Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Summit Entertainment Rant: The Brothers Bloom DVD Delay

First things first. I quite enjoyed...no, loved "The Brothers Bloom" this summer. I thought that it was criminally under-released and unviewed by the majority of the public, but I thought that the fault of that was the distributor to a large extent. And they are screwing over the movie for a second time with the DVD/Blu-Ray release. Now we come to the rub, Summit Entertainment. Otherwise known as the studio that can't make money unless it involves soap opera-ish, oversexed, whiny vampires. I understand the Twilight saga and why Summit clutches it closely like the cash cow that it is. I especially understand this since it is the only group of movies that is making the company any money at all. This is because nearly all of the other films in their repertoire are complete and utter crap: Knowing, one of the lowest reviewed movies of the year; Push, kind of a fun superhero film, but highly derivative and ultimately a bomb; Band Slam, seriously, do I even need to comment; Sorority Row, another slasher film, also a bomb and poorly reviewed; the list goes on. As you can see from the list, all of these films came out in wide release and then were slammed by the critics, public, and box office alike.

This is not to say that Summit only releases crap and Twilight. The two other films that they released this summer were "The Brothers Bloom" and "The Hurt Locker". "The Hurt Locker" has been recieving rave reviews for months before it came out, and is one of the most highly rated films of this entire year. Was it put into wide release where it could be successful? No. Was there even a strong marketing campaign for it? No. Having seen the film, there was absolutely no reason why the film would not have succeeded with a mainstream audience in wide release, yet for reasons only known to the movie gods, Summit decided to keep the film as a limited release only. Nearly the exact same thing happened to "The Brothers Bloom". First the film got delayed 6 months, then it was nearly uncermoniously dumped into an extremely limited release. Now, the film wasn't as highly praised as "The Hurt Locker", but recieved astronomically higher praise than the debacles listed above. Yet despite all of this, Summit leaves their two most highly praised films to wallow and starve, while releasing utter drivel for the masses to tear apart and then not see. What the hell?!?!?

For some reason, they only seem to substantially give any marketing and wide release strategies to their utterly worthless films...and Twilight, which is better than most of their crap, but still not fantastic. Now, normally I wouldn't even write this post as this is often the case with limited release films, but Summit didn't stop there...oh no, they decided to make history with the film. And the history that they decided to make was to release the film on DVD and Blu-Ray at the end of September '09 as a rental release ONLY! Well, technically they will still release it to own, but not until sometime in 2010. The rational of Summit Entertainment is that they are considering this as an extension of the theatrical campaign to build up buzz for the movie for its "real" retail release! Once again, "What the hell?!?!?" Studio exec Steve Nickerson states that using the rental channel will increase awareness of "The Brothers Bloom". "You need to look at ways to differentiate yourself with the consumer, and with the different channels," says Nickerson. He also is making it nearly impossible for any of the people who liked the film to get a copy. “We will work closely with the distributors that sell to the rental channel to make sure it’s for rental only,” Nickerson said.

My one question is this; what were they smoking, and where can I get some? Because this strategy makes no financial sense at all. First off Nickerson, yes, having the movie in video rental stores will increase awareness of the film, but why, oh why are you then limiting your profits by preventing the very fans that you are creating from giving YOU their money to buy the film. There is absolutely no reason why you couldn't have a small production of DVDs and Blu-Ray for retail, and then gradually increase that production to meet demand once the rental channels create more buzz for the film.

This move by Summit has royally pissed me off. The very fans who tried to get the movie support and wider release are now being punished by not being allowed to have their own copy of the film for the next several months (Summit hasn't even released the date at which the film will finally be available for retail in 2010). The studio hides their excellent films, displays their inane drivel for the world, then punishes the people who like the films that have merit. This is absolutely NO way to run a movie studio. To finish off this post, do not let Summit keep you from checking out two of the best films of this summer (certainly the only two good ones from Summit). "The Hurt Locker" and "The Brothers Bloom" are absolutely worth your time and are each fantastic films. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then I'm going to be in a near frenzy of love for Bloom when it finally comes back into my waiting arms.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are (For the 9-year-old in you that you forgot existed)

So, we come to the release of a movie that has been in development in some form for nearly 20 years. Spike Jonze's version was also stuck in relative development hell for some time as well, and the film switched studios. Was the wait for this beloved childrens book worth the wait? Very much yes, but not in the way many people might expect.

For anyone who hasn't read the book, it's about a 9ish kid named Max who is out of control at home. He has a wolf costume that he wears and causes mayhem around his house. He ends up being sent to his room without dinner, where he imagines himself going to a far-off land which is populated by "The Wild Things". He declares himself their king and spends time enjoying his life there, but eventually longs to go home, so he does where dinner is waiting for him, and it's still hot.

The book has something like 15 sentences in all, so one question going through my mind was if there was enough material in the book to justify a feature-length film. Jonze wisely chose to develop the script based on the spirit of the book, which is Max processing through his anger, rowdiness and feeling rejected at home by using the Wild Things as representations of his id. The trailer gives the somewhat false impression that the film will be a lighthearted romp with Max and the Wild Things. This film is a very deep and will remind you of the confusion that life held as a 9-year-old looking at a grown-up world. The confusion in Max's life stems from his mom being a single parent, his sister growing up and not having as much time for him, all of this makes him act up to get attention.

So during a particularly tense moment at home Max bites his mom, and as she freaks out, he realizes what he's done and runs away. He comes to a boat tied up to the shore of a lake and he takes it out and it eventually brings him to the land of the Wild Things. Best things first, Spike Jonze's work with the Wild Things is absolutely phenomenal. You never doubt their believability for a moment. All of this is due to a brilliant combination of physical suits and unparalleled facial digital work. Each of the Wild Things represents a part of how Max feels in real life, from his anger, to his feeling ignored, being a downer, his creativity. The cool part of the film is that in dealing with the Wild Things as their king, he learns the value of his family, in addition to the pain that he has been causing by acting up. The acting of Max Records, who plays Max, (ironic, I know) is absolutely fantastic. He had to hold the entire film up on his shoulders and he does a fantastic job showing every emotion that a 9-year-old must deal with while growing up. The other high points of the movie for me were the Wild Things named Carol and K.W. voiced by James Gandolfini and Lauren Ambrose respectively. Carol is an exact representation of Max with all his excitement and faults whereas K.W. is more accepting and loving representation of Max who is often at odds with Carol. The film made me fall in love with these two characters due to the character work and voice acting.

The film would have benefitted from being slightly shorter, it drags a little bit in the middle, although I understand why Jonze put in many of the scenes that I thought slowed the pace of the movie. Another minor complaint that I had was that I wanted to see Max get sent to his room and from there go to the land of the Wild Things. My favorite line in the book was "That night a forest grew" and talks about the forest growing out of his room and imagination. The peril that Max put himself in took me out of the movie a bit because he was so reckless to run away in the middle of the night and winter. To demonstrate the unbridled anger that is within Max, one of the Wild Things accidentally tears another Thing's arm off. The moment is played without gore, or pain, but the moment is still quite jarring since it is permanent for the rest of the film. For a "childrens" film, I thought that the moment was a little extreme to use as an example of how anger out of control can cause serious damage to those we love.

To finish up this review, you absolutely owe it to yourself to check out this film. The slight negatives of the film are overweighed by the sense of wonder that it brings back looking at how the world was when we were all young and how it wasn't necessarily a simpler place. Also you will come away loving the Wild Thing within yourself, in addition to two Things named Carol and K.W.