When I was younger, one of my favorite parts of buying movies was seeking out the best package of special features. I must’ve owned three or four different copies of Evil Dead over the years, with each new release or re-release featuring a brand new interview with the filmmakers, unseen behind-the-scenes footage, or a new featurette on the film’s enduring appear to fans. These days, absent the occasional Criterion Collection, Arrow Films, or Scream Factory release, my hunt for special features has mostly died out, but that’s only intensified my appreciation for VFX sizzle reels. It’s the on special feature I still find I get excited for.
Well, that’s kinda awkward timing. On Thursday of last week, the New York Times published an article titled “Attacked by Rotten Tomatoes,” an in-depth look at the popular review aggregation site and the role it may have played in this summer’s disappointing box office numbers. The article ends with a prolonged examination of the various ways that studios are trying to “battle Rotten Tomatoes on multiple fronts,” seemingly accepting the idea that Rotten Tomatoes has been bad for the movie industry (despite the fact that Rotten Tomatoes is, in fact, owned by said members of the movie industry). The article may have been an interesting read for those unfamiliar with the controversy, but for those in the know, it was old news, part of an ongoing debate that tried to argue that critics were duping poor, easily misled moviegoers.
Here’s a guilty confession for you: I kinda liked the second Starship Troopers movie. Granted, I caught it on DVD when I was still a teenager, so I’m not entirely sure it withstands the test of time, but Starship Troopers 2: Heroes of the Federation is such a blatant ripoff of John Carpenter’s The Thing — a deserted outpost where a species develops the ability to mimic human physiology — that I couldn’t help but enjoy it a little. When you’re directed by a guy known for Star Wars and Robocop special effects, you’re at least going to have a few fun visuals to keep you company along the way.
They say the flame that burns brightest also burns quickest, which might explain America’s short-lived fascination with Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci was a singular political figure: from his methodical recreation of Donald Trump hand gestures to his, ah, poorly conceived late night phone calls, Scaramucci was immediately the most colorful character in an administration that already featured a surplus of memorable individuals. So when Scaramucci was fired from his official position as White House spokesperson, there was a half-ironic sense of loss, a feeling that we’d only begun to scratch the surface of Mooch madness.
While it probably wouldn’t be fair to say that I enjoy James Franco as an actor, I certainly find him to be one of the more interesting talents working today. Unlike most actors, Franco is entirely immune to decline; he can make an independent horror film or a second-rate biopic and immediately pivot into a new blockbuster franchise or prestige television series. And since his career refuses to conform to any established patterns, it makes it really difficult to know if his upcoming projects are actually any good. Is The Vault an arthouse horror film or a movie elevated from the VOD ranks by Franco’s presence? Who knows?
The next time you scroll through the Netflix menu and skip over an Adam Sandler comedy, just know that you’re not exactly in the majority there. You’ll probably remember Netflix’s numbers from earlier this year suggesting that their viewers have spent more than 500 million hours watching Sandler comedies, meaning that the average user has watched 2.86 of his movies on Netflix alone. We can argue about the merits of Sandler as a filmmaker or Netflix as a distribution model, but when it comes the marriage of Sandler and Netflix, the results are hard to deny. There’s oil in them-there sophomoric jokes.
Look, I’m no stranger to college acapella groups. When I was an undergraduate, a ragtag group of choir kids — myself most definitely included — organized the first men’s acapella group in the modern history of the university, and a quick Google search shows that the group is still alive and well to this day (no, I won’t tell you the name of the university or the name of the ensemble, so don’t bother asking). So am I pretty much as cool and influential as the Bellas in the Pitch Perfect movie series? Why, yes. I’d like to think so, yes.
This has been a good weekend for Planet of the Apes fans. Not only did we get our first look at some of the early buzz for the final film in the trilogy — buzz that suggest that War for the Planet of the Apes might just be the best and bleakest movie in the series yet — we’ve also been treated to a special Father’s Day trailer that explores the universal truths of fathers, sons, and legacy. Sentient apes or human, we’re all just trying to leave behind a better world for our children.
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