Monday, January 29, 2007

An Odd and an End from the Weekend

Two unrelated topics I wanted to touch on from this weekend, neither really worthy of a full post, so instead I'm just cramming them together, no matter how awkward the fit.
First and foremost, now we all know what happens when you don't read the Sunday Times on Sunday: you miss sweet ass articles like this one from Whitney Joiner. In her piece, Joiner gives readers the low down on Rodriguez and Tarantino's Grindhouse. For folks familiar with the film and its production history to date, there probably wasn't anything in the piece to knock your socks off. But what's important here is that A) it was in the New York freaking Times. They don't talk about any movie to come down the pipe. B) It's fucking Grindhouse for god's sake! I mean, this is going to be one of the messiest, bloodiest, most beautiful pictures of the year. And C) Joiner deploys a strong sense of the generic implications of the two films that make up this beast of a movie experience.

The set piece that kicks the whole story off is Rose McGowan's infamous prosthetic leg/automatic weapon. Joiner talked to both Rodriguez and Tarantino for the piece, and the former make a somewhat surprising statement about how he crafted the film:

“I thought, ‘Nobody’s ever thought of that [put an automatic weapon where a leg should be] before,’ ” Mr. Rodriguez said of his high-caliber epiphany during an interview at his Troublemaker Studios here last month. “Your mind just goes to the craziest idea to lure people into the theater, and then you write your script around those elements.”

This sounds a little reckless, but Rodriguez's feel for genre seems strong enough to make this kind of writing philosophy work. A little later in the piece, he mentions John Carpenter an awful lot, which sets a pretty damn high bar, but could mean great things come release date. A couple other points from the piece are worth mentioning:
  1. Weinstin Company is preparing their largest promotional push since their founding upon Harvey and Bob's acrimonious split with Disney.
  2. The directors, in their effort to create that true grindhouse movie going experience, will be randomly dropping reels from the films.
  3. Tarantino on developing his contribution: “Part of my fun in doing genre cinema, since everyone knows the rules well, whether unconsciously or not, is leading you down a road and giving you all the information that you’ve gotten in other movies, and then using your own information against you,” he said.
  4. The possibility of a sequel is put firmly into play by Rodriguez, but sort of brushed off by Tarantino.
We'll see what he says after the box office numbers start rolling in.

Speaking of box office numbers, my second point from this weekend has to do with Epic Movie's mildly surprising victory in its opening week. When your only real competition is Smokin' Aces, you probably shouldn't go around getting a big head when you open at $18.6 million. Now, that being said, this is the second time in less than a year that one of these spoof films has opened at number one at the box (Scary Movie 4 went number one in April). Epic Movie's draw was also almost identical to Date Movie's last February.

Certainly no one is going to argue that any of these three films is anything substantial. While I haven't seen any of this line since Scary Movie 2, it would seem that the team behind these films has the process down to something of a science, which isn't surprising seeing as that they are, at the end of the day, genre films, and the most derivitive type of genre films to boot.

The strength of each of these films' box office openings, however, speak to audiences desire to laugh through so many of the generic conventions that have succeeded in films that are usually still fresh in their minds. Especially in the case of the Scary and now Epic series, there really is no telling how far these films can go, since they can simply rely on the previous year's crop of films when pulling material together. Then, simply play the exact same set pieces that earlier filmmakers leveraged for drama or scares, only for laughs this time around. I'm not saying you need to like it, but it'd be silly not to respect the racket that this group of writers and producers has set up.

No comments: