Thursday, 4 August 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #776: Answers Answers Answers Pt. 1

I got a lot of responses to my call for questions. So I'm going to do an epic 2-parter question answering thingy. I'll answer some tonight (Thursday) and the rest tomorrow (Friday) so let's get this ball rolling!
anangbhai asked-- What's the future of comic books via iPad apps? (sound,animation & better pirate protection) similar to gaming industry...?
Good question he said in a vain attempt to buy time while he tried to drag an answer out of his ass...

Well, I guess I could begin by answering your question with a question. If you're reading comics via an iPad app that's loaded with sound and animation, is it really still a comic book?

Yeah. Think about it.

But seriously, I do think that one way to keep the comics industry afloat is for publishers to sell single issues electronically, because the monthly "floppy" is a pain in the ass for retailers to stock, and for customers to buy. But I also think that, at least the two mega-majors, should also release comics in print, possibly in a collected magazine format that mainstream stores will stock, and readers won't feel overcharged buying.
Lemmy the Mole asked...What steps would lindsey lohan have to take to get her career back.
It's not impossible for Ms. Lohan to get her career back on track, but it won't be easy. The role model she must follow is Robert Downey Jr. RDJ had a horrendous addiction problem, and even spent some real time in jail. But he got his career back on track, and now he's one of a select few actors in Hollywood who is remotely reliable at the box office.

He did it through hard, hard, back breaking ball busting work. He did supporting parts, he did television, he did whatever gig he could get and he gave each gig his best. He showed up on time, knew his lines, took direction, and did his job to the best of his considerable ability. He burned serious calories to rebuild his image, his life, and his career, and he's being justly rewarded for it by audiences.

Lohan will have a tougher road to hoe though, because even during his darkest days of addiction you never heard anyone complain about Downey Jr's work ethic. Even during Lohan's alleged clean periods you heard lots of complaining about Lohan showing up late, not being prepared, and delivering lackluster work at best. She's also surrounded by legions of enablers who profit more from her notoriety than from her success, who have no interest in seeing her working hard at movies, because that means less "fun" for them, and I just don't think she's bright enough to figure it all out.
Lemmy the Mole much clout does quentin tarantino have in the industry and how is he regarded?
Hmmm.... being an outsider it's a bit of an insider kind of thing to answer. I don't think he has the same sort of clout he had during the 1990s, when he was fresh from Pulp Fiction, but he does have a somewhat rare position in Hollywood. It's a position of comfort, because his films tend to be cheaper than most studio fare, and his dedicated fans made sure that the only film of his to fail to approximately double the production budget at the box office was Grindhouse, his co-production with Robert Rodriguez.

That gives him the comfort to do what he wants, within certain budget parameters, and when you have that, you really don't need clout.

As for how he's regarded by Hollywood? I'll do a poll if you'll fly me down to Hollywood, and set me up in an all expenses paid suite in the best hotel in Beverly Hills. Then I'll get you your answer!
Lemmy the Mole asked...what are 5 good movies that you would recommend for my netflix que?
There are a lot of good movies out there. So here are some of the ones that will teach you the basics of good movie making, and a lot of folks don't get much chance to see them very often, because most of them are in black and white. Here they are in no particular order:

1. KING KONG: The 1933 original. Study this film, and you get all the basics of action-adventure storytelling through cinematography and editing.

2. CITIZEN KANE: The film that showed you that you didn't need to tell a story in a straight line to tell a good story. Really a must see.

3. THE SEARCHERS: John Ford's exploration of racism, vengeance, and familial love inspired thousands of films that came after it, including Star Wars.

4. YOJIMBO: Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune became the John Ford and John Wayne of Japan. Really a must see gateway drug into the world of Japanese cinema.

5. THE MALTESE FALCON: John Huston's film laid the foundations for film noir with this adaptation of the Dashiell Hammett novel.

These will give you the basics of good filmmaking.
Lemmy the Mole asked...are people in hollywood happy?
Depends on the individual in Hollywood. If you accept that it's all a game, and play it to make money and have fun, you can be happy. Let the city and its attitudes rule your life, and you're unhappy. But that can be true in any city centered around money, fame, and looks.
Nate Winchester asked... Why is hollywood so BAD about their release schedules? Do you think comic book movies are really fading, or are the studios releasing them at the worst time when they'll have the stiffest competition? (seems to me, superhero movies have become 'standard' enough it would be best to release them during slower times of the year when people are wanting to see something but "nothing's on".
You've been bugging me about release schedules, where fine, here's your goddamn answer! Put it in your pipe and smoke it!

Ahem-- Sorry about that.

Timing is everything, especially in showbiz. When you're releasing a picture you have to take into consideration
when you're going to release that picture. You need to size up the demographics of the available audiences, the competition, economic factors, and even the weather.

But there is one thing that can override such logical calculations.

It's called GROUPTHINK!

Groupthink is a mindset held by the overwhelming majority of people in a chosen community. Hollywood is notorious for groupthink, since independent solo-thinking has the whiff of risk to them. So you get people releasing movies that might have been better off coming out in the Fall or Spring coming out in the Summer, because the group mindset says that big budget sci-fi/fantasy type movies have to come out in Summer in order to cash in on the vacationing kids.

But groupthink means that the Summer release window is now completely clogged with big budget sci-fi/fantasy type blockbuster epics, and those precious vacationing kids can't drop their hard earned parental ducats on every film all at one time. So a lot of films that might have done well, get swept away in the tidal wave.
Nate Winchester asked... Do you think the fading of westerns is that there's no more stories to tell with them that people haven't already seen? But if they start getting more creative (like Cowboys & Aliens), they could make a comeback?
I think the concept of running out of stories to tell for any given genre says more about the failure of the imagination of the people making movies than the possibilities inherent in the genre itself. One of the big problem with Westerns as a genre is that after Peckinpah, those who dipped their toes into the genre either treated them as elegiac homages to a time and cinema gone by, or as campy ironically cartoonish shoot-em-ups. Too much cliche, not enough imagination.

Maybe mash-ups like C&A and the remake of True Grit can shake the gears loose on the Western and get more made, because I've always liked a good six-gun slinging adventure film.

Cowboys & Aliens, wasn't the first Western mash-up. One of my childhood favorites was Valley of the Gwangi. That had cowboys and dinosaurs, freaking dinosaurs! They had to have gotten the idea from an eight year old for such simple brilliance. I have fond memories of that movie when I was little, even though I haven't seen it in over 25 years.

Tomorrow, more questions, and more answers! Excelsior!


  1. Ok,

    So what is your take on Redford doing the hagiography on Ayers and Dorhn?

    Is there something beyond idiocy and nostalgia for a time when it was 'cool' to be a terrorist? The right kind of terrorist of course, not one of those icky Timothy McVeigh type of terrorist.

    Is this a case of preaching to the choir? I can't see any way that mainstream America would ever watch this in a million years. It's not like he needs to establish his liberal 'street cred'.

    I mean he's Robert Redford what more does he need to do to be one of the cool kids? What gives? Is he just old and semi-retired, does he think he's losing influence, what?

    Don H.
    Forks, WA

  2. You've been bugging me about release schedules, where fine, here's your goddamn answer! Put it in your pipe and smoke it!

    See what happens when you get fans? They get all demanding. Wish you were more obscure now? XD

    So follow up question: How many failures will it take in hollywood to break the groupthink?

    I think the concept of running out of stories to tell for any given genre says more about the failure of the imagination of the people making movies than the possibilities inherent in the genre itself.

    True dat. But then, I was never that much of a fan of Westerns as the genre often seemed like more of the same to me. Though I did like Purgatory (bit of fantasy to it) and C&A (sci-fi). Valley of the Gwangi sounds like something I may have to put on my netflix queue.

    One more question: What's your bet on when Hollywood will get another shake up and go through another golden age? (since these things seem to go in cycles)

  3. Valley of Gwangi still rocks. And the film-makers "got it". Gwangi is never portrayed in the movie as anything more than a man-eating monster. He rampages, kills people, and doesn't do a single nice thing. But at the final scene, where he is killed, the camera focuses in on a little Mexican kid's face, and the kid is crying. Because the kid KNOWS tyrannosaurs are awesome.

    I showed Gwangi to my 6-year-old grandkid this year and he thought he'd died and gone to heaven.