News that a local multiplex was showing all six “Fast & Furious” movies back-to-back last week to celebrate the opening of the franchise's sixth chapter got my cubicle neighbors in the newsroom buzzing the other day.
One wondered aloud who would go to something like that. She didn't have to wait long for an answer.
A colleague nearby said he knew the scripts were awful and the content basically empty, but still, he couldn't stop himself from watching those movies when they come around. They're pure escapism.
It's no secret the appeal for most gals is the muscle men, and for guys it's the muscle cars they drive. Fast cars, vintage cars, expensive cars, cars being destroyed in chases and crashes by the score. In the making of this latest movie alone, more than 300 cars got added to the junkyard.
But not before gearheads get time to ogle a 1969 Dodge Daytona, a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, a Nissan GT-R, a Navistar MXT truck and a 1969 Mustang (well, actually, a replica — they didn't want to send a real one under the tracks of a tank to be crushed).
All those souped-up sets of wheels in “Fast & Furious 6” cost more than $10 million. But since the first five movies pulled down more than $1.5 billion, producers were fine with the cost of buying and modifying cars. Production on the franchise's seventh movie already has begun.
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Another big hit this month has been “The Great Gatsby,” which has drawn scads of young people to movie theaters. They may have skipped recent adaptations of literary classics like “Pride and Prejudice” or “Anna Karenina,” but F. Scott Fitzgerald's movie is another story altogether.
No doubt all that heavy advertising of the Jay-Z hiphop bits of the score didn't hurt. Nor did the track record of director Baz Luhrmann, whose past efforts such as “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge” were plenty popular with younger audiences.
And it hasn't escaped my attention that Facebook postings drooling over photos of Leonardo DiCaprio from this movie are a daily happening. I haven't forgotten what DiCaprio's presence in “Titanic” did for box office, as teenagers made repeat trips to the theater to see Leo turn blue and sink one more time.
Just as significant: co-star Tobey Maguire was a popular Spider-Man.
Then, too, as a Dayton (Ohio) Daily News article pointed out last week, the movie's rich people acting like idiots would feel very familiar to kids who watch Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Ryan Lochte, the Kardashians and more on reality TV. “Gatsby” is essentially tabloid celebrity reporting from the 1920s.
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News last week that Seth MacFarlane doesn't have time to repeat as host of the Academy Awards next March 2 did not surprise me much.
Even though television ratings rose this year by more than a million viewers (and those viewers were young ones the Academy wants), MacFarlane got plenty of criticism for his hosting duties in February, which were skewered as being in bad taste, mysogynistic and insulting to some minorities.
Alec Baldwin, who co-hosted in 2010, told the Los Angeles Times last week that the risk isn't worth the low salary, the stress and the inevitable Monday-morning drubbing that recent hosts have taken. Asked what she thought about hosting, Tina Fey told the Times, “I think that's too hard.”
Some pretty big talents have given it their best shot, only to fall short of expectations. The list in the recent past has included Jon Stewart, David Letterman, James Franco, Chris Rock and even song-and-dance man Hugh Jackman.
But the Times had one intriguing suggestion that would certainly interest the young demographic: Justin Timberlake. He sings, he dances and he's got a list of movie credits.
Good luck getting him to say yes. Better keep him away from Baldwin, Franco and MacFarlane.
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Alexander Payne's “Nebraska” wasn't the only American film to draw accolades at last week's Cannes Film Festival.
The Coen Brothers' “Inside Llewyn Davis,” starring Oscar Isaac as a struggling 1960s folk singer in Greenwich Village, got plenty of love.
So did Steven Soderbergh's “Behind the Candelabra,” in which Michael Douglas stars as flamboyant pianist Liberace and Matt Damon plays his personal assistant/lover.
Douglas was showered with praise for his nuanced performance, which will nonetheless not be eligible for the Academy Awards. That's because the movie was shown on HBO. Academy rules require that it be shown in theaters first.
Another Cannes hit, David Lowery's “Ain't Them Bodies Saints,” stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in a Texas crime saga. James Franco won praise for directing his adaptation of a Faulkner novel, “As I Lay Dying.” “Fruitvale Station,” about the killing of a young black man in Oakland, Calif., earned director Ryan Coogler raves.