this with confidence because of how much I enjoyed the recent BAD LIEUTENANT earlier this week, and a couple years ago 3:10 TO YUMA. My enjoyment of those films in the cinema illustrates the reason for their existence: I was probably never going to watch the originals. But I'm more inclined to take a viewing of the originals now that I've seen the remakes.
But let me get to my point; there are a handful of films that I feel are deserving of a remake. I feel it's a win-win situation; I believe this primarily because even if the remakes are vastly inferior to the original offering, it actually works in the favour of the original.
Consider that no one had talked about the original CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981) for years until Letterrer thoroughly underwhelmed us earlier this year with his own. Suddenly I saw the original CLASH re-issued and affordably priced in every DVD store I visited. With it too was a retrospective discourse in the blogosphere, in newspapers, and even here on RT on the merits of the original's legacy, a critical dialogue that was virtually non-existent until the remake reared it's ugly Serpentine head.
So on those merits, I think the following films would greatly benefit from a remake. Are you with me so far? Take a gander:
1. Never Cry Wolf (1983) Produced by Disney and filmed on location in the Arctic Circle, this film is a veritable love letter to Naturalists, transcendentalists, and animal lovers. I really don't want to spoil the premise of the film for you, but seeing this in the cinema as a kid, I was mesmerised...and inspired. Anyone who loved INTO THE WILD would be in for a real treat here. A remake of this film would tap into something that speaks to us today in ways the original can no longer do. Hands raised if you've ever even heard of this film?
2. The Boys From Brazil (1978) Here I flirt with controversy. The original film starred 3 late-cinema legends, James Mason, Gregory Peck and Lord Lawrence Olivier. Nominated for 7 Academy awards (with Olivier's record 11th and final nomination for Best Actor for his portrayal of renowned Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman) this is a harder case to make for a remake. But consider that in the capable hands of a well-respected auteur, this film could resonate with a whole new generation of cinema-goers. And the recent (and surprising) acclaim for Tarantino's INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS only shows that Nazi-themed films still command interest. And though the concept in the 1978 film seemed far-fetched for its time, here in the 21st century it is frighteningly possible.
3. Where Eagles Dare (1968) This is the hardest decision for me...because I thoroughly love the original. And apparently so too did Spielberg who named it his favourite WWII film; high praise indeed. A Nazi-occupied fortress high in the snow-capped Bavarian Alps, a 'daring' rescue plan against impossible odds starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood, this is just one of my favourite films, period. However at nearly 3 hours the film requires some patience, despite the body count of 100. A remake with a good budget would restore the sense of adventure I haven't seen in a film of this genre since the original RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
4. A Man Called Horse (1970) The late Richard Harris's portrayal as the title character is a wonderful film in its own right and in places, a thing of beauty. Most of the complaints you heard about Cameron's AVATAR suggested FERN GULLY and DANCES WITH WOLVES as his model. Yet no one seems to remember this film that predates all of them. Quite frankly (due in part to my own heritage) I think Hollywood needs to give us a great American Indian story. We're truly past due. I think a remake of A MAN CALLED HORSE would re-introduce cinema-goers to the deeply-spiritual culture of the Lakota Sioux in ways not appreciated in almost 20 years since Costner's WOLVES.
5. The Dead Zone (1983) Never you mind that there's a television show based on the film, the original film is seldom seen except perhaps on late-night television in the wee hours of the morning. That's a real shame, because of all the films on this list, the only reason I'd include this one is simply because it's not aired enough. Christopher Walken's tragic turn as Psychic Johnny Smith is, in my estimation, his very best acting in his career; (sorry DEERSLAYER fans). But this is a Stephen King-based film and it doesn't hold the kind of sacrosanct-status as, say, Kubrick's THE SHINING. Yes, it's a Cronenberg film, but for Pete's sake they adapted a subpar television show on it with little complaint. And the central role is so wonderfully played by Walken that it could be a brilliantly executed in the hands of a capable actor (Edward Norton would be dream-casting par excellence).
Well, there they are. My top 5 candidates. Good or bad, any attempt to remake these films will inevitably engender interest in the originals. And that's a damn fine idea by me.
Why Shakespeare Still Matters: 10 films that prove ‘The Sweet Swan of Avon’ still belongs on celluloid.
Shakespeare and cinema is one of the best unions in cinema history. A simple glimpse at William Shakespeare’s IMDB page (that’s right, the ole playwright [1564-1623] actually has his own page!) shows us a stunning fact: 792 film projects and 6 more currently in production. And he’s not slowing down as the future productions of Julie Taymor’s THE TEMPEST and Ralph Fiennes’ CORIOLANUS attest. Even Roland ‘Destroyer of Landmarks’ Emmerich is getting in on the Shakespeare subject with his upcoming ANONYMOUS.
With hundreds on offer, I’ve selected [in my opinion] the cream of the crop; 10 films of Shakespeare’s plays that should not be ignored by anyone in their lifetime. So if you’ve got Netflix or any other way of obtaining these films, I strongly endorse their viewing!
Throne of Blood (1957) [FONT=Arial]This is the greatest Shakespearean adaptation I have ever seen; adapted from Shakespeare’s MacBeth in feudal Japan, the film stars the late-Toshiro Mifune, and rivals THE SEVEN SAMURAI as Akira Kuroswa’s greatest. The use of shadow and fog is extremely effective. See for yourself![/FONT]
Hamlet (1964)[FONT=Arial] Directed by Russia's Gregori Kozinstev and having never been screened in the United States, this is one of the best-kept secrets about ‘how’ to film a Shakespeare play. Packed with visuals, effective use of v.o., Kozinstev’s Russian adaptation (heavily-cut) accomplishes an impressive feat: an effective balance between the visual medium of film and text. Well worth hunting down…[/FONT]
Macbeth (1971) Financed by Hugh Hefner, and filmed shortly after the murder of his pregnant wife (Sharon Tate) by Charles Manson’s ‘family, Roman Polanski’s one-and-only Shakespearean film is startlingly graphic and faithful to the text. Reportedly when crewmembers of the film expressed reservations about the excessive goriness of the film, Polanski was quoted as saying, “I know violence. You should have seen my house last summer.” Despite its Welsh location (filmed in Wales, at Snowdonia National Park--a wonderful place for hiking I greatly enjoyed last year) Polanski captures something distinctly Scottish and austere in this film. The shortest of all Shakespeare’s tragedies, there isn’t much in this film that is cut: a truly macabre and fascinating film on a literary classic.
Shakespeare in Love (1998) Paltrow, Affleck, Dench, Firth and [Joseph] Fiennes…who would’ve thought that it would be a refreshingly clever ‘spin’ on Shakespeare the playwright while also weaving in a passable love story-as-origin for the composition of Romeo & Juliet?
Looking for Richard (1996) What a way to introduce Al Pacino as a Shakespearean tragedian! A behind-the-scenes look shot documentary-style at how to approach Shakespeare’s plays from the perspective of the actor, co-starring Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, and Winona Ryder.
Henry V (1989)[FONT=Arial] One of those rare examples when capable practitioners of the stage replicate a play’s theatrical success on film. Branagh’s first-ever directing attempt ( a decision to be thanked here, as he’s currently directing the soon-to-be-THOR) this is as England as an English film can get. Fantastic action, stirring speeches, and that continuous-take at Agincourt field. Starring the late-Paul Scofield, Ian Holm, Judi Dench, and a very young Christian Bale.[/FONT]
Hamlet (1948)[FONT=Arial] Directed and starring 11-time Oscar nominated Lawrence Olivier, his post-WWII Hamlet (1948) relying heavily on Freudian/Jungian psychoanalysis, is arguably cinema’s first ‘cerebral’ Shakespearean film. A few interesting facts about the production: Olivier performed a 16-foot balcony leap onto the stunt-double for King Claudius (a take used in the film) that knocked the stunt double out cold with a broken jaw; the final swordplay between Laertes and Hamlet took 14-days to shoot; a young Christopher Lee co-stars in just the third of his [to-date] 261-film/tv roles.[/FONT]
Prospero's Books (1991) [FONT=Arial]Directed by Peter Greenaway, this adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a stunning, visual achievement that seems like an amalgamation of ballet, music, allegorical archetypes, fantasy, and music. Starring the late-John Geilgud, the film is also one of the first shot in HDTV format.[/FONT]
William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (1996) Though the actors’ handling of the text is atrocious, the ‘visual delivery’ is superb and Baz Lurhmann’s modern-day concept stands up spectacularly. The soundtrack, frenetic editing, and gunplay continue to work wonders.
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)[FONT=Arial] Whenever I see a list of ‘Greatest Rom-Coms’ I’m always reminded of the omission of this one: with this play (and a few others) Shakespeare practically invented the genre nearly 400 years ago! Directed and starring Branagh, the film is shot in Toscana, Italy and is deftly and hilariously held together with one of the best screen-chemistries to be found in cinema by Branagh and his ex-wife Emma Thompson. Co-starring Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, a much-younger Kate Beckinsale (her first film) and (unfortunately) Keanu Reeves, its critical snub in 1993 still stands as an annoying reminder of how flawed the Oscars can be.[/FONT]
The Celebration (1998) (FESTEN in Denmark) This Danish film by Thomas Vinterburg constitutes the first of the Dogma 95 films, and is unquestionably its’ very best. However, FESTEN’s association with Shakespeare is less obvious. But consider: filmed in Denmark, a son comes home to the family vacation home mourning the death of a loved one and in a fantastical and outrageous manner (resembling madness), makes startling allegations. The digital hand-held style is initially jarring and uncomfortable, but with time the film develops into an amazing tale told with unflinching honesty.
Okay, by now you will have heard that Megan Fox is officially out of Michael Bay's TF3. Teenager Transformer fans the world over will have 'felt' a great disturbance this week...as if a million erections suddenly cried out in terror and were silenced: no Megan Fox. (In actuality they should applaud this...she's now one step closer to relapsing into porn).
So Fox is out...but who's in? Have a gander below!
My picks for her replacement for Shia's love interest (in order of preference):
1. Betty White (Come on, it's been over 40 years...you mean we still can't get over HAROLD & MAUD? It's the 21st century dude!)
2. Perez Hilton/Paris Hilton (the difference is negligible, as they've both slept with half the men in Hollywood by now; why not add Shia to the mix)
3. Sarah Silverman (a hilarious pairing, her razor-sharp wit against Shia's ADHD-Hoffman-as-Rainman-stream-of-consciousness-blather would light up the screen; I'd literally 'pay' to see it!)
4. Justin Bieber (hey, he's cute enough to be a chick, sounds like a chick...he can even use Fox's same hairdresser too)
5.Gemma Arterton (CLASH, PERSIA, why not TF3? If its got CGI, she seems up for it)
Your top 5 picks? Make 'em quick, Bay is probably going to announce Fox's replacement very soon...
As some of you know, I work part-time at a local cinema here in my town. To help attract business, last year I offered to write a few reviews to be published in the local paper and in the cinema's monthly newsletter. I quickly realised my mistake as I was suddenly faced with this quandary: if my reviews are designed to encourage people to see films at our cinema, then what could I write if I reviewed a film I didn't like? In the end, I wasn't able to negotiate with myself and the expectations of my employers, and offered up a less-than-truthful review. In my defence, I thought I had inferred as much as I could about what I truly thought of the films in question. This affected only 2 films before I decided that if I had nothing nice to say about a film, I would withhold printing a review.
Below are two reviews of TRANSFORMERS 2: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN. The first review is exactly what was printed in the local newspaper and in the newsletter. The second review is what I would've written were I not under the constraints of my employer.
The review I had to write:
Review: Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
~By Name Withheld.
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen is going to be this summer’s biggest action film. In fact, everything in Michael Bay’s second outing is bigger, badder, and at 147 minutes, will give audiences more to love. But it almost wears out its big-screen welcome. Almost.
There is, even from the explosive opening, an obvious use of the previous films’ box office takings budget to make the ROTF’s ‘bots more emotive and real this time around. They ‘transform’ more fluidly, and in action are more sharply pieced together thanks in large part to the outstanding work of the Lucas-owned Industrial Light & Magic. In fact, they did their work so impressively, (also aided by the seamless editing) it quickly becomes an irony that the ‘bots seem more lifelike and more developed than the human characters in the film.
Picking up two years after the first Transformers, Autobots are now working together with the US military to hunt down the remaining Decepticons (although exactly ‘what’ help the US military is offering is unclear as the Autobots seem more than capable of doing all the work themselves.)
Meanwhile Shia LaBeouf’s fast-talking, but hopelessly nerdy Sam Witwhicky seems determined to move on with his life, starting with college, even risking the unthinkable: a long-distance relationship with his ridiculously way-out-of-his-league girlfriend Mikaela (played by bombshell-of-the-year Megan Fox.) However, as Optimus Prime wisely imparts “Fate never calls on us at the moment of our choosing” as Sam’s first week at college is interrupted by, you guessed it, more ‘bot on ‘bot action. Seems Sam’s connection to the fate of the Autobots literally is more than meets the eye as the Decepticons hunt down the remaining shards of “the Spark” which was destroyed in the first film in a bid to resurrect a [now] submarine Megatron and ultimately bring about the return of an evil, deity-like Transformer aptly named The Fallen.
With ‘Revenge’ in the title, it isn’t hard to figure out that things don’t go exactly as the Autobots would have it. This becomes evident in the film’s best action sequence with a ‘bot beat-down in the forest. It is a stunning few minutes that demands a second, third and even a fourth look. It actually upstages the drawn-out finale in Egypt.
There are some amusing Bay-isms that grate; the Abercrombie & Fitch models all seem to turn up as the entire student body at Sam’s college, overt patriotic mise en scène shots, and what has to amount to complete overkill of the film’s heroine, Fox’s Mikaela who may, after Bay’s films, find herself forever type-cast in Hollywood as mere ‘eye-candy’ for teenage boys.
ROTF will probably not be the critic’s darling this summer at the cinema – Bay’s films have always had a troubled relationship with the reviewers. But fans of the first film will applaud this second heaping helping with more explosions, more Transformer battles, and more Fox running in ‘Baywatch-style’ slow motion over and over again.
3 out of 5 stars.
The review I wanted to write:
Review Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen
TRANSFORMERS 2: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN is going to be this summer’s biggest action film. In fact, everything in Michael Bay’s second outing is bigger, badder, louder, and at 147 minutes, will test the patience of its audience in ways too aggravating to list here.
And it’s not hard to see why: once you cut away all the cloyingly, distracting big budget eye-candy, what you’re left with is a poor excuse for a film in this genre. Imagine the late-Ed Wood with Bay’s budget and then you can begin to see what horrors are truly possible.
There is, even from the explosive opening, an obvious use of the previous films’ box office takings budget to make the ROTF’s ‘bots more emotive and real this time around. They ‘transform’ more fluidly, and in action are more sharply pieced together thanks in large part to the outstanding work of the Lucas-owned Industrial Light & Magic. In fact, they did their work so impressively, (also aided by the seamless editing) it quickly becomes an irony that the ‘bots seem more lifelike and more developed than the human characters in the film. And that’s about all one can say in the positive about this film.
Picking up two years after the first TRANSFORMERS, Autobots are now working together with the US military to hunt down the remaining Decepticons (although exactly ‘what’ help the US military is offering is unclear as the Autobots seem more than capable of doing all the work themselves with the only real danger the military troops face is being squashed from the 'bots.)
Meanwhile Shia LaBeouf, hot off the heels of annoying every single viewer on the planet in the latest INDIANA JONES installment, goes par for the course in ROTF and now annoys us all over again with his fast-talking, but hopelessly nerdy ‘Sam Witwhicky’ who now seems determined to move on with his life, starting with college, even risking the unthinkable: a long-distance relationship with his ridiculously way-out-of-his-league girlfriend ‘Mikaela’ (played by bombshell-of-the-year Megan Fox.)
But you can forget special effects here testing an audience’s ability to believe what they see; the fact that LaBeouf’s Sam now has Fox’s Mikaela wrapped around his finger like a new inmate’s first night in prison is beyond belief. Truly this is where the film completely derails into schmaltz. And it never recovers.
For the rest of the film, we get served up a steaming pile of Bayisms; from the Abercrombie & Fitch models who all seem to turn up as the entire student body at Sam’s college, to overt patriotic mise en scène shots, and to what has to amount to complete overkill of the film’s heroine, Fox’s Mikaela who may, after Bay’s films, find herself forever type-cast in Hollywood as mere ‘eye-candy’ for teenage boys, this was a disaster that even Roland Emmerich would’ve avoided.
It huffs, and it puffs, but completely fails to impress anyone with a modicum of taste. Still, the ‘bots provide passable entertainment.
1 out of 5 stars.
Dear Mr. Stallone,
I recently read about your decision to nix making RAMBO V. This letter is to ask that you reconsider, especially given the rumored premise for R5; rescuing kidnapped women from drug traffickers along the US-Mexico border.
Before I explain my request, I'd like to briefly thank you for your work in the franchise thus far. To some, the films are senselessly violent and exploitative of the mercenary myth. To me, your films made a difference. The recent RAMBO IV is a case in point; no one was talking about Burma, sir, until you made your film there. Your film was disturbingly graphic but here is where it deserves praise: you lifted the lid on the brutality of the junta in Burma.
At the end of R4, your John Rambo returned home to Arizona.
Now, as you know, Arizona has become the focus of the world due in part to the immigration laws along the US-Mexico border. We've seen films dealing with this issue before (THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA, CROSSING OVER)--each good films in their own right, but neither would deal with the themes your RAMBO films deal with. Though miles away along the Texas border, Cuidad Juarez, Mexico has the world's highest murder rate (as of August 2009) by 25% more than numbers 2 & 3 (Caracas, Venezuela, New Orleans, Louisiana). With 5,400 murders in the whole country of Mexico in 2008, 1,400 alone were 'in' the city of Cuidad Juarez. There the drug cartels run the city. Furthermore since the 1990s over 3,000 women have gone missing in Cuidad Juarez.
Now I'm not sure 'where' exactly you planned on setting R5, but there simply could not be a more apt and necessary place to bring Rambo. To my mind, setting your R5 there to tackle sensitive issues such as drug trafficking, kidnapping, and murder along America's border would draw the kind of attention towards an issue that is galvanizing and polarizing Americans.
To some your RAMBO films are blood-splattered sprees with no moral message. I quite disagree.
Shakespeare's Brutus in his play 'Julius Caesar' explains it best:
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures. (4.3, lines 218-224)
Mr. Stallone, I don't think Rambo's journey is over. I ask you to reconsider shelving the franchise and get America and the world to start talking again about these important issues in our own backyard. If you don't make this film, we might have to suffer one of Vince McMahon's rubes playing a camp version of Rambo instead. That alone would be reason enough to give us a R5, and quick!
All My Thanks.
A bastion of televised critical-thinking for cinema is now gone. This week the late-Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert's flagship show since 1975 was laid to rest. I have fond memories as a kid in the 80s watching clips of films I was hankering to see, more than a decade before the internet streamed them on youtube or from the 'official' websites of the films in question.
Watching Gene and Roger was my first stop on the weekend (usually Sunday night around 10pm) for learning about films and what I could expect. 'Thumbs down/up' was a part of my personal lexicon for many years as a result of this show. In college, as editor of my university newspaper, as an homage, I used the thumbs up/thumbs down indicator for a plethora of films I reviewed.
As Ebert -- against all odds and expectations -- diversifies his scope to reach more readers in an ever-evolving world of technology, one thing remains a sadness for me: the passing of a television show that started it all long before anyone even knew what an internet was or what a computer would be used for.
The balcony, is indeed, closed. Thanks for the memories.
I used to work for these guys. It's true. I really did. As a company, they've had their head up their own butts for so long it's ridiculous. A few years ago it emerged that over 1/3 of their annual revenue was from late fees, totaling over 1 billion dollars.
That fact was not overlooked by competitors like NetFlix who were emerging as a viable online company in the late-nineties. All Blockbuster saw...was $$$ year after year. By the time they realized that millions, like rats fleeing a ship were switching to NetFlix, et al to avoid late fees...it was too late to adjust their business model. Quite simply, when over a third of your annual take thrives on late fees...that leaves you with very few options to compete with a company whose business model aims to all but eliminate that hassle.
But this isn't the only area where they screwed up. Blockbuster stores are dotted across the world...with over 9,000! The amount of money this company has shelled out each month in property taxes and commercial land-leasing agreements has got to be in the multi-millions.
Again, contrast that with NetFlix. Property costs are, by comparison, not a problem for them.
The fact is Blockbuster (especially when I worked for them) never took the impact of the internet seriously. And during their denial, NetFlix quietly built a strong business model that gained as consumer confidence in the internet grew. By the time Blockbuster realized how effective the internet was for their business, it was too late. They waited until 2004 (7 whole years after NetFlix went online) to launch their own online rental service.
But this too posed a problem: a house divided against itself cannot stand. If they pushed their online rental service too much, then they would be directly working against customer business to their 9,000+ stores around the world. So what did they do? They dithered on both ends of their business model, afraid to push one over the other. Faced with the inevitability of their rising competition, they threw their customer's one last Hail Mary Pass: no more late fees (in the US).
Alas, it was too late. I think consumers saw through Blockbuster's evolving self-serving business plan: Blockbuster was adjusting it's offers to stop leaking their own money, not necessarily [in the long run] to serve their customers. And what guarantee did their customers have that Blockbuster wouldn't just revert to late fees again once their business rebounded? This is what killed them in the end.
I don't think Blockbuster has been left with much to contemplate here. Filing Chapter 11 is their only option. And in the immortal words of Paul Leka: "Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye!"