Some people stand in the darkness, afraid to step into the light...
Reports from Cannes are that audiences are booing Okja, the new Bong Joon-ho flick because it is a Netflix property. Cinema's elite (and the people who make money putting butts in seats) don't care for a service that releases movies in theatres and streams them into our homes the same day (a.k.a.: the future).
Some people need to have somebody with the edge of surrender in sight (see below).
What the big film studios don't realize is that the reason audiences are less inclined to go out to the movie theatres is not because we don't enjoy the warmth of a shared human experience. It's because Hollywood studios are predominantly bankrolling garbage films. In the chase for the next billion-dollar tent-pole flick, the lion's share of studio budgets are going to sequels, comic book superheroes, adaptations of anything that once had an audience (including board games and Disneyland rides) and remakes.
Filmmakers who want to tell any stories that don't fit in the studio cookie cooker form are being pushed to streaming platforms like Netflix or iTunes. And rather than shell out $40 for a night of shitty movies and fake butter on your popcorn, audiences are following. Hollywood are the people on the edge of surrender, and they still don't realize it.
Don't you worry, it's gonna be all right....
No, it's not. Not for studios pumping out rehashed drivel like Baywatch, opening this week at the Whistler Village 8. Certainly, there is dumb fun to be had, (like quoting lines from the Baywatch TV show theme song), but intelligent and discerning audiences will likely notice this remake is more CHiPs than 21 Jump Street.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson steps into David Hasselhoff's infamous Mitch Buchannan role (and is even more believable as a drug ring-fighting lifeguard who will fearlessly dive into a floating gasoline fire), while Zac Efron plays an Olympic swimmer/douche inhabiting the new recruit role. Jon Bass fills in as the butt-end of the dick jokes, of which there are many, and while Priyanka Chopra and Kelly Rohrbach are given meatier roles than their TV-show counterparts ever were, Baywatch is still very much a dude's flick. Director Seth Gordon has shone in the past (King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters, Freakonomics) but even with seven accredited writers, and the most likeable movie star on the planet, he can't drag this one far enough up the beach to even start the mouth-to-mouthing part. Baywatch is dumb fun if you like your fun reeeeaaalllly dumb, but it's insulting that a roomful of studio execs think this is worth paying $14 a head for.
For anyone sick of remakes, Hollywood also offers a sequel this week with Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Can U Believe We're Still Sailing, which opens in regular or (more expensive) 3D. Johnny Depp is back anchoring the franchise. This time out Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Vicky Cristina Barcelona) steps in as the bad pirate dredged from the ocean floor to exact revenge with his legions of soggy undead (and a zombie shark!). Visually, Pirates 5 has some punch, but it's also loud, boring and so, so familiar. Captain Jack Sparrow literally jumps the shark in this flick, which is great for a laugh but also a sign it's time to let this franchise sail.
'Cause I'm always ready, I won't let you out of my sight.
On the small screen however, Netflix ushers in a new era with War Machine, a new military satire/comedy starring Brad Pitt that will open in theatres and stream to your home simultaneously on May 26. This one is based on a true story of a runaway general convinced he can "win" the Afghanistan war post 9/11 by shooting more people. Writer/director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom, The Rover) aims to strike a balance between criticizing the culture and business of war while also humanizing the troops stuck over there in "the shit." And while Pitt delivers as best he can, War Machine ultimately misses the mark.
The satire doesn't bite as hard as Dr. Strangelove, the characters aren't as engaging as Three Kings, and most of the battles centre around political policy, not hunting down Taliban. War Machine is a bit of a bomb, but even so, Netflix is giving us a glimpse of the future with a big-star-led, socially pertinent film we can watch on the big screen, or nap through at home.
The freedom is yours.