‘Dads’: Does the Seth MacFarlane backlash touch his movies?
2. Hugo: Martin Scorsese redefines 3-D in this astonishing family film about a young orphan who lives in the clock tower of a Paris train station in 1930. There’s a Dickensian drama in his life, but the movie’s plot – all gears and gimcracks – is mostly in service of a tribute to the history of movies, especially the genius of French pioneer, Georges Melies. Scenes from some of Melies’ 500 films pay loving and joyful homage to the magical early years of cinema. 3. The Descendants: Alexander Payne’s masterful control of tone is what makes this comic tragedy surprising: We may know where the plot is heading, but moments of sudden grief and surreal humour alternately surprise us and provide constant delight. George Clooney, showing the cracks in his smooth surface, has never been as good as he is in this tale of a Hawaiian lawyer who learns that his comatose wife had been cheating on him. 4. The Tree of Life: Reclusive director Terrence Malick emerges from hiding with this magisterial epic about a childhood in Texas under the control of an angry and disappointed father (a fine performance by Brad Pitt), and also – steady now – the very foundations of the universe itself. The poetic, visual storytelling relies on small moments (billowing curtains, a sudden butterfly) to build a slow but moving masterwork. 5.
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And that is certainly the case when it comes to movie rentals. Plenty of people have long abandoned their Blockbuster membership and shifted from renting discs to streaming shows Netflix now has almost 30 million paying members but plenty havent. In households where the TV is still king (and not connected to a computer or the internet), DVD rental is still going strong. Take Redbox, which rents DVDs from its more than 43,000 vending machines located in grocery stores across the country. Stock in its parent company, Outerwall Inc., is down 12.5% today after it issued updated guidance last night, lowering estimates for revenues and earnings. A big reason for the downward revision was rentals at Redbox were not as high as expected. But even then, they were pretty high : Rentals for July and August grew year over year 13.4% and 15.7% respectively, with July representing Redboxs best rental month in its history, with approximately 74 million rentals. Redbox continues to expect both rentals and revenue per kiosk to increase compared to comparable periods in 2012. In addition, unique credit and debit cards used in July and August increased 11% year over year, while rental frequency improved in July and August compared to the same periods in 2012. 74 million rentals in July. Aside from working on an old-school TV setup, Redbox rentals can be a pretty cheap option compared to whats available online: $1.20 a night for one of their discs, compared to $2.99 upward for a streaming movie from places like Amazon or Apples iTunes store. Netflix subscriptions cost $8 per month, although that gets an all-you-can-eat streaming buffet. Redbox doesnt see its customers jumping ship anytime soon, regardless.
Thats of considerable interest to moviedom. MacFarlane has two big films coming out over the next 20 months: the comedic western A Million Ways to Die In the West, out in May, and Ted 2, the sequel to the Mark Wahlberg blockbuster that shoots next year and will hit theaters in April 2015. West starring an ensemble cast of MacFarlane, Neil Patrick Harris , Sarah Silverman and Dads Giovanni Ribisi is about a sheep farmer, a duel, a criminal and other genre absurdities. Its a big test for MacFarlane, since it takes him deeper into a new territory and much further from the Family Guy-esque comedy hes known for on TV and was able to smuggle into Ted. Having a strike against you leading up to that film won’t help the cause. FALL TV 2013: Watch the trailers Indeed, the biggest problem for MacFarlane on Dads isnt the offensiveness its that, so far, its not bringing the laughs. Regardless of what you think of the so-called edginess the Hitler video-game jokes, the cancer jokes, the Asian-school-girl jokes that will matter a lot more than whether the show sets off taste alarm bells. As Mother Jones said , The real problem does not lie with any ethnic or racial stereotypes, but with the fact that it is unoriginal and often a painfully unfunny, lazy waste of production space.” Or as the Associated Press put it , “The truth is, viewers who celebrate MacFarlane as well as those who revile him should be equally dismayed by ‘Dads.’ It’s just a mediocre multicamera sitcom, complete with formula humor and unearned laughtrack. FULL COVERAGE: Fall TV preview 2013 The fact is, MacFarlanes yet to prove he can pull off true live-action without quippy computer-generated people or animals. As my colleague Scott Collins asked, “Is Seth MacFarlanes Dads the worst-reviewed show of the season?” But heres why the movies probably won’t take a hit. While TV types like to tout the open-ended advantages of the form compared to the constraints of film, in this case MacFarlane will have a lot more freedom working in cinema. Hes one of the rare commercial directors with heavy sway over the final cut. And the 22-minute multicamera sitcom is about as restrictive as it gets; compared to it, a 100-minute feature offers the malleability and creative freedom of a Tolstoy novel. Hes also directing the films, which usually means a more hands-on involvement than executive-producing a TV show. So West may yet be a more interesting effort than Dads. And even if its not, hes heard it before, and yet…. The 2013 Oscars were the highest-rated telecast in several years. The “Dads” pilot drew a solid 5.6 million viewers.
Formidable directors, all. “I was certainly paying a lot of attention to what they were doing,” he says. “But I also have always been really fascinated with every facet of the moviemaking process. The truth is that an actor’s performance is not just made by the actor. So much of that performance has to do with the camera, the editing, the music, et cetera. . . . And with Don Jon, I was just envisioning all of those elements together while I was writing it and figured, I should direct this. “I know how I want to shoot it. I know how I want to cut it. I know how I want to score it. I should just do it.” And do it he did. Contact Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org , or follow on Twitter @Steven_Rea.
Despite the occassional interjection of ominous music (shut up Johannsson … there’s plenty of time for your score later!) and an initially drab grey color palette, things seem realistically jovial at this get together. The Dovers (Hugh Jackman + Maria Bello) are celebrating the holiday at the home of the Birches (Terrence Howard + Viola Davis) just down the street — close enough to walk — as they clearly do every year (or perhaps they trade off). The parents are realistically both amused and vaguely annoyed by their children, attentive but ‘don’t bother me’ tired. It’s only when the film leave the homes of the Dovers or Birches that there’s trouble brewing… somethings just off. Why did the movie open with a father/son hunting trip? Why is that strange RV parked on the road? Where did Anna’s (Hugh’s daughter) red emergency whistle go? Are Joy and Anna back yet? The two youngest children just went back to the Dovers to grab that red emergency whistle they wanted to p… ohmygod where are Joy and Anna? MORE, AFTER THE JUMP …