The Afternoon Read (4.10.09) 'Extract' teaser poster premiere
Plus the debate on date rape in 'Observe and Report' rages online
I know it's basically the end of the day already. That's just how Friday worked out this week. And on top of that, Firefox has decided to randomly sodomize me over and over and over and over this afternoon, making a column as labor-intensive as this one almost impossible to pull off. So I'm going to make this a relatively short Afternoon Read, and then I'll work to put together a longer, weirder Weekend Read full of all the stuff I bookmarked this week but never quite found a spot to post. It's going to be a busy weekend of catching up here at the blog, so make sure you keep checking between now and Monday.
Let's kick things off with a poster premiere.
Earlier this week, we were one of a few sites to debut the teaser trailer for "Extract," the new film from writer/direcector Mike Judge. Today, we're pleased to offer you the exclusive first look at the poster for the film. You'll see a glimpse of it here in the article, but for a big high-res look at the whole thing, just click here. If you've seen the trailer, I think the poster image is both painful and very funny.
[more after the jump]
I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to read that Magnolia Pictures is releasing Bob Goldthwait's jet-black-and-brilliant comedy "World's Greatest Dad" later this year. I was starting to worry that no one would have the nerve to pick the film up, but Magnolia's a good fit for this potentially difficult picture that will need special handling if it's going to find its audience. If you want to know why I'm so excited, check out my review of the film from this year's Sundance festival.
If you're like me and you're sorry you missed this week's secret screening of "Star Trek" at the Alamo Drafthouse, then have no fear... Will Goss has put his own life and limb on the line to bring you the inside scoop on what secret screenings the Alamo will be hosting for the rest of the year, and you can book your travel plans accordingly.
I would imagine there are hundreds of stories just like this. Musso & Frank's remains a favorite spot for people who dig the old Hollywood vibe, and it's always sort of amazing who you'll run into while you're there.
I don't watch "House," but I can respect the show anyway. It's a good example of formula TV done right, and the key to longevity with a show that follows such a rigid formula is to shake it up at times, in ways the audience just can't anticipate. Sounds like they really pulled it off this week, and our own Dan Fienberg also wrote an excellent piece on the way this sort of incident affects a TV audience.
Edgar Wright has been incredibly decent and open about posting photos from the pre-production of "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," and now that they've started production, he's stepped it up to also start posting video blogs once a week. The first one is available on the official site, but you can watch it embedded below:
Uhhhh... okay. Do want.
And of course, Scott Pilgrim is played by Michael Cera, who also stars in this summer's "Year One," which got slapped with an R-rating even after an appeal earlier this week. Looks like Sony made whatever cuts were required, though, because the film finally got its PG-13.
And speaking of "Year One," over at CHUD, Russ Fischer attended an event for the "Ghostbusters" video game, and he got a chance to ask Dan Aykroyd about the status of the "Ghostbusters" sequel that's being written right now by the screenwriters behind "Year One." Aykroyd's been the biggest cheerleader for continuing the franchise over the years, and once again, he drops a bunch of big hints that may not add up to anything, but at the very least, it sounds like there's some progress. Of all the '80s nostalgia cash grabs being greenlit, I have to admit, this is one of the few that I'm actually looking forward to, god help me.
Like I said... it's going to be a short column today, so let's wrap it up with a look at the most bizarre controversy brewing this weekend. When I first got a look at footage from "Observe and Report," it was in the editing room over at Warner Bros. Jody Hill showed me, among other scenes, the "date" between Brandi and Ronnie, played by Anna Faris and Seth Rogen, complete with the already-infamous end of the scene. And I told him then that I couldn't believe what I'd just seen. It's a truly ugly moment, and what makes it a dark laugh instead of a sex crime is Brandi's angry declaration, "Don't stop, motherfucker!" I figured the film as a whole would stir people up, but I honestly never thought I'd see a rational adult (and I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt) write the headline "Seth Rogen Is A Rapist." No, Katey Rich... Seth Rogen is not a rapist, and it is beyond repulsive that you would title your article that, even with the oh-so-cute "But It's Okay" tag at the end. First, it's not a documentary. That's Ronnie Barnhardt onscreen, a fictional character, and his actions are pretend. Okay? If we can at least agree on that, then we can have the discussion of whether or not the film makes a joke of date rape, something which is not funny.
Rape in general is a cheap device in 99.9% of all films in which it was used. I remember attending one of the QT Fests in Austin, and after nine days of exploitation films back-to-back, I think I'd counted something like 8000 rapes that I'd seen onscreen. And in each case, it was a shorthand to show you, "Ooooh, look, this is a bad character, and this is a helpless woman." And in each case, I thought the film would have worked identically well without the scene. This is a long-standing debate I have even with my own writing partner. I think the moment you go to rape in a film, you're pretty much saying, "I'm creatively bankrupt, and I'm looking to inject a little bit of sleazy outrage into my film, but I don't have a single original idea. Enjoy!" If I were a woman who had been raped at some point in my life, I can only imagine what this non-stop cultural barrage of rape imagery might feel like, and it would probably be enough to drive me away from mainstream or exploitation cinema altogether.
But look at Lifetime Networks, where they exploit it as much as any Z-grade shlockmeister ever did. That's programming "for women," but they use it as an all purpose shock card just as much as any producer ever has. What makes their overuse of the device justifiable? Isn't their constant use of rape or sexual violence against women offensive? Or is it just the idea that this is a mainstream film with a recognizable movie star that sends someone like Melissa Silverstein running for her high horse so she can condemn the film based on watching the trailer without any context? It's okay to use as cloying crappy drama, but if someone stages a scene in a movie that is ostensibly milking some dark, evil laughs from a moment that twists your perceptions of date rape, then that's the moment you declare war? Really?
The Vulture states that the scene is absolutely undeniably a date rape, and they also get all worked up about it.
I'm going to argue the opposite, though. I think it's a brutal misreading of the sequence, and this is why Silverstein's comments based on the trailer are so wrong-headed. Brandi is a vile character in the film. Morally speaking, Ronnie's a saint compared to her. Yes, he's bi-polar and violent and possibly brain-damaged, but from his point-of-view, his evening out with Brandi is a date, and he tries to put his best foot forward. Brandi is the one who not only chooses to drink to the point of blacking out, but she pounds his bi-polar medication with abandon. You can say that she's not in any condition to consent by the end of that sequence, but what you can't say is that Ronnie did that to her. She absolutely, clearly, without anyone forcing her, chooses to medicate herself into oblivion, and that ending of that scene, with her yelling at Ronnie not to stop, suggests that she was the instigator of the encounter. Ronnie's clearly established as a person who would never make that sort of aggressive move sexually unless given a clear go-ahead, and so the entire thesis that this is a jokey ha-ha date rape is far less clear than the film's critics would want you to believe. I think this is a knee-jerk reaction from a press that moves from outrage to outrage, always needing something to keep them in that state of righteous indignation. I also think the scene's hilarious. And if you think that means I condone or celebrate date rape, you are 100% wrong.
Why not read this guy's take on "Observe and Report" and stop all the finger-pointing? Or keep it up if it makes you feel better and gets you a wee bit of traffic on a Friday afternoon. Whatever, I guess.
I'll be back with a Weekend Read sometime mid-morning tomorrow, and I'll have a huuuuuuge interview with Jody Hill going up this weekend as well. I've got more Motion/Captured Must-Sees for you, and I can already tell... there's no rest for me between now and Monday. For now, though, have a great evening.
The Morning Read appears here every day, Monday through Friday. Except when it doesn't.
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