Friday, June 08, 2018

Anthony Bourdain's suicide

So, celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  It's hard not to include him in the ranks of famous deaths more closely associated with rock stars.  That is to say, people maniacally driven by their chosen passion.  Talent seems to eat itself, sometimes.  It becomes inescapable, until one chooses the most impossible escape possible.

Talent can be consuming.  For the people enjoying the fruits of the talent, all they see is the good it brings.  But talent is all-consuming.  It has ferocious demands.  You can't escape it.  You can't walk away.  In fact, anytime you see a case of someone walking away from talent, it's the story of a true survivor.

Suicide always seems incomprehensible on the other side.  How could they have possibly chosen to do that?  Especially when it's someone famous.  People assume famous people have achieved the dream.  Dreams can be nightmares. 

Suicide is something I've thought a lot about over the years.  For nearly fifteen years.  The world is an unfriendly place.  I like to think, sometimes, if I just get to fulfill my dreams...But then something like this happens, and it's a reminder all over again that dreams can be nightmares.  It's an awful thought.  But you need someone who understands, and sometimes that's impossible.  It's awful to be caught alone in this world.

While everyone else mourns Bourdain and finds his decision inexplicable, or uses the opportunity to advocate suicide prevention...I can't help but have other thoughts. 

Thursday, June 07, 2018

The case for the unadjusted box office.

Recently I really got into the concept of adjusted box office totals.  It put things into perspective.  But I still like the unadjusted box office receiving primary attention. 

Its main strength is keeping the focus on the here-and-now.  It helps new things seem relevant.  If we really were guiding ourselves by the adjusted box office, we'd realize how much times really have changed, that it really is tough to compete with the past.  And listen, I see that enough already.  Music critics remain frozen by the popular acts of yesterday.  The stuff they like today is all indy stuff, stuff few people enjoy.  Really, only the critics and hipsters.  It's different with books.  Keeping the classics alive and relevant in that context means a much bigger window: centuries and even millennia.  That's definitely worth preserving.  But movies aren't that old.  And the art of filmmaking has definitely changed since its origins a little over a century ago.

Gone with the Wind remains, with the adjusted box office, the most popular film ever made.  I think it's a terrible movie, except for Clark Gable, for too many reasons.  It doesn't work as well in 2018 as it did 1939, and all its rereleases.  It just doesn't, and it would be horrible to try and insist it does.  It would be one thing if its period-specific qualities reflected well, or commented insightfully, on its times.  But they don't.

Most of the other adjusted box office hits have aged much better than that, and that's great.  In terms of how easy it was to rack up a lot of money, hey, there used to be a lot more money available.  You don't realize that until you look at stuff like adjusted box office totals.  It isn't really that there's a lot more stuff to entertain us in 2018.  We still have big hits.  We just have shorter attention spans, and we're a lot more vicious now, I think, than we have been since movies became the popular art form.  We spend a lot more time talking about the stuff we hate.  And maybe it's also because of changing demographics.  There are fewer babies being born.  That shifts things considerably right there.  An aging population will naturally have less patience, without any help from an increased cynical outlook.

So it's good to have the illusion that what we like matters.  It does matter, in the present.  It drives us to seek new things, even if it seems we spend all our time rejecting it.  It keeps everyone striving for new challenges, especially if we keep rejecting everything.  I mean, you couldn't ask for a better audience!  A hungrier audience!  An audience that never feels satiated is one that will always be looking for the next big thing.  Eventually something truly big happens.  That's going to be the biggest surprise of all.  We haven't been close in years. 

So while I've gained newfound appreciation for the adjusted box office, I think I'll keep my focus on the unadjusted one.  It's the most fascinating game in town.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Adjusted Box Office 6/4/18

The idea of the adjusted all-time box office never appealed to me.  It always seemed like a way to hang onto the idea that movies that were once popular technically still counted as popular.  Another way might be that movies today maybe really aren't as popular as they used to be, which is unsettling to think.  Today we have outrageous box office totals compared to just a handful of years ago.  But the fact is, even those hits barely scratch the surface of all-time popularity.  People just don't go to the movies like they used to.  The idea of adjusted grosses helps put into perspective the ridiculousness of inflation most of all.  That's just one indication of where the economy still has a long way to go to recover from the Great Recession.  Folks, we're not even close, but a lot of people decided it was good enough years ago.

So, after a long time silently (mostly) protesting the idea of the adjusted gross, let's see what it looks like, the top fifty movies, and where current massive hits fall within them:

1. Gone with the Wind (adjusted: $1,850B; unadjusted: $198M) (1939)
This has always been the most problematic element of the adjusted box office list.  In hindsight it's a massive indication of how far the culture had to go from segregated times, as it celebrates the Lost Cause, which itself was all about being unapologetic about the slave-holding past.  Even as we condemn a president many claim is motivated by racist views, the most successful movie in American history suggests the rest of us aren't really any better.

2. Star Wars (adjusted: $1,631B; unadjusted: $460M) (1977)
In the modern era, Star Wars defined the blockbuster, made the blockbuster, and its legacy is still felt today in a continuing series of sequels and spin-offs.  Until inflation went into overdrive, it was still firmly nestled in the unadjusted top ten.  Here it's still up there, and unlikely to leave anytime soon.

3. The Sound of Music (adjusted: $1,304B; unadjusted: $158M) (1965)
Today it seems totally impossible for a musical to be a massive hit without being a kid's animated flick, but the genre used to be a reliable source of big business.  This was the last and biggest of them.

4. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (adjusted: $1,299B; unadjusted: $435M) (1982)
The truth is, Steven Spielberg's instincts became adopted by kids animated flicks, too.  That's exactly what this would be in 2018.

5. Titanic (adjusted: $1,241B; unadjusted: $659M) (1997)
The last of the adult dramas to hit big, and to hit so big it was totally inconceivable.  Also since ignored as an object lesson is box office projecting; everyone said this would be a disaster of a different kind.

6. The Ten Commandments (adjusted: $1,199B; unadjusted: $65M) (1956)
Arguably, after Star Wars this is the old-time blockbuster with the longest legs: it's still broadcast every year at Eastertime.

7. Jaws (adjusted: $1,173B; unadjusted: $260M) (1975)
Along with Star Wars, gave birth to the modern blockbuster.

8. Doctor Zhivago (adjusted: $1,137B; unadjusted: $111M) (1965)
A somewhat lost famous example of the classic Hollywood historic epic.

9. The Exorcist (adjusted: $1,013B; unadjusted: $232M) (1973)
The prototype of the horror genre, still completely unmatched, except by the recent trend of microbudget productions.

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (adjusted: $998M; unadjusted: $84M) (1937)
This is how Disney happened, and what Disney chased for years, until it had enough money to buy blockbuster franchises.

11. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (adjusted: $990M; unadjusted: $936M) (2015)
The biggest modern hit doesn't even crack the top ten!  Its box office total looks completely ridiculous because it is, but it does represent a lot of money, and exposure.  That's more than any other Star Wars movie besides the original made.  Clearly that means a lot of people who weren't around for the original's release saw it and tried to comprehend what they saw, and are still trying to reconcile the saga with today's movies.  That's what's happened to the last few movies.

12. 101 Dalmatians (adjusted: $915M; unadjusted: $144M) (1961)
In hindsight it's not surprising that this was the first movie Disney translated from animated to live action, years later.  What's surprising is that Disney still hasn't done it for its biggest hit.

13. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (adjusted: $899M; unadjusted: $290M) (1980)
The somewhat screwy economics of the few years between the second and third entries in the saga, apparently, mean the third made more at the time, but less in hindsight.

14. Ben-Hur (adjusted: $897M; unadjusted: $74M) (1959)
The shifting values of the population means that one of the biggest box office successes in one era was a total flop, as a remake, in another.

15. Avatar (adjusted: $891M; unadjusted: $760M) (2009)
James Cameron's massive success a second time became something a lot of people struggled to downplay.  The real results won't be known until the sequels finally appear.

16. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (adjusted: $861M; unadjusted: $309M) (1983)
This is that third Star Wars movie.

17. Jurassic Park (adjusted: $839M; unadjusted: $402M) (1993)
Spielberg made Jaws and helped set the stage for Star Wars; years later he made this, and did it again.

18. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (adjusted: $827M; unadjusted: $474M) (1999)
Looking at the adjusted grosses, it doesn't seem so surprising that the prequels proved less popular than the original Star Wars movies; the unadjusted grosses tell a very different story.  They really were less popular all along.

19. The Lion King (adjusted: $816M; unadjusted: $422M) (1994)
The artistic high point of the Disney animated renaissance.

20. The Sting (adjusted: $816M; unadjusted: $156M) (1973)
This may be the epitome of Old Hollywood, the system where stars sold the material above everything else.  This is the second teaming of Paul Newman and Robert Redford, after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

21. Raiders of the Lost Ark (adjusted: $811M; unadjusted: $248M) (1981)
Spielberg and Star Wars creator George Lucas collaborate for the ultimate combination of old and new Hollywood: Harrison Ford, emerging as a star, in blockbuster material.

22. The Graduate (adjusted: $783M; unadjusted: $104M) (1967)
Dustin Hoffman, once dismissed as unlikely to be a star, proved to field one of the most successful star-based movies ever.

23. Fantasia (adjusted: $760M; unadjusted: $76M) (1941)
Arguably still the most innovative movie ever made.

24. Jurassic World (adjusted: $724M; unadjusted: $652M) (2015)
After the second and third in the franchise underperformed, it seemed as if this concept was done, but the fourth brought it back to blockbuster status.

25. The Godfather (adjusted: $722M; unadjusted: $134M) (1972)
Heralded a new era of superstar directing in Hollywood and highlighted Marlon Brando one last time and Michael Pacino for the first.

26. Forrest Gump (adjusted: $720M; unadjusted: $330M) (1994)
A lot of people struggle to interpret this one's draw, and that's when you know the era of the star was effectively over, because it's really down to Tom Hanks.

27. Mary Poppins (adjusted: $716M; unadjusted: $102M) (1964)
Disney magic pure and simple.

28. Grease (adjusted: $705M; unadjusted: $188M) (1978)
The musical and the bad boy tale (Rebel Without a Cause, The Wild One) converge to solidify John Travolta for the first time in his career as a star.  The rest of his career is further proof of the death of the star.

29. Marvel's The Avengers (adjusted: $704M; unadjusted: $623M) (2012)
Proof of concept for the further franchise.

30. Black Panther (adjusted: $699M; unadjusted: same) (2018)
Here's the biggest hit of 2018, which seems like it made totally outlandish money.  But in reality good enough for thirtieth on this list.

31. Thunderball (adjusted: $685M; unadjusted: $63M) (1965)
In unadjusted grosses Daniel Craig's James Bond movies were the most successful ever.  But here we see Sean Connery officially earning his legendary status.

32. The Dark Knight (adjusted: $682M; unadjusted: $534M) (2008)
A huge part of this one's success was seeing Heath Ledger posthumously fulfill his early potential as a new Hollywood star.

33. The Jungle Book (adjusted: $674M; unadjusted: $141M) (1967)
One of Disney's last big hits from its original golden age.

34. Sleeping Beauty (adjusted: $665M; unadjusted: $51M) (1959)
I don't know about you, but I know this one a lot more because I know it exists than remember having ever actually seen it.  It feels like a belated attempt to recapture the original Disney princess magic.

35. Ghostbusters (adjusted: $651M; unadjusted: $242M) (1984)
The '80s, where combining blockbuster elements and comedy was a thing well before Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

36. Shrek 2 (adjusted: $650M; unadjusted: $441M) (2004)
The biggest non-Disney animated success is perhaps predictably a satire of the traditional Disney archetype.

37. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (adjusted: $646M; unadjusted: $102M) (1969)
Here's Newman and Redford in their first big success!

38. Avengers: Infinity War (adjusted: $643M; unadjusted: same) (2018)
Here's the other big 2018 success, in perspective.

39. Love Story (adjusted: $641M; unadjusted $106M) (1970)
I'm sure there are still big fans of this one, but it's a notable exception to everything else on the list so far, which require no reminder for what it actually is. 

40. Spider-Man (adjusted: $636M; unadjusted: $403M) (2002)
There will always be speculation that this was as big a hit as it was because it's set in New York City, after 9/11.

41. Independence Day (adjusted: $634M; unadjusted: $306M) (1996)
Besides Jurassic Park this was the movie that opened the door for blockbusters again.

42. Home Alone (adjusted: $620M; unadjusted: $285M) (1990)
Made child actors capable of being stars again and totally redefined slapstick humor.

43. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (adjusted: $619M; unadjusted: $620M) (2017)
Interestingly it's actually lost a little money; that's inflation working for you!  But you can again see where older Star Wars fans can be resentful; the new movies are getting comparable exposure to the original ones.

44. Pinocchio (adjusted: $617M; unadjusted: $84M) (1940)
Another Disney animated classic.

45. Cleopatra (adjusted: $615M; unadjusted: $57M) (1963)
This was the template Titanic was trying to improve on, a famously expensive movie that was a perceived box office failure because of how much it needed to make to cover expenses.  Hollywood is once again reaching that point, pouring more and money into movies expected to be blockbusters, and risking bigger and bigger disappointments.

46. Beverly Hills Cop (adjusted: $615M; unadjusted: $234M) (1984)
Eddie Murphy later struggled to maintain his status as a big star, but clearly he earned it early in his career.  But he really shouldn't feel too bad: he was one of the last true stars Hollywood ever found, and what happened to him meant...no one really followed after him.

47. Goldfinger (adjusted: $607M; unadjusted: $51M) (1964)
Here's another Sean Connery turn as James Bond, in case you were doubting his massive success.

48. Airport (adjusted: $605M; unadjusted: $100M) (1970)
Inarguably became much better known in parody form: Leslie Nielsen's later Airplane!

49. American Graffiti (adjusted: $601M; unadjusted: $115M) (1973)
Star Wars fans like to assume George Lucas made his name with Star wars.  Well, no.  He made his name with American Graffiti.  Proof.

50. The Robe (adjusted: $599M; unadjusted: $36M) (1953)
The most successful movie featuring Jesus ever made; technically a follow-up, featuring what happens after the crucifixion.

B = billion, M = million

Source: Box Office Mojo

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Yellow King

their long hair
tied up to the crest of their heads
like manes

Poseidon: always Earth-Shaker

I had been taught
it was the mark of a king
to receive homage with grace.

There is always
some small hitch
at Troizen;
we do not do these things
with the smoothness of Athens.

My grandfather felt the cleaver's edge;
he reared up like a tower,
feeling his death,
dragging the men
like children;
the scarlet cleft in the white throat,
the rank hot smell;
the ruin of beauty,
the fall of strength,
the ebb of valor.

Then it was that I heard
a sea-sound in my ears.

He paused in thought.
Moira? he said.
The finished shape
of our fate,
the line drawn round it.

When the work of the King Horse was done,
he was given to the god,
as you saw yesterday.
And in those days,
said my great-grandfather,
as with the King Horse,
so with the King.

That he chose short life with glory,
and to walk with the god,
rather than live long,
unknown like stall-fed ox.

Deixos, the Horse Master's son,
who feared nothing four-footed.

Deixos slipped,
and fell in
while the beast was watching.

Henceforth, he said,
you will know it again.
If it comes to you, run out of doors,
and call to the people that Poseidon
is angry.
Then they can save themselves,
before the houses fall.
Such warnings are a favor of the god.
Try to be worthy.

How far man is,
even at his height of fortune,
below the Immortals.

A half-grown boar,
whose tusks were showing,
in the Great Hall when the King of Tiryns
was dining there.

I had never before singled out Apollo for worship.

Do not be late tonight,
or you will miss the harper.

The Cretans had halved it with their hoists.

Then the stones rose up slowly,
and slid into the bed the Cretans made for them.
And they stood fast.

One does not ask a priestess
how she knows things.

They are of the seed of Hephaistos,
Lord of the Earth Fire.

Though he didn't stand by you,
he did the next best thing;
he gave you a son who will.

Poor boy, it's not your fault
you know nothing. 
Talk to your grandfather.
It is better from him than me.

The grain was small in the ear,
ad the grapes were like hedgerow berries;
the dust lay deep,
so that men's feet sank in it,
and nothing prospered but the flies.
And with the drought came a sickness,
which, sparing the old,
took children and maidens and young men.

Sometimes it thunders,
or one hears the lion.

To be a king, I thought,
what is it?
To do justice,
go to war for one's people,
make their peace with the gods?
Surely, it is this.

In the midst,
straight before me,
stood a stately woman,
with a slave holding a sunshade
over her head.
She was about seven and twenty;
her hair, which was crowned
with a diadem of purple
stitched with gold,
was as red as firelit copper.

I have grieved longer for a dog
than they did for him.

So the man had not even left
a name behind him.

The troops were led by Xanthos,
the queen's brother.

I was the King;
and I was still new enough in Eleusis
to suppose this meant something.

Every day the Queen held audience.

Fathers were nobody in Eleusis,
and could not choose wives
for their own sons.

The young Companions
were escorting me,
as they did everywhere.

Now I began to seek
for occupation. 
It is not in my nature
to do nothing.

Because of some oracle concerning me
which had been kept secret from the people.
I remembered the dead King's laughter;
but it told one nothing.

When a man lives like this,
a youth he can choose for himself,
who looks up to him
and copies him
and boasts of his friendship,
will give him more pride in himself
than the womenfolk at home.
I see no sense in looking down on this.

Even kings have names where I come from.
Mine is Theseus.

He calls us to a high place,
my father said,
and we leap down to him.
We go of ourselves.

He put his black hairy hands on Chryse
and ran them all over her.

Seeing Minos in his bull-mask,
of whom not one cried aloud.

The Cretan double ax,
the sacred Labrys.

The bull chooses the team,
not the other way.

Ways of divining:
with sands of pebbles,
with water-droppings
or with bees or slivers of ivory,
with birds, like the Hellenes,
or, as the Sauromantians do,
with lizards.

It was said that if a dancer lived three years,
the Goddess set him free.
No one could remember anyone
lasting half as long.

But I cannot keep from putting my hand
to what I find about me.

It was the look of those who had had bad auguries;
those who had been brought young from home,
and were growing out of their strength and speed.

Helike was bull-shy.

A team that gave no show
would be broken up
before next day was out,
even if no one died.

But she had trusted me,
because of our vow.
This was the first test of it.

That any good we do in the bull ring
will profit for that insolent swine?

His father was a bull-leaper.
The Bull Court was the only place
in the Labyrinth
where speech was free.

A great impiety!
She used to follow him
into the Bull Court,
she was so besotted,
and hide herself in the wooden bull.
My friend said that is only vulgar talk.
But she was made for him,
quite out of her head.

The child is the mother's.
So the King kept quiet
to save his face,
and let it pass for his.

We have craft laws in Attica.
And for the farmers, too.

Well, if the King of your country
ever lands here, Theseus,
he'll find plenty of us
to fight for him,
in return for laws like that.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Box Office 2017

US box office totals (via Box Office Mojo) from 2017, as of 4/7/18.  M = millions, T = thousands

1. Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi ($620M)
This latest entry in the Star Wars saga has proven incredibly divisive, which is just about what you'd expect.  Anything less and they probably weren't even trying.  The fact that it made the most money in its particular year of release is also everything you need to know.

2. Beauty and the Beast ($504M)
I'm legitimately flabbergasted by this.  How did this even happen?  It's not so much endless sequels that're the problem, but that Disney can literally remake its own movies and they're big hits.  Will anyone actually think of this as nostalgically as its animated predecessor?

3. Wonder Woman ($412M)
DC scored its lone legitimate popular hit in the Man of Steel sequence to date with this, ironically paving the way for an even bigger hit for Marvel's Avengers flick with Black Panther in 2018.  One wonders what the result would've been if the movies had flip-flopped releases.

4. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle ($403M)
A massive surprise success at the end of the year.  This is probably one update that will be remembered better than its predecessor.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($389M)
Arguably, this and the first one will prove more important to the legacy of the Avengers films than films actually starring Avengers.

6. Spider-Man: Homecoming ($334M)
Not a fan.  I suspect a second entry will perform significantly less well.

7. It ($327M)
Another surprise hit from the year, and Stephen King's first blockbuster adaptation in a few years.

8. Thor: Ragnarok ($315M)
I suspect this'll cool down to a more cult-level hit in the years to come.

9. Despicable Me 3 ($264M)
Kind of bloomed into a Shrek level franchise.

10. Justice League ($229M)
For a movie that was considered a disaster, it still cracked the top ten, which is admirable.  In years past this would've qualified it as an unqualified favorite movie memory.  We've been living in distorted times, folks.

11. Logan ($226M) Will probably be remembered as the best X-Men flick in the sequence...12. The Fate of the Furious ($226M) This franchise cycles back down to earth, ironically after having definitely left strict plausibility behind...13. Coco ($209M) There's so little difference between Disney and Pixar animated flicks at this point, they're losing meaning.  Clearly the market has crashed because of it...14. Dunkirk ($188M) This is how far down you have to go to find a movie that would've been in the top ten, easily, ten years ago...15. Get Out ($176M) Massive hype for a horror movie with a sheen of social relevance...18. The Greatest Showman ($172M) Hugh Jackman arguably had his best year ever...19. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ($172M) Disney hugely screwed up one of its own franchises.  Contrary to popular belief, Disney is not invincible these days...20. Kong: Skull Island ($168M) I honestly have no idea how this was a hit, except that John C. Reilly probably helped make it one, in the trailers, and probably Jumanji a much bigger one later...21. Cars 3 ($152M) The moment Pixar pumped out a third let alone second installment in a franchise that appeals only to young viewers, you know they've lost it...22. War for the Planet of the Apes ($146M) Have no idea how this latest version of the franchise has made any money, especially when the first one was so terrible, and people somehow still haven't realized it...23. Split ($138M) The Shyamalan renaissance concludes with a movie that will hopefully help him actually return to form next time, rather than merely pander to the horror crowd...24. Wonder ($132M) Speaking of pandering.  Wait, is this a whole era of pandering? Seems like it...25. Transformers: The Last Knight ($130M) Should've left well enough alone, or simply waited a few years to release it...26. Girls Trip ($115M) The success of Bridesmaids resulted in everything but movies actually worth remembering...27. Fifty Shades Darker ($114M) How can so many people go see a movie no one will probably admit watching?  Let alone a sequel?  And a third one in 2018...28. Baby Driver ($107M) Edgar Wright scores his biggest hit with material that's arguably contrary to everything that made his career.  Seems legit...29. Pitch Perfect 3 ($104M) Wait, forget everything I said earlier.  This is the heir of the Bridesmaids effect.  And the one that actually made sequels...30. Daddy's Home 2 ($104M) In a lot of other years this would be considered classic material.  But now it's just lost in the shuffle...31. Murder on the Orient Express ($102M) Relatively low gross seems like a big victory for adult material these days...34. Blade Runner 2049 ($92M) I don't know who thought it would be a huge blockbuster.  This counts as a huge victory...35. John Wick: Chapter Two ($92M) Suddenly cult movies are making big money...39. The Post ($81M) Spielberg is the guy who apparently makes the Trump movie, and nobody cares...40. The Mummy ($80M) Tom Cruise is really struggling...41. The Hitman's Bodyguard ($75M) On the other hand, this is a huge victory for Ryan Reynolds...42. Alien: Covenant ($74M) Probably pushed too quickly for another one.  Cult level...46. The Shape of Water ($64M) Voted Best Picture at the Oscars.  Deemed creepy by everyone else...48. Baywatch ($58M) In another year this would've performed, and been received, much differently.  It's no longer the '90s...50. Darkest Hour ($56M) Gary Oldman makes Churchill popular again...52. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri ($54M) Kind of inexplicable that the more people heard about this, the less they seemed to know what to make of it.  That's 2017 in a nutshell...53. Atomic Blonde ($51M) Seems capable of becoming a cult favorite...54. American Made ($51M) Seems capable of being a hindsight critical favorite in Cruise's career...55. The Dark Tower ($50M) If someone had told me that this would fail and It would triumph, I would've slapped them.  I'll slap yu now for saying this was the right outcome...56. Lady Bird ($48M) This is what finally makes people realize Saoirse Ronan exists?  2017, folks...65. The Big Sick ($42M) Given the hype around it, you would've expected it to have made a lot more...66. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets ($41M) The cult movies makes virtually no money at all.  That about makes sense...69. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ($39M) I have to assume everyone who talks about it didn't actually see it, and everyone who doesn't did...70. Jigsaw ($38M) Kind of brilliant that they finally outright called one of these that...74. Wind River ($33M) In a different era, this is the kind of adult movie that would've made more...83. I, Tonya ($29M) Only Margot Robbie could've made Tonya Harding that much money...84. Hostiles ($29M) This is another adult drama you would've actually heard of in years past...85. Molly's Game ($28M) Kind of incredible that Jessica Chastain and Aaron Sorkin end up virtually ignored...88. Lucky Logan ($27M) Seems like this should've gotten at least as much interest as Baby Driver...93. Gifted ($24M) If an Avenger makes a good movie and he's out of costume, apparently it doesn't count...100. The Disaster Artist ($21M) Kind of weird that a whole movie was made and outright celebrated whose only reason to exist is to mock another movie that no one's actually heard of...101. Phantom Thread ($21M) Daniel Day-Lewis apparently retires having conceded that his career is mostly trading on the stereotype of awards season fodder...108. Call Me by Your Name ($18M) Apparently even when he's in a movie that critics love Armie Hammer is still basically ignored...109. mother! ($17M) Became the most infamous movie hardly anyone saw...117. It Comes At Night ($13M) Seems like it would've been a big hit in another time...121. Battle of the Sexes ($12M) Kind of hard to figure out why this flew under the radar...123. Roman J. Israel, Esq. ($11M) Denzel Washington makes a movie and no one even knows...125. The Beguiled ($10M) Part of the problem women have as directors is that they eventually get ignored even when they're doing exceptional work...130. The Lost City of Z ($8M) This is another movie that was swallowed whole by the blockbuster era...145. The Florida Project ($5M) Good reputation.  Hardly anyone saw it...159. Table 19 ($3M) Comedies have been hit hardest in the current era...171. Wolf Warrior 2 ($2M) Kind of unofficially a companion to Captain America: The Winter Soldier...182. T2: Trainspotting ($2M) One of the more surprising flops of the year...186. The Killing of a Sacred Der ($2M) How do you suppress bold new cinematic talent?  By pretending it isn't happening...181. Good Time ($2M) In which Robert Pattinson is loved for something other than playing a sparkly vampire...208. A Ghost Story ($1M) This is some more of that bold new cinematic talent being ignored...209. Professor Marston & the Wonder Women ($1M) Kind of surprising that it was completely ignored...The Only Living Boy in New York ($624T) Marc Webb discovers that the blockbuster era has little room for him.  Again...357. The Bad Batch ($180T) Would you believe Jim Carrey appears in this?  He does...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Quora

I guess I've been using Quora heavily since about March.  I originally joined Quora in 2015, but it was one of those things, eventually, that I quickly abandoned, until I decided it was a better and more interesting thing than I'd thought.

Quora is a community where you post questions and people respond because they think they have an authoritative answer.  The emails I get provide a digest of responses to various questions, picked because they've been voted by members as good answers.  I don't always agree.  Actually, that's half of why I started taking a more active role.

I've done a lot of Star Wars answers.  I never get tired of that.  It's fun challenging conventional wisdom, because conventional wisdom often seems to be wrong, which seems more appropriate the more you think about it.  People specialize in group think more often than they'd care to admit.  They become convinced that their thoughts are their own, but being social creatures we rely on the opinions of our peers for a lot of the decisions we make, and then convince ourselves that there are valid personal reasons why we reached them.  Yeah.  Few of us seem to have the courage for bold opinions. 

Well, anyway, you can check out my responses here.

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