Random Factoid #572

19 01 2015

Welp, the Oscar nominations have been announced, and it looks like Jennifer Aniston is going to have to try again if she wants people to start calling her “Academy Award nominee Jennifer Aniston.”  (For what it’s worth, I am seeing “Cake,” her failed awards vessel, tomorrow night.)

A lot of people have hurled ridicule at Aniston for her formulaic rom-coms or her tabloid personality.  Some of the vitriol resembles the phenomenon of “Hatha-hate,” the extreme and baseless revulsion towards Anne Hathaway. I have certainly been critical of some of her less than stellar roles like the ones in “Just Go With It” or “The Bounty Hunter.”  For the latter title, I began my review with this sentence: “Have you ever watched a movie and wondered what could make an actor’s standards drop so low?”

But I have also noted Aniston’s slow move towards quality, such as her roles in “Horrible Bosses” and “We’re The Millers,” which are at least attempting to do something out of the ordinary.  Moreover, I featured an Aniston title in my “F.I.L.M. of the Week” column that highlights lesser-known films: “Friends with Money,” a superb indie that should have provided her with more credibility as a respectable actress.  (I thought I had written about “The Good Girl,” but I guess I did not.)

If I am just being honest, though, Aniston’s lasting impact for me consists of two scenes in two mediocre films, “The Break-Up” and “He’s Just Not That Into You.”  For whatever reason, the illustrations her characters give of complex situations are infinitely reusable and applicable to daily life.  Just ask anyone who knows me well, I have probably quoted one of these two scenes to them.

“I want you to want to do the dishes” works great when trying to explain that you desire a genuine gesture, not an empty one.

And “I just need you to stop being nice to me unless you’re going to marry me” works well for flaky, noncommittal people outside the realm of marriage and courtship.

I also love the line from “He’s Just Not That Into You” where Aniston is told by a friend, in a supposed gesture of comfort, “There are many people who never get married – look at Al Pacino, never been married, happy as a clam!”  And Aniston, flabbergasted, responds, “Would I be Al Pacino in this scenario?”  I also tend to feel like the Al Pacino in plenty of supposedly helpful illustrations about my life, though maybe that will change one day.





Random Factoid #571

30 12 2014

2014, for me, was the year of the typo correction.  For whatever reason, I felt emboldened to act as copywriter for the world.  (Just not for my own work, which I often find full of errors upon reexamination.)  Much of my Larry David-esque perceived need to correct other people’s harmless mistakes or typos stems from an empowering NPR segment about a book called “The Great Typo Hunt.”  Yes, I am enough of a nerd to call an NPR story about grammar “empowering.”  Get at me, world!

It began as early as January, when IndieWire ran a story called “The 20 Best Films of 2014 We’ve Already Seen.”  This highlighted festival films from the previous year due for release in the upcoming calendar year, and the original list inexplicably omitted “The Immigrant.”  Foreshadowing (or stemming from) my being a warrior for this film, I commented about this egregious exclusion.

IndieWINNING

The post is now called “The 21 Best Films of 2014 We’ve Already Seen,” but the URL still says “20.”  Point, Marshall.

It continued with the website for “Obvious Child.”  I was trying to find a poster to add to my PowerPoint aggregating all the films I saw in a year (as chronicled in Random Factoid #200) on the website when I noticed a pretty egregious typo.  I emailed the admin listed on the Tumblr, and I wound up getting a personal response from the film’s producer, Elisabeth Holm.  The correction can be seen below.

Obvious Child Email

Then, as I am often prone to do, I was scouring the pre-order section of iTunes to see when I might be able to rent certain titles I missed.  I noticed that “Laggies” was up – and that its star, Keira Knightley, had her name misspelled on the cover.  I sent the studio a quick email and, sure enough, the cover changed!

A24 Laggies

 

And the gentle, metaphorical red pen did not limit itself to spelling errors.  I also tackled factual inaccuracies, such as one that I found in a piece by Scott Feinberg, the lead awards analyst at The Hollywood Reporter.

Feinberg

Now, just so we’re clear, I am far from perfect and actually made plenty a pretty embarrassing error while thinking I was correcting someone else’s error.  See that comment from The Dissolve?  It was in reply to a comment that I deleted, which was calling them out for misspelling “Slave” when it was referencing the video’s misspelling.  Had I watched the video, I would have known that.  Had I really been paying attention, I would have also noticed that they also “misspelled” Brad Pitt’s name.

Salve

I decided not to let the comment live on and shame me, like a coward.  Perhaps in the new year, I will limit myself in my quest to make the world a safer place for proofreading to only correcting errors which I am completely certain are wrong.  Or, rather, I can just shake my head in dismay at every typo I see online (cough, IndieWire – you’re the worst offender) and hope they feel the same shame that I experience when I realize a similar gaffe in my own work.

P.S. – How can I tell AT&T about this bad typo?

Gaurdians





Random Factoid #570

29 10 2014

InterstellarI figured in order to break myself out of my recent writing slump, I’d bring back an old favorite … the Random Factoid!

Because I go to the movies and have a brain, I am a huge fan of Christopher Nolan and eagerly await his upcoming feature “Interstellar.”  Because I have such confidence in Nolan, I don’t need to be sold on the movie’s plot or marketing materials.  Thus, I am trying to avoid them at all costs.

This is nothing new for me.  Back in 2010, I wrote of my efforts to pull off a similar feat in the wake of the opening of “Inception” in Random Factoid #275:

“I am attempting to do the impossible: avoid the media blitz surrounding Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” and walk into the theater on July 16th without knowing anything about the plot.  I am not going to read plot summaries, watch trailers, or read any sort of specific review.

I am prepared to do whatever it takes not to have this movie spoiled.  I will start bringing either headphones or earplugs to tentpole summer movies where previews will most assuredly play.  If I see any feature on the movie, I will shield my eyes and go away.”

I’m still doing the same with trailers at the movies; last night, I even walked out of the theater for three minutes while the “Interstellar” trailer played (to the complete bafflement of the rest of the crowd).  But this abstinence has taken on a new battlefront in 2014: social media and trade websites.  Because the embargo has broken and people can start talking about the content of “Interstellar,” I have sworn to myself that I will not take the risk of having anything spoiled for me by visiting these sites.

I unfollowed The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and IndieWire on Facebook so their posts don’t appear on my News Feed.  (Like I was going to give up Facebook entirely?  Please.)  I won’t check any sort of awards handicapping site because they are most assuredly breaking “Interstellar” down in those terms.  It’s essentially like a miniature Lent for the Church of Christopher Nolan.  Who knows what I’ll do with all this time I’m saving in avoiding these sites?

Maybe start writing reviews again … actually, make that definitely!





Random Factoid #569

2 08 2014

It’s been about 5 years since Twitter became a huge part of modern communication, and I’ve resisted it ever since.  Though my philosophy on the social media site has become more complex over time, here’s an excerpt from Random Factoid #258 back in April 2010 that pretty thoroughly explains my opposition:

“I hate Twitter and I will NEVER get one.  Ever.

Anyone who knows me or reads me is surely aware that I am a massive Facebook-er.  So why am I so opposed to Twitter?  Here’s my reason.

My least favorite part of Facebook is the status update.  I’m sorry, but I don’t want to know what you are doing at all times of the day.  If I do, I will go look at your profile.  So why on earth would I want to commit to Twitter, which is basically ONLY status updates.  Unless you are Jason Reitman, who fascinates me, I don’t want to know every little thought that pops into your head.

So, I will never get a personal (or blogging) Twitter.  You will NEVER catch me Tweeting.”

I don’t maintain a Twitter profile for “Marshall and the Movies,” yet I notice a few hits from the site every once in a while.  So, out of pure curiosity, I decided to search for my name and website on Twitter to see what was redirecting traffic to my site.

Well, as it turns out, Drafthouse Films saw my glowing review of their new film, “Nothing Bad Can Happen,” and quoted me in a tweet to hype up its release!  To my knowledge, this is the first time I’ve been quoted by a studio in promotional material.

Drafthouse Films

And on top of that, the stars of “Gimme the Loot” found my review and tweeted about it!

Gimme the Loot

So on an entirely self-serving level, maybe Twitter isn’t so bad!  I’m glad my writing is making small waves over there even though I remain a conscientious objector.





Random Factoid #568

25 04 2013

les-miserables-dvd-blu-ray1Been a while since you’ve seen one of these, hasn’t it?

I discontinued daily random factoids back in 2011 because, well, they were becoming a lot more of a stretch.  Usually they weren’t really factoids, they were just random cultural tidbits with a little bit of Marshall commentary.  I definitely enjoyed doing that, but it became a lot more of a hassle than it should have been.  So I stopped.

But now, I have a real factoid to share with you all, so it felt like a good time to resurrect the series for the first time in two years.

I actually watched a movie with the commentary track on.  For the first time ever.

Aren’t you proud of me?  I sat for 2 1/2 hours and listened to Tom Hooper talk all over “Les Misérables.”  He had some fascinating insights into the film, and I learned a lot from it.  But I didn’t really get to watch the movie, per se.  Is that how they all are, or is Hooper just incredibly long-winded?

By the way, a big ol’ whoppin’ defense of the film’s close-ups is coming your way soon.  Get ready, blogosphere.





Random Factoid #567

27 05 2011

Back in Random Factoid #332, I wrote for the first time about using Netflix.  It’s funny to read in retrospect because over the last year, it has become such an integral part of my moviewatching habits.  Check this out:

“My dad recently got an iPad for his birthday, and he managed to get a free trial of Netflix through the iPad app.  He told me about the offer, so I started fidgeting around and discovered a whole heaping lot of movies available to stream straight to the iPad.  So I watched ‘Memento’ for the first time, and I loved it.  Not just the movie, but the fact that I was streaming it!

Then I started scrolling through the other movies available to stream – and it had me at ‘The Pianist.’  I haven’t had time to watch it, but I certainly hope the free trial doesn’t expire any time soon!  I’m dying to watch that and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” one of the two Best Picture nominees from the last decade I still haven’t seen.

And then, while still experimenting with the technology, I wound up ordering the discs of ‘Road to Perdition’ and ‘Hustle and Flow.’  Now, they are sitting on my desk.  What my dad wants to do with them is up to him – the trial expires in a few days.  Soon enough, they’ll start charging.”

Oh, the days when streaming was new and novel!  It’s still exciting now, and I still have over 60 movies on my queue – most of which I intend to watch … eventually.  Meanwhile, that other services Netflix offers, DVDs by mail … um, yeah.  I’ve used it some.

Ok, that’s a lie.  Today I finally made myself return “Traffic” and “Mulholland Dr.” because I didn’t have the motivation to watch them because they didn’t have to be returned to the library in 14 days or watched in the next 30 days on iTunes.  So guess how long those two movies sat on my desk in their crinkled paper sleeves?

Six months.  For a half a year, those two movies sat there unwatched.  So clearly, I should stop using the DVD by mail portion of the family’s Netflix subscription unless I really want to see what I’m getting.  We also made the decision to cut down on our monthly bill by moving from two to one DVDs out at a time.





Random Factoid #566

26 05 2011

With “The Hangover Part II” now in theaters, I thought it would be as good a time as ever to revisit some slightly old news from the series’ director, Todd Phillips.  In an interview with Elvis Mitchell of Movieline, he had this to say about the unrated edition of the original film:

“Warner Bros., they’ll make your movie; your movie does well, and they want to create an unrated version, which is entirely against DGA rules because it’s not your cut. And they can’t call it the ‘Director’s Cut’ — they’ll call it ‘Unrated’ or some ridiculous term. Really all it is, is about seven minutes of footage that you cut out of the movie for a reason.”

I certainly loved hearing someone in the biz back up my opinions as stated in Random Factoid #11:

“I hate watching unrated cuts of movies.  I always want to see the theatrical cut because after seeing ‘Bruno,’ I found out that anything can get an R-rating.  The director could include practically whatever he wanted, but there is a reason that he did not include it in the version that the masses go see.  So I figure that the rated version, while tamer, is probably what the director wanted you to see.”

And when I watched the unrated cut of “Date Night” last August, as reported in Random Factoid #386, I felt much of what Phillips described:

“I have a feeling that the word ‘3D’ is headed the way of the word ‘unrated.’  About a decade ago, ‘unrated’ was something fairly unique.  Now it has become a marketing gimmick to make a little extra profit off some unsuspecting consumers.  See the correlation?

Why did I decided to give this extended edition, basically a tamer way of saying unrated, a whirl?  The theatrical cut of ‘Date Night’ was so short that I wanted to see more.  And more I got.  Not sure if it was worth the 13 minutes of my sleep, but I still enjoyed some of the extra bits.”

His cameo in "The Hangover."

There’s a rhyme and reason for what directors do.  Pacing and timing is incredibly important, lessons I’ve learned from acting on stage, watching the play I wrote get directed, and from seeing plenty of movies where the two concepts are handled terribly wrong.  Especially in comedy, where timing is everything, the director has to establish the rhythm of the movie.

The material for unrated cuts belong in deleted scenes; if this were so, the viewer could still appreciate the humor without disrupting the structure of the film itself.  As much as a director may like something, it sometimes doesn’t work in the grand scheme of things.  I had to learn this lesson in the production of my play as several of my favorite dialogue snippets got axed.  But you do it because you care about how the work functions as a whole, not in one special moment, and Phillips seems to care about preserving the integrity of the whole.  Warner Bros. should respect the wishes of someone in the business who actually has such interests in mind.








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