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Jan 21, 2011

TGITDNMAR (1/21/11)

It's that time again for TGITDNMAR, which (obviously) stands for Thank God It's The Day New Movies Are Released.

The Company Men
"Here's the carpet. Now, would you kindly get the f$#@! under it, please?"

That's roughly the theoretical exchange that I feel happened to this film. How else to explain it? Sure, it's not exactly topical anymore (this ground has been tread in everything from The Promotion to Up in the Air to even similarly-themed films like Michael Clayton. But when you gather Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Maria Bello, Kevin Costner, Craig T. Nelson and more, along with the creator of ER as the director...well, I'd expect to hear a little something about it. And yet I haven't even seen the trailer for this I'm sure it's out there, but it hasn't played in front of any movie I've seen in the last three months.

The cast alone will mark it down as a future TV viewing - good reviews might push it to a theatrical one. So far, so good.
Fletch's Chance of Viewing (in the theater): 31%

No Strings Attached
Please, if you can, name for me the Top 10 directors that are known from the 80s or before that are still working (at least one film every three years - with apologies to James and Terrence Malick) and relevant today.

I'm no encyclopedia, but it seems to me that you might have trouble filling out that list. Last week in this space, I wondered what happened to Ron Howard and how he came to be the director of such an awful-looking film as The Dilemma. Still, I'd probably grant him a spot. Martin Scorcese is probably on top of the list, as he not only works constantly but is still producing at a high level. It feels like Spielberg has moved on to producing, but he has Tintin coming out this year and really hasn't been all that inactive. Woody Allen is around, still making a flick a year, and while I'd say he's borderline, every third film or so seems relevant. Ridley Scott's still there, even if I don't particularly care for his flicks. Certainly the Coen brothers. Cameron. Eastwood? Herzog? Wong Kar-wai?

I've named exactly ten in that paragraph. I'm sure to have missed some - especially internationally speaking - but I think the point is there. DePalma, Schumacher, Landis, Hughes (before he died) - all of these men and countless others were huge names 20something years ago and now? Not so much.

Add to that list the director of No Strings Attached, Mr. Ivan Reitman. While never the biggest directing name in Hollywood, Reitman had a string of successes in the 80s and 90s, from the Ghostbusters films to Twins to Stripes and Dave. They weren't all $100 million dollar makers (that was the gold standard for a hit back in the days, kids), but they were quality films.

Reitman's last two films were Evolution in 2001 and My Super Ex-Girlfriend in 2006. Not stinkers, necessarily, but nothing that caught the zeitgest, either. These days, Reitman is more famous perhaps for being Jason's father than for being a director in his own right (and to be fair, he's maintained being a successful producers over the years.)

So what happened? Do these guys just run out of steam? Get bored and/or too successful? Perhaps that last question is really the answer. It's often the hungry that get out there and work their asses off to make a name for themselves. After they've done so, if there wasn't enough strength motivating them in the first place, them perhaps their steam has been expunged, leaving a fat and happy person in their place.

I'm not saying that this has happened to Reitman (or Landis or to Hughes before his death), necessarily. I suppose I'm just nostalgic more than anything. Stars fade. A string of middling films can tear down even the biggest of names (Tom Cruise), and if one's star was never the gleamingest (yep, made it up), then it's all the harder to recapture. I suppose I just never thought that Reitman did anything to really harm his name and I'm wondering where his steam went. Perhaps he just got old.

On the bright side, despite starring Ashton Kutcher, No Strings appears to be getting decent, if not great reviews (hey, kinda like Evolution and Super Ex). So maybe he'll be back with another flick in 5 years...
Fletch's Chance of Viewing (in the theater): 20%

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