John Cusack, what have you become?

Did anyone hear about John Cusack’s latest film? The thriller supposedly inspired by the real events surrounding a notorious Alaskan serial killer, even though there are really no similarities between the stories, co-starring Jennifer Carpenter of Dexter? No? First you’ve heard of it?

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I’m not surprised, because not only did this mediocre film go straight to DVD, it’s also completely formulaic – a thriller to the T. Although it’s got all the right pieces of the puzzle – big-name actors, a provocative premise, and all the twists you would expect from a thriller – when you put the puzzle together it produces a completely bland film that offers the viewer nothing new.

This is a great example of an easy trap to fall into for screenwriters. While you need to of course pay attention to the genre in which you are writing, it is possible to adhere too closely to accepted norms. In order for a film to have a real impact, it needs to go outside of the box in some way. Unfortunately, The Factory simply doesn’t do that.

Even worse, John Cusack’s performance is painfully underwhelming and shallow. Now, I love the classic Say Anything John Cusack as much as the next girl, but he’s really gone downhill now that he’s no longer that earnest and playfully endearing teenage underachiever. Somehow he doesn’t seem able to play the more mature roles now demanded of him, especially the protective father figure of The Factory. Many would argue that 2012, quickly followed by Hot Tub Time Machine, marked the beginning of the end for Cusack, but personally I rather enjoyed HTTM and didn’t find 2012 as atrocious as some. So I still had hope, until now.

What do you think about John Cusack’s career trajectory? Have you seen or heard of The Factory before now? Let me know what you thought of it!

‘The Factory’ Is Just Another Thriller Off the Assembly Line
Liz Medendorp @ PopMatters

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With well-known actors and a provocative premise, it’s surprising to see a film like The Factory go straight to DVD (sans bonus features or scene selection options). It hits all the high notes: abduction, abuse, murder, and even fatherly heroics. But this film’s failure to make an impact is perhaps due to too strict an adherence to the thriller formula. In the end, The Factoryleaves you with nothing new, only a sense that you’ve somehow seen it before.

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Industry Trends: Looking at 2012

As we look back at the biggest hits and biggest flops of 2012, there is a lot we can learn about industry trends and what works right now in film. The following article helps boil down a lot of information and makes some interesting projections about the future of film making in 2013 and beyond.

In particular, there have been some interesting developments in terms of:

  • Foreign markets and foreign (especially French) film influence
  • The draw of a-list directors and the lack of women directors
  • Genre formulas – and breaking out of them
  • Peak seasons and the possibility of having hits outside of them
  • The growth of smaller, even independent projects in mid-budget wide releases

One other pretty obvious trend that is only mentioned in passing in the article is the prevalence of the re-make/re-boot/sequel. Viewers are growing more and more aware of this approach of re-packaging and re-releasing successful films or other cultural products, to the point where there has been a good deal of criticism of it. Despite this call for more original work, I am not so sure that this trend will abate anytime soon. What do you think?

Have you noticed any other trends in the film industry over the past year? Where do you think films will go in 2013?

Take a look at the full article here:

Tops and Flops of 2012 Box Office – Lessons Learned
Tom Brueggemann @ Indiewire

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On the surface 2012 doesn’t look like a game-changer, after a decade of film business upheaval. In many ways the top fifteen top-grossers are all-too familiar–sequels, tentpoles, animated family fare and a comedy. But dig into the hits a bit and there are developments that could change how future films get made.”

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