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‘Captain Phillips’

‘Somali Pirate’ Is A Losing Script

People like this film a lot. You just need to see the Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this film and you realise quite a number of people like this film like it’s some breakthrough film. It’s also one of those movies where once again it’s “A True Story Loosely Based On Fact” so everything you see is a little suspect.

You can run all kinds of simulations and role-plays, I tend to think Somali Pirate is just one of those starting hands that’s got very limited upside. Beating upon them in a Hollywood movie seems more cruel than fair game.

What’s Good About It

Lots of Hollywood-special tense moments. The character build for the Somali pirates is short-handed but good. They don’t waste too much time explaining Richard Phillips. He’s a ship captain, he goes to sea, misses his family when he’s out to sea; all this gets told in under 5minutes screentime and really, that’s all we want to know or need to know before the action begins.

What’s Bad About It

I think Paul Greengrass and his wobbly telephoto look is a terrible choice in this film. For a film that’s already set at sea, the wobbly cam only ads to the sea-sickness-making horror of drifting horizons. I felt ill 20minutes in and it got worse and worse. Worse still, the action sequences were so chopped up they were practically indecipherable as action. You see a flurry of motion but you don’t know what the hell is going on. It’s like his other work, but … worse.

What’s Interesting About It

Somali pirates on the big screen actually is a big draw card. You know me. I’m sick of Russians mafia in Black four wheel drives with machine guns and bad accents.But then one of the first bits of action in the Somali side is a convoy of Nissan 4wheel drives arriving with men touting AK-47s, demanding the fishermen go out and do more piracy. The more things change in Hollywood you realise the more it’s just the wardrobe department working its budget.

Still, it’s interesting to see Somalis on the Hollywood big screen. Of course, this being a Hollywood movie, they really don’t get a good airing, but at least you get a picture of Hollywood trying to do something more representative of the world in which we live.

The race politics is pretty transparent. The film only lets you sympathise with the Somali pirate leader only to a certain extent and there is his right hand man who spends most of the movie angry and hostile, who basically reduces the group to a caricature as damning as the four Muslims in ‘Four Lions’.  You’re watchingit knowing full well that they’re not going to make it, and then the Navy SEALs turn up an of course this being a Hollywood movie, those guys are invincible, so you don’t get the ending telegraphed to so much as given a big billboard on Sunset Boulevard with smiling Navy SEALs brandishing their sniper rifles. Okay, so that bit is not all that interesting.

The denouement is short, and you’re mercifully spared the family reunion scene.

Does Anybody Remember…

… the last democratically elected Somali government head? No? Didn’t think so, because I can’t either.I was freshly minted a graduate out of AFTRS when the first signs of collapse in Somalia took place, and it was Bill Clinton’s first military action as POTUS where he sent troops overseas. I – blithely in my youthful stupidity – tried to hook on with a camera and get out to Somalia for a look so i could make some interesting docos. Fortunately for me, I utterly failed to find any backers here in Australia or over in Japan. I say fortunate because the way Mogadishu turned out, turned into ‘Blackhawk Down’. Somehow I don’t think I would’ve survived that chaotic mess.

In my own defence, I had read “Into a Black Sun’ by Takeshi Kaikoh which filled me with the delusion that I should poke my head into a hot zone with a camera. Somalia, like the Balkan wars that followed, made a point of shooting at camera people and journalists. It’s hard to put this down to any particular reason, but basically the 1990s showed just how bad your cause could look to the world through media, and so it became worthwhile for people in civil wars to silence the press and documentarists by shooting at them.

All that said, I was desperately, then tepidly, then vaguely interested in Somalia for the rest of the decade, probably right up until 9/11 changed everything. The reason I bring all of this up is because I have to confess I haven’t seen any signs of Somalia returning to a functioning state, and the one intervention from the outside resulted in a mess. It’s not that surprising piracy has surfaced as a means for survival with the coastal population. What’s probably more shocking is that there is a whole generation of Somalis who grew up under this chaos and warlord-ism, who know nothing of functioning democracy or even a proper state or that matter. You wonder how they’re ever going to find their way back.

Not Post-Apocalypse, But Post Civilisation

What freaked out Tony Blair in his day as a PM was when he asked how long food supplies could hold out in the UK if all shipping were stopped. The answer he got was 72hours, and then riots would break out. Our modern civilisation is complicated and intertwined with the world, it would only take 72hours for the edifice to find itself in grave danger. Somalia as it exists today appears to be what is left after the state crumbles, and so shipments cease to arrive to a nation. The Hobbsean nasty brutish and short is what is mostly left there from what we can gather.

The general point being, there but for the grace of something larger go us. It’s totally hubris on our part to think that we won’t fall to such chaos. If you read about the English Civil War for instance, you come to realise that the people of England did not anticipate the war breaking out in the way that it did let alone the depredations that came about as a result of the civil war.

In that sense, Somalia is leading the way in some kind of weird experiment of civilisation collapse. Like a canary in the coal mine, if you will, Somalia illuminates the way in which a modern nation state can unravel into this strange warlord-ism. What’s frightening is that maybe that kind of existence awaits us somewhere in the future when our governments lose credibility and things simply fall apart. That’s the truly frightening vision. In that event, we’ll all be Tom Hanks’ Captain Phillips, except not as well paid for our ordeals.

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‘Argo’

The Joy Of The Known

The deal on ‘Argo’  was that it won ‘Best Picture’ at the Oscars without even getting nominated for ‘Best Director’. I don’ often agree with the Motion Picture Academy, but in this instance I could see the good sense in the outcome.

Like it or lump it, the singular beneficial feature of this film is that it is an ode, a love song in praise of Hollywood. How can the Academy not lavish praise on a film that praises Hollywood so? It’s hardly artful in its direction, so it is no surprise it didn’t get nominated in the directing category. The Academy it seems retains a little bit of pride about what it does.

What’s Good About It

Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Dire Straits, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin. Pulling one over the Nasty Iranians.I believe the Iranians are particularly insulted by this picture. Clearly they don’t understand that they’re not meant to like it seeing that they are the butt of the joke. In some ways, anything that gets up the nose of that horrible Theocracy is good fodder.

What’s Bad About It

The suspense is hardly exciting once the premise gets under way. We know they get out, so it hardly seems the process is all that suspenseful. It seems to be missing a couple of really difficult obstacles to make it a truly riveting film.

What’s Interesting About It

Watching this film was like getting plugged in the Gen-X memory machine. I remember the days when the Iranians stormed the US Embassy and held those hostages fr 444 days. I’m sure it s a proud moment for the likes of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad – who it turns out wasn’t there after all – but it’s one of those moments for which Iran has not paid its price. So it seems fitting that they cop a bit of retcon-humiliation from Hollywood. There’s nothing like the ridicule from Hollywood as Saddam Hussein found out.

Still, the Iranian complaints seem entirely motivated by hurt pride that they should be portrayed as being so backward and craven and abusive masters of torture. Their claims that the film distorts history is probably true but I’m yet to see any film that doesn’t distort history so that’s not saying anything special in the context of this film. You accept that it probably didn’t go down the way Ben Affleck directed it (and thank goodness for that).

Fortunately, they’re not the only ones put off by the movie. The Canadians are also upset that they don’t get a good enough credit for their role. What’s really interesting about the outrage about the rewritten history is that New Zealand gets a mention in the list of people upset by the picture. Anything that upsets so many people must have something artistic going for it.

All The Best Lines Go To LA (and so do the chicks)

The most insightful lines in the film pertain to Hollywood and not the real world at all. The best character for the best lines was the fictional producer Lester Siegel played by Alan Arkin, followed by John Goodman’s John Chambers. The line about the bullshit coalmine and fitting right in with the superficial and fickle LA set pretty much define the tone of the film: Hollywood is *it*.

In some ways this is a film that probably belongs in the genre of films about film making, without there actually being a film. The way they get the diplomats out of America almost is an adjunct to the story of faking a film production convincingly.

This is what the Iranians don’t get. Young, beautiful women don’t exactly travel to Tehran to become good Muslims anywhere near the same rate as they go to Los Angeles hoping to become a superstar. Los Angeles might be a toilet of a city but its allure is still streets ahead of Tehran, the capital of a country that is in massive deficit of Gross National Cool. All the great films they make are not going to change this international perception.

Is it really Zionism? Or is it that Iran has made itself firmly into an unattractive nation? ‘Argo’ hardly seems to be the problem.

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Hollywood On The Ropes

Problems On The Horizon

I stumbled upon this interesting article that talks about how Hollywood is narrowing and therefore shrinking in significance.

A generation of directors who thought they owned the business as kids in the 1970s had to decide whether to stay part of it or be artists. Steven Spielberg is the only one who may still be able to convince us he’s both: we will see with “War Horse” and “The Adventures of Tintin”. Francis Ford Coppola has gone back to being an artist, while moonlighting in wine and eco-villas. George Lucas exists in the gloom of his own big business. And Martin Scorsese is something of a wreck, trying to have it both ways, making music documentaries (George Harrison next) and television (“Boardwalk Empire”), and still directing movies without firing on so many cylinders (“Shutter Island”). Mostly born in the 1940s, they are of an age still to be our great directors, but they have yielded to a generation of new kids who do what the money demands. You see, we don’t have great directors any more. The computer makes our movies. Its efficient anonymity is the new style: look at the anonymous figures and the metallic sheen of “Black Ops”. That style, a kind of subtle fascism, haunts our films, from “Black Hawk Down” to “Battle: Los Angeles”.

The picture business likes to tell us, and itself, that it is doing very well. In the first decade of this century, America’s annual domestic box office pushed over $10 billion ($10.89 billion for 2010). But $10 billion, you realise now, is not so great. And in the small print you find that in 2010 1.37 billion tickets were sold, whereas in 2002 it was 1.58 billion—so in eight years, 13% of the audience has melted away. In the 1940s, as war ended and families were reunited in the dark, the figure was 4 billion tickets a year. And the population of America was half what it is now. That’s what “mainstream” once meant.

In that light, our venerable Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, now in its 80s, looks a little shaky. It has two physical incarnations: the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre on Wilshire Boulevard for tributes and events, and an exceptional research library, named after Margaret Herrick, the first librarian at the Academy, and an invaluable source for film historians. There are wistful hopes for a proper movie museum—something LA has never had. Mainly, it puts on the big show, the Oscars telecast. The bulk of the Academy’s revenue (about $70m a year) comes from that one show, and its audience has been wilting.

If anything, the demographic support for cinema may actually be collapsing in the traditionally strong demographic. There are many reasons for this, but I think the main culprit is that there’s just too much competition for that same disposable dollar, while piracy offers a valve for the need for cinema to be met with much less cost. After a good 20years of mining the 18-35 demographic, it is finding it hard to get the next generation of the 18-35 demographic to be as hooked into cinema as the previous generation, Gen-X. Gen-Y just isn’t into cinema like that, and it’s showing up in stalled growth and diminishing audiences.

The repetitive adaptation of comic book content an the retreat of mature, general content from films has made Hollywood cinema itself a little disjointed from its marketplace. It’s not developing its own content, it’s buying it pre-packaged so we’re not even getting proper story development on the screen like we used to. Worse still, the impact of world events have been such that cinema no longer seems as inviting as it once was. ‘Armageddon’ is harder to watch after 9/11. Movies about war are hard to watch after Iraq. All the while cinema itself is cocooning itself into a world of violent fantasies more than offering insight or understanding. It has to be a bad step.

Which brings me to the next bit. Here’s an interesting article sent in from Pleiades.

War, violence and death have become the organizing principle of governance and culture in the United States as we move into the second decade of the 21st century. Lacking a language for the social good, the very concept of the social as a space in which justice, equality, social protections and a responsibility to the other mediate everyday life is being refigured through a spectacle of violence and cruelty. Under such circumstances, ethical considerations and social costs are removed from market-driven policies and values just as images of human suffering are increasingly abstracted from not only their social and political contexts, but also the conditions that make such suffering possible. Moreover, as public issues collapse into privatized considerations, matters of agency, responsibility and ethics are now framed within the discourse of extreme individualism. Unexpected violence, aggression and the “‘masculine’ virtues of toughness, strength, decisiveness and determination … are accentuated,” along with the claims of vengeance, militarization and violence.(1) The collapse of the social and the formative culture that make human bonds possible is now outmatched by the rise of a Darwinian ethic of greed and self-interest in which violence, aggressiveness and sadism have become the primary metric for living and dying. As the social contract is replaced by social collapse, a culture of depravity has emerged in American society. The spectacle of violence permeates every aspect of the machinery of cultural production and screen culture – extending from television news and reality TV to the latest Hollywood fare. Of course, this is not new. What is new is that more and more people desire spectacles of high-intensity violence and images of death, mutilation and suffering and their desires should no longer be attributed to an individual aberration, but instead suggest an increasingly widespread social pathology.

It’s worth reading on. It’s an article that highlights my own misgivings about where cinema is going wrong.

They’re Still Talking About This?

Ugh. *facepalm*.

Certainly, positive momentum came to a shuddering halt in March, when four Australian films came and went quickly in cinemas. The Reef, Griff the Invisible, Wasted on the Young and A Heartbeat Away cost millions to make but only returned a fraction of that in cinemas. A report, to be released this month by Adelaide firm Convergen, confirms that in inflation-adjusted terms, Australian film has failed to tap into the boom in overall box office returns during the past 30 years. So, while overall demand has increased at the box office, Australian films haven’t expanded their share.

An industry debate about how to improve the overall performance of the local film business is in full swing, with a push to give distributors greater influence in the movie-making process. The argument is that the current model relies too heavily on the funding and development relationship between Screen Australia and producers, which does not provide audiences with enough of what they want.

Just what that is, however, remains the $100 million (annual box office) question.

I don’t know. It’s almost not worth talking about here any more. It keeps going in circles, nothing gets better, and then Julia Leigh makes a movie that tanks. The rest of cinema are going through major ructions, and there’s Screen Australia continuing with the tried and true formulae for failure. I can only shrug.

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The World Wide Cinema

Hollywood’s Stake In It

Here’s The Economists’ take on the globalisation of distribution as seen from a Hollywood perspective.

The success of a film outside America is not purely a marketing matter. As foreign box-office sales have become more important, the people who manage international distribution have become more influential, weighing in on “green-light” decisions about which films are made. The studios are careful to seed films with actors, locations and, occasionally, languages that are well-known in target countries. Sony cites the foreign success of “The Green Hornet” (Taiwanese hero, Austrian-German villain) and “Resident Evil: Afterlife” (Japanese location) as evidence of that strategy.

Big noisy spectacle travels best. Jason Statham, the close-cropped star of many a mindlessly violent film, is a particular Russian favourite. Films based on well-known literature (including cartoon books) and myths may also fare well. Films that trade on contemporary American cultural references are about as popular abroad as an oil slick on a NASCAR track. (Note to our non-American readers: NASCAR is an American sport involving fast cars.) Comedy travels badly, too: Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler provoke guffaws at home but incomprehension abroad. As the market swings away from America, funny films are less likely to find financing or broad distribution anywhere. “You won’t see us doing a lot of comedies,” says Brad Grey, head of Paramount Pictures.

The growing internationalisation of the film business suits the biggest outfits, and not just because they can afford explosions. The major studios’ power lies not so much in their ability to make good films—plenty of smaller operations can do that—but in their ability to wring every possible drop of revenue from a film. With their superior global marketing machines and their ability to anticipate foreign tastes, they are increasingly dominating the market. For everyone else, there is a chance to win a gold statue.

World cinema is the catchphrase for films not dominated by Hollywood structure, or made outside of Hollywood structures, but that may well change as Hollywood’s reach goes even more global. If they start buying up distribution channels in non-English speaking countries, it’s going to impact on those local cinemas much more than in the past. After all, they’re competing for every disposable dollar going towards the screen, around the world.

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Blockbuster Saturation

Lemmings At The Cliff

I’ve been saying for a while that the movie business has got some fundamental problems that is making it unsustainable, and that we may see the end of Hollywood as we know it. Apparently I’m not alone in this diagnosis:

The idea of spending $300 million to make a two-hour fantasy is kind of weird if you think about it. That kind of spending only makes sense if you can convince millions of people to spend between $10 and $20 each to see the result. This is one case where the format is the content — there’s no other format in which you could spend such an obscene amount of money on just two hours’ entertainment. It’s not going to happen on television, it’s not going to happen with direct-to-DVD movies. There’s really no other format I can think of that would justify that kind of opulence.

Back in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, people put on masques. These were lavish plays, put on at royal courts, or in wealthy aristocrats’ houses, and they involved architecturally ambitious sets and fancy costumes. Often the whole point of these entertainments was how cool they looked — if you read their scripts nowadays, they’re kind of dull, because you’re not seeing the amazing costumes, scenery — and yes, special effects. The masque was a huge spectacular that dominated culture for roughly a century — and then it was extinct.

Nobody expects movie theaters to implode this year. The Hollywood blockbuster, as a format, will probably keep existing for years. But eventually, the unsustainable business model that drives these things will fall apart, and the movie as we know it will transform into something more suited to home viewing, and maybe more integrated with web content. So it’s a good thing they’re making tons of huge Hollywood movies right now, so we’ll have plenty of examples of them to look at once they’re gone.

That’s the concluding 3 paragraphs so I’ve cut to the chase, but the figures cited in the article leading to it exactly what I’ve been saying here, so I feel like I’m not some lone nut Cassandra.

The real argument is that the revenue that the studios can collect from the films is shrinking for various technological reason as well as demographic reasons, while unit cost of the films have soared to ridiculous heights. And now they’re all doing this as we pick and choose which ones we want to see based on hearsay reviews moving faster than advertising, the studios can’t keep their product out in the market place to find its audience. Something’s got to break and it won’t be audience indifference.

I think it was back in 2003 I was asked which movies I was looking forward to seeing and I replied the depressing thing was that they all had numerals behind them as they were all sequels. Yes, they were some good movies there, but it ode really ill for the creativity of the industry. Ever since the GFC, the business is even more risk averse to the point that they will only put big money into these ‘proven properties’ which are adaptations of comic books and graphic novels. If they still made good smaller films otherwise, it would be gratifying, but no; they’re making these films at the expense of the good smaller films. The industry really is cannibalising itself. Lucas and Spielberg and James Cameron will always be able to make a movie, but just as it happened here at a smaller scale, it’s at the expense of the future. The future is now, except it’s also already the past.

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Cinema In Retreat

Another One Bites The Dust

Caught this story in the SMH this morning.

THE closure of the Greater Union cinema in Mosman comes as further proof of troubles in the Australian film industry.

While local filmmakers find it difficult to get work, and film, as an investment proposition, has retreated from fashion, the closure has underscored the impact of falling audiences.

It is the seventh picture theatre to close in Sydney since 1999.

Greater Union’s owner, Amalgamated Holdings Limited, put up a sign outside the Mosman building last week announcing the closure.

”A business decision had to be made on the viability of the cinema,” the sign said, adding that the announcement was made with ”great regret”.

If exhibitors are doing it this tough, then we can infer distributors will be doing it tough too. It kind of puts paid to the old “get a pre-sale” method of raising investment from distributors. There’s no investment money coming back from the frontlines of cinema if people are staying away in droves. What’s worse is that not even Hollywood fare is keeping the doors of the cinemas open. Mosman cinema was your typical multi-screen suburban cinema that made its dough through screening American movies with guns fights, car chases, and simulated sex scenes. In other words, it wasn’t terribly a high-brow kind of cinema (which is not surprising given its location in the middle of consumerist philistine-ville, Mosman).

Without going into the issue of piracy; just as television took audiences out of the cinemas in the 1950s, big screen TVs for home entertainment, combined with DVD and blu-ray has killed the need to go out for the big screen experience. The unique selling proposition of cinema has taken a great hit, but it’s hard to see from where the next generation of kids who grow up loving the cinema are going to arise. It may be another generation before something brings them back.

It’s also not clear whether 3D is actually going to be the new USP for cinema – if anything it reminds us of the desperate attempt by the movie business in the 1950s to woo back audiences. What’s striking is that as Gen-X ages and stops going to the movies, the audience numbers have suddenly dried up. We’re talking about the original star wars kids plodding into middle age, as Hollywood keeps pitching product to younger and younger audiences to no avail.

If history is any precedent it means that the movie business as a whole is having to retreat back into a smaller, more nimble business. It’s hard to see how this will look in a few year’s time but the clock is ticking and time is running out. The massive blockbuster model of cinema may have to disappear if they cannot command the audiences as they did in years past. It’s happened before.

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Little Fockers

Signs Of Terminal Decay

One doesn’t want to bag out Hollywood gratuitously if one is a filmie because it still is the wellspring of the film business for half of the world. I’ve always been upfront about being a fan of Hollywood cinema. Still, it hasn’t been good since the GFC set in and they curtailed development. This has led to a plethora of films where they were either the also-ran scripts prior to the GFC getting made, or ‘properties with an established track record’. The latter, in most, part has meant adaptations of books and comics and sequels.

Which brings us to this film.

What’s Good About It

It follows the previous film and loads up heavily on famous faces. Apart from the core cast from the first film built around Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller, it brings back Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand return with Owen Wilson as the love sick stalky friend of the wife. Added to this further are Harvey Keitel, Laura Dern and Jessica Alba who provides the freshest performance in an otherwise tired looking ensemble.

If you’re into famous faces doing cameos, this is an interesting one.

What’s Bad About It

It’s a pointless rehash of the first 2 films. We don’t learn anything new about any of the main characters. Which means it’s just another squirm-fest watching Ben Stiller’s character Greg try to live up to Robert DeNiro’s crazy ex-CIA character’s insane expectations. Consequently they’re all the same tropes going into these same jokes.

There are moments of levity but it’s a very empty film, even accounting for the fact that it’s empty entertainment that’s on offer here. As exercises in empty experiences go, it’s pretty empty.

What’s Interesting About It

After watching 3 of these, I’m convinced that Robert DeNiro – as funny as he was in the first one, is miscast as an ex-CIA man. He’s just not a WASP, and no amount of acting/faking-it is getting him there. It’s probably the worst miscast of DeNiro since ‘Bang The Drum Slowly’ where he played a baseball player from Georgia USA, or ‘Once Upon A Time In America’ where he played a Jewish Gangster. He was good in all three instances, but you never bought the premise that he was from these ethnicities, so to speak.

In turn, his best comic turn in recent years was when he played mafia boss Paul Vitti, in the first ‘Analyze This’. In fact the erectile dysfunction jokes in ‘Little Fockers’ come straight out of ‘Analyze This’. Perhaps it is against the ethnicity mismatch of ‘Analyze This’ that ‘Little Fockers’ has to be set against, because the squirming of discomfort done by Ben Stiller in this film is also a re-run of the cultural discomfort of Billy Crystal’s character in ‘Analyze This’.

The menace of Robert DeNiro’s Paul Vitti had weight, largely because of DeNiro’s career in playing Italian American gangsters. The menace of Jack in the Focker series is the weight of the surveillance state, but DeNiro’s recognisability gets in the way of that menace. DeNiro’s Jack is scary precisely because it’s DeNiro; and that’s a failure in casting.

The Post-Graduate

This contrasts greatly with the Dustin Hoffman performances as Bernie Focker. Bernie’s role in this film is idiotically reduced. He is the grandfather suffering ‘manopause’ who goes in search of his dream dancing flamenco. As pathetic a subplot as it is, Hoffman turns in a performance that makes it look seemless and smooth and thus makes the character believable. But then, Hoffman is playing a Jewish character who is comfortable in his skin.

Watching it, I couldn’t help but think of ‘The Graduate’ because way back then, he looked culturally uncomfortable in the context of that film which enhanced that film, and perhaps paved the way for films like ‘Analyze This’ and ‘Meet The Parents’. It was a little more than ironic that he was dancing flamenco in a cultural mismatch.

Yet, one of the best moments visually in this film is when he ever so briefly squares off against Jessica Alba in a momentary flurry of flamenco dancing. It’s arresting and you wonder why they couldn’t do more of that. There’s probably a great film in that story: Dustin and Barabara are an old Jewish couple, but Dustin gets seduced by a young Jessica Alba who shares flamenco dancing. It would have been better than this film.

Jessica Alba, Seductress

If Jessica Alba came on to you as hard and fast as she does in this movie, what kind of man turns her down? It’s not a fair fight. I know she is one of the (many) women Derek Jeter rejected, but come on, there is no way Greg doesn’t succumb to that advance. This bit of casting and performance actually strained incredulity and I don’t think it says more about me than the film. You watch it and think, what’s wrong with this guy Gaylord Greg Focker? You do.

Robert DeNiro AND Harvey Keitel?

There was a time when you got both these guys in a film, it meant it was going to be pretty good. This is not one of those films. This is decidedly not ‘Taxi Driver’. It was sad watching the scene where Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel start arguing. It had no thunder, no tension. It just looked like a bad pantomime. It had nothing on the scene at the doorway in ‘Taxi Driver’.

I felt cheated. This kind of pairing used to mean something, like Ali-Frasier. Harvey still looked up to it in that his character was fresh to the story but Robert DeNiro’s Jack Byrnes looked foolish, and DeNiro’s never looked this foolish.

Erectile Dysfunction Medication Gags

It’s sort of amazing that the film spends so much screen time on erectile dysfunction medication. We already know that Robert DeNiro’s screen persona includes the legendary retort, “a hard-on has got be legitimately got” from ‘Analyze This’. ‘Little Fockers’ spends a good 15 minutes of screentime with DeNiro snooping, and then getting caught with it by his wife, then finding out he has an erection that won’t subside, leading to a parody of the ‘Pulp Fiction’ scene where a shot of adrenalin has to be administered, but in this instance…

You get the picture.

Everybody Looks Old

They do. Because they are getting old. The jokes are old. The story is a rehash. And That’s the post-GFC Hollywood of today trying to take as few risks as possible. And even with the shored up risk-hedging the film is a flop. It’s as if they’re trying to grab hold of as many demographics with one film, but reaching none. This is a retread of a retread story with retread stars of yesteryear, not living up to past glory.

You wonder where Hollywood can go with this kind of film making.What it reminds me the most is actually the Baltimore Orioles of the 2000s where they would try to build teams around guys who were past it. Worse still, in contracting the scope of projects so radically, Hollywood has essentially stopped bringing in new talent and new properties. By ceasing development, it has also ceased to do its own R&D for new intellectual property. The results we’ve been seeing in the last 2 years have been discouraging and in some instances devastating, and do not bode well in the long term. The product is going to get worse before it gets better again.

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