Saturday, April 17, 2010


Hey there folks! A few pretty spectacularly cool bits of news have hit over the past week or so, things that are so cool I can’t help but feel they need at least some sort of mentioning because if nothing else they’ve gotten this geek’s heart all a flutter.

THE WEINSTEINS ARE NEARING A DEAL TO BUY BACK MIRAMAX: If you remember a little while back I reported with great sadness about the shuttering of the once giant of independent cinema, Miramax Films. Well, it’s beginning to look like that may be the best thing that could have ever happened. It is beginning to look like that within the next few weeks Bob and Harvey will have the company back under their control and if you ask me that just makes all right with the world.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with Miramax. If you know anything about the company you know they can be an independent film maker’s greatest ally or most insurmountable foe. From my own personal perspective the idea of some day working with the Weinsteins gives me sweet dreams and horrid nightmares all at the same time. Having said that though one would have a hard time arguing that Bob and Harvey don’t know what they’re doing.

No matter how you slice it the world of independent film just hasn’t been the same since the Weinsteins split from their name namesake. Since their split both parties have sort of felt like gutless impersonators, mere shadows of their former glorious selves. To anyone that follows the world of movies it quickly became obvious that Miramax and the Weinsteins are intrinsically, indelibly linked and that apart they’re nowhere near the hurricane like force of ballsy, independent bravado that brought us some of the best films and film makers of the last 20 years. Thankfully it’s looking like all that is going to be changing very soon and if I had to place money on it I’d be very surprised if Miramax wasn’t once again carving a lasting swath through the cinematic landscape in the not too distant future.

You’ve heard Megan and I complain at nauseum about the current state of independent film and while I don’t think the reemergence of Miramax films is the end all be all solution to the problems plaguing independent film makers the world over, I can’t help but think that it returning to its former glory can’t help that same world either. Under the Miramax banner Bob and Harvey Weinstein showed that they were just about the most audacious, gutsy, unrefined yet brilliantly driven and dedicated producers the world of cinema has ever seen. These were the guys that gave us Steven Sorderbergh, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino to name a few. One can only hope (And I count myself amongst the hopeful) that now that they’re back in the game perhaps they’ll do what they do best and introduce the world to a whole new crop of cinematic genius and more importantly geniuses.

JOSS WHEDON TO DIRECT THE AVENGERS: No joke, no exaggeration, I actually got goose bumps when I learned that Joss Whedon had been tapped to direct THE AVENGERS, the culmination of all of Marvels various franchises such as IRON MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA and so on into what could be the biggest, most badass superhero film ever.

For the longest time it was assumed that Jon Favreau would helm this super superhero film, but within the past 6 months it became apparent that this wasn’t going to happen (Thanks to COWBOYS AND ALIENS starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford which is another pretty cool piece of news by the way). Since then plenty of names have been bandied about, the most prevalent of which being Louis Letterier the man behind the helm of THE INCREDIBLE HULK and the recent CLASH OF THE TITANS. Then around the beginning of the month a rumor started spreading that Marvel was talking to Joss Whedon. Since this news hit around April 1st, everyone just assumed it was a prank and went about their lives. Over the next few weeks the rumor grew, but still no one actually believed such a thing would EVER happen. I mean it was a fanboy wet-dream, the kind of scenario you talk about with other geeks when you’ve downed a few too many beers and you start discussing the most impossible hypothetical situations you can think of. That’s all this rumor ever was, until earlier this week it turned out to be true and fanboys the world over lost their freaking minds, myself included.

I could go on for several pages as to why the selection of Joss Whedon to helm THE AVENGERS is one of perhaps the single greatest ideas in the history of movies. I could argue with those that are apprehensive because Whedon was already attached to another big budget comic book movie a few years ago, WONDER WOMAN, but dropped out and why that won’t happen this time or how in the long run this move makes A LOT of sense from both Whedon and Marvel’s perspective, but I’m not going to do that because I’m really not sure my words can do it all justice.

Pound for Pound Joss Whedon is probably the single best creative voice to have come out of Hollywood in the last 20 years. That’s not an opinion that’s a fact and you either understand and agree with me because you are one of his die hard fans (With Whedon there are no other kind) of you’re not and that’s simply because you haven’t seen enough of his work. If you question this move, if you can’t figure out why Marvel would hand over the reigns of perhaps the most important comic book film ever made to a man who only has ONE feature film directorial credit under his belt, then I order you to go watch BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER all the way through, all seven seasons. After that watch ANGEL all the way through, then FIREFLY, SERENITY and DOLLHOUSE. Once you’ve done that check out DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG and pick up his run on Astonishing X-Men or The Runaways. After all that, if you’re not completely convinced that he isn’t the PERFECT guy for the job and you’re not a ravenous fan… you need to have your head checked because there really is something wrong with you.

There is also currently a rumor floating around that Whedon will take a crack at reshaping not only THE AVENGERS script but also help fine tune some of the other scripts for the other movies (Such as CAPTAIN AMERICA) that will be leading up to his opus. Whether that’s true or not I honestly can’t remember the last time I was this excited by a piece of entertainment news. This isn’t quite Lucas announcing he was going to finally make Episodes I through III but its pretty close. To put it in a context that’s slightly closer to home, the last time such a synchronously perfect pairing of film maker and material was announced was when Warner Brothers tapped Christopher Nolan to take over the Batman franchise and we all saw how well that turned out. Believe me if this all pans out minds won’t be blown, they’ll be full on eviscerated.


Adam said...

"Pound for Pound Joss Whedon is probably the single best creative voice to have come out of Hollywood in the last 20 years."

Yep, it's official. You're out of your mind, man!

Chris W said...

No joke but until you've watched or read all of what I've listed I know it sounds like hyperbole but it's not. There's a reason they have shirts at Comic-Con now that say "Whedon Is My Master Now" in the STAR WARS font. There's a reason every year at Comic-Con they have to keep making his panels bigger and bigger because his fanbase grows by leaps and bounds. I'm not exageratting when I say that there's no such thing as a casual Joss Whedon fan. Once you start getting deep into his work you're hooked. For instance Kathy Armington who is not a sci-fi / fantasy / horror fan at all fell in love with DR. HORRIBLE'S SING-ALONG BLOG which led her to FIREFLY and she is now a rabid Whedon fan. I have yet to meet a single solitary person that once they start getting into his work doesn't become a convert. I promise you if you do the you'll feel the same. I know there are LOTS of people that will back me up on it.

Adam said...

Chris, your argument doesn't hold a lot of water. "I think this. If you do this and this and this and this, then I guarantee that you'll agree with me. I know people that have, and that's what'll happen to you."

In fact, this is what you tend to do a lot. I don't have any problem when you say things like "I haven't found anything that can match thus-and-so" or stuff like that. Seriously though, when you make these grandiose sweeping statements, it just isn't the smartest thing you could be doing, and it shoots your credibility in the foot.

I totally get that you're passionate about what you love and that you easily "geek out" over it. I do the same. But to keep saying that everyone who does thus-and-so is GOING to agree with you? Come on, man.

Chris W said...

The only problem with your arguement is that I am presenting information based on research that I have done in my own life. While I'll admit that I am prone to hyperbole I interact with a wide array of people in a great number of settings. Many of them are geeks yet many of them aren't. Where I work and in many other social circles of my life EVERYONE knows I am the geek, I am the writer and as such they approach me to ask my opinion of or GIVE their opinion of various things. You know what I do for a living so hopefully you can understand that my coworkers in such a vocation are totally, diametricly different than my friends from church, the people I make movies with and so on. As such I tend to interact with a great many people from a great many walks of life that fall into a great many demographics. As such when I say things like this I'm not "shooting my credibility" in the foot because I am making statements, truthful, fact based, research driven statements based on the miriad of people I interact with on a regular basis. If you'll notice I will talk a blue streak about how much I HATE a certain movie such as TWILIGHT or something but I have never once stated everyone I know hates the TWILIGHT movies because it's simply not true. Sadly I know more than a few people that like them even though I think they're on crack! I do throw out blanket statements about CERTAIN things but not EVERY thing. I am be totally truthful and honest and not exagerating one iotta when I say that EVERYONE I know loved STAR TREK or adored THE DARK KNIGHT or that everyone I have met that has allowed themselves to be exposed to Joss Whedon's work has fallen head over heels in love with the man. I do not deny that there are people out there who do not share these feelings but no joke, no exagerattion other than YOU, I've yet to meet them. I think where we continually run into issues is on things where no two ways about it you are in the vast minority about. That's not being mean, that's not picking on you that's just fact. THE DARK KNIGHT is the 2nd highest grossing movie of all time, STAR TREK was one of the biggest grossing movies of last year and the highest grossing STAR TREK film of all time. Both films have over a 90% rating (Actually over 95% if I'm not mistaken) on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Meta Critic which leads me to believe, through standard, logical deduction that a MASSIVE amount of people agree with my take and my opinion than yours, a fact only further given creedence by everyone I come into contact with on a daily basis. I gave a lot of thought to my statement about Joss Whedon, I came up with a list of names, started ranking them and every time his name came out on top. It wasn't something I just pulled out of thin air. Once again if you were to go to Comic-Con, interact with the people I do, housewives, teenagers, geeks and grandmothers you would see that there is something about Joss Whedon that appeals to EVERYONE, more so than some of the other great artists to emerge out of the last 2 decades such as Tarantino and many more. I can't help but feel quite a few people agree with my line of thinking otherwise they wouldn't have given a man with only 1 feature film under his belt the keys to the biggest, most audacious, gutsy, yet potentially awesome super hero ever made! I swear I'm not pulling this stuff out of my butt, I'm basing it on popular opinion and just because that opinion may not match yours doesn't make it any less true.

Adam said...

Chris, I'm not suggesting that you're lying to me that you know a lot of people that love Joss Whedon, and I'm certainly not suggesting that you're not entitled to think whatever you want about the man. If you think that he's the bee's knees, it's definitely no skin off my back.

What gets to me is the idea that there is one right way to look at things, and that that way is yours. Now, that's probably not what you're trying to communicate, because it doesn't seem like a way of thinking that you'd agree with. The thing is that that tends to be the way that you come across. It's kind of a takeoff on the old cliche, but instead, it's what you say AND how you're saying it.

It just so happens that I have seen the single solitary film that Whedon's made, and, while I was entertained, I wasn't a huge fan. There were bits of dialogue that I thought were preposterously bad, and other bits where I felt that narrative capital was wasted. The moment where the deep, dark secret was revealed should have been HUGE, and I just didn't think that it was anything like it ought to have been. Like I said, I was entertained, but didn't think Serenity was great by any stretch of the imagination.

As far as me being in the minority about certain things, so be it. As Megan's said in the past, that's what's so great about art. It strikes people in vastly different ways, and two people can sit down in the same theater and see two very different movies. There isn't really a right or wrong way to view them, and if the way I see certain things is different from the way that the majority does, that's not really something I can help. I have to do my best to be honest about what happened to me.

To go over a few examples that you brought up:

The Dark Knight is one of the best films of 2008, and I said so from day one. The fact remains that I think it gets overpraised quite a bit and that it has certain structural/narrative problems that detract from what it's trying to do. It's still a very good movie.

Star Trek. I still think what I thunk before, although my desire to destroy things and annihilate J.J. Abrams has diminished somewhat. I really don't care if I'm in the minority. I have to be honest, man.

It isn't about you stating your opinion or presenting a theory. The former is the ESSENTIAL part of any critic's m.o. and the latter is an important part of what we do here. It's that we must present those things in such a way that we make room for the differences in thought that are going to be found from person to person, and that we should not hold forth that our way of looking at something is the RIGHT way of looking at it.

Chris W said...

Okay, I want to bring the intensity of the conversation back down a little. :-) You said you saw SERENITY, did you or have you ever seen the show FIREFLY? The reason I ask is because I don't know anyone that's seen SERENITY that wasn't also a big fan of the show so I've always been curious how it played as a stand alone movie if you knew pretty much nothing about the universe going in. I'm trying to tip-toe around spoilers but that movie had a lot of huge impact stuff, especially the "reveal" as to what was really going on IF you were a fan of the show because you had been waiting for those answers, cheering for those characters, etc. from the first episode but I've always wondered and suspected that it's just not the same for people that weren't already emmersed in the story and universe. If you never really watched the TV show (And you should) that sort of gives me my answer.

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