Monthly Archives: June 2005

Better than Ever

Jim Schembri, the film critic for the EG section in The Age, published an interesting piece in that paper on Friday about Hollywood films. After apparently having an exceptionally unpleasant time with Mr & Mrs Smith – a movie I chose not to inflict on myself – he was moved to write a long piece on how Hollywood films really suck these days. (For the next few days it will be available here, although registration may be required.) The basic argument is that big “event” movies like Mr & Mrs Smith don’t actually need to be good: they open to enormous business based upon saturation marketing, and turn a profit before word gets out that they suck. The marketing media machine is, essentially, making quality irrelevant and thus making both Hollywood movies and their audiences dumber:

The intent is to blitz the eyes, rattle the ears and provide plenty of close-ups of those big, expensive stars. Pummel the audience with the package. Overwhelm them with starpower and firepower.

That’s what audiences are being sold now – not films, but deals.

This dumbing down of movies – it’s still very hard to believe that Miss Congeniality 2 actually does exist – has been accompanied by a dumbing down of audiences.

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Top and Bottom

I’ve written before about the trick of producing an “all time top” list to generate publicity for a media outlet or organisation, and keeping track of both the silly and sensible examples of this phenomenon will be an ongoing pursuit of mine on this page. I therefore regret that in my month-long Star Wars hysteria the Richard Shickel / Richard Corliss Time list slipped through without comment. If you doubted my theory about these lists being done to boost circulation, consider the number of hits that the list produced for the Time web site: there were 7.8 million hits to the list in a week, including 3.5 million hits on a single day. Little wonder that Time have tried to keep the interest going: those stats are from a follow-up article by Corliss about how they produced the list that remains on the front page of the Time website as I write, some 20 days after the top 100 debuted. The sites’ coverage is a movie list-geeks paradise, bristling with little offshoot categories: guilty pleasures (including the underrated Joe Versus the Volcano, which I assumed everyone else in the world had forgotten); scores (which snobbishly fails to list a single John Williams score); performances; shorts; and the films that Schickel and Corliss had to cut from their lists.

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