Box Office Poison or Box Office Proliferation?

|

Tammy Bruce is quick to finger the real culprit in Hollywood's bad B.O.:

Hollywood honchos continue to wring their hands over why you've stopped going to the movies. They blame ticket prices and DVD availability. They had better start considering the fact that filmmakers are so disconnected, so nihilistic, that the hopelessness and hostility they feel toward the world now permeates their work. Americans will no longer go see movies which are nothing more than the manifestation of the backwash of malignant narcissists. We're also sick and tired of listening to actors lecture us about how awful the US is, and more recently, why a cold-blooded mass murdering gang founder should have been given clemency. Enough is enough.

For Bruce, flicks like the gay cowboy joint Brokeback Mountain (Same Time Next Year meets The Boys in the Band!) have poisoned the box office. Let's leave aside the rather obvious point that all cowboy movies are gay cowboy movies and that John Wayne hisself sashayed like, well, Gary Cooper, fer chrissakes. Bruce links to this AP story at the excellent aggregator site, Breitbart.com, which in part notes:

The last in the "Star Wars" series raked in a whopping 380 million dollars in North American box office, "War of the Worlds," starring Tom Cruise took 234 million, the comedy "Wedding Crashers" notched up 208 million in ticket receipts and Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" took 206 million.

But the successes were few and far between in 2005.

Ron Howard's 88-million-dollar biopic "Cinderella Man," starring Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger, took only 61 million dollars, while Ridley Scott's crusade epic "Kingdom of Heaven," which cost 130 million dollars to make, reaped only 47 million at the all-important domestic the box office.

Other fizzlers that did not recoup their budgets included the much-touted sci-fi flop "The Island," which hauled in only 35 million dollars, while Jamie Foxx's military drama "Stealth" bombed with a US and Canadian haul of 31 million dollars. It quickly disappeared from screens.

"Movie goers are very picky and they want the price of the ticket to be worthwhile, the studios had to offer more," said Gitesh Pandya of movie industry tracker Box Office Guru.

"There should be more creativity and new ideas, not just sequels and remake. Let's hope Hollywood listens to the audiences," he added.

While conservatives are quick to point to the success of ideologically simpatico films such as The Passion of the Christ and Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (which is kicking Anglican ass at the box office), they tend to be silent on the failure of simpatico bombs such as Cinderella Man.

More to the point, these stories tend to conflate Hollywood's bottom line with something those of us not in the movie industry should really give a shit about. The real question for the vast majority of us whose personal wealth is not tied to Paramount Pictures is whether we've got more choices to pick from. It's not a great week if alternative lifestyles offend you (and that goes equally for right-wingers who hate gays and left-wingers who hate Christians). But the point of a semi-free society is that your right to live your life is predicated upon my right to live my life, not that you get to reorder the entire world to suit your own personal preferences.

And in that sense, it's a pretty great week in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave when you can pick between a Christian allegory such as Narnia (distributed by gay-friendly Disney, the same studio reviled by right-wingers for releasing the "nihilistic" mega-hit Pulp Fiction a few years back) and a love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name-saga such as Brokeback Mountain (a movie considerably less gay than director Ang Lee's previous effort The Hulk and, by all accounts, infinitely more watchable).

I wrote about the upside of Hollywood's slumping sales earlier this year. That's online here. And Michael Valdez Moses took the measure of the post 9/11 action hero for us here.

NEXT: Celebrate Hit & Run's 3rd B-Day Tonight in DC!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How exactly is Cinderella Man supposed to equate to Narnia, Lord fo the Rings, or Passion? Russell Crow is his own worst enemy when it comes to off screen stupidity (Tom Cruise, take note). Why waste money on something like that? The real problem in Hollywood is that they make CRAP for the most part. The few gems out there DO make money. But then creativity is so HARD isn’t it..

    If Hollywood makes junk that I don’t wish to waste two hours of my life on, that is their fault, regardless of whether I am conservative or liberal.

    Oh, and dude.. Your “everything is gay” fixation.. See a therapist.

  2. Bruce is way off. Hollywood’s numbers aren’t off because they’re releasing films that aren’t sufficiently conservative. Rather, this is happening because they aren’t releasing enough films that tackle issues of urban planning, toddler raising, and the struggles of novice bass guitar players.

  3. I dunno about the equation nihilistic = gay …

  4. In contemporary conservative lingo, “nihilistic” means “anything I don’t care for.”

  5. Especially that last, Joe. Imagine the drama of one man’s struggles and the pads of the fingers on his left hand first blister and then lose feeling as the callouses form. The endless struggle to figure out what key the damn guitarist is playing in. The powerful, rending forces of the melody and rythmn, which threaten to tear his timing apart…oh, the humanity!

    And yes-I’m a novice bass player also. The finger issues go away quickly, but I’m still working on the key thing. I played drums for years, to I’m inclined to think “My time is on, so what’s the damn problem?”

  6. They had better start considering the fact that filmmakers are so disconnected, so nihilistic, that the hopelessness and hostility they feel toward the world now permeates their work. Americans will no longer go see movies which are nothing more than the manifestation of the backwash of malignant narcissists. We’re also sick and tired of listening to actors lecture us about how awful the US is, and more recently, why a cold-blooded mass murdering gang founder should have been given clemency. Enough is enough.

    Yeah, because “Ozzy & Harriet”/”Leave it to Beaver” inspired views of family and morality, along with mindless, jingoistic, America-can-do-no-wrong, flag-waving is not only realistic, but entertaining.

    Enough right-wing bloviating is enough.

    Let’s leave aside the rather obvious point that all cowboy movies are gay cowboy movies…

    …especially if they’re eating pudding.

    However, the questionable hetrosexuality of westerns is NOTHING compared to the bald-faced homoeroticism of professional sports, especially football.

    “There should be more creativity and new ideas, not just sequels and remake. Let’s hope Hollywood listens to the audiences,” he added.

    I read somewhere the reason that Hollywood prefers sequels and remakes is because it’s a lot easier to market them to a public that already comfortable with the concepts. They don’t want to take a chance on anything new and original flopping, so they stick to want the movie going public knows.

    BTW, on a somewhat related note, I’m still bitter that “Serenity” bombed at the box office. It got good reviews, but the public just wasn’t turned on by it. Part of me wants to blame Universal’s piss-poor marketing campaign, and part of me thinks Joss Whedon should have picked a better name. A lot of people who I know who like sci-fi movies either didn’t know the movie existed (one of them who was a fan of “Firefly” hadn’t heard of the “Big Damn Movie” until she saw the poster hanging in my cubicle), or thought it was a chick-flick when they heard the title.

    At least the DVD comes out next week. (Since my sister always gets me a movie for the holidays, I will most likely be that.) Of course, it also means that there will probably be no sequel.

  7. Fair or not, I judge a movie’s potential worth by its advertising effort, and as the majority of promotional material spewing forth seems to have been created by chimpanzees and ADS-afflicted teenagers for the benefit of same, I hit the mute button till it passes, and save my $15 for cheap bourbon. After a few slugs of Old Crow, even “It’s A Wonderful Life” becomes tolerable.

  8. If tickets didn’t cost $9.50 apiece out here, my wife and I might see more movies.

    Or, if they made more movies like Chain Reaction, where the hero is a physicist who ultimately hooks up with a hot female physicist, then I might see more movies. Then again, my wife might not let me see those movies.

    Anyway, make more movies about physicists!

  9. Actually, the Hero in Chain Reaction was a machinist, not a physicist..

  10. I don’t go to the movies much anymore because they don’t kick out the talkers anymore. Remember when they had ushers and, like, rules? They had that guy that would walk down with his flashlight and tell people to shut up, then escort them out if they didn’t?

    It’s hard to find an enjoyable theatre experience anymore even if I do find a good movie.

  11. Of course, exhibitors care far more than studios do about planting butts in theater seats; studios have dozens of ancillary revenue streams, from DVD sales and rentals to overseas distro rights to TV and cable sales. Exhibitors have their share of the box office, concessions, and ad sales, and that’s pretty much it. Unfortunately for them, they can’t control the quality of the products they get from the studios.

    We’re so obsessed with box office as an arbiter of a movie’s performance that we miss that bigger picture. Studios and producers will — to the extent that any movie ever, under Hollywood’s version of GAAP, “makes its money back” — always make money. Exhibitors are the ones who are in real trouble.

    joe, you’re taking up the bass? Good move. The bassist is always the cool one. Me and my 1973 Ric 4001 salute you!

  12. Or, if they made more movies like Chain Reaction, where the hero is a physicist who ultimately hooks up with a hot female physicist, then I might see more movies.

    Thoreau,

    You must have an amazing ability to suspend disbelief. 🙂

  13. Dr. T-You’ve got Frink in the Simpsons, what more do you people want?

  14. Actually, the Hero in Chain Reaction was a machinist, not a physicist..

    WRONG! He was a physics student who dropped out and had to take a job as a machinist in a physics lab. (And yes, most good physics research labs have a machinist.)

  15. I’m a confirmed “I’ll wait for the DVD” guy. In order to get me to go to an actual movie theater, the film has to be something I care about (supporting the remakes and sequels problem…) and it has to have a significant proportion of visual stimuli that will not look good on my television. I’m a smart guy. I’m an actor. I’m not into “schlock”, but if I’m going to watch a serious, introspective, conversational, etc. film, I want to watch it on my couch. Not in a room full of idiots and children.

    BUT when something (say, LOTR) comes out that has visual effects that will suffer on TV, I go to my local theatre that has a 70mm projector and get blown away.

  16. joe, I picture you with either a ukelele or a dobro. Is it too late to switch?

  17. jesse:

    Ah, ‘nihilistic’ is the opposite of ‘life affirming’ I suppose. Let’s see, gay people can’t procreate as God intended, so their mere existence is not life affirming. Check.

    I’m trying to work my way through this, but I may be entering The Mouth of Madness.

  18. Akira:

    At least the DVD comes out next week. (Since my sister always gets me a movie for the holidays, I will most likely be that.) Of course, it also means that there will probably be no sequel.

    Well for goodness sake, have your sister get you something else if that will make a sequel possible. …er, maybe that’s not what you meant. 😉

    -Allen

  19. 110- (That’s binary for Number 6, I’m getting my geek on today)

    Alas, I don’t watch the Simpsons. You say there’s a physicist? I might have to start watching it.

  20. Number 6,

    But when the bassist looks down and realizes his toddler is grabbing the neck, and he takes her for a walk down the wide sidewalk to the mixed use neighborhood commercial district – that’s pure box office gold.

    The refusal of the child-, bass-, and pedestrian-hating Hollywood elite to make movies that real people can relate to just shows how out of touch they are with ordinary, bass playing planners who have kids.

  21. Thoreau:

    I guess we have sufficiently split that hair..

  22. I dunno about the equation nihilistic = gay …

    The North American Cultural Conservative (H. neanderthalensis-americanus) borrows a page from Dubbya’s “yer-either-fur-us-or-again’-us” foreign policy and applies to all philosophical matters. Since the Good Book, the source of all their morality, sayeth that homosexuals are an “abomination,” anyone who disagrees with it must be “amoral” which they think is a synonym for “nihilistic.”

    What do you expect from a bunch that conflates atheism with Communism?

  23. In other news, how’s Aeon Flux doing and does it live upto the hype?

    Funny comic for AF: http://gucomics.com/archives/view.php?cdate=20051128

  24. There’s, like this island, and Adam Sandler is on it, and he falls in love with a coconut, or something.

  25. To support her hypothesis that America is rejecting Hollyweird’s values she has to leave porn out of the equation. Doesn’t that make more $$$ than “legit” entertainment by a sizable margin? And I’ll bet, without looking it up, that porn consumption is higher in the states Bush won in 2004.

  26. The endless struggle to figure out what key the damn guitarist is playing in…

    If the radio has been any indication, it’s fucking always Em. Yech.

  27. I guess we have sufficiently split that hair..

    No hair is too fine to split when defending the honor of science geeks!!!!

    🙂

  28. Let me just say for the record that I think this Fagback Mtn is just sick. They should hang those homos who made/acted in this movie.

  29. Phil,

    I’ve been “taking up the bass” for about a decade now.

  30. “In other news, how’s Aeon Flux doing and does it live upto the hype?”

    You mean the hype that it totally blows?

  31. Yesterday was one dollar Tuesday at the second run theatre. I saw Wedding Crashers. It wasn’t worth ten bucks, but for a buck it was OK. Watching the film, I realized that I’m old before my time. The secretary’s daughters didn’t really do much for me, but his wife was hot.

  32. Stand under a mature maple tree in late spring. Ask yourself how many of the double-winged seeds will grow into mature maple trees. If your answer is, “Not many,” would you then put the blame on the quality of the seeds?
    To me, it’s similarly silly to blame the “quality” of movies for lower BO.

  33. Akira, before Serenity was even released, talk was that it was made more for DVD sales than for theatrical revenues. Given the huge legs the Firefly DVDs have had, maybe it’s true. It’s worth noting that Serenity wasn’t an expensive movie to make, comparatively speaking.

    Don’t give up hope on some sort of sequel. Personally, I want it back on TV. The stories work really well in episodic format, and TV gives the writers the luxury of developing characters and story arcs at a leisurely pace. The movie was quite good, but the series was better.

    joe, I’d pay to see the bass player movie. Bass is cool. I’m hearing some Led Zeppelin bass riffs in my head right now, in fact 🙂

  34. AllenT.

    No, I suppose not. I was trying to get across the idea that my sister will most likely give me a copy of “Serenity” as a holiday gift when it comes out, but that didn’t seem to get through.

    Oh! Speaking of holiday gifts, I’m getting a really nice 6 inch Dobsonian reflector as a Newtonmas* gift to me. 🙂

    *I know, we would only celebrate Sir Issac Newton’s birthday on December 25 if you were using the Julian calendar rather than the Gergorian. Well, screw that! I’ll keep Newtonmas on 12/25, while the rest of you chronological nit-pickers can celebrate on January 4! 😉

  35. “Movie goers are very picky and they want the price of the ticket to be worthwhile, the studios had to offer more,” said Gitesh Pandya of movie industry tracker Box Office Guru.

    With movies at the theatre going for +/- $10 a seat, the movie industry should come up with better ideas than what’s out there now. The first rock concert I ever attended had 3 acts (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Judas Priest) and only cost $6. I know it was 25 years ago, but, from what I understand, a theatre makes its bones in concessions and a popcorn and a soda is not a bargain either.

  36. Is “Hollywood made a movie with themes that I don’t like, so I won’t watch the ones I do like” just strange logic or a fake spin to suppport Bruce’s politics. I mean, the monolithic Hollywood that these “family groups” complain about doesn’t even exist. It’s just a bunch of companies, and individuals who work for them and all the variety that would entail. Beyond that, I still think that the movies released during the late seventies and early eighties had more sex, drugs, violence,etc. than movies released today. All we have are better effects.

    As for the dwindling box office numbers, I find that the other people in the theatre(giggling teens, screaming babies, color commentators,people who don’t turn off their phones, etc.) ruin the experience so I only go if it’s a film that I “must” see in a big screen format. Anything else, can wait for DVD or Cable.

  37. Akira-

    Do you live in an area where you can do star gazing from your yard? Or do you have to drive to do it.

    I never got into it myself, but it’s fun to go the handful of times that my friends have done it.

  38. I don’t go to the movies much anymore because they don’t kick out the talkers anymore. Remember when they had ushers and, like, rules? They had that guy that would walk down with his flashlight and tell people to shut up, then escort them out if they didn’t?

    OneState: Jesus, tell me about it. I spent all of Walk The Line listening to idiot teenagers talk behind me. To the point where I finally threated to “fucking gut them” and they left.

    “In other news, how’s Aeon Flux doing and does it live upto the hype?”

    You mean the hype that it totally blows?

    If Charlize Theron totally blows, where do I sign up?

  39. I think the problem is not that there is some sort of concerted effort by Hollywood to undermine “family values,” but that lots of movies are so obviously trying to “make us think,” but always in the same formulaic way. We’re conditioned to think that a film with a bevy of gay characters is going to be all cutting edge and sophisticated, when it’s the same crap as ever. Oh, and critiquing suburbia as sterile, banal and boring stopped being fresh after about 1,000 times, not that anyone who makes movies seems to have gotten that memo.

  40. Timothy,I don’t know about Charlize but you could always take a walk on Brokeback mountain.

  41. Rather, this is happening because they aren’t releasing enough films that tackle issues of urban planning, toddler raising, and the struggles of novice bass guitar players.

    What about the plight of the veteran bass players? Won’t someone think of the veteran bass players?

    And don’t get me started on the woes of the novice cellist.

  42. Someone needs to learn what nihilism means. Inconceivable!

    …reaped only 47 million at the all-important domestic the box office.

    Not so much any more.

  43. In other news, how’s Aeon Flux doing and does it live upto the hype?

    I read a two word review: “Aeon Sux”

  44. OneState: Jesus, tell me about it. I spent all of Walk The Line listening to idiot teenagers talk behind me. To the point where I finally threated to “fucking gut them” and they left.

    A couple of years ago, this guy kept answering his cell phone and talking on it during Attack of the Clones. After the third time, I ran back, grabbed him by the throat and told him I’d snap his neck if it rang again. I’m only disappointed that I couldn’t reach his phone to smash it.

  45. “I’m trying to work my way through this, but I may be entering The Mouth of Madness.”

    Do you read Sutter Cain?

  46. Timothy,I don’t know about Charlize but you could always take a walk on Brokeback mountain.

    I’m waiting for the inevitable gay-porn release Bareback Mountin’, thanks.

  47. “Serenity” was poorly promoted. The commercials were both crappy and few in number.

    The tv show would have been a long-running cash cow in the mold of “Buffy” if they’d put a few resources into promoting it.

    Hell, I’d be happy with a straight to dvd series. $50 per season? no sweat.

  48. Thoreau:

    Do you live in an area where you can do star gazing from your yard? Or do you have to drive to do it.

    I live in rural Wisconsin (about 20 miles outside Milwaukee to be exact), so light pollution isn’t that big a problem. My high school astronomy club used to take nice deep sky photos from the reflector we had mounted on top of the school and that’s about 2 miles from where I live. If I need to find somewhere that’s a little darker, I just need to drive about 30 minutes (or less) west.

    Of course, I’m going to hook up with the local astronomy club and see what resources they have. Maybe I’ll meet some nice, twenty-something, stargazing girl, we’ll fall in love and get married (or at least shack up)… Yeah, and maybe I’m a Chinese jet pilot.

  49. Jamie Foxx’s military drama “Stealth” bombed with a US and Canadian haul of 31 million dollars. It quickly disappeared from screens.
    Posted by Nick Gillespie at December 14, 2005 09:09 AM

    I thought the whole idea behind stealth was that nobody would be able to see it, and it wouldn’t show up on anybody’s screens.

    By that standard, the movie was a success.

  50. yeah, the whole “let’s go to the movies and talk real loud” thing is weird. i blame it on dvd commentary.

  51. Akira-

    Wow! I grew up in Milwaukee.

  52. why does box office matter to me? I see the movies I want to see, not that YOU want to see, or you WANT me to see…whether Cinderella Man or Serenity make $100M is irrelevant to whether I liked either movie.
    And making fewer movies doesn’t solve anything…if they just make fewer movies I don’t want to see…
    Having said that, NYT last sunday had a storyt that Hollywwod revenues are NOT down in total; only Box Office…

  53. I’m waiting for the inevitable gay-porn release Bareback Mountin’, thanks.

    Ten bucks says it’s already shot and edited, just waiting for the boxes to print.

  54. I find that the other people in the theatre(giggling teens, screaming babies, color commentators,people who don’t turn off their phones, etc.)

    That and having to pay $10 per ticket for a movie. With the wife and some popcorn and soda, that comes to nearly $30 for 2 hours entertainment.

    One way that Mrs. Alkurta and I get our money’s worth out of our $30 investment is when we go to the local 30 screen googleplex, after the first movie is over, we go and see a second movie (and sometimes a third). The theatre is wide open and that staff does nothing to impede us.

  55. OK, so the cinemas need muscly adult bouncers, not underweight teenage ushers. Someone write to Variety.

  56. “Jamie Foxx’s military drama “Stealth” bombed with a US and Canadian haul of 31 million dollars. It quickly disappeared from screens.
    Posted by Nick Gillespie at December 14, 2005 09:09 AM”

    You know, I knew my last relationship wasn’t meant to last when I went to a movie with the girl and there was a preview for Stealth.

    After the preview ended, she looked at me and said “That looks really cool.”

  57. Akira MacKenzie,

    Maybe I’ll meet some nice, twenty-something, stargazing girl, we’ll fall in love and get married (or at least shack up)…

    You’ve got to spot the killer comet first and then, because of your expertise, be shot into space so as to stop the comet.

  58. Hak, that reminds me of yet one more reason why the evil that is JerryBruckhemierMichaelBay is so, well, evil.

    Who the fuck else would make a movie, title it “Armageddon” and then not have the balls to end the world?

  59. mediageek,

    After the preview ended, she looked at me and said “That looks really cool.”

    Oh yeah, you’ve got a keeper there. 🙂

    Of course it might be that she was just trying to identify with what she thought was a “guy flick” so that you would like her more.

  60. you know, it’s all been like this since Coy and Vance showed up in Hazard County…

  61. mediageek,

    Or at the very least reduce most of the Earth’s cities to rubble. 🙂

  62. Ten bucks says it’s already shot and edited, just waiting for the boxes to print.

    I’m sure of it, in fact.

  63. I dunno. It was weird. On the one hand, she liked some of the same artsy farsty stuff that I do, but on the other, well, she listened to Korn…

    Regardless, it’s all water under the bridge at this point.

  64. Anybody who can’t sneak a can or 20-ounce bottle of soda into a movie just isn’t trying. OK, popcorn would be a little trickier, but I bring my tote bag with me all the time and no one ever looks in it.

    BTW, for some reason Mickey Kaus really has a bug up his ass about Brokeback Mountain.

  65. Oh! Speaking of holiday gifts, I’m getting a really nice 6 inch Dobsonian reflector as a Newtonmas* gift to me. 🙂

    *I know, we would only celebrate Sir Issac Newton’s birthday on December 25 if you were using the Julian calendar rather than the Gergorian. Well, screw that! I’ll keep Newtonmas on 12/25, while the rest of you chronological nit-pickers can celebrate on January 4! 😉
    Comment by: Akira MacKenzie at December 14, 2005 10:36 AM

    Merry Gravmas
    Published in Minds, Machines, and Evolution
    by James P. Hogan

    It is a fact that Sir Isaac Newton was born on December 25 (in 1642). I mentioned this one evening when Jackie and I were with a group of friends in a Sonora bar. After some debate, we decided that the date is too much to be a coincidence: Providence is trying to tell us something.

    We finally agreed that the time has come for a change. We’re all part of Western scientific civilization, after all, and things have been dominated for too long by traditions rooted in ancient Palestinian mysticism. In the future, therefore, we have decided as far as we are concerned, the customary holiday season celebrates the birthday of the intellectual founder of mathematical, analytical method. Further, to commemorate the formulation of his famous universal law, the name of the feast shall be changed from “Christmas” to “Gravitational mass,” or more simply, “Gravmas.”

    Who knows? — the whole thing could spread like wildfire. Two thousand years from now, it might form the basis for the philosophy and worldview of a whole, new global culture, which by that time may revolve around a dominant race of supertech, spacegoing Chinese . . .

    * * *

    “Is that you, Li?” Cheng Xiang called, looking up from the notescreen propped against his knee. He had been amusing himself with a few tensor integrals to clear his mind before taking his morning coffee.

    The sounds of movement came again from upstairs. Moments later, his ten-year-old son appeared, floating down the staircase on an anti-g disk. “Good morning, father.”

    “Merry Gravmas.”

    “And to you.” Li hopped off the disk and stood admiring the decorations that the family robot had put up overnight. There were paper chains hanging in hyperbolic catenary curves and sinusoids, Gaussian distribution bells, and pendulums wreathed in logarithmic spirals. In the corner opposite the total-sensory cassette player, there stood a miniature apple tree with binary stars on top, a heap of gaily wrapped gifts around its base, and its branches adorned with colored masses of various shapes, a string of pulsing plasma glows, and striped candles shaped like integral signs. “It looks nice,” Li said, eyeing the presents. “I wonder what Santa Roid has brought this year.”

    “You’ll have to wait until your brother and sister get here before you can open anything,” Xian told him. “What are they doing?”

    “Yu is sending off a last-minute Gravmas present to a schoolfriend over the matter transmitter to Jupiter. Yixuan is helping Mother program the autochef to cook the turkey.”

    “Why does everyone in this family always have to leave everything until the last minute?” Xiang grumbled, setting down the screen and getting up. “Anyone would think it wasn’t obvious that the ease of getting things done varies inversely as the square of procrastination.”

    Li walked over to the window and gazed out at Peking’s soaring panorama of towers, bridges, terraces, and arches, extending away all around, above, and for hundreds of meters below. “How did Gravmas start?” he asked his father.

    “Hmph!” Xian snorted as he moved to stand alongside the boy. “Now isn’t that typical of young people today. Too wrapped up in relativistic quantum chromodynamics and multidimensional function spaces to know anything about where it came from or what it means. It’s this newfangled liberal education that’s to blame. They don’t teach natural philosophy anymore, the way we had to learn it.”

    “Well, that kind of thing does seem a bit quaint these days,” Li said. “I suppose it’s okay for little old ladies and people who –”

    “They don’t even recite the laws of motion in school every morning. Standards aren’t what they used to be. It’ll mean the end of civilization, you mark my words.”

    “You were going to tell me about Gravmas . . . ”

    “Oh, yes. Well, I presume you’ve heard of Newton?”

    “Of course. A newton is the force which, acting on a mass of one kilogram, produces an acceleration of one meter per second per second.”

    “Not a newton. The Newton. You didn’t know that Newton was somebody’s name?”

    “You mean it was a person?”

    Xian sighed. “My word. You see – you don’t know anything. Yes, Newton was the messiah who lived two thousand years ago, and came to save us all from irrationality. Today is his birthday.”

    Li looked impressed. “Say, what do you know! Where did this happen?”

    “In a quasi-stable, in a little town called Cambridge, which was somewhere in Britain.”

    “That’s in Europe, isn’t it?” Li said.

    “Oh, so you do know something.”

    “My friend Shao was in Europe last year,” Li went on distantly. “His parents took him on a trip there to see the ruins. He said it was very dirty everywhere, with the streets full of beggars. And you can’t drink the water. It sounds like a strange place for a civilization like ours to have started from.”

    “Strange things happen?” Xiang thought for a while. “Actually, according to legend, it didn’t really start there.”

    “What?”

    “Gravmas.”

    “How do you mean.”

    “Supposedly it was already a holiday that some ancient Western barbarian culture celebrated before then, and we stole it. It was easier to let people carry on with the customs they’d grown used to, you see . . . At least, that’s how the story goes.”

    “I wonder what the barbarian culture was like,” Li mused.

    “Nobody’s quite sure,” Xiang said. “But from the fragments that have been put together, it seems to have had something to do with worshipping crosses and fishes, eating holly, and building pyramids. It was such a long time ago now that-”

    “Look!” Li interrupted, pointing excitedly. Outside the window, a levitation platform was rising into view, bearing several dozen happy-looking, colorfully dressed people with musical instruments. The strains of amplified voices floated in from outside. “Carol singers!” Li exclaimed.

    Xiang smiled and spoke a command for the household communications controller to relay his voice to the outside. “Good morning!” it boomed from above the window as the platform came level.

    The people on board saw the figures in the window and waved. “Merry Gravmas,” a voice replied.

    “Merry Gravmas to you,” Xiang returned.

    “May the Force be proportional to your acceleration.”

    “Are you going to sing us a carol?” Xiang inquired.

    “But of course. Do you have a request?”

    “No, I’ll leave it to you.”

    “Very well.”

    There was an introductory bar, and then,

    “We three laws of orbiting are,
    Ruling trajectories local and far.
    Collisions billiard,
    Particles myriad,
    Planet and moon and star.
    O-ooo . . .”

  66. Hell, I’d be happy with a straight to dvd series. $50 per season? no sweat.

    I’d be willing to pay that. The trouble is will it be enough without losing any quality? Are there enough rabid Firefly/Serenity fans to support such a effort at a price they can afford?

  67. “Who the fuck else would make a movie, title it “Armageddon” and then not have the balls to end the world?”
    “Or at the very least reduce most of the Earth’s cities to rubble. :)”

    what about T3: erect machines? that was kinda dark. just the line at the superconductor, “die you bitch” was a bit over the top… heyyyyy.

    how about Darth Vader’s “NOOOOOOO”, the best nod to homer simpson out there?

  68. I knew Stealth was going to be a bomb when I was in an audience that booed the trailer. No, really, I’m not making that up. (And I’m not just talking one or two people, I would figure 20%+ of a packed house.)

  69. mediageek,

    Regardless, it’s all water under the bridge at this point.

    Maybe if you two had survived an actual flood where the sheriff turned bad and was after a bunch of money from an armored bank truck you might have had a chance for true love. 🙂

  70. SR: Heh, I booed the Stealth trailer.

    I dunno. It was weird. On the one hand, she liked some of the same artsy farsty stuff that I do, but on the other, well, she listened to Korn…

    Mediageek: I’ll have to relate the story of my crazy Metallica-loving ex sometime in an appropriate forum. I imagine they’re long-lost twins.

  71. VM,

    Oh lord, T3 was terrible.

    SR,

    Having seen it on DVD I can say that the trailers, etc. don’t reveal just how bad it is nor do they reveal the “evil military person” portion of the plot either.

  72. Let’s add to the mix…

    1) ten minutes of television commercials before every movie;

    2) screens that are only marginally larger than some televisions;

    3) theater auditoriums that stink of rotting trash; and

    4) no bourbon at concession stand

    Sounds like another avenue for my coming “21 and Over” empire — the 21 and over airline (no exceptions, no babies), the 21 and over theater (slogan: some films not porn!), the 21 and over restaurant, and of course, the 21 and over toy store, using a variation theater slogan.

  73. The problem with Cinderella Man isn’t that it only took in $61 mil, it’s that it cost $88 Mil to make. $88 Mil!! For what?? A simple boxing movie?? With a gay, Carl Spackler-inspired title?

    With an industry this wasteful, it’s no wonder so many actors are drawn to politics.

  74. Nobody Important:

    LOL! I’ve got to remember that one! Gravmas, hmmmmm.

  75. Gravitation will pwn j00. As they say, in accordance with prophesy.

  76. ‘”Ten bucks says it’s already shot and edited, just waiting for the boxes to print.”

    ‘I’m sure of it, in fact.”

    Still sore, eh? 😉

  77. Still sore, eh? 😉

    A tad, but fortunately I got mostly “top” scenes in this one. Still, though, the clap is a gift that keeps on giving.

  78. “With a gay, Carl Spackler-inspired title?”

    Yes, I couldn’t believe the marketing department let them actually run it with the title Cinderella Man.

  79. I, for one, see no movies at the theatre. In Detroit, all theatres are interactive.

    Also, what about a movie concerning the aspiring oudist trying to determine the appropriate maqam? I don’t want to hear about your ‘what-key-woes’, at least you only have 12 notes to contend with!

  80. Me no care what puny humans think. Ang Lee’s Hulk movie am good. You no think so, you can kiss my green ass!

  81. most.deliciously.obscure.refrence.
    “aspiring oudist trying to determine the appropriate maqam”

    woah.

    well done. that is definitely the flaq-hod-maqueep- -faschizzl of postings.

    Hak: you said it.

    Timothy: mercy. oh my. so is this the time we give the clap one big hand?

  82. Timothy: mercy. oh my. so is this the time we give the clap one big hand?

    Worst. Pun. Ever.

  83. Hulk,

    I’m sending Spiderman to kick your ass. 🙂

  84. Akira and thoreau,

    My brother and I got an 8″ Dobsonian (an Orion
    SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Reflector
    , to be precise) last Christmas. It’s great. The ‘scope lives with my brother north of Tampa, where the skies are relatively dark. We have to hit the road to see anything that’s very dim, though.

    It’s interesting to see the reaction people have when they first see a “wow” object. We took the telescope to a friend’s house for a party he was hosting and viewed, among other objects, Saturn. Granted, most of the people there had had one mojito too many, but most of them were visibly stunned when they saw Saturn and its moons. These are some of my most “ironic” friends, if you know what I mean, so it was impressive to see them actually in a state of open awe.

    Akira, the one warning I’ll give you is to beware of aperture fever. I’ve made the adjustment and have accepted the 8″ ‘scope, but my brother has completely lost it and wants something much bigger.

  85. Aside from movies that I really want to see and decent-looking movies with great special effects, I definitely watch fewer films at the theater. It’s not just the expense–I like watching movies on the big screen–but I think the overall quality is waaaaaay down.

    One thing I enjoy is watching old movies at the Tampa Theatre, one of those restored theaters that shows art films and classics. I saw Casablanca there last summer with a packed house. Lots of fun.

  86. Pro Libertate,

    Does a Dobsonian come with tapes on how to raise a Christian family or the evils of Hollywood? 🙂

  87. wellfellow,

    Everything you need to know:

  88. Crap. I never did get the hang of this HTML stuff.

    Once again,

    Everything you need to know:

    http://www.maqamworld.com/

    Merry Christmas.

  89. Does a Dobsonian come with tapes on how to raise a Christian family or the evils of Hollywood?

    It’ll probably tell you to show your kid your junk so he doesn’t get teh gay.

  90. Timothy,

    Ha ha ha. 🙂

  91. The first rock concert I ever attended had 3 acts (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Judas Priest) and only cost $6.

    Damn what a line-up for $6 as well. I weep when I look at the prices for the Monsters of Rock in the 80s and the line-ups were damn amazing too.

  92. So, here’s the kind of feedback marketing people feed on:

    I have no plans to see Capote or Brokeback Mtn, and I think I’d rather stay home and do laundry than sit through a Woody Allen movie. Who are these movies being made for? (The idea that these movies are made by directors for themselves and themselves alone in a narcissistic frenzy may be the only salient point in the article).

    Look, I read the short story that Brokeback is based on (making me about 1% of the US population). However, I’m pretty sure that Hollywood is going to beat the originality out of what was a decent story. What was interesting about the story will undoubtedly be replaced by more traditional romantic pap despite the gender of the characters.

    Besides, look up “boring movies” in the dictionary for average guys and you’ll find “love story” listed therein – look up “gay cowboy love story” and you won’t find an entry because the average guy assigned to write the entry fell asleep with a vaguely grossed-out look on his average face. (Caveat: I DID go to an art house theater to see Mirrormask, since I’m a Neil Gaiman fan. It sucked.)

    I MIGHT go see Munich, but only if I can get a nice Jewish girl to take me to see it….

    I did see Narnia, and thought it was wonderful – I read those books repeatedly as a kid, and it was great to see a rendition as faithful to the source as LOTR was. (Despite that early influence, I’m not religious – about as far as I can go is a nod to Deism.)

    I’m going to go see King Kong. Hollywood’s simple solution should be to make movies that people are eager to go see (Narnia, King Kong, etc) and save the art-house navel-gazing stuff and failed TV-show movies for art houses and direct-to-DVD release. (Serenity, Capote, Mirrormask, etc.) Don’t bet the bank on stuff no one but the director and 15 people who live next to the art house theater will go see. (DUH…)

  93. Anyone else feel totally cheated by “Fantastic 4”?

    Fan 4 were my first fave comic superheros. I got into Spiderman a little later on. Unlike many of my geek peers, I let go of the comic thing at puberty. I think an animated version of Fan 4, where the human torch was replaced with some stupid robot (AAAARRGH), that came out circa 1980 had a lot to due with my exasperation with comics.

    In HS and college, I learned of X-men from fellow geeks. I’ve always resented X-men as Fan4 rip-offs that got better treatment than they deserve.

    I was really hoping “Fantastic 4” would be as good as the X-Men and Spiderman movies, thus returning them to their rightful place in the superhero pantheon. But alas, screwed again.

    BTW, Serenity didn’t play in any theater in either city I lived in this year. I am looking forward to renting it. I’ve only seen about six episodes (sci-fi thanksgiving weekend).

  94. Fantastic Four was awful but not as awful as I expected it to be. I don’t think most comics are really that adaptable to films anyway. They’re too episodic in nature to fit easily into a 2 hour format, yet too expensive because of effects to be TV series.

  95. Anyone else feel totally cheated by “Fantastic 4”?

    Yeah… I feel even more cheated that their going to make a sequel.

    [Dr. Doom] CURSE YOU RICHARDS!!!! [/Dr. Doom]

  96. Hakluyt,

    Different Dobson, but I’m sure the ‘scope could be adapted somehow. Maybe a “Viewing God” tape? The newest Orion Dobsonians are called “Intelliscopes”–maybe they help you see the universe through an intelligent design lens?

    The beauty of astronomy is that the objects you see are impressive, whether you think they were created or just are.

  97. Actual commentary from the Fantastic 4 trailer:

    Dr. Doom: Let’s not fight.
    Invisible Woman: No. Let’s!
    Buddy Next to Me: Awful.

    – Josh

  98. I didn’t see Fantastic Four, but I must say it was weird to see Horatio Hornblower playing Reed Richards. Don’t know why I had that reaction.

  99. Have any of you wisenheimers changed “Brokeback Mountain” into “Mounting Broderick” yet? If not, I humbly submit it for intellectual property theft.

  100. [I]I’m going to go see King Kong.[/I]

    I’m looking forward to this one too. It appears to be chaulk full of pulp-fictiony goodness. (e.g. latter day dinosaurs, lost civilizations, 1930s New York, biplanes, tommy guns.)

    I don’t mind remakes, if the man behind the camera knows what he’s doing. Peter Jackson seems more than respectful to the orginal and will enhance it with techniques they couldn’t have used in the 30s, all without spoiling the overall story. (Unlike that rancid 1970s remake. Gods! That giant Kong puppet was just awful!)

    I’m also thinking of seeing Narnia despite the Christian allegory. I like to think that I’m not so shallow that I can appreciate good story telling, acting, and/or cinematography regardless of whether I agree with the story’s message or not.

  101. The newest Orion Dobsonians are called “Intelliscopes”

    That’s the brand I’m getting! I’m getting the standard dobsonian sans the computer. I wonder if I can add that on later, though. I’d probably have to change the whole darn mount. Oh well, I can figure out a star chart.

  102. “I’m also thinking of seeing Narnia despite the Christian allegory. I like to think that I’m not so shallow that I can appreciate good story telling, acting, and/or cinematography regardless of whether I agree with the story’s message or not.”

    Ak Mac,
    Go see it and take your kids (or your sister’s kids) to it. It’s good enough that they my hyper nephew and my picky niece sat through it breathlessly. The Christian allegory stuff is in the books, and the movie is a faithful recreation of the books, but it’s done skillfully enough that you won’t even notice it. I know I did, both as a child and as an adult.

    Besides, I think the folks who are trying to sell this as the fundy-Christian version of LOTR are just sad little people who realize that the Devil usually gets all the good music anyway…

  103. I think remakes are a large part of why movies suck now. And if you’re going to remake a movie, make a crappy movie into a good one. Kong, isn’t too offensive since the classic version was made so long ago that an updated version can be a legitimate upgrade. That and the room to upgrade the 70’s version.

    I saw Charlie & Chocolate Facrtory in IMAX. It was good but not significantly better to justify a remake. Bad News Bears and Longest Yard really get my goat.

    I had a bad reaction to Narnia when I read them. Not realizing till like half way though the second one that it was Christian propaganda (Christ, was I really that dense?). Once I decoded everything it really ruined the fantasy for me. Later I read some of Lewis’ non-fiction and practically had an aneurism. His stuff gets a lot of respect in some circles, but I found every sentence to be a logical fallacy.

    I had to wait for Capote to show up in my town. I liked it. I remember Truman from talk shows growing up, and had read “In Cold Blood”. I wanted to know more. It was the kind of movie I think there is not enough of. True I would have waited for DVD, if I had not wanted to take a date.

  104. “Besides, I think the folks who are trying to sell this as the fundy-Christian version of LOTR are just sad little people who realize that the Devil usually gets all the good music anyway…”

    yyyyyyyooooouuuuuu mean that SLAYER is outre?

    ohno!!!!!!!

  105. Akira, it should be a good scope–Orion does a nice job, from what I’ve seen. Screw the computer–half the fun is learning the skies. It’s not hard to get started, but it takes some work to be able to locate some of the dimmer objects. Ironically, the darker skies can be a problem, because the greater number of stars can make it hard to find what you are looking for. Be sure to get a moon filter (you’ll need it) right off the bat. You’ll want to view the moon, but it’s too bright to look at for long without the filter. Most of the planets are great viewing, and you should be able to easily see the Orion nebula, even with some light pollution. Oh, and be sure to let your eyes adapt to the dark; otherwise, you’ll miss a lot.

    Hey, do you get a free green laser with the ‘scope? I thought I saw some special like that on their website. thoreau can tell you more about those, though I wouldn’t ask him about whether they are dangerous to pilots.

  106. Hey, thanks Sandy Claus! Merry Consumas!

  107. I made my first short film last year, so I’ve spent the last six months getting very familiar with film festivals and other filmmakers. The thing that has astounded me more than any other thing is just how BAD most films are which are selected for festivals. There IS a serious problem in filmmaking today (both studio and independent), and it’s easy for me to see why almost anyone would see the problem through the lens of his own beliefs — and assume that movies would be better if they reflected more of those beliefs.

    I’m not sure what the real answer is, but the fact that so many people can look at films in festivals and conclude that they’re junk — when those people come from radically different political points of view — tells me that it’s not just a political problem in the content. To me, it’s something more fundamental that’s wrong with the philosophy of mainstream art today. There seem to be a lot of filmmakers who are similarly confused about it, because I’m talking to a lot of writer/directors who are frustrated at seeing junk praised by festivals while work they consider good goes unrewarded. On a filmmaking discussion board where I participate, someone recently started a thread asking the question about how such dreadful films get into good festivals. Various people had strong opinions in the replies (including me). The most interesting thing, though, is that opinions seemed to be split between two groups, one which likes depressing and artsy films about deviant sexuality or death and one which felt that form was dominating over storytelling substance in films today. (I realize those two descriptions are not necessarily natural opposites, but they seemed to be the biggest interests of the two groups, based on my e-mail discussions that followed the public thread.) People from the first group dominate the film festival world (and thus control which filmmakers are being promoted in the “farm leagues” from which studio directors are chosen). Those who are interested in more traditional storytelling techniques aren’t seen as artsy enough, so their efforts aren’t being seen very much.

    There is one way in which political content matters were much. If you produce a film which promotes an agenda in keeping with the Democratic Party, you’re going to get special treatment. If you produce a film which comes from a libertarian point of view, it’s going to be held against you. Here is an example of each. In the weeks leading up to the recent announcement of films in the Sundance film festival, people on the discussion board I mentioned were discussing the films they entered. One woman in Ohio mentioned that she had send a film that had no chance, because she knew there wasn’t much to it. On the day of the last presidential election, she took a camera to some voting locations in black areas of Ohio to document voting in minority areas. Her film (which I haven’t seen, so can’t specifically comment on) seems to have been from the Democrats’ point of view about problems in black areas having stolen the election from them. Surprise, surprise. It was accepted for Sundance. I have a 11-minute political satire which has only made it into three festivals so far. The crowd reaction in each case has been extremely favorable. But I’ve gotten feedback from film festival people that they don’t like the anti-government content. I’ve been told that if I’d made it clear I was attacking the Bush administration instead of government in general, the reception would be far more favorable. Does that frustrate me? Of course. Does it make it less likely that I’ll be able to make future films which are entertaining but also reflect my libertarian view of the world? Unfortunately, yes.

    I’m not necessarily agreeing with Tammy Bruce or her allies. I’m just saying that there IS a problem with filmmaking right now — and it goes back to the question of what the purpose of filmmaking is. For me, I just want to entertain people. If I can make them think about something important, that’s a nice bonus, but what I really want is to make them laugh. Unfortunately, that view isn’t terribly welcome among the artsy gatekeepers of the film world.

  108. Oh, and Sandy Claws, what I really want is a psallmelodikon. It may just be the coolest instrument ever.

  109. wellfellow,

    I’ll see what I can do. Just make sure you leave me some top-notch snacks this year. But I’m making no promises as of yet.

    The site I directed you to is extremely comprehensive and used by even famous world musicians. I think you will find it indespensible.

    Ho ho ho,

    Sandy Claws

  110. Er, make that “indispensable”.

  111. I actually had it bookmarked already, but thank you for the thought!

  112. Unfortunately, that view isn’t terribly welcome among the artsy gatekeepers of the film world.

    One solution is to simply bypass the gatekeepers.

  113. Got a few things:

    1) For Bruce, flicks like the gay cowboy joint Brokeback Mountain: Hey, when and how did “joint” become a synonym for “film”? Did Spike Lee start this?

    Anybody got some history on the origin and meaning of this usage? (I was going to use a term that starts with “e” meaning “the study of words” but I always mix it up with a similar word that means “the study of insects.”)

    2) John Wayne hisself sashayed : A friend of mine once pointed out that John Wayne walks just like a woman from the waist down. Then he did an impression, and showed that if you walk so with your elbows out, you look like John Wayne, but if you tuck you elbows in so that they’re closer to your torso than your wrists, you look like a girl.

    Maybe you had to be there. Trust me, it was hilarious.

    3) The hell of it was, the Stealth promos did look cool, from a visual standpoint. It seemed rather obviously a dumb movie, but the aircraft looked really nifty.

    4) I hope this is not a racist observation, but are movie audiences becoming louder and more interactive because they are skewing younger and more black? (Which in itself might be a socio-economic thing — whites are likely to be more affluent and own a DVD player, maybe.) Plus the “talking back to the screen” phenomenon first became most evident to me during Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor movies, back in the day.

    This came to mind because once I attended a non-movie event, a lecture on “Black Americans in Aviation” where the audience was about 99% Af-American. And I noticed that the audience kept responding to things the lecturere said with, “Uh huh” and “That’s right.” And it struck me: “This is just like being in a black church!” All you needed were a few “Amens!” So maybe it’s a cultural thing.

    Also, a black guy I knew in college once told me that he couldn’t stand it if he had to go to a Catholic church “because you have to just sit there and be quiet the whole time and not say anything.”

    In other words, maybe the whole concept of sitting next to a friend for two hours and not saying a word to them is more of a white thing.

    Counter-data: But are older black Americans more likely to talk during the movies? Not that I’ve noticed. Hmm. Maybe it’s just youthful rudeness.

    5) While I doubt there will be another Firefly movie, I bet that DVD sales of Serenity will be very good, which will lead to, if not a revival of the TV series, a series of straight-to-DVD sequels. I think Disney does this a lot. There was at least one straight-to-DVD sequel to Aladdin, maybe several.

    6) Hit & Run, Ah wish Ah knew how to quit you…

    7) The comic strip The Boondock had a nice series of strips on Brokeback Mountain. Go here and click “next date” until you get to the conclusion on Dec. 10.

    8) Just now I typoed “Brokeback Mountain” as “Borkback Mountain” which caused me to flash to a really scary visual image involving a former Supreme Court nominee.

  114. Oh, I forgot this:

    I spent all of Walk The Line listening to idiot teenagers talk behind me. To the point where I finally threated to “fucking gut them” and they left.

    and

    A couple of years ago, this guy kept answering his cell phone and talking on it during Attack of the Clones. After the third time, I ran back, grabbed him by the throat and told him I’d snap his neck if it rang again. I’m only disappointed that I couldn’t reach his phone to smash it.

    You guys are fucking pussies. I once killed, and ate, a group of six because they kept asking “What was that? What just happened? What did he say?” while watching Bill Murray’s Broken Flowers.

    And then I burnt the seats where they’d been sitting, sowed the floor with salt, and built a pyramid of their skulls in the lobby.

  115. oooh. Stevo. you’re such a hard man.

    have a cupcake.
    re: theater culture
    there was a theater in a burb near where i grew up where the adlibbing to the screen was a welcome part of the experience. people were very witty, and it was a fun experience. of course, you’d only see stuff like “red heat” or “raw deal” or “above the law”.

    can imagine that the scene where Mace Windu buys it in Star Wars III might not have been taken too well, tho.

    (an evil pyramid?)

  116. Lazio, I’m investigating how to go around the established system in filmmaking, but it’s not as easy as some people want to imply. It is very, very difficult to break through the amazing media clutter, especially when the vast majority already believe that anything that’s worth watching (and spending money on) will show up at the theatre or on TV.

  117. Pro Libertate,

    Oh, I know its a different Dobson, its just humorous…

    Rob,

    The Christian allegory stuff is in the books, and the movie is a faithful recreation of the books, but it’s done skillfully enough that you won’t even notice it.

    Maybe if you are blind.

  118. John Wayne is easily explained. He was a bull dyke. I read it in National Lampoon. Besides, he was alone in the jungle with Sulu when filming The Green Berets.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  119. And then I burnt the seats where they’d been sitting, sowed the floor with salt, and built a pyramid of their skulls in the lobby.

    My point wasn’t that I’m a particularly tough guy, as I’m not. It takes a lot to compel me to act. It was that people are such inconsiderate idiots that going to the movies can turn a relatively calm, if malcontent, guy like me into a raging lunatic. Therefore I rarely go anymore, as it’s not worth $30 to be aggravated.

    I suppose it didn’t help that earlier in that week a girl sitting next to me thoughtfully translated Spider-Man into Spanish for her boyfriend.

  120. Stevo, that’s real wrath of god stuff. You know, dogs and cats sleeping together and all that.

  121. I suppose it didn’t help that earlier in that week a girl sitting next to me thoughtfully translated Spider-Man into Spanish for her boyfriend.

    Heh. That would be annoying.

    “Ahora Kirsten Dunst est? gritando otra vez…”

  122. “Maybe if you are blind.” – Hakluyt

    Or maybe if the first time you read the books you were 5 years old, or you were enough of an adult not to freak out at the merest hint of religion.

    You obviously fall into the “so shallow that [you] can[‘t] appreciate good story telling, acting, and/or cinematography regardless of whether [you] agree with the story’s message or not” camp.

    Dick.

  123. I think the problem here is that the man was paid to write an article about a topic which could have been summed up in just a few words. Not a rare phenomenon in the argumentation-as-a-creative-writing-exercise world of the Web.

    I’d have just said, “receipts are down because Hollywood is producing too much crap.”

    Economy is a much greateer virtue for the engineer than a hack columnist.

  124. JDM, I suppose that’s why SO many engineers become artists and philosophers, huh? 🙂

  125. Mr Darkly,

    You are a hard, hard man.

    My point what that I like swearing at teenagers.

  126. Stevo Darkly:

    You guys are fucking pussies. I once killed, and ate, a group of six because they kept asking “What was that? What just happened? What did he say?” while watching Bill Murray’s Broken Flowers.

    And then I burnt the seats where they’d been sitting, sowed the floor with salt, and built a pyramid of their skulls in the lobby.

    Bah! Nothing! Mine is true, and therefore superior.

    I went on a blind date, opted to see a movie, and the girl I was with was so obnoxious that the rowdy teenagers sitting behind us told her to shut up.

    A friend of mine once pointed out that John Wayne walks just like a woman from the waist down. Then he did an impression, and showed that if you walk so with your elbows out, you look like John Wayne, but if you tuck you elbows in so that they’re closer to your torso than your wrists, you look like a girl.

    Maybe you had to be there. Trust me, it was hilarious.

    Not to be a downer, but your friend was most likely cribbing Gallagher’s “Cowboy vs. Lady at a Party” bit.

  127. It was that people are such inconsiderate idiots that going to the movies can turn a relatively calm, if malcontent, guy like me into a raging lunatic.

    I went on a blind date, opted to see a movie, and the girl I was with was so obnoxious that the rowdy teenagers sitting behind us told her to shut up.

    Ok, I hope I don’t make a habit of this, but I’m going to repost this story I posted on grylliade earlier today about bad date movies:

    About five or six years ago I went to see “The Other Sister” (starring Juliette Lewis, whom I like) with two of my good girlfriends (at my suggestion). So, this movie is supposed to be be charitable to retarded people, right? Well, let me warn you now: “The Other Sister” is to retarded people what “Shallow Hal” is to fat people — it is totally condescending, and the jokes mostly poke fun of mentally deficient people. (Mind you, I find this truly offensive, mainly because I usually cannot stand anything that makes itself out to be something which it is not.) Yet during the movie, my friends and I could not help but laugh at the sheer badness of this movie. Every moment that was meant to be “tender” in the film was either completely laughable or just unwatchable. So we’re sitting in the theater, trying to contain our laughter, when this particularly stupid moment in the film occurs (I can’t recollect what happens now). We no longer can help but burst outloud into fits of laughter (get it all out at one time, you know?), and this guy who was obviously on a date and trying to impress the girl he was with turns around and is like, “Would you shut up? Some people are trying to watch the movie!!”.

    We determined that he only did this as a stunt to impress the chick and make up for the fact that he took her to a total flop of a date movie, and that he was only mad because he had realized at that moment that he wasn’t going to get any that evening.

    I was like, dude, don’t lash out at me and my friends just because you fucked up and aren’t getting any tonight.

    …And that’s when Stevo came at me with the Medieval weaponry.

  128. Well Stevo, that’s one powerful reason we had segregated movie theaters in them olden days.

  129. Guys who try to confront or provoke somebody else in public just so they can look like a big man in front of their dates are the worst.

    And Byrd, I can tell you aren’t getting any tonight either, so shuddup.

  130. Not to be a downer, but your friend was most likely cribbing Gallagher’s “Cowboy vs. Lady at a Party” bit.

    You are probably right. That is a downer.

    (But not as much as having a Gallagher fan in the family.)

  131. rob,

    Isn’t that precious. Sorry you had to have a fit.

    As to the issue of good storytelling, the Narnia books are trite and are also mind numbingly boring. I’ll stick with the Gawain poet or Paradise Lost. See, the fact that religion or Christianity may be addressed in a work doesn’t bother me per se (despite your silly claim otherwise); what does bother me is hackneyed writing.

  132. Sorry if this has been said before but I think that the reason is not that hollywood movies suck (which many do)…it’s the fact that they charge us 8 bucks for a movie like Titanic or Star Wars (which despite its perceived badness is expensive as hell to make)….and 8 bucks for some character driven movie with a bunch of nobodies….it just doesn’t make sense. This leads to Hollywood making lots of big budget bad movies, because who’s going to pay 8$ to see Harold and Kamal? if they priced according to movie production costs….
    1) We would get way more people making and seeing great charcter driven flicks with great plots and little special effects
    2) GREAT big budget movies, for they would have to be WORTH it for us to shell out the extra cash.

  133. ub:

    I think you’re mistaken, because a) making great movies is VERY difficult creative work and b) the same writers aren’t going to magically start writing great movies because ticket prices were suddenly tied to a film’s production costs. The problem with movies is the ideas — the writing and structure — more than anything else. The acting and camera work and special effects tend to be pretty good in Hollywood movies, but they’re ultimately empty, for the most part, because there’s not a good plan or an understanding of life behind the work.

  134. Kong looks pretty good (’30s NY in color!), but three hours? I’ll wait for the DVD despite massive SFX loss. Oh, and Adrien Brody looks like the beaky, bike-tethered son in Triplets of Belleville.

    Stevo, if it really was hilarious (and I believe you), then that’s one up on Gallagher.

  135. rob,

    “Isn’t that precious. Sorry you had to have a fit.” – Hak

    Don’t be so sensitive! Are you sure you’re not just mad because you haven’t gotten a chance to see Brokeback Mtn with your life partner? I mean, the last guy who referred to me as “precious” was dressed in an Ed Wood-style sweater set.

    Seriously, tho, I’m sorry that you’re the kind of guy who craps all over anyone who doesn’t tell their kids that Santa Claus isn’t real, and that St Nick is only in his current form because corporate ad guys wanted to sell more Coca-Cola.

    You are a killjoy, man. A total Grinch.

    “As to the issue of good storytelling, the Narnia books are trite and are also mind numbingly boring. I’ll stick with the Gawain poet or Paradise Lost. See, the fact that religion or Christianity may be addressed in a work doesn’t bother me per se (despite your silly claim otherwise); what does bother me is hackneyed writing.” – Hak

    Once you get out of college, it’ll be okay for you to enjoy reading material that isn’t required reading in your Brit Lit course. Until then, I suspect that you’ll probably continue to turn up your nose at anything that’s aimed at an audience younger than angst-ridden, self-proclaimed “serious” mid-20s college students.

    In the meantime, those of us who have already completed our English Lit degrees are free to enjoy the simple (quite different from “hackneyed”) writing that Lewis intended to be enjoyed by children.

    Actually, you’re the only person I’ve met with such a harsh opinion of the Narnia books. You’re welcome to your pompous opinion, of course, but so was the Grinch.

    And acting like the Grinch makes you look like a dick. So when is Hollywood going to start making movies for angst-ridden, potentially in-the-closet college students who want to sit in coffee shops deconstructing Paradise Lost and whining about US foreign policy?

    Oh wait, they’ve already made Syriana!

  136. So when is Hollywood going to start making movies for angst-ridden, potentially in-the-closet college students who want to sit in coffee shops deconstructing Paradise Lost and whining about US foreign policy?

    You mean the USA’s French New Wave?

  137. smacky – Don’t go giving them any ideas! I guess the future of Hollywood is now… Sigh…

    I s’pose I’d better hurry and go see King Kong before they take it off the 3 screens they’re showing it on and replace it with a 4-screen showing of “The Constant Gardner.” (Another yawn-fest I wish I hadn’t paid for. How can a movie be lauded as deep and intellectual when it is basically “Sahara” with more diatribe and doesn’t even have Penelope Cruz in her eye candy role?)

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.