Our irregular roundup of other news worth blogging about.
Buffalo Tom said it best: “Summer’s gone, can’t wipe it off my hands.” Labor Day is just around the corner, bringing this summer of cinematic discontent to a close – and look how it’s ending with a whimper, at that. The fall season begins with the holiday weekend, meaning that by and large the days start getting shorter, the temperatures get cooler, and the movies get better. Autumn is our favorite time of year for film, offering as it does a middle ground between the loud, no-thought-required spectacles of summer cinema and the increasingly inert prestige pics that dominate the winter months.
For this year especially, the fall movie season is a welcome sight, offering not only a variety of films but a pretty interesting cluster of stuff we’re excited about checking out. September offers new work by Steven Soderbergh and Mike Judge, while October releases include the latest from Michael Moore, the Coen Brothers, Spike Jonze, and the long-awaited film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
In the meantime, here’s the latest of our semi-monthly compendiums of topics that never got a full post.
1. A recent article by MacClean’s Canadian online edition brought some disturbing news that was nevertheless not exactly surprising: the amount of classic cinema making its way to DVD is diminishing, with future Blu-Ray releases even more precarious. Even the once-faultless selection of films issued by the Criterion Collection is waning.
What’s wrong with the DVD and especially the Blu-Ray markets right now is a lot like what went wrong with the American automobile industry: keep making tons of the same stuff almost nobody wants, and eventually no one’s going to want any of what’s around. Classic movies are a niche market, and they’re expensive to remaster and package. But they’re important to preserve, important enough to supersede the studio’s profit margin. For that matter, the studios have a responsibility both to themselves and to our culture to preserve their best works, and if this means letting releases of modern drivel wait a while or receive diminished production runs, that’s the cost of the pedigrees the studios perennially trade upon. Alternately, Warner Brothers’ recent rollout of their burn-on-demand library of archive titles is a huge step in the right direction.
2. Because we grew up in the 1980′s, the golden age of product placement in film, we’re pretty much inured to its proliferation across the modern television landscape. While we don’t watch 30 Rock or Damages, two shows who’ve drawn the heaviest flack for product placement deliberate or otherwise, this summer both Rescue Me and Leverage have taken the marketing gimmick to a whole new egregious extreme. Rescue Me is the worse of the two, including transparent plugs for Samuel Adams, Vitamin Water and the Volkswagen Routan into its storylines. They only narrowly beat out Leverage ‘s persistent and loving close-ups of the Hyundai Genesis, however.
3. Speaking of the 80s, producers at Lakeshore Entertainment this week announced they’re working to bring the cult 1988 classic Heathers to television as a regular series. Not to second-guess, but if you’ve ever wondered what Christian Slater’s snarky sadist J.D. would be like as a sullen hipster, you may soon find out. Apparently the new show won’t involve the movie’s muder-the-popular-bitches plotline, which would kind of make it just like any other rich-teen soap opera already around.
4. In our May edition of Miscellaneous Debris we lobbied for Battlestar Galactica alum Michael Trucco to win the coveted lead in Warner Bros’ upcoming live-action The Green Lantern. The part of lead GL Hal Jordan went to Ryan Reynolds, and we think that’s great. If the script includes his character, we want to suggest Adam Baldwin for the role of Guy Gardner, Jordan’s maniacally bull-headed alternate in the interstellar Green Lantern Corps. Baldwin’s turn as the similar Jayne Cobb on Firefly and Serenity was underrated and unfairly overlooked by mainstream audiences, and he’s long deserved a part in a big project where he can show his swaggering cool. (Incidentally, he bears no relation to the clan of Baldwin brothers.)
5. We’ve come to believe that if Skeet Ulrich’s fans ever joined forces with the boosters of Moonlight‘s Alex O’Loughlin, their combined fervency would split the entertainment industry in half. Both actors’ fans are motivated, loyal, and protective of their star in ways that are both impressive and a little intimidating. And both groups get something to cheer about this fall: the Ulrich co-starring Armored opens in December, while the long-delayed O’Loughlin-featuring Whiteout debuts in just two weeks.
6. You’ve probably seen the promos somewhere already, but the “STD for your TV” anti-sitcom It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia starts its fifth season on FX September 17. Season 4 was uneven (to say the least), but when this show is on its game it’s possibly the funniest thing on pay or broadcast TV. The setup is sitcom simple: four deadbeats share ownership of a bar. Everything after that gets perverse real quick: the bar is a pit, the friends regularly conspire to screw one another over, and bad things inevitably ensue. Nothing is safe, not even cats:
7. Ever follow something you wished were a lot better, but you watch it anyway? ABC’s interplanetary soap opera Defying Gravity has the potential to become a vastly better show than the hybrid it is right now, a flagging and listless affair that could variously be better titled “Lost” In Space or Gray’s Astronomy. The largely talented but somewhat overloaded cast, including Office Space‘s Ron Livingston and Dead Like Me‘s Laura Harris, struggles with stories that go all over the place but never really gel into anything compelling. That the show is on at all is more evidence of ABC’s weird and self-sabotaging fickleness: they’re willing to develop offbeat shows (this, Life On Mars, The Unusuals) but quick to cancel them if they don’t immediately catch on with the public and critics, as Lost did. Meanwhile the network obviously has an abundance of faith in its new David Goyer-created sci-fi series Fast Forward, the previews of which have “hit” written all over them.
8. To close on another science fiction note, here’s a rarely-seen deleted vignette from the 1982 classic Blade Runner, featuring weary detective Rick Deckard’s (Harrison Ford) hospital visit with Holden (Morgan Paull), the cop injured by replicant Leon’s (Brion James) rocket pistol attack at the film’s beginning. Deckard’s boss (M. Emmett Walsh) and his flunky (Edward James Olmos) watch them on close-circuit television. NSFW warnings are in effect:
We’ll return next Wednesday. Have a good weekend.
- Michael Kabel