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Who Spoils the Spoilers? On the Right Not to Be Spoiled…

Apparently, spoilers are good for you. Well, that’s what one survey from August suggests:

UC San Diego psychology researchers Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt wanted to test if being spoiled hurt someone’s enjoyment of a story. So they took 30 test subjects and let them read 12 short stories by famous authors like John Updike, Roald Dahl, Anton Chekhov, Agatha Christie and Raymond Carver. Some they just read straight, others they read with a paragraph beforehand that ruined the ending or major twist in the piece. In almost all of those cases, the reader liked the story more when they were spoiled.

Published way back in August, this generated quite a bit of on-line discussion, and a lot of people were quick to suggest that the logic held true for movies as well, and modern blockbusters at that. It seems like a ready-made defense for those posting a constant stream of spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises, or leaking plot twists for various popular television shows. However, I’m not necessarily convinced by this logic.

This survey is suspect…

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Non-Review Review: Supernova

I’m going to be honest. I like B-movies. I have a soft-spot for a nice cheesy bit of entertainment that doesn’t demand to be taken seriously, and I can forgive a movie some bad acting or dodgy special effects, if the core ingredients are at least marginally interesting. Hell, I actually honestly enjoyed Event Horizon, something not too many other people will confess to. However, watching Supernova, a surprisingly lame rip-off that comes from a handful of directors (including Francis Ford Coppola), I found myself struggling to find anything to remotely enjoy. Instead, I spent most of its relatively short runtime counting down the seconds until it was over.

Guess which one of these gives the least mechanical performance...

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Twixt a Rock and a Hard Place: Francis Ford Coppola, Movie DJ…

A large part of me has tremendous respect for Francis Ford Coppola, even if his stock was considerably diminished by the twin misfires of The Godfather, Part III and Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the nineties. However, it takes a significant amount of courage to pretty much turn your back on major movie studios and produce a string of relatively independent and relatively experimental films, especially when you could legitimately be described as one of the main architects of modern cinema. Part of me wonders what would happen if George Lucas and Steven Spielberg attempted something similar to the string of low-budget arthouse releases Coppola has directed in recent years. His latest film, Twixt, comes with a gimmick that would put 3D to shame. The director is taking it on tour, and will apparently “remix” it for each and every audience. There’s no guarantee that two different audiences will see the same film.

Mixmeister Coppola...

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On Second Thought: Apocalypse Now (Redux)

I wrote in my review of the original version of the movie that the two-and-a-half-hour cut captured a great deal of the insanity that seems to have been a defining characteristic of the Vietnam War, with the movie feeling like a crazed surrealist trip into madness, a collection of abstract meditations on the American condition that felt compressed at over two hours. If that is the case, Apocalypse Now Redux captures another aspect of the conflict. It’s now less insane, but the instability and absurdity appear more systemic and endemic. It’s bloated, terrifying, harrowing and seemingly eternal.

Much like the war itself.

Back into the Heart of Darkness...

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Non-Review Review: Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now was what might be described as a “troubled” production. Francis Ford Coppola was never intended to direct the film, which ran into trouble with local weather and local politics, undergoing script changes on a daily basis, an overweight and overpaid Marlon Brando who refused to read either the script or the book it was based on (leading Coppola to read it to him), Dennis Hopper’s drug addiction and countless other factors. Actor Martin Sheen at one point had a massive heart attack and had to walk a quarter of a mile for help, which Coppola had to cover up (claiming he collapsed due to exhaustion and filming with extras and voice doubles) for fear of losing funding. Al Pacino had been considered for the role, but had the foresight to turn it down, with Coppola suggesting, “Al would do the film, if we could film it in his apartment.” If that’s true, he might be the smartest person associated with the production.

I mention this, because I think a significant amount of that trouble seems to feed through the film. There’s a sense that isn’t a safe production, which is somewhat fitting, given the subject matter.

Up the creek...

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When Average Just Isn’t Good Enough: Do Better Directors Have Further to Fall?

I watched Cop Out at the weekend, and I have to admit it was just about okay. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t consistently funny. It had moments of wit, but they were separated by pointless and boring scenes. It had a talented cast, but didn’t do anything with them. I wouldn’t describe it as a bad film, but I wouldn’t advise you to rent it (or otherwise seek it out). However, there was a stronger and more bitter taste in the air. There was something especially disappointing about the film, because of its director. Cop Out was a Kevin Smith film, and it actually felt a bit worse than it arguably should have because I knew the director was capable of so much more. Am I the only one who tends to be more disappointed by an average film from a talented filmmaker than perhaps even a bad film from an untalented director?

Feels like a bit of a cop out...


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The Fish Bites Back: James Cameron & Piranha 3D

I kinda sorta almost want to see Piranha 3D. Not because I think it will be good, you see, but because I genuinely want some cheap, visceral 3D action. After all, what’s the point of 3D if it’s simply adding several layours to your 2D watching experience. I realise this makes me sound like an uncultured slob (which, let’s face it, if the glove fits…) but I really want to see a tacky exploitative bit of 3D cinema where things fly out of the screen at me a make me jump out of my seat. It’s not a feeling I’m particularly proud of, but it’s there. Anyway, James Cameron seems to hate me, and people like me. When asked about Piranha 3D, he offered this snippet:

I tend almost never to throw other films under the bus, but that is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the 70s and 80s, like Friday the 13th 3-D. When movies got to the bottom of the barrel of their creativity and at the last gasp of their financial lifespan, they did a 3-D version to get the last few drops of blood out of the turnip. And that’s not what’s happening now with 3-D. It is a renaissance—right now the biggest and the best films are being made in 3-D. Martin Scorsese is making a film in 3-D. Disney’s biggest film of the year — Tron: Legacy — is coming out in 3-D. So it’s a whole new ballgame.

Okay, I can’t quite argue with that, but it still seems a little bit harsh.

From the looks of it, what James Cameron wants to do to Piranha 3D...

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It’s The End of Cinema As We Know It…

Tell us something we don’t know. Okay, I’m being mean, but Francis Ford Coppola, once so optimistic about the future of the medium of cinema, has become jaded and cynical about the studio system:

The cinema as we know it is falling apart. It’s a period of incredible change. We used to think of six, seven big film companies. Every one of them is under great stress now. Probably two or three will go out of business and the others will just make certain kind of films like Harry Potter — basically trying to make Star Wars over and over again, because it’s a business.

And, yes, this is from the man who made The Godfather III.

But does he have a point?

He gave us The Godfather III and Bram Stoker's Dracula and NOW he's worried about the death of cinema?

He gave us The Godfather III and Bram Stoker's Dracula and NOW he's worried about the death of cinema?

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