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Should have been great, bitter failure

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Mark Suszko
Should have been great, bitter failure
on Nov 4, 2009 at 5:29:52 pm

I had always meant to see this ever since it came out, when, for a lark, last week I got a copy of 'Roadie', starring Meatloaf and featuring Blondie and Alice Cooper, with a cameo by Art Carney. I had heard this was a supposed cult classic.

Oh MAN, what a disappointment.

My wife asks me why I watch bad films. I tell her I can often learn more from bad ones than good ones, and they make me feel like hell yes, I COULD make something better than that myself... but all this one taught me was that the poster was the best thing about that movie, and that it would probably be good material for MST3K or Rifftrax.

How can you take the subject matter of the life of a rock concert roadie, filled with powerful musicians and singers in the cast, and so very badly miss any and all opportunities to tell a good and funny story? I dunno if this was a book first, I got the impression from the film that the script was trying to transpose from a book that was 90 percent internal monologue, ergo, nothing to actually say.

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Mike Cohen
Re: Should have been great, bitter failure
on Nov 5, 2009 at 5:21:46 pm

I was about to start a new thread entitled "So bad, I walked out of the theater."
But I think this thread is the same thing.

Over the weekend Netflix sent us Duplicity. Clive Owen and Julia Roberts - seemed like it might be a good combination, they both have a good track record.
After about 15 minutes it was clear that they both took this movie to get the paycheck. It..was..awful.

We had not heard anything about the film, but it sounded like it might be interesting - corporate espionage. Nope. Pretty boring. Just proves that bad material cannot be saved by good talent.

I have sat through some drivel because, you Mark said, you can learn from others' mistakes. But not always. Sometimes the only mistake you learn about is the bad choice of the filmmakers to accept the job.

And it make me feel sorry for the crew - folks who work their tails off for months on location and in post, only to have a really awful result to show for it.

Mike Cohen

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Tim Wilson
Re: Should have been great, bitter failure
on Nov 5, 2009 at 5:51:02 pm

[Mike Cohen] "
And it make me feel sorry for the crew - folks who work their tails off for months on location and in post, only to have a really awful result to show for it."

I think people are used to working on bad movies. Our boy Pete O'Connell, COW leader and bestselling DVD author, has worked on some wonderful pictures, including one of my desert-island movies, Stranger Than Fiction. Yet when he lists his credits, he always ends with "the highly acclaimed Transporter 2." There's an obvious tongue-in-cheek quality to this, but when he only lists three or four movies that he's worked on, how far do you think he'll go to make a joke? The fact is that he's proud of his work in it, and will happily talk to you about it.

I'll go further: most people expect most of their work to be on TV and movies that stink, because most shows and movies stink. (I think the same is true of books, restaurants, and anything else that there are a lot of.) In a collaborative enterprise that may encompass hundreds of people, you can only be responsible for your own work.

I certainly found this to be the case when working for companies with thousands of people, where many of them feel strongly that the company is making bad choices. You keep doing a good job, and hope things work out.

re: actors walking through parts, I really don't think it happens that much anymore. Even when both Michael Caine and Peter O'Toole admitted that they made most of their movies for the money - O'Tool in particular was always sure that nobody would ever hire him again, and didn't think he could ever say no - they did good, and sometimes great, work. (Check Caine in City of Men - maybe his best role ever.)

Jodie Foster was talking about working on Inside Man. She loves Spike Lee and his movies, couldn't wait to go toe-to-toe with both Denzel Washington and Christopher Plummer - seriously, how cool is your job when you get to be in BOTH of those guy's faces? - and she thought the script was fantastic. But she didn't particularly like the movie when it was done. She couldn't put her finger on it - everything looked and sounded great...yet the movie wasn't.

(On first watching, I agreed with her. Seeing it again, I loved it. Look for a great supporting role from Chiwetel Ejiofor - terrific as the assassin in Firefly, phenomenal and heartbreaking in Kinky Boots, and stellar as Denzel's brother in American Gangster, among many other pictures. He's one of the best guys working today.)

Two final observations:

1) Although my lifestyle has changed since then, in the 90s, I was one of the best cooks you'd ever have met. We were scouting real estate to open a restaurant where I'd cook. We had actually picked something out and were about to make an offer...when the video business exploded, and here we are. I can testify that dishes I've made a thousand times sometimes just...don' Who knows? Maybe one of the eggs wasn't completely room temperature. It happens.

2) Wow, did Duplicity stink. I couldn't even make my way through it at home in my big soft bed. I just think it's hard to put the blame in any one place. Maybe no place in particular. All you can do is be glad that some hardworking people kept their jobs, and steer your pals away from watching it.

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Harry Pallenberg
Re: Should have been great, bitter failure
on Nov 5, 2009 at 7:12:22 pm

My crystal ball says 2012 will be here soon.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Should have been great, bitter failure
on Nov 6, 2009 at 12:09:07 am

The new trailer for 2012 looks amazing, visually. John Cusack in the lead in any non-romantic comedy could be the end of the world indeed. Didn't Emmerich learn anything from Godzilla?

They keep giving this guy buckets of money to make disaster flicks, and they are all pretty awful, visuals aside.

Going to what Tim said - the visual effects artists tend to do an awesome job. Sound designers tend to do an awesome job. Directors and studios who combine these awesome things with utterly drivelous acting and dialogue seem to be the problem.

But let's get back to non-blockbuster movies.

American Beauty. Monster. Brokeback Mountain. Lots of hype. I thought these were just average movies, controversy aside. But perhaps controversy drives ticket sales. That's another thread.

Mike Cohen

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