My Take by Jim Carl - November 2, 2011
MY TAKE is a blog about my funny life experiences that happened to involve movies, and how I found myself in charge of programming films for a living. I’ll discuss how certain movies came to be responsible for my bad attitude, memories, associations, personal beliefs, and plain stupidity. Yes, I fully intend to trash films considered sacred in certain circles, and will probably offer a poor explanation for doing so. I also intend to squander praise on movies considered awful by most everyone, even if it makes me sound ridiculous, because I have a funny memory to share about them. Again, I’m not writing reviews. All I mean to do here is tell some good stories, and perhaps a clever lie or two. No one has ever accused me of suffering a shortage of ways to make a fool of myself, and because blogging is one I haven’t tried, at least this is one most of my friends haven’t yet seen.
Have you ever seen a movie poster that made you not want to see the film it advertised? A poster that caused such distaste that it made you distrust your own opinion? Maybe it's not simply a bad movie, you tell yourself. Maybe it takes some garish image, some repressed memory from childhood, to make you react so strongly. How else to explain your feelings?
I remember first staring at the one-sheet for Barry Levinson’s 1992 film, Toys, in the lobby of a movie-house in Sheepshead Bay, New York and feeling an immediate dislike for the film, without ever having seen a single frame of footage. Its very color scheme and layout offended my sensibility. The plot and subject matter of this movie mattered not in the slightest. It could have been about the discovery of a Loch Ness Monster in the Bermuda Triangle, which is a perfect storyline for a film, if you ask me. It didn’t matter. Toys deserved to suffer a horrible fate. I once read that certain colors can trigger a Pavolvian response which makes you feel hunger. If a combination of such colors exist that can make you feel anger and repugnance, then the marketing geniuses for Toys should file a patent.
What a relief it was knowing that the makers of Toys didn't care whether I purchased a ticket, realized that I wasn't part of the demographic they wished to lure into theatres, and possessed the common sense to warn me of such in advance by creating the most truly ugly poster I have ever seen. I almost felt compelled to thank them. Toys marks the first time in my life that I hated a movie based solely on its one-sheet. Let's face it, I must concede that the marketing team has done its job. If the poster for Toys fails on every other level, at least it works as a stop sign.
JIM CARL is Senior Director of the Carolina Theatre. He has been in charge of its film program since 1995. Some of his favorite contemporary movies include The Empire Strikes Back, Jaws, Dangerous Liaisons, The Punisher (2004), Postcards from the Edge, Aliens, The Fog (1980), Private Benjamin, Deep Blue Sea and almost anything involving Great White Sharks, Jamie Lee Curtis, Thomas Jane, Kurt Russell, or is set underwater. His favorite movie of all time is Ordinary People. Some of his least-favorite contemporary movies include Alien 3, Crank 2: High Voltage, Brazil, The Usual Suspects, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Scarface (1983) and almost anything involving Will Ferrell (except Elf), Jason Statham, mobsters, British gangsters and drug dealers, or a toy that transforms into a loudmouthed robot. His least-favorite movie of all time is Pulp Fiction. He is a film believer in the presentation and preservation of 35mm film and will book any movie he suspects will make money, even if he hates it.