Miramax movie moment #2

Another clip celebrating the groundbreaking quasi-indie studio that Disney is selling and, many believe, destroying. The scene below isn’t quite as funny now as I remember it being the first time I saw it, but when you think of Miramax and Harvey Weinstein, you can’t help but think of Kevin Smith’s ultimate DIY film-making breakthrough, “Clerks.”

And now a bonus clip, the introduction of Jay and Silent Bob. It’s not quite the first shot of John Wayne in “Stagecoach,” but it’s something. And so absurdly NSFW, it’s guaranteed to lower your net worth — in a good way.

  

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Miramax movie moment #1

As I wrote Friday, things are looking bad for the studio founded by the Weinstein brothers, which is now officially being sold Disney. So, consider this the start of an online mini-wake for the greatest of the mini-majors.

  

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RIP Miramax

miramax

It’s always a tricky business to declare the death of any company before all the deals are really done, but if it’s final enough for Anne Thompson, I’m loathe to disagree that the studio founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and named after their parents, Mira and Max, is winding up on a financial ash-heap.

The Weinsteins are not just any producers and Miramax was not just any company. For good and for ill — not all their movies were great by any means, a few I even hated (don’t get me started on “Chocolate”)  — they were and are throwbacks to the moguls of the past. They make decisions in a mercurial, seat of the pants way that always seems to generally produce better material than the cool logic of an MBA, which may be safer but rarely produces the kind of movie that really blows anyone’s mind. You don’t produce a “Pulp Fiction” by thinking like a marketing major, you produce it by thinking like a showman.

As I understand it, Disney wanted a certain amount of cash for the 700 or so titles in the company’s library, and they got it from a construction magnate with apparent close ties to the least trusted and most widely disliked person in an industry with a high quotient of untrustworthy and unlikable people. Disney has done a lot of things right over the years and they’ve done a lot of things wrong, I make no claims to being able to really look inside this as a business decision, but this certainly feels wrong. The film studio that launched some of the greatest behind-the camera talents around, including Quentin Tarantino, Alexander Payne, Jane Campion, Anthony Minghella, Kevin Smith, Steven Soderbergh and even (in the U.S. market) Hiyao Miyazaki, among many others, deserves better.

For more, I definitely suggest you read the Anne Thompson piece I linked to above, and check out her links as well. Wikipedia has a partial and awe-inspiring list of films made and released by the company.

And now, your moment of Miramax.

  

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Kinda midweekish movie news

Again, plenty to do so I’ll try to keep things efficient this evening as I go over a few stories. Some of them, I must admit, are left overs from last night. Still, just like the way cold chicken can be even better after sitting in the fridge, maybe this news will have improved slightly with time.

* If we can believe the Wall Street Journal, it appears that the Weinstein/Burkle deal to kinda-sort retake Miramax is off, writes Monika Bartyzel at Cinematical.  Since the company is actually named after the parents of Harvey and Bob Weinstein, I imagine this might hurt a little.

Dominic Cooper in * John Slattery of “Mad Men” was one of the more pleasant surprises of “Iron Man 2” as a middle-aged (actually long-deceased) Howard Stark. Now, we know who’ll be playing Stark as a young man in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” It’s Dominic Cooper, the male ingenue of “Mamma Mia,” whose other recent parts includes playing Uday Hussein, so he’s definitely running the gamut.

* Jesse Eisenberg, who had a rather good weekend with two films in limited release, is reteaming with his “Zombieland” director, Ruben Fleischer. The picture sounds like a pretty fun black comedy about a bizarre bank robbery. Aziz Ansari is also in the film as a middle-school teacher which, right off the bat makes me laugh.

* Sam Rockwell as…Joe Christ?

* There’s very little reason to expect the Paul W.S. Anderson 3-D version “The Three Musketeers” is going to be anywhere near one of the better versions of the oft-filmed adventure tale, but I actually like the idea of elf-to-punching-bag actor Orlando Bloom as a bad ass villain. I’ve missed most of his non-elven performances, so I’m not yet a Bloom-hater. Anyhow, it’s good for actors to stretch a bit.

*  I might have been tempted to run clips from the ongoing “Star Wars” spoofery going on at “The Family Guy” only I have this strange, yet deep, inner conviction that Seth MacFarlane should in no way be confused with someone who makes funny shows. The clip from a table read embedded on a  post by Geoff Boucher only strengthens that conviction. I seriously do not understand what those people are laughing at. I’ve asked this question before and have never received a good answer: is the “joke” of his shows that all the jokes are bad?

* If the movie adventures of young Jack London get more kids to actually read Jack London, I think that’ll be great. Confession time: I’ve only read The Sea Wolf. The movie, despite having Edward G. Robinson, John Garfield, and Ida Lupino in it, didn’t begin to do it justice. Steling Hayden or Robert Ryan were the only men ever born to play the half-insane, ultra-macho, pseudo-intellectual control freak Wolf Larsen. Actually, Russell Crowe could not only play Wolf Larson, I suspect he is Wolf Larsen.

South-Park-60

  

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Maximum Miramax

If you’ve been reading the various hard-news entertainment blogs and sites over the last few days, you’ve no doubt noticed the continuing drama of the sale by Disney of Miramax, the “mini-major” studio which once bridged the gap between indie and mainstream filmmaking. The studio was pretty much the creation of mogul brothers Harvey and  Bob Weinstein, who famous named it after their parents (Mira and Max Weinstein). Now, they may well be poised to reclaim the studio they once sold to Disney and ran for them, before leaving to start The Weinstein Company in 2005.

You also may have noticed Nikki Finke’s attempts to lay claim to the latest on the story and crudely and not very convincingly bash her competitors. THR writers Elizabeth Guilder and the man I always call “Jolly Carl DiOrio” may have been guilty of jumping the gun or overstating the case a bit since the negotiations do appear to be ongoing. Also, I didn’t get the e-mail alert of which she speaks and can only see the story I linked to, which duly notes Disney’s denial of the apparent scoop. However, right now it sure looks to me like they got the story essentially right  and it’s not like La Finke has never slightly overstated things on a news story herself — though she does get some very good, detailed inside dope, there’s no doubt of that. To Finke’s credit, she has left up the offending piece and not tried to hide the evidence of her being the mean girl much of her audience, but not me, wants her to be.

Anyhow, at a time like this, it might be appropriate to consider the compelling admixture of quality, marketing, and occasional appeals to a certain kind of middle-brow film snobbery that highlighted Miramax, courtesy of Mad TV, who bring you the ultimate Miramax trailer from the day.

  

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