Thursday, June 09, 2005

6 days and counting!!!!!


This movie is basically taking over my mind. I can't focus... need to see immediately!!!

If you are not excited about this flick... well... you're just not a good person.


Kern said...

I am also excited to see this film. It may be the first time in a long, long time that the Batman franchise has seen anything close to the respect it deserves.

I am still at a loss as to how the comic book adaptation process works that I mean there appears to be a set pattern as I will diagram forthwith:

1. The general public dismiss comic books as reading material for children and mental defectives, which I take offense at being a comic book reader who didn't even pick one up until after graduating high school.

2. Somewhere along the line, somebody gets the bright idea to do an adaptation of comics, despite the fact that the general public makes jokes about people who read comics, etc.

3. The original ideas that made said comic interesting or thought provoking are immediately neutered or butchered to bring in the general public, who would not have cared one bit to begin with.

4. The studio or whoever is involved usually continues to fiddle with said property until it is a veritable shell of its former self, unrecongizable to its core audience(comic book people) who will most likely boycott the film.

5. The movie turns out to be an overhyped nut filled turd. This is because by changing it to accomodate the general audience, and lo and behold, the general audience is probably not that interested, unless they are drawn in by sheer name recognition in the cases of your Batmans or Supermans or what have you. The audience that you have decimated a good piece of work for, does not come out. The enraged comic fans do not either, as they are incredulously sniping at all involved on internet forums.(Like this)

5. The movie fails and/or becomes a laughing stock.(Catwoman, I'm looking at you, girl...)

6. The general public sees this and continues to say that comic books are for children and mental defectives. The circle of life is complete.

I hope this is one of the films that shows us there is nothing wrong with a stylish, interesting adaptation of graphic works that do not have to insult the general public who may or may not be familiar with the properties, while also taking care not to alienate the fans that keep the comics going in the first place.

I think with films like Road to Perdition, and Sin City, and hopefully Batman Begins, we show that "comic book film" can refer to the actual source material in a way that pays tribute, rather than the insulting manner that it is currently bandied about.

Now if they screw up V For Vendetta, I'm going to be pissed...

Damfino said...

Hey - Spiderman 2 was phenomenal. Give some props.

Kern said...

Jed-I'm sure it was great. I still haven't seen it. The only reason I used the examples I did, was because I had actually seen those films.

I've not seen either X-Men film, either, but from what I understand they are also great examples of a more intelligent, interesting breed of comic book film.

Sorry for the omission. My point though, is that for every Spiderman 2, we get a League of Extraordinary Gentleman with a side of Catwoman. If handled properly, these films could have been awesome. Especially wonder Alan Moore hates seeing his comics turned into films. They take a piece of art, digest it and then take a crap on celluloid and expect people to come in droves to see it.

It's as though their thought is, "This book is very high concept. How much of the smart should we keep?" and their answer is, "Virtually none. We're making this for the general public"

Damfino said...

Well - do we know if Sin City turned a profit? Perhaps these producers are correct in dumbing it down. The original Batman was HUGE!!!

LOXG was a really bad example of a movie gone wild... script just was not there.

Never watched Catwoman... you did?

I feel a hairball...

Kern said...

Sin City did indeed turn a profit. Not by the largest margin, mind you, but profit all the same. The other thing about Sin City is, even if it did not turn a profit, I think the parties involved didn't care. Because the project was about a strong translation, and not about money.

Do you think the first Batman was dumbed down? I never felt that way. The first Batman was huge, but I felt that it had a tone that fit when Burton did it. Batman Returns, not so much, but the original was dark AND made money. It worked relatively well.

My point is that if you make a good product you can do both. You don't have to dumb things down or change the premises for people to come see it. I think that if they are adapting a comic book it's because they saw something in it that made it stand out. Most of the time it seems that they end up ignoring whatever "it" was, and making a bunch of other things that they think people want to see.

Which, most of the time, they don't.

There is a sort of paradox in the general market. There are films that do huge box office, that without even watching, one can tell are dreck.

But that same public might go out and surprise everyone by going to see a smart film like Sideways, which ends up turning a fair profit. It's like the minute I have no faith in smart movies can make any money, something like that happens.

My take on it is, make the most intelligent, well crafted film you can. It may or may not hit big, but I would rather know that I made a quality piece of work that will stand up tall for years to come rather than crafty a shoddy product to take the money and run.

Everytime I watch A Decade Under The Influence, all I can think of is how different it seems movie making is today than it was then. Back then it felt like films were direct extensions of the director, and people liked them or they didn't. But it was the artist's choices that made it stand or fall. Everything now is so money driven, it's ridiculous. The idea of a focus group telling an artist how to end his film makes me want to throw up.

There is a reason why the director is the director, and Joe Blow from Anytown, USA is not. Remember what Univeral wanted to do to Gilliam's Brazil? And those were studio guys. Try leaving it to the public at large and see what happens. Can you imagine how Mean Streets would have ended if you'd included a bunch of soccer moms in a focus group?

"God, couldn't you have him change it? It could be you know, a happy ending. A nice ending?"

I don't want that. I want someone to have a vision of how something should look, walk and talk on the screen, and that they have the freedom to let it ride. I doubt we'll ever see that ever again.

Wait, what was the question again...?

Damfino said...

Ok - so I am not going to be able to go off like that... but;

I respect the challenge that filmmakers today have... they are required to make films that appeal to everyone. Thus, dilluting an impact or idea they wish to express. So, just like in the early days of the golden age, the studio is in commplete control... and the artist has to find his way to speak within their control.

Alexander Payne makes amazing movies... all backed by studios. The two Andersons do the same... with PT really having to hold on to his pants to get through most of his work. But their is a drive... and creative way of expressing within the confines of what the studio needs.

Purely artistic films, that do not play to everyone, create a barrier for the viewer. They immediately acknowledge that they are out for their own good... and don't care if you watch or not.

So here comes Batman Begins... Nolan is a talented guy... messes with form - really connects with actors (Pacino was amazing... though Williams left something to be desired in Insomnia). Now he has $180 million tossed his way... it will be interesting to see what artestry comes out of such conformity.

Anywho - eaty snacky smores.

Kern said...

Jed-I do hear what you're saying. It kind of reminds me in a way of a documentary I saw with Lars Von Trier and his mentor called The Five Obstructions, or something like that. The interesting thing about that film was that it illustrated to a degree what yr talking about. In this instance, it's not a studio laying down the confines, it's the student putting the screws to his teacher to remind him how not to stay in a box.

When you put it the way you did, I do have to amend my way of thinking somewhat. I incorrectly overstated how much power a director should have. But even the films I was thinking of that were shot in the Seventies were still studio films, right?

I guess what I meant more than anything is that the studio should have more faith in the directors than they sometimes seem to. I wholeheartedly agree that the climate today warrants getting arses into the seats. And I concede that being limited by this climate could force people to be more creative in many ways to work within a set of guidelines. The problem I have is that it seems that people at the studios do not seem to have enough faith in the general populace to think that they would potentially embrace a smarter product rather than one that aims for the absolute lowest common denominator. They might just be pleasantly surprised that they can make good films and money at the same time.


PS-Smores sound bloody awesome right now.

PPS-Did you get yr package yet?

Damfino said...

Oh crap! Got the package - AWESOME!!! Thanks man. Jerry was quite thrown off by its pressence. We will have to make sure some major 4-square happens when you arrive.

Back to the convo at hand - in the 70's, it was some crazy moment when the director was given complete faith. Look to Easy Rider and the ton of mad cash it made as the reason. The studio was desperate to get kids back into theaters... thus they placed faith in the artist.

But - flash forward to today... you have Joel Schumacher, someone at Warners thinks he is a genius and keeps letting him do project after project. All the while, there are probably 20 talented young directors who would love to divy up the cash thrown in on one of his stinkers....

Moviemaking is a crazy game...

Kern said...

Absolutely right. It's interesting to see some of the films from before that era. Was it just the case that we got lucky with a lot of talented directors that could do an amazing job with almost any material?

Good call on Schumacher by the way. I guess there is something to be said about checks and balances in terms of the "free reign" director. It just feels like the studios back then trusted more capable hands. Does Schumacher make them so much money that they turn a blind eye to the actual quality of his work?

Maybe the problem is the unfortunate shift in where the money comes from. While I think that smart material will find an audience, that may not fall in line with the persons shelling out most of the money to see them. I see today's youth as a bit of a weak link in that regard. Would it be fair to say that the climate of the Sixties and Seventies brought more informed, open minded youth out to the theatres? When I think about what people tell me they went to see in college back then, I am amazed. I think because of the speed of MTV pace of life today's youth are used to, it's no wonder the movies of yesteryear will not lure them out. Teens and young adults seem to be one of the largest demographics, and I would imagine that's why movies are geared toward fast and loud, as opposed to introspective and thoughtful.

More kids that like to see things blow up on a large screen are probably spending money at the theatre than the adults who have started to watch more movies at home.

It's confusing and crazy. I guess that should make us all cheer just a little bit louder at every good movie we see, knowing full well the pitfalls and black holes it had to navigate to make it to the screen. I guess in the end, all of us do love a happy ending.

Kern said...

Oh, about the 4 square've used it already? Is it regulation size? I had no clue what circumferance we used to use in school, so I just guessed 10.

I will enjoy partaking in some old school 4 square action. Glad you like it.

Damfino said...

It would be interesting to take a long look at the audience of today compared with the audience of the 70's. I know it sounds semi-ridiculous to think that a large concept of people... like film viewers... could in fact change in intelligence level.

Perhaps it has more to do with economic changes - viewers with expendables... or the psycho-sense collective of thought throughout a county. Perhaps the nation had a more challenging attitude towards politics and daily life... that bled into the cinema viewing.

I don't know how it could be studied... but it would be interesting.

(30's brought out the blissful fun cinema - Hollywood Revue stuff... that led into the 40's which continued the other worldly humor and fun to distract people from the dark goings ons of WWII. But right after the war - the dark noir stuff hit... made money... dunno - really interesting stuff could be found.)

krysta jo said...

Jed - go back to school - you have the start of a thesis. Or better yet, why don't you just write my thesis for me?

Damfino said...

Saying the word "thesis" makes me shiver.

krysta jo said...

Thesis, thesis, thesis, thesis.

Giggle, giggle, giggle.

Kern said...

I just had this funny thought of a conga line going through Jed's office with a conga beat and everyone chanting, "Thesis, thesis,THESIS, thesis, thesis, THESIS!"

And KJ giggling.

krysta jo said...

That was great! Very nice mental image. I was just informed that I get the rare opportunity to stay late at work today to insure my project is off my desk before I leave for Minneapolis tomorrow. The date countdown is on now.

Kern said...

But I agree with the thought of how interesting it would be to study the behaviors and attitudes of the moviegoing public in regard to their viewing habits.

I think you hit it dead on when you said that people were a little more mindful of the macro view of the world and the weight of consenquence entered the average indvidual's daily life, which in turn influenced even the seemingly miniscule activities of his life, such as television and film viewing.

One can also point to the spike in youth culture, which as Jed pointed out with Easy Rider begat a revolution of sorts; it definitely changed the way movies were made in the Seventies. I think of the multitude of factors that could have been a part of the slide toward our current movie going climate, I can think of two off the top of my head. First, I would say that the success of movies like Jaws and Star Wars at the end of the Seventies took the spotlight off of the directors and back onto the coffers of the studio. The second thing would be the advent of MTV. While MTV seems innocous enough, people tend to forget what it meant at the advent of its inception. It was a different kind of youth movement. Concepts were condensed down to mere minutes, and the attention spans of viewers with them. The new medium of music videos were a rapid fire delivery of ideas condensed into easy to digest three minute blocks. I would have to say that for a generation weaned on a steady diet of this, it's no wonder to me that movies which announce themselves with wizz,pow, and flash are of more interest to the general audience right now than dialogue driven movies, or movies which don't rely on high production values.

I agree that there are a lot of ins and outs here. Great fodder for discussion. And to think it all started with a rant about comic books films...

Kern said...

And I am glad that Krysta like the mental image of that conga line.