Caffeinated Clint – 2/5/06


Is the internet influential? Is Tom Cruise a kook?

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

I’m really missing “Rescue Me” (though “Big Love” is filling the void for the moment). Hose me down; I’m hot for Season 3.

Quarter way through coffee

This week, Tom Cruise either wins you all or back – or he doesn’t. Pretty silly when you think about it. The guy has been giving us entertaining movie after entertaining movie for years – even if some did resemble little more than two hours of MTV taped in HD, like the one I re-watched on the weekend, “Days of Thunder” (hell, Kidman is dreadful in that, isn’t she?!) – and as soon as he acts a little silly, we go cold on him. I’ll admit, I did too. Suddenly, he was no longer ‘all-round nice guy and superstar’ Tom Cruise, he was ‘that narcissistic idiot’. And why? Because he jumped on a couch. Yep, you read right. He jumped on a couch. A couch. I’m sure all of us have done sillier things than that – and much more immature deeds – it’s just inopportune that the cameras were around to capture it when Cruise does it. If everyone had a camera following them around – as he does – we’d all be seen as schmucks. Guaranteed. Yeah I know, his religion and his relationship are questionable…but really, that’s his life. Nothing to do with ours. I’m sure our faith and foxes are under a microscope too sometimes….heck, knowing I bow at the temple of Alicia Silverstone, my friends are still convinced that I intentionally married her Australian look-a-like. Crazy people.
So I guess what I’m asking is to head along to “Mission : Impossible 3” this week – or ‘M:I:3’ as the studio would rather we called it – and judge the film, and the performance, and not the sometimes-silly guy behind it.
Hell, Michael Jackson’s always been nuts, same with Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton, and let’s not forget Russell Crowe or Jim Carrey. You still like them right? Sometimes we’ve got to forget about the person behind-the-scenes and think about what they’ve given ‘back to us’ in the form of entertainment. That’s what really matters. Be interested to hear your thoughts on “M:I:3” when you see it, email me here and we’ll run some o the comments in the next couple of weeks.

Half-way through coffee

Is the Internet influential? Good question, it really depends who you ask. According to a ‘couple’ –and they’re in the minority – of the film studios here, it isn’t, and anyone associated with the internet is also not worth bothering with. Still obviously stuck in the prehistoric ages, said studios will be wishing they hadn’t missed the boat – I guarantee you – when their film flops or doesn’t get the coverage they would’ve liked (and again, sorry, no coverage for a film you didn’t offer us an interview or anything, for that matter – and believe me, they still ask). Same with any of the networks that don’t think the Internet is worth bothering with – and therefore won’t assist with anything – they’ll miss out too. Advice to any publicists/studios/distributors/managers/producers/marketing departments: Get involved with the internet, help online editors as much as you can, give it a little, be kind…. because the www will soon be the one, if it isn’t already, that’ll decide whether your film or TV series lasts…or it doesn’t. The Internet is where people now come to read whether a film is any good or not, and if a site isn’t covering it or hasn’t had a good experience with such film or series, it could definitely hurt the product. (As evidenced, way back when, when Aint it Cool reviewed “Batman and Robin”. The negative review helped destroy the film. And it’s happened numerous times since – apparently, so they say, even because of some of the reviews we’ve ran here at Moviehole).

If you still aren’t convinced that the Internet is influential, here are a few examples to change your mind:

The Internet Cast Batman! : Did you know that the internet essentially cast Christian Bale as the new Batman? It’s true. He was never really on Warner Bros’ radar – he wasn’t exactly a huge star, that’s for sure and “Reign of Fire” had just flopped – until the Burbank troupe starting reading, at numerous sites, that Christian Bale was a fan-fave to play the new Caped Crusader. One thing led to another, and wham, Bale not only had a meeting – he essentially had the job. The same is happening now with the casting of the sequel. Having heard that he was rumoured for the role of Harvey Dent/Two Face in the next “Batman” movie – even though it wasn’t true – actor Josh Lucas went straight to Warner Bros himself, and suggested the idea. He’s now championing himself for the role – and all because you folks on the Internet suggested him. Marvel’s Avi Arad (“Hulk”, “Spider-Man”) said “The sites are great for casting help….These are people who grew up with their heroes in mind. You won’t ever get everyone to agree on one actor, but they can tell you if you’re going in the right direction.”

The Internet can make of break a film : Arguable still, I’ll even admit it only plays a part, but it’s definitely a big enough part to hurt a film’s longevity or opening weekend, that’s for sure. Remember what happened with “Hulk” in 2003? In spite of a massive international marketing and publicity campaign, the film lasted only a couple of weeks at cinemas – because most had been deterred by the negative early reviews that the film had received leading up to its release.
The same thing happened with the abovesaid “Batman and Robin”, as well as films like “Rollerball”, “The Avengers”, “Wild Wild West” and “Dukes of Hazzard”.
I’ve even heard that Australian sites, like mine, Moviehole, have hurt the chances of a few local releases, because people have been put off seeing the film because of a review they may have read [here]. Our Jason Blake copped it big time from the filmmakers behind the Aussie film “Thunderstruck”, when he obliterated that film, and apparently filmmaker Uwe Boll isn’t a big fan of ours – and a mass of other sites – because of the negative word on some of his films. Russell Crowe is another who refuses to have anything to do with the online community – he’s plain scared of it.
Rather than getting irate and hiding…wouldn’t it be best to take the disparagement and work with it?
Joel Schumacher, after copping it for “Batman and Robin” a few years back, admits a kick in the pants is just what he needed to start making good movies again. He’s thankful for the Internet bashing of his film, because it’s made him try harder. “Harry Knowles said I was a good director but I needed someone to smack me,” Schumacher said. “Which was true. And it was useful.”
We online reviewers have an audience…. yet some studios seem to forget that. If the NORE (negative online review effect) has any kind of constructive outcome: it’s that it’s making studios try harder. Make better movies. Put more into their films. I guess we can all put ourselves on the back for that as well.
At the same time, if we get the access to a good film, something that mightn’t have found an audience if it wasn’t for the existence of the Internet, it can have the opposite effect: and absolutely explode. I really can’t imagine films like “Napoleon Dynamite”, “The Blair Witch Project”, “Saw”, “Cabin Fever”, “Bubba Ho-Tep”, and “Firefly” being so successful if the Internet hadn’t have plugged the bejesus out of them, and sung their praises for months in advance of their [usually limited] releases.

The Internet is making ‘Snakes on a Plane’, er, Snakier : When the studio behind the upcoming Samuel L.Jackson film, “Snakes on a Plane”, decided to revert the film’s title back to “Pacific Air Flight 121” – the internet went wild, and so did the film’s star. Together, Sam Jackson and the film’s fans – despite not having even seen it, yet!! – Got the title changed back to…. “Snakes on a Plane”. “It’s like, come on,” Jackson says. “You either want to see this movie or you don’t. ‘Snakes on a Plane.’ There’s no mystery to that.” Not only that, but the buzz that the film is already generating on the Internet has the filmmakers working even harder to make it as cool as possible. It had a round of reshoots — or, more appropriately, a round of new shooting — earlier this month. Usually a bad sign for a production that ended long ago, the five days of new lensing were apparently to bring the cult vehicle from its intended PG-13 rating to a more intense R. Nice.

Take it down, please! : Many, many moons ago, when the film was in early production, we secured a scoop pic from (the impendingly awful) “Queen of the Damned”. Within a day, the studio was pleading with us to take it down. We did, as most would, but it left us wondering…. why? If it were only going to generate good buzz, why would you want it down? Easy: It wasn’t going to generate good buzz, there was so much bad buzz about the film already, that a pic exposing the eyesore was only going to hurt it more. Be it a spoiler photo, script review, vidcaps, promo trailer…all of us webmasters have been asked to take something down at least once in our online careers.
For instance, the guys at once got cease-and-desisted for putting up snapper pics from the set of the first “Rings” movie (only to be later invited to the set), got the first soundbyte of the awfully annoying Jar Jar Binks from “Phantom Menace”, only to be asked to take it down without more ado (especially after the fan mêlée), and a recent spoilery article on the upcoming “Spider-Man 3”, revealing infinite plot points about the film, was also ordered promptly down. If we didn’t matter, those things wouldn’t matter…

The Internet Dressed ‘Hulk’ : When word got out that Marvel wouldn’t be featuring The Hulk in his trademark purple-shorts, the internet community went bezerk. A few weeks later, surprise-surprise, the green-machine wore purple stubbies. Marvel’s Avi Arad said “I see how influential these fans can be when they build a consensus, which is what we seek. I now consider them filmmaking partners.”

Celebrity News first-hand? : Where do you think all the magazines and newspapers get their celebrity gossip, these days? The Internet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen one of our stories – usually simply snatched sans credit – in a magazine or newspaper. It’s always happening. Obviously, the Internet is where the stories are – and the stone tablets know it.

Saving TV series! : Thanks to the internet, and in particular, fans of particular TV series that frequent chat groups and fan sites etc, many a TV series has been saved. “Wow, look at all the people in this forum?” says exec 1. “God, and we axed that show twelve months ago! – I didn’t know it had so many fans?” exec 2 replies. “Maybe we should reconsider our decision?” adds exec 3.
Which is exactly what has been happening. Thanks to rabid fans, gushing about their favourite shows on the Internet, some TV shows have lived on much longer than they would have, had the ISH not been around.
For example, TV’s “Roswell” was renewed thanks to a huge torrent of pleas (and Tabasco sauce mail-ins) from online fans, the short-lived TV series “Firefly” lived again – and as a movie (“Serenity”) thanks to the obvious online fan brigade, the animated series’ “Family Guy” and “Futurama” were resurrected (well after their initial axing), and though it wasn’t renewed, fans of “Angel” made a huge noise whilst trying to get a sixth season of it back on the air.

TEN’s “Smallville” : A couple of weeks back TEN, in Australia, decided they were going to move the popular TV show “Smallville” from Thursday nights to Saturday nights – meaning some states wouldn’t get the show anymore. After a big brouhaha on sites like this one, in which we received numerous emails from angry Super-fans asking for our help, TEN decided to revert their decision and keep the show on Thursday nights. Read into that what you want.

Three quarters the way through coffee

Our old friend Joe Harris is at it again. Harris, who helmed the brilliant short film “The Tooth Fairy”, a couple of years back, has a new short he’s looking forward to showing people – called “Witchwise”. You’ll recall that Harris’s “Fairy” was snapped up by the bigwigs and turned into the film “Darkness Falls”, a couple of moons back – which I’m sure he loathed as much as we did. So anyway, he’s returned to his roots, and done the short thing again…hopefully the inevitable film version of “Witchwise” is a more rewarding experience for him than last time ‘round. Here’s your first look at the DVD sleeve for it. Thanks Joe.

One sip to go

Louis is feeling better. The berry poisoning has subsided. He thanks you for all your well-wishes and pooper-scoopers. Big thanks to Christopher Atkins and writing in with the ‘flush him out’ advice.

DVD of the week
The Chronicles of Narnia : The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – I didn’t go nuts for the film – I thought it fell somewhere between the weaker “Rings” instalment and “Never Ending Story” – but I will admit, it’s definitely worth seeing – if only for the great effects and talented cast of newcomers playing our closet-travelling kiddie troupe. As Adam so rightfully pointed out in last weeks Weeksly Late Edition, the disc is an absolute winner too: there’s bloopers, fun facts, commentaries, numerous featurettes, and much, much more. If there’s one DVD worth buying at the moment, it’s this one. Good film, great extras…great price. (I sound like a flippin’ ad for BigW).

Theatrical release of the week
Eight Below – Firstly, no, sorry, we won’t be talking to Paul Walker or Frank Marshall about the film. We’ve received your emails asking why we haven’t interviewed them, and all I can tell you is…. well, we dunno…. someone at a community radio station must have taken our interview slot? So, apologizes, but it’s out of our hands (hasn’t much pleased the editors at the magazines and newspapers I work for either, who were keen to get the touring duo-some in their outlets). Did, however, get a chance to see the film. Great stuff. Solid Disney entertainment – the likes of which you just don’t see anymore, even too often from Disney, who’re more interested in pouring money into drivel like “Herbie : Fully Loaded” or any other umpteenth Lindsay Lohan bubblegum bore – “Eight Below” takes eight adorable creatures, mixes in an amazing Antarctic backdrop, and a pleasant bit of eye candy –that’s your role Walker – to help steer the heart-warming back home. Paul Walker plays Jerry, an Antarctic explorer who is forced to leave his beloved sled dogs behind when a vicious storm hits his post. The plan is to come back for the dogs once they’ve got room in the plane – but that doesn’t happen, naturally.
Once the dogs realise that they’re on their own, they break from their chains and head out into the snowy alps – looking for food, shelter, and basically trying to stay out of harm’s way. Meantime, a disheartened Jerry comes with a plan to head back in and rescue his pups.
There aren’t a lot of good family films about – especially ones that the littlies will enjoy as much as the biggies. Therefore, “Eight Below” will be welcomer than milk in coffee, for some. It’s also one of the better efforts that Disney has produced in some time too, fixing more on story than special effects, and firmly planted a lot more in reality than the usual fluff they serve up to the family brigade.

Another Opinion (of a film already reviewed)

“Lucky Number Slevin”
Director: Paul McGuigan
Starring: Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Stanley Tucci

“Charlie Chaplin once entered a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest in Monte Carlo and came in third,” says Bruce Willis’s character, hired gun Mr.Goodkat, at the start of the film. “That’s a story. This is something else.”

Indeed. Thanks to films like “Pulp Fiction” and “Snatch”, filmmakers like Paul McGuigan (“Wicker Park”) have felt the urge to toss the script and bring in the jigsaw puzzle. You know how it goes – they’ll help you put some of the pieces in place, and then you’ll have to put the rest in yourself.

In the case of “Lucky Number Slevin”, a cocky ensemble thriller that’s part “North by Northwest”, a smidgen “Sin City” and a dash “Snatch”, there’s a couple of pieces left on the floor by film’s end. Where do they fit? Your guess is as good as mine. Would’ve looked much nicer had everything fit more nicely, that’s for sure.

A synopsis doesn’t do a film like this any justice, but let’s scratch the surface all the same: Josh Hartnett plays Slevin, a likeable young chap who – because he’s shacking up at his place – is mistaken for a man named Nick Fisher. The Boss (Morgan Freeman) is owed some big time loot from Fisher, but if he offers to assassinate the son of his rival, The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley), then the debt will be cleared. Thing is, Slevin isn’t Nick Fisher.

Throw in a hyper but likeable neighbour (Lucy Liu), a shadowy hitman (Bruce Willis), and a dogged detective (Stanley Tucci) – and the puzzle starts to form.

Smart, Funny, Imaginative and very, very entertaining. That’s the first two acts of “Slevin”.
Manipulative, Rushed, Unsatisfying. That’s the third act of “Slevin”.

As Meatloaf will attest to though, Two out of three ain’t bad, and it stills means the penned libretto for “Slevin” is light years ahead of most Hollywood yarns.

There are plenty of twists, some delicious character turns, and most of all, some sometimes uproarious, sometimes just damn succulent, pop-culture referenced discourse. Screenwriter Jason Smilovic (who developed the TV series “Karen Sisco”) has a PHD in the channel of communication. It’s obvious. Some of the prattle he hasn’t written into this is brilliant. Better than brilliant. It’s Ice Cream-tasty.

Then, like he hasn’t got a home for all his flaccid plot points, his script quickly comes up with a purported ‘surprise’ ending – which isn’t that surprising – and falls a little flat. All the hard work that had been done in setting up the fantastic scenarios and characters in the first hour or so – is undone. Bummer.

Still, something half as good as, say, “Pulp Fiction” or “Snatch” is still a good film…. better than good. Hopefully this is just writer Smilovic’s warm-up lap. Well worth a squiz.

Ruth’s Rating:
My rating :

This Week’s Useless bit of Advice
If you’re heading out for the weekend to go shopping for pots and plants with the wife, make sure you wear comfortable shoes.

Missing Career Alert
John Wesley Shipp – You’ll either know him best as “The Flash”, in the series of the same, or as Dawson’s late father on TV’s “Dawson’s Creek”. When he left/quit/was fired from the latter, he seemingly disappeared from the face of his earth. The actor, who actually won a couple of Emmy awards for his soap work, has done the odd telemovie and guest-star thing, but only really returned full-time to our screens recently, with a role in the series “Palmetto Pointe” – which sounds bloody terrible.

5 things you didn’t know about me (and probably don’t care to know)
1. I like Pineapple in my sandwich
2. I have seen “St.Elmo’s Fire” more times than any other movie – including “Star Wars”.
3. My wife is still scared of ‘Killer Bob’ from “Twin Peaks”.
4. I know all the words to “Colors” by Ice-T.
5. I like to box…..(to a ‘Survivor’ soundtrack)

[Australia Only]
What’s on this week?

Wednesday 3rd May – Tuesday May 9th

Prison Break
Screens : Wednesday 8:30 PM, SEVEN.
The verdict : Getting down to the episodes now that preceded the lengthy break in the states. In tonight’s episode – which again, is a goodie – Lincoln’s execution is fastly approaching, so Michael decides to put the escape plan into motion. As predicted, nothing goes according to plan.
One reason to watch: The hot doctor (oh, I’ve already used that one?)

Sleeper Cell
Screens : Wednesday 8:30 PM, SHOWTIME.
The verdict : A fantastic news series, set within the world of terrorism, it stars Oded Fehr as the leader of a unit whose planning a big-time attack on Los Angeles. Michael Ealy plays the undercover cop – and I stress undercover, because he’s got quite in over his head – whose hell-bent on taking them down…sometime. Fantastic performances, excellent writing, and something very different to the norm….make sure you check it out.
One reason to watch : To get the view from the ‘other side’.

Screens : Thursday 8:30 PM, SEVEN
The verdict : Another good – but not great, those episodes are still ahead – episode of the popular (though the ratings are dwindling here) castaways drama. In this one, a few of the guys head off into the jungle to search for Michael, whose intent on finding his kidnapped son, Walt.
One reason to watch : Freckles.

The 48th Annual TV Week Logie Awards
Screens : Sunday 8:00 PM, NINE.
The verdict : Finally. Big year for the Logie’s this year – not just because there’s multiple hosts, but because of the contenders for the big one, including sympathy-card John Wood (“Blue Heelers”) and multi-talented hottie Natalie Bassingthwaite.
One reason to watch : To see Bert Newton in anything other than “Family Feud”.

The Quick and the Dead
Screens : Sunday 11:00 PM, TV1.
The verdict : Will no doubt be cut to shreds (TV1 tends to excise all the swearing and sex from their films, because it’s a family network), but definitely still worth a look, if you’ve never seen it. One of the better things Sharon Stone has done, it’s directed by Sam Raimi and tells of a gunslinger whose hell-bent on shooting down the sycophantic villain (Gene Hackman) responsible for the death of her father, years before. The excellent support cast includes Leonardo Di Caprio, [then newcomer] Russell Crowe, and Raimi-fave, Bruce Campbell – albeit briefly.
One reason to watch : To see Crowe in his first American film.

Commander in Chief
Screens : Monday 9:40 PM, SEVEN
The verdict : Time to tune into one of the year’s most entertaining new series….before it’s gone from your screens forever (which looks set to be the case, with rumours circulating that it’s headed for an early grave). In tonight’s episode, Nathan Templeton (a deliciously evil Donald Sutherland) and his wife are invited to have thanksgiving with Mac (Geena Davis) and her family. A couple of new characters are introduced in the episode.
One reason to watch : The performances.

I love Your Work
Screens : Tuesday 8:30 PM, MOVIE ONE.
The verdict : The directorial debut of actor Adam Goldberg (“The Hebrew Hammer”), “I love Your Work” comes across as part vanity project / part engrossing statement. On one hand, it looks like a film that Goldberg’s used to show off how many A-list friends he’s got – as they all partake in proceedings – but on the other hand, there seems to be a reasonably gripping yarn bubbling underneath the surface.
The always-versatile Giovanni Ribisi plays hot young movie star, Gray Evans. He’s a troubled young soul. He spends too much time dreaming about the past and not enough trying to patch up his fledging marriage to actress Mia (Franka Potente). When he starts to suspect that a prominent musical figure might be chasing his wife for more than tea and scones, Gray’s life starts spinning out of control – and into the lives of a normal couple, John and Jane (Joshua Jackson and Marisa Coughlan), who own the local video-store. Whilst Giovani Ribisi is quite OK (comes across as if he’s part android sometimes – and not just in this), it’s Joshua Jackson who’s a powerhouse here. Jackson, best known for his work on TV’s “Dawson’s Creek”, brings to the screen an ultra-real, very cordial, and ultimately temperate character. He’s a pleasure to watch, and a pleasure to spend time with – one wonders whether he might’ve been best served as the headline act. As his on-screen wife, Marisa Coughlan [“Gossip”] is near just as good – dishing out a divinely sweet, plausible turn.
One reason to watch : Josh Jackson, proving he’s more than just Pacey.

5 things that happened in TV-ville this week
1. “Big Brother” returned to our screens. I threw the TV out the window.
2. TV Guide says “Everwood” may have some life left in it yet. [More]
3. A New “X-Men” clip was shown on Jay Leno. [More]
4. FOXTEL is testing cheaper prices. [More]
5. FOXTEL to offer online downloads! [More]

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