Love, Simon

Love, Simon is something of a first; a major Hollywood studio production that does not diminish or ignore the fact that it’s essentially a gay teen love story in its marketing materials. Just look at the cheeky billboards erected in LA to promote the movie. We-ho – West Hollywood – is obviously the city’s main gay district.

This was all part of a text-based “Dear [blank]” campaign, pulling in a narrative device from the film with customized billboard and bus stop promos specific to different film markets. A second Los Angeles area advertisement, for example, reads: “Dear WeHo, I’m done keeping my story straight.”

In New York, signs proclaim, “If I can come out here, I can come out anywhere.” Ads in the nation’s capital say, “Dear DC, You seem confused. Good thing I’m not.” Other cities with tailored messages include Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Diego, Boston and Dallas.

LA Times reports that Fox also created a postcard generator that allows users to create their own “Dear [blank]” graphics. The film’s official Twitter account used it to send words of encouragement to openly gay Olympians Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon.

So now all that’s left is to buy tickets to the film (so they get the message and make more movies like this…)

PS also check out the Dasani Water product placement in the top image.


Natalie Portman is Lena, an ex-army molecular biologist who volunteers to enter a mysterious phenomenon called “The Shimmer” in Alex Garland’s Annihilation. This bizarre space seems to swallow all that enter it: drones, wildlife, vehicles, military incursions. One of the things it’s swallowed is Lena’s husband, and she essentially signs up to the mission to find out both what “The Shimmer” is, and what happened to him.

Now I’d read the trilogy of Jeff Vandermeer books that this movie was based on, I found them horribly frustrating; they offer literally no explanation of why anything is happening, and to be honest, I gave up half way through book 3, by that stage not caring what happened either way. The movie changes a few things and therefore is far more accessible; it hints (more…)

Creative Serbia: The Future is Creative

As a white South African, I know how negative perceptions of a place and its people are perpetuated through media stereotypes; how often do the hitmen and warlords and drug dealers and psychotics and gangsters in Hollywood movies and video games and tv shows speak with Serbian (or South African) accents? Often, that’s how often. I’m attuned to this vilification. There are reasons for it of course (admittedly some of which stem from what the country once was.) More than history, though, the fact is that Serbs have very little power or voice in the real world, and more importantly, they don’t have the financial clout to force or even influence a change. (when was the last time you saw a Chinese movie villain?)  The truth is that media messages and perceptions have almost zero relation to the country and its people in the real world of 2018.

But there’s a plan to change this. Six months ago, I was invited to join Prime Minister Brnabic‘s cabinet (more…)

The Titan

God I love Aussie brickie Sam Worthington. He always looks so surprised to find himself a movie star, like he’s stumbled onto set as a janitor or delivering bottled water and has accidentally ended up in costume in front of the cameras reciting unfamiliar lines but its all a colossal misunderstanding that he’d happily resolve if only he could just speak to someone in charge….

As for the trailer? Let me think on this a bit.

Three Billboards Makes America Great Again

“Three Billboards” is polished and impressive “small film” about a grieving mother and her escalating attempts to humiliate a small-town police chief into solving the murder of her teenage daughter. Frances McDormand plays the mom, Mildred Hayes, and the billboards in Ebbing are the site of her campaign. I enjoyed the film, especially Mildred’s rude fierceness. The movie’s also done incredibly well for itself – a small haul of Golden Globes and an Oscar Best Actress for McDormand herself, and Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell playing a particularly racist and homophobic cop.

But, but, the movie’s not been without its detractors and indeed there’s been something of a backlash against the film. In particular, critics have objected to the casual care with which Rockwell’s character is treated given his evident vileness, as well as his shot of redemption at the end. As Wesley Morris suggests in the NYT “This Is Not America.”

The title and location of Three Billboards makes it seem like the movie is saying something grand about human nature in small-town America. But none of it rings true……“Three Billboards” is a cupcake rolled in glass. It all just feels off.

I think there’s stuff that could be said here about “it’s a fiction, not a documentary” and “it does not have to be about anything to be a great piece of entertainment”. But the more I thought about this overnight, the more I came up with this: (more…)

Veronica and the Release Strategies

Two things. First: Veronica. It’s the latest from Paco Plaza, the Spanish writer-director responsible for the first two [REC] movies. It’s a solid, well-made horror telling the ostensibly true tale of a luckless 15 year old who invites something horrible in after an ill-advised ouija game. The ensuing drama plays out mostly in a small Madrid apartment, ramping up the conflicts bit by bit, to a suitably chaotic climax. I enjoyed it. It won’t win many accolades (except for the acting, which was great) and it was all-in-all a gripping enough way to spend 90 minutes. So far so good.

The second thing, and the main reason I mention this movie at all, is that Veronica was released direct to Netflix, with zero publicity and no fanfare. Yesterday, no Veronica, today; ta-da. Netflix would seem to be a odd release strategy for a movie maker; it seems to be a kind of marketing deadzone, an apologetic admittance of middling quality… (more…)