Sherlock Holmes

January 6, 2010

The miserable career of Guy Ritchie since his two early successes (though it was really just the one repeated, albeit well) in shallow, gangland-pop entertainments is well documented.  Flop after flop of misguided, kaballah-drenched soggy retreads had given the once British wonder boy the air of a has-been one-trick pony, like a novelty pop star desperate to follow up the original success by aping it.  One imagines Warner Brothers decided to resurrect one of the most famous literary characters in the world with the directorial equivalent of the Crazy Frog for at least two reasons:  1.) Recent career woes meant he was cheap and malleable and 2.) Holmes is apparently based in London, and Ritchie did those films that were set in London but were flashy and cool and maybe he could do that here, yeah? Read the rest of this entry »

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As a completely scattered, off-the-top-of-my-head, and totally unresearched thought, I’m wondering if my abiding affection for rom-coms stems less from their idealized representation of the love-conquers-all world, or their generally light, comforting formulaic model, but rather the feeling that they’re the last holdover from a bygone Hollywood era.  They are produced and function like films from the days of old – assembly line, workmanlike, same but a little different…  Musicals are few and far between, the action genre has become a series of overblown blockbuster tentpole events, and melodramas have been largely relegated to telefilms or Oscar bait (take a bow, Crash).  The rom-com seems to be the most sustainable business model of the industry.  Fairly cheap to produce, driven by the Star System like no other genre, and a built-in audience (women, of course) that tends to be ignored by the studios who believe young men is where the money lies (though, in recent years, the thinking is finally starting to catch up with reality).  Dependable escapism is the order of the day, and the sheer simplicity of the pleasure is probably why I get more enthusiastic than I probably should for these films.  All that really means nothing when it comes to The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, which on its own is in no way special or interesting.  In fact, most of it is flat-out bad.  But while it is most certainly not the film to spark off any discussion whatsoever on an entire genre, it does nicely establish a general middle area of quality expectation.  Far from the best, it is also not the worst of its kind.  It isn’t the breakout box office success of a Devil Wears Prada nor does it have the relentless charm of a Never Been Kissed, but it isn’t as completely unwatchable as Made of Honor.   Read the rest of this entry »

Taken

March 18, 2009

Seven weeks into its US run, Taken is still holding strong in the box office top five. It has seen less than a 10% drop from week to week for most of that time, which you’ll know is very unusual if you keep up with box office trends (as I’m sure you all do). At close to $127 million in domestic grosses, it is the second-highest grossing film of the year so far (and it’s outpacing the highest grossing, Paul Blart: Mall Cop). Now it most definitely won’t stay that way, and it’s true that this time of year is generally thin on big releases, but it still says something about the cultural draw of the film. Made for around $40 million, this is a huge coup for a moderately budgeted film starring an unlikely action hero. I really shouldn’t play the armchair culture pundit, asking the questions about why this film seems to resonate so well in America and what that says about the country as a whole, but I can’t help myself. I’m probably over-thinking a mindless movie, but after watching it, questions were raised.

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