Over in the "Movies I Have Seen Lately" thread, we discuss Yesterday. I read a review of the movie by a music critic who didn't like it because he couldn't buy the premise. Not the "world without The Beatles" stuff, but the "struggling musician going nowhere" part.

What yanked this writer out of the story was the notion that Our Hero, Jack Malik, didn't have a following, because he never did what any musician in this day and age would do: post his music on his YouTube channel.

When I read that, I was taken aback. Back when John Lennon, Stu Sutcliffe, Pete Best, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were starting out, playing in dive bars and rathskellers in Germany 60 years ago, they didn't have YouTube to spread the word about them. (What if they had? Now there's a movie idea!)

I've seen it said that our generation is the last to know what life was like before the Internet. That writer's comment is an illustration. 

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I haven't seen the movie, but it's a good point. Of course the whole YouTube thing is a mixed blessing at best. Musicians can get exposure from it--not everyone, of course--but it doesn't automatically translate into income. But I'm a pre-Internet musician and critic, so what do I know?

YouTube can be another avenue to stardom. For one example, Justin Bieber was discovered by a talent agent who saw his YouTube channel.

And I suppose any struggling musician like Yesterday's Jack Malik can post videos and not go through the grueling and embarrassing business of roaming around, playing gigs in one crummy venue after another. Even The Beatles gave up touring after they reached the top. 

But that writer's comment struck me because it showed how the scriptwriter's failure to account for an aspect of our modern world (or decision not to) undermined the story. Like in West Side Story: as noted here, the whole tragedy with Maria and Tony wouldn't have happened in the age of text messaging. I expect the pending remake of West Side Story gets around this by making it a period piece.

On the other hand, having to account for those modern changes necessarily changes some stories. Like the Fantastic Four's origin. Notice that none of the movie versions of their origin has them breaking into a military base, stealing a space rocket and flying off. Since Apollo 11, we know it's a lot harder than that.

Like in West Side Story: as noted here, the whole tragedy with Maria and Tony wouldn't have happened in the age of text messaging. I expect the pending remake of West Side Story gets around this by making it a period piece.

I'm interested in seeing the new West Side Story movie, though I suspect I'll always prefer the original movie. I've seen it performed on stage a couple of times. If they didn't make it a period piece, how would they explain only one six-shot revolver and only one corpse in the whole show?

Oops. There were two corpses.

It's my understanding that this version of West Side Story will hew closer to the stage production than to the movie, although it is blessed with the participation of living legend and goddess Rita Moreno.

That almost makes up for having Steven Spielberg be the director; I don't think he's the right fit. I'd be a LOT more impressed if it was Lin-Manuel Miranda at the helm. 

Having seen it a couple of times on stage, I was hard-pressed to think of differences. Looking it up, the main differences seem to be the order of a couple of the songs. The other significant differences are that the 1961 movie substituted other words for curse words. Don't expect to hear "Officer Krupke: Krup You!"

I think it's been said that they will faithfully follow the script of the play, and that all songs would be there. As for Steven Spielberg directing, I'm reminded of the recent fear of what Brian Michael Bendis would do to Superman. If Spielberg loves the material like we do, I think he'll do a good job.

My fear of Steven Spielberg doing West Side Story isn't whether he will love the material; it's whether he will find the right take on it.

This stems from what happened with Lee Daniels' The Butler.* It was based on a Washington Post article about one Eugene Allen, who was a butler at the White House for 30-plus years. The Post reporter, Wil Haygood, was inspired to write the article after he saw Barack Obama's rise in the 2008 presidential race.

A while back, I saw Haygood at a book signing. He wrote a short book, The Butler: A Witness to History, about the writing of the story, the making of the movie, and the historical context that undergirds them both. Haygood said he thought it would be a good idea to find a common man who saw the world change from a rare vantage point, close to power but forbidden to speak about it. (Naturally, Haygood's editors thought it was a waste of time and wouldn't approve it; Haygood had to report and write it on the side.)

The story was optioned for a movie, but it wasn't thought to be commercial, so producers had to scrape for funding. Ultimately, it was made on a $1.98 budget, with the stars working for scale, basically as an act of charity to get it made. 

Anyway, Haygood said, at one point Steven Spielberg was interested in directing The Butler. But Spielberg wanted to make the movie about the presidents Eugene Allen served, not about the man himself.

Which TOTALLY misses the point of the story.

Besides, every one of the presidents Eugene Allen served -- Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan -- has had at least one movie about his life. But Steven Spielberg gravitated to that aspect, the great man in history, not the common man who saw the great man in private moments, the common man who was affected on the grassroots level by the sweep of history. 

So, yeah -- I'm not confident in Steven Spielberg being the right match for West Side Story.

Then again, I've come to believe that when Hollywood makes remakes, they shouldn't do beloved classics, like West Side Story or The Lion King; they should do old, forgotten movies, like Scarface and Ocean's Eleven.

* The movie was to be called simply The Butler, but a rival studio declared it made another film with the same title back in the silent movie era, and insisted the new movie had to change its title.

I will eventually see it, but I've heard that the CGI Lion King has a problem conveying the emotions of the characters. Since animals not drawn as cartoons don't have facial expressions with the range of humans, if at all, I understand that much of the emotional impact of the standard cartoon Lion King is lost.

An older movie with the same title as a new movie is not really a problem. They didn't have to change it because this happens all the time (books also). As I understand it, reused titles are not a legal issue as long as content is different. 

Richard Willis said:

I will eventually see it, but I've heard that the CGI Lion King has a problem conveying the emotions of the characters. Since animals not drawn as cartoons don't have facial expressions with the range of humans, if at all, I understand that much of the emotional impact of the standard cartoon Lion King is lost. 

Yeah. The original, 2-D, ink-on-paint version of The Lion King could be as cartoony as needed to be in every moment, large and small. Being photorealistic in this new version meant having to work without the full range of expression, although I wish the Disney animators had tried.

Richard Willis said:

An older movie with the same title as a new movie is not really a problem. They didn't have to change it because this happens all the time (books also). As I understand it, reused titles are not a legal issue as long as content is different. 

It wasn't a legal issue; it was a trademark issue (which, I suppose, is still a legal issue). Sure, it happens all the time with movies and books, because titles cannot be copyrighted, as I understand things*. However, they can be trademarked.

Also, it was an issue this time because the studios made it an issue. Details here, from The Hollywood Reporter: "Lee Daniels on 'The Butler': 'I Don't Feel So Good About the Title' (Video)" 
The Hollywood Reporter wrote:

In July [2013], The MPAA's Title Registration Bureau ruled that The Weinstein Co. could not use the title The Butler, which is also the name of a 1916 Warner Bros. short film. Weinstein appealed the decision and tried to get Warner Bros. to back down, but TRB's appeals board agreed with the earlier decision, so the title was changed to Lee Daniels' The Butler.

In short, Warner Bros. could have cut The Weinstein Co. some slack and let them call the movie "The Butler," but it didn't.

* I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. 

Over in the thread "Is Our Newspapers Dying?", Captain Comics added this:

Captain Comics said:

It's got me laughing as I research old sci-fi comics set in the future, and reporters work for newspapers. Not news organizations, news papers. Nobody imagined the Internet until it got here, of course, but you'd think the writers would have realized that newspaper distribution to, say, Mars would be a terrible waste of jet fuel (not to mention that "daily" newspapers would arrive days or weeks late). And that they'd follow that thought to some other sort of news distribution, even if "internet" wasn't yet in their vocabulary.

This is the kind of thing I was getting at with this thread. I am likewise reminded that Michael B. Jordan, our favorite villain Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, was recently the lead in an HBO adaptation of Fahrenheit 451. I recall a radio interview with the director, who needed to update the story because it made sense in 1953's version of the future to suppress information by burning books. But in 2018? It would be about destroying data, not just books. 

I saw this article about plans to remake Home Alone"How 'Alone' Can the Home Alone Reboot Be?" 

It points out that the story wouldn't work today because Kevin, would have a smartphone and would have called his family, or tweeted them, or used the Find My Friends app to alert his mom he'd been left behind. And he would have posted on Snapchat and TikTok. 

And the comments take it further:

  • There would be video cameras in the house.
  • With today's attitudes about child endangerment, the cops would not be so blasé about being told a kid is home alone.
  • Post 9/11, no way the family gets to the airport, all the way onto the plane and in flight without noticing one of their number is missing. They'd find out when they went through airport security and had to present their tickets and passports.
  • ALL of the neighbors are gone, too?

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