Saturday, January 30, 2010

Miramax Is Done

Kevin Smith put it best when he said he was "crushed" to see Miramax "pass into history." The studio gave Smith his start with Clerks and gave audiences tired of Forrest Gump and alternative in the form of a Royale with Cheese.. Now Disney has closed its offices, consolidated it and stated it wasn't closing it down entirely.

Sure sounds like it, though.

Miramax, for better or for worse, will forever be known as the company that brought independent films to a mainstream audience. That covers the good and bad, but the end result was really a positive one. It gave people who were tired of blockbuster nonsense a reason to leave their houses and actually go to the cinema, and for that I will miss it.

I didn't love everything that came out with its logo, but I understood and respected the spirit of the mission ... most of the time. Miramax had its faults (which multiplied when it started getting involved in that blockbuster nonsense I mentioned before), but you can't ignore what it did for American cinema.

Is it gone? It's gone enough. But its legacy will live on.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Film Threat Sold!

Film Threat has been sold by Chris Gore to former editor Mark Bell. If asked, I shall return because it is sans Gore! Woo-hoo!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What Ever Happened to Film Threat?

If you've tried to access the site you may have noticed it's not working and hasn't been for months. I've written for the site for years, and I've had my ups and downs with it and its head honcho Chris Gore, but I'm done ... even if the site comes back up.

Gore used to be a total cheerleader for independent cinema, though he wasn't afraid to call it out (along with mainstream Hollywood), but as of the past few years it seems that independent cinema has taken a backseat to major studio releases, porn stars and G4. The website still did its best to promote independent cinema, but Gore seemed like he didn't care.

(I have some personal issues with him, too, and how he went back on his word on something, but that's not the scope of this post -- though it started swaying my opinion of him quite a bit.)

I remember first realizing that Gore was no longer one of the spokespeople for indie cinema when he went on G4 and gushed about how great it was that Iron Man was now out on DVD, but made no mention of any of the indie films out that same day, including the second Amateur Porn Star Killer film, which Film Threat helped put on the map (through my interviews and reviews). This controversial film series rated not even a mention by Gore, and I found that sad. Not to say he had to, but it was important for indie cinema since the first two films broke records as being the most inexpensive films to make that ever saw national distribution.

Film Threat helped the careers of many filmmakers and was the only site that reviewed a lot of these movies. Wall Street Journal even called it one of the top five movie sites in the country. Just on my end I helped bring attention to the Amateur Porn Star Killer series, Hacks, and Failure, just to name a few. Now the site is down with no word of when or if it will ever go back up. It actually seems unlikely it ever will return at this point.

What that means is all those reviews, all those interviews, and all those columns (I did "Excess Hollywood") are now lost unless other people posted them elsewhere. The links are all dead, which reall screws up my other blog, Published and Unpublished Works. Film history has been lost, and I don't think Gore cares. He is more interested in making petty jokes with Olivia Munn and getting his picture taken with Sasha Gray. Nothing wrong with either thing, but sell-outs don't get a lot of respect from me, and I think he has become the very definition of the word.

Eventually people will tire of him and he will return to Film Threat, most likely with big promises (like he made to me). I won't be on board this time, though. If some of the people associated with the site break out and do something on their own, I'd be happy to contribute, but if Gore is at the helm I'll just do my own thing.

As of now I have a box of movies I've been waiting to review for when the site came back online. The reviews will run here and any other place that wants them.

What ever happened to Film Threat? I don't know for sure, but I think it has a lot to do with one person's fascination with themselves all while losing sight of the bigger picture.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Slasher Classic Gets the Anniversary Treatment

Here's a link to a news item I did on the upcoming 25th anniversary edition of The House on Sorority Row. Enjoy.

Slasher Fans Rejoice! House on Sorority Row 25th Anniversary Edition DVD to Be Released

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Naked and the Dead

Seeing females naked on the big screen is fairly commonplace. Males is a whole other story. Harvey Keitel, pictured here, appeared sans clothes in the controversial Bad Lieutenant from famed director Abel Ferrara, the man behind Driller Killer and other assorted films. Bad Lieutenant caused controversy for all sorts of reasons -- the scene with the teen girls, the drug use and so on. But it was the nudity that caused quite a few people to get upset.

The film didn't shy away from the controversy. As you can see from the art here, the nudity was not hidden away from unsuspecting viewers. This bit of poster and DVD art, however, is what most people are used to seeing. Gun? No problem. Penis? Big problem.

The nudity in this film is essential. It's all about character change. It's a moment that could have been done with Keitel in clothes but would not have worked nearly as well. The fact that the film was brazen about it upset people. Hell, I remember people being upset about the chainsaw chase scene in American Psycho, and the nudity in that wasn't even close to bit in Ferrara's film. . Yes, it is intense (any naked guy chasing you is intense), and if I recall, you do get to see a bit of penis, but it still isn't nearly as emotionally overbearing and yet it still caused problems. (Both films were actually fairly controversial in their own right, but only Ferrara's use of nudity gets mentioned in the controversies. The controversy in the Christian Bale film is relegated around violence.)

Male nudity is always going to make American viewers uncomfortable for one reason or another. "Heterosexual" men will claim they aren't gay, so that's why they can't watch it (though any man comfortable with his own sexuality should be able to see another man naked with zero issues). Women, on the other hand, think turn about is fair play, but they often admit to some squeamishness, too. Perhaps it is solely because it is seen so rarely. Maybe it's something else. I don't know. I do know that there should be more of it in the right context (or even not in the right context -- it's up the director to decide that). Male nudity is powerful when done properly. And besides, if you do it in a high enough profile movie it's like automatic publicity these days.

Ferrara, exploitation guru that he can be, wasn't doing it for that purpose. He was making a statement. He succeeded. The fact that the impact has lasted this long (and talk to anyone who saw the film and doesn't like it, and that nudity will usually be mentioned as one of the reasons) speaks volumes to his accomplishment.

Had it been Pamela Anderson and not Keitel, however, (and I shudder to think of that possibility), this blog post wouldn't even exist.