Teaser: Pixar’s Brave

Here’s the what, updated throughout the day:

Frankenstein pic Wake the Dead gets rolling with Haley Joel Osment
Adapted from Steven Niles graphic novel about a college-aged Victor Frankenstein, this is one of a half dozen or so planned films based upon or inspired by Mary Shelley’s oft-filmed bit of gothic horror. Osment, The Sixth Sense and A.I. star, hasn’t been seen much in the last decade and I thought he was in movie jail for Pay it Forward, but in reality he was just doing the college thing. That’s right. Can you believe the little Muppet is in his early 20s now? Yes, you’re old. (Variety)

The great Davide Strathairn cast as Seward in Spielberg’s Lincoln
Damn, I love that guy. Strathairn, not Seward. (Deadline)

Jeff Bridges re-options young adult sci-fi The Giver
It’s a long-brewing passion project of Bridges who was introduced to Lois Lowry’s 1994 young adult novel The Giver by his daughter. He’d been developing the story of a utopian future where memory of human history has been erased and one person is made the keeper of all human emotion for over a decade when Warner Bros. snapped up the rights. They’re available again and Bridges has reacquired them with Vadim Perelman (The House of Sand and Fog) still attached to write the screenplay. Originally Bridges said he envisioned his father Lloyd in the role as “The Giver,” but now figures he’s old enough himself. (Variety – firewall)

Carey Mulligan attached to star in Aussie sci-fi pic Outback
Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) is attached to direct. No plot details are known (Variety)

Red band trailer for Horrible Bosses
De rigueur for comedies these days is to pummel you with green and red band trailers that give away all the best parts. Horrible Bosses starring Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Charlie Day is no longer an exception. Preceded by paid advertising which is also increasingly common (and annoying). Why should I watch a commercial during a commercial for a movie? (MSN UK)

Director Ben Affleck casts star Ben Affleck in Iranian hostage drama Argo
This is the one produced by George Clooney’s Smoke House about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. Alan Arkin was in talks for a role a couple of weeks back and he was joined by John Goodman on Friday. (Variety)

Clint Eastwood wants Leonardo DiCaprio opposite Beyonce for A Star is Born
Yeah well, a lot of people want DiCaprio for a lot of things. Still, when Clint talks, people listen. Plus, do you ever get the feeling the thrice nominated DiCaprio really really wants an Oscar? Clint could get him one. (Deadline)

Tobey Maguire out of The Paperboy, Nicole Kidman in talks to replace Sofia Vergara
Maguire and Vergara were once lined up alongside Zac Efron and Matthew McConaughey for the latest pic from Lee Daniels (Precious) but Vergara dropped out last week over scheduling when the project was delayed a week. It turns out this was because Maguire bolted. (THR)

Mark Wahlberg, Allen Hughes in early talks to mount noirish Black Listed script Broken City
A PI is hired to investigate the mayor’s cheating wife. When the guy she was cheating with turns up dead, noir crap hits the fan including some dirty mayoral real estate dealing. The film is budgeted at $60 million. (Deadline)

Will UltraViolet save Hollywood’s cratering home video business?
In other words, will you be more willing to own movies if you can buy them once and then access them on multiple platforms similar to Apple and Amazon’s cloud computing? UltraViolet seeks to make that happen as all the studios except Disney have teamed up with retailers and tech companies (except Apple, naturally) to hammer out a universal format. The first discs that will also allow you to stream movies on multiple devices could start rolling out in the fall. Disney already offers digital downloads of movies you buy. (Wrap)

Pedro Almodovar’s Skin I Live In coming 10/7. Polanski’s Carnage opens 11/18
Anne Thompson runs down the release dates of some of the more anticipated films of fall and speculates that the earlier date for the Almodovar film indicates lack of confidence Oscar-wise by distributor Sony Pictures Classics. (ToH)

September Issue director to adapt romantic comedy Maynard & Jennica
The 2007 novel by Rudolph Delson takes an unusual tack in that it’s told in first person by 35 different narrators including a macaw. I’m not sure how that translates into a film, but that’s not my job. RJ Cutler’s September Issue was a documentary look at Vogue editor Anna Wintour (Deadline)

Blair Witch director to “make Bigfoot scary again” with Exists
Director Eduardo Sanchez co-wrote the screenplay with Jamie Nash. It revolves around a group of 20-somethings who are terrorized by a Bigfoot-like creature at an isolated cabin in the woods. WETA will be assisting on the creature work. According to Sanchez, this will be the first of a trilogy designed to “reinvent the Bigfoot myth.” I was obsessed with Bigfoot when I was a little kid to the point I was convinced I’d found Bigfoot tracks on my school playground in 2nd grade. I can’t remember if this was before or after I went digging for dinosaur eggs… The thing is, Bigfoot and dinosaurs and the Loch Ness Monster were cool because they seemed like they could be real. I’m not sure how tinkering with the Bigfoot myth makes it any better, but we’ll see. (Variety – firewall)

(above) Teaser: Pixar’s Brave
Well, this should wash the taste of Cars 2 out of your mouth. It looks lovely and dark and dramatic, but the best thing is that it feels like a whole new direction for Pixar. (via Playlist)

Trailer: Tarsem Singh’s Immortals
Ye gods, this looks silly. Henry Cavill (your new Man of Steel), Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Mickey Rourke, Kellan Lutz, Luke Evans, John Hurt and Isabel Lucas star in this tale of gods and whatnot. (Deadline)

31 Responses to “News du Jour: Brave new world”

  1. I want to be excited about “Brave”, because it really does look as though it represents something new, original and different for them (insofar as it kinda resembles a Celtic version of “Princess Mononoke”). What really interested me about the project when I first heard of it was the fact that it would mark the return of Brenda Chapman, who co-directed the sadly forgotten “Prince of Egypt”, which gets my vote for the very best telling of the Moses story, maybe even the best Biblical epic ever made, period. Therefore, I’m dissapointed that she was removed in favor of “Brad Bird’s right hand man”, and wind up losing a lot of respect for Pixar as a result of it (and I’ve never been one-hundred per cent about them, to begin with).

  2. Tarsem’s Immortals looks more interesting than 300, which is funny because without 300, Immortals would not have been made. It does seem redundant though after Clash of the Titans, but I guess that made some money.

    Do you remember a Bigfoot movie coming out in the late 70’s? It was god-awful but it scared the bejeebus out of me when I was 9 or so (Showtime, you did so much damage to my young psyche). I think it was the movie called Sasquatch (1978) but I’m not sure. I just remember that the film tries (poorly) to look like a documentary and at the end, this expedition of Bigfoot “hunters” gets trapped and attacked by a group of large, hairy creatures. I remember being fairly terrified by it back then, but then The Food of the Gods also scared the heck out of me at that age, so I can’t say my fear was based entirely on realism or quality film making.

  3. Bob, it is a bummer Brenda Chapman got booted. I don’t know the circumstances, but Pixar definitely could use some girl power.

    Still, I’m intrigued by this one.

    Joel, I stepped in a pile of dog shit this morning that looked more interesting than 300.

    I remember The Legend of Boggy Creek, Bigfoot, Creature from Black Lake and several other Bigfoot themed movies, but they’re all kind of a blur.

    My favorite was the Bigfoot episode of In Search Of… with Leonard Nimoy.

  4. The movie that “Brave”‘s hand me down director swap reminds me of is “X3: The Last Stand”, which was developed, storyboarded, designed, cast and even partially rewritten by Matthew Vaughn before he left due to what he deemed was too short a production schedule, to be replaced by Brett Ratner, who more or less followed Vaughn’s instructions, though in a lifeless way, while cutting the more ambitious parts back to fit the studio-imposed mandate. Much of Chapman’s vision will remain from her lengthy preproduction time, and I worry that the handpicked Pixar employee will water it down and/or get the lion’s share of credit. It’s too bad. We don’t see a lot of women in animation, period. Other than the director of “Kung Fu Panda”, I can’t think of any female directors in animation. I can think of a few women mangakas whose work gets turned into anime, but that’s different.

    “300” is a more interesting movie than most give credit for. Not great, but it’s very transparent as a piece of mythic-propaganda, a more self-aware version of LOTR.

  5. 300 was a silly, crashing bore. King Shouty and the Shirtless Hunks is what it should’ve been called.

    I’m not taking the bait on LotR, other than to say it wins on ambition alone.

    I imagine the circumstances of Chapman getting booted were much different than Vaughn’s. I doubt she was under time or budgetary pressure that she hadn’t signed on for. My guess is that the powers that be didn’t see eye to eye with her vision for better or for worse. It is unfortunate, especially as you say there’s such a dearth of female animators, but I wouldn’t have wanted Pixar just to keep her around because of her gender.

    I like the look of Brave so far, though I have to admit I’m not super crazy about the character’s facial design, but whatever.

  6. I didn’t realize you worked for Pixar, Bob. It must be really difficult for you considering how much you hate your employer’s films. How else could you know so much about the production of Brave?

  7. Joel, “Brave”‘s sacking of Chapman over creative differences is pretty well known. It was well publicized that this was going to be the first Pixar film helmed by a woman, and when she departed from the project, it raised eyebrows. Fair game for discussion, far as I’m concerned.

    Craig, again I’m mainly disappointed with Pixar because they hired one of the directors responsible for one of the best animated films of the 90’s, seemingly gave her free reign to develop an original idea and unconventional vision, and then pulled it away when it came time to actually direct the movie. If Brad Bird had been taken away from “The Incredibles”, it would’ve been equally suspicious.

    As for LOTR– no, I just don’t care about those movies enough anymore to debate them casually. Suffice to say that the only way I’ll be seeing the “Hobbit” movies is if I wind up dating a girl who speaks fluent Elvish. I’m done with Jackson altogether.

  8. Yeah, the problem Bob is that you’re talking completely out your ass on something you have no knowledge of: the production of a film that is a year from release. We haven’t even seen a full trailer, I’m fairly certain you haven’t seen the script (either before or after her firing), and they are probably just beginning to render fully animated final scenes.

    When Bird replaced Pinkava on Ratatouille, it was at roughly the same point in the production as when Chapman was replaced on Brave. Bird made numerous changes, from having Remy redesigned to reworking large portions of the script. To assume, as you claim, that “much of Chapman’s vision will remain from her lengthy preproduction time, and I worry that the handpicked Pixar employee will water it down and/or get the lion’s share of credit” is pure speculation. The comparison to X-men 3 is laughable because you assume the execs at Pixar have the same contempt for their audience that the FOX suits do. There’s really no comparison.

    Maybe you should wait to judge the film on its own merits. Although we don’t know the full story, in the past Pixar has made creative decisions based on what they perceive is best for the final film. If Chapman was removed, it’s probably because she wasn’t crafting a film they felt was going to work. Considering how expensive and time-consuming these projects are, you can’t really hold that against them.

  9. If Pixar is going to be taken seriously as a team of artists and not just a well disguised creatuve corporate entity, then being criticized for sacking a director after writing and extensive preproduction isn’t at all uncalled for, especially when they’re sacking someone with a proven track record for both delivering a successful work and working in a team. Preproduction art was released for “Brave” a while back, and unless all the paintings represent work that was done solely after she left, it would seem they’re following from where she left off.

    As for Pixar not having contempt for their audiences– this is the team that gave us Larry the Cable Guy as a tow-truck. Twice.

  10. I’ll see your Mater and raise you Jar Jar.

  11. Yeah, except the movies that Mater’s in are boring, generic filler compared to the rest of Pixar’s stuff, even the movies I’m not crazy about. If we were talking an annoying side-character in “The Incredibles”, “Wall-E”, “Up” or god-forbid the “Toy Story” movies, the comparison’s valid. Those movies, like TPM, had ups and downs. “Cars” doesn’t have anything to make up for its sucky parts.

    And anyway, at least after people complained about him in TPM, Jar Jar was kept to a bare minimum in the next movie, instead of making him the star.

  12. I don’t like Cars enough to praise it but I think it has some decent characters, the animation is still top-notch, and the nostalgia for a bygone era when life was a little simpler might be trite to you but I can appreciate the sentiment that it comes from.

    But when it comes to the prequels, I see nothing but redundant films that show contempt for their audience. They are boring and and generic and serve as nothing more than elaborate toy ads. I can appreciate the elaborate effects work, but that’s about it.

  13. I’ve written extensively about the prequels before, but I’ll give a summary here– they contain the best action set-pieces, the best art-direction, the best cinematography and the best structural/conceptual screenwriting present in blockbuster cinema of the past fifteen years. Yeah, the dialogue and acting ain’t much to write home about, but everything else is. I’ll take them over the overrated stuff of LOTR, “Avatar” or Nolan’s films any day (though I do enjoy his stuff, more or less). They’ve also got some of the craziest pastiche cinema-quoting since the days of early Godard or Tarantino, not to mention the at times bugnuts crazy use of its own iconography.

    “Cars” is the laziest stuff Pixar’s ever done, something that has no reason to exist outside of giving Paul Newman and George Carlin their sad last roles for a film (if only Carlin had survived for a third “Bill & Ted” adventure). But by and large, I only think two or three of Pixar’s films actually live up to their hype. What kills their stuff for me is the way they always give in to cloyingly rote, conventional sentimentality, the kind that would make Tornatore vomit up a lung or two. They make Miyazaki’s gentle fare seem as progressive as Anno or Oshii, and that’s saying something.

  14. You’re really on your own there with that opinion of the prequels, as you’re probably well aware. You’ve yet to convince me of anything you say about them (and you’ve made your points repeatedly, so there’s no need to rehash it now), especially when you claim they exceed other films of the last 15 years (or even ten years, or five years, or last year). The Matrix trilogy has more to offer than the prequels, let alone the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

  15. The Matrix movies come the closest to capturing the fire that the original SW films did, back in the day. I like’em, even the sequels, but they still don’t hold a candle (a flashlight, maybe).

    And yeah, they do. In everything but dialogue and acting (and frankly I don’t find those aspects bad, just very formal, whatnot), yeah. I’ve made my case for them already over at The Aspect Ratio and Wonders, so I won’t bother repeating myself here, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way, or else SW would’ve lost its mainstream popularity ten years ago and become something that only nostalgia-geeks talk about while everybody else moves on, like “Back to the Future” or something (not to knock those films– they’re fun).

    LOTR had its moment in the sun, but they’ve largely been forgotten by the public. Not quite the staying power of any of the other big tentpole franchises. “The Hobbit” may yet do well, but I have my doubts. It has the common prequel “we already know where the story goes” problem, and it’s not telling us a story that’s terribly interesting, either. Plus, it’s split into two separate films unnecessarily. If Del Toro were at the helm to give a new perspective, it might’ve been fun. Now, it’s just more Jackson melodrama shtick.

    Bringing things back to Pixar– something that bothers me in their stuff is that each new film of theirs earns them droves more fans in the audience, but they very seldom make use of that creative capital by taking big risks with their material. Yeah, their stuff is creative, but it tends to be waterlogged with so much overriding Hallmark moment emotionalism. We get the nucular family unit and hometown values asserting themselves at the end of “The Incredibles”, a cutesy love-conquers-all romance between robots and naive optimism in “Wall-E”, inane hand-me-down nostalgia for old-timey adventure and eye-rolling sentimentality in “Up”, etc. Those are their better films, mind you– except for maybe “Ratatouille” (which I have problems with for how they sacked the original director and resort to a lot of 50’s “we’re in France!” stupidity), the rest of their output is resoundingly unimpressive, generic commercials for conservative status-quo morales.

  16. Bob, you’d like the LOTR films to be forgotten, but as far as popularity contests go they’re doing fine. Great, in fact. Two of the films rank right next to the Star Wars eps 4 and 5 in the IMDb Top 250. Sure, the Top 250 is trite and unscientific, but it’s a decent barometer of sheer popularity. Sadly, the SW prequels don’t even crack the top 250, although the Matrix is represented, as well as those Nolan and Cameron films you mentioned.

    They all have ample fans. LOTR is just as popular as your beloved Star Wars. The Hobbit will do fine. Get over it.

  17. Popular with the internet-bubble inhabitants, but not really with people outside of it. Enjoyed, yeah, but by and large they never attracted the same size or scope of crowd that the newer SW films have, where you’ve seen younger fans gravtating to them and the Clone Wars cartoon and not being quite as crazy for the OT as older viewers would like to expect. The Prequels had the originals to form the base of their first audiences, but they’ve built their own legions of support from the newer generations of kids for whom it was their first exposure to the series. LOTR, on the other hand, was mostly attracting the Tolkien fans who had either devoted themselves to the novel or “The Hobbit” at the very least. Yes, lots of viewers were being introduced to Middle Earth for the first time, but they’re the ones who didn’t really take any of it seriously, the ones who’d be hard pressed to tell the diffefence between Jackson’s films and the Harry Potter or Twilight stuff. It’s telling, I think, that when TBS first showed LOTR (something you rarely see now, another sign of its fading presence) they ran commercials that poked fun of the homoerotic undertones between Sam and Mr. Frodo, something that audiences themselves had been doing all along.

    As for the IMBD list– didn’t they have “Shawshank Redemption” as their top pick a while back? Proof positive the polls are rigged.

  18. LOL, Bob, and I rarely LOL so believe it ’cause I mean it. You’re quite a piece of work.

  19. I just checked. “Shawshank Redemption” IS in the IMBD top spot. I’d LOL myself if I thought it made a difference.

  20. “Popular with the internet-bubble inhabitants, but not really with people outside of it.”

    And exceedingly popular with the professional critics as well. THE RETURN OF THE KING won the Best Picture prize from the normally-elitist New York Film Critics Circle in 2003. The two films before it received comparable praise.

    I love all three films and will always defend them to the hilt. My tough-to-please WitD colleague Allan Fish is also a huge fan of all three.

    Bring on THE HOBBIT indeed.

  21. A few other startling facts about THE RETURN OF THE KING’s critical reception (since it’s so-called “selective” popularity is under scrutiny here):

    Metacritic 94%

    Favorable: 41
    Mixed: 1
    Negative: 0

    note: There were 26 100 grades, the most ever recorded at the site; and the 94% is one of the highest composite grades in the history of Metacritic.

    94% Rotten Tomatoes

    225 favorable
    14 mixed/negatrive

    Again, one of RT’s most impressive grades for that large a number of scribes.

    Seems to me the only people on the planet that don’t either LOVE or LIKE the LOTR movies are the devil’s advocates, who exist for every film.

  22. Sam, I sat in audiences who took the LOTR movies about as seriously as a pocketful of salt. The first one was more or less solid, and won the lion’s share of its mainstream fans. The other two, people mostly just sat through to keep from feeling that their time was wasted. I’ve never seen that many people get up and leave during a movie to go to the bathroom as I did with TTT, and I’ve never seen a movie that people laughed at and mocked in the theater as much as ROTK. The average movie-goer didn’t take Jackson’s movies any more seriously than the “Matrix” sequels or even one of the “Transformers” flicks. They were big, stupid, summer crowd-pleasers that just happened to be released during Oscar season.

    That, by the way, is a big part of their critical acclaim, by the way. Critics and award-voters have a notoriously short attention span and even shorter long-term memories, and it’s rare that they even remember to nominate stuff that came out during the summer months (or god forbid, the spring or winter). New Line was smart to release the films during the Holiday seasons and market them agressively to the critics, playing up their literary source material and historic-seeming epic sweep. The fact that fantasy is always more accepted by the establishment than sci-fi was also a plus. The fact that they were embraced by the normaly elitist critics isn’t an anomaly, but quite the opposite.

    Besides, 2003 was the year of “Dogville”, wasn’t it? All ROTK’s win shows is it was the safe choice that year.

  23. Bob, the New York Film Critics Circle does not make “safe” choices. They never have. They go with the best film of the year as they see it, and rarely make concessions to the “commercial” film. You are confusing them with the Oscars. If critics have such notorious short attention spans, what in fact would make YOU or ME any better in that sense? Most critics write reviews based on their artistic perceptions, not as a response to marketing. Geez, give them a little more credit than that.

    The fact that the audience that you sat with was bored is exactly the point. This was hardly a multiplex film, but more a triumph of art house cinema.

    As far as DOGVILLE, (a film that I loved) it has no place in this discussion, as it received extremely divided reviews. Many of the best critics hated it, audiences were indifferent, and it was never discussed when the awards came up in any way, shape or form.

    I find it interesting too that the seven times that I saw THE RETURN OF THE KING in theatres, yielded almost religious reverence among the audience, as if they were experiencing an epiphany. The operatic masterwork succeeds on every level imaginable.

    The fact that you hurl all kinds of disclaimers at the greatness of these films tells me only one thing: they are not within your sphere of taste. Nothing more. I’ve talked with many super-bright people (in person and on-line) for almost a decade now, and I have received all the shared satisfaction and validation I would ever want. I respect you as always, but on these films we are light years away.

  24. Sam, in the past ten years, the only film given top prize by the NYFCC that could possibly be called adventurous or daring is “Mulholland Drive”, and frankly for a Lynch film it’s rather tame. Year after year they tend to select nominally quality but overall conventional fare. Oftentimes the films are done by directors who are genuinely on their way to true creative gambits and experiments (“Traffic” is Soderbergh-lite compared to how far he’d go with “Che”; “Mulholland Drive” is mostly a glammed up rehash of “Lost Highway” and little better than a warm-up to “Inland Empire”). Just as often, however, the films chosen can be, let’s face it, rather uninspired as time goes by (politics helped “Brokeback Mountain” and “Milk” more than anything; “Sideways” is as lightweight as the watered-down wines its characters whine about). They are absolutely the safe choices in their years, especially when compared to the more agressive stuff that they could be giving their accolades to. After all, last year they gave the award to “The Social Network”, for God’s sake, which might be a little more daring than “The King’s Speech”, but nowhere near enough to be outside the margin of error.

  25. Bob: I never could understand why when a film receives almost unanimous critical praise (as in the case of both SIDEWAYS and THE SOCIAL NETWORK, which swept the boards like no films before) that those films should then be artistically derided as “safe” choices and artistically compromised. I completely disagree with you on the merits of SIDEWAYS, which is a masterful film that has lost nothing since it’s release, and THE SOCIAL NETWORK, which nearly every blogger of worth praises profusely to this day.

    When were the intentions of the NYFCC (or any other awards group) to give the Best Picture prize to a particularly audacious film? The ground rules (rightly) have always been to give the award to the film they consider the year’s “best.” Whether that decision yields a “safe” choice or a “bold” one is really besides the point. In the case of SIDEWAYS (another brilliant film you dice, one virtually every single critics group in the nation gave their Best Picture prize (I believe actually it was 26 of 27 in fact) Don’t you think these results say much more about what film the critics REALLY LOVED, rather than some hidden agenda at work?

    And you fail to mention 2002, when the NYFCC (bless their hearts) chose Todd Haynes’ FAR FROM HEAVEN (my personal favorite film of the 2000’s) as their Best Picture choice. Now that was as ballsy a choice as any group has ever made. What pray tell was so safe about that? The film received excellent reviews, but made no money and was shunned by the Oscars.

    Add to that, THE LIVES OF OTHERS and UNITED 93, two other rather audacious choices that also speak well of the group in more way than one, were named Best Picture in their respective years.

    Choosing MILK and THE HURT LOCKER reflected badly on no-one since again both were critically-acclaimed. And the choice of MULLHOLLAND DRIVE should not be dismissed as anything obvious. The point is no other film made since 2000 has received the kind of adoration from professional critics and our blogging colleagues than this David Lynch film. Few would argue that the NYFCC did the wrong thing, hence in my book they deserved to be applauded, not taken for granted.

  26. Sam, when praise for a film is near-unanimous, adding more praise to it is the dictionary definition of “safe”. And I hate to burst your bubble, but pretty much everything here is an utterly uncontroversial pick– even “Far From Heaven” represents Todd Haynes at his most mainstream, passing off dusty Douglas Sirk melodrama and genre pastiche with increasingly outdated social commentary (not a bad film, but everything else he’s done, including his equally melodramatic HBO miniseries, are far more challenging).

    Do I doubt that the critics loved these movies? No. But the degree to which they love utterly conventional stuff makes me doubt their taste. All of it is studio fare of some form or another, with only the more corporatized and established of “indie” voices as a stand-in.

  27. “Sam, when praise for a film is near-unanimous, adding more praise to it is the dictionary definition of “safe.”

    I don’t buy this in theory. Most of the groups vote at the same time, and even in the case where some voted afterwards, they would much prefer to vote for a different choice to stand apart from the others. Whether their choices conform to what you or I prefer, the point is they are voting for the film they feel is the years’s best, whether that film is safe, bold, accepted, radical, conservative, popular, or eclectic. The unifying conviction is the term “best.” Why would or should any choice within these parameters be “controversial?” What does this mean? The award is “best” of the year, not most controversial or different.

    FAR FROM HEAVEN was an art house film that NEVER played in multiplexes, and by any barometer of measurement is off-the-beacon-track. As far as you not prefering it to any other Haynes, well fair enough. That’s your take.

    Mine has been voiced loud and clear on more occasions than I can recall.

  28. Bob, I think the LotR bubble belongs to you. Of course there are plenty of people who dislike them, but to characterize fans as some kind of dying fringe cult is pretty silly. You’re just pissed because they have more respect than your beloved prequels.

    As for the Hobbit, I’m already on record as not giving much of a shit, but it’s not at all a prequel to Lord of the Rings. Your portrayal of it as such makes me seriously wonder if you’ve ever read any of the books.

    The Hobbit shares three characters and a setting, but is otherwise different in every way. It’s a self contained adventure aimed at a younger audience. Yes, it features “the one ring,” but that’s not central to the story at all. Gollum occupies maybe one chapter.

    I’m not one of those people who is going to try and strong arm you into liking something you don’t, but at least if you’re going to make arguments, get your facts straight.

  29. Craig, it’s a Prequel insofar as it takes place before LOTR, yes? “First Class” only features three or four characters from the rest of the “X-Men” movies, and the story it tells has little to nothing to do with the Singer films. That’s still a Prequel, isn’t it?

    I’m not saying LOTR has a dying fringe cult. They have something closer to a dying organized religion, the type that has plenty of churches, temples, mosques or what have you, but dwindling attendence. It’s popular in the same way that… I don’t know… “Jurassic Park” was popular. It had a splash in the pan, it’ll carry attention when it’s out again, but it’s not exactly something everybody’s waiting for in the same way that the other franchises illicit. I’d say the same thing about “Avatar”, but at least that was an original thing– I don’t think anybody outside of the hardcore fans really cares if we visit Pandora again, but they’ll go if we do. Nolan’s movies, for all I have misgivings with, inspire much more mainstream attention, as do more established series like the Bond movies or, yes, “Star Wars”.

    LOTR may have fans, but it isn’t ingrained into the psyche of pop-cultural shared collective consciousness that these other things have. Frankly, television stuff like “Lost”, “24” or “The Sopranos” had a bigger impact on the public than Jackson’s films ever had (and I’m only completely a fan of one of those shows, with nominal adherence to another, myself). Am I pissed that they get more respect than the Prequels? Yeah, but those are hardly the only films I get pissed at being neglected (“Kramer Vs. Kramer” over “Heaven’s Gate”? Are you kidding me?). Again, it’s the double-standard I hate most, as all the faults in SW are present in LOTR, and get glossed over for the most part.

    In the long run– at least the appreciation for the latter-day SW efforts is growing, while until “The Hobbit” at least, Jackson’s take on Tolkien’s world plateaued years ago, and shrinks the more newer series come along to provide distraction.

    Sam– FFH may be an “art-house film”, but it still adapts closely to the mainstays of middle-of-the-road dramatic, narrative and genre conventions. If you wanted to elect something more nominally against the grain, you might say “Tree of Life” (and that may well be the NYFCC choice this year, though considering it came out in the Spring and doesn’t adhere to linear storytelling, that’s not for granted). If you wanted to offer something truly out there, you could say stuff like “Dogtooth”, “Irreversible” or any given Von Trier film, which all managed to find themselves at the tops of some critical choices in their given years (I think, at least– “Irreversible” might be a bit of a hard sell). Hell, take a read in the rest of this thread and you’ll see I’m no Pixar zealot, and even I’ll say that the groups that picked stuff like “Wall-E” as the best films of the year deserve props for at least looking outside of live-action fare (although really, even Pixar represents the nadir of conventionality as far as animation goes).

    The sad truth is– whether one is talking about the multiplex or the art-house, the same kind of dogmatic approach to dramatic, narrative and moral conventions above all in cinema applies. Stuff that’s looser with those restrictions, or defies them openly, rarely gets anything more than a hostile or, perhaps even worse, indifferent once-over.

    By the way, I’m not saying that I don’t prefer FFH to the other Haynes films. I’m just saying that, when compared to rest of his output, it’s far more “normal”. Part of its wide appeal is the fact that it adopts easy-to-digest genre conventions and takes them as far as he can, within contemporary standards.

  30. By your definition Bob, The Life of Brian is a prequel to The Greatest Story Ever Told

  31. No, it’d be a gaiden, or sidestory, as it takes place at the same time. “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” is another example. The only rule for definition as a prequel is that it take place before whatever story is in question. If you really wanted to contest “The Hobbit” as one, you’d be better off saying that since Tolkien published it first, it rather makes LOTR a sequel (although he may have done a lot of writing for all these stories at the same time, as authors tend to do– Frank Herbert wrote a lot of his “Dune” books in odd sequence). But these definitions are relative in nature, depending on where you look at them from. For audiences whose knowledge of middle earth extends only as far as Jackson’s films, this next set of movies will definitelt be seen as prequels, especially considering how he’s reportedly expanding certain portions and adding stuff from ancilary material like the Simmilarion or whatever to make stronger connections to the film trilogy.

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