WEIRDLAND: Americans’ retreat from cinemas, Matt Damon's controversia, Witness for Prosecution

Monday, January 08, 2018

Americans’ retreat from cinemas, Matt Damon's controversia, Witness for Prosecution

"Eventually stardom is going to go away from me. It goes away from everybody and all you have in the end is to be able to look back and like the choices you made." -Matt Damon

Not even “The Last Jedi” will reverse Americans’ retreat from cinemas: Tickets sold per head have declined to their lowest point since the early 1970s. Expensive flops have prompted studio executives to complain that Rotten Tomatoes, a ratings website, is killing off films before their opening weekends. Americans are losing the film-going habit as new sources of entertainment seize their attention. Netflix and other streaming services have made it more convenient to watch movies and TV programmes anywhere, on internet-connected TVs, tablets and smartphones. Apps such as Facebook and YouTube are fine-tuned to keep users gawping. Americans spend more than eight hours a day on their various devices, compared with just over four hours a day on TV in 2002, according to Nielsen, a research firm. Americans are on track to have bought around 3.6 movie tickets per person by the end of the year, down by 30% from 5.1 in 2002. They pay $8.93 for a ticket, 54% more than 15 years ago, which means higher total takings, but attendance is expected to decline further. Frequent filmgoers have dwindled, from 28% of North Americans in 2002 to 11% in 2016, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. 

With the exception of Disney, profits are stagnating. Last year the earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of the film studios at Fox, Time Warner, Universal and Viacom (Paramount) added up to $1.8bn, down from $1.9bn in 2010, MoffettNathanson estimates. When “Revenge of the Sith”, another “Star Wars” film, was released in 2005, retail sales, rentals and downloads of all films totalled $25bn, with the studios taking fat profit margins. That market collapsed to $12bn last year. Streaming revenue is on the rise, but less of that money goes to the studios. Studios rely increasingly on international markets for box-office returns, especially fast-growing emerging markets such as China. Studio and cinema executives argue that the secular trend in American film habits is less about decline than a change in tastes. Jeffrey Katzenberg, a former head of Disney’s film studio and co-founder of DreamWorks Animation, observes that American film-going has evolved from a “blue collar egalitarian” habit to a more “upscale” experience, at cinemas with luxuriant comforts and IMAX and 3D screens. That may be true, but there is a limit to how long new technology can justify rising ticket prices for the silver screen. Source: www.economist.com

Matt Damon's wan 2017 at the box office: The A-list actor capped off a year of box office disappointments—from ‘The Great Wall’ to ‘Downsizing’—with some poorly considered comments about sexual harassment. Downsizing—which opened in December to mostly bewildered reviews and flopped badly—is a precise mixture of goofiness and heartbreak. Thus concluded an awful year for Damon at the box office. Thanks in large part to his response to the ongoing Harvey Weinstein scandal, Damon’s year as a public and nominally political figure was much worse. Playing an affable Nebraskan occupational therapist with a solid-enough marriage and common-enough economic anxiety, he’s still plenty charming enough to come across as an everyman in Downsizing, even if the everyman role requires him to suppress most of his charm. 

He’s gone puffy and pale and hapless plenty of times before—see Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 comedy The Informant!—but here, with just a slight paunch and slightly thinning hair and a mildly dazed demeanor, the effect is somehow magnified. He is at rest, but far from at peace. Downsizing is an odd mix of bone-dry humor and squishy earnestness, its calls for human decency and dire warnings about climate change achingly sincere. As with his other major 2017 movie, oddly enough, Damon once again plays a largely apathetic civilian whose potential is awkwardly unlocked by a far more vibrant costar: a fiercely noble soldier played by Jing Tian in The Great Wall, and in Downsizing, a Vietnamese dissident played by Hong Chau. Both women do their part to save the would-be white savior; neither result, at least artistically, is an outright failure. The Great Wall, an absurdly literal depiction of Hollywood’s awkward attempts to conquer China’s booming but volatile film industry, didn’t make enough money in China, and made nowhere near enough money in the United States, with estimated losses of more than $75 million.

In October came George Clooney’s disastrous Suburbicon, which made way less money, and stunk. A 1950s noir based on a 30-year-old Coen brothers script, it sold itself as a nasty but fizzy upper-middle-class spin on Fargo—there’s Damon’s comforting everyman-as-Adonis face, pinched by clunky eyeglasses and artfully bloodied—but immediately revealed itself to be a profoundly ill-advised suburban-racism allegory. Nobody saw it, and most of the people who did would rather not talk about it. Source: www.theringer.com

Jessica Chastain defends Matt Damon amid Weinstein scandal: 'He's a really good guy.' If the full range of offensive male behavior is going to be eradicated, as Matt Damon also advocated, it needs to be confronted and discussed rationally. To do that, men need to be heard too. And not every woman who makes an accusation should be automatically believed. The effort by Project Veritas to use a woman to try to lure The Washington Post into reporting false allegations about Roy Moore proves that. A degree of healthy skepticism rightly tests credibility. Yet urging caution or restraint in the age of #MeToo puts a person at risk of being Twitter-shamed as a generationally out-of-touch enabler. The anger of Weinstein’s victims is understandable. But turning that anger against anyone who questions the rush to condemn every man for every touch — that sets up a modern day bonfire of the vanities. Source: bostonglobe.com

"There's a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right? Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated, without question, but they shouldn't be conflated, right?" Damon said. "We're in this watershed moment, and it's great, but the preponderance of men I've worked with don't do this kind of thing and their lives aren't going to be affected, most of the people I know don't do that," Damon told Business Insider while promoting "Downsizing." "If I have to sign a sexual-harassment thing, I don't care, I'll sign it," he said.  

Vanity Fair: -What do you consider your greatest achievement? Matt Damon: -"My marriage, so far." Asked by Vanity Fair when and where he was happiest, Damon answered: "In our bed, making our children, and in the hospital watching them being born." -Do you feel women understand men? Damon: -"Oh, I think they understand us totally. I just don’t think we can completely understand them."

In a time when many couples meet via dating apps, Miles Teller is proud to have met his fiancĂ©e Keleigh Sperry in a more traditional manner. "I like human interaction. Tinder puts all of these girls in front of you, so you don't have to go to a bar and you don't have to have the balls to ask a girl for her number. But it's not something that I'm like, 'Oh god, they're having so much fun.'" Marriage is important to Teller, whose grandparents have been married for over 50 years. "My philosophy is Respect the person you're with." The 30-year-old actor popped the question to his longtime love after they enjoyed a thrilling African safari. The news was shared via Instagram on August 21 2017. "It was a beautiful and intimate proposal," a source told E! News.

Overlooked Performance of 2017—Miles Teller in Only the Brave (2017):  Joseph Kosinski’s real-life firefighting drama was completely forgotten at the box office, which is a shame. Even Geostorm, which opened the same week, did better. Only the Brave actually contained a whole host of wonderful performances — from Josh Brolin and Jennifer Connelly to Jeff Bridges and Taylor Kitsch. But onetime wunderkind Teller was the true standout, playing a part quite far from his comfort zone — a melancholy pothead and perpetual screwup trying to set his life straight after learning he has a kid on the way. Always exhausted, never quite right in the head, but quietly driven, Teller’s character, Donut, eventually becomes the beating heart of this movie, and he also gets what might be its most devastating moment, right near the end. We all knew Miles Teller could act, but Only the Brave showed us the awesomeness of his range. —Bilge Ebiri (Village Voice)

“You can’t write love off or put it on hold. It stays with you until death." —Jerry Lewis

A minority of people are genuinely turned on by intelligence, according to new psychology research. The study, recently published online in the scientific journal Intelligence, found that most people desire a partner who is smart. Furthermore, a small percentage of them reported that they were specifically sexually aroused by intelligence. The researchers also found that people rated those with a higher intelligence as more attractive. But this effect appeared to have a ceiling. “We found that the association between desirability of a prospective partner and IQ of the prospective partner is curvilinear: it peaks at an IQ of 120 (90th percentile) and drops a bit from 120 to 135 (99th percentile),” Gilles Gignac told PsyPost. In other words, people were most attracted to a potential partner who was smarter than 90% of the population. They found someone who was smarter than 99% of the population to be slightly less attractive as a partner. Source: www.psypost.com

Putting the world in Mr. Damon’s hands is smart. At once preternaturally boyish and middle aged, Mr. Damon has become the greatest utility player in movies: No one can better vault across rooftops and in and out of genres and make you care greatly if he falls. He’s so homespun that he could have sprung wholly formed from a corn silo (he shares James Stewart’s extraordinary likability if not his later-life, postwar neurotic edge). But it’s the ease and sincerity with which Mr. Damon conveys moral decency — so that it feels as if it originates from deep within rather than from, say, God or country — that helps make him a strikingly contemporary ideal of what used to be regularly called the American character. Source: www.nytimes.com

Ben Affleck is in talks with Fox to direct and star in a remake of courthouse drama “Witness for the Prosecution.” Christopher Keyser will write the script, and Affleck will produce with Matt Damon, Jennifer Todd and the Agatha Christie estate. The 1957 adaptation of the Agatha Christie short story, directed by Billy Wilder, starred Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Elsa Lanchester and Charles Laughton. It was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Laughton and Best Supporting Actress for Lanchester. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

Marlene Dietrich’s entrance is a swift piece of storytelling in Witness for Prosecution (1957). But take note, we are not to trust everything we see or hear from characters who claim to know each other well. Dietrich’s work here paradoxically went “unawarded,” possibly even disbelieved, because it depends so much on a discovery folded into that don’t-you-dare-spoil ending. Dietrich’s acting talent was an unusual instrument, meant to be carefully wielded and always with the dangerous possibility of overuse, but here she gives an intelligent and careful performance, one fraught with many possible pitfalls but one where she made all the right choices. Dietrich manages to be both direct and elusive, stiff and intense.

She brings that cold blooded, calculating, haughty quality that was already part of her screen persona, but adds to it an uncharacteristic fragility and even some hysteria. Dietrich reveals herself as a perceptive maneuverer; she sees Power’s a user and lets herself be used so she can use him in return. Dietrich’s brief pause before we get our first reveal, that scene where she stops for a moment to relish her own genius and the effect of the bomb she’s about to drop. Her face, her demeanor completely changes in a millisecond as her ego takes over, and with a knowing, mocking grin she proceeds to tell Laughton what she did, lunging at him to drive the point home. That is the moment that very, very few actresses would have been able to pull off. Wilder reportedly thought Rita Hayworth wasn’t capable. Dietrich seems uniquely suited, practically made to deliver a compressed, distilled bit of intimidating acting like that and seamlessly weaving it into her whole performance. Source: hqofk.wordpress.com

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