2016 Movies Watched

Note: This doesn’t include any older movies I rewatched, just ones I saw for the first time in 2016.

  • The Trip to Italy
  • The Big Short
  • The Master
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Ex Machina
  • The One I Love
  • While We’re Young
  • Spotlight
  • Welcome To Me
  • Compliance
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Celeste & Jesse Forever
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
  • The Iron Lady
  • Freeheld
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Truth
  • Our Brand Is Crisis
  • Chi-raq
  • House of Wax
  • Year One
  • The Rum Diary
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • Suffragette
  • Rock the Kasbah
  • Pan
  • Crimson Peak
  • Special Correspondents
  • Somewhere
  • Don Verdean
  • London Boulevard
  • Little Black Book
  • Yosemite
  • Rubber
  • The Fundamentals of Caring
  • In Bruges
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane
  • The Hunt For the Wilderpeople
  • Ghostbusters
  • Zootopia
  • Suicide Squad
  • Nasty Baby
  • Trumbo
  • Creative Control
  • Macbeth
  • Sing Street
  • The Angry Birds Movie
  • Moonwalkers
  • Elvis & Nixon
  • The Confirmation
  • Lamb
  • The Walk
  • John Wick
  • Last Night
  • Sunset Song
  • The Man From UNCLE
  • By the Sea
  • The Boss
  • Deadpool
  • Mascots
  • Big Eyes
  • I Give It A Year
  • The Late Bloomer
  • The Humbling
  • People Places Things
  • Price Check
  • Man Up
  • The Imitation Game
  • High Rise
  • Fruitvale Station
  • Sleepwalk With Me
  • The World’s End
  • Seeking a Friend For the End of the World
  • J. Edgar
  • Zoolander 2
  • Louder Than Bombs
  • Complete Unknown
  • Equals
  • Green Room
  • Dear White People
  • To The Wonder
  • This Is the End
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • Yoga Hosers
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

2016 Albums Listened To

Note: This doesn’t include anything old I pulled up or artist marathons I engaged in, just new albums enjoyed.

  • Miranda Lambert – The Weight of These Wings
  • The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome
  • Bon Jovi – This House Is Not For Sale
  • Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues
  • Saint Motel – saintmotelevision
  • The Pretty Reckless – What Are You Selling?
  • Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
  • Eric Clapton – Live in San Diego
  • Kings of Leon – Walls
  • Bob Weir – Blue Mountain
  • OneRepublic – Oh My My
  • Bruce Springsteen – Chapter and Verse
  • Christine and the Queens – Christine and the Queens
  • Amos Lee – Spirit
  • Lydia Loveless – Real
  • Elizabeth Cook – Exodus of Venus
  • Dawes – We’re All Gonna Die
  • Whitehorse – The Northern South Vol. 1
  • Wye Oak – Tween
  • Tegan & Sara – Love You To Death
  • Young Mister – Young Mister
  • Sarah Jarosz – Undercurrent
  • Trashcan Sinatras – Wild Pendulum
  • The Strumbrellas: Hope
  • Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers – Rehab Reunion
  • Bruce Hornsby & The Range – Live 1987 Tour
  • Whitney – Light Upon the Lake
  • Eric Clapton: I Still Do
  • Paul Simon – Stranger to Stranger
  • Mudcrutch – 2
  • The Jayhawks: Paging Mr. Proust
  • The Loom: Here In The Deadlights
  • Guided by Voices: Please Be Honest
  • Greys: Outer Heaven
  • Fruition: Labor Of Love
  • Candlebox: Disappearing in Airports
  • Eskimeaux – Year of the Rabbit
  • Wild Belle: Dreamland
  • Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
  • Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop: Love Letter For Fire
  • PJ Harvey: The Hope Six Demolition Project
  • Graham Nash: This Path Tonight
  • Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros: PersonA
  • Cheap Trick – Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello!
  • The Coathangers: Nosebleed Weekend
  • Bear Hands: You’ll Pay For This
  • Ashley Shadow: Ashley Shadow
  • East of Venus – Memory Box
  • Eric Bachman – Eric Bachman
  • Woods: City Sun Eater In The River Of Light
  • Teleman: Brilliant Sanity
  • Parquet Courts: Human Performance
  • Peter Wolf: A Cure For Loneliness
  • Mayer Hawthorne: Man About Town
  • Moving Units: Damage With Care
  • The Lumineers: Cleopatra
  • M83: Junk
  • Lights: Midnight Machine
  • Janiva Magness: Love Wins Again
  • Hayes Carll: Lovers and Leavers
  • Santana: Santana IV
  • Frightened Rabbit: Painting Of A Panic Attack
  • Ben Watt: Fever Dream
  • Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals: Call It What It Is
  • All Saints: Red Flag
  • Dandy Warhols – Distortland
  • Anthony Hamilton – What I’m Feelin’
  • The Prettiots: Funs Cool
  • Margo Price – Midwest Farmer’s Daughter
  • Bob Mould – Patch the Sky
  • Lust For Youth: Compassion
  • James: Girl at the End of the World
  • Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression
  • HAELOS: Full Circle
  • Grant-Lee Phillips: The Narrows
  • Dustin Kensrue: Thoughts That Float On A Different Blood
  • Drinking Flowers: New Swirled Order
  • Damien Jurado: Visions Of Us On The Land
  • Cullen Omori: New Misery
  • Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL: Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
  • American Babies: An Epic Battle Between Light And Dark
  • Glenn Jones – Fleeting
  • The Magnetic North – Prospect of Skelmersdale
  • Sean Watkins – What to Fear
  • Bonnie Raitt – Dig In Deep
  • Ray LaMontagne – Ourboros
  • Mothers – When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired
  • Field Music: Commontime
  • Dressy Bessy: Kingsized
  • DIIV: Is The Is Are
  • Burnt Palms: Back On My Wall
  • Breakbot: Still Waters
  • Mass Gothic – Mass Gothic
  • Jason Collett – Song and Dance Man
  • Ane Brun – When I’m Free
  • The Pines – Above the Prairie
  • Foxes – All I Need
  • Elton John: Wonderful Crazy Night
  • Bloc Party – Hymns
  • St. Lucia – Matter
  • Cian Nugent: Night Fiction
  • Walter Martin – Arts & Leisure
  • Money – Suicide Songs
  • Wet – Don’t You
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band: Let Me Get By
  • Basement – Promise Everything
  • Florist – The Birds Sang Outside
  • Aubrie Sellers – New City Blues
  • Savages – Adore Life
  • Jeffrey Foucault – Salt as Wolves
  • Donnie Fritts – Oh My Goodness
  • C Duncan – Architect
  • Esmerine – Lost Voices
  • Cage The Elephant – Tell Me I’m Pretty
  • Neko Case – Truckdriver Gladiator Mule
  • David Bowie – Blackstar
  • Sara Barielles – Brave Enough

2016 Books Read

Note: This does not include anything I reread. There weren’t a lot in that category, but this is just new books read in 2016.

  • The Pacific – Hugh Ambrose
  • Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition – Daniel Okrent
  • Alive – Scott Sigler
  • Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  • Star Wars: Aftermath – Chuck Wendig
  • A Nice Little Place On The North Side – George Will
  • Purity – Jonathan Franzen
  • Andrew’s Brain – E.L. Doctorow
  • All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  • Command Authority – Tom Clancy
  • No Baggage – Clara Bensen
  • The Big Tiny – Dee Williams
  • Alexander Hamilton – Ron Chernow
  • Star Wars: Lords of the Sith – Paul S. Kemp
  • Brooklyn – Colm Toibin
  • In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin – Erik Larson
  • A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
  • The Episodic Career – Farai Chideya
  • Writing Down the Bones
  • A Farewell to Arms – Earnest Hemingway
  • To Have and Have Not – Earnest Hemingway
  • The Sun Also Rises – Earnest Hemingway
  • Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
  • Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi – Kevin Hearne
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls – Earnest Hemingway
  • Here I Am – Jonathan Sacramento Foer
  • Walden on Wheels – Ken Ilgunas
  • Paradox of Choice – Barry Schwartz
  • Augustine: From Conversion to Confessions – Robin Lane Fox
  • Star Wars: Lost Stars – Claudia Gray

After the Campaign: Kung Fu Panda 3

Almost a year ago, the campaign for Kung Fu Panda 3 worked hard to sell a funny, if largely unambitious third entry in the franchise. It was funny and looked like a good continuation of Po’s story.

kung_fu_panda_three pic 1

The story picks up with Po still searching for what it means to be the Dragon Warrior. He’s still training with Master Shifu and the rest of the Furious Five until one day he goes to his adopted father’s noodle place and finds his real panda father. He offers to take Po to the secret hidden village of pandas as a way to reconnect. While all this an ancient villain has emerged and is threatening to take over the world, a villain that Po will need the lessons he’s learned among his true family to defeat.

And the movie pretty much delivered on the promise made by the campaign. There’s not a whole lot more to say as it is actually pretty funny and cute. Everyone’s doing what they need to do to keep things humming along. If there’s any problem with the movie, it’s nothing to do with the marketing, it’s just that it’s a bit over-ambitious, but that’s a frequent issue with franchises like this that start off simple and charming and need to continue on indefinitely. So go in and enjoy it, just don’t get too caught up an overly-ambitious story and enjoy the simple pleasures.

2016’s Memorable Campaigns

They may not have been the most successful at turning out the public, by my latest Adweek piece covers what I felt were the most memorable movie campaigns of 2016.

There were a number of notable trends this year when it came to marketing Hollywood’s latest releases. There was, of course, a heavy reliance on nostalgia, as studios pulled out titles that hadn’t been touched for over a decade, like Independence Day, Bridget Jones and others for “legacy sequels” that hoped to rekindle some of that old magic. And superheroes continued to be available regularly, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Doctor Strange and other costumed choices at the box office. It was also a year when a few trends started to solidify in terms of platforms and tactics. Studios are regularly hosting Facebook Q&As with stars in the weeks before release. Snapchat is becoming a regular platform as well, both for organic stories and paid executions such as the “Snap to Unlock” ads run for The Girl on the Train, Passengers and other movies. Official websites are also becoming less and less essential, with many movies putting up placeholder sites with little to no information, or skipping owned sites altogether.

Source: Superheroes, Models and Lobsters: The 10 Most Memorable Movie Campaigns of 2016 | Adweek

Movie Marketing Madness: Hidden Figures

hidden-figures-poster-2It’s funny how in 13 episodes of “From the Earth to the Moon,” the HBO mini-series that chronicled the NASA program that built a space program from nothing to landing men repeatedly on the moon (and more) I don’t remember hearing or seeing anything about the groundbreaking role played by a group of black women in achieving that nie-impossible goal. But that’s exactly the story that’s being told in the new movie Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe.

The three play Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson (respectively), three incredibly talented women who are recruited into NASA at the height of the space race to help with land a man on the moon. Their experience with complicated, cutting edge math – they’re referred to as human “computers” – is essential to making that happen since no one knows just what the problem that needs to be solved is. So new points of view are necessary. But this being America in the 1960s, the three face pushback from many fronts because of both their gender and their race.

The Posters

hidden_figuresThe first poster, debuting around the same time as the first trailer, lets you know exactly what you’re in for. All three of the leads are seen striding toward the camera, confident and fearless, a NASA symbol on the floor under their feet. It’s clear they’re walking through some sort of hanger or other complex and a rocket can be seen launching in the background. So between all of that and the period wardrobe the three are wearing the one-sheet does a good job of establishing both the premise and the setting, especially when you factor in the copy, which reads “Meet the women you don’t know, behind the mission you do. It’s great.

A few character posters were next, showing the three main characters who each got their own inspirational phrase that spoke to gender, race or courage. This is a great way to show off each of the lead actresses and reinforce the themes of the story in the minds of the audience.

The theatrical poster tells us “Genius has no race. Strength has no gender. Courage has no limit.” That all sums up the themes of the movie pretty darn well. It’s paired with photos of the three leads as well as smaller pictures of supporting players like Jim Parsons, Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst.

The Trailers

The first trailer immediately introduces us to Katherine as a young child as we’re told, along with her parents, that she has an extraordinary capability for math and calculations. Fast forward to her as an adult as she, Dorothy and Mary have car trouble on their way to NASA, leading to a police officer dropping some casual racism about that particular situation. That kind of attitude – that not only are they women but black women – is continued throughout the trailer as we see them encounter one white man-made roadblock to being taken seriously after another, despite them being part of the team that’s trying to put a man on the moon in the very near future. They deal with all of that as well as other societal expectation about a woman’s place in the world as they try to be taken seriously and get what’s due them.

It’s a pretty good trailer, leaning heavily not just on the drama of trying to get a space program (literally) off the ground but also the place society in the U.S. was in at the time, which was not friendly to black women as a whole, especially not those who worked to rise to a station traditionally seen as exclusively for white men. The performances all look strong but the real draw here is the struggle and the opportunity to see, as we’re told repeatedly, a story many of us had never heard of before.

The next trailer seems a bit tighter, even as it retains the same basic structure. We skip, though, the parts about Katherine’s childhood and skip right to the women breaking down on their way to NASA. We then see much of the same material, as Katherine in particular aims to break down the divides and barriers that are simply part of society in 1961 to get the same treatment as her white male colleagues and be seen as an equal.

Again, this one seems to be a bit more linear and coherent, not trying to cram quite so much into the running time and instead focusing on the core story of one person’s attempts to do her job and contribute to something historic. If anything, this one seems more interested in the space program elements of the story, but the central idea is still one of equality.

Online and Social

The movie gets the usual Fox official website treatment, starting off with a cropped banner of the key art and links to watch the trailer, buy tickets or follow the movie’s Facebook and Twitter profiles.

“Videos” has both trailers, a few clips and lots of behind-the-scenes and other featurettes featuring the story behind the movie as well as spotlights on the cast and crew. The “About” section that’s next has a brief story synopsis as well as cast and crew lists along with more links to the movie’s social profiles, including an Instagram page.

The “Featured Content” section has links to find out more about the soundtrack album for the film and more, including to a site called “Future Katherine Johnsons,” an ode to the real life person played by Henson. It’s a program that’s done in partnership with Black Girls Code and designed to unlock the enormous potential that lies in young black women, exposing them to the possibilities in STEM-related fields. Getting women into STEM is also the point of a program from IBM honoring the women who served as NASA’s computers and the future geniuses who are and should be inspired by them and other trailblazers.

The site finishes up with a “Gallery” of stills, a carousel of the two posters and then a section with links to news about the movie and its cast.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots like this one started airing in advance of release, laying out the story of black women’s role in achieving one of this country’s milestone moments and the struggles they faced while doing so.

There have been some social ads run using the trailers and other videos and it’s safe to assume outdoor and more online ads have been run as well. In terms of promotional partners, it looks like the major ones were the two mentioned above involving Black Girls Code and IBM.

Media and Publicity

Right after the trailer was released it was announced the movie would have its official debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Henson talked a bit here about how she approached the role, which reunited her with math, something she was legitimately scared of because it brought back memories of her past education. That was followed by a big feature that focused on the real women whose stories are being told and talked about the struggles they went through just to do their jobs and the role they played in a huge part of this country’s history.


Spencer’s role and how she got it was the focus of interviews like this one where she talked about being an African-American woman in Hollywood and what that means for the parts she’s offered and accepts. Of course there was lots of talk about about Henson and Spencer getting awards nominations when the time came, which helped add to a mountain of positive buzz and word of mouth around the movie.

The cast continued talking about the movie, the historical significance of the story and the characters they play in press interviews throughout the campaign.


I honestly feel like this movie couldn’t be more 2016 if it tried. At least the marketing campaign couldn’t. It’s all about how women of color have been removed from the narrative of one of the country’s – hell, mankind’s – greatest achievements. If “men get all the credit for something women were an integral part of” doesn’t sum up this past year I’m not sure what does. So the campaign has worked not only to tell people there’s an important story here, but it’s one that’s likely repeated daily as men talk over their female colleagues and mansplain what’s it’s “actually” about. For that reason, the movie is likely to become a lightning rod as one group claims the story as their own and the other complains how it downplays the contributions of white men. I’m guessing the phrase “white genocide” may even come up in one or two Facebook comments.

All that aside, it’s a good campaign that does shine a light on a story few of us know about but which deserves to be more widely known. It dips into shiny maudlin territory a bit here and there as it presents that story, but that’s a small complaint and it’s more than balanced out by the performances on display.

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The number 42 has held powerful sway in my mind ever since a friend got me a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy” back when I was 14 or 15. It was actually a volume collecting the first four books in the trilogy and I devoured it, laughing out loud as I read it while sitting on the first floor stairs landing in my parent’s house, exasperated sighs coming from my parents each time I fell into hysterics over something else Douglas Adams had written, some turn of phrase that was wholly different from anything I’d read before, all with a wit that was sharp and yet gentle. It was exactly what I needed and it opened up a world of comedy writing to me I’d previously been ignorant of.

In the series, of course, 42 represents the answer to “life, the universe and everything.” The answer was derived by a long-ago species, thanks to their super-computer Deep Thought, though he admitted he wasn’t super clear on what the question was, though he was still sure of the answer. Deep Thought actually designed our Earth to be the next great computer that would figure out the question and…well…I’ll leave it at that because you need to read it for yourself.

So today I turn 42 and am about as far from having figured out the meaning of life, the universe and everything as I possibly could be.

41 has been a year of changes and transitions. I lost my job and have yet to find another full-time employer, though I’m staying busy with a mix of part-time work at Starbucks and a growing roster of freelance writing projects and clients. The job search is something that’s been disheartening to say the least, as I keep putting myself out there only to hear nothing back and see the same job listed months later, a clear indication that while they haven’t found the right person yet they weren’t even interested in talking to me. That’s been tough to reconcile with the fact that I felt I served my employers and clients well over the last 15+ years. But I guess a lifetime of deferring credit and not wanting to play the “thought leader” game has meant my reputation doesn’t translate well to paper.

My best friend from childhood passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, opening up a sense of loss and regret that I’ve still not fully processed but which lead to reconnecting with old friends who I hadn’t seen for the better part of the last 20 years. I still haven’t found the words to explain what he meant to me for decades or how the knowledge he’s no longer in this world strikes me anew on a daily basis. Maybe I will someday, but not yet.It hasn’t all be bad, though. My family is as strong as it has been as my wife continues to be my better in every possible way and my boys are more fully becoming strong, intelligent, confident, inspiring and kind young men every day.

It hasn’t all be bad, though. My family is as strong as it has been as my wife continues to be my better in every possible way and my boys are more fully becoming strong, intelligent, confident, inspiring and kind young men every day. And hey, the Cubs won the World Series, something even Dear Triumphant Leader Trump won’t be able to overturn.

So today I turn 42. I don’t have the answers. I’ll fight the voices in my head that say if I were stronger, smarter and more of a fighter I’d have more of them figured out, that I’d be more confident if only I were better. I turn 42 confident in the love of my family and the saving grace of God above. I turn 42 and still feel emotionally charged listening to my favorite music. I turn 42 and am more sure that the world has a plan for me that I haven’t figured out yet. I turn 42 and I’m still working it out. Sometimes I put more of the pieces together than others, but every night the puzzle is broken up again and work begins anew the next day. That’s what 42 has in store for me, another Sisyphean year of getting back at it day after day. It’s all I know how to do.

Movie Marketing Madness: 20th Century Women

twozeroth_century_womenStories of clashing generations are nothing new, but the trope is getting a fresh take at the box off with 20th Century Women, the new movie from writer/director Mike Mills, who based it off his relationship with his own mother. Set during the turbulent 1970s, the movie stars Annette Bening as Dorothea, a woman born in the early part of the 20th century who’s never accepted the status quo but has pushed her and the world around her every chance she’s gotten.

Her unconventional (for the time) attitude is causing stress in her relationship with her teenage son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann). He’s rebelling in his own way and seeking out friends and a network of his own, making his own mistakes and experimenting. That brings him into contact with Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited photographer and Julie (Elle Fanning) among others, who give him new perspectives, opinions and experiences.

The Posters

The poster for the movie sells it strongly as an ensemble drama, with the full cast arrayed on a beach, lens flares adding a nice artistic element to it. A series of smaller photos at the top showing the birth control pill, Jimmy Carter and other items are meant to help set the time period of the story. The whole thing looks like a modern catalog cover to a high-end consumer brand, right down to the typeface used for the title. It’s slick and cool looking.

The Trailers

The first trailer is pretty great. It opens with a televised speech from Pres. Jimmy Carter where he’s talking about the chase for material goods and how it doesn’t lead to happiness, immediately setting up one of the movie’s major themes, the quest to be happy. While that plays, footage of all the major characters is shown, letting the audience know this is a multigenerational drama that might move around between them but which uses Dorothea as its emotional core. So we see everything from teenage relationship drama to younger adults trying to lead their lives to Dorothea tying everything together.

Benning looks just fantastic in this. In addition to the story, the focus is on making sure the audience knows this comes from the director of Beginners, so it clearly has the arthouse in mind as its core target. There isn’t a whole lot of detail shared about what the story is, exactly, other than all the characters are concerned about being happy. That’s enough to get most of the target audience interested, though, considering the names involved both in front of and behind the camera.

The second trailer is not completely different, but it certainly presents a more traditional structure than the first. We see that Dorothea is trying to find some good role models for Jamie and enlists Abbie and Julie in that effort. So it’s all about trying to mold this young man into someone who respects women and is a good person, something Dorothea isn’t sure she can do on her own.

It’s great and conveys both the joy of the characters and the struggles they’re going through in the late 1970s. Again, Benning looks great here as does the rest of the cast. This one really allows for the movie’s sense of humor to come through, with lots of shots of characters dancing and otherwise having fun even while showing that it’s not all fun and games.

Online and Social

When you load the official website for the movie there are sections right there in the top left where you can buy tickets, watch the second trailer or find out about the “Cast.” When you click that last link you’re zoomed down the page there the cast’s names appear. Clicking any of those names brings up a section devoted to the character they play that’s full of GIFs and lines of dialogue from them that you can share via Twitter or Facebook.

Over on the right hand side of the front page there are also links to the movie’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Scroll down the main page and there’s an assortment of GIFs, some from the movie some from the era that the movie takes place in, along with quotes from critics praising the movie in advance of release.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

TV spots like this one condensed the themes of the trailer, making it clear that it’s a story of a mother and son and that it’s dramatic yet also funny. It also absolutely sells Bening as the focal point of the story.

The second trailer was used in social ads on Twitter and Facebook to help build awareness for the movie. There may have been other online ads run as well but I’m not aware of them. No promotional partners or anything along those lines.

Media and Publicity

The movie got a nice initial liftoff in the word-of-mouth category when it was announced as the Centerpiece film at the 2016 New York Film Festival.

Mills later talked about how he approached the story, specifically how he got in the mindset of Bening’s character, who’s modeled after his own mother. How Mills developed the story and what his personal connection to the material continued to be the focus of the press with interviews like this.


It was great when Gerwig got a profile all to herself about her recent roles in this movie as well as the recent Jackie, which let her talk about how she got into these characters and working with Mills. There were also a number of opportunities for Bening to talk herself about her character, working with Mills, her career to date and lots more.


This movie seems…vital. Like this is the kind of perspective we need to see more of in the world, something about irrepressible women who are shaping the lives and minds of those around them while giving zero fucks about other people’s opinions. That’s how the movie was marketed as the story of a boy who’s grown up in a world dominated by women not because that was the only way but because it…well, it just kind of worked.

From a purely marketing-focused perspective, there’s some great brand consistency on display. Those big white letters that are used in the title treatment show up in the trailer, on the posters and elsewhere, making it a seamless campaign. But more than that, the story on display in the trailers is a strong one, one that promises to introduce characters that are wonderfully human and flawed and that we’ll enjoy spending time with. Bening is out to prove once more that she’s the reigning queen and Gerwig is always a joy to watch.

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After the Campaign: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Back in July when I wrote about the campaign for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows I came away feeling like the movie was completely forgettable, a flying bit of cinematic detritus that would be gone on the next breeze and out of everyone’s lives. While that was true at the box office, the campaign didn’t nearly hint at how actually bad the movie is.

teenage mutant ninja turtles shadows pic 1

The story, such as it is, follows the Turtles as they struggle with their place in their world. Some of them want to go public after their big win against Shredder while others want to stay in the shadows as true ninja. While they’re arguing over tactics, a new threat to the city has emerged in the form of a scientist (played by Tyler Perry) who is working with Shredder, who since his escape from prison is working with the extra-dimensional being Krang. April O’Neil (Megan Fox) is on the tail of that same scientist, who with Shredder has recruited the tough guys Bebop and Rocksteady, who are being tailed by Casey Jones (Stephen Amell), the prison guard who was on duty when they and Shredder escaped.

All of that sounds way too complex and it doesn’t really matter because as convoluted as it looks on paper it’s even moreso on film. More than that, the screenplay doesn’t worry about setup, explaining coincidences or anything else. It all just kind of falls into place because the story demands it. We’re never told why April is tailing the scientist, she just is. Everyone just knows right where to go to find whatever piece of the puzzle is next required. We’re just supposed to accept that even the “let’s stay hidden” faction of the Turtles are cool with the huge light-up garbage truck that they take into battle against Shredder.

And if the plotting is bad, the dialogue that moves the plot along is even worse. Everytime a character opened his or her (or its) mouth I cringed. It’s so offensive I even felt bad for Megan Fox, who deserves better than what she has here.

I knew it wouldn’t be great, but this is something else entirely.

Movie Marketing Madness: Paterson

patersonAdam Driver stars as the title character in Paterson, the new movie from writer/director Jim Jarmusch. Paterson is just kind of a good guy, living his life according to a comfortable routine in his hometown of Paterson, N.J. Yes, he shares a name with the town he lives in, which is part of the conceit of the story. He has a predictable life and lots of friends as well as his girlfriend Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), an aspiring songwriter.

Paterson himself is a poet, scribbling verse in his notebook everyday after driving his local bus route. So the movie is about following a self-assured, artistic soul through his every day existence. It doesn’t appear there’s anything big that happens, no massive moments, just the routine of living and breathing and expressing yourself in small ways.

The Posters

The poster features a startling declaration: “If you ever left me I’d tear my heart out and never put it back.” Yikes. And the impact of that statement is made all the more disturbing by how it’s displayed in handwriting, making it very personal where a more formal type would have removed some of the emotion, a smart call by the design team. The image is simple, showing Driver and Farahani lying sleeping in bed, so it’s assumed that scrawled promise is coming from one of them. Some critic quotes from festival screenings are at the top to show the movie has already been well-praised, which should help sell the movie to a more discerning audience.

The Trailers

Poetry is at the heart of the trailer, which introduces us to Paterson the place and the man. He’s an easygoing, affable guy who drives a bus around town, something that seems to bring him genuine joy as he’s able to interact with a variety of people and hear their stories and get small insights into their lives, which we see happen throughout the trailer. He’s an aspiring poet, something his girlfriend, herself an aspiring songwriter, wants to encourage. We see him as a simple man who helps in or defuses a number of tense situations but at the end of the day, he’s quite comfortable in his own skin as someone without pretense or affectation.

Driver’s performance here looks remarkable, as does the low-key nature of the story. He looks like the sort of everyman who you wouldn’t glance twice at if you passed him on the street but who sees everything around him. It’s the story of an open, sensitive soul who feels it all but betrays nothing. It’s not clear what the through-line of the story is here, just that it’s about this one man and the impact he has on the people around him.

Online and Social

The official website for the movie is pretty simple but still has good content and information.

The “Videos” section that leads it off has the trailer as well as a handful of clips from the movie. That’s followed by a “Story” section that offers a synopsis of the plot that explains just how much – or how little – is going on and where the focus of the story will be.

You can scroll through a handful of stills in the next, untitled section and then view some of the blog posts Bleecker Street has put up on various topics related to the film and its cast and crew. After that there’s a carousel of pull quotes from early reviews, followed by links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Advertising and Cross-Promotions

Nothing I’ve come across, though it’s likely safe to assume at least some online advertising has been or will be done as the movie gets wider release and then eventually when it comes to Amazon Prime.

Media and Publicity

The first press for the movie came about a month before its Cannes premiere with the release of a handful of clips. That eventual Cannes screening garnered some very positive reviews and word of mouth for the film. Jarmusch talked while there about how this has been a long-gestating idea of his, how he cast Driver and how he would never direct a studio movie.


The movie was among those which debuted or otherwise screened at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. It was also pegged for the New York Film Festival.

In the last couple weeks Driver has been making the press rounds, including stops on the late night and morning talk shows to talk about the movie and raise a little awareness.


This campaign isn’t going to knock anyone’s socks off, that’s for sure. This is exactly the kind of movie that’s going to fall under the radar of the vast majority of the audience. A small fraction of the people who are aware of Rogue One are also aware of Paterson because it hasn’t received nearly the press or advertising push, and because of Driver’s connection to Star Wars many of his appearances and interviews have turned to that topic in addition to lightly touching on this new movie of his.

The movie that’s being sold here is very much in line with how I’ve already described the title character: Soulful, full of unique poetry and a slice of everyday life. Driver looks like he gives an inspired, simple and elegant performance as Paterson, working through Jarmusch’s poetic camera movements with grace and a sense of self-assuredness. For those who *are* aware of the movie, the word of mouth it’s already generated has likely put this solidly on their list of movies to see as soon as they can.

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