Random Factoid #565

25 05 2011

I’m going to laugh when I click the “Random Factoids” category in my sidebar and see a 3 1/2 month gap between Random Factoid #564 and #565.  In that last factoid, “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” had just come out in theaters.  Today, that movie has been on video for 2 weeks.  So that should give you an idea of just how long I’ve been away from factoiding.  (This time around, I’m going to try to find the joy in them rather than looking at them as a daily task that I often do willfully.)

So where to begin?  How about with the latest attraction at my “home” movie theater, RPX.  That, of course, stands for the Regal Premium EXperience.  For $4.50 more, you can get “crystal-clear ALL DIGITAL projection, high-impact GIANT SCREEN, powerful uncompressed SURROUND SOUND.”  (And if it applies, a “breathtaking IMMERSIVE 3D experience,” but it didn’t in my case.)  It was advertised as “the best picture you’ve ever heard,” so naturally I had to go see what all the fuss was about.

The RPX screen opened April 1 with “Source Code,” a movie I happened to be dying to see, so I went to check it out as soon as I got a chance.  What I once knew as “theater 11” had been totally revamped with a cavalcade of blue lights inside and outside the theater, and the seats had been replaced with smooth leather ones.  Off to a good start, but then the movie started.

“Source Code” was fantastic, yet I wasn’t blown away by the presentation.  I certainly didn’t understand why I needed to pay $4.50 more to see the movie on a slightly larger screen with marginally better sound.  It felt no different than seeing a movie digitally projected in a normal theater, which comes with no premium.

So, until further notice, my advice is to save your money and avoid the RPX until it actually provides a premium experience.

Random Factoid #564

12 02 2011

I’m sorry, because I’m a Christian male, I’m being TARGETED to see “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never?!?!”  Surely that must be a joke.

But according to Entertainment Weekly, it’s not.  Check this out:

“Execs recognized that the film’s message of hope and Bieber’s strong Christian beliefs, about which both he and his mother Pattie Mallette have spoken extensively, were an opportunity to reach out to the faith community. The study guide is a collaboration between Bieber’s mother and Allied Faith & Family, an arm of Allied Integrated Marketing. It’s the first time Paramount has worked with Allied to supplement its general publicity, but not the first time the studio has had a faith-based element to a movie campaign. (The studio had faith-based outreach programs for the documentaries ‘Waiting for Superman’ and ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and the adaptation of ‘The Kite Runner.’) Indeed, marketing to Christian groups became quite popular post-‘The Passion of the Christ;’ like secular marketing campaigns, it’s about making sure people who may not think a film has something for them see that it does — like Bieber’s pre-performance ritual that includes a prayer introduced to him by his Jewish manager, or Bieber and his friends saying grace at a pizza parlor.”

While I’m certainly glad to see a faithful Christian unafraid to proclaim his beliefs to the mainstream, it just strikes me as odd that they think that just because I share certain ideals as Bieber, I’ll rush to see his movie.  I’m not a huge fan (although I unfortunately have to fess up that I did buy one of his songs before I realized he would take over the world) and have not made any plans to see the movie.  It’s not a faith-based movie, although faith is prominently featured, and I’ll go spend two hours reading Levitical laws before I spend $15 and two hours of my time watching Justin Bieber squawk like a mouse in three dimensions.

Maybe it’s just my hyper-awareness of being grouped into a demographic after reading “White Noise” in my English class…

Random Factoid #563

11 02 2011

Back in Random Factoid #302, I wrote about being recognized by name at the library, the source of many of the movies I watch.  This was a source of great pride as I don’t think a movie theater employee will ever recognize me by name.

However, I did get a significant step closer to that at a promotional screening of “Just Go With It” last night.  The security people, usually very faithfully rotating between a series of five or six men, knew who I was!  They didn’t call me Marshall, but when they were talking to people a few rows ahead of me about turning their cell phone off, one of the guys looked at me and said, “I know you.  I want to see you turn it off!”

Maybe we’ll get the name soon…

Random Factoid #562

10 02 2011

Today, my AMC MovieWatcher card breathed its last.  While buying a student ticket for “Rabbit Hole,” I whipped out my card to get two points towards a ticket.  However, the ticket lady told me that the program had ended.  So now there’s a hole in my wallet and a hole in my heart as I wait for the Stubs program to begin.

In its 2 1/2 years in my wallet, the AMC MovieWatcher card garnered nearly 190 points – that’s 95 tickets, for those of you who need a more relatable figure.  It has served me well, and I will miss it dearly.

Random Factoid #561

9 02 2011

Will someone do the MPAA a favor and save them from themselves?

First it was the whole “Blue Valentine” controversy. Then their whole dumb “male nudity” policy and their attack on smoking at the potential cost of artistic integrity.  But now … they want to disconnect Google?!

More from Cinematical:

“Every month the MPAA sends out wave after wave of copyright infringement notices to people accused of having illegally downloaded a movie. In practice, these are simple intimidation tactics notifying the accused that they were caught downloading a certain film and that, basically, unless they stop, the MPAA will make sure the criminal’s ISP disconnects them from the Internet. And if you’re Joe Schmo sailing the high seas of movie piracy, such warnings might make you reconsider whether or not a free copy of ‘The Expendables’ really is worth it.

The problem with this method is that the for-profit legal organizations that the MPAA hires to send out these automated warnings don’t do any research on the accused, they simply send out the notices en masse. (In the past this has resulted in old ladies who barely know how to use email being accused of multi-million-dollar copyright infringement.) So when some of Google’s IP addresses showed up in their piracy databases, the MPAA simply didn’t know any better and told one of the largest Internet companies in the world that they would disconnect them from the Internet if they didn’t give in to their demands.”

If you want to really punish Google, make them pay to produce some more anti-piracy advertisements that we all skip on DVD or tune out at the theater.  But disconnecting them from the Internet is the quickest way to incite riots and hatred.  There has to be a better way to solve this whole piracy problem.

Interestingly enough, movie studios love 3D for more than just cash: people can’t record them and then pirate them.  So if this problem persists, don’t expect 3D to just go away.

Random Factoid #560

8 02 2011

The Academy Award nominees all gather for a luncheon just before the ceremony, and they take a giant group picture like a graduating class.  This picture gets published all over the web, really as a “Where’s Waldo?” activity for all the actors.  I always enjoy seeing the little Hollywood clicks and who gets left out or hangs out with a different crowd.  It’s a fun picture to dissect, much further than the obvious Annette Bening sitting on Jeff Bridges’ lap front and center.

Click on the image if you want a better view as it takes forever to load otherwise.

Here are some of my favorite observations from the picture:

  • Natalie Portman is REALLY pregnant.
  • Christopher Nolan’s grin is creepy.
  • James Franco is standing next to the Pixar guys.
  • Amy Adams is up front but her co-stars from “The Fighter,” Mark Wahlberg and Melissa Leo, are way up top.
  • Poor Hailee Steinfeld looks so alone up there…
  • John Hawkes is so lost among the crowd.
  • Colin Firth and Michelle Williams together … interesting.
  • Why can’t we be friends – Jesse Eisenberg and Geoffrey Rush, despite being in the dueling Best Picture candidates, are right next to each other.
  • The guy with the long, curvy beard in the bottom right SCARES ME.

Random Factoid #559

7 02 2011

Given how far behind I am in factoiding (7 days, eek), I figured it was time to pull a page from the music industry’s playback: when new ideas aren’t flowing, go back to the greatest hits.

Way back in Random Factoid #298, I wrote about how I tend to buy music after I hear it in movies (or their trailers, which can often feature catchy tunes).  So here’s part two of that factoid, basically filling you in on all the things that are in my “Purchased” playlist on iTunes.

“Don’t Think” by The Chemical Brothers, as heard in “Black Swan”

“Baby, You’re A Rich Man” by The Beatles, as heard in “The Social Network”

“Animal” by Neon Trees, as heard in the trailer for “Love & Other Drugs”

“You and Me” by Penny & The Quarters, as heard in “Blue Valentine”

“Speaking Unto Nations” by Ludwig van Beethoven, as heard in “The King’s Speech”

“Misery” by Maroon 5, as heard in the trailer for “The Dilemma”

“Ball and Biscuit” by The White Stripes (RIP), as heard in “The Social Network”

“Map of the Problematique” by Muse, as heard in the trailer for “The Tourist”

“Creep” by Scala and Kolacny Brothers, as heard in the trailer for “The Social Network”

Random Factoid #558

6 02 2011

For about 7 years, I have been using a little book called “The Yogi Book” as a coaster on the dresser that sits directly next to my bed. (If you were wondering, the book features great sayings from America’s foremost philosopher, New York Yankees player Yogi Berra.)  I’ve always had it out, and it’s always been fun to pick it up and read a quote for a laugh.

But as of this week, “The Yogi Book” ended its run on my dresser.  It has now been replaced by a mousepad promoting “The Social Network.”  So now at night, when I reach for my glass of water, I see the upper right quadrant of Jesse Eisenberg/Mark Zuckerberg with the superimposed words “PUNK TRAITOR BILLIONAIRE.”

Just another way movies pop up all through my life.

Random Factoid #557

5 02 2011

Grr.  The open door policy at AMC Theaters that has bothered me for so long has once again struck with a vengeance.

I first wrote about this problem back in 2009 after seeing “Bright Star” (that long ago), and I directed my anger at hearing Taylor Swift songs from the lobby while trying to watch the British costume drama into the blogosphere.  The problem has persisted, but perhaps never with such disastrous effects as it did yesterday.

I was “127 Hours” for the second time (because I love it), and the road to amputation was growing inevitable.  It was the last 15 minutes or so of the movie, and the tension was getting to the point that it could be cut with a knife.  All of a sudden, I start hearing noise that I know is not a part of Danny Boyle’s movie.  I perked up my ears and began to distinguish words coming from the lobby.  People were broadcasting their conversations into my theater!

I wasn’t going to go get up and close the door – heck, I don’t even know that it was open – because the movie was too good.  But I had to sit there and bear it for the rest of the movie.  Only until the music flared up to 11 was I able to drown out their disembodied voices.  So, once again, the whole sanctity of the moviegoing escapism experience was violated by the policy.  This has to stop.

Random Factoid #556

4 02 2011

How did Mark Zuckerberg turn what looked like a PR nightmare 5 months ago into what’s now a PR bonanza?  “The Social Network” was supposed to make him look like an anti-social a-hole to the moviegoing public has made him a celebrity and household name, something surprising given the site’s country-sized population.  There’s no way that he would have been named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year had it not been for the movie.

Danielle Berin offers up this theory:

“Oh what a difference an awards season makes. In the five months since opening, the film has lapped up box office success and critical acclaim, and, along the way, Zuckerberg’s image has undergone elaborate transformation. The once Machiavellian Harvard student has become the philanthropic humanitarian…. What began as a negative spin on Zuckerberg and his haughty conquer-the-world attitude had transformed into the most celebratory and useful publicity both Zuckerberg and his company have seen since Facebook’s founding. And to think, all it took was a little Oscar buzz. OK, a lot of Oscar buzz. The past few months of award-winning and Oscar campaigning have done more than cement the genius of the film’s cast and creators. Because of the spotlight cast on Zuckerberg, the young entrepreneur has had a chance to prove he isn’t the socially inept anti-hero portrayed by Eisenberg, but, rather, a benevolent titan of the digital age.”

Patrick Goldstein of The Big Picture wrote this:

“My theory is that all this kumbaya tub-thumping wasn’t just a spontaneous outpouring of awards-season good cheer. It was more likely the product of shrewd Oscar-season strategizing. Sorkin and ‘Social Network’ producer Scott Rudin were forging this rapprochement for one reason and one reason only–they believe that having an appearance of harmony between the film and its subject will help ‘Social Network”s Oscar chances. If Zuckerberg was still running around, bitching and moaning about his portrayal, as he was doing around the time of the film’s release last fall, it would inspire a new round of inflammatory media hit pieces about the film’s veracity, stories that could only do damage to the film’s Oscar chances.”

Either way, this whole ride for Zuckerberg has been fascinating to watch unfold.  I will say that five months ago, I never would have seen this coming.  Heck, the real Mark Zuckerberg could be the true underdog story of the Oscar race.

It’s always nice when we get a surprise.  I get so sick of hackneyed Hollywood plotlines being lived out by celebrities.

Random Factoid #555

3 02 2011

5-5-5.  Super cool.

Anyways, to actual factoid business now, can you spot a bad movie from the advertising? /Film linked to an Internet user who thinks he can: it’s the bold, red, uppercase fonts.

The response to this graphic came quickly and swiftly though, showing that it’s dangerous to overgeneralize:

I don’t really judge by the poster, as often times they aren’t exactly indicative of the quality of a movie.  Case in point: “The King’s Speech.”  The first poster is a hideous composition of three heads that doesn’t tell you anything about the movie, yet it does scream “THIS IS A BRITISH COSTUME DRAMA.  YOU SAW THIS MOVIE FOUR YEARS AGO WHEN IT WAS CALLED ‘THE QUEEN.'”  But the second poster, with its off-centered shot of Bertie, captures the movie’s slightly tweaked take on the historical biopic.

If anything, I have learned to avoid movies based on their trailers.  Nowadays, studios tend to throw their best jokes and one-liners in the trailer.  So if those falter, then the movie is usually a total dud.  I also tend to get pretty skeptical when I get a huge laugh out of the trailer because if that’s the best, then whats left?

But, all in all, it just goes to show you that you can’t judge a movie by its poster – but maybe you can by its trailer…

Random Factoid #554

2 02 2011

February could be a lot worse, but I’m wondering if I’ll bother to open my wallet for a 2011 release (thanks to the godsend that is free screenings, I have yet to pay for a movie that opens this year) any time this month.  Do studios really just want everyone to go see “The King’s Speech” and “True Grit” again, enough so that they’ll dump “The Roommate” and “Sanctum” on us?  There are few rays of mainstream hope, mainly emanating from “I Am Number Four.”

Elisabeth Rappe of Film.com shares in my lamenting:

“February is the dumping ground for bad films. If a film is originally set for a particular date — say, October 5, 2011 — and is suddenly yanked and shoved into February, it is the death knell. You know it’s not going to be worth your time or money to see, and the reason we know this is because we’ve been lured to many a lousy winter film in the past. Go back just 10 years, and you’ll see that February has boasted such great films as ‘Reindeer Games,’ ‘Snow Day,’ ‘Down to Earth,’ ‘Valentine,’ ‘Hannibal,’ ‘Rollerball,’ ‘Daredevil,’ ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,’ ‘Against the Ropes’ … the list just goes on and on into sheer dollar bin misery. The box-office returns tell a sad state of desperation. ‘Snow Day’ opened at No. 3 on February 11, 2000, and it wasn’t because it was a good film, it’s because there was nothing else to see.

The entire month is a pretty bleak slate, but the real DOA date has been distilled to the fine point of the first weekend of February. These aren’t just bad films, they’re the worst of any given year. Search them at random. February 2, 2005: ‘Unleashed.’ February 3, 2006: ‘When a Stranger Calls.’ February 1, 2008: ‘Over Her Dead Body,’ ‘Strange Wilderness,’ and ‘The Eye’. Wretched. Just wretched.

Why is poor February, who never did anything to anyone, the land of the lousy film? Why is its first weekend a cinematic graveyard? Hollywood might tell me that it’s traditionally a time of poor returns, that polling shows audiences like to see ‘Captain America’ in summertime, and that it’s too far out to risk releasing an award contender. (Not always so. ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ was released on February 14, 1991, and went on to win Best Picture. ‘Shakespeare in Love’ was a January 1999 release. It can happen.)

Considering that studios are becoming more and more desperate to milk the box-office dollar, and there are only so many weeks to the summer season, why not start using February to unload a few of your flashiest popcorn flicks? Instead of jockeying for a good July date, why not release a Harry Potter or a Transformers in February? Would audiences truly shy away from seeing a Transformers movie simply because it was released in winter? A good and bankable film doesn’t need a historic summer weekend. It just needs a screen. Considering more and more films are being made simply on name recognition — hence the lust for remakes or big comic book properties — it stands to reason that audiences would flock to Superman in February.”

I think it’s about time that studios ditched the whole “open everything big in summer” mentality.  Sleeper hits like “Taken” and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” have shown that audiences are willing to flock to movies with good buzz in the winter, and prestige pics like “Shutter Island” can open well and have staying power with very few quality alternatives.

Quite frankly, I’m ready for 2011 to start making a name for itself.  I’m running out of 2010 movies to see again while I wait.

Random Factoid #553

1 02 2011

I doubt many people other than the dedicated fans or the obsessive free promotion-seekers heard about the “I Kept My Eyes Open for 127 Hours” campaign.  Fox Searchlight turned the film’s marketing weak point – people passing out during the graphic amputation scene – into a gimmick to reward the tough moviegoers out there and essentially dare those who hadn’t scene it.

Although I have only limited experience in marketing and advertising, this at first seemed like a strange campaign.  When they initiated it, “127 Hours” had largely run its course in movie theaters, and the awards buzz was beginning to die down.  It felt like just too little, too late.

I got my T-shirt this week after going up some rather strange alleys to get in contact with a Fox Searchlight representative to get a larger size (because I just can’t squeeze into a medium).  I wore it proudly to school and to rehearsal, although under a sweatshirt most of the day as the Houston weather was unseasonably cold, and everyone that saw it had to comment on it.  One friend is even heading to see it over the weekend.

So, Fox Searchlight, consider this a success in goading curiosity.  You’re welcome for sending $20 your way – plus another $10 for me to see it again this weekend.

Random Factoid #552

31 01 2011

Today in my English class, we talked about how the system of moviegoing we have in place skewers our opinions of what we watch (as a branch of another conversation).  The perfect example given by one of my classmates was Oscar season: now, you don’t go see “The King’s Speech,” you go see the critically-acclaimed Oscar nominated “The King’s Speech.”  These are two entirely different beasts, and the expectations are skewered entirely.  The experiences completely changes as you watch a movie to check off boxes of approval, not just watching to watch.

That got me thinking: is it possible to see a movie without expectations?  To have the pure experience of moviegoing in our hands?

The closest thing I could think of was film festivals.  Even if we haven’t heard a review of a movie, we make assumptions based on the genre, the stars, the director, the trailer, and even other advertisements.  But at a film festival like Sundance, people just walk into movies with little to no idea what they will see.  And what we get are the best indicators of a movie’s actual worth.  (Judging by reactions, “Like Crazy” is great.  No one had ever heard of Felicity Jones before the movie, and based on the performance alone, she has been lauded … well, like crazy.)

I’d love to attend a film festival like Sundance or South by Southwest (Cannes and Venice are way out of my price range) simply to have this experience of unadulterated moviewatching.  I want to watch a movie to watch a movie, not fill out an approval ballot in my head.  I don’t think we were destined to watch movies like this – thanks a lot, mass media.

Random Factoid #551

30 01 2011

I didn’t get to watch the SAG awards live, but I came home to my parents watching a replay.  I asked instantly if “The King’s Speech” took Best Ensemble, to which they replied yes.  As much as I like the movie, I don’t think it deserved the honor, so I blurted out a four-letter expletive that begins with the letter s.

I retreated into my room where I did some homework in a rather surly mood.  Everything had been going just fine before that – I got to meet country star Pat Green at my church and listen to him sing from a proximity of only a few feet!  And it wasn’t the homework either.  I came to the realization that it was the freaking SAG Awards that put me in such a foul state.

I then slowly removed myself from the mood by reminding myself that it’s just a game; the awards season only vindicates our opinion, it doesn’t make them.  While it helps to write history, it doesn’t write anyone’s mind nowadays.  Or at least anyone with a mind of their own.

I remember being in a pretty gross state after 2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire” sweep, which came at the expense of plenty of movies which I liked much more at the time.  It’s kind of pathetic, and it’s a New Year’s Resolution for 2012 that I’m making 11 months early – not to let something as silly as an awards show dictate my mood.