Caffeinated Clint – 17/06/07

Something to read on the weekend



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Two “Caffeinated Clint” columns in the one week? Yep. Indeed. Thought I owed it to you guys…. Both of you. It actually kinda works like this – if there’s something to talk about, I talk about it; if there’s something to rant about, I’ll rant about it. If I think someone deserves have another dig at Paris Hilton, I’ll do it.

Caffeinated Clint on…. Studios Vs. Sites.. Again

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, quite a few studios loathe the Internet – we’re talking Alec Vs. Kim style abhor.

Whether its because they’re scared of its influence; don’t approve of some Webmaster’s inability to be bought, or plain-ol ‘can’t be bothered dealing with another medium because its hard enough keeping track of all the newspapers, magazines, TV and radio programmes” a studio can choose not to deal with the online community. Despite the fact that sites like ours, Dark Horizons, Aint it Cool, JoBlo, CHUD and Latino Review (that’s a small list – there’s plenty more I could name) bring in millions of viewers by the day, and I dare say do have an influence on what movies they do and don’t see, it doesn’t seem to worry a few studio publicists out there at all. Not one bit. It’s more important to maintain their powerful position (they believe they have the power, ya see?) than to actually do what’s of most benefit to their company. Sad, but true.

The ongoing feud between film websites and film studios came to a boil this week with CHUD taking on a publicist from Twentieth Century Fox over, who, judging from the article, seems to dislike the site – for little reason. All Devin Feraci wanted to do was to review their film “Fantastic Four : Rise of the Silver Surfer”. Considering he actually gave the first film a good review – saying it was better than “Batman Begins”! – they had nothing to be afraid of, yet still didn’t invite the site to view the movie. When Devin did eventually score an invite to the screening, he was told he couldn’t sit in the ‘media’ section – with other webmasters – but had to sit in the ‘crowd’ with the yahoo’s.

I’ll let his article do the talking,

At the door I found out my name wasn’t on the list to get in. This is already an issue, since I contacted Tiffany last Wednesday. But it happens, so I got the door guy to let me in to the theater to find Tiffany.

Entering the auditorium where the movie would be played I found a spectacle – there was a reserved seating section roped off and the rest of the theater was jam-packed with roiling masses of loud people. To say it was a zoo would be incorrect, since even zoos have space for the animals.

Tiffany wasn’t there, but I eventually found her by the front door. “I’m Devin Faraci from CHUD.com,” I said. “I RSVPed to this last week but I’m not on the list.”

She handed me a digital press kit and told me to go on in. “Actually,” I said, “I was hoping to get a reserved ticket.”

“There are seats available,” she told me dismissively.

I knew that was technically true. “The theater’s packed and I’m here to review the movie, so I’d like to be able to have a decent seat to see it,” I said. The reserved section is in the center of the theater; any seats remaining were on the extreme sides and in the front couple of rows.

“There are seats,” Tiffany told me, giving me the stone face.

“Well, I’ve seen other reviewing press going in with reserved tickets, so I’d just like the same.” That was the truth. I saw the guy who writes for nycmovieguru.com – seriously – going in with a reserved ticket. Go ahead and check out his site.

“I don’t make the reserved lists. There are seats available,” she said again, like I was retarded or deaf or in some other way didn’t understand what she was saying, which essentially was, “I do not care about you. While my job as a publicist is to deal with you, I’d rather just toss you into a shitty seat rather than even think about this.”

By now I was pretty steamed. “Who does make the list?” I said. “Because I never even had a chance to get on the reserved seat list because you never managed to get me on the goddamned entry list in the first place. Now, I’m supposed to review this film tonight, and I’d really like a reserved ticket so I can get a seat.”

And again: “There are seats.”

Fuck this, I thought. I tossed her digital press release back in the box. “I am not going to go into a goddamned packed full theater and hunt for a crappy seat when I should be in the reserved section,” I fumed.

Tiffany Chen walked away from me.

Now I was furious. “What the fuck?” I said. “Why is it that I always have this problem with Fox movies? Why is it that I email you and don’t get replies or get a hassle when I show up for the screening.”

I know most sites have a problem with at least one or two movie studios – sometimes usually different sites, but by-and-large, they’re the same studios. I, for one, have a beef against one studio that decided – just because the publicist felt he/she had the power to do so – to remove us from the media screening list because I could only attend ‘evening screenings’ these days. As I kindly reminded her, I work days – in the film industry, sure, but reviewing isn’t a part of it – so its only after 6 that I can attend screenings. Didn’t care one bit though, and was glad to cut us from the list. The worst part? There’s people on her list that haven’t been to a screening in years… but are still there, on the list…. Of course, they wouldn’t be online media though ;)

I’d love to name names and point fingers at sites too…. But I don’t have the courage to do that, so I thank Devin for doing it on everyone’s behalf. What a laugh.

Now c’mon…. how about studios and sites start working in together? We need YOU just as much as you need US. Once you realise that, we’ll be off and sailing. As Devin says at CHUD, all he wants to do is to cover FOX’s movies and promote them…. Seems, like us, they’ve been left out of interviews for quite some time and doesn’t understand it. I don’t think anyone understands it. Good audiences…. Good coverage…. Good for film, no?

Mrs Chen, of FOX, has publicly responded to Devin’s rant at Cinematical.com.

Says Mrs Chen, “I am always really careful about RSVPs because I want to avoid situations like this. There is nothing worse than showing up for a screening/event and your name is not on the list. I read what Devin wrote on the site and the e-mail correspondance tells you exactly what happened. After I wrote back and told him about the screening, I asked him if he could make it with a guest. I got no reply that he was even coming — with or without a guest. I send out dozens of invitations everyday and always need my contacts to reply back to let me know if they will be there. Most of them are really good about that, but sometimes people forget — it happens. If I assume that everyone who received an invitation would be there, I would have a list three times as long. Carol Cundiff and Harvey Karten did send out invitations for this particular promo screening (not all-media) They always say that in order to attend, you must RSVP through me. This is especially why.”

Tiffany goes on to talk about Devin’s behavior towards her. “The dialogue between him and I is way beyond dramatic. I was in the theater checking the capacity and was on my way to the crowd when I ran into him by the concession stand. I guess he saw me and knew it was me (I had digital press kits and the guest list in my hand — dead giveaways). He was in mid-sentence when I was face-to-face with him. With the crowd right behind him, I had to lean in to hear him. There were a handful of online critics who were not on the list, but after speaking to me, they all got in. There was space, so it was not a problem. Before he gave me a chance to even reach for the reserved ticket, he started ranting about how ridiculous it was that he was not on the list. He leaned in and threw the digital press kit (which scared me a bit because the box was a good six steps behind me — I thought he was going to hit me) and said he’ll just pay the $10 to see the film and stormed out.”

I can’t comment on this case, because I wasn’t there, and I don’t know Tiffany… but it is an interesting situation and one that’s becoming more common by the day.

I’d be interested to hear how all this turns out.



Caffeinated Clint on…. Crap Thrice

Hollywood, my ass isn’t happy. Not happy at all. No, I’m talking about being ripped off by a Sunset strip hooker or anything…. I’m talking about the rubbish I’ve – we’ve – all had to sit through this year.

It’s big. It’s green. It’s ugly. “Shrek the Third”? Nah, the Hollywood threequel!

Has anyone noticed that – besides “Oceans Thirteen” which actually worked – they all suck this year? Again, not talking about Sunset strip hookers (though I assume they do, for that kinda money) but the second sequel to a film. They’re all feeble excuses for a follow-up; not a shade on their predecessors.

Did anyone expect “Shrek the Third” to blow? Not me. The first two films were great. How could it be bad? But somehow… it was. It felt like one of those cheap straight-to-DVD spin-offs… something along the lines of one Disney’s DVD Premieres. It wasn’t funny; it wasn’t smart… and for the most part, it wasn’t that clever. The “Shrek” films have worked because they’re really witty and really well done. The jokes fly thick-and-fast and the pop culture references come faster than a 40-year-old Virgin. “Shrek 3”, on the other hand, embodied none of them – the jokes were lame; the story was thin, and the pop culture references have seemingly all been saved for the deleted scenes component of the forthcoming 5-disc Super Shrekky DVD.

At least I could sit through “Shrek the Third” though… the toilet breaks I voluntarily took from “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” were more enjoyable than the film itself! (Yes, I’d rather watch those little yellow pieces of soap float around the troth than have to endure another 3-hour version of “The Matrix Reloaded in Ye’ Old Times”. ) I loved the first “Pirates”, but the sequels really got my goat. They were bloated, boring and way too ambitious. What worked about the first film is that it was a simple, easy-to-follow fun pirate romp…. There’s way too much in the sequels. Too much fat, not enough meat. You know when Keira Knightley in a soaking wet dress can’t hold your attention that you’ve lost interest in something, don’t ya?

The more I think about the more I loathe “Spider-Man 3”, too. It was such a disappointing movie… and it didn’t need to be. Obviously Sam Raimi just gave up and let the studio make the creative decisions on the movie – hello Venom! Hello multiple sub-plots! Hello under-utilised supporting players! – and in turn, he gave them that series’ equivalent to “Batman Forever”. It works, in places, but mostly…. It’s a corporate show-reel. One problem with the film is that they decided to put special effect over story… and I hear that’s also the problem with “The Transformers”. One of our reviewers attended a screening of the film last week and said it’s very disappointing… a mass of effects, but little else. And the great cast it’s got? Might as well have been cameo appearances. Pity. And I hope he’s wrong. I do.

It’s not just threequels though… it’s all sequels; they’re getting worse.

“Hostel Part 2” was a film? Are you sure? It looks like something you’d find on a dodgy bittorrent site (hmm, actually I believe that’s kinda true) – something trying to pass itself off as a genuine snuff film, or something. “Hey dudes, lets get so women get tortured for 90 mins! Lets go check out a guy’s cock being ripped off! It’s discount day today, so it’s only ten bucks each!”. Heh. I kinda liked the first “Hostel”… it at least had a storyline and some engaging characters… this one seemed like a blatant cash-in and a pretty mean-spirited film. Eli Roth is a really talented guy, but he needs to do another film in the vein of “Cabin Fever” – he’s best when he’s got his tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Kill the sequels for a bit, OK?

Caffeinated Clint on…. What’s good then?

So I’ve hated this year’s sequels. What Have I enjoyed? Anything? Hmmm. Yeah, some films have actually surprised me – “Knocked Up” being one, “28 Weeks Later”; “Zodiac”…

Here are 5 films I’ve really enjoyed over the past 6 months.

Knocked Up
They’re as funny as watching a fat mouse ride a toothpick motorcycle, but Judd Apatow’s films are informative to boot. “Knocked Up”, for example, informs us about the repercussions of the customary one-night stand, but at the same time, throws in a few slices of advice in terms of finetuning your relationship too (Not only that, but as someone that’s actually smack-bang in the middle of impending fatherhood, it ‘tells it how it is’ – talking about the birth, of course.)
And like “40-year-old Virgin” – laugh all you like, but you know they’re out there – “Knocked Up” is keepin’ it real. Sometimes ugly guys do get the chicks; smart chicks can be coaxed into one-night stands when they’ve had a few, and relationships, they’re not as easy as they make them out to be in the Nicholas Sparks novels. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a movie for years!

Zodiac
“Zodiac” is “The Departed” of Serial Killer movies – it got just as immense and terrific a cast; it’s as resplendently detailed as Marty’s mega-hit and it’s near (probably just a tad less) just as gripping. In short, it’s a near watertight film. Some may oppose Fincher’s barefaced ‘finger pointing’ and ‘wide-eyed guesses’, but one can’t argue that he’d have enough evidence – based on how meticulous he’s been with the guts of the film – to back up such broad claims. He’s made good use of the facts that are available about the killer.
It’s hard to say what the strongest element of the film is – or whether it’s a combination of all and everything – because everything blends so deliciously well.
James Vanderbilt’s script is responsible for the huge amount of detail (everything you could imagine to take you back to the 60s and 70s has been incorporated) and well-developed characters, or – as may be the case with the latter – it’s to the credit of the director or cast (who are all terrific). Either way, it works.

Breach
A good old-fashioned spy thriller with ‘real’ performances – from Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe. It doesn’t exactly play like the edge-of-the-seat thriller, full of twists and turns, that you might have expected – but it still works. It works a treat.

Reign Over Me
Wow. What a movie. Such a sweet film full of real characters in real situations. And believe it or not… Adam Sandler is in it!
I promised Adam he could review this for the site…. But he must have forgot…. And I know he loved it, too. This is basically one of those films that you’re going to connect too if you’ve got a heart. If you haven’t, see “Hostel Part 2”.

Ocean’s Thirteen
A good sequel. What a sequel should be. Clooney and company took what audiences loved about the first one, extracted what audiences loathed about the second one, and came up with a sequel that was just a bit of good ol’ fun. That cast; those lavish backdrops; the jokes; the script… everything about these “Oceans” movies reeks of quality.

Do you know how hard it was to come up with 5 films that I’d actually recommend there? Bloody hard. Most of this year’s movies – and that includes some of the blockbusters like “300” and “Ghost Rider” – were utter rubbish. The good to bad ratio at the moment seems to be like 7:93. 7 good movies for every 93 bad movies. How things have changed… at least in the 80s, a bad movie (say “Mannequin” or “Revenge of the Nerds II”) was at least watchable and had its moments… the stuff they’re coming out with these days is just sad.



The Fun Stuff

Critically-slammed Pics I like :

What : “Some Kind of Wonderful” (though, to be honest, most mainstream critics actually enjoyed it – to an extent)
Released : 1987
Stars : Eric Stoltz, Lea Thompson, Mary Stuart Masterson
One critic said : “Lighter and less filling than usual.” – The Washington Post
Another critic said : “So-so storyline, but Mary Stuart Masterson rocks!.” – Kalamazoo Gazette
Clint says : “It mightn’t be his best, but it’s still a fine addition to the John Hughes’ canon of teen-pics”

What : “The Prophecy”
Released : 1995
Stars : Christopher Walken, Eric Stoltz, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen
One critic said : “Certain scenes, and especially the finale, make little sense, and seem as if they were tacked on without much thought.” – Cinematter
Another critic said : ” Angels battling on earth, a hammy Walken; church is more interesting.” – Bob Bloom, Journal & Courier
Clint says : ” Top-notch combination of Supernatural thrills and Walken-esque sensation!”


The Movie Going-Experience
This next new feature is a bit where I recall some of my ‘cinema going experiences’ – i.e it may be a date-gone-wrong to “Weird Science” (actually happened); it may be falling asleep in “Super Mario Bros” (actually happened); or maybe the time two people decided to have sex in the back row behind me (actually happened, in a screening for Van Damme ‘classic’ “Double Impact” at the old Hoyts Midcity).

The Movie-Going Experience : “Mulholland Drive”
What : Brilliant David Lynch-directed drama about, well, I don’t know what the fuck it was about… but it seemed good.
When : On an advance screening at an art house theatre in Melbourne.
Details : Wife and I went to a packed early screening of the film. Wife got a little scared once the audience started yahooing and applauding through the opening credits. I still remember her first words “Oh my God, the freaks have come out of the woodwork”. Little did she know, I was one of them.
Movie any good? : Awesome.
Night any good? : Yes. And Loud.


Forgotten actors I like
Who : Everett McGill
What did you like him/her in? :Mainly David Lynch’s stuff, predominantly “Twin Peaks”.
What’s so good about him/her? : Could do anything. He could play a nasty villain (see “Under Siege 2”) or an out-and-out nice guy (see “Twin Peaks”).
Where the heck are they now? : Good question. I actually dropped McGill’s manager an email a few months back – for another reason – and discovered that he’s quietly retired from acting. Kinda sad. Someone needs to tempt him out of retirement me thinks.
Show me them in action : OK… here’s a scene between big Ed (McGill) and Norma (Peggy Lipton) on “Twin Peaks”.





5 Things that Shitted the Clint – This Week
1. Bullshit artists. You’ll get there faster if you’re on the level.
2. Hoon drivers. You’ll get there just as fast as us.
3. The noise my computer is making when it cranks up.
4. Australian TV Programming.
5. How hard it is to ride that hill on my new mountain bike. I will conquer it though. I will.

oh, and the person who sent the following email to me about 500 times on the weekend…
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Grand Prize Includes:
A private vip dinner
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Two Day Hotel Accomodations
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5 movies Caffeinated Clint sat through [possibly again] this week :

1. Highlander : Endgame
And? Probably the best of the “Highlander” sequels. At least they tried with this one. Adrian Paul was also rather good in it. If only they’d been able to wrangle some Queen music..

2. The Prophecy 2
And? Not as bad as I remember it. Sure, it’s not a shade on its predecessor, but Walken and the storyline keeps you interested.

3. Dracula 3 : The Legacy
And? Better the second time around. It mightn’t have the budget of it, but it’s definitely got a more engaging storyline than “Dracula 2000”.

4. Ocean’s Thirteen
And? Exactly what it needed to be – light, fun, star-ridden and glitzy. Good to see Pacino back in a good movie, too.

5. Dead Silence
And? As wooden as its lead character. Now I understand why it’s not getting a local release.

And finally….

Words of Wisdom from Mrs Caffeinated Clint :

(A scientist who seems to be able to sum up the world – or a movie – in just a few words, whilst the rest of us feel a page review isn’t even sufficient).

“That’s one” – Mrs Morris counting how many times she laughs during a screening of “Shrek the Third”. She never got past one.