I’ve been watching Season Five of Saturday Night Live, which is slightly better than its reputation. When Bill Murray and Gilda Radner work together it’s like some kind of magic.



LIKE GET CARTER, EXACTLY LIKE GET CARTER

I fear the Spider-Man reboot in the sense that I think its bad form for franchises in general. In an industry that no longer rewards too much star power, directors and actors sometime do franchise work to solidify their positions in Hollywood. Matt Damon has the Bourne films, Christopher Nolan has Batman. It gives them wiggle room to make expensive projects that may not have mass appeal (though that is surely kept in mind), so they have a net for failure. Though the Spider-Man situation is more complicated than that, the minute audience accept easily replaceable actors and directors in franchises – and they’ve rejected such shenanigans in the past – it takes that away from talented filmmakers who may have to work against the studio system to make quality franchise films. And the quick reboot is also noxious in that – though superheroes have decades of material to draw from – it eschews doing something original for something safe. But that’s the industry right now. I was talking to an indie producer and getting micro-budgeted films made ($100,000 or less) is not that hard, but the problem is that no one gets paid (to wit, a script I wrote may go forward in this capacity, and my payout would be less than a grand. The idea of “at least it got made” might sound appealing, but if it’s something you’ve worked on for a while the hourly rate is reduced to pennies, and then you’re hoping that it gets noticed). Paramount’s thing they want to try in the wake of Paranormal Activity is a double edged sword, in that it helps hungry people, but it may not prove beneficial to the filmmaker if there isn’t either back end or some sort of guarantee they can work after if it works. The problem with the Corman school was always that you couldn’t make more than one picture for the man, or you might get stuck doing nothing but pictures like that. Such is the problem here.

Where was I? I mention the Spider-Man reboot because the idea of remaking Death at a Funeral three years after the original film seems like the same sort of rebooting. But in terms of black cinema this is nothing new. George Armitage’s Hit Man was a direct remake of Get Carter, and it was done a year after the fact. Many of the blaxploitation films of the era (William Girdler’s Abby comes to mind) were remakes with a black cast. I saw one, Johnny Tough, at Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse festival and it was a remake of The 400 Blows. I don’t know if that necessarily gives this a pass as it were, but it’s nothing new.

My feelings about this are mostly ambivalent, with a sense of amusement that Peter Dinklage got to play the same exact role twice. This is something of an all star cast – the body of players reach out to the broad spectrum of black audiences, and Luke Wilson, Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan, appeal to white audiences as well. This is not a film like Friday or Boyz N The Hood, where certain white audiences might be scared off of the theatrical crowd. And to that, this is very much a picture of the Obama era. This is a film for and mostly about working and middle class black character. Though the jokes might be stupid, the poster suggests the wildest character is played by James Marsden. It’s not the first nor last, but if something good can be found in this film, there’s that.

LET’S PREDICT (PUT ON YOUR RED SHOES AND DANCE THE BLUES)

Kick-Ass is slightly unpredictable. Word on tracking has been that Death at a Funeral was out pacing it, but most other predictors have suggested that KA is the film of the weekend. Those who have seen the picture think the advertising is terrible. There’s an X factor here, and Death in the Funeral could be the shocking usurper. It’s likely to do Tyler Perry numbers.

1. Kick-Ass - $26.4 Million
2. Death at a Funeral - $25 Million
3. How to Train Your Dragon – $19 Million
4. Date Night – $15 Million
5. Clash of the Titans - $14.9 Million

I will be back.