Monday, August 22, 2011

Kevin Smith doing 2 more flix, Disney exec dismisses "stories"

I cover this news less because it's fascinating and more because I wrote before about Kevin Smith's choice to quit directing. Thus, I should at least follow through and relay the latest development: Smith will direct 2 more films, not one.

It's not the biggest development, tho - no "extra-talky 2012 Citizen Kane" or something. It's just that Hit Somebody, Kevin's pro-NHL player movie, will be split into two parts, in the style of Kill Bill. There's a joke here somewhere about masturbatory filmmakers who write long stretches of dialogue.

It's interesting enough news. This division has been made so that the 1st movie can focus on a boy who grows up wanting to play professional hockey. This will give the 2nd film proper breathing room to follow the adult career of the same person.

I'd've been impressed if he'd made both at once, but I like giving directors and screenplay writers more leeway. I also like that KS is probably using what he learned while releasing Red State. Most importantly to me, tho, I'm tired of Smith constantly talking about what a lazy stoner he is, so I like this move because he's actually showing some ambition.

Finally, there's attention on a now-infamous speech given by a Disney exec, in which he says that stories don't matter at all - only franchise/tentpole Summer releases. It's the sort of thing that is both (a) insulting and annoying, yet (b) so geared toward modern cynicism that I want to just ignore it.

Still, I'd point out that Disney has acquired both The Muppets and Pixar. Both of those companies have a proven track record of caring about making motion pictures with a broad appeal and a good story. Of course, Disney had to acquire them because they make a lot of money and Disney can't create those kind of effective stories by itself today. They need the help. And hell, that exec pretty much announced that they don't really care, so Pixar and Henson's biggest legacy are just attached to soulless cash machines.

It's long been clear to me for that Disney itself might not care about the fabric that holds a flick together and makes it matter to the audience. Go here to the list of Disney's animated movies and scroll down to the section for the 1990's. You're not really seeing as many classics - specifically, as many classic stories - as you can see in the decades before it, are you?

And then they put the right amount of money into the right kind of mergers. Now, they can take credit for Toy Story 4+, and features with Jim Henson's timeless, beloved characters.

I loved so many Disney pictures, and respect them to this day. No one can argue over the genius of The Sorcerer's Apprentice or Bambi, or Snow White. It may sound awfully mature thing to hear one of them flatly announce that a $200 Million dollar motion picture about Gummy Worms, Scrabble, or Bic pens will beat out the hard work of The Incredibles, Toy Story, The Godfather, or even Team America.

Focusing on profits with something resembling a strategy (although it's really just a repeating tactic, actually) sound like a grown-up thing to say. But what is the real source of success for the real films I mentioned above? Think about it, folks. It's the quality story that was delivered by well-intentioned, hard-working people.

So yes, Disney is in a way saying that working hard with the best and most constructive of intentions is a waste of their freaking time and money. It's the exact opposite of the moral that's usually given in so many kids' stories and fairy tales. Don't try really hard to make something good; don't struggle with the right goals held close to your heart. This Disney is the sort of thing that sides with the cruel step-sisters, not with Cinderella.

It's less odd to me, than it is "shockingly lame." I reject this plan, as much because I care about good writing as because I hate when people play to my emotions, yet have only dollar signs on their minds. If you're going to appeal to nostalgia and the like, you have to do something that is worth drawing up emotion. More so even that a dollar at the box office, my loyalty and good-will are something that you have to freaking earn.

And, unless Disney literally were a dog or a cat or a kid or a bluebird, creating that sentiment would probably require hard work. Anything less doesn't seem worth feeling nostalgic about...


  1. I welcome the Smith news - I'm not even a hockey fan, but there seems to be a dearth of quality hockey movies. Tooth Fairy doesn't count...

    I'm also opposed to directors who claim retirement every other day. Shit or get off the pot.

    The Disney thing is a slap in the face - not so much to us, the vulnerable consumer, but how about to friggin' Walt himself? Pretty sure he'd be spinning in his grave over talk like that.

  2. Thanks, Dylan! Hockey can be hard to get into, but it's probably the toughest sport behind soccer. I hope that Smith shows more development as a writer/director with these pix. I can gripe about him, but I just wanna see him achieve his potential, y'know?

    I find it hysterical that you used a line from Clerks about his "retirement." Very nice!

    Yeah, Walt may have had flaws, but he cared about telling great stories. As much as I wanna buy into the Disney "brand," they've don't have the care or passion as the man who started it all. It's a sad day, but hell, they bought Pixar to sort of outsource good storytelling... Right?

  3. Haha - I'd take credit for the Clerks line, but it was purely unintentional/subconciously.

    I don't know, but would assume that someone else at Disney apologized for that guy?


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