For Mark and Jay Duplass, the sibling team behind The Puffy Chair, Baghead, and last year's Cyrus, success came only after years of frustration -- and only by happy accident. "All we were doing in the late '90s, in our twenties, was trying to be the Coen brothers," Jay Duplass laughed to Movieline, "and failing at that, because the Coen brothers are awesome and they're already the Coen brothers." It was only when the brothers Duplass stopped trying so hard, at the end of their creative rope and after years of fruitless attempts, that they found the formula for personal filmmaking that would become their signature.
It was a week for real talk 'round these parts at Movieline HQ, with everything from Halloween to Lindsay Lohan's latest legal woes bringing everyone to terms with the truth. Like the fact that no matter how many Halloweens you live through, you'll never match Heidi Klum's level of kookiness. Then the awful truth about the monster flop The Wolfman broke, and America's favorite sparkly vampire dropped some cineaste science all over the Twilight crowd. What's going on around here?
I was traveling all day as Movieline's report from the Savannah Film Festival picked up steam around the blogosphere, but early on it was clear that two polar-opposite reactions were building in response to Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer's comments about his studio's well-publicized (at least, outside of the studio) recent flops. Either you love his blazing moment of candor -- because we've all thought the same about most, if not all, of the woeful Universal films mentioned -- or you despise what he stands for. But Meyer is a businessman, the President and COO of one of the largest movie studios and theme park conglomerates in the business. Should more filmmakers and studio heads follow suit?
In a career spanning over four decades Lily Tomlin has virtually done it all -- but, as she told Movieline this week at the Savannah Film Festival, in town to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, she's not done yet. After rising to stardom on Laugh-In (where she created indelible characters like Ernestine the telephone operator and Edith Ann, the impossibly precocious 5-year-old), the funny woman won Grammys for her comedy albums, won a Tony for her one-woman Broadway show, earned an Oscar nod making her dramatic debut in Robert Altman's Nashville, and starred in '80s comedy classics like 9 to 5 and The Incredible Shrinking Woman.
Universal Chief Ron Meyer Addresses VOD Fiasco, Admits Cowboys & Aliens, Land of the Lost, Wolfman Kinda Stunk
Of the major Universal Studios flops in recent memory, a handful stand out for their massive, and high profile, box office failings: 2009's Sid and Marty Krofft adaptation Land of the Lost, 2010's abysmal Wolfman and geek cult film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and this summer's megawatt disappointment Cowboys & Aliens. No one, it seems, is more painfully aware of Universal's missteps than longtime studio head Ron Meyer, who candidly addressed his recent Tower Heist VOD experiment, revisited his rise through the ranks to the top of the Universal chain, and admitted Wednesday in Savannah that some mediocre movies deserve their fate: "We make a lot of shitty movies. Every one of them breaks my heart."