never been a bitch so I don't act bitchy

Monday, January 31, 2005

A Brief Exchange With Todd After He Saw Alone In The Dark

On Sunday, January 30, 2005, at 01:14 PM, Todd wrote:

> Coolness.  I'll keep the Oscars in mind for myself, although I don't
> think Hil will want to.  She gets up really early and likes to be in
> bed pretty early, too.  If I'm not feeling like I am
> presently--awful--then I'll probably be up for coming by. 
> T.

stee wrote:

Are you feeling awful because you saw Alone in the Dark and you realize
that bad movies have lost their allure?

Todd wrote:

Yes.  There's something far too corporate about bad movies these days.  They aren't gallant failures, they are cynical attempts at branding.  Perhaps that is my true ailment over the past year: I can no longer function at full capacity in a world so incorporated even bad movies are tainted. 
I am sad.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Sweet Science

As I lie in bed on a Sunday morning -- (once again) procrastinating from beginning my day, which is to include a trip to Petco and Target, more work on the overdue script rewrite and awaiting a visit from the appraiser, who will measure my house in anticipation of a refinancing ("YAWN"; I know) -- I take supreme, near-tear-inducing pleasure from the fact that Million Dollar Baby made close to 11 million dollars this weekend while a widely-reported piece of shit called Alone in the Dark failed to crack the top 10 in its first week in release. Its Rotten Tomatoes score has dipped to 1% positive reviews, while Million Dollar Baby has a 93%.

I saw Million Dollar Baby last night, shrugging off an invitation by my friend Todd who loves bad movies and thus goes to see every bad horror/action movie that comes out, on its first weekend, I might add (grumble grumble). While I am a fan of bad movies (Todd and I once had a terrific day torturing ourselves with a triple feature of Basic, The Hunted, and The Core), unless they are REALLY fun-bad (see: Reign of Fire), they are beginning to lose their luster. To put a finer point on it -- my tolerance for crap is plummeting alongside my frequent inability (the natural state of most working screenwriters) to find homes for those pieces closest to my heart. In other words, the fact that if I wrote a script like Alone in the Dark, my agents would probably have an easier time selling it that if I turned in something like Million Dollar Baby curbs my hunger for inanity. And while I certainly understand the rationale behind things being that way (for a movie like Million Dollar Baby to work at the box office -- it takes a lot more specific pieces to fall into place [Eastwood & awards & orgasmic reviews]) -- it still remains a frustrating, (if so "no duh" obvious it's barely worth the effort necessary to type these words), fact.

But tiny victories like the Reid/Dorff/Slater + horror equation failing so fucking miserably perhaps pushes back the obviousness of the above statement just a tiny bit, and perhaps executives & audiences will regain a tiny bit of appetite for the thoughtful and gentle and specific. At least until Jerry Bruckheimer announces his next project.

As for Million Dollar Baby, it's difficult to talk about without giving away key aspects of the movie. Suffice it to say, that everything you've heard is true. I've never been a giant fan of Clint Eastwood as either of director or actor. I admire his careful and concise shooting style and reported no-nonsense way of running a set, but I haven't really loved a movie of his since A Perfect World, and haven't really like a performance of his since In The Line Of Fire. But mostly, I think he's a really shitty, hammy, over-the-top actor. Oddly, surprisingly, one of my chief pleasures in Million Dollar Baby was his performance. It's funny and subtle and emotionally convincing. And while I'm horribly disappointed like everyone else that Paul Giamatti didn't get a nomination, I no longer think the elderlies in SAG robbed from Giamatti to give to Clint. I think it's all Johnny Depp's fault.

Friday, January 28, 2005


I'm sitting here at my local cafe -- not as good as The Best Place On Earth, but they do have free wireless and it is a good deal closer to my house (2.13 miles as opposed to 2781.72 miles to the Tea Lounge [thanks Mapquest!]) -- trying to finish a rewrite. But really I'm trying not to throw everything in the trash and fly back to Maui. It's insanely hard to get back into working after weeks of doing nothing (well, except little things like getting married and stuff), and I feel as if every word I write is terrible. I just want this draft to be over, but somehow I can't concentrate enough to actually finish it, even thought it's now overdue. The one-hour pilot I wrote for one of the networks this year just got officially UN-picked up. Which means it will not be filmed and will not be considered for the fall line-up. Further, unless the producers are tenacious and feel like trying to shop it elsewhere, it means that it is officially, like forever, dead. That quickly. A few short months from creation to oblivion. Which, oddly enough, is rather refreshing when compared to the film world, where projects linger and float in amophous studio limbo for bleams. And so my attention is back on this script, which I contractually have to do a rewrite on, going off notes that were stunningly vague, even for this town.

So in between trying to analyze non-committal directives for this new draft, I find myself oddly obsessed with reading the bad reviews of the new horror film ALONE IN THE DARK, starring Tara Reid, Christian Slater, and Stephen Dorff, as brilliant scientists. Or something.

Here's a sampling of the reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:

   "Tara Reid responds to the camera like she’s just caught a paparazzo; every line of dialogue begins with, ‘Hey guys,’ be it ordering lunch or reacting to mortal danger."
-- Todd Gilchrist ,FILMSTEW.COM

   "On the short list of Worst Movies Ever Made."

"If nothing else, Alone in the Dark proves that it's possible to 'dumb down' a video game."

 "The three stars have seen better days, but I'd like to think they could still do something classier and more dignified than this. Like gay porn."

   "As video game adaptations go, even Pong: The Movie would have a lot more personality."
-- Michael Rechtshaffen ,HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

   "This horror film, spun off from an old Atari video game, is so inept on every level, you wonder why the distributor didn't release it straight to video, or better, toss it directly into the trash."
-- Stephen Holden ,NEW YORK TIMES

   "Never trust a movie that opens with a written introduction scrolling by that's longer than the collected works of Tom Clancy."

   "If you took the 100 worst ideas ever conceived for a science-fiction film, rattled them around in a Lotto tumbler and spilled them out onto the screen at random, you could not produce a more asinine hodgepodge than Alone in the Dark ."
-- Colin Covert ,MINNE

   "None of it hangs together enough to make a coherent narrative."

   "They say that even ugly babies have faces their mothers love, but this is truly a film that not even hardcore genre fans could appreciate."

   "so far off the scale bad that the only possible reaction is to laugh at it -- and I do mean at it and not with it."

   "Thanks for the surgical enhancement, Tara Reid. As I always say, if saline made you a great actor then Sean Penn would have gills."
-- Mark Ramsey ,MOVIEJUICE!

   "Worse than you can imagine... see 1997's The Relic instead."

   "Reid delivers her lines as though she is calling for another round of Mai Tais for the house."

3% fresh, currently. Yikes.