Sometimes timing is everything when releasing a major studio film. That’s why we get The Prestige and The Illusionist one after the other, Antz and A Bug’s Life, Dante’s Peak and Volcano, The Truman Show and EdTV, all released within a month or two of a very similar counterpart. Is that good timing or bad timing? If the subject of these films is “in”, then it hardly matters. People suddenly like period magician dramas, so they want both Illusionist and Prestige. They suddenly like animated ants and volcanic destruction and reality TV heroes, so they want multiple movies about them. One can imagine a studio holding a film they find to be strikingly similar to one that just came out, hoping to distance this from that, only to be accused of copying the success of the first.
Whatever the studio machinations, sometimes the relevance of a movie is just plain dumb luck. Hacking and cyberterrorism have been in the news quite a bit lately, what with the November data leak at Sony and subsequent hullabaloo surrounding The Interview only just starting to get pushed to page two. Michael Mann’s globetrotting hacking drama Blackhat addresses that current fear, but unfortunately it doesn’t manage to extract a very good story out of the headlines.
Continue reading Blackhat (2015)
By now it’s clear that the magnitude of the turmoil surrounding The Interview is vastly disproportionate to the actual strength of the film itself. It’s frustrating, certainly, that this is the movie at the center of everything. Still, the American film industry is a weird beast. In nearly every form — be it Jaws or Sharknado — it’s been a cultural behemoth that reaches pretty much every corner of the globe. Here’s Commentary‘s Abe Greenwald on the current state of all of that in the wake of the movie getting yanked from theaters:
Hollywood movies are a monolithic U.S. export that have served to plant American notions of freedom and unbridled possibility in the minds of untold millions. From now on, filmmakers will think twice before crossing the next paranoid despot. That’s tragic.
That’s no doubt an important point, and probably the point of greatest significance that will ever be associated with a movie starring Seth Rogen. Is that a completely credible fear, though? Amidst the larger concerns of global politics, should we be worried about the “tragic” future of our movies? This piece will wrap up briefly with more thoughts on this. For now, though, let’s shelve the real-life cyberwar fallout discussion and just talk about The Interview.
Continue reading The Interview (2014)