Last Week on Cinematic Slant – 11/6/17

Last Flag Flying – Marketing Recap: Everything about the campaign wants you to feel Larry’s conviction, determination and stubbornness deeply, mostly be experiencing them through the filter of Sal and Richard. Linklater has underscored this in interviews, but there really isn’t anything political in the campaign.

There’s a Real Problem With Many Suburbicon Reviews: This isn’t a Coen Brothers movie. Yes, it was written by them originally but Clooney and Grant Heslov are also credited as writers, having taken a fresh pass on it as it moved into production. Shouldn’t that have some weight in evaluation?

Bad Moms Christmas – Marketing Recap: Not a single one of the actresses here isn’t extremely talented and likable, so it comes down to whether you’re interested in the story and tone, which is more a question of individual taste.

Upcoming Film Adaptations, November 2017: What’s the story behind some of the movies hitting theaters this month?

Can The Audience Possibly Support Netflix’s Release Plans?: While no studio would dream of releasing 80 films a year, Netflix enjoys a few advantages that make it well-suited to succeed by doing just that.

Thor: Ragnarok – Marketing Recap: It’s hard to overstate just how fun this whole enterprise is. I really feel like Marvel Studios made the conscious decision to let Waititi have more say in the marketing of the movie than it usually hands over to directors, who are often simply workhorses in service of the corporate machine.

Cool Hand Luke – 50th Anniversary Flashback Marketing: You can see how the campaign as a whole leaned into a counter-culture message that surely was timely and impactful among moviegoers in the last 1960s. Luke is an outsider who won’t conform, a message and feeling that was pervasive in the culture at that time.

Lady Bird – Marketing Recap: It’s obvious that A24 has let Gerwig take the lead in the publicity and press aspect of the campaign, likely because she’s almost completely absent from the official marketing elements. That’s a strong decision because of her charm and respect among filmgoers.

Making Moviegoing an Elite Experience: Since reading the news I’ve been struggling to come up with an idea that would do more to introduce even more class differentiation into the moviegoing experience and hasten the demise of theatrical distribution. I’ve been unable to come up with anything.

LBJ – Marketing Recap: The trailer isn’t bad, but it’s also not fiery or distinctive enough to really make an impression. It seems more like a Baby Boomer trying to exorcise his own demons and relive a relatively unexplored moment of their own youth on film.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Last Week on Cinematic Slant

Novitiate – Marketing Recap: I like a lot of things about the campaign. This could easily have been sold as a youngs-vs-olds story, but that’s thankfully not the angle taken.

Suburbicon – Marketing Recap: There’s a comic touch to some of the material on display but it’s all tinged with a cynical perspective that may turn off some audiences. What’s being sold here looks rough and not exactly uplifting.

Don’t Think Twice (After the Campaign Movie Review): For me the story itself, which sees the slow disintegration of the group as opportunities are seized and passed on in one form or another by all the characters, was less interesting than these more philosophical, historical elements.

The Square – Marketing Recap: The entire campaign has been designed to reinforce that conversation and keep the focus on the provocative nature of the story. The lack of easy jumping on point is a feature, not a bug.

Drinking Buddies – Flashback Marketing: All that’s pretty accurate to the movie being sold. If anything, Wilde’s significant comedic sensibilities are underplayed in the campaign. Johnson and Kendrick are more of the focus since they were probably the hottest names at the moment.

Last Week on Cinematic Slant

Celebrate Department Store Day With These Five Shopping-Heavy Movies: To celebrate National Department Store Day, let’s look at the trailers for five movies that are set in department stores or, in a few cases, the shopping malls traditionally anchored by those larger stores.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Marketing Recap: Anyone who wasn’t already a fan of Lanthimos’ previous work, including those who first discovered him through 2015’s The Lobster, isn’t going to find a lot to latch onto with this campaign.

Representation and Distribution are Two Halves of the Same Issue: Innovations in distribution are not only creating the technological future but they have the potential to create a social future as well, with bigger audiences exposed to stories involving and made people who look and think like them.

Wonderstruck – Marketing Recap: The campaign works hard to create and maintain that sense of childhood wonder we feel when we’re exploring and on our own.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie (After the Campaign Review): The LEGO Ninjago Movie isn’t bad. It’s well made and relatively entertaining. But if you haven’t already seen it, go in with low expectations.

Only the Brave – Marketing Recap: It remains to be seen if there’s any sort of appetite to go see a story that appears all too close to what’s seen in the news. That could be a big factor in determining the movie’s box-office success.

War Machine (After the Campaign Review): The movie may have been hampered simply by trying to set itself in the real world, where it had to adhere to certain rules. Move it to a fictional country and there would have been more freedom to cut loose a bit, hitting the same notes more clearly and telling a clearer and comically tragic story.

War Machine (2017)
Brad Pitt

Can’t Talk. Writing.

The management apologizes for any inconvenience but the store is closed today so it can focus on novel writing. We will be open for operation again tomorrow.

Regaining Some Order

Just the other day two things happened:

First, I spent about two hours organizing various items in Evernote. Some were consolidated from two (or five) separate notes into a single, more structured note. Some were moved into Google Docs, where they fit better into my workflow. Some are still sitting in a catch-all TextEdit document I use to capture random ideas and thoughts during the day.

Second, I read this post on the Evernote blog about using the software to take control of ADHD behaviors. Particularly relevant for me was this advice:

Approach Evernote based on the first problem you need to solve.

As I’ve said before, I have a tendency to scatter my thoughts a bit. I’ve got a bullet journal, but I also have items scribbled on a couple notepads. Blog post ideas are half-started in a document I quickly forget is there. There are fiction stories posted here but not elsewhere instead of all being in one place. Ideas are, quite literally, all over the place.

So spending a bit of time on consolidating all those was important and time well spent from any point of view. Things are now better organized (or at least in the process of being so) and I feel as if my mind is similarly more focused on what I want to get accomplished.

In other words, I realized the problem I needed to solve was that I was jotting things down but then never doing anything with them.

While Evernote (or whatever software or system you might use) is great at allowing me to capture ideas, it’s not so great at forcing me to revisit them. As I scrolled through the various notes I had there I saw items I’d saved two years ago that were no longer relevant. Or I had one note for five bullet points, when those points could be added to another note and made more contextually relevant.

Any system is only as good as the maintenance given to it. Evernote, ToDoIst, bullet journals…whatever you’re using, it requires care and attention. Mostly, it requires occasional pruning to make sure the material there is still relevant and useful. Get rid of what’s no longer needed and then make a plan to use what’s left. That’s the same process behind decluttering your house/life. If you look at an item and say “I haven’t used or thought about that in X period of time, it’s just taking up space,” toss it. Remove it from your sight and take its weight off your shoulders.

Make every item actionable.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.

Last Week on Cinematic Slant

Marshall  – Marketing Recap: In a cultural era where athletes, actors and others are asked to take a side on any number of issues, the stars are putting their money where their mouth is.

The Foreigner – Marketing Recap: Eventually I came around to thinking that yes, this may be a slightly tired plot and no, I don’t really need to see what’s being sold here, but it’s being sold well.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – Marketing Recap: Add in appeals to fans of Baumbach’s previous work and you have a decent campaign that’s surprisingly full-throated for a Netflix original release.

Goodbye Christopher Robin – Marketing Recap: By focusing on the inspiration Christopher Robin provided, the campaign hopes to move beyond selling it as a straight biopic, something that has decidedly mixed results.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women – Marketing Recap: Whatever the actual execution the audience is asked to apply a halo effect to this new release on account of the character’s resurgence into the spotlight of popular culture.

Last Week on Cinematic Slant

The Mountain Between Us – Marketing Recap: The campaign itself is fine, but there’s an underlying sexism in many components that are hard to ignore.

Box-Office Top Five: IT Rebounds, Flatliners Flatlines: IT came back to the top of the heap while other movies survive on word-of-mouth, which is just what sunk Flatliners.

Una – Marketing Recap: What the campaign does well is keep the focus on Mara’s Una. That seems commonsensical, of course, but it’s nonetheless notable for having actually been executed.

She’s The One – Soundtrack Focus: Tom Petty’s music graced many movies, but only here was it integral to how the film was sold to audiences.

Blade Runner 2049 – Marketing Recap:  can only speak for myself, but the campaign has worn down whatever resistance I initially felt for the idea of a sequel.

Celebrating Groucho Marx’s Birthday With Five Marx Brothers Movie Trailers: Today we’re going to look back at the trailers for five of my favorite big-screen romps featuring Groucho and the rest of the Marx Brothers.

The Florida Project – Marketing Recap: The strongest thing this movie has going for it is the word of mouth that’s come out of various festivals and screenings.

AMPAS Wants to Define What a Movie Is: The debate seems more intent on propping up both the theatrical distribution industry and the role of studios as gatekeepers of “real” movies.

Glengarry Glen Ross (25th Anniversary Flashback Marketing): What the audience was promised was a glorified play, which isn’t wrong. It’s just not as pulse-pounding as it could be.

Quick Takes: Content Marketing and Media News for 10/6/17

Have to wonder what kind of sense it makes for publishers to intentionally serve up search and social-driven visitors a markedly worse user experience.

Facebook is once again being accused of over-counting the size of its audience of 18-24-year-olds.

YouTube is the latest company to make changes to its search algorithm to fight the spread of fake news and misinformation.

Last Week on Cinematic Slant

The Last of the Mohicans (25th Anniversary Flashback Marketing): Overall it’s sold as a mainstream drama for discerning adults, neither a blockbuster nor an art-film but combining the best elements of both.

Box-Office Top Five: Kingsman Conquers: I was a bit surprised to see Kingsman: The Golden Circle was successful at dethroning It from the top of the box-office heap this past weekend.

American Made – Marketing Recap: The combination of a limited marketing campaign – just one poster and just one trailer for a Tom Cruise movie! – and a publicity push that didn’t include the star almost at all make it a lackluster overall effort.

When You Don’t Care About the Backstory: Personally, I prefer the kinds of movies that don’t explain every plot contrivance. Leave something out there for the audience to scratch their heads over.

Our Souls At Night – Marketing Recap: While current, younger actors are often great, there’s nothing quite like the older generation that brings with it the ease and charisma of the old days of Hollywood.

John Denver is Big, But Does He Make the Marketing Cut?: While Denver’s popularly may be resurgent, it’s still not mainstream enough to become part of the sales pitch for those movies.

Mark Felt – Marketing Recap: The marketing is a bit dry and stuffy, clearly selling the movie as a prestige release coming out in the early weeks of awards season.

I’ve Never Been A Top Blogger!

I recently read a blog post by someone who began writing in May of this year. The writer was crowing over being nominated as a “top blogger” in her category by a major publishing platform. Her name appeared alongside various individuals who have well-known “brand” names and legions of followers, along with reputations for not doing any work and having zero case studies to their name. This writer had already amassed over a thousand followers of her blog, several thousand on Twitter and more.

Part of the post about the accolades talked about how the writer “felt” the needs of the audience and was sure to address those in posts, a strategy that had helped in the accumulation of a massive audience.

While I’ve been able, over the last year, to move ever-closer to my dream of being a full-time writer, my own stuff continues to be a niche hit only. My posts rarely go “viral” and become sensations. I have a few hits on Medium and my blog stats spike occasionally, but not enough to break me into any sort of upper tier. I’ve never been nominated for “top blogger” in any category in the over 13 years I’ve been blogging. My combined network on Twitter, WordPress, TinyLetter and Medium is ~4,300 people. I’m not blowing anyone’s socks off.

I’d love a larger audience. Cinematic Slant is growing slowly but surely. But I know that the stuff I publish – here and there – is usually original and not geared to address the “felt” needs of the audience sufficiently. And I realize that focus on different perspectives and contrary opinions is likely limiting my appeal.

Perhaps it’s a symptom of my age or something about me that inherently zigs while others zag, but I’d rather achieve minimal success on my own terms than succeed by following the crowd. It would be great to see some of the pieces that I devote hours and hours of research and thought to crafting become more popular, but I want those to succeed, not some drivel I’ve pounded out because a search trends analyzing tool says that’s what is most likely to be read widely.

Much love to the people who are doing well by doing these things, good for you. That continues to be a game I have little to no interest in playing, though. I’m content making a decent living doing what I love and using my own publishing platforms to express myself and share my thoughts and interests than cater to the fickle preferences of an ill-defined audience. I’ll take whatever accolades might come my way, but won’t compromise to seek them out.

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.