I
hope your weekend was splendid and you found love, earned
a ton of cash, and saved the lives of Korean schoolkids
trapped in a burning bus. We’re now in the second week of
daily Piss & Vinegar (weekdays only) and I’m hoping
it’s becoming a daily ritual for you guys like it is for
me. The only major thing that happened this weekend for
me was that I went to a church service for the first time
since the funeral of one of my wife’s relatives. Worse yet,
I was involved in the service as it was for the Christening
of my daughter. Weird. I’m not really good at the whole
church thing but I’m recovering. I did manage to knock a
pamphlet into the holy water right before the baptism, something
that would have irked me if I gave a hoot about the strangers
all around us. I have nothing against religion, but I really
cannot stand church services. Just a bit too ritualistic
for me, I guess. Too much singing. Too much audience participation.
Too much forced fellowship. Not enough ninjas. To each their
own I guess. What matters is that my wife enjoyed it and
her family dug it.

Now,
if it was the three sirens from O’ Brother, Where
Art Thou?
I might have gotten a little more involved,
But alas. I’m the guy who has a fake dead body on the rocking
chair in my office so take these comments with a shaker
of salt. The sad and scary thing about the weekend is that
although I planned to see either Torque or
Along Came Polly, I never had a chance to
see either. I still haven’t seen a 2004 film yet. I feel
so friggin’ useless!

Pulp
Friction

There’s
at least three instances I can think of in recent memory
where someone’s reaction to a trailer, poster, or conversation
about one of the comic book movies in the pipeline was met
with a "Oh God, ANOTHER one", as if all films
based on comic books were the same. If that’s the case,
they might as well just package Blade II,
American Splendor, and Men in Black
together on DVD together.
Still,
the nearly nonstop stream since the first Blade
movie has been rather breathless and the whole comic book
to film surge is showing no signs of abating even though
there’s been a few failures of late.

Are
you tired of comic book movies? Is there a reason that the
public might be weary?

Personally,
I think it’s a crock of shit. Unless you’re comparing apples
to apples or Man-Things to Swamp Things it’s a totally pointless
argument. Comic book movies can be as diverse as films based
on books, television shows, or even that fertile source…
theme park rides. Comics are action, sci-fi, drama, comedy,
adult, horror, adventure, and some of them defy definition.
Just like films. Also, some of the people writing comics
are as talented as those in film if not more so. Greg Rucka.
Grant Morrison. Brian Azzarello. Peter Milligan. These guys
kick all sorts of ass.

Yet
still, people are starting to lose that buzz about "Finally
seeing THIS character or finally seeing THIS comic realized".
We believe a man can fly. We see it done seamlessly in everything
from films to music videos to car commercials. The whole
sense of wonder thing is dying.

With
great technology comes a lot less responsibility.

So
let’s see this year’s main six and see where the genre will
be in 2005:

Spider-Man
2
: It’s a lock. It’s an easy 250 million bucks in
the bank of Sony Pictures and if the film’s better than
the first it could reach or exceed the 400 million mark.
This will be the year’s most heavily marketed film and the
one most labeled as the "Must See" film of the
year. Spider-Man’s so big now that everyone in the world
can stop buying comics and the films would still finish
in the top three every year they were released.

Consensus:
This will be a welcome part of most moviegoer’s year.

The
Punisher
: If the budget is the rumored 35 million
bucks, it’ll be tough for this film not to at least make
its budget back and crest the 50 million dollar mark. If
it’s even remotely worth seeing, whether it be in a car
crash fashion like LXG or a "Damn, they
tried and almost figured it out but didn’t" fashion
of Daredevil, it could reach 70. If it somehow
rises above the 80’s feel the trailers convey and the truly
deserving Tom Jane has his big role, who knows? The great
thing about The Punisher is that the films
never have to cost 100 million dollars. They’re films about
a guy with guns killing other guys with guns. The low tech
aspects of the film and the franchise are its strength.
There’s no sense of disbelief to be suspended. At least
not any more than when we’d pony up for a Die Hard
movie. Regardless, this doesn’t scream "Comic Book
Movie".

Consensus:
Kind of a "No Lose" situation for audiences.

The
Mask 2
: Other than the involved participants, who
the hell wants to see this movie? I’ve seen NO ONE even
show a modicum of interest in this film and I bet that if
people were to ask what their five favorite Jim Carrey movies
were, the first film would get virtually no play. It’s a
non-factor. A non entity. The sequel no one wanted and it
comes way after the residual memory of the original hit
has faded. The only good thing is that few people remember
these are based on a comic book.

Consensus:
A kid’s movie. Irrelevant.

Hellboy:
Yawn. We’re dying for it to come out. We know it’s great.
We love the comic. We love Guillermo. Blahblahblahblah.
This film is the "Cool" comic movie choice of
2004. It doesn’t have the budget or name recognition of
some of the others, but it’s got heart and a great source
material to spring from. The only thing that would hurt
this film would be if the marketing was bad or if Sony was
too preoccupied with Spider-Man 2 to remember this little
gem waiting to come out in April. Or a name change. That
would negate whatever built in audience the film would have.
Hellboy’s not an easy sell on audiences but it has the benefit
of being less expensive and being more like a gothic thriller
than a superhero film. It’s the most unique of the 2004
crop of comic book features for sure.

Consensus:
We KNOW it’s good. Will it be great though? Maybe.

Catwoman:
Well, if the Catwoman people have done one
thing right, it’s been in showing off their title character.
There’s no shortage of pictures of Halle Berry looking all
sultry in her tattered leather duds. What there is a shortage
of is everything else. Apparently, the film cost over 100
million clams and there’s not much I can see that warrants
it. Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Benjamin Bratt, and Lambert
Wilson? An A-List cast this is not. Because it shows no
allegiance to the comics, is awfully expensive, and seems
to have gotten in the bad graces of a lot of its potential
audience, this could be a black eye to comic book flicks
for sure.

Consensus:
I’m kind of trembling in fear over this one.

Man-Thing:
The fact there’s going to be a theatrical Man-Thing movie
is worth risking the entire craze on. It’s too perfect how
silly of an idea this is. I would have LOVED to have written
and directed this one. Man-Thing is a fun character and
so few people know or care about the character that it’s
almost impossible for the film to be a disappointment. A
weird looking thing in the swamp that senses fear? Come
on, you know this’ll be fun.

Consensus:
Another "No Lose" situation. It’s Man-Thing!

No
two of these movies are alike. I don’t see how people can
write off the whole idea of a comic book film because they
got tired of the Hulk frenzy or the fact that their coveted
Edward Furlong Crow film got retitled and put into the ether.
Regardless, I fear for the larger collective of comic titles
ripe for feature adaptations because of sheer oversaturation.
Is it time to market these films based on the talent alone
and lose the comic connection in the marketing like some
of the Stephen King films have dropped his name?

I
don’t know for sure, but it’s weird how the business tends
to work.

A
friend and I have a really sound concept for a comic book
as well as the movie and/or cartoon that would follow. Mythopolis.
We took it to a few folks in Hollywood who publish comics
and make movies and cartoons and they liked it and one of
the things we learned is that even if you only print one
issue it has more merit to studios than an intangible idea.
We even put together a six page demo comic, a huge document
about the greater story arc, and a bunch of artwork. Now,
I wonder if we should keep it to ourselves. The boat for
comic movies might be away soon and crushing anyone not
wearing a bat, an "S" or "X", or a spider
on their chest.

If
you’d like, SEND
A LETTER
about the comic movie craze.

Recommending
Movies

I
recommend movies for a living, but I’m strangely hesitant
when doing so for relatives or friends of the family whose
film tastes are either in question or the person is cut
from a different cloth.

For
example, today one of my wife’s aunts was over and said
she was really into suspense films and thrillers. I went
over to my DVD shelf to name a few she might want to look
into and as I did she asked if I had any like A Perfect
Murder
with Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow.

I
froze. I like that movie, but as far as the genre goes it’s
not one of the first I’d recommend. I was going to mention
a few Hitchcock films and perhaps Seven but
then I wondered if I should just play it super safe with
stuff like Kiss the Girls and Along
Came a Spider
. Mainstream stuff. Stuff that is easy
to recommend but stuff that’s guaranteed to rouse no interest
in how it was made, why it was made, and where to buy their
own copy. Whenever someone comes through I have a little
checklist of stuff they need to see if they haven’t. Stuff
like Fight Club, Donnie Brasco,
Rounders, Deterrence, Interview
With the Assassin
, Super Troopers,
Dead Alive, Searching for Bobby Fischer,
and Glengarry Glen Ross. Stuff like that.
Films that are familiar but ones that a lot of people who
consider themselves film fans have missed over the past
few years.

It’s
weird to know where to draw the line. On one hand, the fun
of film is to share them with other people but on the other
there’s the disappointment that you’re wasting their time
on something too abrasive or abstract or challenging for
them to enjoy. Hell, I have a couple of friends who cannot
watch a film if there’s subtitles. Another that won’t even
give a chance to an anime.

Lately,
aside from my day (and night) job I’ve kind of decided to
not recommend movies to people anymore. It’s like a computer
tech doesn’t like helping people with their computers when
they’re off or how doctors don’t want to deal with Uncle
Dave’s knee problem at the family picnic. Sometimes it just
isn’t worth it.

Especially
when you’re gauging a person’s tastes and they unfold the
way too common recent belief that Old School
is the funniest comedy ever. That’s the mentality you’re
deaing with! I’m so tired of that crock of dolphin tits.


If you’d like, SEND
A LETTER
about when you’ve been burned in the ass by
a recommendation.

Mailbag
Yarborough:

The
mail keeps coming and it’s a beautiful thing. In case you
didn’t know, THIS
THREAD
on our message boards is devoted to this
column and feedback in that form is always appreciated.
I hope that a few more letters come that are unrelated to
the topics at hand, just fun stuff that can keep this little
bastard moving quickly. A good batch of letters (for the
most part) await, so let’s get going…

Killin’
Responses:

These
letters are a response to this
Leak.

Bradley
Writes:
I’m a 17 yr old college Student from a place
called Farnham near London in England. I read ure site daily,
and i’m by no means trying to suck up here, but i find it
to be one of the more opinionated, and therefore enjoyable
film sites on the internet. For my Film Studies Course,
the coursework is to make the opening of a documentary,
and i have decided to do mine on Screen Violence and whether
it makes people violent. I am arguing that a if a person
is going to be violent, they will do it anyway, that perhaps
a movie may give them an idea, but it’s not going to make
someone go out and kill. On this note i was readin Friday’s
daily piss and vinegar (great column) and came upon your
‘Killin’ in the Name oF…’ article. I was wondering if
possible, if i could use what u said about Irreversible
in my documentary opening as that just so happens to be
one of the films i am discussing, and found your point to
be exactly where i was coming from. Of course credit would
be given where credit is due :) and i was wondering if you
would allow me to use it.

Nick’s
Reply:
You are welcome to do so, provided you do me
two big favors:

1.
Make sure that you credit it correctly.

2.
If you fancy yourself a writer, give a shot to excising
the simile :) in anything you write to someone you
respect. It makes all the difference.

Dan
Writes:
I completely agree with you about your comments
about violence in the media. There is however one videogame
that I think crossed the line. If you have ever heard about
a game called Manhunt you know what I’m talking about. In
Manhunt you play a character called Cash and to make a long
story short, there is a man who speaks into an earpiece
in your ear and tells you what to do. You are forced to
kill people and the more violently you kill people the more
you are rewarded. The thing that bothers me about this game
is that the everyone you kill is videorecorded to make smut
films, like in 8mm. I think that this went over the line,
violence has never bothered me, and I don’t think it effects
someone who doesn’t already have something fucked up in
their head already. I just think that there is something
wrong when your mission is to kill someone in the most violent
way possible so it can be taped and sold as, and while doing
this, the guy talking in your ear is saying stuff like "Your
really getting me off Cash." I just found it pretty
disgusting. And do not consider this being an arguement
agiainst violence, this is just against this game.

Nick’s
Reply:
I have that game! That’s not just anyone speaking
into your ear. It’s ubiquitous character actor Brian Cox!
The way I see it with games like these is that it’s the
retailers who need to make sure they’re sold to adults (adulthood
isn’t really acheived by time spent on Earth but rather
experience, though I guess the age of 17 is what the government
finds acceptible) and the parents who need to both educate
their kids about violence and not create an environment
where their kid would go out of their way to obtain a game
like this to spite them. The game is harmless in and of
itself. I’m all for games stretching the boundaries and
limitations of their medium, just like film. There was a
time when there was no science fiction genre. No horror
genre. Yes, there are branches of EXTREME horror now and
they offend people but their existence isn’t doing anyone
any harm. Now, if you buy Manhunt simply because
it’s controversial then you’re a sheep to Rockstar’s marketing.
If you buy it because of good reviews, subject matter that
interests you, or loyalty to the company (though State
of Emergency
stung mine to Rockstar), then I’d assume
you’ll enjoy the [admittedly dark and repulsive at times]
game and not be transformed into a homicidal maniac.

Simon
Writes:
Thanks for the great site, it never fails to
break through the monotony of work, as well as provide a
laugh or two.


As for the issue of "Violence in the Media", my
take on it is not that it’s about the supposed corrupting
impact that it has on our impressionable youth, but rather
about scapegoating. The self-appointed morality police always
seem to find something to latch onto, whether it’s comics,
rock n’ roll, or movies. Looking back at some of these "moral
crusades", it’s pretty evident. Burning records because
of Elvis swaying his hips on national TV is utterly ludicrous.
Yes, morals have changed somewhat in the last 50 years.
but I don’t believe that seeing him cavorting onstage was
ever enough to turn a generation of kids into sex-crazed
hooligans. But he did provide a convenient target for those
frustrated with society’s shortcomings. It’s the same thing
today. Rather than addressing poverty, violence, lack of
education, let’s blame moves and TV. Those willing to hurt
others, for whatever reasons, will always find inspiration
somewhere. Take aways movies, television, books, comics,
games, and music, and people will still keep killing each
other. A quick perusal of a history book will attest to
that.


If anything, I think it’s the sensationalist media that
contributes to the glamour of violence. Anytime there’s
a school shooting it makes the front pages of newspapers,
and it’s all over the news. A messed up kid desperate for
attention may see that as his one chance to become a superstar.
People will talk about him for years. His picture will be
on the cover of Time and Newsweek. He gets to go out in
a blaze of glory and everyone will know about it. Who knows,
maybe they’ll even get live footage of it.


There’s a big difference between escapist entertainment
and realistic violence. I love playing online against my
friends and blowing them to bits with rocket launchers.
That’s escapist fun. But watching the opening scene of Saving
Private Ryan for the first time left me shell-shocked. It
still disturbs me. Most people can tell the difference.
With those that can’t, the problem lies elsewhere.

Nick’s
Reply:
Agreed. It’s like blaming McDonald’s for allowing
their coffee to burn you when you drove with it between
your legs. People’s boneheaded actions are their own fault.
Not a dog who spoke to them, Catcher in the Rye,
The Matrix, or the backwards message on a
Tori Amos song. Humanity loves to point the finger elsewhere,
especially if it’ll instigate the government into spending
money it doesn’t have on a study of some sort. Anything
to prolong the process. Anything to give 60 Minutes something
to create a hard-hitting piece of journalism about. There’s
also this tiny factor that people tend to overlook: We are
all just animals with shoes and cell phones. Fancy apes.
Just a few years separated from smashing our cavemates with
rocks. There’s violence encoded into our DNA, a trait that
surfaces oh, EVERY DAY in murders, rapes, and mass destruction
conducted in the name of religion, race, and finance. Humanity
is flawed. People are going to snap no matter what media,
weapons, food, drugs, or dental products they’re surrounded
with. Life goes on.

Mike
Writes:
I have yet to see Irreversible (I keep hemming
and hawing with it at the video store), but the most affecting
death I’ve on screen has to be Alfonso Ribeiro’s immortal
exit from Ticks, when his face makes like the Red Sea and
splits to reveal an insect more dangerous than Rick Schroder.
Okay, okay, that was a lame attempt at comedy.

In
all seriousness, the most heinous death I’ve ever seen wasn’t
even on the big screen. In one harrowing scene on HBO’s
OZ, a con was pinned to the ground and repeatedly invaded
with a small box cutter. The sequence went onfor many minutes,
as the guy was writhing in agony. It was worse than Marge
Schott’s last MLK Day party. As far as most people go I’m
fairly desensitized to extreme violence, but this scene
was so relentlessly unflinching (and therefore more proactively
visceral) that I didn’t need to see the whole episode (which
I didn’t) for it to affect me for the next few days. I played

it over in my head again and again. I could still hear the
guy screaming.

I
think most deaths in movies these days are either too impersonal
or too
perverse. They’re easy to shake because they’re either too
glossed over or too glossed up. And most are edited in such
a way, with cutaways or quick takes, that the finality of
death never has a chance to enter your mind. When the camera
ceases to be an observer and becomes a willing manipulator,
the impact of death on screen lessens. That’s why the killing
on OZ (much like Adam Goldberg’s exit from Saving Private
Ryan) is so resonant. I imagine it’s the same way with Irreversible.
The camera simply documents. It’s up to the viewer to cut
away.

Nick’s
Reply:
Yep. One need only watch the nightly news for
a collection of depressing statements and ideas that’d make
Hollywood blush. Or reach for their notepad.

Blockbusters?:

These
letters are a response to this
Leak.

James
Writes:
I completely agree with you over the "100
Million Dollar Club" arguement. It’s the saddest thing
to see films spend a shit load on advertising just to breach
that mark and worse still when they don’t deserve it (Charlie’s
Angels 2, SWAT etc). I think the whole thing about it is,
like many things, is that its not new. It would have been
amazing when Jaws broke the barrier back in the 70’s (the
first to do it domestically I think) and when Titianic pulled
in a billion worldwide, but now there’s little a film can
do in terms of box office that’s new. Can you see the first
billion dollar US Box office film for a good few decades?
I guess you guys are gonna have to fuck like rabbits if
you wanna break that one.

And
you say that films should be measured on tickets sold, but
I don’t see that as any better. It’s just the same thing,
it implies a popularity of the film, but does so without
monetary figures, which you could work out pretty quickly
anyway.

Nick’s
Reply:
Well, regardless of whether it’s healthy or not,
all films are judged by their popularity. At least at first.
Over time, the reputation and creative impact a film has
will have a much larger foothold in film history. The whole
"Box Office" infatuation does piss me off in that

I often will support a film with my dollars if I love it
and if I want my favorite filmmakers and talents to prosper…
and then I hear about how rarely they ever see a taste of
the profits. The studios seem to bury all of that under
a maelstrom of ink and paper. As far as my "Tickets
Sold" idea, it’s a lot more valuable than simple box
office tallies. Adjusting for inflation’s imperfect but
comparing the number of people who physically SAW Star
Wars
in a theater compared to Bad Boys
or Deep Blue Sea seems like something that’d
gauge how much it means in the grand scheme. There are tons
more screens these days, more films released, and more marketing
being done than the 70’s, 80’s or whenever. There are also
a lot more distractions now. I think it evens out, and there
has to be some form of tracking done on the fiscal success
of films, I just figured it’d be better to humanize it.

Aaron
Writes:
You’re right, $100 million dollars should
not be blockbuster material, and here’s why. It’s
inaccurate to compare $100 million dollars thirty years
ago to $100 million dollars today because of inflation.
You have to adjust for inflation to see what a $100 million
blockbuster from the 1970s would be worth today.

According
to the website for the Jaws DVD, Jaws was the first film
to pass $100 million and grossed $260 million. The index
number to convert 1975 dollars to 2002 dollars (latest available)
is 0.3824. Divide $100 million by 0.3824 and it comes to
$261,506,276.15 in 2002. If we use Jaws as our benchmark,
then $262 million is the new Mendoza line (good analogy),
and the blockbuster standard is $260 million/0.3824 which
equals $679,916,317.99. So if a movie wants to be a blockbuster
on the level of Jaws, it needs to gross $680 million dollars.
Here endeth the lesson (knew that doctorate would come in
handy sometime).

Personally,
I like your idea of counting movie tickets. But it could
turn out like women’s basketball attendance at my alma
mater where they announced attendance as 1,300, but when
you took out my mates and me in the pep band, actual attendance
was more like 130.

Nick’s
Reply:
Look at all that math! I’m a bit aroused. As
far as your women’s basketball team is concerned, I think
you’d have seen a much better turnout had your team not
been called The Fighting Sewn-Up Vaginas.

A
Little of Everything:

Tom
Writes:
First off I have been enjoying your website
for a few years now and commend you on the quality of reporting/humor.
It’s the first thing I check when I get into work. Plus
people think I’m a movie genius when I drop knowledge gleamed
from your website.

Secondly
I just wanted to drop a topic off for discussion- Great
performances in sub-par films, like Tim Roth in Planet of
the Apes or agent Smith in the Matrix series. These performances
keep me from hating these flawed films. Just thought it
would be interest to see your take on that angle.

Thirdly
I have been watching film for years and I understand why
you think film has lost it’s fun. You’ve seen too much.
Understand how they are made and what could have been. It
used to be a lot easier for me to
enjoy movies when I hadn’t seen to many of verying quality.
Shit I used

to love Night of the Comet(which spawned my love of Zombie
films) but I
am afraid to watch it now and realize it may be bad. This
seems to
happen ever once in a while when I recommend a movie to
rent to my
friends and realize I have made a mistake that will cause
me to lose
face as "the Movie Guy". Have you done any thing
like that? Tell me a
funny story funny guy.

Lastly
thanks for giving us a venue to ask/complain/congratulate
you on you mastery of the the internet movie website. I
have seen many films(Bubba Hotep, 28 Days) on you recommendations
and bought a couple of books(Zombie Survival Guide, Jennifer
Government), and I hate to read. Hey I even caught you on
Cnn before they cut my cable off.

Nick’s
Reply:
As far as your comment on recommending movies,
read the article in this very Leak. As far as catching me
on CNN and the nice comments about the site, thank you!
As far as great performances in subpar films, there are
many. I think American History X would have
been total shit without Edward Norton. I think Dark
Blue
would have been a punch to the softness without
Kurt Russell. The same goes for Jack Nicholson and The
Shining
. The Silence of the Lambs
without Hopkins [I’m just asking for hate mail with that
one]. Broderick Crawford in All the King’s Men.
It goes on and on. As far as the argument that I/we’ve seen
too many films and know too much about the process to enjoy
films, I have to disagree. Super Troopers.
I watched it twice this weekend, once to show it to a friend
and once in the background while I was working. That film
is not made well at all. Editing. Music. Shot composition.
All of that stuff, not too great. Still. the movie KILLS
me. All of the stuff we learn about the process should allow
us to appreciate amazingly rendered films ever more so and
for those that miss the technical boat, it should allow
us to find the stuff in the margins that make films so special.
Of course, when films like Timeline arrive
and do everything wrong, you can only sigh and go home and
burn a small effigy of Michael Crichton.

J.V.
Writes:
You aren’t gonna get off the hook that easy,
my friend. Your response to Randy about the Matrix Trilogy
was quite vague. You believe that the first film has more
of an actual story than the sequels? Prove it. Show us loyal
readers why you feel this way.

And as for suggesting that the Wachowski Bros. should have
viewed sequels they enjoyed in order to make Reloaded and
Revolutions, that’s just plain dumb. I hope you were joking
when you made that comment. I don’t think we want to see
another Empire Strikes Back rehash. We’ve already had too
many of those. C’mon Nick…you’re smarter than this.

And, honestly, how many times have you watched Revolutions?

Nick’s
Reply:
I’ve seen The Matrix Revolutions
twice, and I’ll be the guy reviewing the DVD here when it
arrives. As far as the comment about the Wachowski Brothers
watching sequels, I think you’re being ignorant. Everything
that’s wrong about the business of THE SEQUEL in Hollywood
can be found in your local video store. All of the reference
material of WHAT NOT TO DO is right there in stunning Technicolor.
The Matrix took a big bite into the rather
stagnant sci-fi genre when it came out. It gave the audience
[Yes you Asian film purists, I know your argument. They
took a lot of existing ideas and presented them to a larger
audience. I know, Relax and go wire-fu into your fridge
and have a soda.
] another franchise to crave. The first
film exploded with ideas and story possibilities and ended
with a majestic superhero moment that made the eventual
sequels something to drool over. While the special effects
got most of the attention, there was fertile territory to
sustain a whole handful of sequels, provided the brothers
played their cards right. There was a certain amount of
philosophy and cyberpunk rumination going on, but it was
hardwired to the story in a way that didn’t bring attention
to itself and allowed the characters to exist and function
without making the whole affair a stop and go affair of
action and discussions. There’s a reason that so many people
lashed out against the sequels. It wasn’t because they weren’t
The Matrix all over again. It wasn’t because
they were so heavily hyped. It wasn’t because the majority
of the fans of The Matrix were simply not
intelligent enough to grasp the "Meaty Text" of
the sequels. It was because The Wachowski’s dropped the
ball in delivering the next 2001: A Space Odyssey
to audiences. They decided to take their cachet and create
something much larger than before. Something that reflected
its place and time like the Kubrick did its. I’m not saying
that they wanted to BE that film, but I do think that they
had aspirations to deliver something deeper and more informed
than what people would haqve expected from them. Their hearts
were in the right place, but I think their filmmaking failed
them. So, instead of picking up where the first film set
the franchise up on a tee to hit out of the park, they tried
to create something that’d be mentioned with the work of
Arthur C. Clarke. Of Neil Stephenson. Of William Gibson.
Of Stephen Hawking. A very literate and significant work
in the guise of an action sequel. That’s my take. I really
don’t think these two sequels are going to be the kind that
people look at in twenty years and say "I remember
that these were misunderstood back in ’03 when they came
out and only now are they considered classics". On
the contrary, I think in twenty years I’ll think back to
the franchise that could have been and then pick up my then
tattered copy of Snow Crash and sip some darjeeling.

Mark
Writes:
Hey, love the site think it is great. I love
the way you guys mix news with intelligent witty analyzation,
and you guys are most of the time right on target. But what
I want to ask you guys is why do rappers get so much filmwork?.
I like some rap but most of the guys they get for these
movies are either the hacks or the flavors of the month.And
always for the same roles of the comic relief, or the "gangsta,"
or the grunting tough guy. You could say that because they
are popular and whats hip(or at least what they want us
to believe is hip) that they are in movies.Back when rock
was the dominat form of music(and arguably still is) there
wasnt a oversaturation to this degree. When you really think
about it only Mick Jagger,David Bowie, and Elvis are really
the only rockstars that were in alot of movies and Bowie
and Jagger werent in that many(and in Jaggers case not that
many good ones). But I cant turn on the television with
out seeing every rapper in the business being in every movie
made. I mean there has to be more Black actors out there
than this. How many black actors do you think are looking
for a break who cant find work because all the parts for
them are taken by Redman and Ludacrious. Am I the only one
who thinks this is oversaturation? That they are overused
and rarely used to any affect? Did you see the previews
for "My Babys Daddy" ? I felt like I was getting
impaled byThulsa Doom. Sorry for being wordy. Thanks again
and keep up the good work.

Nick’s
Reply:
What about the overrated Jack White in the overrated
Cold Mountain? Jon Bon Jovi’s rather steady
little career? Mike Patton’s upcoming gig in Firecracker?
Gene Simmons? Harry Connick Jr? Mandy Moore? It’s not just
rap stars. It’s rockers, crooners, athletes, poets, and
people who operate movie websites. Movies are about money.
What’s more profitable: Picking some fresh face off an audition
tape or hiring someone with a built-in audience? It makes
sense. Plus, most rappers have been appearing in music videos
that’s make some filmmakers jealous as hell. Do I like it?
Not really. I think that a lot of these guys are a dime
a dozen and personally wouldn’t frown upon a rap star who
went by his name and nothing else. No "Z", no
hyphen. No "Killa". As long as he was good. I
really dug rap music for about half a year, scooping up
all the tapes (CD’s weren’t as common then) I could of Schooly
D, The D.O.C. (who’s still good), Slick Rick, Public Enemy
(who’s still good), NWA, and King Tee. It passed, probably
because I mainlined on it. That said, I wish there were
more people of the quality of Ice Cube or even Ice-T in
films these days. The majority of the guys who segue from
hip-hop to film are forgettable. Who can forget Treach?
Chino XL? 4-Zone? Nas? Cam’Ron? ME! I think the main problem
is the oversaturation of "Gangsta" films. If these
guys are in fact talented, then it’s really hard to rise
up from the chaff of a genre that hit its peak in the 90’s.
So, the crossover virus isn’t limited to rap. It’s widespread.

Tim
Writes:
I agree with your take on Equilibrium. I knew
someone who went to a press screening and was raving about
it. I ignored it when it was released, or maybe I forgot.
I think it was in less than 400 theaters in the US. Anyway,
I rented the DVD and was ready to turn it off after ten
minutes. I just wasn’t tracking with it, but my wife (of
all people who hates Science Fiction) was kind of into it
so I stuck with it. About an hour into it I turned to my
wife and said, "This could still be good." By
the end, I was really into it. When it was done I went back
and watched a few scenes again. A few day later, I went
and bought it. It’s a great film that you want to like because
it feels like the underdog (budgetwise, etc.) and though
on the surface it may seem derivative, it actually has quite
an original voice. Plus, I didn’t see the Taye Diggs death
coming at all. I’m rarely surprised by movies, so that was
great. Great performances by Christian Bale (He deserves
Batman and the recognition that will come from it) and Emily
Watson. Seeing what Kurt Wimmer can do with a tiny budget
proves that he could be the next Joe Johnston. I know I’m
in the minority when I admit that I liked "Sphere,"
but I’m not too concerned. I thought Kurt did a great job
on the script by sticking to what worked from the book and
streamlining it for film. "Sphere" is one of my
favorite Crichton books, and the movie is probably the most
faithful film adaptation of a Crichton book to date. Of
course, I didn’t see Timeline, and it doesn’t look like
anyone else did either. I’ll be interested to see Kurt’s
next project.

Well that’s it. No swear words, no clever pop-culture analogies,
etc. I do check the site everyday, and I enjoy the daily
P&V. I’m also a big fan of "If CHUD Ran the Movies"
section. Armed with an insane amount of film knowledge,
time, and Photoshop, who knows what damage can be done.

One
more thing, all I here is that The Rock is the next Arnold
Schwartzenegger? What is your opinion? I personally think
he is trying to avoid that route by doing movies like "Be
Coll" and "Walking Tall."

Nick’s
Reply:
I think Sphere was hurt by The
Abyss
. While not the same story, the similar subject
matter resulted in the Cameron film stealing the thunder
of the Crichton adaptation. On top of that, I thought Sphere
was about as memorable as a meal at Waffle House. The book
was great, but the film was too little too late. I’m sorry,
but I had to to laugh at the "Next Joe Johnston"
comment. That’s a compliment? To me that’s like saying a
baseball prospect might be the next Rob Deer and hit thirty
homeruns while batting .198 and striking out 130 times.
I think if Kurt Wimmer had been told he might eventually
be the next Joe Johnston before Equilibrium
wa