Chaps My Hide

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I love all kinds of movies. Especially the really good ones. But when given the choice between watching a movie in a theater packed with strangers or in my living room where there’s a maximum occupancy of five, I will almost certainly choose the latter now. Obviously the overwhelming majority of new releases don’t offer that option so I find myself in the theater a couple times per week both for work and for pleasure, and to be clear, I’m very much a fan of watching movies come to life on the big screen. My problem is specifically with the audience. Between the talking, all the 911 calls and the loud smacking noises apparently required when masticating lobby chum, the theater experience has dipped in quality quite a bit in recent years. No big revelation there. Every week seems to bring a new debate about whether or not theaters should allow tweeting, juggling, or breast feeding during movies, but while I’ve gotten used to the distractions during most types of films there’s a sub-genre wholly dependent on atmosphere that’s suffering thanks to this new breed of sphincter-like filmgoer. Watching scary horror movies in theaters just isn’t scary anymore.

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cmh sexism

The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism released a study recently on the representation of women in film, both onscreen and behind the camera over the course of five years, and many of the conclusions paint a fairly distressing picture. But contrary to what several editorial responses would have us believe, these results are far from surprising in a post-Bridesmaids world. Hell, they’re not even all that sexist. Instead, it’s almost all about the money. Almost. Does sexism occur on a daily basis in Hollywood? Has Hollywood been one big boys’ club since the very beginning? Are there still too few women making big (and small) movies? Yes, yes and yes. Is sexism the singular reason? Not even close. Profit is and always will be the main deciding factor with talent disinterest, industry laziness and the slow nature of societal change following up well behind. Producing a film is betting on its success, and it makes sense that a business would try to ensure the best results by attaching known quantities to their biggest projects. Second, the lack of female directors in the big leagues can be attributed to several factors, but it seems unreasonable to exclude the possibility that a lower percentage of women are even interested in making movies featuring giant robots urinating on award-winning actors. Third, when studio decisions are working, as they did in 2012 to the tune of the highest domestic box-office tally in history, the industry is given no convincing reason to change their […]

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Star Trek Lens Flare

Rumor has it that J.J. Abrams is known to approach strangers, hold his finger beneath their nose while stifling a laugh and then ask them if they can tell which box it smells like. That probably isn’t true, but the man most definitely loves a good mystery. As writer, director and/or producer he’s been attached to dozens of films and TV shows featuring mysteries both big and small. The secret to Lost‘s island, the reveal of the monster in Cloverfield and the alien in Super 8, the explanation as to why Felicity cut her hair… all mysteries we eventually saw answered after a glorious period of intense curiosity. Hell, we’re still eagerly awaiting an answer to what exactly he was thinking while writing Gone Fishin’. Abrams famously explained his attraction to the idea of a “mystery box” during his 2007 TED Talk, and it basically boils down his belief that “mystery is more important than knowledge.” There’s a semantics argument to be had there, but the core point is a sound one that more often than not gets lost in an online world used to having all of the answers and information available 24/7. People who read books don’t (usually) read the ending first, so why do so may of us want to know as much as possible about the plot points, casting and cameos in the movies we’ve yet to watch? Abrams simply prefers as little as possible be revealed in advance of our eyeballs actually seeing his work […]

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The Usual Suspects

It’s pretty much impossible to avoid movie/TV spoilers these days, and that’s just a sad reality. Is it the worst thing? Not even close, but that doesn’t mean that those who partake in the spoiling are anything less than pricks. Still, is it possible they’re simply confused pricks? Pricks unknowingly trafficking in the art of premature infojaculation? The past week has seen two interesting discussions arise on the subject, and both of them stem from Tom Cruise’s new film Oblivion. The first one appeared on Twitter as people who had seen early screenings of the film shared their 140-character-long opinions as to what other movies this one reminded them of. They weren’t explicitly stating plot points, but in naming certain, specific movies in their comparisons, those plot points were made implicit and obvious. The second issue was voiced a few days ago by Calum Marsh in a post on Film.com about how film critics shouldn’t care about spoiling a film for their readers. There’s a kernel of truth to his point, but it’s drowned out by the rest of what he says (and how he says it). In both cases the originators claim these circumstances aren’t worthy of being called a real spoiler. In both cases these people are wrong. Before we go any further though, know that there will in fact be spoilers below for Oblivion and Moon as well as a handful of older movies (I’m talking decades old), so consider this your spoiler warning. See how easy that is, […]

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