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What it "Means" + THE PREDATOR / Orson Welles & Netflix

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By Bill Arceneaux Since 2011, I’ve been blogging - on and off - under the title “Neaux Reel Idea”. Wh
 
September 20 · Issue #1 · View online
Neaux Reel Idea
By Bill Arceneaux
Since 2011, I’ve been blogging - on and off - under the title “Neaux Reel Idea”. While I like the fact that it’s been, in one way or another, going strong for seven so on years, I don’t think I’ve ever explained what it means.
Simply, it’s this: Neaux pronounced No (also the final syllable of my last name), Reel as both real and film reels used in projectors, and Idea as in my thoughts, my feelings and my style of expressing the two.
Combined, it’s a playful joke and an articulation of pride. The joke being that I don’t really know what I’m writing or talking about. Self-deprecating, yes. The pride coming from my New Orleans and Cajun heritage, my joy of watching movies, and my never to be completed journey to better myself as a goer and a writer.
At this point in said journey, I’ve learned a few things: 1) I write/work best when contributing to another outlet, 2) Blogging as I understood it isn’t enough, and 3) Direct to inboxes might be worth exploring. And worth exploring, it indeed is.
And so, we’re here. A newsletter. With reviews, essays, and link recommendations.
The first 10 of you came from my previous tinyletter newsletter and old patreon page. Feel free to unsubscribe if you want, but I do hope you’ll stick it out with me and share with your friends and family. Do send feedback anytime as well.
Many thanks for reading through all of that (or scrolling down quickly) and many thanks in advance for reading through the rest - enjoy!

The Predator | Final Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX - YouTube
Review | THE PREDATOR
“When this is over, we’re gonna dance!”
Our macho sniper lead character tells off the government liaison/gum (or mint) chewing operations jerk at the start of the climax. Before the final action can throw down, the response to a potentially fatal fight is a mere friendly “atta boy” type slap on the shoulder. They’re pals in this moment, it seems, united against the hyper-advanced alien at the center of the The Predator. It’s an awkward moment, one that I’m uncertain on whether it’s meant to parody or replicate the famous muscular hand shake of the original or not. What it represents, to me, is an 80’s action genre absorbed machismo, implanted into the minds of modern day men, who behave as Arnold would, logic be damned, living like everything is “cool”.
Shane Black’s return to the franchise is indeed “cool”, in the same way that a jock who has figured out poetry has an “enlightening” moment when reading lyrics to a Fred Durst song. This sounds harsh - Shane Black’s dialogue and whip fast witticisms are better than a Limp Bizkit ballad - but I’m going for overall feeling here. On those terms, The Predator is quite pretentious, without much reason for being that way. It’s a clunky mess of an edit, cut to ribbons for maximum pace and little to no breathing room for story to explain itself or people to be … people.
Something about Predators landing on Earth to save us, only to be chased by trackers, only to run into a bus of PTSD consumed soldiers and a boy on the spectrum who has figured out their technology. It’s hard to gather what’s happening beyond green goo explosions and computer generated limbs flying apart. There’s a moment when two of the good guys, dying in front of one another, share a touching salutation. And then there’s a gesture about remembering the fallen, which is one unearned bit of emotion on top of many.
Fun action, funny lines, nonsense narrative. Thematically, The Predator has an interesting attempt at a hook, being perceived weaknesses becoming strengths. The soldiers deemed “The Loonies” - each with combat induced impairments - find the mettle within to fight once again. Attached is a sub-plot about an autistic boy who is bullied for being “different”, but hailed by a scientist for possibly being the next stage of human evolution. Both stories feed into each others manliness, only to falter under the weight of a sped up sci-fi tale. Had things slowed some, had the wide-eyed nostalgia for spiffy action and weird space mystery been allowed to shine, maybe these elements could’ve been fleshed out. Maybe.
Oddly, Olivia Munn - who is at her best here, in the midst of inexplicable stuff happening - shares a scene with a Predator, while nude (for the alien fighter, not the cameras or audience). It doesn’t really serve any explainable purpose other than to establish a funny line later on. Maybe in the lore it has to do with the creature having human DNA? Showing recognition for something familiar to it and expressing vulnerability? Nah, just a waste of several seemingly meaningful shots and takes for a one off gag. Why? Cause “cool”?
RATING: 2 / 5 
Other Materials
I Do Movies Badly: My Blueberry Nights
‘High Life’ and ‘First Man’ Look to the Stars and See Very Different Galaxies
The Other Side of the Wind | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix - YouTube
Essay | Would Orson Welles Make a Netflix Film?
He kinda has, hasn’t he? And really is the first director to shoot one. Eschewing the theme of desperation that followed his final years on this mortal coil, Orson Welles’ career as a filmmaker after Citizen Kane - which he famously declared was a race of sorts to the bottom - was one of power and command despite and in spite of a lack of resources, specifically money and, of course, time.
Had he been given infinite money and been graced with everlasting life, I’m sure we’d find ourselves chatting about his Don Quixote adaptation at some point (maybe) and at great length. However, none of that happened, and it took over 40 or so years of negotiating to get his final close to completion project The Other Side of the Wind into the post-production phase. We’re all (well, most of us) looking forward to the streaming and limited theatrical premiere of the finished film, held in legendary and heartbreaking regard for decades, but questions regarding Hollywood turning its back on Welles still occupy my mind. Not even Steven Spielberg, who bought what he thought was the original Rosebud sled, would fund Orson. But now, long after death and well past the point of eulogizing, the bridge to one of cinema’s lost/almost “found” movies has been built. By Netflix.
Now, without sounding like a cynical hipster who has long since shed his television set to live as a boho, I’m a bit sad that it took Netflix to make all of this possible for Welles. Yes, they have the money. Yes, they are movie lovers too. No, I don’t believe they’re destroying the theater going experience. But considering all the love that came after the man’s death and supposed adoration from colleagues and New Hollywood movers and shakers, maybe a gesture of good will and faith could’ve come from a less ironic source?
Well, ironic for who? After all, Orson Welles would’ve jumped at the chance to make a Netflix backed film. Right?
Consider this: You don’t have money and have been steadily losing reputation for years. You have plenty of ideas, but need to pay the bills. Had Welles gotten his fountain of youth and lived to today, he would be thriving as a true independent spirit. Seed & Spark, which helps filmmakers with a platform for funding, selling and distributing their films, would be one place for him to go. VHX/Vimeo another. I think he’d be impressed with the Soderbergh’s and Smith’s editing on the fly, on their laptops, after shooting a scene. Or remixing other’s work, even. He’d bring his editing table and machine with him on trips, so something more compact and cloud based would be a gift from heaven.
Ironic for who? And … who cares if it is? We’re getting a new Welles picture from the right production team under momentous circumstances. So many eyeballs will be watching frame after frame of Orson’s “movie about us”. Us being he. The old Hollywood guard, left behind and railed against. In a sea of fresh faces and sex infused politics. What a time for a birthday party.
The democracy of this new era of filmmaking is fading, as much as America’s system of governing is eroding. But there are still opportunities to be taken and advancements to be made. More so now than before, a young girl from a farm state could change all of this medium with a camcorder shot story uploaded to youtube (paraphrasing Coppola). Disney rules the day, indies become superhero shills and yes men have say on all. Still, as long as someone believes, there’s a shot at changing everything. And Orson Welles got that shot once again on the far past bookend. By Netflix.
Outro
Thank you so much for reading and being a reader! Feel free to email me or send a tweet anytime with feedback.
In the coming issues, I plan on doing reviews for more independent and festival fare, like from #NOFF2018 and the NOLA Horror Film Fest. I’ll also be developing more of a consistent schedule for sending these out.
Many thanks, and support New Orleans film!
#TeamNOLAFilm
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