Monday, March 9, 2015

A Fistful of Thoughts...about the future of movies, a beast of a rising star, indecisive Oscars and some absolutely horrifying news!


It's Monday!  That means it's time for another Fistful of Thoughts post.  Now, I've been sitting on some stories for the better part of a week now, waiting to talk about this stuff.  I warned Ruth when she posted her 5 for the Fifth post last week that we were going to be discussing some of the same stuff today, and while I debated changing my course and finding some new stories...I didn't really want to.  

So, let's get started.


Do you remember when Netflix was just a new way of getting DVDs?  Remember when they were a fledgling idea of a company who most people were skeptical about embracing?  Remember when they pretty much single-handedly put Blockbuster out of business?  Yeah, that happened.  Netflix has been flirting with creating an empire for a while now.  They started by producing their own shows and have nurtured that into actually winning Emmys and SAG Awards all for their 'television', but they have bigger fish to fry.  They want Oscars.  They've already had success getting two of their documentaries Oscar nominated, but now they want a feature film, and so when word broke last week that Netflix actually obtained the distribution rights for Beasts of No Nation, it became clear that they came to play ball.  This film was high on my early Oscar predictions for the year (those will be out April 1st), and while this news has me a tad skeptical about how well this will play with Oscar, it's clear that Netflix means business.

But let's talk less about Oscar (because we'll swing back around to that subject in a minute) and talk more about what this could mean for film in general.  Netflix has stated that they are going to release the film in theaters (limited release) and, on the same day, for streaming.  This has caused a stir as some major theater chains (AMC etc.) have said they will refuse to carry the film, since Netflix is not abiding by the normal window of time between theater release and home viewing release.  

So this raises the question; would you rather see a film in the theater or, given the option, would you prefer to watch it at home?

I'm on the fence with this one.  I mean, I love the theater.  If I could, I'd see everything there...but, that's no realistic.  First, it's awfully expensive, but the biggest detractor is that I have three kids and there is just no way that I can get a sitter for multiple nights in a week (I mean, I struggle for one night a month) so that I can slip away to a theater...so for me, I'd LOVE if I could just stream new releases at home.  It would make things so much easier for me, affording me the opportunity to actually see the big films of the year before they sweep the Oscars and eventually make their way to DVD.  I mean, I still haven't seen The Imitation Game or The Theory of Everything or Still Alice or even Interstellar!  I rely on Netflix, honestly, to see most of the films I see each year, so I'd love it if they distributed everything.

Speaking of the future of movies, have you seen this:


I'm not going to lie, I has a MASSIVE Power Rangers fan when I was a kid.  I haven't really cared since, like, I was ten or so, but when this show first came out, I was hooked.  This short film caused quite a stir, since it was an unauthorized film and was initially taken down, but soon the studios realized it was going to prove to be a good thing, stirring a revitalized interest in the franchise which is currently planning a new film.  James Van Der Beek (remember him?) had some interesting things to say about making this short and why he did it and it had me questioning whether or not we could see a boom in interest for films like this; small self produced productions that wind up released on YouTube, free for the masses and made simply for the love of making something interesting, compelling and visionary.  
"I really wanted to follow him on this journey of creating something that was completely his own, and we just did it to give it away for free to fans. It's the essence of why we all got in the business: Let’s make something cool."
The short is really well made and highly entertaining, and it's only 14 minutes so watch it.

Moving from one former star to a rising one, let's talk about this recent news that Dan Stevens is going to play The Beast in Bill Condon's live action musical adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.  I'm not entirely familiar with Stevens as an actor, but I'm becoming very intrigued.  First, I saw The Guest a few months ago and was blown away by his performance.  That alone was enough to snag my interest, but recently my wife and I started watching Downton Abby, and, like, he's incredible in that!

Don't tell me ANYTHING about the show...my wife and I are wrapping up season one and we already have friends spoiling stuff for us.

Anyways, Stevens career is BOOMING right now, and I personally can't wait to see where it goes.

Now...let's come back to Oscar.  News has broke that Oscar is considering reverting back to a locked five Best Picture nominees.  This is such a mess.  I mean, this whole Best Picture change that has been constantly changing since it was initiated back in 2009 is just ridiculous.  First, they decided to change the nominees to a set ten when outrage broke that Best Picture contenders Wall*E and The Dark Knight were snubbed for the The Reader, which wasn't doing very well with critics but was clear Oscar bait.  Craving higher ratings by allotting the opportunity for more commercial films to get Best Picture nominations, Oscar switched to ten, but this quickly shifted to 'between five and ten depending on percentage of #1 votes', but now they are finally realizing that this is just so dumb.  I mean, I've said since the change that this really takes away the prestige factor of a nomination.  We don't have ten Lead Actor noms or ten Director noms, so why alter Best Picture?  I'm all for this.  I only have five nominees for the Fistis (you know, as a rule that can be changed if I so desire).

So what do you think?  Are you for this or against this?  Do you think that 'between five and ten' waters down the true impact of a Best Picture nominee, or do you think allowing films like District 9 or The Blind Side or Selma is worth the expansion?

And lastly, let's talk about something truly horrifying; Toy Story 4!  I just can't get behind this.  When Toy Story 3 ended, it was PERFECT.  I know that we all love these characters and that they are huge movie making faces, but can't we just let this stay ended with such a sweet and perfect ending?  As this article points out, you cannot top Toy Story 3...you can't, and so their decision is to...turn this into a romantic comedy?  What?  While they are trying to claim this isn't a continuation of the story, you are bringing the same characters back in a feature length film and so even if there is no mention of Andy or even humans in general, like, this is still Toy Story!

I just feel like this will mar something that was so beautiful.

Thoughts?

Also...

Here's What I'll Be Reading Today:
Wendell reviews a bunch of dance films
Jeffery introduces us to Tear Council
Irene reviews Whiplash
Andy questions our current rating system
Jenna reviews Hercules
Big Screen Small Words discusses films to see before you're 12
Ruth reviews Chappie
Top 10 Films gives us 11 essential Keira Knightley performances

And lastly, I'm always looking for a good Blogathon, and Nostra looks to have a great on in The Five Senses Blogathon!  Let's all play along.

34 comments:

  1. I love going to the theater, but like you, finding a sitter sucks, and it's just not realistic for me anymore. So I love Netflix and when new movies get released on VOD. It's just more convenient for those of us with small children. (and those that live in smaller cities where their theaters don't get shit)

    I wish the Oscars would just stick with 10 nominees. Not this in "up to" shit. I think 10 is a perfect number, it allows for excellent films that wouldn't normally have a chance (District 9, An Education) to get some visibility. Going back to 5 would suck at this point, especially for independent films. Not everyone can be Juno or Little Miss Sunshine.

    Toy Story 4? WHY!?!?! I thought Toy Story 3 was terrible. lol

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    1. If by terrible you mean emotionally crippling because it touched a part of you that was so human and so honest, then I'm completely with you!

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  2. Hey thanks for the link Drew! As for the Netflix thing, if it's something I think is worth seeing on the big screen, I will still go there even if it's available on Streaming. Movies like Interstellar, Pacific Rim, Avengers, are all fun to see on the big screen as you just can't get the same visual/sound quality at home.

    Re: the Best Picture lineup, I was gonna include it on my Five for the Fifth but I'm already so tired of talking about award stuff, ahah. I personally think they should just stick to either 5 or 10. I'm leaning towards 10 for the same reason Brittani pointed out, that smaller films would get more visibility.

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    1. Yeah, there are some films that I just feel the need to see on the big screen. Gravity was one of those. I can't image having missed that on the big screen. I really wish I hadn't missed Interstellar.

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  3. I was a bit puzzled by the choice to make Toy Story into a romantic comedy as well. Part of me is curious to see how they would go in that direction, the other is understandably nervous. How exactly would a romantic comedy work in this case? I mean it's not exactly like there was much romance in the previous films. Is the plot going to be now about Woody falling in love with some other toy or something? It's a bit odd.

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    1. Yeah, I'm just so baffled by this decision. I'll see it...my kids will be desperate to, but I'm really not sure what to make of this idea.

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  4. The Oscars thing is a mess. Keeping a top 5 does make the award more prestigious, but I have really enjoyed inclusions in the past few years that wouldn't have been recognized otherwise. However when it goes up to 10 it just waters the award down way too much and some terrible inclusions have made their way in, some of which were absurd. I liked having 8 this year. It might be too silly to make 8 the final number, but I like how it lets a little film like Whiplash get recognized without letting in the riff raff.

    I don't quite get the Toy Story 4 idea, but what interests me most is that Rashida Jones & Will McCormack are writing the screenplay. They wrote Celeste and Jesse Forever together, which I really liked but have no clue how that will translate over to an animated movie.

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    1. I loved Celeste and Jesse Forever. The screenplay was so smart and deeply moving, but I just can't see how this is going to work. I mean, it just seems like a really bad idea.

      I actually have a feeling that Whiplash would have made Top 5. Foxcatcher would have remained a lone director spot, and so that leaves American Sniper, The Theory of Everything, Selma and Whiplash. Selma was clearly #8, and despite having an Oscar winning performance in the film, I just don't think The Theory of Everything was Top 5. American Sniper could have been, and yet Eastwood seems like he should have been an easy nod, and he wasn't. Whiplash walked away with three Oscars. I think it was in the Top 5, and possibly higher than #5.

      1) Birdman
      2) Boyhood
      3) The Grand Budapest Hotel
      4) Whiplash
      5) The Imitation Game
      6) American Sniper
      7) The Theory of Everything
      8) Selma

      Possibly...

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  5. Like you, I also have three kids. Luckily, my son is 17 so no sitter required. It's still expensive for the wife and I to make a date of it (including dinner) so we only get to theaters two or three times for new releases, as a couple. We go another two or three times including the kids. Luckily, there is a theater that shows stuff on second run for $2.25 a ticket. Most of it has either already hit DVD/Blu-ray or will do so in the next few weeks. Still, tthere is a magic to seeing something in the theater as opposed to watching at home so we'll hit that up a few times a year, too.

    The idea of Netflix streaming a new release is intriguing, though. I'm new to the service and have enjoyed it so far. Whether or not I'll watch something brand new at home rather than going to the theater depends on a couple things. First is probably what the finances look like at that time, if we're being honest. Just as important are also whether my wife wants to see it and what type of movie it is. If it's a big fx-laden blockbuster I'm more likely to fork over the cash to get the full theater experience than if it were a drama or some otherwise smaller film.

    I'm even more torn on Toy Story 4. Part 3 was so perfect I want it to stop right there. However, I was skeptical when that one was announced, too. Therefore, I want to give the powers that be the benefit of the doubt. Fingers crossed.

    I also think 5 is the correct number for Best Pic noms, but I can understand 10 for the reasons Brittani put forth. Whichever they go with, I just hope they stick with it and forget all this nonsense about any number between crap.

    Thanks for the link!

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    1. Yeah, having kids really limits it. I see a few films every year in the theater, most of them animated. Very rarely do I get to see something adult oriented, and even less so something I'm really anxious to see since my wife's taste in film differs greatly from my own.

      I'm glad you buckled and got Netflix. It really is a great way to see so much!

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  6. I'm excited for Beasts of No Nation. True Detective's extraordinarily gifted DP Cary Fukanaga is at the helm so that gives me lots of hope. Plus, Idris Elba.

    The whole day and date thing with NetFlix streaming is really more of an adoption of something that has existed since the mid 2000's. I remember when Steven Soderbergh's Bubble came out and it was released in limited theaters and a cable network called HDNet Movies. The DVD was released a few days later.

    As Brittani pointed out, this is a good move for people who don't live in major cities where limited release theater chains are offered.

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    1. Yeah, I have to drive over an hour to find a theater that offers films with subtitles, and even then it's a rare thing. Films like Selma and Still Alice never came anywhere near me. It would have been nice to be able to see them via Netflix.

      I really like Fukunaga. He has a real sense of visual style. I'm really excited for Beasts of No Nation...it feels like a real conversation piece, considering how poignant and controversial the subject is.

      Elba is always a plus, unless he's being wasted in a shit movie.

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  7. I don't have Netflix and I'm not going to subscribe to it. I don't have a credit card. Besides, if it's available on VOD. I can download it for free unless it's playing in the theaters nearby with another movie.

    I'm not a Power Rangers fan and I don't like Joseph Khan as a director so I'm just not interested.

    I'm iffy about Toy Story 4 as I would rather much prefer having the story just continue as short films.

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    1. I didn't see a need for Netflix until there was a need for it, for me...but you seem to get your hands on everything that I'm still scrambling to find a way to see, so you apparently have no need for it anyways ;-)

      And I'm SO WITH YOU on Toy Story continuing with short films. In fact, I almost mentioned that in my post. That feels like the best way to continue the franchise without damaging what is already there.

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  8. I would prefer to stream new releases at home -- that would be fantastic. I am in the same boat you are, right down to the 3 kids. Well, my older 2 are old enough to fend for themselves and babysit. But it is still problematic and expensive. On the other hand, it would break my heart to see theaters become a thing of the past, just as I hate to see brick-and-mortar bookstores and video rental establishments going by the wayside. So yes, mixed feelings.

    Toy Story 4?? That is a travesty. You're right -- the ending of Toy Story 3 was perfect. It makes me cry. Every time.

    Thanks for the link!

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    1. Yeah, streaming is just so much easier when you have a family, but I get what you mean about watching theaters, a slice of nostalgia, fall to the wayside.

      UGH, it's like 'The Last Picture Show'...

      I cry every time too...it's just so perfect.

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  9. I am trying to place the face to the Downton Abbey guy and we are major fans and just finished season 5. I will not say a word:) Please let Oscar go back to 5. It made no sense to go to 10 or 8 or whatever just to give films that will never win a trophy nom. I don't have Netflix and I am one of the few who doesn't have it. I think it would be horrible if people stopped going to the cinema and I am one who has not gone in a dog's age. The problem is that at night, I am tired and, during the day, I get busy to do things so I end up not going which is wrong so I am on the fence like you. I hope Netflix doesn't change everything because their good price won't last for long. Toy Story 4? They just don't know when to quit. Now maybe if they filmed it like Bergman's "Persona" and have Buzz and Mr. Potatohead fall for each other...that would be, um, different

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    1. OMG, a Bergman style animated film would be rather incredible, actually.

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  10. I think they should just leave Toy Story as it is, no need to add a fourth one. It sort of ruins the impact of the last movie. As for the Oscars, I'm fine with either 5 (because it will give you the 'best' of the year) or 10 (because it gives a platform for lesser known films) but then again, Oscars has politics so there would still be criticism no matter what they choose to do.

    Thanks for the link!

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    1. Oscar will always be criticized because film appreciation is such a subjective subject, but there will be a higher level of prestige associated with the award if they tighten the reigns and allow it to be a field of five and not an open field for however many they feel the need to reward with a nom. Sometimes it just looks embarrassing.

      I mean, does anyone really think that The Blind Side was one of the ten best films of 2009?

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  11. It's a really interesting debate! I try and see less and less at the cinema now because it's just too expensive, but there are certain films that need to be appreciated on a big screen.
    I haven't made up my mind about Toy Story 4 yet, but I do wish they could have done a spin-off or two instead!
    Thanks for the mention :)
    - Allie

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    1. You're so welcome for the link!

      Yeah, there just seems like other ways to extend the Toy Story franchise than to make another movie. Another movie could really dampen the appreciation for the excellent trilogy (like, EXCELLENT), so I'm worried...

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  12. I'm all for seeing movies in a theater, unless they're playing in, like, 20 screens nationwide. What's the point of that? VOD seems like a great option for limited releases.

    I still need to watch that Power Rangers short, but I was also a huge fan growing up. I still have the original film on VHS. :)

    Stevens is an interesting choice. I'm definitely not opposed to this casting.

    Go back to 5! Some nominations are great (would Les Miserables have actually made the top 5?), but 5 is much more concrete and prestigious.

    I'm not expecting much from Toy Story 4. I love the first two, and I like the third, which I've always found slightly overrated, however emotional that ending may be.

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    1. Yeah, the only reason I rush out to limited releases is because they pose a nice date away from the kids and a night with the wife, and there are times when those films don't get a DVD release for quite a while.

      I loved Power Rangers so much as a kid...

      I wonder about Les Mis. It was a big film, and felt like an easy nom even though it didn't have a chance at the win...and Hooper did snag that DGA nod...but would there really be that many lone directors? I mean, Argo was obviously top 5, despite the missing Affleck. I could see Zero Dark Thirty missing the top 5...but Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln were in...but I could see Les Mis in over Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild, actually.

      Toy Story 3 is not overrated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      :-)

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  13. I love Netflix and am just about to write a piece on their incredible foray into the realm of the comedy series with its distribution of Tina Fey and Robert Carlock's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," which is brilliant, the comeback of "Arrested Development" in 2013, and the forthcoming "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp." If they want to produce and/or distribute features, fine by me. But I sort of have to side with the theater chains on this. This could be the beginning of the end of the already majorly declining big screen cinema. Having said that, I also would love to be able to see more new movies that I can't get to at the theater (or that don't play near me, which is A SHIT TON of movies).

    I'm on the fence about the BP nominees. Ten is too many, since there are still gonna be five for more that have no chance to win anyway. I say the Academy needs to commit. Do ten, or do five...end of story. None of this 8 one year, 9 one year, etc. Come on! Just settle on a number.

    I loved Toy Story 3. There is no need for another.

    Great post as always!

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    1. Yeah, with an expanded field it really feels like it's not a competition anymore. Like, even last year, there was no way it was going to be Selma or The Theory of Everything, but if the top five had been Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and Whiplash or even American Sniper, it may have felt like a real race.

      Who are we kidding...precursors kind of spoil all this for us too. There are so many awards doled out that it becomes obvious months before the Oscars that the race is between two films, and sometimes not even that many.

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  14. I subscribe to what was Love Film, it is now part of Amazon. I originally only used it for DVD rental, but now find myself streaming more than I watch on DVD. Some of their original shows have also been okay. But at the end of the day I would still rather watch a film at the cinema on the biggest screen I can find.
    Thanks for the link.

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    1. You're welcome for the link.

      Yeah, I'd certainly rather watch it on the big screen...but it's just not always an option.

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  15. I love watching movies in cinema but I rarely have the time or energy to go. I'd gladly pay as much for the ticket for the opportunity to buy a movie for my own and just watch it in the comfort of my home. Netflix would be wise to do that and do that worldwide, since the piracy is booming in Europe mostly because there is just not a decent place to watch the movies at home unlike in America.

    Stevens is such a perfect casting. He really looks a lot like the animated character. But Bill Condon? He's kinda a shit director but at least he is not Rob Marshal.

    That BP voting system is a freaking mess and them even considering going back to 5 is just embarrassing. But what else to expect from the lot that gave Redmayne the Oscar...

    Here's something worse than Toy Story 4...
    ...
    ...
    ...
    live action Dumbo made by Tim Burton.

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    1. Stevens is great casting, isn't he! The wife and I have been getting a nice dose of him since we recently started Downton Abby, and we love him, so we're excited about this. But, yes, Condon doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. He showed such promise with Gods and Monsters, so his fall from grace is so hard to understand, but Mr. Holmes looks pretty good, so maybe he's getting better footing on his career.

      UGH, I just read about that Dumbo atrocity headed our way. At this point, I pretty much avoid anything with Burton's name attached. He's become such a hack.

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    2. Downton Abbey? Oh you poor bastard :D I saw 3 or 4 seasons I think, Maggie Smith is just the best. I need to catch up with the show although I saw the most recent episode because Goode joined the cast :)

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    3. I can't with all the British snark...like it's the greatest show ever :-P A bottle of win and an episode of Downton and I'm laughing my ass off.

      But I heard eventually I'll be crying, so, like...I'm preparing myself.

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  16. I love the theaters and I would hate to see them go away. I have interesting off days so I can see a film while the kids are in school so a sitter isn't a problem. The bigger issue for me is the distance I have to travel to get to a nice theater with matinees. 170 mile round trip. Obviously that makes going multiple times a week absolutely impossible.

    The Oscars thing is just dopey. They expanded to 10 (or less) nominees but only two or three ever have a true chance to win. Supposedly it was to increase viewership by adding box office hits but this year showed that wasn't the case. It should stay at five but this constant back and forth is just stupid.

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    1. Yeah, if I want to see something good (i.e. a movie that isn't a CGI mess) then I have to drive roughly 120 miles round trip, since the closest art-house theater is about 60 miles from me.

      And I agree...go back to 5 and STAY THERE!

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