Archive for the ‘Controversy’ Category

7 Reasons To LIKE Mel Gibson

January 27, 2010

Lately, as I’ve been reading other movie blogs and even the comments on my recent posts, one of the trends I’ve noticed is that people really love to hate Mel Gibson.  The cool thing to do right now is to feel disgusted by the accomplished actor/director, and if you write about movies on the web, it seems as if you are almost obligated to approach Mel Gibson and his new movie, Edge Of Darkness, with a sense of dread.  Indeed, people just can’t understand why anyone would like Mel Gibson.  Well, I have a confession: I do.  He’s not my favorite star in the world, but the man has taken a lot of grief for his unfortunate DUI incident in 2006, in which allegations of anti-semitism, sexism, and homophobia were made.  Instead of forgiving Gibson for his unfortunate drunk actions the way America loves to forgive other celebrities, people have instead decided to hold a grudge.  Still, I believe there are things about Mel Gibson that, believe it or not, aren’t totally bad.  Thus, because it is List Wednesday, here are seven reasons to like Mel Gibson.

1. Because he’s actually a very good actor

Sure, he’s known for mainstream blockbusters like Lethal Weapon and Signs, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a talented actor! If being a serious actor means you have to be in serious movies, then take a look at films like We Were Soldiers, Galipoli, or Hamlet for proof that Gibson has got some serious chops.

2. The Passion Of The Christ

Say what you will about Gibson’s film: it’s anti-semitic, it’s too violent, it’s blah blah blah ad nauseum.  At the end of the day, The Passion was a compelling piece of work about Jesus Christ’s last hours.  It’s no surprise that critics didn’t like it!  Anything remotely conservative is considered pure evil in the eyes of Hollywood. Fortunately for Gibson, who invested $25 million of his own money into this movie, the rest of America is much more moderate, and for $370 million worth of ticket buyers, this was a very moving film.

3. Because he’s funny!

Mel has that old-school Hollywood charisma that so many movie stars lack these days.  Not only is he an effective dramatic actor, but in movies like Lethal Weapon and What Women Want, interviews, and acceptance speeches, Gibson proves he’s got a great sense of humor comic timing.

4. Braveheart

This movie is awesome.  If you’re a girl, and you just don’t get it- don’t worry about it.

5. Because he’s bold!

I think it’s admirable that Gibson takes chances.  He directed a movie about Jesus and funded it himself.  He shot a Mayan adventure entirely in another language.  He frequently commits to producing television episodes and films, despite the fact that TV is a highly hit-or-miss format.  Now, though conventional wisdom would tell Gibson to star in a friendly comedy to rebuild him image, he’s decided to make his comeback performance in a dark revenge thriller called Edge Of Darkness.  He’s not entirely predictable, and he knows his super-violent movies will ruffle some feathers, but he just keeps blazing his own career trek.  I think that’s pretty cool.

6. Apocalypto

This is one of my very favorite movies.  A non-stop thrill ride from start to finish, Apocalypto, which is really just an extended chase scene, benefited tremendously from Gibson’s vision.  The Mayan adventure features gorgeous sets, incredible stunts, a heckuva lot of violence, and a cast of very good unknown actors.  Gibson set out to make an exciting film that didn’t rely on CGI, and he succeeded on every level.  It’s a shame that Gibson’s infamous DUI took place just before Apocalypto‘s debut, because it deserved a much bigger audience.

7. Because everyone has overreacted!
Look, I don’t stand by the words that Mel Gibson said, and I certainly don’t condone drinking and driving, but come on, people, Mel Gibson is not an evil man.  You can’t work in Hollywood for as long as Gibson has and hate gay people and Jewish people- they run that town!  Ever since Gibson aligned himself with conservatives (and don’t misunderstand: Gibson is neither a model conservative or Christian) with The Passion Of The Christ, the liberal media has wanted to dislike him so badly.  Unfavorable reviews of Apocalypto had very little to do with the movie itself, and much more to do with the critic’s pre-conceived notion that he disliked the director.  Any slight incorrect speech Gibson makes or potentially rude action he takes is scrutinized to no end!  To the media, there’s nothing Mel Gibson can do right.  Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen tries to stab his wife, and he gets off with nothing more than a few tabloid articles.  A little consistency please?

All right, I’ll get down off my soap box now and turn things over to you.  What do you think of Mel Gibson?  Am I crazy for writing this post?  Are you a fan?  A hater?  An indifferent party?  Are you excited for Edge Of Darkness?  Let me know in the comments.

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Compasses, Catholics, and Controversy… Oh My!

December 5, 2007

     The Golden Compass opens in just three short days, and while it’s one of the most hyped movies of the holiday season, it’s tough to predict how it will fare financially.  The fantasy epic, which stars Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and newcomer Dakota Blue Richards, has been plagued with controversy from the beginning of its production, but whether the controversy will help or hurt the film has yet to be seen.  I’m getting the sense that The Golden Compass could be 2007’s King Kong, a film that underperformed after analysts way overhyped it.  For every good thing that The Golden Compass has going for it, it seems to have other forces going against it.

     On the one hand, it’s an adaptation of a fantasically popular book by Philip Pullman, and part of the acclaimed His Dark Materials trilogy.  On the other hand, that book series is only twelve years old, and it doesn’t have the classic grandeur of The Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings, which parents and children have read.  The adaptation Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events suffered from this, and it finished with a disappointing $118 million.  Because it’s not yet a classic, it is doubtful that The Golden Compass will pull in families like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe did in December 2005.  Exacerbating this problem, it doesn’t help that the film carries a not-so-family-friendly PG-13 rating.

     Of course, the big obstacle that The Golden Compass faces is its outright opposition with the Catholic Church, which made its official declaration that it is vehemently against the film.  Philip Pullman, the author of the books on which the movie is based, is an outspoken, C.S. Lewis-hating atheist. He has publicly said: “It is my goal to go after Christianity.  I want God to be dead in my works.  I want to undermine Christianity.”  Harsh words, right?  In his books, Pullman villainizes the Catholic Church (called the Magisterium).  The Magisterium is a tyrannical, corrupt, downright evil institution, which essentially controls the world.  The protagonists of the story ultimately take down the church, and in the final installment of the series, the children kill God.  Pullman’s hatred of the Catholic Church is about as subtle as a nuclear bomb, and though Director Chris Weitz insists that the film tones down these anti-Christian themes, the controversy surrounding the film is still enormous.
     Normally, controversy is free publicity for a film, and it propels the film to success.  The Passion of the Christ earned $373 million domestically because of it, Borat pulled in $128 million, and Fahrenheit 9/11 became the highest grossing documentary of all time with $119 million.  However, all of these films were rated R, and targeted toward adult audiences, while The Golden Compass is being marketed as a family affair.  It’s no secret that families flock to what they know is safe, wholesome entertainment (i.e. Enchanted, Narnia, Ratatouille, etc.), and New Line is taking a big risk by challenging the traditional views of middle American families.  In a predominantly Christian country, many parents simply won’t allow their kids to see a film that undermines their religion.  In this case, I think controversy will actually hurt The Golden Compass‘ box office, rather than augmenting it.
     Finally, the buzz around this movie among movie buffs is nearly deafening, and many are expecting the film to be THE breakout film of the winter season, and New Line is hoping it can launch a new successful fantasy trilogy, just like it did with Lord of the Rings.  However, with my above analysis and underwhelming early reviews, I don’t think The Golden Compass will be nearly as big as some are predicting.
     That’s not to say it will flop- it’s got this weekend in the bag, which is good because Nicole Kidman needs a hit so badly.  But how big will it be?  Check back on Friday for my Weekend Preview.