The Weekend Rant: 'Gravity,' Miley Cyrus, 'Before Midnight'
Welcome to the first installment of a new HitFix feature, The Weekend Rant. Each week, different staffers will voice their opinions on various current pop culture happenings. This week, we look at the backlash against "Gravity's" screenplay, the media's concern for Miley Cyrus, and the HFPA's odd classification of "Before Midnight." Be sure to let us know what has you ranting (or raving) this week in the comments section.
It's screenwriting, not dialogue
Since "Gravity" became a bona fide phenomenon, it was inevitable that dissenters would become more vocal in the past week. And while the film is by no means beyond reproach, one specific, recurring criticism is beginning to irritate me: that the film uses its visual wonders to patch over a "terrible" original screenplay. Certainly, the film isn't a triumph of literate wordcraft -- it's spare by necessity, immersing the audience in experience and sensation rather than articulating it for them -- but that's not to say it isn't tightly, even artfully constructed. Is the backstory of Bullock's character rather on-the-nose? Yes, but it's a feeling-driven piece. Is the arc familiar? Yes, it's a hero's journey steeped in the tradition of Joseph Campbell. It's bluntly elemental, but it works. "Gravity" isn't captivating audiences in spite of its screenplay, but because Alfonso Cuaron knows how to tell a story: the film's visual storytelling is masterful, yes, but it's working in conjuction with a script smart enough to let it lead. With even the terse, efficiently constructed "Captain Phillips" getting accused in some quarters of thinness in the writing department, it frustrates me that even some top critics continue to confuse effective screenwriting with nifty dialogue.
HFPA dubs "Before Midnight" a comedy
In just the latest example of the HFPA's counter-intuitive classification system, Richard Linklater's marriage-in-crisis threequel "Before Midnight" will be competing in the Comedy/Musical category at next year's Golden Globes, while Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine" has been pegged as a drama. Not only do the classifications make zero sense - if anything, the positions should be reversed - pigeonholing a film like "Midnight" (an emotionally-wrenching drama) into the Comedy/Musical category only further crowds out actual comedies, which are typically all but ignored come awards season. Which begs the question: when critically-acclaimed, mostly straight-ahead laffers like "This Is the End," "The Way, Way Back" and "The World's End are routinely pushed out of a category that's supposed to represent them, why even bother having the category at all?
Please stop policing Miley Cyrus
What do you think of our rants this week? Share your thoughts below.
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
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