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David Poland

By David Poland

Why Adults Buy

We have the discussion about box office every week. But Joe Leydon, in another entry, offered this rather elaborate query…
Getting back to The Brave One: While I am the last person to equate box-office failure with artistic deficiency, I am genuinely curious about the relative underachievement of Jodie Foster

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18 Responses to “Why Adults Buy”

  1. jeffmcm says:

    All I want to say is that I saw it this weekend and the audience I was with was having a grand old time, laughing and cheering whenever Jodie Foster blew away a bad guy. So I’m surprised that the movie has apparently turned out to be a commercial underperformer.
    The other point, though, is that I don’t think Jodie Foster or Neil Jordan would have been happy if they had seen that audience’s reaction as well.

  2. James Leer says:

    All the trailers, TV ads, and radio ads featured Jodie’s line “My boyfriend was beaten to death.”
    I have a hunch some people weren’t super excited to sit through that.
    And I love Joe, but lately he’s made me want to paraphrase Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls…”Joe, stop trying to make 3:10 to Yuma happen!” It’s like Waterbucket with Brokeback… 😉

  3. Joe Leydon says:

    David: For the record, I have never claimed that critics can’t “be narrow minded and simplistic with the best of them.”
    I think you’re on to something with that “confidence” theory. Maybe it’s sheer coincidence — or maybe I’m just watching the right TV stations — but I feel like I’m still seeing TV spots for 3:10 long after most other movies, inlcuding big hits, dial down (or completely end) such ads.

  4. Moviezzz says:

    “The Brave One is a very sophisticated piece of cinema and storytelling”
    I really have to argue that. Is it really intelligent, or do people see Neil Jordan’s name on it, think it is intelligent because he made THE CRYING GAME (itself a ripoff of CAL), and forget it is from the writers behind THE STAR CHAMBER and TV’s THE EQUALIZER?
    I know that for myself, and several other critics, I found THE BRAVE ONE to be a pretty terrible film. I mean, even if you like the performances, how can you forgive Terrence Howard’s final discussion with Foster (I won’t quote his line, for fear of spoilers, but I have yet to read anyone defend it).
    I am not surprised by the box office failure. Word got out to people to stay away, and they did.
    But then again, The Rock had the number one film at the box office this weekend, so quality and box office don’t necessarily mean anything.

  5. Noah says:

    I found The Brave One to be a wildly overpraised film. I actually thought James Wan’s Death Sentence to be slightly better as a revenge film (and it’s not a very good movie).
    My biggest problem was that it takes place in a New York City that hasn’t existed in twenty years. I just couldn’t accept that there would be a murder of a brown-skinned man in Central Park without a whole lot more media attention. Erica would not be able to casually drift back towards her life as a radio host, as she would be on Today and Good Morning America and Oprah, etc.
    Other than that, though, I didn’t see anything that differentiated it from any other revenge film. Whether or not the film or filmmakers sided with Erica is irrelevant because we sympathize with her. The only thing that would make the film interesting is if it took place in her mind or something along those lines, since I don’t believe that a policeman would be so sympathetic and I also don’t believe that she would be so adept at using a gun so quickly. Ultimately, the problem with the film is that it doesn’t know whether it wants to be a serious film about the perils of vigilante justice that takes place in the real world or whether it wants to take place in a land created by Hollywood, where a murderess can get away with it because she’s only getting rid of “bad” guys.

  6. MarcusF says:

    I guess I fall into the minority in thinking that this really was as David put it a “sophisticated piece of cinema”. If you’re paying attention, there is just so much there, but that’s the thing, the subtleties are easy to miss. Ultimately this film couldn’t get away from all the Deathwish comparisons, and I think that’s one of the things that did it in. Anyone who thinks this movie is all about a female Chuck Bronson should consider watching again.

  7. Cadavra says:

    I just saw it yesterday and think Noah’s assessment is pretty much on target (pun intended): too artsy-fartsy for the action crowd, too nasty for the high-minded. Plus the script is so full of cliches and gaping plot holes that Foster, Howard, Jordan and D.P. Rousselot (whose work is exemplary) can’t completely cover them up. It IS DEATH WISH, David, and putting it in fancy dress clothes only gives you a film that satisfies neither of its diverse audiences (that 46% notwithstanding).

  8. jeffmcm says:

    There are plenty of subtleties but unfortunately they’re overpowered by the movie being divided against itself and trying to be thoughtful while simultaneously pandering to its audience’s most conventional revenge fantasies.

  9. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Cadavra is on to something. Neil Jordan has an upmarket/arty background, which means he was a director for hire on “The Brave One”.
    BTW “A History of Violence” came out in fall ’05.

  10. NickF says:

    Btw, it’s unfair to take a crap on The Game Plan’s success this weekened when discussing WB’s ineptitude in marketing The Brave One. Each movie was going after a completely different audience. The Rock’s movie was never hyped as an award contender, but instead a simple family comedy. Is is stupid and not very funny? most likely, but they movie in no shape or form attempts to be attractive to anyone that isn’t 12 or younger. The families and parents that Disney marketed it to turned out in a decent manner, so they win.
    The Brave One had multiple things going against it, the death of “Death Sentence” a few weeks before it, the drastic marketing shift which saw it go from serious revenge drama to the second cousin of Andrzej Bartkowiak’s trilogy of action flicks, and negative word of mouth that it wasn’t as good as everyone had elected it.
    The same discussion can be had about how Universal tried to pull a Jarhead this weekend and failed.

  11. IOIOIOI says:

    Absolutely unnecessary comment; Adults are buying DVDs. That’s what they are buying! Those non-going to the movies enough buggers!

  12. Man, Matchstick Men was so good.
    That’s pretty much all I have to say because The Brave One ain’t out here yet, of course.

  13. christian says:

    y’all are missing the main reason THE BRAVE ONE didn’t get asses in seats:
    bad poster.

  14. Joe Leydon says:

    Christian may have a point. Seriously. Instead of an anguished Jodie Foster with her hand to her head, imagine a righteously pissed off Jodie Foster aiming her gun right at you… Sure, that might have misrepresented the film’s intent. But it would have sold more tickets, I’ll bet. That’s grrrrl power for you, David.

  15. jeffmcm says:

    Absolutely. And maybe if it didn’t match the film’s intent, it would be a very good fit with the film’s actual execution (pardon the pun).

  16. hendhogan says:

    well considering the marketing campaign for both “the heartbreak kid” and “good luck chuck” mislead audiences, i don’t think that is a studio concern.

  17. Josh Massey says:

    I don’t think audiences felt they were going to get a fair shake with The Brave One. People go see this type of movie to get the visceral thrill of seeing the bad guy blown away. I think many thought (as did I) that Foster’s presence meant that we were going to be made to feel guilty about wanting that thrill, that we were going to be preached at about how these actions are wrong, wrong, wrong.
    Now I haven’t seen the film. Maybe that perception is right, maybe not.

  18. Wrecktum says:

    This movie does not hit Jodie’s target demo. The concept skews too male and perhaps too young.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon