Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Weekend Box Office

Thanks to Variety.com for the numbers. Oh so many numbers!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscars 2013: We Get The Bob Hope We Deserve

Seth McFarland, showing off his two Oscars:
Best Animated Bear and Best Lincoln Joke.
Quite the mixed bag of films this year, and as a result we got quite the mixed bag of winners. The statues were distributed fairly and evenly: Life of Pi got four statues, Argo and Les Miserábles got three each, and the rest were sprinkled around where appropriate.

Yes, I was the one who gassed for weeks on social media about how Seth McFarland was going to completely wreck the Oscars and embarrass the hell out of himself. You know, pull a Ricky Gervais. But the more I thought about it I realized there is an interesting artistic aspect to Mr. McFarland-- one that shows up quite a bit on "Family Guy," in fact-- that the Academy picked up on: He's Bob Hope. The original version of Bob Hope told cutting jokes in questionable taste, sang and danced, but had a smooth show-biz appeal that made it all work. Tasteless? Hey: we get the Bob Hope we deserve, and he fit the crass times we live in.

In the end we ended up with a competently hosted Oscar ceremony, and I at least was won over. And, as Vanity Fair pointed out Seth McFarland put a lot of sincere effort into the gig: Even if you didn't like him, he didn't just spark up a doobie and wander away like James Franco did.

A few observations:

• Surprise 1: splitting Director from Best Picture. The fact they tend to be the same film make me bet on Life of Pi as the top film. I'm completely glad it was Argo, a film that really delivered.

• Surprise 2: Jennifer Lawrence getting Best Actress over Jessica Chastain. It's rare for the Academy to pick charm and likability over intensity and occasional rage in a performance.

• Kristin Stewart is a mumbler. Quentin Tarantino has a horrible ego problem. Some things never change.

• Veteran Actor confusion: When Dustin Hoffman came out with Charleze Theron, I wasn't wearing my glasses and I thought for an absurd second that she came onstage with a ventriloquist dummy. And Jack Nicholson looked much better than he has in years, but the askew collar and baggy suit for some reason reminded me of Red Skelton.

• In Memoriam: The surprising thing was how FEW notable deaths occurred this year. They were able to throw out some moments for a few late hard-working Industry professionals: agents, salesmen, producers and sound guys. I think I saw a few Key Grips and a Best Boy in the montage as well.

• I spent a few minutes trying to explain the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing and really wondering why these 1930s-era awards aren't folded together once and for good.

• This is going to sound odd, but speaking of institutional changes it may be high time to add one or two new acting award categories. The show, the red carpet, the hype, the lion's share of the whole Oscar weltanschauung is intensely celebrity-driven-- but 20 of the 24 awards categories are technical/artistic. It may be cynical, but the plain fact is for the most part a Hollywood film without stars isn't a Hollywood film. Two or four more statue opportunities for actors is just giving credit where credit is due. Since people tune in to see beautiful actors vie for awards, The Academy would be doing their bit to keeping more eyeballs fixed on the Oscar ceremony, which is good for everybody.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Weekend Box Office

Thanks to the day-late Variety.com! It's not their fault, it's the whole industry.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Weekend Box Office

Thanks to Variety.com for the numbers, which are RIGHT OFF SCREEN! You could see them yourself, if you wanted.

And apologies for the tiny portion of cake pop that falls out of my mouth midway through. I usually eat after.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Weekend Box Office Report

Thanks for the figures, Variety.com!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Eximius Scaphium XLVII

A contest for the ages-- the favored XLIX of Civitas Sacti Francisci battled mightily but eventually fell in defeat to the Corvorum of Terram Mariae. The God of the Underworld even blanketed the stadium in darkness, reminding all of the fleetingness of glory. Still, the imperial nature of this event get a little more intense every year: A little more reflexively patriotic, a little more excessive and bombastic, a little more awesomely exclusive, a little less about football.

Heck of a game, so-so broadcast. Still a hugely watched event, 108 million viewers, the third most watched ever.

• Good, weird game. It was a story of competing tempos: The Ravens had it in the first half, and after the blackout the 49ers had it. Unfortunately, that's the wrong time to gain tempo: Super Bowl games can't be won before halftime-- but they can be lost.

• This was a hometown game. When the Giants won the World Series a few months ago, it was double 4th of July in my neighborhood. After the Super Bowl was over, you could have heard a pin drop outside.

• Halftime was professional, none of the coarse goings-on like last year's Madonna jamboree. Beyoncé and the Clones of Doctor Funkenstein did a great job. They probably pulled too many amps with all those video displays and 5K spotlights, which overheated something and lead to a blackout.

Beyoncé and the gang, backstage before the big show.
• Commercials: Blah, for the most part:

• The one that lead in survey as most memorable was a Budweiser ad featuring a horse breeder reunited with a Clydesdale running unbridled through the streets of Chicago, all set to "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac. Eh. First of all, using "Landslide" to tug heartstrings was done first and better in "You're Getting Old," an episode of South Park from 2011. Second of all, If I know anything about Chicago police, if they saw a huge horse running down the street alone the poor beast would experience a sudden and decisive animal-control action.

• Chrysler featured the highlight and lowlight ads. "God Made a Farmer" was a brilliant two-minute ad, stunning in it's simplicity: a slideshow of hyper-sharp stills of real farmers set to an old Paul Harvey spoken piece. It was the anti-Super Bowl: simple, unglamorous, VFX-free, and told with undeniable sincerity. It was so light on product push the product (Dodge Trucks) was not seen until the last title card. People are already making fun of it, which is a predictable pattern: much like the critical reaction to Les Miserábles, It's sincerity flew under their Ironic Radar Systems.

• Oprah Winfrey narrated an ad for Jeep illustrating the lives of military families and veterans. This pisses me off. I don't care if they stuck a USO logo in the final title card, using members of the military to sell things (like, as someone tweeted, a car that gets 13 MPG) is borderline seditious.

• The rest of the ads were unmemorable, and for the most part most of the Bay Area would just as soon forget the whole thing.