Tag Archives: Dancer in the Dark

The snipers empathy

Today is a different day, today is not some case where I am a Don Quichote wannabe, I am not fighting a windmill and I am not hunting for Credit Agricole and certain upcoming 2024 events (for those who were able to comprehend the links between three earlier articles), not to mention an unconfirmed rumour that a small group will end up with the better part of €467 million. Today is different, this is a point where I might be wrong from the very beginning, and I am OK with that.

This is about an article in the Guardian last Wednesday (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/aug/07/ads-human-stalking-satire-the-hunt-pulled-us-mass-shootings). I saw the trailer and to be honest, I never made any link to the El Paso and Dayton killings, I also understand that in this turbulent times the studio needs to rethink its approach to a movie that took most of the previous 2019 to make. It was also the moment that I learned that is was based on the 2012 original Jagten with Mads Mikkelsen (Death Stranding, Dr Strange, Rogue One), which is actually a little issue as this was done before with the remake of Nightwatch (Nick Nolte), the makers wanted an English movie without having to rely on subtitles and missed to boat to the larger degree, the issue is not the makers, the director was for both Nattevagten and Nightwatch Ole Bornedal, so I am at a loss how the movie was worse, the actors were good, I felt that the original had a much better atmosphere. So now I do worry for the Hunt, yet in all this the hunt has a strong cast (Betty Gilpin, Hillary Swank, Emma Roberts), and it might work, the idea that hunters overestimate a woman is not without premise giving an edge to the movie, the idea that ‘they’ve been chosen to be hunted in a game devised by a group of rich elite liberals‘ is also strong, the idea that clueless rich people cannot look beyond the veil of a spreadsheet is readily accepted by the audience, yet that is not what this is about.

This is about the event where a filmmaker is now getting his hands tied behind his back because of an event in real life and the polarisation of the people around it. I believe that there is strong character in the cast and crew to look at other ways to adjust creating awareness. Creating awareness is an important part of any movie and spreading creativity has a plus and a consequence. I get it, you do not want to set the open stage of ‘entertainment’ where the people are all upset over events, yet the premise remains.

Does it really?

When we consider the quote “According to the Hollywood Reporter, cable network ESPN dropped an ad for the movie that was to air last weekend while studio Universal reassesses its plans for the film, which is due for release on 27 September in the US. The same publication says “a source” at ESPN said that no spots for the film would appear on the network “in the coming weeks”” and we see the ‘27th September‘ as the start date, why would there be any advertisement on TV before September 1st? There are other venues! for example IMDB as well as YouTube has been seen as a trailer central for movie lovers, there no restraints are needed, those in grief (and we get that) would not be in a state of mind to seek out new trailers, watch movies that are coming, in addition, the Digital world is global and even as the makers need to pussyfoot around their American audience for now, but that restraint is a lot less needed internationally. When we consider that the larger productions are now in a stage where the US is often merely 25%-35% of the total global revenue, focussing on the non-US side would become increasingly more important. There is also an issue with the quote: “The Hollywood Reporter quotes a Universal executive saying that the studio was responding to the politically “fluid situation” amid a wave of protest in the US against gun violence and white supremacism and that it was discussing plans to change direction over the film’s promotion “if people think we’re being exploitative rather than opinionated”” Here we need to realise that the original is 6 years old, in addition, filming was completed months ago, showing the clear stage that this is about a movie and not about exploitation, that next to the fact that when some people are calling the issue a ‘politically fluid situation‘, we need to realise that the politicians are part of the problem here; this was been proven close to half a dozen times over. When we give rise to: “Employees in different departments were questioning the wisdom of making such a movie in these times“, we need to ask additional questions. Was there wisdom in creating ‘the Deer hunter‘, ‘Apocalypse Now‘, or ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile‘? Where do we draw the line? Now we see the Hunt, which is a story, not a reality and somehow people are unable to distinguish real from fiction, we can call that a much larger failing on all of us. And if this was a small (not so) subtle push to propagate the dislike of firearms, does that have a quorum in a work of art (as the maker would call it)?

I will accept that some people do not want to get near this movie for all the personal convictions they might have and that is fine, yet how should we go about fiction because it is uncomfortable? Is art not set to the stage to make it larger? Is pushing a person outside of their comfort zone not an important aspect? If we so object, how come that the protest was not louder when in the movie Final Girl was trained by Wes Bentley to take matters in her own hands? Was it because an Axe gave the coup de grace and not a Benelli M4 Super 90? Seems weird, in the end the person would still be dead. It reminded me of an old conversation, “We are not murderers, we are killers“, all whilst we know that the person we’d be gunning for ends up being equally dead either way we label it.

For me the Hunt will be interesting, the switch away from Mads Mikkelsen and towards a female lead. In addition, Emma Roberts has proven herself to be a bad ass witch (Madison Montgomery), can she repeat it in the Hunt and end up being as bad ass as her daddy was in the roles like Alex Grady, James Munroe, Tomas Leon and several others, to see the ‘bad ass’ stamp pass on to the next generation is just a fun part. Emma Roberts has distinguished herself a few times over, watching Nancy Drew go Madison Montgomery on us is merely icing on the entertainment cake. It also shows that the makers did a good job, which is essential for any movie lover.

Yes, if there is a focal point to the hunt for me, then it is the stage of fun, it always has been that; art and fun need to go hand in hand; it is also the reason why Lars von Trier movies take so much effort for me. I found his ‘the House that Jack built‘ a little meeker that I expected. I remember seeing ‘Dancer in the Dark‘ I was deeply depressed for well over a week, so when I see art, I prefer to feel joy and entertainment. The Hunt is in the end still entertainment, nothing more to it. Is it a hunting story where we get to enjoy the change as the hunter becomes the hunted. It is as stupid as it gets, like jumping into a snake pit and playing with your food, it never ends well. For a true hunter, the idea that someone thinking that he is a hunter and getting eaten by the lion he wanted to kill is just great joy. A true hunter kills for food, not for joy, a true hunter is not there to get the Lion, he wants to get the real deal, the animal that gets him fed, not the pelt (which is merely a bonus at times).

So when I am looking at the story of “a group of globalist elites gathers for the very first time at a remote Manor House to hunt humans for sport” I see the need that this goes Topsy Turvy on the hunters and it remains entertainment. It does not take away the issue that there is a real event in the US and because of that the anti-gun feelings are exploding, I get that, I truly do and I also accept that the film makers are not there to upset feelings, they show the empathy that politicians never show when they exploit events for their own personal limelight. Yet the film makers could take it to better staging (I have not seen the hunt at present and beyond the little captions know, as well as the trailer) I know very little about the movie at present. Yet the stage that we see today also calls for other parts.

Whilst politicians are trying to exploit a movie, the recollection of the New York Times (at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/22/us/politics/trump-atf-nra.html) where the NRA is accused of “It has aggressively lobbied against nominated directors and pushed Congress to enact restrictions on how the bureau spends money to curtail its ability to regulate firearms and track gun crimes. One funding provision, for example, forbids the A.T.F. from using electronic databases to trace guns to owners. Instead, the agency relies on a warehouse full of paper records“, if that accusation is proven, then we have a much larger setting where the governing members of the NRA might be guilty of corporate manslaughter. If we accept: “an organisation will be guilty of the offence of corporate manslaughter if the way in which its activities are managed or organised causes a person’s death“, will the absence of electronic records set a stage where it caused a person’s death? Consider the Columbine High School massacre, perhaps the best known shooting (1999), it happened in a time where databases and data analyses has already evolved to a much larger degree, consider that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had been in the database system, is there enough evidence that this alone might have triggered clearer actions in time? In addition, if the NY Times is to be believed and the issue of: “For decades, the N.R.A. has used its sway in Washington to preserve the A.T.F. in its limited capacity” could be proven, does that increase the chance of conviction of corporate manslaughter on the NRA and the governing members? It is an important question because the evidence that the failing of the ATF is funding and either all politicians unite to grow the ATF or they should be muzzled and forbidden to make any political statement at any shooting, should that increase the chance of actually solving matters?

Perhaps larger visibility to the hunt becomes essential, when we see ‘entertainment’ and the premise of real danger we might take more notice. The notice of sociopathic millionaires and billionaires hunting people for sport is not realistic, but the dangerous premise where weapons are handed out and remains available completely unchecked is an actual danger. I myself have a fondness for guns (specifically long range rifles), yet I never owned one because in the Netherlands there are no proper rifle ranges, and I lived in the city. In Sweden there were options, but I was in the city and did not see the need to get one and so on. I believe in responsible choices and so far there has not been an option to enjoy my passion for years, so I have to limit myself to other fun events and there are plenty.

I believe that the largest passion of guns in the US comes from partial hunting and from passing on the skills and knowledge from generation to generation; there is plenty of evidence that farmers and families are about safety and about proper handling of weapons, so having these people in a database should not be an issue or a worry, it is when a group caters to a 1% group with other needs, that is when we need to worry and that is seemingly happening now.

When we call the entire senate to attention and demand an answer on the limitations of the ATF, will we get a clear answer? The last permanent director of the ATF was Todd Jones (August 31, 2011 – March 31, 2015), whilst President Obama was in office until 2018, so the failing in the White House is much larger than we see. This is important because if the people are not taking this serious, why should a movie maker show constraint on a movie that is not based on real life?

I wonder how the person with links to Universal responds in case a person like Oliver Stone decides to wake up and does a deep dig into the ATF and the political ramifications it has faced for over 10 years, in an age where terrorism is a larger danger, how can you limit the one organisation that could assist the FBI to the largest extent? I wonder how the NRA will scream and cry like little bitches when a movie like that makes it to the world screen. In the end I do agree with the NRA on one thing, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people“, and there is also the hidden wisdom, should we stop a database that connects a gun to a person? It is a larger issue and we accept that, yet the solution was simple and has been for over a decade, the fact that the media and the real politicians who fight for a better nation are not there to protect and grow the ATF also are the shown politicians that are optionally part of the problem. That evidence is shown as the 5th director of the ATF was Bradley A. Buckles (December 20, 1999 – January 2004), and Carl Joseph Truscott as the 6th director from 2004 to 2006.
So in a stage of terrorism and mass shootings, there has been a proper ATF director in play for a period of 10 years out of the last 20 years, why is that not daily news? The fact that the ATF started on 1st July 1972, and so far there have only been 7 permanent directors, with decent governance in the years up to 2004, does that not strike you as strange too, especially after all the 9/11 events?

I believe that those opposing and complaining about the Hunt have a much larger problem, but it seems that calling the white House and the ATF, as well as the FBI to attention on this is not what limelight seekers do, they merely want the stage for the message of selling themselves, not presenting the presentation on how to keep Americans safe, is that not a nice consideration to have?

A sniper does not show empathy to instantly kill its target, there is no benefit to prolong your targets life, it merely needs to e killed and one bullet does just that, kill a person, kill a cause or kill an idea. It is a Hollywood stage where the target has to suffer, or be able to plead, or be able to alert others through screaming.

As I see it, apart from the joy that a movie like the Hunt brings (with a soda and pop-corn mind you), it could optionally show just how stupid people are by not demanding a permanent ATF director and a better ATF budget from their elected official every single day. When people do that every day and make sure that their life (read: their re-election) depends on it, we will see an actual improvement to limiting and in the long term stopping mass shootings. Perhaps a movie like the Hunt is good on other levels, it might make people wonder on how the system is kept in place by political exploiters and that too is important to shove into the limelight (the less diplomatic, the better).

There is no short term solution, there never was and anyone telling you that is lying to you, yet none of it is reality until actual decisions are handed out and for now, they are not.

 

 

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Rampling was the domino

It is a side I had not thought of for quite a while. I have my own views, movies I like, movies I go to see. When I do, there is no regard towards race or religion. I just want to see a good movie, for the mere reason that going to the cinema is expensive, so when I go there, it better be a good one. So when I initially read the article ‘Charlotte Rampling finds herself outnumbered in Oscars diversity row‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jan/22/charlotte-rampling-finds-herself-outnumbered-in-oscars-diversity-row), I was not entirely sure what to think. For me, I am still slightly upset on the Golden globes, because no matter how much I enjoyed the Martian, it is NOT a comedy. A light-hearted drama at best. So in my eyes, the foreign press desperately wanted to get the Martian elected even though EVERYONE knew that the titanic achievement ‘the Revenant’ could not be equalled. So, they were willing to screw over Paul Feig or Judd Apatow, depending on your view of comedy. In that same light Matt Damon should not have won, not because his achievement was bad, it was quite excellent and I will look forward to own this achievement on Blu-Ray in 17 days, 13 hours and 14 minutes (roughly, but who’s counting). Yet, I will see this as excellent drama, not as a comedy. All the movies I saw, had a Caucasian caste. I thought nothing of it, no bad thoughts; no directed thoughts. There was an African American in Star Wars and he played his part really well, just nothing I would nominate a Golden globe or Oscar to. The day is young and I will look forward to him rocking my world as an actor in a future movie hr does. I have seen my share of excellent acting in Sidney Poitier (Heat of the night), Morgan Freeman (loads of movies there), Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop/Harlem Nights), and Don Cheadle (Traitor). Here I pause for a moment, you see, this is a serious piece of work based on an idea by funny guy Steve Martin. The result is a spy thriller of unrivalled proportions and until the very end, you have no idea what will happen. As Spy stories goes, this is a killer! We tend to look at Freeman in the Shawshank Redemption, or one of my favourites ‘I, Robot’ with Will Smith, but in all this, we are limited by the exposure we tend to see through marketing (trailers). Because of that element I almost missed out on a gem called ‘Seven Pounds’, which is an amazing piece of work. Yes, it is sentimental, and there are truths in the view Todd McCarthy from Variety has, but it seems that his world is about one view, it is his view. I try to see multiple views, not always mine, one I can agree with or a comfortable one, but the fact remains that we all have our own skeletons, sometimes they are dark and leave no sunlight or a shadow. In this his last ‘view’ was “an endlessly sentimental fable about sacrifice and redemption that aims only at the heart at the expense of the head” (at http://variety.com/2008/film/awards/seven-pounds-2-1200472723/), but in all this Variety forgets that movies are made to appeal an audience and in a directly addressable audience of well over 3 billion, there is a need for everyone. It is for that reason I have a similar appreciation for Lars von Trier’s ‘Dancer in the Dark‘ (and ended up being depressed for well over a week).

The question becomes, how correct is Charlotte Rampling. She is not wrong and I feel that the issue goes a lot further than is currently illustrated. That part is also shown in the Guardian article when you see the video on that page with Mark Ruffalo. But neither show the element I am aiming for. You see, it was not until the Golden Globes that I saw that Will Smith was nominated for a role in a movie I had absolutely ZERO awareness of. Wiki and the trailer of Concussion shows a drama that hits at the heart of America. It shows two sides, one, do not ever mess with their ‘sport’ and the second issue is that America remains in denial as long as it is convenient for their bottom dollar. In that Concussion seems to surpass several dramas. You see, this issue goes a lot further than what we see from either Charlotte Rampling or Mark Ruffalo state, although Mark reflects on the direction. You see it goes further than we see in the article. the quote “An analysis by the Los Angeles Times in 2014 found that the 6,000-plus members are 93% white and 76% male, with an average age of 63“, a system that is set around a nation where the median age is 39, state wise spread from Utah (29) to Maine (44). You see, the people looking at the entertainment industry are no longer representative of their age, which gives a new problem. It is their marketing and publication side. The fact that a gem like Concussion, a 2015 movie that only gets visibility after the nominations of the golden Globes is a bigger problem than many realise. Now we see in the Hollywood Reporter, the following quote by Charlotte Rampling “I simply meant to say that in an ideal world every performance will be given equal opportunities for consideration“, which is true and part of the problem, because that is unlikely to be the case. Equally true is the quote we see from Michael Caine “You Can’t Vote for an Actor Because He’s Black“, which is equally true. The actors I mentioned earlier did the work, the hardship and ended up with the nominations, yet in opposition I offer that my view is in equal measure that there is an indication that votes are lost, or not duly received because of colour. In that light I offer ‘the Color Purple‘ which in 1986 rocked da house! The Academy awards had given it 11 nominations, ZERO wins. Whoopi Goldberg did get her Golden Globe, but they lost out on 4 other nominations. One out of 15, which is statistically a joke. Yet is it mere fate? You see Out of Africa was good, but not great (a personal view). I feel this because I enjoyed both movies, but I have since (1986) watched the Color Purple at least 8 times on DVD and Out of Africa? Nil times! In other lights, it had fierce competition from Prizzi’s Honor (Anjelica Huston) and Ran (Emi Wada), yet are the other 9 times deserved non-winners? I feel I cannot state this for certain, but with the exception of Best Original Screenplay I have a few too many question marks.

In all this we see that the Color Purple is more than a failing marketing and visibility campaign. Which is at the heart of non-recognition. In 2016 there is another side that we see in the Oscars. Concussion gets zero nominations. Here is it harder to oppose it, because the Revenant, Spotlight and Bridge of Spies are massive pieces of Work, which does allow for the situation to exist, yet in that same light, as we see the group that represents the Academy Awards, how many were clearly aware of Concussion and how many of them would see Concussion as the gem it is? In that same light, did the failure of marketing and publications now propagate the situation that Concussion is not making the BAFTA list? We have to accept that this is about American Football and as such, when we see that the BAFTA’s stated purpose is to “support, develop and promote the art forms of the moving image, by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public“, we have to consider that American Football is an American interest and as such, Will Smith could miss out for the interest group, not because of his quality or the fact that he is an African American. But the issue remains, has marketing and publications cut themselves in their American fingers?

An issue that will remains for a longer time, because as the power players are growing away from the average younger audience, the selection could become a lot more disjointed, which might actually be a little too strong an expression.

The truth remains that we all have valid questions at times, yet in that same light we must accept (to some degree) that the bulk have an opinion, an impression and a preference. It is at times influenced by marketing as the people are given the royal tour by the promoters of the movies. We see at PRSA.ORG “Oscar campaigns are not cheap — campaign budgets can run $24 million per film. Mailing DVD screeners to the Academy’s 6,000-plus members, advertising in trade publications, attending festivals, hosting screening events and conducting media tours are only the beginning“, the Public Relations Society of America is decently outspoken here. Money rolls, which means that the name alone will not do it. Will Smith is a bankable name, but in the end, it is more than just the name, the DVD screeners and opportunity here. It is a business model, which now implies that art is not at the heart of the matter, product marketing is. The question that remains here is that if a movie needs that kind of marketing, how memorable was it?  Perhaps that is the wrong question too. Not everyone has time to see all the movies and the fact that some movies are not released on disc long after the Oscars is equally an issue, so is that approach wrong?

I cannot vote against it unless it is more than the actual book, the movie or the soundtrack. Optimising any product is far enough, but in that light, was Concussion properly optimised for exposure to the public and the audience at large? If not, who was behind that part? It is a Sony production, yet should this be about the awards? I wonder if the really good actors really take a role for that reason. In this I like to quote Tim Mincin In his UWA acceptance speech. There he states “Happiness is like an orgasm: if you think about it too much, it goes away. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy, and you might find you get some as a side effect“, which seems to be (in my mind) how the great actors could think. Will Smith has had 85 nominations and 45 awards. None of them golden globes or Oscars. In the Golden globe section he lost out to Russell Crowe and Forest Whitaker who both delivered amazing performances that year, yet as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air he lost out to both John Goodman and Jerry Seinfeld, both series I was never a fan of, but they have their own following. In the Academy Awards he lost out to Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker. A much harder choice, because both The Pursuit of Happyness and The Last King of Scotland are amazing works of art. I found the call between Ali and Training Day much harder because of my admiration of Muhammad Ali. So I know that I have bias here, I feel valid bias as the arts are about moments and ideals, Will Smith has been on that fine line many times. It is CNN (at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/18/sport/nfl-head-injuries-will-smith-movie-concussion/) that gives us “I probably won’t be getting my free Super Bowl tickets this year“, which is part of all this (apart from the fact that I never received ANY free tickets for any of the Ashes games), we see again that America will be in denial or in opposition as the NFL is the bottom dollar at least one day a week. I cannot oppose this. Yet reflecting on this, I feel a little uncertain when it comes to an outspoken #OscarsSoWhite. My issue in this case is that the opposition this year is massive, Spotlight, the Revenant, Bridge of Spies and the Martian are outstanding pieces of excellence. We can complain that these roles were too absent of African American roles, but that is based on different elements, in my view, not a #OscarsSoWhite view, or is it?

In all this we must see that we are not part of the actual world the actors and actresses live in. They would have a more realistic view, which makes the entire #OscarsSoWhite such an uneasy issue. You see, I feel that #OscarsSoWhite is almost a personal attack, I see the movies I like, and because of the reasons I see them. So, even as a written off product like ‘Seven Pounds’ is one I enjoyed, I enjoyed Gravity as well, and I enjoyed the Martian in near equal measure (the special effects in Gravity were just so awesome). In all this race was never a consideration. That is my personal view, I cannot answer for others, you must decide on your reasoning and your preference, which is as it should be with anything that comes from the arts.

This now gets me to the final part. As I saw it, from the first moment I saw the movie (not when it was released as I was 5 at that time), is that Virgil Tibbs made ‘In the Heat of the night’ the movie it was, the legend it became. Sir Sidney Poitier made the movie what it was (Rod Steiger was great too). So here we have our issue we want to feel that #OscarsSoWhite is valid, we do however want to base it on the now, not on 50 years ago. So can we question the issues, or is there a second layer that we are to some extent conveniently ignoring. One of marketing and PR, the other on the denial that the NFL (Americans with their idolisation of their sport in general) seems to bring. Two elements that seem to equally make the movie Concussion fall short. Those elements are not illustrated in equal measure here, which does not give any less value to Will Smith, it only impacted the topic Will Smith illustrated (as I personally see it).

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