Filmism.net Dispatch September 8, 2014

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First of all, sorry this edition of the Filmism.net Dispatch has been so long coming. You'll be pleased to know after an extended period of reorganisation we've decamped back to the USA and Filmism.net is now back in the thick of the action in Hollywood.

Now, here's a funny thing. In the last edition, when talking about the forthcoming Paddington abomina... sorry, movie, Filmism.net talked about how movies today have to be all about battles and action because the quiet, small adventure tales from literature like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Alice in Wonderland and Paddington itself just won't cut it with modern audiences.

When the stakes of your story involve being left on a train station or going through a looking glass, it just won't hold the attention of today's XBox-addled youth when alien invasions and zombie apocalypses are found even in family entertainment.

In making that point, I compared some of those classic childrens' books with The Famous Five, very models of English Boys (/Girls) Own Adventure tales that never needed climactic battles between monsters to thrill those of us in Generation X.

So it was with surprise not a week later to hear production company Working Title has picked up the rights to The Famous Five, which they're planning to make a family franchise out of (more).

Like Paddington, I'll probably see it not because I think Hollywood will treat it well, but just to see how they can possibly retain any of the small-scale, happy-go-lucky spirit where the perils matter to a lovable group of adventurous kids, not the whole world.

And so to Fifty Shades of Grey. After seeing the trailer (which ground the Internet to a halt a few weeks back),I got thinking about the economics behind the film. Like Twilight, it's going to be a gargantuan smash on the back of brand recognition, but if it's anything like the actual content of the book, isn't it going to have a very hard R rating (or beyond)?

I think one of two things will happen. First, with no aliens, special effects or Transformers it's been relatively cheap to produce, and they know even if they make it pretty explicit and cut out the PG crowds, they'll still clean up.

Second, they'll have found a way for the script to explore the themes about how bondage frees you without being too explicit about it. It might disappoint the armies of middle-aged women who made the book such a success, but the lower rating will mean the teenagers who make or break box office won't be excluded.

Mind you, they say when it comes to sex, women are more interested in the emotion behind the explicitness rather than just naked flesh slapping together (said to be the realm of appeal to men). The book was certainly explicit, but that might have been the secret to its success (ask a nearby woman, supposedly one in five in the western world read it).

Recent reviews and stories? Even I found the racial politics of the Sandra Bullock vehicle The Blind Side offensive, and I'm a white guy!

I thought Edge of Tomorrow was unfairly lost in the crush this midyear blockbuster season. It was cool, funny, approachable and deserves your time. I also wondered what everybody hated so much about Will Smith's passion project After Earth.

And 20 years after the release of the seminal cyberpunk action romance revenge film The Crow, I remembered star Brandon Lee, the shining light taken from us far too early.

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