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Monday, December 8, 2008

Screener Season

So this is my favorite time of year. Screener season. Every year, a few weeks before award season, production companies send DVDs of their films to the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences as well as those of the Writers Guild, Directors Guild and Producers Guild. If you are lucky enough to BE in one of those guilds, much less an Academy member, you are on the receiving end of upwards of 15 free DVDs of the hottest films of the year.

And if you are lucky enough to be friends with someone who gets screeners - well, it's all good. This week I have MILK, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD and THE WRESTLER and next week I'll be in line for more. I am so excited. Now, I do not have a super fancy or large tv but for so many films, that's okay with me. Let's be pragmatic for a moment - I'm saving 14 bucks on each film by seeing them at home. Now screeners do have a slightly annoying stamp over the scenes PROPERTY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES (or whomever) but hey, for 14 bucks, you get used to it fast. I'm sure sharing of screeners is frowned upon but everybody does it - it's a common mantra at this time of year - hey, I have that screener if you're interested.....

Meanwhile, because of my job and also because I'm a cinephile, I also spent time this weekend catching up on movies I haven't seen. Now, you have to understand, when I catch up on movies, or dig into screeners, I'm watching this stuff not so much as a viewer seeking entertainment but as a professional making sure my movie knowledge is well informed. If a movie is said to be bad, I want to see just why that is for myself. When I want to just be Joe Average movie viewer and totally forget myself and become immersed in a movie, I go to the theater like anybody else. So forgive these odd movie choices: It's research.

MONGOL: Oh my god, what an interminably long, dull movie. Very few BIG scenes of Mongolian hordes doing their thing. I have come to the conclusion that the subtitle, "The RISE of Ghengis Khan" should have been my warning. I don't want to see the RISE of Ghengis Khan, I want to see full blown Ghengis action! But no. I give this movie one out of five cupcakes with yak curd frosting.

THE HAPPENING: Oh, M. Night. What happened to YOU? Note to self: Must read "The Man Who Heard Voices..." to gain more understanding of the rise and the fall of M. Night Shyamalan. First act: three-and-a-half out of five cupcakes. After that: one out of five.

THE NUMBER 23: So much promise. Such an interesting conceit. But so confusing. I watched in confused silence with a friend and it was somewhere around the midpoint that we both went OHHHHH. Then there was more confusion and consternation. First half of movie, one out of five cupcakes, second half, two out of five. At best.

FAR FROM HEAVEN: Wow, such a gorgeous film from an art direction point of view. Great performances by all, however, depressing, fairly predictable storyline. I had heard this movie was just so spectacular by some friends and by others that they couldn't get through it. I'd give this movie three out of five cupcakes.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Julie,

I never thought you would be a fan of The Wrestler.

You know I was shy from using your services since I noticed this blog and your webpage is very "female oriented". And more than 80% of your fans and readers are women.

Heh, I could be wrong.

So you are going to see The Wrestler.

Love it.

I'll give your services a try in the new year 2009.

Okay, a woman that's going to see The Wrestler, that's very cool.

Julie Gray said...

I'm not sure if 80% of Rouge Wavers are women - but I do know that 75% of screenwriters are men. Our webpage is "female oriented", huh? Hmmm, not sure how to interpret that. I use more male readers than female readers and I don't really read much at all these days. But this is interesting feedback. Although I do think that any reader worth his or her salt can analyze any genre with aplomb. Is there a slightly sexist bent to your comments? Of course I'm going to see the Wrestler - I watch and enjoy all kinds of movies from every genre. I am a girl, so if that automatically lowers someone's estimation of me and my professional skillset, there's not much I can do about that :)

Seth Fortin said...

Man, I can't believe you didn't like MONGOL. My buddies and I saw it in the theater and were riveted. And these guys weren't arty film nerds either -- just normal dudes. Oh well. Maybe Part Two will tickle you more; I think that's when Genghis gets into the serious ass-kicking.

J.J. said...

The screener for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE comes with a nifty, Impossible Mission Message that goes something like this: "Destroy after viewing. Do NOT share with friends or anyone else. If you do not know how to destroy this DVD (and there are intricate instructions on how to cut it up), please call the Guild and someone will come to your home/office and take possession of this DVD and destroy it for you."

And in this case of this particular screener I couldn't get to work on my DVD player so I had to scrunch up and watch it on my Macbook.

Anthony Peterson said...

Its interesting that you didn't like "The Mongol". I haven't seen it yet, but Im keen to.

I think this touches on the whole notion of "the promise" a film makes to its audience. If we perceive we are in for an ass-kicking ride then the film better deliver it or we are seriously ticked off.

I've always felt the poster art, and a significant scene in the first act should should act as a deposit for what the film is intending to deliver.

Laura Reyna said...

I've seen MONGOL.

Agree w/ J-- it's dull.

Some of it is interesting, but overall it could have been better & more exciting. Scenes go on way longer than they should. It needed snappier editing.

If you like the subject matter, rent it. If you'd see only b/c you heard it was great, don't bother.

Luzid said...

Funny thing about MONGOL -- the other day, it revealed exactly how far we've come as a species.

I work at DirecTV Sports here in L.A., and while prepping for an upcoming game, I saw the video of MONGOL while listening to what I thought were the cries of a brutal battle, but wound up being the ambient crowd noise of a soccer game!

Needless to say, I was both amused and disconcerted.