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I Love a Good Rant

CJ Kennedy over at Living Cinema gets mad at David Poland’s odd analysis of Burn After Reading:

Most of us see the recently announced September 12th wide-release of Joel and Ethan Coen’s Burn After Reading as cause for celebration, but Poland puts on his Oscar colored spectacles and sees Focus Features hitting the Oscar eject button. In his mind, the picture is clearly no good and Focus is dumping it. To Poland it’s tantamount to a stink bomb.

He then chews through the cat turds like a dog chained up in the backyard and finds a bevy of evidence that the release date means Burn is DOA as far as Oscar is concerned. The horror!

I don’t remember what all the evidence was because my eyes started to glaze over and I’m pretty sure at one point I felt my soul actually trying to leave my body in an attempt to escape the utter drudgery of Poland’s peanut-picking Oscar obsession.

Finally, mercifully, at the very end of his little analysis, he concludes that ”perhaps The Coens have just learned the trick of lowering expectations and being satisfied by a decent box office result (likely under $50 million) and less awards pressure.” Gee David, do you think? Or maybe they’ve “learned the trick” of making good movies and that’s the end of it. Is it possible it was never intended to be an Oscar movie? Does Lebowski after Fargo mean anything to you?

If there is one thing we know for certain about the Coens, they don’t much care about awards, lest we forget Ethan’s lengthy acceptance speeches. They are probably two directors, maybe the only two, who never seemed driven by that particular poison, which makes them makes hard not to love. In this wacky awards clusterfuck we go through every year it’s unimaginable to think of any good film as not being Oscar fodder but indeed, some are not. We won’t know if Burn After Reading is an awards movie until after we see it.

32 Comments on this Post

  1. Alexander

    Ah, Sasha, I love a good rant, too, and this is one of my favorites by Craig.

    Judging by their reaction to winning Best Screenplay, Best Director(s) and Best Picture, it seems to me the Coens would rather make films that fly under Oscar’s radar just to avoid the discomfort and boredom of being so lauded.

  2. Some of Focus Features choices in terms of release dates have been questionable from time to time. I recall releasing
    “The Constant Gardener” in September in 2005, thereby guaranteeing that it would not get a Best Picture nomination and ensuring “Munich” by Big Momma, Universal would. This year, the film
    “In Bruges” received favourable reviews and good word of mouth coming out of Sundance …so what does Focus do? Release it in February in limited release thereby ensuring it would get lost amongst the sea of crap thats in your local multiplex. I don’t get it.
    Either release it in wider release so some of us can have a choice amongst the crap films or release it later for awards consideration.
    More often then not I think Universal is calling the shots…which is unfortunate for these so-called independents.

  3. No no no, wide release is the best way to KILL “In Bruges”. Focus is doing the smart thing.

    A movie with an odd title, a non-marquee cast and no real hook to pull the audience in? Hell, no. “In Bruges” is barely on anyone’s either-see-it-opening-weekend-or-never list. Better to go limited and do a slow-roll, building on the moderately favorable reviews and hope for word-of-mouth to sustain it. Otherwise, it would get a tepid opening weekend and disappear in a month. Look what happened to “Things We Lost in the Fire.”

  4. K Trout

    Couple of other Oscar shruggers: Stanley Kubrick and Woody Allen. Kubrick received 4 best director/screenplay nominations in a row (3 of which were also best picture nominees), and he never attended. And Allen famously skipped his Annie Hall win to play his usual Monday night jazz session.

  5. You know, BURN AFTER READING seemed from the very get go as a non-Oscar contender. Anyone who knows the Coen Bros know that they never repeat themselves. They’ve always tried different things with each film they do, so I think for them to do a comedy after doing NO COUNTRY is a natural “next movie” for them instead of NO COUNTRY 2.

    Think about it. They start out with a Texas noir in vein of John McCain (BLOOD SIMPLE). Then they do a hick screwball comedy for a studio (RAISING ARIZONA), a period gangster film that pays tribute to Dashiell Hammond (sp?)(MILLER’S CROSSING), a mindfucker of a film about a screenwriter (BARTON FINK), a 40’s style screwball comedy with Joel Silver (THE HUDSUCKER PROXY), a Mid-West crime gone wrong indie thriller (FARGO), a hybrid Chandler mystery/stoner comedy (THE BIG LEBOWSKI), a chain-gang version of The Odyssey with hints of Preston Sturges (OH BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?), a hardcore film noir (THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE), an anti-romantic comedy (INTOLERABLE CRUELTY), a remake of a British black comedy (THE LADYKILLERS and I think their worst film to date) and then bounce back in a big way with a Cormac McCarthy inspired modern day Western (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN). So for them to do another comedy with George Clooney to me only seems natural for them. I’d hate for them to get awards greedy and only try to do Oscar vehicles and deny their filmmaking urges to make another comedy. If this asshole wants to see them do another “serious” film, then wait for the next one. Word has it that they’re planning on doing a period Western that’s the most gory, violent movie in ages, with a real scalping and something that has to do with a chicken

    Also, I agree that while fans like seeing them get heaps of awards for their truly amazing movies, I think the Coens themselves could care less and are maybe even embarrassed by all the attention. Even in their acceptance speeches, they talk about them doing NO COUNTRY is the same to them as going to an airport and filming Ethan pretending to be Henry Kissenger with a Super 8 camera. To them, it’s all about the work and not the recognition. So who cares if BURN AFTER READING isn’t an awards contender. The Coens don’t, so why should we?

  6. It’s funny that you would give an “amen” to this rant, Sasha; it seems kind of incongruous to be all up in arms with David for looking at Burn After Reading’s release date through an Academy awards prism when that is what THIS site purports to do. It would seem to fit the M.O of awardsdaily.com to post David’s original blog post rather than CJ’s retort; but it’s your website, do what you want.

    I’m just hoping for the Coens to deliver another quality film; whether or not a film gets award consideration doesn’t mean much to me personally. However, it’s impossible to deny that a lot of the folks that troll the movie websites only care about the Oscars and I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to comment on that from time to time. It’s not as if David reviewed the film, merely commented on what a release date shift COULD mean. He also points out that it could mean nothing at all.

  7. Is he bashing the Coens now that P.T.A. called him out. Wrong dude be critical of the material but don’t just bash it for no reason.

  8. Bill S.

    I got an even better sense of this yesterday when I was on Hot Blog and saw the “Burn after Reading” post right after reading a very similar post on the upcoming release of “21”. There was a very similar feel, where he said he hadn’t seen 21 and was just musing about the marketing. Funny thing is, as balanced as his “analysis” is trying to be, I found the underlying feeling that he was trying to trash the movie (the title is too generic, the stars are unproven, etc.)

    I like reading Poland’s blog, but it’s stuff like this from him that I have difficulty swallowing.

  9. Actually, Lionsgate did the same thing with 3:10 to Yuma last year, moving it from October to early September, and it ended up hurting it, because the DVD arrived too late to make a difference on awards season (which starts early December)… the best bet seems to be releasing movies at Toronto or after. Four of the five BPs last year debuted or played at TIFF and then were released in October or later.

  10. Sasha Stone

    Noah, I thought CJ Kennedy’s rant was funny. That’s all. I read The Hot Blog and Poland often — he is the type who posts stuff like this about others and in fact posted the lawsuit by the Academy against me before I even knew I was being sued, meaning, he never even sent me a private email about it. I am not holding a grudge – just saying that all’s fair in blogland if it means good content. He’s tough enough not to care about this, trust me. He’s heard it all, and worse, before.

  11. Princess of Peace

    It is a sad day when filmmakers only make films to win awards. What ever happened to art. I don’t no if the new Coen Bros. film is Oscarish or not and I don’t care.
    I just care if it is a good film. Not everything can be released between October and December.

  12. sartre

    Good on Sasha for linking a very fine piece of writing. It might have the tone of a rant but CJ’s critique of Poland’s comments is both lucid and hilarious.

  13. Alison Flynn

    Not everything can be released between October and December.

    Exactly. I want to see good films all year round. It’s unfortunate that studios feel the need to shove everything into those three months to be on the Oscar radar.

    I’m looking forward to this movie, whether it’s awards bait or not.

  14. CJ is a clown unfit to bring Poland his banana daiquiris at night.

  15. Alison Flynn

    LOL, CJ. :)

  16. Ryan Adams

    ha, CJ,

    David Poland has cabana boys to bring him his banana daiquiris. Cabana boys spray-painted gold from head to toe.

  17. As one of his cabana boys, I can assure you that Mr. Poland prefers margaritas to daiquiris. :)

  18. sartre

    MCN’s recruitment of you Noah has considerably classed up the joint.

  19. Princess of Peace

    Look at some of this year’s nominees. Julie Christie’s Away from Her was released last May. And Marion Cottilard’s La Vie En Rose was released in June. Yes, I want to see good films all year long. When they cram
    in so many films in such a short period of time it gets impossible to see them all.

  20. I would hasten to add to what Sartre said that whenever I click over there, Noah’s contributions are consistently the most interesting reads. Keep up the good work, Noah.

  21. Sartre and CJ, thanks so much guys, it’s much appreciated. You’re making me blush! I think there are a lot of talented guys over at MCN too, but I appreciate the compliment.

    In turn, I’d like to add that Living in Cinema is a daily stop for me. Always excited to hear your perspective, Craig.

  22. Alexander

    Let me grab sartre’s and Craig’s coattails and say that Noah’s contributions to MCN always make the trip worth it.

  23. On a totally unrelated matter except for the fact that it, too, is a rant, the trailer for RIGHTEOUS KILL (reteaming Pacino and De Niro) was just released. Over a decade after the incredible HEAT, and they
    reteam. . .for this? It would be lovely to be proven wrong, but this doesn’t look (or sound, based off the dialogue from the trailer) like it’s going to be good.

  24. is this art???
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6vP8CgTonQ

    this men must die with the same metode.

  25. My only wish is to leave this page and never come back again! Retarded stuff! How could anyone believe it?

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