Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Conversation with Mystery Man: Part 1

It's time for Mystery Man's year-end review blog talk. Last year he talked with The Unknown Screenwriter. This year he's talking to me, so clearly I'm moving up in the world.

Yesterday's post is here.

And this is my response.

Oh come on, it can't be THAT bad. Let's see. Okay I'm looking over the list and I don't think anyone expected The Hottie or the Nottie to be any good. A screenwriter lands a job like that and he sort of sighs and self medicates and collects his paycheck.

I didn't see most of those "bad" movies, but I don't think all of them are bad. Okay The Incredible Hulk was paint-by-numbers, but Wanted had some really kick ass action scenes. The thing that bothered me the most about that movie was Angelina's spaghetti arms. Okay that and the complete lack of physics. And The Bank Job? Why is that on there? That was not a bad movie, and it comes in handy in an argument whenever I try to defend Jason Statham as an actor. I also thought Redbelt, although it had some flaws, was a very creative take on the fight movie. Instead of the worn out story of an underdog just trying to stay alive in the ring, we got a man who was fighting to stay out of it.

Although I am glad to see I'm not the only one who wasn't doing cartwheels over The Foot Fist Way. That film was all kinds of worshipped by a lot of people and I really didn't get the love.

And true, we did have both Meet the Spartans AND Disaster Movie this year. And on my trip to Puerto Rico I flew on two different airlines, both of which offered me the opportunity to watch Get Smart for free. I declined both times in favor of Predator and Memento on my laptop.

So that's pretty bad, but I dunno, was this really that much worse than last year? Last year had Lions for Lambs, which has replaced Spy Kids as the biggest waste of more than an hour of my life ever, so that drags down last year's average in my mind.

Besides, this year we got In Bruges. You want some passion? That film has got it, baby. Sure it was all the way in February but it was hands down the best film of the year. That's right. I'm saying it was better than Batman. It's the only film I saw this year that made me cuss myself as I came out of the theater that I wasn't good enough to write a movie like that.

So there's two. The Dark Knight and In Bruges make our truly great movies of 2008 list. What else came out this year? Surely something....

Oh wait. Wait a minute.

Hancock. Damn.

Hancock is the biggest heartbreak I've ever felt over a film. The spec script was so amazing, so incredibly moving and original, I was drooling over the prospect of going to see it opening night. Then I saw it. And my naive little heart was broken when I saw what they did to that fantastic story. Talk about the destruction of a passionate screenplay. Well that does bring this year's average down a bit.

How many truly good movies is that? Two? And how many bad? Like thirty?



  1. Yeah, the ratio is pretty bad, and getting worse.

    Hollywood is scared. They saw what happened to the music industry with the onslaught of computers and the Internet, and are quaking in their boots that they're next in line. DVDs have become commoditized to the point that they're almost cheaper than toilet paper, and Blu-ray, their "great white hope", will probably be supplanted by Internet delivery systems before it ever gains solid ground in the living rooms of the world. Newly released movies are pirated to DVDs with clockwork precision (albeit crappy quality) and a certain fraction of the public considers it a viable alternative for their personal entertainment. The video game industry makes more money than they do now, with lower costs, and the only reason ticket revenues has continually gone up is because ticket prices have pushed them up - actual attendance has been in decline for years. (The movie holding the record for most tickets sold is still Gone With the Wind from 1939!)

    When people are scared, they stick to the known and the familiar. This means more often than not that a studio will stick with either a sequel (does the rule of thumb that sequels average 80% of the originals' gross still apply?), a star vehicle or something popular adapted from another medium (comic books, video games, novels, children's toys, etc.) rather than take a chance on an unknown quantity. The only big risks movie companies will consider, mostly, are those that cost little to nothing (indie movies with actors earning scale), or those that are shared with other studios or investors (Titanic was backed by at least two major studios).

  2. Anonymous5:58 AM

    Here's my list of favorites (also posted to MM's post):
    1. JCVD
    2. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
    3. The Dark Knight
    4. Cloverfield
    5. Son of Rambow (technically 2007, opened in US in 2008)

  3. THE BANK JOB is a genuinely good movie. IN BRUGES is awesome. That's one thing that the Golden Globes were good for this year. For me the best film of the year is LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, but I suppose it's always possible that something that opens over the next few weeks will overtake it.

  4. Loved The Bank Job. Really want to see Son Of Rambow (my wife's not into it, says she hates those movies and doesn't like Stallone - what the hell am I supposed to do). Best film for me so far this year - Kieslowski's Bleu. Don't know if that says more about me or this year's fare.

  5. I admit I haven't seen JCVD yet and I'm looking forward to The Wrestler this weekend. I'm hoping those both turn out to be awesome.

    Son of Rambow is in my queue.

  6. Anonymous9:35 PM

    Only found your site via Mystery Man but have bookmarked and will come back. Anyone who has In Bruges as their film of the year is alright with me, it has been at the top of my list all year and I thought nothing was going to beat it.

    But, I saw Slumdog Millionaire. So In Bruges will end up 2nd on my list and exactly like you it is because it is the film I would write if I was good enough. The dialogue is just wonderful.

    Others worth noting from this year were JCVD, The Orphanage and Frost/Nixon (which is superb).

    I cannot wait to see Let The Right One In. I have heard some wonderful things about that movie and would be worth watching it before Hollywood butcher it next year.

  7. Here's the Review on The Bank Job that made it rate so low. Apparently, he's upset that it didn't depict the 70's accurately.

    His WANTED review lets you know that he doesn't like comic nerds or gun violence.

    ...and both those movies were profitable.

    As for good movies ... I can't believe you forgot Iron Man.

  8. I didn't forget Iron Man. I thought about including it, but honestly although I liked it, I didn't think it was an amazing flm. It was entertaining, but not a movie I'm going to rush out and buy.

  9. I can't believe no one has mentioned Wall-E yet.

    One of the few animated films that has a legitimate chance at being a Best Picture nominee, it made a gazillion dollars, one of the best reviewed films of the year (if not THE best), and it took huge artistic risks as the two main characters basically can't talk.

    I know it doesn't have the indie-hype The Wrestler or Slumdog Millionaire have... but let's face it -- ten years from now, people are going to be watching Wall-E.

  10. Wall-E is a good mention.

    I don't think about animated movies much because I don't ever go to the theater to see them because I am not fond of small children.

  11. Anonymous8:39 AM

    This was a great year for comic book films, and I don't see a problem with that. Iron Man and The Dark Knight were both amazing, for completely different reasons. Incredible Hulk was also pretty awesome, I thought. Tropic Thunder also great. Slumdog Millionaire good.

    There are a number of films I've heard great things about, but haven't seen yet: Benjamin Button, Burn After Reading, and Synecdoche New York come immediately to mind.

    Although I never read the script of Hancock, there was something missing from it for me. I think it was that I didn't care about any of the characters. Yeah, he's an asshole, and he's supposed to be unlikeable, but you can make an unlikeable asshole likeable to the audience.

    Wall-E was overrated. I'm getting sick of the Pixar formula. It's time they try something new.

  12. In Bruges - yes. More films like that, please...

    A question - Can you please post a link for the pdf of Tonight He Comes? :-) Pretty please...

    Miss ya!

  13. It's on my hard drive so it's easier to just email it to you.

  14. Anonymous11:02 AM

    I still can't believe the In Bruges thing isn't a joke. Art truly is subjective, I guess. Happy Holidays!


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