Times really dumb and really smart…all at the same time!

October 10th, 2006 → 10:26 am @ // No Comments

It’s no secret that I like pointing out the sheer ridiculousness of assorted Times articles; as any media observer knows, I’m far from the only person who sees a certain amount of obstinate boneheadedness in the Times. (A humorous aside: the Times couldn’t even spell the name of the author of that story’s name correctly.)

Yesterday’s Times contained another doozy: Laura Holson’s shockingly incredulous story on Warner Bros. The thesis is pretty much summed up in the story’s hed: “After Big Flops, Warner Hopes for ‘Sleeper’ Hit in Smaller Films.” Here’s the evidence to support that thesis:

* Warner Bros. has had some unexpected flops from “conventional choices” that seemed “safe from the start.” One prominent example is M. Night Shyamalan’s “Lady in the Water.” Why any M. Night project would be called “safe” — he’s never reached the artistic or box office success he had with “The Sixth Sense” and has become increasingly ridiculed in Hollywood and among critics — is beyond me. What’s more, “Lady”‘s premise is laughingly indulgent: Shyamalan decided to spent $100 million or so filming a fairy tale he wrote for his daughter in which a superintendent saves a young woman from a pool…except said woman turns out to be a character from a bedtime story. Safe, indeed.

* The studio has “successfully paired offbeat directors with mainstream projects. Tim Burton, for instance, was not an obvious choice to direct ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ nor was Johnny Depp an obvious star.” It’s unclear what we’re supposed to take from this — I assume Burton is an “offbeat” director, but in what world is “Charlie in the Chocolate Factory” a mainstream project? What’s more, Burton has directed his share of mainstream successes, like, say, the first three Batman movies. And it’s hard to think of a more obvious pairing for a “Charlie” movie than Burton and Depp, who famously teamed up in “Edward Scissorhands.”

* Now Warner is dependent on hoping that “smaller, riskier films” succeed…smaller, riskier films like Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed.” It’s “smaller,” I guess, because it only cost $90 million, and ‘riskier’ because Scorses, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, and Leonardo DiCaprio teaming up to make a gangster film is an obvious case of box office poison.

But for every head-slapping mess, the Times has more than its share of brilliant, holy-shit, page-turning gems. The Arts and Business sections are both as good as I ever remember them being. And there’ve been a number of pieces I’ve clipped as of late for no reason other than I want to make sure I have a chance to read them again. Take this Sunday’s story on post-traumatic stress in elephants and what it can tell researchers about human behavior. Or Joe Sharkey’s first-person account about flying over the Amazon in a corporate jet and getting clipped by a Boeing 737. (Unfortunately, I waited too long to post this and now you need to have a Times Insider account or pay to read it.) For the past several days, the Times has been running a series on “how American religious organizations benefit from an increasingly accommodating government,” and unlike some of the paper’s we-want-a-Pulitzer-multiparters, this one is a worthwhile (even necessary) and fascinating series that few papers have the resources or the brainpower to pull off. Finally, in today’s paper, there’s an amazing story about a suburban high school teacher wh0 serially seduced her male students. (And I do mean amazing: the teacher married one student, had his child, and then seduced that child’s friends.)

EDIT: Burton, of course, only directed the first two Batmans…the good ones, with Michael Keaton.

Post Categories: Media reporting & New York Times

3 Comments → “Times really dumb and really smart…all at the same time!”

  1. Mr. Furious

    17 years ago

    Depp also starred in Burton’s “Ed Wood” and “Sleepy Hollow.” Plus the forthcoming “Sweeney Todd.”


  2. unquity

    17 years ago

    imdb is your friend.
    batman forever was directed by schumacher.
    you can tell because its terrible.


  3. tinisoli

    17 years ago

    Burton didn’t direct the third installment in the Batman series. Joel Schumacher takes the blame for that mess, along with “Batman and Robin,” which managed to be even worse.


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