Saturday, January 29, 2005

Film Exhibitors

I'm back to sorting out film industry economics for a whitepaper (among several) I'm working on for consulting. I was sifting through documents on distribution and started thinking about the exhibition market. In LA, it seems dominated by Edwards and indie houses seem to be at risk left and right. I'm sort of at a loss why the Fox needs to be saved while the Art can stay open, as well as venues up north like the Albany, Grand Lake, and Sequoia. It's an interesting "retail" question of localized draw, experiential dimensions, and industrial organization, with the consumer implication of what is screened (i.e., only fat margin films) and even community character (whatever that ill-defined term means). Will technology kill the art-house indie theatre, making it woefully cost-ineffective? On the other hand, will technology rationalize film distribution, allowing for more "product" in the channel through various modes (Internet, cinema, PPV, etc.) by lowering costs and risks? Does the big-screen 'film experience' matter, beyond the super SFX blockbusters? 
Above: interior-Grand Lake,

Friday, January 07, 2005

Guest Blogger Chad Vickers: (Mostly) Hong Kong Cinema

This is a genre I know little about, besides what I read in the papers or on NPR. Guest blog entry by Chad (AKA Turbo):

I made a list of movies that I broke down by actors and directors, but when I got to the martial art (MA) category there is too many films that I would consider really great, and since the MA film is kind of the cornerstone of Asian Cinema (i.e., especially Hong Kong) I figure I'll start there. Unfortunately, there is no way for me to put all the films I've seen into a top ten list. So I will separate two different list the new school (1985 and above) this has faster editing, more camera tricks, and so on. I will list Old School (1969-84). Old school stuff I have come to regard as the finest of all MA film making, the fights are longer, less edited, and more fluid.

Some consider old school stuff too slow, but I find that with less editing, the fight choreoghraphy is much more dynamic. Keep in mind these list are in no particular order, and are based solely on MA content and not on story, as most of the stories in these films are pretty weak.

Old School:

8 Diagram Pole Fighter

Heroes of the East

36th. Chamber of Shaolin

Odd Couple

7 Grandmasters

Mad Monkey Kung Fu

Invincible Shaolin

5 Fighters from Shaolin

Shaolin Temple 1, 2 ,and 3 (Jet Li)

The Master AKA 3 Evil Masters

The Hot the Cool and The Vicious

Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin

The Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms

Drunken Master

Snake in the Eagles' Shadow

Duel to the Death

Magnificent Butchers

Iron-Fisted Monk

The Victim
(Sammo Hung)

Executioners of Death

Ninja Hunter

Chinese Super Ninjas

Mystery of Chess Boxing

Shaolin Mantis

Return of the One-Armed Swordsman

Drunken Tai Chi

My Young Auntie

Ninja the Final Duel

Born Invincible

Shaolin vs. Lama

Photo::  Chad Vickers (2003), getting married & sporting a Tom Sizemore look.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

House, MD

We'll see if this Fox show makes it. Although I'm not as curmudgeonly as the hobbling Dr. House (Hugh Laurie), I do appreciate his trenchant approach as a diagnostician. If you can get past the gimmick of a guru MD figuring out how to treat odd cases of patients with strange symptoms, the show is entertaining. It's too bad that most times when treating "ailing" firms/organizations, consultants rarely get the latitude that physicians get. I don't buy any arguments that one is less important than the's just different work.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Top 5 films of 2004

Only 5 since I didn't screen that many this year & the order isn't that important. Most are non-mainstream, as other lists capture that pulse. #1 & #4 are nods to surreal storylines. #2 & #3 made me give a damn about vacant/hard to relate to characters. #5 is excellent filmmaking telling an interesting story about art [film], culture, & family without getting preachy or gimmickly sentimental.

  1. I 'Heart' Huckabees
  2. Barbarian Invasion/Les Invasions Barbares (Canada-Quebéc)
  3. Garden State
  4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  5. How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass

Others I have enjoyed: Good Bye, Lenin! [Germany], Before Sunset, Anchorman, & Saved! Probable likes that I have yet to screen: The Life Aquatic, Zatoichi, & Bad Education. I want my money back: Vera Drake, Alfie, The House of Sand & Fog, 50 First Dates, The Day After Tomorrow. The unknowns (until DVD/cable): Napoleon Dynamite, Ying Xiong [Hero], Kill Bill Vol. 2, Open Water, & Team America.

Music & the Ad, Promo., Soundtrack

Long, rambling post...The postmodernists often cite the use of decontextualized snippets of art/film/music as examples of a new era in history where nothing is "real," all is subjective, meanings are untethered, etc.   Anyway. I was screening So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993), which featured the La_s There She Goes [mp3]. The use was in reference to the Nancy Travis character, Harriet, not heroin. Of course, this made me think of how the squeaky-clean spiritual/Christian Sixpence None the Richer covered this song and how it's now used on OrthoTricyclen commercials. Rather than equate all of this to a new social era, I think that people often tend not to "read" too deeply into the meanings of things. I think that's a more interesting question but it's probably just due to the fact that people just like a tune and don't want to overanalyze their entertainment. At any rate, the "odd" use of pop songs in ads isn't new. Microsoft paid a hefty sum ($10M) to use the Rolling Stone's Start Me Up for the Win'95 launch, but omitting the lyric, "Don't make a grown man cry."

At the time, I thought Apple should have countered with 19th. Nervous Breakdown: ( link added 4/4/09)

You’re the kind of person You meet at certain dismal dull affairs.

Center of a crowd, talking much too loud 

Running up and down the stairs. 

Well, it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few years.

And though you’ve tried you just can’t hide

Your eyes are edged with tears.

You better stop

Look around

Here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes

Here comes your nine-teenth nervous breakdown.

It's only a matter of time before Third Eye Blind's sex and meth-laden ditty is used as a catchy jingle on prime time.  { link (4/4/09)}