Filmism.net Dispatch May 28, 2015

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Here's another reason movie industry shenanigans can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's a similar phenomenon to one I've talked about before, about how a successful director isn't one whose movies make money, it's one with a profile. Read more here.

Here's a variation on the same phenomenon at work, I call it The Chatter. As I've also observed before, we tend to think the movie industry is run by very smart people who know what they're doing, but they're just as beholden to what's (and who's) hot as the rest of us.

The Chatter comes from the articles, blogosphere, fan message boards, posts and tweets. All that media both professional and amateur combines to form the buzz about a given talent or project.

It can be a self-fulfilling prophecy because mere rumour can end up a whole career. Case in point? It was fan wish fulfilment that started talking up the possibility of Ewan McGregor playing Obi Wan Kenobi way back in the late 1990s. The chorus got loud enough in the form of articles and media comment (and remember, this was before Facebook or Twitter) for George Lucas himself to take notice, and somewhere along the line he thought 'why not?', offering McGregor the role in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.

After Taken, we also started collectively talking about how Liam Neeson was set to replace the empty void left by the action stars of the 80s like Stallone, Schwarzenegger etc by appearing in 'thinking man's' action thrillers. There was obviously something in it because he's just appeared in his seventh film in the Taken style, Run All Night, which by several accounts is just another lazy retread of everything else he's done in the genre.

Directors and casting agents heard all that speculation the same as the rest of us did, and they either agreed or thought somebody important did (if it's in the newspaper or on the internet and everyone's talking about it, it must be true, mustn't it?).

Hey presto, that's exactly what Liam is today. As the man himself told the media of his decision to sign on to Taken ; 'I really thought [action films] would be kind of a little side road from my so-called career. Really thought it would go straight to video. But it just got great word of mouth. I was stunned.

So get out there on social media kids, and start rumours about Jessica Chastain being a gay icon (plausible), Adam Sandler being a serious dramatic actor (bit of a stretch) or Woody Allen being the new, new action hero when Liam hangs up his Glock (probably impossible, but wouldn't you love to see it?)

But oh boy, have I seen some stuff lately. Paddington and Big Hero 6, no matter how well done, only further cemented my conviction that I don't like kids'/family movies. Mad Max: Fury Road was a blisteringly good action smash up derby and Citizenfour was a deeper look into the Edward Snowden leaks phenomenon than you've seen so far.

But one that particularly caught my eye recently though was a film absolutely nobody saw called Upside Down. It wasn't the best film of last year but the inventive world building is definitely something to see.

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