Nikki Finke has doubts about its execution, but Fox’s decision to devote resources to an initiative incubating wholly original screenplays (remakes and literary adaptations are both out) by emerging screenwriters is a great idea. I’ll be curious to see the gender and racial mix of who they hire. Life experience matters in the kinds of stories people decide to tell, or decide are worth telling, and not in predictable ways. I don’t know that we’d have gotten District 9 from an American director.
The trailers for The Bully Project are undeniably moving:
But I feel like it how I feel about a lot of “issue” movies, maybe even more so. Having given us this information, what the hell are we supposed to do about any of it. Art like this demands some kind of moral response, but bullying is a particularly intractable issue. The only way to prevent it entirely is to raise kids who are homeschooled, cut off from the phone and internet, and entirely unexposed to any social situation, be it school, church, community activities, a generation of twenty-first-century boys and girls in bubbles. You can monitor your kids’ communications, but only for so-long. You can try to create an atmosphere where they’ll self-report, but it’s not clear how many kids will come-forward. You can try to raise children not to be homophobes, but how do you create compassion for kids who are physically awkward or not conventionally attractive, or the herd instinct kids seem to have to target someone? You can improve mental health services for kids (and goodness know we should do that at all levels of society), but then you have to overcome the stigma about use, and it’s a huge thing to try to do.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do any of these things, or that the right response in the face of this kind of social problem art should be resignation. But I do find art like this frustrating, if only because watching it is not enough.
Did any of you watch the backdoor pilot for Fox’s Bones spinoff, The Finder, last week? It was…troubling, I thought, and a worrisome indication of what Hart Hanson thinks is good. Among the problems: casual homophobia (the assumption that someone is insecure, and because she’s insecure, she must be a lesbian, and because she’s a lesbian, it’s a good idea to send an operative over to seduce her buy buying her “something gay, like a slippery nipple), Michael Clarke Duncan as a legal-koan-spouting Magical Black Man, fat girl jokes, the obvious but oddly disgusting pandering of Geoff Stults going into a stranger’s house to investigate him and TAKING OFF ALL HIS CLOTHES.
The thing that works about Bones is there is a legit idea there, a use of science in service of an old, old story. This doesn’t appear to have an idea, just a collection of objectionable tics.
By Alyssa Rosenberg
Well, we know Zack Snyder won’t be able to resist a washed-out color palette or a lot of abs, but maybe he’ll make Henry Cavill less shouty as Superman than it appears he’s going to be as Theseus?
I find the minor trend of gods-interfering-in-human-affairs movies intriguing, both because it doesn’t appear that anyone has a good idea about how to do them well, and because they’re becoming a funny little step in credentialing promising young action stars. Mads Mikkelsen aside, Clash of the Titans felt like the result of a bunch of prestige actors getting left alone with a large supply of disposable pie tins, effects dudes, and high-grade weed. Troy is mostly a chance for Brian Cox to snark and Brad Pitt to be mean to little kids/naked with the ladies. Percy Jackson & The Olympians drags the gods down to the high school level rather than imbuing them with any real majesty.
There are two really obvious challenges in making gods-come-to-earth movies. First, while a lot of people believe in the work of the divine in the world these days, it’s less common to believe that the gods are dropping in for a date with the local hottie or to jump into conflict zones for the hell of it. It’s hard to resonate to the idea of gods who are not just approachable, but mercurial, interventionist. Second, superheroes have basically taken on the roles of Greek-style gods in our movies. And while we approach them with awe, we don’t exactly accord them reverence. It’s hard to code the difference between gods and superheroes when they’re doing essentially the same things on screen: kicking ass and getting chicks. And I wonder if that’s part of the problem Thor, Kenneth Branagh’s movie adaptation of the Marvel comic about the Norse-god-turned-superheroic-Avenger, has been having connecting with audiences overseas (of course, it could just be that Australians like watching Vin Diesel steal things and the Rock punch things, because who doesn’t). In a world where movie science can transform a nerdy teenager or replace a man’s broken heart and broken conscience, it’s hard to elevate audiences to an even higher level of wonder.