Eugene David
...The One-Minute Pundit

Monday, January 01, 2007

The ne plus ultra of ad-blurbists, Mr. David Denby, who has surely seen as many masterworks these last few years as any man above the title, makes a startling admission, one which may seem strange from someone who, like most ad-blurbists, is more than content about the biz:

If we want to see something badly enough, we go, of course, and once everyone settles down we can still enjoy ourselves. But we go amid murmurs of discontent, and the discontent will only get louder as the theatre complexes age. Many of them were randomly and cheaply built in response to what George Lucas conclusively demonstrated with “Star Wars,” in 1977: that a pop movie heavily advertised on national television could open simultaneously in theatres across the country and attract enormous opening-weekend audiences. As these theatres age, the gold leaf doesn’t slowly peel off fluted columns. They rot, like disused industrial spaces. They have become the detritus of what seems, on a bad day, like a dying culture.... [And on good days too, we guess, except the ad-blurbists seldom know those.]

The executives complain about the theatres, but the second-rate, dispirited atmosphere of so many multiplexes is part of the world they have made, complete with its tiresome, meaningless annual cycle of pictures that storm the media beachhead and wash out with the tide, and the overloaded fall seasons with doleful dramas about depression, suicide, addiction, and random death. Theatre attendance is holding up, but if the audience gets weary and chooses to watch movies at home we have to understand what we are doing not only to an art form but to ourselves.

Which will not prevent him or his comrade in adjectives Mr. Lane from overrating many, many, many, MANY more pop movies and doleful dramas in the decades to come, greasing the movie-industrial complex's skids with their liberal application of BS.

BUT...there IS hope: Visionary directors like MR. SODERBERGH have devised a NEW ECONOMIC TEMPLATE for their masterworks (as he did with CASABLANCA II -- a BOX-OFFICE BOMB), and maybe they won't need the studios to distribute them (which does sound like a twenties mogul saying pictures won't need sound). And the best news comes in the popcorn restaurants:

The idea of user-friendly theatres may be catching on. Sumner Redstone’s daughter Shari, the president of National Amusements, the family-owned theatre business, has vowed to convert half the lobbies of the chain’s hundred and nineteen theatres to social spaces with comfortable lounges, and to build more. [It is also the parent to a certain member of THE CONSPIRACY, and we suspect SUMNER doesn't have the foggiest idea what kind of movies He excretes or where He excretes them or how, and doesn't care, so long as HE has His POWER. Were the LEGENDARY fact checkers asleep? Or was Mr. Remnick merely being the World's Greatest Editor?]

Have we been taking notes from our colleague Mr. Felatta?

We seem to have:

I spoke to Barry Meyer, the chairman and C.E.O. of Warner Bros. Entertainment, in a wood-panelled conference room adjacent to his office, in Warner’s venerable Burbank headquarters....

I was just joking when I said to Michael Lynton, the chairman and C.E.O. of Sony Pictures Entertainment, in the studio’s creamy executive offices in Culver City....

Peter Bart, the editor-in-chief of Variety, who was an executive at Paramount in the seventies, put it to me this way:

As Tom Roth-man
[SIC!], the chairman of Fox Filmed En-tertainment [SIC!!], said to me....


P. S. A good start for New Year's Day -- biz is the worst in five years! Oh well, one day does not a year make, but we can hope.

P. P. S. on 1/2 at 11:10 a.m.: I see JPOD applauds Mr. Denby's wuhk. In a way it proves my point: a silly ad-blurbist praises a silly ad-blurbist. I don't take this opus seriously because how many "think pieces" have the blurbists written about how movies are getting worse -- and how many rave reviews have they written after? The presence of all those industry bigwigs sounds the tocsin too. JPOD also seems to believe the Web will "change" the biz. Thus far its principal accomplishments are The Blair Witch Project, those @#$%&* SNAKES and AIN'T IT COOL NEWS. I am NOT impressed.

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