By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
In the case of Confessions, how can one resist the prospect of a new film starring that rangy young actress Lindsay Lohan, who played daughter to Jamie Lee Curtis’ mom (and then vice versa) in last year’s sparkling Freaky Fridayremake — and who was every bit as dazzling as her much-praised co-star, counterbalancing Curtis’ soaring comic arpeggios with an effortlessly parental gravitas? This time out, judging from the posters and TV spots, Lohan has the whole movie to herself. And while she’s unquestionably worth a thousand Hilary Duffs, to find out more about the movie you’ll have to turn to the capsule reviews in the Calendar section at the back of the paper. That’s because Disney didn’t see fit to screen Confessions for critics until the Monday night before its opening, much too late for feature coverage in this paper. Disney’s explanation? That a finished print of the film wouldn’t be ready before then — an increasingly common story where the major studio releases are concerned, and the primary reason why such films are frequently addressed only as capsule reviews in this publication (and other weeklies with similar deadlines).
In some cases, it’s the truth: With release dates now being chosen for most studio pictures before they’ve even begun production, the ensuing rush to completion often means that certain tweaks and trims (particularly with regard to special-effects-heavy movies) are performed right up until the last possible minute. But just as often, it points to the studios’ calamitous fear of what critics — the very ones they claim have no impact on a movie’s success — will say. Hold a film back until 72 hours or so before opening day and you limit the amount of “play” it will receive in nondaily publications — a fine strategy when you’ve got a Gigli-sized turkey on your hands, but a suspect one, to say the least, when the movie in question is actually good. Genre films of almost any kind are particularly susceptible: Two years ago, Miramax barely bothered to even release David Twohy’s excellent submarine thriller Below, let alone make it available to reviewers; a couple of weeks back, Disney kept its hockey drama Miracle under lock and key until just days before opening it — and Miracle is one of the best movies of this young year.
This all speaks to the fact that studios today, and their publicity and distribution departments, are ever more being run by business-school bureaucrats who view movies strictly as marketable commodities; they don’t really know what’s good or bad, only what they think will sell, and sell to 18- to 25-year-olds at that. So, as I look down the calendar of movies scheduled for release in the next few months, I have to wonder whether I’ll be able to write at length in these pages about such titles as Universal’s Van Helsing (directed by that fine upholder of comic-horror swashbuckling, Stephen Sommers) and Paramount/ DreamWorks’ Collateral (the latest from Michael Mann), or whether they too will be relegated to the capsule page. Judging by the way things have been going lately, I’d say it’ll be a downright miracle if they’re not.
KITCHEN STORIES | Produced and directed by BENT HAMER Written by HAMER in cooperation with JÖRGEN BERGMARK Released by IFC Films | At the Nuart
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