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The Circle didn’t do particularly well when it came out last year. Having recently caught up with it on Amazon Prime I can see there are certainly some issues, particularly with the story’s pacing, jerking around suddenly from one idea or plot point to the next, often with little context or transition. It’s not hard to imagine there’s a 3.5 hour version of the movie that works a bit better because some story elements are explored more deeply and given more time to breathe.
In the story, Emma Watson plays Mae, a young woman who thanks to her friend (a misused Karen Gillan) lands an interview – and then a job – at The Circle, a tech giant that’s basically what we all fear when Google, Facebook and Amazon collide. She starts at the same low level many do but rises quickly when she gets the attention of the heads of the company, becoming a sort of in-house influencer. That success helps blind her to some of the problems that already exist within the company, which often resembles a cult that’s suspicious of any tendency to not participate in every available activity and use any non-company resource. Indeed, the celebrity she achieves leads to her creating new problems in the name of furthering the company’s mission.
As I was writing two recent posts, one on whether or not we need to reevaluate The Circle in light of our current discussion of how powerful and intrusive tech companies have become and another on recent movies where scientists are held accountable in some manner for their actions, I started thinking about scenes from novels that didn’t make it into their film adaptations.
These kinds of things happen all the time, of course. Even in the four-hour versions of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy there are scenes that have been cut on the journey from page to screen. When someone says “I like the book better,” this is often what they’re referring to, that some key moment from the story wasn’t translated either at all or not to their satisfaction.
The Circle and Jurassic Park, which came to mind while writing about character accountability, both contain scenes that jumped out at and resonated with me but which didn’t make it into their film versions.
There’s a solid point in this THR piece by Richard Newby about the different messages being sent by three categories of “giant monster attacks humanity” films: 1) Humans caused the problems, 2) Nature unleashed its fury and 3) Aliens invade. Rampage, it seems, falls into the first group and apparently actually spends at least some time holding people responsible – or at least accountable – for their actions.
That’s cool, but it’s at least the second film this year to explore that concept to some extent. The first one was a movie most critics either slept on or casually dismissed: The Cloverfield Paradox.
A couple weeks ago I fell down a YouTube hole. You know, one of those moments where you go to YouTube to search for something specific you’re writing about but a “recommended” video gets your attention so you real quick watch that one and then you’re going to get back to your project, only to look up an hour later completely ignorant of what you initially intended to do.
In this particular instance, I wound up watching a bunch of clips from Dave, the Ivan Reitman comedy starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver. The movie is funny and charming, one of the best from all three of those talents, with a story that bears pondering today: That the President of the United States should be a good person, concerned with the welfare of all its citizens, particularly those most at risk.
Last week I wrote about the many and various realities impacting what movies are made or acquired by studios and distributors in light of what’s happening not only within the movie industry but in the general media and retail worlds. There are four more stories that have emerged since or which at the time I didn’t give full freight to the first time around.
First there’s MoviePass. The “see a movie a day for one low monthly fee” service has been under fire from theater owners since its inception. They feel the “no incremental cost” model cheapens the moviegoing experience but customers just like seeing essentially free movies. MoviePass loses money the more movies a customer sees but is hoping selling data on those customers to studios eager to target that audience will be the key to actually making money. AMC in particular among theater chains has signaled it’s worried not only about the customer experience (at least that’s what it says) but that MoviePass subscribers won’t continue coming to theaters if the company goes out of business and “full price” is the only option.
(Ed Note: This is something I’ve been meaning to write for over a year. Better late than never?)
“Heat” is a constant theme on the soundtrack for Hidden Figures, the 2015 movie about three black women working for NASA in the 1960s who were integral parts of the team that sent the first men to the moon. On many – if not most – of the album’s songs there’s talk of how hot it is.
Perhaps that’s Pharrell Williams, who was involved in writing, performing and curating the songs on the album, lyrically and thematically nodding to songs like “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly & The Family Stone and others from that era that were specifically about the heat of the season.
Whatever the reason, it’s a constant topic of the lyrics to the songs, many of which were written by Williams, some of them specifically for the film.