(Two films, Many Questions!)
I'm not sure what aspect of Grindhouse qualifies for the WTF scream, more accurately, I guess everything about it does.
In case you're new, I'm not in any way insulting Grindhouse on the whole or Planet Terror or Death Proof individually either. In fact, this was probably my single favorite time in the Cineplex this year, note for note...
But the questions are all over the place. Let's work backwards here. For one thing, Grindhouse was not a box office success! In fact, it pretty much flopped, which says to me that the American Public really didn't get this movie, or the overlying theme or the two movies that made most of this experience up. The fact that it flopped is interesting.
But let's take a step back... Not everyone out there is me (thank God). Would everyone understand the kind of films being both spoofed and honored here? Would they get the "fake trailers"? Would they understand the concepts of the Grindhouse Double Features? Would they understand the film was intentionally weathered? That said... would they care? Even my readers might not, as many of them would be more entertained by what I say about this kind of movie than the movie itself.
This sends us one more step back... Why would Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein want to take this big a gamble on this kind of film? The Press had a field day condemning them for trying, but I applaud them for giving it a shot, rather than going for the same old thing as most other companies have lately. But they had to know the risk. It was their idea to cut Kill Bill into two volumes, surely a film consisting of two full length movies, plus previews and commercials within them would negate the logic of splitting Quentin Tarantino's last film into two parts? Did they expect that more than hard-core film fans and aficionados of foreign cinema would go see a new movie that was intentionally made to look old with themes from a subgenre that never produced blockbusters, that ran very long, even compared to some epics, that featured intentionally over-the-top acting and situations, along with entire pieces of the plot excised as a Missing Reel and advertised other movies, most of which were never going to be made, along with restaurants that didn't exist? There's your core group (I saw it opening day, of course) and then there's... who else would get this? The key is probably found in the unofficial nickname for Bob and Harvey's last company Miramax: "The House that Quentin Built!" Pulp Fiction was the film that put Miramax on the proverbial map! Could Grindhouse be the key to the fortunes of their newest venture The Weinstein Company, especially as this film would feature not only the talents of Quentin Tarantino, but fellow hitmaker Robert Rodriguez?
Moving forward to the next WTF... Why would the press, like the douches at Entertain Me Weakly, act like the failure of this film was such a no-brainer? Bob and Harvey have had a number of risky hits, after all, and this could have been one of them. Shouldn't the press lament the fact that this fledgling company didn't reap its just harvest from the latest attempt instead of implying that they have now learned their lesson and should stick to mainstream fare from now on? Good work Homogenized Media! Now if we could all conform to your race, religion and accents too, we could all finally be the same.
The final (so far) WTF related to Grindhouse has to do with the DVD Releases. Death Proof and Planet Terror were released on DVD not as one package, but a month apart. Both had some extras, but none of the commercials or previews that featured so many great moments. Although the reason why is predictable, Rodriguez confirms it in his Planet Terror commentary... There will indeed be a Grindhouse DVD coming out with more extras, all the previews and commercials as well as both films. It seems they've saved the really desirable stuff for later, knowing fans would buy the films twice that way. It seems that Bob and Harvey are in on a plan to have the last laugh after all. And it'll work too. I just wish it wasn't at my expense too!
With all the feeding frenzy surrounding the SAW Films in the Media Marketplace today, one would think that just a taste of Saw Teeth would give any movie studio a green hard on.
This wasn't the case, apparently, with Universal Studios, who managed to grab their own piece of Lion's Gate's Saw Fortunes with the release of James Wan's and Leigh Whannell's Dead Silence, which came, saw and was conquered at the box office. Once again, instead of going for something at least relatively new and different, moviegoers opted to wait for Saw IV, which is the same old thing again, but without James and Leigh.
But one can't really blame the audience! The film was woefully under-promoted and virtually left to die out in Theatre-Land. To be fair, it's not a great movie... to be accurate, it's better than Saw IV! Props should be given to the guys in their attempts to pay tribute to older, classic films as well as to try making a Ventriloquist's Dummy scary to adults. Not great, but definitely not bad either.
(Oops, My Bad???)
Among the long-awaited possibilities for movies since CGI became convincing was a "live action" version of Transformers. With Blockbuster Director Michael Bay at the helm and the name of Steven Spielberg's name in the Producer List, this one looked like it had potential to rock and rule. Throw in the fact that Peter Cullen himself was brought on board to again portray the voice of Optimus Prime and how could you lose?
Well, it's true that it takes more than one bad seasoning to spoil the stew, but I had to wonder what this old Bay Leaf was trying to get away with here! First, this filmed version of a franchise invented to sell toys somehow morphed (no pun intended) into a marketing tie-in with General Motors... which would be okay if that didn't mean completely taking away the visual presences of the characters that made the franchise a success. Bumblebee is a Camaro, huh? Okay... so why's he called Bumblebee then?
The "cast" of CGI giants was given a load of familiar names, but they barely resembled their animated namesakes. Those that were dead-ringers were given the business in other ways. Optimus Prime himself looked more or less like Optimus Prime, with a realistic feel to him... but then he devolves into a slapstick goof saying things like "Oops! My bad!" Millions of years fighting evil and you say "Oops! My Bad!"?
(The Missed or the Will of the Whisp?)
Another Fan-dream-come-true came in the form of Frank Darabont's The Mist. An accurate adaptation of a Stephen King Novella with a great cast and an acclaimed director (filmed in my home town) was more than we could hope for.
The Mist was scary, suspenseful, interesting and thought-provoking. So why did Darabont add on such an unnecessary ending as this one? The possibilities behind why this experiment in Bleakness might have been thrown on the end are all over the board. It makes an otherwise surreal and cerebral film fall flat with over-explanation, ruining the mystery and ambiguity of its source material.
is still allowed to make movies!
The man who put Nipples on the Bat Suit and dumbed down John Grisham (irony intended) is somehow still being given the folding canvass chair... for money. And he still manages to get actors to work for him.
After almost single-handedly derailing the Batman franchise and then blaming the fans for it, Schumacher directed the critically lambasted 8MM about a snuff film (which is about what it was), the complete flop Bad Company, which is a new landmark in critical derision. Then came Phone Booth which featured less locations than My Dinner with Andre! Somehow he managed to work in Flawless and Veronica Guerin, both of which have some following, as well as Phantom of the Opera, which I actually liked, but many critics hated.
I was at Best Buy today and discovered that some witty shop clerk had provided a better Schumacher review than I ever could. A dusty, untouched stack of DVDs of The Number 23 had a Best Buy Sticker over the word "The" and the price tag over the "3", leaving only the words "Number 2" visible. Good job!
Schumacher currently has three films in Post Production!
(Goin' Under, Rats are in the Kitchen!)
One of the biggest movies of the year was a film with a hard-to-pronounce name about a Kitchen infested with Rats that got into the food and stayed there.
The even more amazing part is that the film was excellent and managed to be among the best films of 2007! Will the wonders of Pixar never cease? Methinks not!
The pilot episode/ TV Movie finally has been released on DVD in the USA.
Now I have one less thing to be Pissed Off about, that's all! Goodbye!!!