by Rob DiCristino and Adam Riske
Adam: Welcome to a special edition of Reserved Seating. I’m Adam Riske.
Rob: And I’m Rob DiCristino. BUT WAIT! There’s more!
Adam: Hot off his Alien: Covenant takedown and original cast member of the Gripehouse 2016 podcast, the Gripemaster, Sir-Gripes-A-Lot, Patrick “The check is in the mail” Bromley.
Patrick: Where do I sit? There are only two seats.
Adam: As Jennifer Lopez would say, “Get on the floor!” Okay my first gripe is end-of-the-year platform releases. Either come out or don’t come out. Don’t give me this bullshit where you’re in four theaters in December, I have to wait until late January and then you’re awesome and not there when I needed you for my top ten. What makes you so damn special? You know you’re not going to win Oscars, The Founder, so why not come out the same weekend as Born in China so I know what year to count you towards? My top ten last year would have had A Monster Calls and Silence in it had I seen them in time. If some young kid is reading my top ten list for 2016 a few years from now, they’ll have no idea that the list is a total sham.
Rob: It feels kind of cynical, right? Like, “We’re not sure this will make money, but we DEFINITELY want it to qualify for an Oscar if people end up liking it.”
Patrick: I’m annoyed with it too, but if we weren’t obsessed with making top 10 lists, would it even matter?
Rob: Patrick’s right, Adam. This is your fault.
Adam: I like top 10 lists. It’s the time of the year when I get to say “Three stars? Fuck you!” What’s your first gripe, Rob?
Rob: Listicles that promise to teach me ten things I didn’t know about the Alien franchise or some bullshit like that. That gripes my ass. Like, why is someone getting paid to read a Wikipedia article when I did the actual legwork of listening to the DVD commentary and watching hours of bonus features? I KNOW WHY LUKE GETS ATTACKED BY THE WAMPA IN EMPIRE! CAUSE OF THE CAR ACCIDENT! Stop wasting my time!
Patrick: Did you know Fatal Attraction originally had a different ending? Glenn Close reveals that she’s really Albert Nobbs!
Patrick: I quote JOSHUA in Wargames: the only way to win is not to visit Buzzfeed.
My first gripe is the trend of announcing release dates two, three, seven years out. I don’t care if Universal is going to do Bride of Frankenstein in 2019 when The Mummy hasn’t yet come out and disappointed us all. Take it one movie at a time, fuckers.
SIDE GRIPE: "Dark Universe." That one almost drove me to garage nap in my running car.
Rob: Dark Universe is a legit awful name for what is almost literally the oldest concept in film — the Universal Monsters shared universe.
Adam: Did you see the picture of all the Dark Universe stars together that went with the press release? I bet they’re all pissed they have to do this IP when they used to be able to open A Beautiful Mind and it would gross more than The Mummy (2017) will. I feel like Cruise, Crowe and Depp are announcing their Tony Curtis in The Manitou/Fred Astaire in Ghost Story period.
Somehow Universal has already made me hate monster movies. Literally my favorite thing in the world.
Rob: Wait, wait. Is it going to turn out that Christoph Waltz is the author of all of our pain?
Adam: Damn that press release! Is it bad that I’m super attracted to the mummy in The Mummy (2017)?
Rob: Isn’t the premise of the movie that she’s supernaturally seductive? You do you, man.
Adam: I would knock down Annabelle Wallis to get to spooky Boutella. I’d let her ruin my life is all. My next gripe is AMC Theaters and their Alexander the Great quest to conquer all theater chains. First, they don’t have enough employees working, so shit happens like when there’s no one to tear tickets and then they yell at you when you just walk in and expect you to walk to the box office so they can tear your stub. F that noise! Also, the auditoriums are starting to look like the inside of an ‘03 Pontiac Vibe more than a movie theater and, the namesake of our column, Reserved Seating….people don’t pay attention to the seating chart when they buy tickets so I often have to sit next to a stranger when I don’t really have to and can’t move because it’s like musical chairs trying to figure out which other seats are sold.
Patrick: The only benefit of reserved seating (the seating, not the column) is that I don’t have to get to the theater super early. Everything else about it has turned out to be a disappointment. We were sold a bill of goods by Big Cinema. We didn’t land on reserved seating. Reserved seating landed on us. (The column, not the seating.)
Can I get something to drink or something? What kind of show are you guys running here?
Rob: Adam doesn’t like me drinking when we write. I start ranting about Anna Kendrick and drooling on myself. My next gripe is all the Netflix/streaming service hate coming out of Cannes right now. Am I wrong to be excited that more indie films are available to audience members who know where to look for them?
Patrick: Blaming Netflix for ruining the distribution model is so stupid and wrongheaded. They didn’t break movies; Hollywood did. They’re the ones who are trying to repair some of the damage by offering more options for both filmmakers and audiences. Blaming them is like blaming the doctor for your scar instead of the fucker who stabbed you.
Next gripe! Posters. They suck now, right?
Rob: What are you talking about? I love floating heads photoshopped against orange and teal backgrounds!
Adam: In theory I agree with you guys, however, I saw the documentary 24x36 recently and the artists artists poster artists are insufferable. There’s a line in the movie where (I’m paraphrasing) a guy at a boutique outfit who says “Asking for licensing permission is like asking your mom to smoke weed with you.” I wanted to throw my TV away. It’s the only movie I’ve ever bought and then permanently deleted. Anyways, I agree in so much that posters are bad now, but sadly I think I’ve gotten used to them being this way over the years since; e.g. Inception’s poster design is re-used a dozen times a year.
Rob: I’ll say this - I think the modern poster and the modern trailer have a lot in common. Movie trailers used to spoil the whole goddamn thing (because audiences wanted to see...you know...what was in the movie they were going to pay to see). They HAD to be creative and interesting because, like the posters, they had to sell the content to get asses in seats. In this age in which we can see a full trailer (made up of flashes of imagery instead of story beats) on our phones the minute they premiere, I figure posters are mostly afterthoughts marketing-wise. It’s all so shrouded in mystery now. It’s more about the “experience” and the “franchise” than the “movie.” Because “assholes.”
Adam: Ok, on that note, next gripe...the “wilding out” subgenre of comedy. Ever since The Hangover it’s like an arms race in the comedy genre of boys being boys and girls gone wild. Too bad it’s the same movie every time - buttoned up parents or career-minded folks do cocaine, pass out, maybe kill someone, fuck everything and then learn something about moderation. I want to see just one movie where one of these characters dies or splits off from the group and goes to see Don’t Breathe because they realize their friends are shitheads going through their quarter or mid-life crises. I think I am so annoyed by these movies because I’m past that stage in my life where something’s missing that only a night getting drunk with my college buddies can solve.
Patrick: Bad behavior is not inherently funny. It’s even less funny when it’s not bad. What’s the worst thing they do in Bad Moms? Eat some whipped cream out of than can right off the grocery store shelf? Organize a rogue PTA? Sideline Kathryn Hahn, the only actor in the movie who knew how to make any of the material work? I want to see another “night out” or “bad” comedy about as much as I want to see my kids mauled by bears.
Adam: I know I’m going to see it and also Ladies Trip because of my dedication to the end of the summer show. Sigh. Rob, what’s your next gripe?
Rob: Ok, look. I’m going to throw this out there and most of you are going to hate it. But I don’t understand spoilerphobic culture. Am I just too old now? Did I cross some kind of line? Like, I don’t care if I know what happens in a movie before I go into it. It’s the "how" that I’m interested in. My students totally spoiled Get Out for me before I saw it, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it because I was engaged in the way the story was being told. I wrote a column last week that I initially felt compelled to put a spoiler tag on, and I was like, “No. This is bullshit. These people are adults, and they should make the decision to read this on their own.” I felt like I was arguing with my toddler or something.
Adam: I’m not upset by spoilers personally, but I understand why some people feel strongly against them. I’m in agreement that I don’t mind having plot details spoiled for me. I get more upset when someone tells me how I should feel about something. SPOILERS FOR ARRIVAL: Two months before the movie was released, I listened to a review of the movie and the critic said that Amy Adams does something in the movie that’s unforgivable. So, when I saw it I was primed to not like her character and to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was really shitty. I don’t like being told how to feel, ever.
Patrick: I’m not a fan of spoilers, but I’m not a crazy person about it. I’ve discovered in recent years that the less I know about a movie going in, the more I tend to enjoy it. Even a bad movie carries a sense of discovery when you haven’t seen a trailer or a poster or even know the premise. But I’m also not the person who jumps on social media and polices how everyone else can talk about things or holds my ears all “NA NA NA NA” when trailers come on. I don’t think spoilers ruin my experience (I still really liked Super even though Roger Ebert [RIP Roger Ebert] spoiled a huge moment in his review seemingly out of spite), but I do value my experience without them.
I should keep my last gripe to myself, because it comes down to “Everything else.” Like, I love movies more than I love almost anything that I’m not related to [and more than some things I am], but when I actually sit down and think about where we are at in movies right now I get very negative. But like I said, maybe it’s just my mood. You met me at a very strange time in my life.
Rob: What do you think we can do to improve? Can you be more specific in your griping?
Patrick: We’ve touched on a lot of it already. The Hollywood system feels broken. Marketing makes it hard to get excited about movies I probably don’t want to see to begin with. The theatrical experience is a constant source of frustration and disappointment. I’ll never run out of movies I love, but I don’t feel good about where we’re at right now. And by that I mean in this theater. You guys seriously tape here every week?
Adam: I also live here. It’s not much but I’m trying to make this house a home. I’m not as down on movies (because I’m not sure if there’s a bottom below what you’re talking about) but I do feel it’s in a very niche and strange place right now. It’s almost like you have to pick a lane - VOD, Indies, Super Indies, Multiplex Indies, Tentpoles, Netflix etc. There are too many options to decide from and I get to the point where I don’t want to watch any of them (or rather, am super interested in any of them) because all I can think about is how much I’m missing, especially with classic cinema added into the equation. I used to be a really good “student of film” but now I barely have the energy to watch three movies a week and most of them wind up being in theaters just so I have an excuse to get out for an evening or a slow morning. It’s habit more than desire to see most of these movies. Ok, three fast speed gripes to close out.
• Musicals or Improv shows based on popular movies. You can only make the source material worse. If you are in one, quit. If you are producing one, stop the show immediately.
• Faux '70s horror. It was good when it was The Conjuring, but when I see the Annabelle 2 trailer and it literally has text saying “The next chapter in The Conjuring universe,” how is that not the biggest fuck you and completely affirms what Patrick said?
Anything to add, gents?
Rob: Yeah. Miles Teller. Fuck that guy. I keep forgetting to rent that movie where he gets punched a lot.
Adam: Bleed for This is so confused that it’s a boxing movie without a training sequence.
Patrick: I co-sign all of Adam’s gripes. And Miles Teller. And Eddie Redmayne. And the DTV action genre, which is in a rough place.
Rob: What did you think of your first Reserved Seating, Patrick?
Patrick: I thought it would be taller.
Adam: Thank you for joining us, Patrick. Until next time…
Rob: These seats are reserved.