Here’s Looking at Film, Kid

If the audience doesn’t care, neither should the filmmakers: do we really need more Saw? by Matt
October 29, 2007, 6:01 pm
Filed under: Entertainment Commentary

As much as I hate to admit it, we live in an age of lackadaisical filmmaking. Remakes, rewrites, adaptations, sequels, franchises run into the ground—originality is a commodity we experience all too rarely in modern multiplexes. For God’s sake, we can’t even go two weeks without greenlighting another Jane Austen adaptation. But for all of our money-grubbing and corner-cutting, nothing could prepare me for what took place last Friday.

People paid to watch another “Saw.”

They spent money—money, I’m assuming, they earned through hard, honest work—to see the same terrible movie they watched last year and two times prior. The damn thing managed to rake in $32.1 million at the box office. That’s $10,088 per theater. That’s roughly 1,028 people per theater. In one weekend. Paying to watch another “Saw” movie.

Sit back and think about that, really ponder it. Now say it aloud: “More than 1,000 people flocked to my local theater to see ‘Saw IV’ last weekend.” Now get pissed.

To add insult to injury, Lionsgate confirmed the upcoming productions of both “Saw V” and “Saw VI,” which will be filmed back-to-back to maximize their ineptitude. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that Tobin Bell’s character, Jigsaw, the villain of the franchise, died, like, two movies ago. If someone could please explain to me how this guy maintains the “Annual Torture Porn Games” from beyond the grave, it would be much appreciated.

The appeal of these movies eludes me. “Saw” is sadist, misogynistic trash, a graying, immoral remnant of mankind’s desire to inflict, and subsequently revel in, the pain of the innocent. It’s a guy with a bear trap clamped to his head, a girl in a chamber of dirty hypodermic needles, people being buried, boiled and broiled alive, an all-too revealing reflection of humanity’s innate need to hurt things. It’s a dirty, dingy, ugly mockery of cinema.

But here’s the hard truth: We have nobody to blame but ourselves. It’s not Hollywood’s fault. It’s not Lionsgate’s fault. It’s not the fault of James Wan, Darren Lynn Bousman or any of the screenwriters responsible for the horrid dialogue and moronic plotlines. It’s our fault. We’re the producers. That $32.1 million we forked over last weekend? Bousman thanks you profusely. It’ll come in handy when he shoots “Saw VII” and “VIII.”

Granted, “Saw IV” made less in its weekend run than “Saw III” (the highest grossing of the series with $33.6 million in its opening weekend), which indicates a waning interest for casual fans of the franchise. But that paltry $2 million in diminished ticket sales is relative pocket change in Hollywood. “Saw” is still a moneymaking machine and will continue to be until the audience realizes they’re essentially paying $9.25 every Halloween weekend to see the same damn movie.

No other film series compares to the utter and complete triteness of “Saw.” It is a gluttonous, soul-sucking franchise unlike any other. It is a breeding ground for the lazy, uninspired, commercialization of art for the sake of money. It’s cinematic fast food. And we’re buying into it by the millions.

Want to defend the Saw franchise? Weigh in! Leave a comment and ignite some discussion.


Who has time for movies anymore? by Matt
October 29, 2007, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Random Entries

Something strange happened the other day. Something that has never really happened to me before. Something that depressed me. Last Friday, I was all set to see Ridley Scott’s new flick, American Gangster. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while and early reviews indicate an early Oscar contender (not that winning an Oscar even amounts to anything anymore — just sayin’). Suffice to say, I was pretty psyched.

I checked movie times for my local multiplex. Nothing. I checked my local art-house. Nothing. The nearby Auburn cinemas. Nothing, nothing, nothing. American Gangster wasn’t playing anywhere. I was pissed. Why the hell weren’t any of my local theaters getting this thing?

Because it wasn’t released yet.

The realization hit me hard. I wasn’t savvy. I wasn’t aware. For the first time in years, I neglected my passion for cinema. Maybe I’m overreacting, though. Could it be that I’m just blowing this out of proportion?

Probably. But that doesn’t change the fact that I have to wait another week for American Gangster. And that sucks more than anything.

New I Am Legend trailer debuts by Matt
October 25, 2007, 12:48 am
Filed under: Trailers

One of my favorite novels of all time is I Am Legend. There’s been a lot of film adaptations: Vincent Price’s The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man with Charlton Heston, to name a couple. But there hasn’t been an adaptation yet that has done the story justice. I’m hesitant to say that I Am Legend is the one we’ve been waiting for — but based on this trailer, I’m gonna say it’s as close as we’re going to get.

So here’s the brand spankin’ new I Am Legend trailer, courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes. Enjoy!

Films to die for: Matt’s Halloween flicks! by Matt
October 24, 2007, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Movie Lists

I’m not big into Halloween. Dressing up is fun, but once the flow of candy ceased, I lost all but a thin shred of interest in the holiday. For me, Halloween is simply a solid excuse to watch a bunch of terrifying movies. Granted, the Saw franchise has seen to the successful downfall of the horror genre. So, for my horror fix, I turn to the classics. Here’s a few of my favorites.

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980): If there was one filmmaker who could mess with the audiences’ minds like no other, it was Kubrick. The guy was an artist with suspense, a visionary with terror. The butchered twins, the elevator filled with blood, the old woman in the bathtub, the guy in the dog suit … merely thinking about this flick gives me the willies. Do yourself a favor and make it a Kubrick Halloween.

Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979): Possibly the greatest genre-bender of all time, Scott’s Alien is equal parts sci-fi, horror and action. It also has the most kickass heroine of all time, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), and one of the scariest creatures in cinema history. Mix with just a pinch of claustrophobia and isolation and you’ve got a timeless horror classic. That chest-bursting scene still gets me every time. Poor John Hurt.

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960): Hitchcock’s famous thriller is essential viewing for anyone claiming to possess even a faint love of cinema. The unconventional story arc, when mingled with Hitchcock’s palpable sense of dread, makes for a truly fantastic film. Psycho sports a plot twist M. Night Shyamalan wishes he could develop and has remained one of the most well-known and well-loved films of all time.

Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi, 1987): Essentially a higher-budget remake of the first Evil Dead film; this hybrid horror-comedy pits the chainsaw-wielding, shotgun-toting Ash Williams (the legendary Bruce Campbell) against the undead forces of darkness. Evil Dead II is at all times hilarious, disgusting and terrifying. Also check out the awesome sequel, Army of Darkness.

Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 1994): OK, so this isn’t really a horror film. But it does deal with the business of horror filmmaking and life of B-movie directing legend Edward D. Wood, Jr. Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Wood is arguably the best performance of his career. This light-hearted tale of failure, dreams and crappy movies is my favorite Burton flick, and one that fits in quite snugly with the rest of my Halloween picks. After watching Ed Wood, you should pick up a copy of Wood’s undisputed “masterpiece,” Plan 9 From Outer Space. You’ll enjoy it even more after you learn the story behind its production.

Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968): Zombie films are great. From Dawn of the Dead to 28 Days Later (yes, the latter is a zombie film. I don’t care what Danny Boyle says), I can’t get enough of those beloved flesh-eaters come Halloween. My favorite zombie flick has to be the quintessential one: Romero’s black-and-white horror masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead. It’s the story of a small band of troubled survivors who hole up in a country home surrounded by the mottled-skinned shamblers. And there’s racial allegory to boot! What’s not to love?

Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper, 1982): Everyone has that movie they watched as a kid that scarred them for life. Mine is Poltergeist, a film that taught me never to build any sort of domicile structure on the site of an Indian burial ground. This twisted ‘80s classic never lets up with some of the most terrifying images in any horror film ever – and just when you think it’s safe, all hell breaks lose. Literally.

Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975): Spielberg’s often replicated but never equaled Jaws is probably my favorite horror film of all time. It’s a film that manages terror without forgetting that movies are, first and foremost, supposed to be fun. Jaws is one of those few flicks that’s hard not to like, and it’s perfect to round-off or jump-start an evening of scary movies. You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Citizen Kane Oscar to be auctioned off by Matt
October 17, 2007, 4:55 pm
Filed under: Entertainment News

Big news from Rotten Tomatoes:

If you’ve got some space on your mantel and a million dollars lying around, one of Sotheby’s upcoming auctions might be of interest to you.

The Hollywood Reporter shares the news that the auction house will be facilitating the sale of Orson Welles’ 1941 Best Screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane in December. The award has had a colorful history, as summarized by the Reporter:

The golden statuette, believed to have been once lost by Welles himself, resurfaced in 1994, and after an extended legal battle was returned to his estate. In 2003, it was acquired by the Dax Foundation, a Los Angeles-based charity. The proceeds will help fund the organization’s worldwide efforts.

Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is quoted as saying “We’re never happy to see Academy Awards go on sale,” but says the Academy has no plans to block the sale. Sotheby’s estimates Welles’ award will fetch between $800,000 and $1.2 million. If you don’t have that kind of cash, but are going to be in New York in early December, you can still get a look at the Oscar; Sotheby’s will have it on display from December 7-10.

My opinion? The thing shouldn’t be auctioned off at all. It’s now destined to collect dust on some rich white guy’s mantel. In the words of my idol, Indiana Jones, “It belongs in a museum!”

Seattle Cinerama announces 70MM film series by Matt
October 11, 2007, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Entertainment News

I would say that, of the many thousands of films that have been released since Auguste and Louis Lumière pointed a camera at that train, Lawrence of Arabia and 2001: A Space Odyssey would be the two to see in a theater before you die. And not just any theater, mind you — I’m talking a great, big, beautiful cinema, with a 90 foot screen and an old-fashioned balcony hanging overhead.

I was lucky enough to experience Lawrence on such a screen at the Seattle Cinerama, possibly the greatest cinema still operating on the West Coast. Such an experience should not be missed by anyone, cinephile or otherwise. It’s fantastic to see such an epic piece projected in its full 70MM glory on a screen two full stories high.

Luckily for everyone that missed out on Lawrence a few months back, the Cinerama is hosting a 70MM film series, showcasing six epic films on one mammoth screen. Check out their website for details.

I’m psyched. Lawrence and 2001 at my favorite theater. Ghostbusters certainly doesn’t hurt either. Titanic, though? Really?

Please, excuse the mess by Matt
October 9, 2007, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Random Entries

To anyone frustrated over the multiple layout overhauls occurring within the past two days: we’re very sorry. Kolby and I are working tirelessly (OK, maybe not tirelessly — let’s try “a reasonable amount given our time constraints with school and work”) to find a design that is both functional and nice to look at that serves our purposes as a two-man blogging tour de force. We hope you’re all content with the current layout, as that is the most likely candidate for Here’s Looking at Film, Kid.

Over this next couple of weeks, you’ll find we’ll be tweaking things almost constantly. But once we’ve settled into our new home and begin posting regularly, things will run smoothly. I promise.