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By David Poland

BYOB – The Spirit Movies Us…

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46 Responses to “BYOB – The Spirit Movies Us…”

  1. LexG says:

    Not exactly “Go ahead, make my day,” is it? What does that even mean???
    Though between ScaJo, Paz, Mendes and Jaime, they should’ve just called it “The Squackness.”
    I’ll ask again: What did Gabriel Macht do to warrant headlining his own movie? The recent ascension of that dude and TV-supporting hack Bradley Cooper to A-list ranks is kind of mystifying.

  2. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    When BNAT turns you down you know you’re in trouble. I’m just looking for some enlightenment. Who thought this was a good idea? Anyone? Bueller?
    Let us look at a checklist of complete failure.
    1. Comic entity no one remembers. CHECK
    2. Atrocious & confusing billboard campaign. CHECK
    3. A inferior imitation of your own work. CHECK
    4. A director with no experience. CHECK
    5. Teasers that fail to tease. CHECK
    6. Trailers that fail to expand the tease. CHECK
    7. Godzilla style lead in of hype. CHECK
    8. Inept lead. CHECK
    9. Foreskin tearing dialogue exchanges. CHECK
    10. LexG likes the look of it.

  3. brack says:

    Asinine checklist. CHECK

  4. Hopscotch says:

    It’s looked horrible from the outset. Gabrile Macht we hardly knew ye.

  5. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    your right bracky. the world needs more serious thinkers. not asinine posts on movie blogs. i think there’s an economy and some whales that need your help urgently.

  6. brack says:

    Passive aggressive retort. CHECK

  7. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Your wilde calibre zingers are truly memorable et al but it really is unfair of you to deprive the hot bloggers of your full intellect. Any thoughts on the film, sir douche-a-lot?

  8. lazarus says:

    I’m not as put off by Gabriel Macht’s leading turn here as some others are, mainly because I originally thought it was Gabriel MANN. Now there’s a guy whose continued employment mystifies me. What a milquetoast. When I saw that trailer for Dark Streets, I thought “yeah, that’s who I imagine when I think nightclubs and 40’s noir”.
    Is there a film anyone can point to that he was good in? I couldn’t believe how awful he was in that Wim Wenders/Sam Shepherd reunion Don’t Come Knocking, where he tried to play all angsty.
    No sale.

  9. Aris P says:

    Is there going to be any kind of awards push for Che? And, equally importantly, will there be screeners of this film? I’m pretty positive that I cannot sit still for 4 hours at a screening.

  10. jeffmcm says:

    Brack, what was your problem? Big Will Eisner fan?

  11. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    jeff if he was a fan of Eisner he would’ve added 10 more points on my list.
    Speaking of Eisner, I highly recommend David Hajdu’s The Ten-Cent Plague, a fantastic indepth history of the movers and shakers when comic strips first appeared.
    Aris. Imagine watching Che afer 20 hours in the same cinema seat. That BNAT closer was an ill thought out idea. It hurt the film by hurting the audience. A no win situation.

  12. LexG says:

    JBD, you forgot:
    11. Weak-ass PG-13 rating.
    Not that it would make a world of difference quality-wise, but already feels like a bets-hedged move for material that would necessitate an R and a studio known for their extreme carnage. Very obviously will be one of those movies where the theatrical release plays like an airplane edit waiting for its “UNRATED!” DVD.
    Also, this “edgy” genre Christmas counterprogramming NEVER works, does it? Dimension tried it for a decade.
    Holiday moviegoing is done by gravy-stuffed families taking a break from shopping, going en masse to see some family-friendly bullshit. There really IS no market for fanboy/geek/splatter “dude” movies during that week.

  13. jeffmcm says:

    I think there’s some market for teens/young guys wanting to escape from the family for a spell and see something different, but it’s not a huge market.
    It worked with the first two Scream movies, though, and to a lesser degree with The Faculty and Dracula 2000, but not so much with Four Rooms Darknes, Wolf Creek, or Black Christmas or Fox’s AVP:R last year.
    I see that Universal tried it a couple times, too, with Street Fighter in 1995 and How High in 2001.

  14. scooterzz says:

    aris — yeah, there’s a little push for ‘che’ and screeners went out a couple of weeks ago (although that doesn’t make it much easier to sit through)…..

  15. LYT says:

    Scream didn’t actually come out on Christmas day, though, if I recall correctly…and its success was a bit of a surprise.
    Releasing a horror film on a family holiday is death. Easter (Grindhouse), Thanksgiving (The Mist), and Christmas ought to be steered clear. Fourth of July, however, can work if there’s a big enough budget and star involved.

  16. LYT says:

    Having said that, of course, The Spirit isn’t really horror…and might be looking to Jackie Brown as a precedent (Sam Jackson, gunplay, babe in a bikini, over-the-top tough talk)

  17. brack says:

    Sorry JBD, I find criticizing a film prior to seeing it kinda pointless and dishonest. If you’re talking about how it was marketed, I find that game tedious, considering this was always going to a niche film. The trailers were good, but the release date killed its chances of becoming a hit, especially when it’s up against Will, Brad, Tom, and Jim. I have no idea why the release date was changed.

  18. LexG says:

    Gabriel MANN! HA! Yeah, that guy is kind of like a no-charisma version James Spader, if Spader only played white-bread dorks instead of smarmy psychos and yuppies.
    And actually, I ALWAYS mix Gabriel Mann up with that actor… don’t know his name, but he was in ZODIAC and he looks uncomfortably like a male Scarlett Johansson? He plays the Zodiac’s surviving victim in the final scene. And that scene also always sticks out because it seems like a rare casting misstep for Fincher; Shouldn’t the guy be in his early 40s by 1991? Why cast a 30-ish, grungy-looking Gen X actor like that guy?

  19. EthanG says:

    Something tells me the embargo on “Seven Pounds” is a very bad sign.
    Jim Carrey might actually come out on top in this Carrey/Smith smackdown.

  20. scooterzz says:

    lex — jimmi simpson….he was actually pretty funny on ‘it’s always sunny in philadelphia’ and pretty impressive in ‘the farnsworth invention’ on stage…..

  21. scooterzz says:

    and the reason simpson stood out (to me) in ‘zodiac’ was because he was supposed to be the older version of lee norris (‘mouth’ in ‘one tree hill’) and it seemed like a pretty good choice…

  22. David Poland says:

    EthanG… Seven Pounds is a movie that critics – especially those who cream their jeans for European murkiness, which SP is full of – will smack in large numbers… and which audiences will enjoy crying through.
    Like the earlier post about showing Valkyrie… it’s just avoiding a small constituency that Sony surely knows will think they know better.
    I think there is a real chance that Carrey will open better, since the idea is clean and clear and that works well for Carrey, though the ads don’t provide a closer, like his dog peeing into the toilet or Jen Aniston having bigger boobs.

  23. lawnorder says:

    Gabriel Macht is actually a terrific actor and I have enjoyed his performances in A LOVE SONG FOR BOBBY LONG, BEHIND ENEMY LINES and (briefly in) THE GOOD SHEPHERD. The problem is, THE SPIRIT has zero appeal and I doubt Macht is going to be well served by the material. The look of the film is warmed over SIN CITY and the PG-13 jokeiness of it all seems like a misfire, when Miller should have taken a more DARK KNIGHT approach. I feel bad for Macht because this was his big break and it’s probably going to go down more like LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER and THE PHANTOM for him. I hope he lives to see another day as a studio lead because I think he has “it.”

  24. a_loco says:

    DP, I think you might be overestimating the commercial appeal of Seven Pounds. I know you’ll probably bring up the shittalking that occurred before Hancock, but this is different. I’ve seen the trailer six or even times, but I still have no fucking clue as to what the movie is about. Say what you will about Hancock or the Pursuit of Happyness, but those movies had marketing campaigns that made sense.

  25. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Brack. Dishonest to talk about a film before release!?!
    Are you for real Brack or some inventive troll? Do you know where you are posting? Hey after 30yrs in the game I can smell a turd a mile away. I don’t need to see that fucking film to know its worthless. I actually find the marketing of film fascinating and I like talking about it. I’d get more indepth in here but with responses like yours, why would anyone bother.
    Why are you still here dude? This whole blog is about the film business. For fucks sake. A niche film? Go get your shinebox.
    This is all about me nailing a piece of shit that you obviously have high hopes for. If you could offer one piece of positive evidence about the film, then me my guest. They release 6 segments and all are pretty terrible. And that was their best shot at negating the ill will out there. This is a fubar of a release and it enthralls me. I think bad ideas should be punished and so sure there’s some healthy schadenfreude in all this but lessons will be learnt.
    The very fact that you think the trailers were ‘Good’ tells me all I need to know.
    LexG who sometimes I find annoying at least appears to have more film knowledge in his left nut than you do in your smug and condescending body.

  26. leahnz says:

    hey jbd, you’re kind of a badass.
    lyt, please tell me you didn’t just compare ‘the spirit’ (of which i’ve only seen a clip and that’s all i plan to see from the looks of it) to ‘jackie brown’, an all-time hard-out hilarious petty-crime love-story classic

  27. brack says:

    JBD, you’re one to talk. You ooze condescension and delusion. You know nothing about me, or know whether or not I have “high hopes” for the movie. But continue with your obvious trolling, but I can’t think of anything more idiotic than criticizing a film you haven’t seen. Seeing the actual movie is pretty standard, I don’t care if you’ve been watching films for one year or 80 years. Knowledge is knowing that you know nothing, and you clearly don’t.
    Maybe it will suck, and maybe those scenes that you’ve seen sucked, though I tend not to watch movie scenes out of context, due to it being not that fair. Though I happened to see a couple of scenes from Max Payne and knew from the horrible acting that this proved not to be Mark Wahlberg’s year.
    Anyway, I think most trailers are shit. I got the vibe of the movie from the trailer, so on that level, and I think that’s what any trailer should do, it worked. I look forward to seeing it. Whether or not some random person on the internet thinks it sucks doesn’t phase me one bit. The fact that you didn’t like the trailers tells me all I need to know. See how that works, bucko? Like that somehow dismisses any opinion I might have. I still think your list is stupid. Most lists like that are stupid by default. The foreskin tearing remark sealed the deal. You better have foreskin, or that was just weird.
    “A niche film?”
    You know, a specialized market. Comparable titles include The Phantom, Sky Captain, The Shadow, etc. Sure, the studios hoped good things, but they had to have known they were taking a big gamble with completely unestablished or forgotten characters.

  28. LYT says:

    In terms of marketing, leahnz, I believe that’s the precedent Lionsgate is hoping for — a Christmas day crime movie with Sam Jackson as the villain that made money and maintained an audience. That is the comparison I made.
    The quality or lack thereof of what is being sold is irrelevant to that particular analogy.

  29. Just walked in from “Revolutionary Road” and was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved it. I wasn’t expecting much and really only went because I have no award screeners and (mainly) because Michael Shannon was there. I knew nothing of the story either…and have read nothing about it so….very pleasant surprise.
    I do think the “Mad Men” comparisons are inevitable, but who’s to say “Mad Men” wasn’t inspired by the R.R. book? In any case, great flick…Michael Shannon continues to kill it as does Winslet and DiCaprio is great too but gets overshadowed throughout.

  30. LexG says:

    This is going to be a very Wellsian (as in Jeff) observation, but DiCaprio needs to mix up his onscreen “look” a little more often; With the notable exception of “Gangs,” he has pretty much the same mid-length haircut in every movie, and half the time (Aviator, R. Road, Catch Me if You Can) he seems to be wearing the same wardrobe. The only thing that really changes is the addition or subtraction of a scruffy Van Dyke in certain things.
    Matt Damon is the same way– rarely if ever (Brothers Grimm, I guess) really mixes up the appearance.
    I guess in that regard they’re sort of like Paul Newman, who almost never (Buffalo Bill maybe) turned up in some ridiculous mullet or beard.
    Maybe it’s just a thing for that new(ish) generation of leading man actors? Come to think of it, Wahlberg, Affleck, Maguire, Vaughn all have pretty much the same appearance going from film to film.
    Compared to say the generation prior: Depp, Cruise, Pitt, Cage, Willis would always mix up facial hair and/or hair length from film to film; You never see Damon rocking a Pitt-in-True Romance long surfer cut or Affleck turning up looking like Cruise in “Legend.”

  31. leahnz says:

    ah, marketing…i see now that’s what you meant, lyt. what a relief, for a minute there i thought you’d lost your mind.
    (thanks for sharing your ‘rr’ thoughts, don lewis, glad to hear it)

  32. jeffmcm says:

    The other day I asked my mom, who is a 59-year-old non-insider movie fan, what she wanted to see when we spend the holidays together. The two titles she mentioned were Doubt and Seven Pounds. So even though the marketing has been completely murky, it’s still done the job of selling the movie. I’m imagining a final gross somewhere just under Pursuit of Happyness.
    Brack and JBD: I think you’re both right.
    Lex: God I wish you would always write as intelligently as you are above here. I would buy you no end of drinks.

  33. movieman says:

    Gabriel Macht gave one of my favorite recent performances that nobody saw in “Bobby Long” four years ago…I think he deserves a break, although “The Spirit” probably won’t do the trick.
    “Mad Men” creator _______ _______ (drawing a blank on his name right now, duh!) has openly admitted to being a huge fan of Richard Yates’ novel, so the chicken-vs.-the-egg argument seems pretty clear cut. For me, “MM” (which I adore) turned out to be a complete non-issue while watching “RR,” and that was a pleasant surprise.
    Great film: I’ve seen it twice, and can’t wait to watch it again.

  34. movieman says:

    Re: the “7 Pounds” vs. “Yes Man” match-up.
    While I know it’s foolish to bet against Big Willy, I’ve got a sinking feeling that “Pounds” could turn out to be his first release not to gross $100-million since “Ali.” Of course, who would have ever guessed that “Hancock” would ever outgross “Wall-E”?
    And the geriatric blow job jokes in “Yes” might hurt it with the family trade. Just saying.
    Both films could “underperform” and I wouldn’t be surprised.
    “Marley and Me” still looks like the season’s runaway hit to me.
    (And “Despereaux” could be d.o.a.)

  35. movieman says:

    The “MM” guy is Matthew Weiner….

  36. movieman says:

    And I’m not sure whether “Bedtime Stories” is the slamdunk most people are tagging it as.
    There are going to be a lot of movies fighting for a slice of that “all-ages-friendly” holiday audience (“Marley,” “Yes,” “Despereaux,” holdovers like “Bolt” and “Madagascar”), and “BS” isn’t going to be the only game in town.
    I still think it’ll do okay; just not sure whether it has a chance of reaching those hallowed “Night at the Museum”/ “Alvin and the Chipmunk” numbers in such a busy marketplace. (The fact that “BT” looks like an incoherent botch–doesn’t screen in NE Ohio until Monday nite–doesn’t instill much confidence either.)

  37. movieman says:

    That should have been “BS,” not “BT.”

  38. The Big Perm says:

    John Wayne always looked the same except when he played Genghis Kahn, which made up for it all.

  39. movieman says:

    One holiday release that I think has been underestimated by most box-office gurus is “Valkyrie.”
    The advertising blitzkrieg (Bryan Singer even did “Morning Joe” earlier this week) seems to be working if the hundreds of people turned away at a recent Cleveland promo is any indication of its “wanna see” factor.

  40. Krazy Eyes says:

    Well they’re certainly not playing up Gabriel Macht in the trailers much. It doesn’t even look much like him. I went to school with him for 4 years and I saw those trailers at least 10 times before I even noticed his name and I still don’t recognize him.

  41. movieman-
    I just couldn’t shake the idea that DiCaprio and that Vincent Kartheiser kid who plays Pete Campbell on “Mad Men” were very similar. Not just the job and behavior, but DiCaprio’s voice as well. Especially in the beginning. Obviously, “Revolutionary Road” goes a different direction and then the comparisons slip away but in my mind in the beginning of the film, they seemed alot alike.
    I also agree about DiCaprio’s look. In “R.R.” dude looks like he looked in “Titanic” and apparently he never ages.

  42. movieman says:

    While I can (retrospectively) appreciate your comparison between the Kartheiser and DiCaprio characters, “Mad Men” never once crossed my mind while watching the film.
    Maybe because I was so familiar with the Yates book, but I kept thinking how uncanny it was that Mendes and Haythe seemed to get everything so right.
    Yeah, Leo is seemingly ageless, isn’t he?
    Lucky fucker.

  43. christian says:

    All I know is that my friend Anna KILLS in YES MAN.

  44. Cadavra says:

    Simpson was excellent in FARNSWORTH and is also a stitch as Lyle The Intern on Letterman. He’s got a real career ahead of him if he so chooses.

  45. yancyskancy says:

    I thought Macht was fine in Bobby Long, if a bit too recessive to make a strong impression opposite his more charismatic co-stars.
    The only thing I know Gabriel Mann from is Mad Men, where he seems well cast as Arthur Case, Betsy Draper’s equestrian crush.

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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