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October 07, 2009


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John M

"Of course, if the direction is really bad, that's likely to create problems that can't be solved, but a level of base technical competence in the flow of shots can be achieved."

I think that's the case here, especially considering how much more experience the editor has than the director. She might've chosen a continuity error over a slew of other, greater evils. I generally feel like small slip-ups (in continuity) do little to impede the flow of shots. But that may be just me.

John M

Allow me to be a big ole' brownnose and tell Greg Mottola that, in my semi-anonymous opinion, he's made by the best comedy of the year. Beautifully written, beautifully directed, beautifully acted, beautifully paced.

Try to mention it to everyone I know.

Okay. Suck-up over.

greg mottola

Thanks, John (I'll take the encouragement). If only it had been marketed as the movie I made. But let's not start a thread on marketing -- ugly green screen shots and lousy continuity are depressing enough...


I posted a response to this same article on Glenn's Facebook page a couple of days ago, but since all the discussion is over here, here you go:

"I think this is the recent film I've had to defend most to my cinephile friends. In fact, I think I even defended it a bit at Some Came Running or The Auteurs, when you said something dismissive about it sight unseen. As you say, humor is subjective, so there's no point in trying to figure out why I laughed and you didn't (I saw it with a large, appreciative audience in the theater, so maybe I simply drank the Kool-Aid).

As for the other issues, they may illustrate the well-known principal that if you're into a movie its flaws fade, and if you're not, they glare. I'm sure if I took another look, I'd see all the bad cuts and lame CGI you mention, but in the moment I didn't notice a thing. In fact, I've seen all 3 of Anne Fletcher's movies, and I think she has a better eye and sense of pace than most of her studio contemporaries (I realize that's faint praise). I also cut a little slack to the editors of comedy -- even at the height of the "invisible editing" era, you'd find some awkward cuts, especially in performance-driven comedies. Without seeing the film again, I have no idea if I'd be able to defend, or at least forgive, the shot-reverse shot glitches you mention. All I know is they didn't affect my enjoyment of the film the first time around."

I'm not saying that The Proposal, or any of Fletcher's films, all of which suffer from formulaic scripts, are fit to touch the hem of the gifted Greg Mottola's garment. But she's given me 3 evenings of light entertainment, which ain't hay. Despite some iffy continuity, I think her films are lively and well-paced. Why beat her up when we have Michael Bay and the like? :)

Glenn Kenny

@ jbryant: Hey, I wasn't looking to beat Anne Fletcher up, or spoiling for any kind of fight. The optimistic correlative to "How bad can it be," after all, is "could turn out to be better than we expected." In this case, though, it did not. And I've given Mr. Bay plenty of, er, tough love.

Tom Russell

Sometimes, out of nowhere, the knowledge that Michael Bay has two movies in the Criterion Collection is remembered, and my brain stops working for two full minutes.

I mean, everyone has different tastes, sure, but there's something mind-blowingly mystifying about it.

Glenn Kenny

@ Tom: If I recall correctly, the Bay stuff was at the tail end of the laser disc era. It was more of a business experiment than anything else, although if I recall correctly Bay was very stoked about getting the Criterion "treatment." Every now and then a company's going to make some bid for growth that's gonna look kind of funny to its core consumers—I mean, some people are right now looking askance at Criterion's new agreement with IFC. Suffice it to say that I don't think the Criterion Bay manifestations had anything to do with a taste call.


And now, I'm even more looking forward to it. Can't wait to bring it up at the family breakfast where everyone else loved it.


Glenn: Oh, I know you weren't really beating up on Fletcher (hey, I used a smilie!). I just enjoyed the movie too much to consider its infelicities (most of which, as I said, I didn't really even notice) to be a "bad sign" for the studio system. In fact, given the current state of said system, I thought The Proposal was closer to a good sign, even if a modest one. I seem to see a lot of these rom-coms (the girlfriend likes 'em, and I've written my share of them -- unproduced as yet), and I'm appreciative when a director rises to the challenge of trying to freshen up that tired, old formula one more time. Maybe it's just lipstick on a pig, but if the light's dim, and you squint a little...

Dan Coyle

So I saw about 15-20 minutes of this tonight. In the opening scenes, where Bullock cruelly fires Aasif Mandvi's character for, it seems, respecting his writer's wishes and not being a browbeating cunt.

In the middle of her rant to him she throws in that he's cheating on his wife. What a hack screenwriter thing- he's a cheater, so that's OKAY that she's being so nasty. So we're SLIGHTLY on her side. I turned it off soon after that. You know how hard it is for me to turn off something with Malin Akerman in it? VERY.

Melina Corbett

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I'm an aspiring screenwriter...also interested in filmmaking. Can anyone here tell me if green screen is the best way to have a fire that is witnessed in the Hollywood Hills from a distance (possibly buildings included)? Thanks in advance for any advice...


Seriously, I'm a part-time critic with only a handful of film classes to my name, and the obvious bad directing/etc. on so many comedies drives me up a wall. I haven't seen The Proposal, but yeah, Anne Fletcher's inability to reign in her extras in 27 Dresses doesn't bode well. Even some movies I mostly enjoyed, like Forgetting Sarah Marshall or Baby Mama have this weird clumsiness about their set-ups and framing that affects the way the laughs build.

I guess The Hangover was a little better-looking, but the director is so lazy about everything else (why didn't more people seem to notice how pointless and disconnected half of the scenes in Old School are, how often they rush or bungle pay-offs?) that it pretty much doesn't matter.

I'm a little late to the praising of Mottola, but seriously, dude knows what he's doing. Superbad and Adventureland are both beautifully directed in an understated sort of way that doesn't interfere with the characters or story. Apatow is a pretty decent filmmaker, but Superbad is easily the tightest and most immediate of any movie with his name attached. Also: Adam McKay. His movies don't look pretty, exactly, but even a movie as bizarre, sometimes rambling, and improv-heavy as Step Brothers has a lot more polish to it than any number of more conventional comedies.

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