Caffeinated Clint – 20/3/06


This week, your seats are allocated

Caffeinated Clint
A weekly editorial Grande with a double shot
Incorporating “This week in TV”

Speaking of relinquishing gas, thanks to the Hollywood-based-actor-and-reader-of-Moviehole who sent over a bundle of sugar-free lollies and chocolate to the office. Halle’s sucking on one now (mind out of the gutter dude). The U.S have so many alternatives for diabetics in the states, but nothing much here in Australia…. about time we catch up with the rest of the world, isn’t it? We are getting there though, I think. Anyway, “Tango & Cash” has its Australian premiere tonight, must get moving on this column…

Quarter way through coffee
Nothing seems to be on the tube, so thought…. actually, while we’re on the subject of TV, why the heck would anyone want to remove “Everwood” from their schedule? (Have wanted to get that off my chest about as much as a cat’s claws). OK, so it’s going to cost the CW a bit to film up there in Utah, and it’s going to mean the studio has to keep supplying Treat Williams with a beard trimmer…but big deal! What’s quality compared to a show that probably costs about as much as one of the execs makes per hour? I think it’s pretty obvious – though no one is saying anything, of course, and probably won’t, until it’s too late for any of the actors to find quick replacement jobs – that the network is about to kill the show though. ‘Brett’ tells me he was on the Utah set for a pretty big scene this week…. seems they had called in about 200 extras for the funeral of one of the show’s most beloved characters. And no, I won’t be telling you who it is. Let’s just say, they could continue the show with this guy…. but it wouldn’t mean as much. He was essentially the adhesive holding the town together. Still, good to hear that the cast – axing impending – are in high-spirits. “It was really funny during the shoot of his funeral, because [name removed] actually showed up in between takes and Tom Amandes, who plays Dr. Harold Abbott, was at the microphone for his part and said, “Look, it’s [name removed] ghost!” and everyone turned and saw [him/her] and laughed. I spotted Treat Williams really getting a kick out it”. Great bunch of folks over there at “Everwood”, I beg you to watch the new season…. it’s the last chance it has. Good, that’s off my chest.

Half-way through coffee
I feel sorry for the kids that go to the movies these days. No, not just because they’re forced to watch films like “Rebound” or “Superbabies : Baby Geniuses 2”, when we got to choose from the likes of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, “The Goonies”, “Gremlins” and “Porky’s II : The Next Day” (Ma, why do women make sounds like they’re in trouble when men are on top of them? Shouldn’t someone help? – Clint Morris, circa 1982), but because of this allocated seating business! Back when I was a youngster, you got to sit wherever you liked and – regardless of whether the pimply-faced usher wanted you to – moved around wherever you like. How on earth would a thirteen-year-old ever meet women otherwise?
Because seating was never allocated, we got to sit wherever we want….and it usually next to the prettiest little pony-tail wearer in the theatre. Even if you didn’t robotically sit next to the young girls, you usually would end up doing so by the end of the movie (See reference: Clint Morris at advance screening of “Weird Science”, 1985, Ch.II). So, I’m all against this allocated seating business…except of course, when a bunch of loudmouth teenage wankers are walking in and out of the theatre, showing off to anyone that cares to look, and standing up in the aisles for most of the movie…. that’s when I’m glad someone’s forced to sit several aisles away from me.
Hoyts Eastland might want to consider offering prozac-lite to youngsters buying a ticket to see films like “The Long Weekend” (You’re laughing because I took the time out to see it, aren’t you?). I don’t know if they were just so excited at the prospect of watching a film that featured an endless array of acts that they won’t get to experience for another five years or so…but these kids were seriously packin’ firecrackers up their rumps. Might have to reconsider my stance on allocated seating….or at least come up with a stratagem that involves a youngster being able to pay-off the cash attendant to snag a seat next to someone of the opposite sex. Yeah, that could work. A Cinematic dating agency – without the ones that ‘John West Rejects’. Different that would be…yes….mmmmm.

Three quarters the way through coffee
I’ve gotta tell you…. I’ve never been so half-hearted with the slate of movies in the works right now. As I mentioned a couple of moons ago, there are some good movies in the works (through most of the good ones are being made outside of the studio system), but so many of them are just lazy retools of films that will perpetually be better than any clone (if the original is Doug Quaid, than the remake is his nasty no-one-wants-to-play-with-that-guy replica). It’s like that cheap form of carbon paper; the one that isn’t the original isn’t going to encompass as good an imprint.
Seriously, checking the trades out these days is like reading through the obituaries section. It’s just so freakin’ sad. When Hollywood’s big projects are remakes of things like “Revenge of the Nerds”, “Porky’s”, “Summer School”, “Let’s Get Harry”, “Guys & Dolls”, you do have to wonder who’s running these places? My guess is probably this guy, with this guy as his assistant and this up-and-comer having input too. Though Wes Craven is getting a bit piece of the pie too, I’m guessing.
So how about it? Let’s make some original stuff again. All you need to do is to look in the daily newspaper for ideas…. there’s a conglomerate of stories just waiting to be turned into celluloid. Seriously, it’s rather simple why everyone is flocking to TV right now – because that’s where the stories are at. The good ones. The unique ones. The one’s that don’t have a ‘Wes Craven Presents’ or a ‘Based on the 1974 film by some guy who needed the money’ credit above the title. Take a look at “Lost”, “Prison Break”, “Sleeper Cell”, “24” or even “Veronica Mars” – they’re all really creative, fantastically-written shows. So word up studios – if you want cinema takings to rise up (and it amuses me that the studios don’t know why this is happening…ha), watch some TV.

One sip to go
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about this industry, having worked in it for most of my working life (from marketing to media to production to underpaid radio announcer) is that it’s all about ‘faking it’. Yep, we’re talking orgasmic Meg Ryan grunts just to get ahead. In my case, running a website and also being involved in film production and writing, is a little thorny (as I’m sure Harry and Nick, of AICN and CHUD, could also appreciate). You can’t be too critical, especially when you could be working for the filmmaker whose film you’re reviewing, but you can’t be too soft either, you’ll lose all respect from your audience. To many, the paycheque from that filmmaker whose about to hire you, will probably mean more than a lowly-paid job as a film critic, but to me, I don’t see why one should have to ditch their integrity if they don’t have to? (my rule : if you’ve worked on a movie, don’t review it. You’ll have noticed this on quite a few occasions here on Moviehole).
You see, In most cases, you were hired to work in film production because, based on your film reviewing, you seem to know what makes a movie work – so being a suck-up doesn’t really pay. You’ll just end up making a “Catwoman” yourself, being so concerned with being liked and so on. In my case, I simply say it like it is – so long as I’ve got an answer for that filmmaker/writer/actor when he asks – and they do ask, believe me – why I didn’t like his film. That’s the important thing: You must KNOW why you didn’t like a film. I overheard a group of critics have an argument last week. One of them mentioned, “Aeon Flux sucks”. The other asked, “Why? Have you seen it?”. He says, “No, I just know”. You can’t know. You can’t assume. You can’t base your opinion on other people’s reviews. OK, so “Aeon Flux” may have had universally bad reviews – but what if you’re the one guy that ends up legitimately liking it? Maybe you like Charlize Theron’s performance, maybe you appreciate the visual effects work that went into it, or maybe you think the direction is slick? You can never walk into a film, already having written you review – but I’m betting so many critics do this. It’s just wrong. As one critic later said to me, ‘People like that, they just don’t belong in the film critiquing business.’
You can’t be too influenced in this game, because sometimes, just sometimes, you will be surprised (heck, I could name a few titles that have totally surprised me, ones that I wasn’t expecting much from, for instance “Saw 2”, “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants”, “Yours, Mine & Ours”, “North Country” ……and there are the films that everyone gushes over, and you presuppose, though we shouldn’t, that we’ll love, like “Goodnight and Goodluck” or “Crash”, that I liked, but haven’t got a woody over).
Bottom line, and despite whether we’re a reviewer by trade or not, we all have different tastes, we all appreciate different things, and we’re all impressed by divergent elements of a film. I can’t tell you how many people I know that love, say, “How to a Lose a Guy in Ten Days” or “Wedding Crashers”, but then didn’t get much out of “Finding Neverland” or “Broken Flowers”. Crazy to you, maybe even me, but to them – no, they’re just interested in what they’re interested in. Bottom line: You can’t have your review for “Aeon Flux” already written in your head, if you haven’t seen it. (And remember ‘it mightn’t be for you, it mightn’t be for me, but will it be someone else’s [idea of a good movie]?’)
But back to the start of the rant, there is a certain amount of sucking up in this industry – but you should never let it affect the way you review a film. That, as far as I’m concerned, is the one area that remains off-limits. No one is touching my opinion (nor my sideburns). I do however, believe that there’s a certain amount of ‘sucking up’ when it comes to publicists, studios and so on…. and you expect the same thing from them. It’s not uncommon – and I could name a couple here, but I won’t – for publicists not to treat you like a human, and therefore lose out on developing a friendship with the ‘necessary evil’, and basically be complete barkers…. but you hold your ground. They’re the ones that will lose out. Not that we’ll give their films a bad review or anything…that’s like taking it out on someone that’s not responsible. A filmmaker can’t help it if a cow was hired to market his movie. It’s just unfortunate for that filmmaker….because there’s no way his film is going to get as good early buzz or word-of-mouth without a sweet publicity push…. “Clint, write an article on how good this movie is going to be……oh, and no, too busy to update your phone number on our system”. The Price is wrong…..beeyatch.
Here in Australia though, I’ve got to say, I work with a lovely mass of publicists and studios – a few I even consider very close friends – and the ones that aren’t so lovely or helpful? Well, their jobs will no doubt be up for grabs when the ‘good ones’ are being moved into their new cushy offices, respectively.

DVD of the week
Saw 2 – As mentioned above, I was totally taken back by just how good this was. I thought the first “Saw” was good, but not great, so I assumed – again, never do that OK? – this was going to be as substandard as discount store crockery. What a pleasure it is to be wrong – unless, of course, the revelation is followed by the wicked giggle of your wife – for once. “Saw 2” is smart, well written and lots and lots of fun. It improves on the original ten-fold. I know, how good could a movie with the lesser Wahlberg (Donnie) be? Well, rather good it seems. In addition, there is a good assortment of extras on the disc. Bite someone’s leg off, if you have to get to the cashier’s counter first, just snap this baby up.

Theatrical release of the week
Capote – Again, it’s a pretty weak week for releases, but there’s still a couple of goodies floating around. “Capote” has been out for a while, but I believe it’s getting a wider-release now, since Phil won the Oscar. What a performance he – Philip Seymour Hoffman, that is – gives too. As Truman Capote, the famed author who based his novel “In Cold Blood” on a real murder case, he’s absolutely amazing. Seriously, if you thought the peak of his career was spankin’ the monkey in “Happiness” – you’re wrong, this is the graduation day diploma of his career. Check it out…if you already haven’t.

This Week’s Useless bit of Advice
If you’re driving a smaller car, just remember that you don’t need to drive-in as far into a park as you would in a larger car. If, on the other hand, you’re in a dodgem car and that prick from your work is in another, don’t even bother considering your bumper’s feelings.

Missing Career Alert
Megan Ward. Where Art Thou, beautiful Ms Ward? It was your body that sold several more cartons of Milk (in “Encino Man”), had college enrolments at “PCU” up, and made “Joe’s Apartment”, at least worth inspecting. Last seen in the audition room marked ‘Featured Guest Stars’ (is there a TV show she hasn’t guest-starred on?!). Hang on; was that her name I just saw in the credits of “Sleeper Cell”? Rewind, Rewind! Surely that wasn’t her attempt at the “3 men and a Baby ghost cameo”? Was about as equivalent in mass.

5 things you didn’t know about me (and probably don’t care to know)
1. My wife and I played “Starship” at our wedding. Red ain’t just the colour of my pencil tin.
2. On the night of my 18th birthday, after drinking myself to oblivion, my bedroom roof collapsed on me. You could imagine my father’s response when I woke up to tell him.
3. My wife use to be a champion Swimmer….I use to break-into the local pool on the weekends for a dip. Winners all-round huh?
4. My favourite type of Pizza is a thin and crispy Hawaiian.
5. No, I wasn’t in “Weird Science”.

[Australia Only]
What’s on this week?

Commander in Chief – Monday 9:40PM, SEVEN – I wanted to give this one a special plug this week, for my friends at Channel 7, having now caught up on the recent episodes. This is quite a good show and I think it deserves more of an audience than it’s getting. Unfortunately, “Rescue Me” airs on FOX8 at the same time, and that’s a better show, but if you do know how to press ‘record’ on your VCR remote, use it to tape “Commander”, if only to see the fantastic Donald Sutherland in full flight. This week’s episode is quite a goodie. Let me know what you think.
Love My Way – Sunday 8:30PM, W – Just a reminder, if you do forget to watch it, it’s repeated about 50 times throughout the week!. Haven’t seen this episode, so no, I’m not going to review it…you can’t make me. No!
Prison Break – Wednesday 8:30PM, SEVEN – Yes, even more exciting than the Commonwealth Games! This episode is riveting….make sure you don’t miss it.
North Shore – Weekdays, from Thursday 23rd, 3:00PM, SEVEN– The short-lived U.S soapie, starring Dominic Purcell, among others, might be worth a look. (Especially on Friday’s, when it’s in a double-bill with “Kitchen Confidential”).
Tommy Lee Goes to College – Fridays, 9:00PM, Channel V – I know I shouldn’t laugh….but I do. And that theme song rocks!
Garden State – Sunday, March 25th, 6:45 PM, Movie Extra – The film that’s going to turn Zach Braff into a huge movie star. Just you watch.

5 things that happened in TV-ville this week
1. Tommy Lee announced as part of the new “ROCK STAR” band. [More].
2. Changes ahead for FOXTEL. [More]
3. Final season of “Blue Heelers” to air on Saturday nights. [More]
4. Alicia Silverstone giving TV another try. [More]
5. Kiefer Sutherland could be leaving TV’s “24”, with another actor bought in to headline the next season, according to a rumour on E! Online.

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