Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Thursday, August 17, 2021

There is a spectre haunting Europe… The spectre of free major motion picture DVDs, given away for free as European newspaper inserts, thus eroding their juicy market value:

The cover-mounted DVD giveaways, which have included Prizzi’s Honour and Donnie Darko, devalue the format in the eyes of consumers, one-quarter of whom said they would have bought the same title if they had seen it in shops for a reasonable price, according to a report released on Thursday…

“It’s clear that that kind of quantity of free discs circulating in the market cannot help but have a dampening effect on the purchase of DVDs,” said Helen Davis Jayalath, Screen Digest’s senior home entertainment analyst.

Newspapers in other European countries, including Italy, France and Spain, also give away DVDs, but they typically charge an extra euro or two for the periodical when including one.

“Even though it’s only a couple of euros, it helps maintain the value of the format in the eyes of consumers,” Ms Jayalath said.

There are other markets where DVD giveaways have caused controversy. In Greece, for example, retailers have appealed to the government to ban cover-mounts after one Sunday newspaper distributed the hit “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and two discs with extra material over a five-week span.

Goodbye, reliable Hollywood cash cow. How long will it be before papers Stateside start using this stunt (hello, New York Post)? I guess it’ll hasten the moves toward digital delivery of movies.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/17/2006 11:52:25 PM
Category: Publishing, Movies, Business | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Monday, August 14, 2021

Ah, hell. I hate it when the New York Times scoops me.

I mean, technically, David Carr didn’t directly steal from me when he observed a disturbing trend of characterization for female reporter characters in three recently-released movies:

In “Scoop,” a Woody Allen movie that opened last month, Scarlett Johansson, playing the ingénue/reporter, reprises the cliché of journalism as a wordier version of the world’s oldest profession. Within the first five minutes of the film, she dons a pair of eyeglasses (to signify serious intent or, possibly, Diane Keaton) and then promptly sleeps with a source. “If I had used my feminine wiles to get the story,” she muses to a friend, that would have been O.K., but she comes away empty-handed.

Later in the film, when she gets a tip about a series of salacious murders that may have been committed by a young aristocrat, she quickly realizes the error of her ways: this time she not only seduces the intended target, but becomes his girlfriend, as well. In the end, she gets her man and the story to boot…

…and “Thank You for Smoking,” in which the female reporter not only hooks up with her source on approach, but then kicks him to the curb in print. This summer, even Lois Lane, the archetypal female journalist, not only beds her source but has his child. She is rewarded not with professional ridicule, but with a Pulitzer.

And he expands his thesis by pointing out other less-than-admirable reporter stereotypes, female and male. He even brings in “Tabloid Wars” as a contrast example (the pilot episode of which is available for free on iTunes, and waiting for my viewing on my iPod).

So why am I steamed? Because for the past week, I’ve had a mind to jot something here about those very three movie portrayals, all of which I caught in the movie theaters. It struck me as something of a misogynist streak in Hollywood: That a woman reporter can’t bag an interview without bagging the subject in bed. And furthermore, that this plot device was repeated across three very different movies, by three very different directors.

Instead, I procrastinated. And Carr, who gets paid for his jottings, goes and crafts his article, and looks like an insightful critic.

I mean, if I’d been more on the ball, I could have wondered if Carr had lifted my premise and expanded upon it. Or at the very least, figured he was on the same wavelength as me. Now, I got nothing to grouse about — despite appearances to the contrary…

Let this be a lesson. Don’t put off that brilliant blogging idea, lest you get scooped by a real reporter.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/14/2006 11:17:43 PM
Category: Publishing, Movies, Creative | Permalink | Feedback

Sunday, August 13, 2021

What’s catchier: “Trimalchio in West Egg” or “The Great Gatsby”?

Well, duh.

The title can be the trickiest trick to turn; ask any news headline writer. Plenty of near-misses graced last century’s great works:

The arts and the media are filled with works conceived with different names. Margaret Mitchell thought about calling her novel of the Old South “Tote the Weary Load,” “Not in Our Stars” or “Bugles Sang True” before settling on “Gone With the Wind.” The editor Jann Wenner originally wanted to call Rolling Stone The Electric Newspaper. The creators of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” seriously considered “Owl Stretching Time,” “The Toad Elevating Moment” and “Bunn, Wackett, Buzzard, Stubble and Boot” for their brainchild…

[Film producer David] Brown believes that the entertainment industry is currently in a naming slump. “Movie titles baffle me now because they’re watered down,” he said. “A title must be different and even crazy. You can’t mistake ‘Spamalot’ for anything else, even if you don’t know what it means. But ‘Bewitched’? Forget about it.”

That second part unsettles me, because it sounds like a pre-endorsement for the coming horror that is Snakes on a Plane. Despite my prediction that it’s already spent its hipness cache via Web saturation, I have a sinking feeling that it’ll do just well enough in its first week that it will indeed spawn a slew of brain-dead movie titles. Which, as a media junkie, I’ll have to endure.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 08/13/2006 08:51:41 PM
Category: TV, Publishing, Movies, Creative | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Thursday, August 03, 2021

brokeback batcave
Now that Heath Ledger has been confirmed to play The Joker in the upcoming Batman Begins sequel (tentatively entitled Batman: The Dark Knight — smart choice), I guess we can look forward to a fresh wave of Brokeback Mountain parodies on the Web.

I’d think the early efforts have started appearing already. But we won’t really see the flood of clips for months, when preview trailers and leaked footage provide the video raw material necessary for extensive cut-and-clip manipulation into MPGs and AVIs.

Aside from a post-modern proclivity to associate homosexuality with caped crusaders — with Batman and his Boy Wonder at the top of most lists in that regard — the more astute parodists might want to pick up on these additional tangents:

- Batman/Bruce Wayne himself, Christian Bale, played gay in the underrated Velvet Goldmine.

- The extended Bat-family just had an out-of-closet event with the debut of a revamped lesbian Batwoman.

That should be more than enough raw material to choke up YouTube. I can’t wait to load up the first clip that features Bats plaintively saying, “I wish I knew how to quit you, Joker!” (Or maybe it works better with The Joker delivering that line…)

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/03/2021 11:13:18 AM
Category: Pop Culture, Celebrity, Movies | Permalink | Feedback

Monday, July 31, 2021

When you think about it, it’s a wonder that the drive-in movie theater took this long to make a comeback.

Movie-goers can take their own food and drink — they don’t have to sneak it in, like many do at indoor theaters — and can also take home comforts like pillows and blankets.

At the [Albany-area] Averill Park Hollywood Drive-In people play baseball and football as they wait for the movie to start, teen-agers are able to congregate away from their families and lawn chairs dot the parking lot.

It’s the American ideal: Combining the comforts of your cherished car with a big-screen moving-picture spectacle. And you can chat away with abandon, and only risk teeing off your friends and family instead of strangers. If only there were a remote control, too.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/31/2006 11:12:45 PM
Category: Movies, Business, Society | Permalink | Feedback

Sunday, July 30, 2021

Nothing like some random blog goofiness to bring to mind the Jive Dudes’ dialectic dynamism in Airplane!.

Yes, even in such a broad farce, it’s embarrassingly Caucasian to serve up such nonsense. But it was funny, especially with the subtitles.

Incidentally, I’ve always thought that the sole funny part of the ill-advised Airplane II: The Sequel was that, years later into the ’80s, the Jive Dudes were still talking that way.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/30/2006 01:37:03 PM
Category: Movies | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Saturday, July 29, 2021

cut-up
For years, I didn’t know the name of the horror movie I happened upon on television one afternoon, back in the fabled 1970s.

But I couldn’t forget it. Because the memory of those creepy-malevolent voodoo dolls, scurrying evil-quick in chasing some screamy woman around her apartment, never left me. Even now, I vividly remember the chills my 8-year-old self felt when watching the woman dash into her bathroom, slam the door behind her, and then look down to see a knife carving its way in-and-out under the door. I don’t think I ever had nightmares from this psychotic imagery, but it definitely scared the bejesus out of me.

It wasn’t until much later that I found out the movie was Trilogy of Terror, a made-for-TV schlockfest starring Karen Black. I guess there were two other vignettes that made up the film, but who cares: The action began and ended with the killer voodoo creatures, known as Zuni dolls.

And it wasn’t until even later — yesterday, in fact — that I found out that I wasn’t the only Seventies kid to have this acid-trip of a flick burned into the consciousness.

Which means a generation of tykes were scarred by this crazed afternoon-TV spectacle. If only the V-chip were around back then…

I also found out that the Zuni Fetish Warrior Figure is available for purchase. Doesn’t quite look the same as I remember seeing it, on a tiny black-and-white screen. Just the same, don’t anybody put it on my birthday-gift list.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/29/2006 08:50:46 PM
Category: Movies | Permalink | Feedback (5)

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