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Shame & Loathing In Mayberry and Points East

Barbara Nicolosi at Church of the Masses has an interesting take on recent appearances by Ron Howard (director) and Tom Hanks (lead role) on Leno.

...my sense was that Howard was projecting nothing so much as a guilty conscience...

...of course, people who do things they wouldn't normally do, just because there is a lot of money involved tend to be filled with a sense of loathsomeness and shame. Both of these things cause inordinate stress, which makes people act out, laugh too hard, speak too loudly, act defensive, and crave many, many voices to tell them, "You're okay. You didn't do anything wrong."

I saw Tom Hank's appearance last week on Letterman and was wondering the same thing. The first 11 1/2 minutes he's just joking around, relaxed, telling funny stories, pretty much what you'd expect from someone with his experience.

Then the topic switched to the movie, and there was a very noticeable change. Hanks just looked so uncomfortable and unconvincing. He really looked like he was just wishing that this would all go away, or at least make him boatloads of money and then maybe, just maybe he might feel better.

You can watch the second part of the appearance here. You still have to sit though a minute and a half or so of the chit chat, then the rest is about the movie. Watch for yourself and decide - I find it very telling. 

(btw the first part of the appearance is also posted, but does not pertain to the movie)


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I was hoping I'd agree with you after watching the clip, but I just didn't see it. He seemed perfectly comfortable to me, except perhaps a little weary of having to go around promoting movies, period - I didn't pick up on any discomfort about the movie itself.

I have to agree.

I think these reports of strange behavior on the part of both Hanks and Howard in recent interviews is a bunch of malarky.

Fair enough ... I'll watch it again tonight with your comments in mind.

Ok watched it again. There are three main comments that just don't seem right, and do make it appear that he's either uncomfortable with the project in general or the material in particular, & perhaps is distancing himself (who knows why exactly - conscience perhaps?).

At any rate,
1) at the beginning, Hanks says that he read the book twice because there was some stuff that just didn't make any sense, then
2) Hanks says that what you're looking for is disagreement, "fistfights in the lobby", and then at the end
3) they both joke about sometimes projects just don't work. In particular, Hanks says that sometimes "audiences just don't get it".

Like I said, something had been bugging me after seeing this last week and Barbara Nicolosi's comments crystalized why for me. He sure seems like someone who's trying to convince himself that either this is ok, or if it isn't ok then it's not really his fault.

Confident people who are comfortable with what they're doing don't hesitate like that.

I'm here via Amy Wellborn's Open Book. I watched the video this evening and noticed the same three oddities as Bob. The second point, Hanks was saying that they wanted either universal acclaim, or fistfights in the audience. So he was saying he would be happy if the film was hailed as great, or if it created a huge controversy -- because both would generate a lot of cash, I guess? At any rate, I don't think I've ever heard anyone come right out and say that bit about "sometimes, the audience just doesn't get it" quite so openly before. That indicates a lack of faith (heh) to me. Most of the time you get the cheerleading, "It's a great film, a fun ride, you'll love it." Certainly that particular clip was chosen to give people the impression that it's an action movie, ala "National Treasure". For all its goofiness, I actually liked "National Treasure," it was fun. The other big thing it had going for it, of course, was the fact that it wasn't saying that Christianity is based on a lie.

Um, no, still not seeing it at all. But then I don't have a vested interest in seeing something fishy in every little clip and bit leading up to the movie opening.

His demeanor is pretty much the same all the way through, he makes a few smarmy jokes, and the "fistfights" comments is obviously a wise-ass remark and could have been made about any number of movies. Same goes for the comments about his anticipating the "big blockbuster".

But if you're looking for all kinds of woo-woo spooky stuff, I'm sure you'll find it.

At some point, you have to ask yourself if you've played right into the hands of the hype and are now doing more to make the movie popular than not.

I don't think it's going to be that good. I think Ron Howard made one good movie and everything else has been dull, dull, dull. I think Tom Hanks is possible the most overrated actor in American film history. If the movie is successful at all, it's going to be because people want to see something the religious nutters don't want you to see - it's human nature.

If religious conservatives had merely rolled their eyes at the book and not bothered, it may not even have been made into a film. But Hollywood knows that you can't buy that kind of publicity. Combine 40 million books sold and tons of free publicity being generated by all the debunkers and hysterics, and you won't lose money. The day the religious crackpots made a big deal out of this movie is the day it became a sure thing.

The really funny part? Y'all are going to have to see it now or you can't say a word about it once it's open , and you can do that either by being honest and buying a ticket to it, or by lying, cheating and stealing and sneaking into it illicitly. If you go by the first method, you're a hypocrite. If you go by the second method, you're an even worse hypocrite.

But that's what happens when you paint yourself into a corner.

HAP, you sure are accusatory and judgmental. Who wrote the rule that you have to see a movie or "you can't say a word about it once it's open"? Sounds kind of like, "you can't tell someone not to smoke pot or crack unless you've tried it yourself." The really sad part? You are suggesting the moral value of something must be assessed by each individual before an individual can spread the word that something is dangerous. There is no authority... except our own authority... everything is relative... My aren't you enlightened.

Who wrote the rule that you can't critique a movie if you haven't seen it...?

You've got to be kidding.

My take on the Hanks interview is that he's been getting a little odder every time I've seen him in interviews for the past two years. Honestly, I think his comment about the audience "not getting it" has more to do with Hanks' view of the average moviegoer. I wondered when he took this role if he wasn't trying to distance himself from the "nice guy" roles he's taken in most of his past films. The Langley character in the Code is kind of unpleasant, especially the way he talks down to Sofia (I think that's her name...).

As for your argument, HAP, I see that the people who are criticizing the DaVinci Code have read the book - which is the content of the movie - and so they needn't see the movie in order to critique its flaws. And, in case you're thinking of saying, "But the screenwriters may have improved it"... no. I've not only read Akiva Goldsman's interviews about his adaptation of Brown's novel (and how closely he stuck to it), but I've read part of the final draft. It's the same distortion of history. (Although it looks like he worked out the problem of the 20-minute lecture in the bathroom. And the locations of Paris landmarks in relation to each other.)

By the by, "crackpots" refers to people with bizarre ideas. In general, the critiques of Brown's novel have been precisely the opposite: they're pointing out that the novel is full of bizarre ideas that defy even common sense or a cursory knowledge of history.

And for Christian movie-goers, I should mention that I saw an early review of the script for "Nativity", written by Mike Rich (who wrote "The Rookie"). It's about Mary and Joseph. That might be more interesting to you.

If the debunking crowd is going to resort to seeing things that aren't there in silly little promotional interviews, then I think they are very much indeed going to have to see the film before they criticize it. They've already spent years criticizing the book. Once the movie is out, the focus is going to be on the film, and "well, I never really saw the movie" is going to make them sound pretty lame in any discussion of the movie.

Also, for all that 40 million copies of DVC have been sold, there will be a pretty sizeable chunk of the audience who never read the book, anyway.

In the context of this discussion, "crackpots" refers to people who are delusional. And it is delusional to think that there was anything unusual or odd about either Ron Howard's or Tom Hanks' recent interviews, and even more delusional to claim you saw these changes come on as soon as DVC was mentioned.

If you want to point out historical inconsistancies and flaws, fine. But if you're going to start running around and claiming all kinds of obviously untrue things about Howard and Hanks and chalking it up to some subliminal supernatural woo-woo crap, then congratulations, you're a crackpot. And that's exactly how the majority of people on the planet are going to see you, which isn't going to help your message much.

Hap, you've raised some interesting points. I'm going to reply in a new post.

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