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Why all movie posters look alike

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: November 9, 2011 - 1:30 PM

 Why? Because they remind you of that one movie with that guy who did that thing and everyone was like WHOAA. Or because they want you to think "Pretty Women" or some other movie for which you have a vague recollection of goodwill. Here's a breakdown of 13 familiar trends in movie posters, starting with "Tiny People On the Beach, Giant Heads in the Clouds."

"Lost" star wants a jury trial

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: November 8, 2011 - 1:36 PM


Careers have several phases - the early years of small thankless roles, the breakthrough role, the long fame-solidifying role in a successful series, and then . . . the lawsuit phase.


Matthew Fox wants a jury trial in a Cleveland civil lawsuit claiming the former star of TV's "Lost" punched the driver of a chartered party bus.
Online court records show Fox made the demand in a counterclaim filed Thursday.

In her lawsuit, driver Heather Bormann of Cleveland alleges that Fox punched her in the breast, groin, arm and legs after she blocked him from boarding the bus on Aug. 28. Fox was in Cleveland for a movie shoot.

Bormann's suit says she needed medical treatment for injuries that led to a loss of income. She's seeking at least $75,000 in damages.

Cleveland prosecutors reviewed the case and declined to file charges against the actor.

You’d want the jury to hear that, yes. He’s also suing her. TMZ says:

Fox is countersuing Heather Bormann, who filed her own lawsuit in September, claiming a drunken Fox tried to board a party bus she was driving in Cleveland, Ohio.  Bormann alleged Fox attacked her after she ordered him to stay off the bus.  That's when Bormann claims Fox struck her in the breast, arm, leg and, of course, the vagina.

Of course.

Fox alleges in his countersuit ... she's just lying, and in reality he didn't provoke her but she's the one who physically attacked him.

Fox claims he's lost work because TMZ and other media outlets have reported her lawsuit, and she has subjected him to "public hatred, contempt, ridicule and shame."

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and whether his career has long-term damage. Or whether he has one. Or needs one. If he invested well, he could just move to Hawaii and live on a pineapple farm, where no one will ever come up and ask him to explain the last episode of “Lost.” I understood it, but it’s still not completely clear. The part about the bomb is confusing, now that I think about it. Did it kill everyone, and that’s why they went sideways in time to the after-party? I think it would be easier to watch the entire show in reverse, so it becomes a long drama about people with very confusing stories who eventually get scooped up by an airplane that backs into the gate at an Australian airport, and they go back their simple, easily-explained life.

Depp had a flopp

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: October 31, 2011 - 3:17 PM

Ouch. The Wrap says:

One of the biggest movie stars in the world suffered one of the biggest box-office flops of his career this weekend.


Even with Johnny Depp, the Hunter S. Thompson-themed "Rum Diary" couldn't scrape up more than $5 million at 2,272 North American locations. Considering the movie had a budget of about $45 million, that's a tough opening for the FilmDistrict release.

So that’s $40 million down the rathole? More, no doubt; there’s marketing to consider, and prints. They’ll probably make it up in foreign markets by painting eyeliner on Depp’s character and retitling it “Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle Of Rum Diary” to make it seem like a pirate pic, so all is not lost. Meanwhile, heads are scratching: why did it tank? Bad week for small films? Depp’s appeal on the wane? People like him only when he’s piratical? Perhaps because word of mouth was like halitosis: The movie got a C minus from people who actually saw it, and Hunter S. Thompson’s appeal may not be as universal as some suspect. It’s not his first bomb: the story notes that “The Tourist,” “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus,” and “The Libertine” underperformed as well. He’ll do well in the upcoming “Lone Ranger,” but this probably isn’t the time to sign on to any “Waterworld” sequels.

Tara Reid: Good reason not to be in 'American Wedding'

Posted by: Vince Tuss Updated: October 25, 2011 - 3:49 PM

Tara Reid slipped back into media attention with a short video that delivered a surprise: Her August wedding wasn't legal. Really? "No, never legal," Reid said on this 30-second snippet up on And here is E Online's write-up.

It looks like a sleepy Reid was caught in the airport. Maybe she just cut the chase, since the cameraman seemed to making not-so-small chat, talking about her short engagement and throwing her into a make-believe version of "The Newlywed Game." But still, about a forthright as an answer that you see in the press. Which kind of takes the wind out of the sails.

Reid is on Twitter, where she was praising a video shoot Monday, but probably not this one.


"Harry Potter" DVDs will vanish - like magic!

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: October 25, 2011 - 2:21 PM

Oh, this is smart. The Wrap says:

Warner Bros. announced that it will pull all Harry Potter DVDs and Blu-rays from store shelves on December 29, 2011.


The move follows the November 11 home entertainment release of the final film in the franchise, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2," which should send disc sales into the stratosphere. The studio is also releasing a box-set of all eight Potter films on that date.

The article says Warner’s taking a page out of Disney’s book, since MouseCo. regularly cycles their properties in and out of the “vault” to build demand and entice people to pay for the 9th copy of “Lion King” by adding things the previous version didn’t have. But “Harry Potter” is not the “Lion King.” It’s a popular series of books constantly being discovered by new sets of readers, who will want to watch the movies as they go along. They’re not entirely out of luck: Warners says the movies will be available on VOD or digital downloads, but that seems to defeat the purpose of removing the discs. It only inconveniences families who want to watch them on DVD, which is just about everyone.


Perhaps they’ll be released into theaters, but that’s not the same. Unless George Lucas will be hired to “improve” the original movies. Meanwhile, kids will just learn how to pirate them from the internet, so they don’t get a DRM version they can’t play on their iPhone touch. Hard to see how this works out well for anyone.

This movie's so good they've cancelled the wide release

Posted by: James Lileks Updated: October 20, 2011 - 12:50 PM


Nothing unusual here, it’s all part of a brilliant strategy. The Wrap reports:


Nine days before it was scheduled to release "Anonymous" to thousands of movie theaters across the country, Sony will begin the movie's run in only 250 theaters, TheWrap has confirmed.


Pre-release audience surveys for the Roland Emmerich Shakespeare drama have been soft. According to a report released by research firm NRG Monday, total awareness of the movie from its strongest moviegoer demo, women younger than 25, is only 37 percent.

"We believe a gradual rollout is the best way for audiences to discover, embrace and champion the movie through the holiday season," an individual close to the project told TheWrap.

Nothing like a soft pre-release reaction to spoil everything, but they’re probably right. A gradual rollout, that’s the idea. Why don’t more movie companies think of this? This is an incredible movie, absolute dynamite - why, it’s like the “King’s Speech,” which was also set in England - but softly, softly. Let’s not spoil the moment by putting it out there all at once. Let it build, so the people in the second-tier cities are begging for it.

Maybe the problem is the title. People think it’s about nerds in leering plastic Guy Fawkes masks who hack big computer systems to quench their adolescent conception of global justice, or something. It’s really about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays, which were written by a fellow named “William Shakespeare,” unless you’re an Oxfordian, in which case you think the Earl of Oxford wrote them. So this movie is the Oxfordian version of “JFK,” but because we know much less about the era, the ratio of falsehoods-to-words is naturally lower. In any case, it -

Hold on. Skimmed right past this: Roland Emmerich? Really? Mr." 2012"? Now you’re wondering if the Globe theater explodes in spectacular fashion, not as far as I know. It’s gathered a few good reviews, and one critic said it’s difficult to believe Emmerich had anything to do with it.

BECAUSE HE DIDN’T. It was really directed by someone else, don’t you see? That’s the brilliant, devious message. People will be arguing about this film’s true director in 500 years. Why, something this literate couldn’t possibly be done by a schlock-merchant like Emmerich. It must be the work of someone with much more experience - like this fellow.


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