Archive for January, 2011

The best bad movie ever made

January 25, 2011

I have a confession to make… I love the movie “Armageddon” In my humble opinion, I believe it is the best bad movie ever made period. It is great and horrible in it’s over the topness.

Some reviews of the film:

“A real movie about courage in space is Apollo 13, in which fear and sacrifice have meaning. This jingoistic, overblown spectacle is about whistling in the dark.”

“…full of sound and fury but without a single new idea to add to the conversation.”

“…why couldn’t the film have tapped into a more noble and stylish tradition? Why couldn’t these men have been interesting instead of cartoons?”

Somebody also called it an “ugly mess” but I think it’s a beautiful mess of excess that takes itself so seriously even as it becomes more and more over the top.

Now we have this video from Tim Pawlenty to promote his new book.

Wow, now that’s a video. I love the production values, wow, how much did they spent on this thing? So much for fiscal restraint. And I’ll say this for the video, it makes Pawlenty, a guy who has never really impressed me much seem Presidential, so it deserves some credit for that.

But here’s the rub, it seems so over the top, so lacking in anything authentic, I get that the guy is running for President, but he’s not giving the Gettysburgh address or saving the world from Astroids. The video while beautifully executed seems so out of proportion, it’s full of sound & fury, but there’s no there there. I guess if the only take away is that this guy can appear presidential, then it serves it’s purpose. But I’d worry that it also could make him appear smaller ironically. It is so excessive that it makes me wonder why? Why does he need so much propping up?

Over the top works for Armegeddon (in my opinion). Sure it sucks, but it doesn’t seem to care, it’s so earnest and so overindulgent that it wins me over despite it’s paper thin characters, plot and excess. But this video isn’t a movie, so that same earnestness feels manipulative to me in this context. Like big dramatic music, fast editing, extreme close ups and iconic shots can compensate for a boring candidate.

Still, it must have been fun to film this one.

Now, I’m going back to a real american hero Bruce Willis.

Paint by Numbers

January 19, 2011

I remember an interview way back before Beverly Hills Cop 2 came out. Eddie Murphy was promoting his new movie, and he said something like, “People loved the first movie, so we took everything they liked in the first movie, and made it bigger in the second one.” Now, I was pretty young, but I remember thinking at the time that seems to miss the point. You can’t just paint by numbers, we need a bigger explosion here, we need this & that, and expect a movie to be better.

I feel the same way about this ad. In theory it has the right approach, it’s trying to appeal to emotion with shots of kids and families, trying to engage our outrage, but the whole spot is just… I don’t know, flat. It’s soulless.

It’s not that script is so bad or the images stink, it’s just doesn’t add up to a good spot or even mediocre spot. Now, the voice over doesn’t help at all, the narrator sounds like she’s on ambient. The spot has no energy or hook, there’s nothing memorable about it.

That leads me to another point, to call the bill Affordable Health Care Act instead of health care reform is an interesting choice. On one hand I applaud the effort to embrace a new frame, Health Care Reform has been branded Obama Care with all it’s death panels and job killing effects. On the other hand, even though I know they’re talking about Health Care Reform, I find the ad confusing, I don’t really know what they’re talking about. Maybe I don’t connect it in my mind to my support of Health Care Reform, it almost feels like a whole new issue.

This ad is one of those rare birds that’s actually worse than the sum of it’s parts. Like Eddie Murphy learned, it’s not enough to have bigger explosions and expect your movie to be better, you actually need something authentic and fresh to engage an audience.

Being in Harmony

January 5, 2011

Been a long time between posts, part of that is the season, part of that is the lack of things to post about, part of that is I’ve moved a lot of quick hits over to Twitter, where I usually post a few times a week if not a day.

What would I do without Rahm?  Wait for superbowl ads I guess. Another ad for the former congressman, turned White House chief of staff, turned candidate for Chicago Mayor.

Pretty standard stuff, a couple of things jumped out at me:

  • It was a contrast in tones, the music and images serve to contrast a pretty tough on crime message. It seems like a deliberate effort to ‘tone’ down the image of Rahm as a firebrand, but allow him to appear tough and passionate without the histrionics. The danger is if this isn’t the real Rahm, that the effort appears as manipulative.  I don’t think that is the case, but it is something I’d worry about.
  • The line “These gangbanger… don’t own the streets…” is at once awkward and power.  Don’t hear the word gangbangers tossed around in elections too much these days.
  • Mentioning Clinton, the entire ad seems aimed at lower income and minority communities where the former President is still extremely popular.  Is this the campaign’s attempt to hold off the challenge of Carol Mosely Braun?
  • The choice of crime is an interested one, and a further one that makes me think this spot is targeted to a particular audience. Even so, there must have been some strong polling out there because crime is a particularly rare issue these days (terrorism yes, street crime not so much).

So overall this ad is alright, doesn’t stand out, and isn’t as good as the first one which is the best of the bunch.  It appears to be serving a tactical purpose, but at least at seems to be matching the tone of the others even when taking on an issue that often has a harsher tone than they’ve shown so far.

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