Saturday, July 30, 2005

Movie Business

Part 1

We saw Must Love Dogs and Sky High Friday. On the whole, the latter was more enjoyable than the former, though it wasn't as funny as I thought it was going to be; the trailer shows a small scene between Dave Foley and his old "Kids in the Hall" associate, Kevin MacDonald, that is so off-handedly amusing that I'd hoped the entire movie would have that tone. On the whole, it really is nothing more than a Disney Channel movie.

However, both movies suffered from something that movies have for years and that is the "unresolved gun." I don't mean a real gun; I refer to a comment made by Chekov back when he wrote plays, before he signed up with Star Fleet. Chekov's statement goes something like this: "If a playwrite shows a gun in the first act, he has to use it by the third act."

Unlike modern film studios, editors, and directors, Chekov understood that a play, or movie, is not reality. It is a discrete whole wherein there must be a reason for every action and prop. For instance, in Sky High, Kurt Russel's character made repeated mention of his father, who had also been a super-hero. Yet, by the end of the film, grandfather never appeared (and if he had, who better for the role than Adam West). In Must Love Dogs, Christopher Plummer's character speaks of losing a woman he cared about, someone in the film, yet there is no on-screen resolution for that statement. Fantastic Four, as much as I like it, is full of such nagging problems.

The best example of a recent movie that had no unresolved guns, was The Sixth Sense. In fact, I submit that the movie only works because we film-goers are so used to unresolved moments that we resolve them internally, hence we don't question the fact that we never see Bruce Willis having a conversation with an adult. Because of the way the film is cut, we think that the conversations have been removed, so we replace them.

However, The Sixth Sense is the only movie for which that works. For every other movie maker, it is just sloppiness. Directors, restrain and think about what it means to cut or not shoot a scene. You have a continuity person on set to make sure the wrinkles in a shirt match from day to day. How about getting a continuity person into the editing room.

Part 2

A bunch of new trailers are out if you are interested:

Walk the Line. the Johnny Cash biography with Joaquin Phoenix as the singer and Reese Witherspoon as June Cash.

Doom moves from the computer to the movie screen.

The vidication of Firefly, Joss Whedon's directorial debut, and the reason we won't be seeing any "Buffy-verse" made-for-television movies (Whedon has closed his television production offices in favor of movies all come together in Serenity. Firefly was lost chance because of Fox's quick trigger finger and, for myself, annoyance that the quality of Angel and Buffy suffered while Joss was off gallivanting with his science fiction Western. (I'm not saying anything, but the season Firefly debuted, Spike was banging Buffy against a wall in an alley and Connor was around. Not that I'm saying anything, but I'm just saying.)