No Such Nonsense

A little of this, that and... what was I talking about again? It's TV, sports, pop culture and politics - all the stuff that really matters in life.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why Box Office Profits are Down - It's Oliver Stone's Fault

Sure, some people will argue that movie ticket prices have risen past a critical tipping point, such that it only makes sense to visit the multiplex for big event movies and to wait for DVD for everything else. Others argue that the advent of truly ass-kicking home entertainment systems (complete with surround sound and high definition plasma screens) have rendered theatres, with their sticky floors, over-priced Twizzlers and some stupid kid kicking the back of your chair, justifiably obsolete.

Nope. Those theories are so much twaddle. I have long suspected the reason for the box office doldrums. And this weekend, my little theory was confirmed. Lately, movies suck. Seriously. They just suck.

Hubby and I watched Alexander at home this weekend. Oh good gravy was it bad. So bad, I kept watching to see if if it could possibly get worse. It did. I honestly could not believe that a major studio would put out a film so laughably inept, so poorly paced and so badly edited, a film that so profoundly mangled a truly amazing story. I mean, Alexander the Great conquered half the freaking world by the time he was 25. There's gotta be a cool story there. Yet, 20 minutes into the three-hour film (three freaking hours!!) I was checking my watch. The acting? Well, let's just say that Angelina Jolie was in a film of her own, playing Lady Macbeth does Oedipus Rex, wrapping those pillowy lips around the only Greek accent in the film. Everyone else was doing an accent that lay somewhere in the British Isles - 'cause that's what all ancient Macedonians and Babylonians sounded like, don't cha know - yet there was Angelina sounding huskily Mediterranean. Bizarre, yes. But no more bizarre than putting Colin Ferrell in a bad blond wig and sending him out to conquer the world. His scene in which he "inspires" his troops to fight the good fight in Persia was the real problem. He rallies the troops from horseback in a presumably deliberate echo of Shakespeare's Henry the 5th. Here's the downfall - the scene in Shakespeare is iconic to begin with - one of the best representations of true leadership ever written, and written beautifully to boot. And then, Kenneth Branaugh took what was iconic and made it indelible with a lovely, perfect performance, forever preserved on film. So when Colin tried to get his troops to go in and win one for the gipper, he looked laughably small in comparison. The clumsy writing didn't help, but Ferrell couldn't summon enough passion to convince me that he could win a bar fight.

And speaking of passion - I'm not sure I have ever been so personally insulted by a film. The film seems to suggest that a man - Hephaistion - was the love of Alexander's life. This supposition is deeply controversial in Greece, but no one can argue that the Ancient Greeks, as a group, had nothing against a little Brokeback action. Yet, in terms of love scenes, we are presented with raw, naked sex between Alexander and his necessary-to-bear-an-heir wife Roxane (Rosario Dawson) and nothing more than a few hugs and longing looks between Alex and Heph. Because I can't handle it, Oliver? Is that it? Because audiences have such little, closed, closeted minds? It looks like that's what the studio thought, perhaps because they have little, closed, closeted minds. Yet, according to imdb, Alexander made just $35 million in the States (on a budget of $150 million). That compares to a domestic $85 million take for Brokeback Mountain (on a teeny budget of $15 million), which hopefully shows that Americans are more offended by bad movies than by gay men.


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