Review Cinema-Going

Doctor Omega

VOTD: “Shut Up About Plot Holes”


A while back a YouTube user by the name of Patrick h. Willems did a video essay about the color grading, or rather lack thereof it, in the Marvel Studios films that scored a lot of attention. He followed that up last year with a look at the Snyder-era DC films and their problems with character.

He’s back today with a similar essay that has brought attention to and deals with an increasing problem – the mistaken perception of plot holes. In the last ten years, thanks heavily to the rise of social media and YouTube, movies are now not being genuinely reviewed so much as being nitpicked and torn apart in sassy video commentaries.

Key to that is young filmgoers who are mistaking such things as plot contrivances, off-screen events and logic gaps for ‘plot holes’ which is becoming a blanket term for numerous other kinds of criticism. A ‘plot hole’ by definition is when a story breaks a previously established rule about its own universe and contradicts itself.

Chris Pine’s Kirk landing on the same planet (and within walking distance of) where an aged Spock is hiding out in 2009’s “Star Trek”? That’s a plot contrivance, not a hole. Peter Quill getting mad and ruining the attempt to get the gauntlet of Thanos in ‘Infinity War’? That’s an illogical emotional reaction – it’s dumb but it’s human. How did Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne get back to Gotham in “The Dark Knight Rises” – that’s off-screen events and not a plot hole.

Willems uses several examples in the piece and then goes on to explain how some criticism is ultimately misguided and eventually goes into the history of how and when criticising plot holes became a mainstream thing. Check out the full video below:


Doctor Omega

Overcoming mixed reviews, Shane Black’s “The Predator” took the top spot at the domestic box office with a solid $24.2 million for the three day weekend – about on par with 2010’s “Predators”. The film also opened in several overseas markets, taking in a further $30 million.

That pushed horror spin-off “The Nun” to second place with $18.2 million, a fairly steep 66% drop-off, but worldwide to date it has snagged an impressive global total of $228.7 million after just over a week of release.

The dark comedy-thriller “A Simple Favor” came in third with $16 million, and with a budget of just $20 million it will easily go into profit soon. Young drug kingpin drama “White Boy Rick,” co-starring Matthew McConaughey, opened in fourth with $8.8 million and “Crazy Rich Asians” fell to fifth with another $8.7 million to bring its domestic haul to $149.4 million.

The faith-based “Unbroken: Path to Redemption” barely made it into the top 10 with $2.2 million, while in limited release both “Mandy” and “Lizzie” performed well.

Doctor Omega

“Life Itself” Flop Impacts Amazon’s Film Slate


In December, Amazon beat out Paramount and Universal for domestic rights to “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogleman’s new film “Life Itself” – nabbing the high-profile ensemble drama for $10 million at auction. It was expected to be one of those rare birds that would go well with both critics and audiences.

Cut to today, a week after the film opened and it bombed with both. The movie opened to not only scathing reviews but also a disastrous $2.1 million in its opening weekend. Fogelman has famously blamed critics, specifically white male critics, despite the near-universal panning.

Today, Variety reports that the film’s failure has had a “sobering impact” at Amazon itself and Fogleman is concerned executives there will be fired over the failure. But concerns run far deeper with the film following on from numerous critical and commercial flops this year including “Gringo,” “Wonder Wheel” and “Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot” (though the latter fared well with critics).

In the wake of the firing of Roy Price late last year, Jennifer Salke was appointed Amazon Studios chief and planned to follow the edict issued to Price that the streaming giant’s struggling TV and film business needs to re-focus their attention towards more commercial and broader appealing fare. Those reforms in the TV department seeks more shows akin to the recently launched “Jack Ryan” and the planned “The Lord of the Rings” TV series.

In recent years the online retailer has made big waves at film festivals as both producer and high profile acquirer of films with a fairly enviable track record of critical hits from the past few years including “Manchester by the Sea,” “The Big Sick,” “Chi-Raq,” “Elvis & Nixon,” “Love & Friendship,” “The Lost City of Z,” “The Dressmaker,” “Paterson,” “The Salesman,” “I Am Not Your Negro,” “The Handmaiden,” “The Wall,” “Wonderstruck,” “Last Flag Flying” and “You Were Never Really Here”.

Despite the critical love and awards acclaim, many of these films fared poorly at the box-office (“Last Flag Flying” for example didn’t even crack $1 million domestic). Then there are the ones that weren’t so well received “The Neon Demon” and “Zoe” which fared even worse. The trade says Salke this week has encouraged the faltering division to push harder to develop more commercial fare and appeal to broader tastes. So it is re-examining its business model and has already restructured somewhat – appointing Julie Rapaport to co-head the film division with that plan in mind. Rapaport will focus on blockbusters while fellow exec Ted Hope will handle auteur fare.

The trade says the company still “wants to make elevated material” and potential Oscar contenders, but they’re now pretty much done handing out lavish budgets to indie directors with no major commercial hits on their resumes (Todd Haynes and James Gray are cited as examples).

The changes come as the competition intensifies – Netflix, which has spent several years blindly stumbling with its film slate, has suddenly righted itself with a Fall 2018 original film line-up that would be the envy of any distributor. Apple has begun to ramp up its own film efforts, and Disney’s streaming service is expected to be a potentially formidable player on the scene next year.

Amazon still has “Beautiful Boy,” “Suspiria,” “Peterloo” and “Cold War” scheduled for release before year’s end.

Doctor Omega

Attorney General Investigates MoviePass


The office of the New York Attorney General has reportedly launched a probe into Helios & Matheson Analytics, the parent company of movie ticket subscription service MoviePass.

Investigators are said to be utilising an anti-fraud state law known as the Martin Act, one that allows law enforcement agencies to investigate suspected securities fraud and bring civil or criminal charges

Helios & Matheson confirmed the investigation in a statement and say they’re fully co-operating with the inquiry: “We believe our public disclosures have been complete, timely and truthful and we have not misled investors. We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate that to the New York Attorney General.”

MoviePass reported a whopping $124.6 million operating loss in its June quarter and was hit by a shareholder lawsuit, filed in August, which alleged investors suffered losses because they were misled about the company’s business and prospects.

Additionally one of its directors, economist Carl Schramm, resigned from the board in August and claimed management had withheld critical financial information and made important decisions without the board’s knowledge.

Doctor Omega

“Halloween,” “Suspiria” Slay The Box-Office

The new “Halloween” easily stayed on top of the domestic box office in its second weekend as the Jamie Lee Curtis-led horror film picked up another $32 million – only a 58% decline from its impressive debut (which is good for a horror film). Along with a further $25 million overseas, the film currently stands at a total of $172 million worldwide.

The only new wide release this weekend was the Gerard Butler-led submarine drama “Hunter Killer” which opened in fifth with $6.7 million, behind “A Star is Born” in second with $14 million, “Venom” in third with $10.8 million and “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” in fourth with $7.5 million. ‘Star’ crossed the $250 million worldwide mark while “Venom” passed the $500 million global haul mark. In a smaller run “Johnny English Strikes Again” disappointed with just $1.6 million.

In limited release, Luca Guadagnino’s arthouse remake of “Suspiria” opened in just two cinemas but pulled in a stellar $179,806. That gives it a per screen average of $89,903 which is the highest recorded for a film released in 2018 to date. Amazon Studios will test audiences’ reaction to the arty gore with a rollout into 250 locations next weekend, followed by an expansion into more cities in its third outing.

Doctor Omega

The BBC’s 100 Greatest Foreign Language Films


Every year in the later Summer or Fall, a major British magazine or outlet publishes one of those greatest of all time lists that stir some big debate about movies.

In 2016 The BBC did their 100 Greatest Films of the 21st Century poll with 177 film critics from around the world weighing in on the list which had David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” at Number One. They followed that up with last year’s 100 Greatest Comedies list which enlisted 253 film critics from around the world who ultimately deemed Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot” as the best comedy ever made.

This year they polled 209 critics (45% of which were women) representing 43 countries for their newest list – the 100 Greatest Foreign-Language Films of all time. None of these films are made in English and they run the gamut from the 1920s to this decade, with Akira Kurosawa’s topping the vote as the greatest non-English language film ever made.

Several directors popped up numerous times in the list with Wong Kar-wai, Abbas Kiarostami and Jean-Luc Godard making it three times; Akira Kurosawa, Andrei Tarkovsky and Federico Fellini had four films in there each; and both Ingmar Bergman and Luis Bunuel had the most mentions with five each. Here’s a look at the list in full:

1. “Seven Samurai” (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
2. “Bicycle Thieves” (Vittorio de Sica, 1948)
3. “Tokyo Story” (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
4. “Rashomon” (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
5. “The Rules of the Game” (Jean Renoir, 1939)
6. “Persona” (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
7. “8 1/2” (Federico Fellini, 1963)
8. “The 400 Blows” (Francois Truffaut, 1959)
9. “In the Mood for Love” (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
10. “La Dolce Vita” (Federico Fellini, 1960)
11. “Breathless” (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
12. “Farewell My Concubine” (Chen Kaige, 1993)
13. “M” (Fritz Lang, 1931)
14. “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce…” (Chantal Akerman, 1975)
15. “Pather Panchali” (Satyajit Ray, 1955)
16. “Metropolis” (Fritz Lang, 1927)
17. “Aguirre, the Wrath of God” (Werner Herzog, 1972)
18. “A City of Sadness” (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1989)
19. “The Battle of Algiers” (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)
20. “The Mirror” (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1974)
21. “A Separation” (Asghar Farhadi, 2011)
22. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)
23. “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)
24. “Battleship Potemkin” (Sergei M Eisenstein, 1925)
25. “Yi Yi” (Edward Yang, 2000)
26. “Cinema Paradiso” (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988)
27. “The Spirit of the Beehive” (Victor Erice, 1973)
28. “Fanny and Alexander” (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)
29. “Oldboy” (Park Chan-wook, 2003)
30. “The Seventh Seal” (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
31. “The Lives of Others” (Florian H. von Donnersmarck, 2006)
32. “All About My Mother” (Pedro Almodovar, 1999)
33. “Playtime” (Jacques Tati, 1967)
34. “Wings of Desire” (Wim Wenders, 1987)
35. “The Leopard” (Luchino Visconti, 1963)
36. “La Grande Illusion” (Jean Renoir, 1937)
37. “Spirited Away” (Hayao Miyazaki, 2001)
38. “A Brighter Summer Day” (Edward Yang, 1991)
39. ” Close-Up” (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
40. “Andrei Rublev” (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)
41. “To Live” (Zhang Yimou, 1994)
42. “City of God” (Fernando Meirelles, Kátia Lund, 2002)
43. “Beau Travail” (Claire Denis, 1999)
44. “Cleo from 5 to 7” (Agnès Varda, 1962)
45. “L’Avventura” (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)
46. “Children of Paradise” (Marcel Carné, 1945)
47. “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
48. “Viridiana” (Luis Bunuel, 1961)
49. “Stalker” (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
50. “L’Atalante” (Jean Vigo, 1934)
51. “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (Jacques Demy, 1964)
52. “Au Hasard Balthazar” (Robert Bresson, 1966)
53. “Late Spring” (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949)
54. “Eat Drink Man Woman” (Ang Lee, 1994)
55. “Jules and Jim” (Francois Truffaut, 1962)
56. “Chungking Express” (Wong Kar-wai, 1994)
57. “Solaris” (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972)
58. “The Earrings of Madame de…” (Max Ophüls, 1953)
59. “Come and See” (Elem Klimov, 1985)
60. “Contempt” (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
61. “Sansho the Bailiff” (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)
62. “Touki Bouki” (Djibril Diop Mambéty, 1973)
63. “Spring in a Small Town” (Fei Mu, 1948)
64. “Three Colours: Blue” (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1993)
65. “Ordet” (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955)
66. “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul” (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1973)
67. “The Exterminating Angel” (Luis Bunuel, 1962)
68. “Ugetsu” (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)
69. “Amour” (Michael Haneke, 2012)
70. “L’Eclisse” (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962)
71. “Happy Together” (Wong Kar-wai, 1997)
72. “Ikiru” (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)
73. “Man with a Movie Camera” (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
74. “Pierrot Le Fou” (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)
75. “Belle de Jour” (Luis Bunuel, 1967)
76. “Y Tu Mamá También” (Alfonso Cuaron, 2001)
77. “The Conformist” (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970)
78. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (Ang Lee, 2000)
79. “Ran” (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
80. “The Young and the Damned” (Luis Bunuel, 1950)
81. “Celine and Julie go Boating” (Jacques Rivette, 1974)
82. “Amélie” (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)
83. “La Strada” (Federico Fellini, 1954)
84. “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” (Luis Bunuel, 1972)
85. “Umberto D” (Vittorio de Sica, 1952)
86. “La Jetée” (Chris Marker, 1962)
87. “The Nights of Cabiria” (Federico Fellini, 1957)
88. “The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum” (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1939)
89. “Wild Strawberries” (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
90. “Hiroshima Mon Amour” (Alain Resnais, 1959)
91. “Rififi” (Jules Dassin, 1955)
92. “Scenes from a Marriage” (Ingmar Bergman, 1973)
93. “Raise the Red Lantern” (Zhang Yimou, 1991)
94. “Where Is the Friend’s Home?” (Abbas Kiarostami, 1987)
95. “Floating Clouds” (Mikio Naruse, 1955)
96. “Shoah” (Claude Lanzmann, 1985)
97. “Taste of Cherry” (Abbas Kiarostami, 1997)
98. “In the Heat of the Sun” (Jiang Wen, 1994)
99. “Ashes and Diamonds” (Andrzej Wajda, 1958)
100. “Landscape in the Mist” (Theo Angelopoulos, 1988)

Doctor Omega

The Biggest Flops & Hits Of 2018’s Box-Office


Moviegoing was big business this year. Cinemas, suffering through a terrible 2017, found themselves bouncing back with a number of major hits across a range of genres including the return of major success for sadly vanishing mid-sized budget level productions.

At the same time, there were a couple of major flops – most of which were fairly predictable, and one or two that were not. Variety has done a piece reflecting on a dozen of this year’s biggest success stories and disappointing failures, comparing budgets with box-office tallies. The results were as follows:

“Black Panther” (Cost: $210 million, Gross: $1.3 billion)
“Incredibles 2” (Cost: $200 million, Gross: $1.24 billion)
“The Nun” (Cost: $22 million, Gross: $365 million)
“A Quiet Place” (Cost: $17 million, Gross: $340 million)
“Halloween” (Cost: $10 million, Gross: $252 million)
“Crazy Rich Asians” (Cost: $30 million, Gross: $238 million)

“Robin Hood” (Cost: $100 million, Gross: $65 million)
“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” (Cost: $100 million, Gross: $138 million)
“A Wrinkle in Time” (Cost: $100 million, Gross: $132 million)
“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” (Cost: $43 million, Gross: $31 million)
“The Happytime Murders” (Cost: $40 million, Gross: $27 million)
“The Sisters’ Brothers” (Cost: $38 million, Gross: $9 million)

Once again, the overall box-office domestically has passed the $11 billion mark while internationally the global box-office tally for the year is expected to hover around the $40 billion range.

Doctor Omega

ASC Announces Top 100 Best Shot Films Ever


To celebrate the group’s 100th anniversary, members of the American Society of Cinematographers have put together a list of the 100 best-shot films of all time honoring the best cinematography put to the screen.

Selected by professional cinematographers themselves, the group revealed a ranked top ten followed by another ninety ordered by year of release. Probably by requirement, no film later than 1999’s “The Matrix” and 2000’s “In the Mood for Love” appear on the list so you won’t see deserved inclusions like “The Assassination of Jesse James,” “Skyfall,” “Moonlight,” “City of God,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Children of Men,” “The Master,” or “Pan’s Labyrinth”. The Top 10 are:

1. “Lawrence of Arabia”
2. “Blade Runner”
3. “Apocalypse Now”
4. “Citizen Kane”
5. “The Godfather”
6. “Raging Bull”
7. “The Conformist”
8. “Days of Heaven”
9. “2001: A Space Odyssey”
10. “The French Connection”

Vittorio Storraro made that top 10 list twice, the only cinematographer to do so, while Francis Ford Coppola is the only filmmaker with two films on the list. The full list of 100 films is up at TheASC and includes astonishing looking films ranging from “Metropolis” to “The Red Shoes,” “The Third Man,” “The Night of the Hunter,” “Vertigo,” “North by Northwest,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “The Exorcist,” “Barry Lyndon,” “All the President’s Men,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Alien,” “The Shining,” “Amadeus,” “The Right Stuff,” “Brazil,” “The Mission,” “The Last Emperor,” “JFK,” “Unforgiven,” “Schindler’s List,” “Se7en,” and “L. A. Confidential”.

The list was released as “A Star is Born,” “Cold War,” “The Favorite,” “First Man” and “Roma” were all announced as nominees for this year’s ASC award for best film.

The Seeker

Member: Rank 6
Of the foreign movies, I’ve seen a few of them. “M” is my favorite movie of all time. I bought “The Battle of Algiers” but I have yet to see it. “Man with a Camera” is on YouTube - I intend to check it out! A lot of those movies are on Criterion but they’re expensive! I wait for a biannual sale to buy any of those. I wish Criterion hadn’t broken off from Hulu - maybe now that Filmstruck went under, they’ll go back?

The Seeker

Member: Rank 6
Somebody chewing with his mouth open, or smacking his lips, drives me CRAZY. I was watching “Inside Out” with my mother in one of those theaters where you sit at a table and order food, and I could hear the kid at the next table over chewing her popcorn with her mouth open. I switched seats with my mother, who didn’t mind it quite as much, but if I’d had the nerve I would have walked over to that kid and told her to eat with her damn mouth closed. That’s the thing I truly dread when I go see a movie in a theater.