Wednesday, August 7, 2013

MIXED BAG BLOG #6: CRITICS vs. LONE RANGER, AARON HERNANDEZ COVERAGE, and CBS vs. TIME WARNER CABLE!

Okay, I've been rather busy these last few days working on numerous projects, not the least of which, are some very elaborate blogposts that I've been working, one of which, I was planning on posting today, but it's really becoming apparent that I'm not gonna finish in time. It's partially my fault, for taking on such ambitious undertakings, and not following through, that said there's been other distraction preventing me from getting as much done as I had planned as well. Normally, I'd be posting another "Canon of Film" since I have plenty of them on hand for such an occurrence, but I'd rather try to save those, to post before my weekly reviews, since they are normally so easy to publish that, when I get to my reviews, which usually take me a week or so to write-up, (Although considering how I've had to keep streaming films this week, just to make sure I have room on my Netflix queue for the new releases I need to add, that might take even longer this time, yikes!) So, without anything else going on, that particularly inspirational enough to me to write an entire blogpost about, (Seriously, there isn't "Doctor Who" fans) today's gonna be another "Mixed Bag Blog", where instead of posting on one topic, We're gonna have a little fun, and just post on a few random and minor thoughts about some of the minor but interesting goings-on in the entertainment world recently.

CRITICS vs. "THE LONE RANGER" CAST- CHRISTY LEMIRE'S REBUTTAL 



An interview with Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer and Gore Verbinski, the stars and director of the so-called bomb, "The Lone Ranger", domestically anyway, said on Yahoo! Movies, UK page recently that they thought that the reason the movie did below expectations in the U.S., was because of the critics, "prejudged the movie based on behind the scene problems", and that Depp believes that the reviews were written "7-8 months before the film came out." You can read the full article here:

http://uk.movies.yahoo.com/armie-hammer--critics-%E2%80%9Cslit-the-jugular%E2%80%9D-of-lone-ranger-141408705.html

I first heard the story through Christy Lemire's post, on her blog, you can read that here:

http://christylemire.com/on-johnny-depp-armie-hammer-and-an-army-of-critics/

Christy Lemire, of course, one of the better and more-respected film critics in the country, currently a co-host on "What The Flick", which you can find on youtube, one of the few preeminent, legitimate movie critic broadcast, of any kind, frankly. She calls out, and makes some good points, about how ridiculous that sort of notion is, as really, no legitimate critic even considers such things as the production being a nightmare in their way of writing a movie review, or anything else for that matter, other than whether a movie is any good or not. Now, I haven't seen "The Lone Ranger" and don't particularly plan on seeing it, anytime in the near future, although I questioned the "why bother" aspect of making "The Lone Ranger" into a movie. I think of people might not even know "The Lone Ranger" and it's certainly not material that's aged well since it's last incarnation, whenever-the-hell that was. I get that everybody was trying to do a spin on it, but I still think, people should know what they're spinning, and the people who know "The Lone Ranger" aren't gonna want a spin, and people who don't aren't gonna know what they're spinning. I'll watch it eventually, 'cause all three are great filmmakers, but I think overall, the idea that critics can really have such an impact on a movie is flawed, majorly. I wish I had the impact that I pretend to do, but people go see bad movies all the time, whether they read me or anybody else's thought. Besides that, we don't have a groupthink mentality, Lemire is definitely right about that. Although, I'd clarify that, while we don't have groupthink, I don't think critics are natural contrarians either. Frankly, we prefer that everybody simply agree with us, and not have to argue. (Okay, maybe last part is just me, but still...) I know people who bash critics; I've never understood it. First of all, usually they're ones who don't read critical reviews, 'cause most of the times if they did, they usually agree with most of the critics say, but they simply presume that there's a specific kind of movie that critics like, which is not true at all. We wouldn't be in this job, if A. we didn't like all kinds of movies, and B. were open to trying as many new kinds of films as possible, and being entertained by them. Trust me, there's no worst job in the world than being a film critic, when we're watching a bunch of really crappy movies. It can truly be painful believe me.

Now, I try to go into most of the movies with as few expectations as possible. That's a rather impossible goal, you read other reviews, you see what awards they win, others make recommendations, you read articles like these talking about the critical perceptions of a movie, and yes, sometimes you have your own expectations for a movie to be exceptionally good, or exceptionally bad, or something in between. It's damn-near impossible to completely go into a movie with zero expectations, even when that's your goal, but that said, a great movie will transform any/all expectations we'll have. I don't know whether word of mouth, or word of critics, or whether it's my theory stating as to why "The Lone Ranger" didn't do as well as some say it should've domestically at the box office; frankly that's another thing critics don't really give a damn about, the box office, but it's exceptionally single-minded to blame critics for a film's gross, or lack thereof.

AARON HERNANDEZ MURDER-TRIAL, O.J. REVISITED? 

A Variety article from June caught my eye, regarding the trial coverage of New England Patriot tight end, Aaron Hernandez, who's in jail currently and standing trial for murder charges.

http://variety.com/2013/tv/columns/aaron-hernandez-charged-with-murder-puts-espn-in-a-bind-1200502308/

I'm not gonna lie, being an Eagles fan, and sick and twisted as we normally are, anything bad that happens to the Patriots lately, we rather get a kick out of it, but I was somewhat surprised to see an article regarding the case on Variety's website of all places. Basically, they're taking at the look at ESPN's analysis of the case, which I don't have cable, so I don't really have the means to completely determine Variety's accuracy, but it brings up some interesting points. I mean, frankly, there have been a few cases right now, that are capturing our attention in ways that, frankly have evolved since the O.J. trial, the first one, started all this crap. Trayvon Martin, of course being the latest, and except for talking about encouraging people to riot if in a FB group, oddly enough about films, if the verdict was "not guilty". I didn't much mention of it anywhere, nor did I ever want to, and obviously I didn't riot, and neither did most of the country. Sports coverage in general, is always tricky, especially when it begins to dive into areas that are otherwise not traditional for sports. Some might remember, just a week or so before the Martin case, Bob Costas made a public address on his primetime halftime commentary involving the murder-suicide of a Kansas City Chiefs player, to issue a statement on gun control, a statement that people with low IQs, thought was out-of-line, under some misguided belief that sports shouldn't talk about other subjects, or that sports fans don't care, or that anybody should talk about gun control, or whatever other stupid punchline a political pundit was trying to make points off of for saying. (For my part, I purposefully posted my Canon of Film post on "Bowling for Columbine" around the same time, in part, as a way to also shine a light on the problem, and the situation?

Frankly, I don't think the audience for sports or news or whatever, is shallow, but the media is quite shallow, and they are making us more shallow. I mean, it's bad enough Nancy Grace covers all this crap, but seriously, ESPN has become very narrow it's in audience and the way it covers sports, and it's effecting the audience. The only thing on AM radio, for instance, other than right-wing talk, is sports radio, and basically all that really is, different blowhards just spouting off on sports. Some of it's good and entertaining, but you know, you turn on ESPN, and you're blasted with sports scores and updates and brief glimpses of a news story, and the constant replays of "Sportscenter", and so many analysts. It used to be there was like, maybe 3 analysts per major sports, now there's dozens, and it's not just ESPN, there's other sports networks too. The specialization of the television landscape, really frustrates me, especially when it's taken to such extremes, and  the content frankly becomes more shamelessly bad and not-at-all raising the level of entertainment, even among the news, it should be both informative, and entertaining, not infotainment, and there is a difference. You know, if you really want to make a point and focus on a major news story of some kind. I think news networks, whether it be sports or news, should get rid of the scrolls for a few minutes. I mean, no, those are never going away, permanently, but you know, call everything down, and not be, "NEWS NEWS NEWS", or "SPORTS SPORTS SPORTS" every damn second, and then, go into, "This is a serious case. A man's life ended, another's is at stake, yes, it's sports related, and we'll cover that as well, but let's talk seriously about what's happening, and not just slamming us with,- everything else. However this Hernandez case goes, I do hope that they find a way to truly look at it, and all of the implications in the proper manner and tone, 'cause that's what we really need. If we're gonna cover, and we should 'cause it's news, but cover it well, and don't just cover it because you have to, and in that sense, don't just exploit it either.

CBS vs. TIME WARNER CABLE

For those of you in the New York and other areas where Time Warner Cable, the nations second-largest cable distributor, you haven't been able to watch CBS for a week, and they're over a dispute over fees. These sort of things occur once in a while between networks and distributors, ESPN's usually been a major player in such disagreements for their exceeding high buyrate they charge the cable companies to distribute, but it's a little rare that a major network, in fact the major basic network, would be having this kind of disagreement. Now, I'm gonna pretend like I understand how all this maneuvering and fees exchange works, but basically a cable channel gets a % of money the network earns, per those who the network on that cable channel, or even download a broadcast on the internet that that's channel's programming. This is on top of the fees the cable companies pay the network to broadcast the programming, which is the reason why cable bills are so high, especially when you consider how many cable channels their are. BTW, when I say CBS, I'm not just talking the main network, this is also all the subsidiary networks like MTV, and especially Showtime, that are also owned by CBS, they're blocked to. This isn't just, blocking the "How I Met Your Mother" rerun, it's all CBS programming, and it's been about a week. Frankly I don't understand all the business details, but Time Warner is getting screwed, and they're being ignored by Washington, and yes, they are going to Washington, and try to settle this with the FCC, and they're declining. Frankly CBS holds all the cards, and the only move they really have is to, simply not air CBS programming, most of which you can get online, or if you're really hard up, using an antenna and a converter box. Or you can buy a satellite dish. Or possibly another cable network, although those are difficult because for some reason they're disturbing geographically, which I'm pretty sure is illegal if somebody ever challenged that, but.... Frankly cable companies don't have many other cards, and once those angry "NCIS" fans really start complaining, who knows. And btw, has blocked Time Warner's broadband services from streaming CBS content, so if you thought that this was simply a TV issue, it isn't. This some extent, this is a hostage situation, and who knows how long it's gonna last; it's already been a week. Frankly, the audience and viewers are the ones who are getting the shit kicked out of them for all this business maneuvering, and that's most unfortunate of all. If I had to predict when exactly this will end, I imagine football season will have to something to do with; you don't want angry New York Jets fans coming pissed at you, and frankly they won't be alone.

Honestly, I take a socialist perspective on any solution to this problem, and simply make cable free to everybody, which should be able to do, but that said, then in this case, it would just be, the U.S. government vs. CBS, and I'll take CBS on that fight every time. Either way, there has to be a stronger, overseeing guiding principle overlooking these things, and this is really the FCC should be doing, as oppose to, what it's cared about in the past; things like fining CBS, for Janet Jackson's nipple being shown. (Fun anecdote, I missed that completely. I was watching that Super Bowl, but it was Panthers/Patriots, I was a pissed-off Eagles fan, so I didn't really care who won, and I didn't watch the Halftime show, because it was Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, and Kid Rock, and whoever the hell else was on, and the years before were U2 and Aerosmith, so I was playing a game of chess with somebody, and completely ignored the halftime show.) Anyway, I'm keeping a watchful eye on this, but I don't think anything's gonna really happen. We got billionaires arguing with billionaires about money, and frankly I just wish there was more good TV on CBS than there is, so that I could care more about the people missing it, and do I care about that; this could set a precedent, and frankly, it could lead to more people watching TV on the internet, if they can't get it on cable, but whatever happens, the next time another network's distribution deal comes up, who knows how it'll play out.

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