Scarlet Letter Preview

Alright, so this week is And the Loser is… where we watch a past Razzie winner or nominee. There were two obvious choices here to fit our Now a Major Motion Picture meta-theme. The first was The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers. If we weren’t having so much fun actually reading the books, that would have been selected I’m sure. Instead we are watching the 1995 classic The Scarlet Letter starring Gary Oldman and Demi Moore. The only things I knew about the film going into this is that it’s a travesty of an adaptation (particularly given that the book is a classic) and people make fun of Gary Oldman’s penis in reference to this film… which means we are going to see an Oldman’s penis. Great. Let’s go!

The Scarlet Letter (1995) – BMeTric: 43.3 (November 23, 2016)

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(Solid score for a 90’s film, definitely in the above-average BMeTric. Nice regression to the mean in the rating as well. Basically people don’t actually think it is better, it is just more likely that a film will closer to the mean rating (of around 6) as more and more reviews come in. Otherwise standard. Generated on November 23, 2016)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB – Hokey adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel throws in everything from witch hunts to Indian attacks to a controversial happy ending — all to no avail. Moore is woefully miscast as Hester Prynne (though she sure fills a Puritan frock). Oldman gives a histrionic performance, while Duvall is simply incomprehensible. “Erotic” love scenes are especially embarrassing, in soft focus with phallic candles and a chirpy Disney bird (credited as Rudy the Robin) who sings for sexual freedom!

(Wait, Indian attacks? Witch hunts? What is happening. Am I reading the review for the wrong movie? I do love “simply incomprehensible” actors. If they made it nowadays that role would be played by Jeff Bridges… or still Robert Duvall somehow… Is there actually a Disney bird? I feel like this review is asking more questions than it’s answering for me. No wonder it’s a BOMB.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtZetd_jOo8

(Holy fuck. That… that… that is not the plot of The Scarlet Letter. They made a prequel-adaptation monster. Why call it The Scarlet Letter even? It’s not even the plot of the story. It does give me an idea though: how about an Anna Karenina adaptation, but instead of focusing on Anna, let’s focus on Vronsky. And instead of dealing with that pesky (and boring!) affair with Anna, let’s mostly detail Vronksy’s trials and tribulations in learning the electric guitar. Boom! Netflix!)

Director(s) – Roland Joffé – (Known For: The Mission; The Killing Fields; City of Joy; Fat Man and Little Boy. BMT: Captivity; The Scarlet Letter; Vatel; There Be Dragons; Goodbye Lover; The Lovers. Notes: Nominated for Worst Director, Captivity (2007); Won for Worst Remake or Sequel, Nominated for Worst Director for The Scarlet Letter (1995). Nominated for Directing Oscars for The Killing Fields and The Mission. Father of future BMT director Rowan Joffe.)

Writer(s) – Douglas Day Stewart (screenplay) – (Known For: An Officer and a Gentleman; Vision Quest; Flight of the Navigator. BMT: The Blue Lagoon; The Scarlet Letter; Thief Of Hearts. Notes: Nominated for Worst Screenplay, The Scarlet Letter (1995). Nominated for Screenplay Oscar for An Officer and a Gentleman. His name sounds like the name someone would use in a scandalous tell-all if they didn’t want to get sued for libel by Daniel Day-Lewis.)

Actors – Demi Moore – (Known For: Charlie’s Angels – Full Throttle; Ghost; Mr. Brooks; G.I. Jane; A Few Good Men; The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Flawless; Disclosure; The Joneses; Margin Call; Mortal Thoughts; St. Elmo’s Fire; We’re No Angels; One Crazy Summer; Deconstructing Harry. BMT: Striptease; Indecent Proposal; LOL; The Juror; The Scarlet Letter; Half Light; The Seventh Sign; The Butcher’s Wife; Now and Then; Passion of Mind; Nothing but Trouble. Notes: Nominated for 7 Razzie awards. Won for Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (Supporting Actress), G.I. Jane (Actress), The Juror (Actress), Striptease (Actress/Couple), The Scarlet Letter (Actress/Couple). Nominated for Passion of Mind (Actress), Indecent Proposal (Actress), The Butcher’s Wife (Actress), Nothing but Trouble (Actress). Probably one of the most prolific BMT actresses, but we haven’t done too many of her films yet.)

Gary Oldman – (Known For: Batman series; Air Force One; The Fifth Element; The Book of Eli; RoboCop; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; Harry Potter Series; True Romance; Sid & Nancy; JFK; The Contender; Bram Stoker’s Dracula. BMT: Hannibal; Red Riding Hood; The Unborn; Lost in Space; Paranoia; Planet 51; The Scarlet Letter; Child 44; Tiptoes. Notes: Nominated for Worst Couple Razzie for The Scarlet Letter (1995). Nominated for an Oscar for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.)

Also starring Robert Duvall

Budget/Gross: $46 million / $10,382,407

(A giant bomb. Oddly released the same weekend as two other high profile box office bombs (Jade and Strange Days) resulting in this NYTimes article. The Scarlet Letter is the 96st highest grossing Romantic Dramas ever. Number 95? You guessed it, Here on Earth.)

#96 for the Romantic Drama genre

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(As mentioned it is right near Here on Earth in the charts. This is actually the third of this genre we’ve watched along with Random Hearts and The Choice. A little snippet from the first of those: Wow, look at that mid-2000’s collapse! I think it has to do with a couple bombs in a row, but it could easily be that some other genre was sapping things up. Everyone knows that the trough there is the true heyday of bad movies! The dizzying heights we live in now I think is the result of micro-budget film companies. But it is hard to tell. This movie comes right in that initial wave as well. What we know now: There might be a collapse of the genre again. Hard to tell. If I were to guess we’ll be seeing a return to around 15K theaters for the genre moving forward. Looking at ’09-’12 and ’92-’96 that just feels like where the genre wants to be. Generated on November 23, 2016)

Rotten Tomatoes: 14% (5/35). No consensus, but here’s the Netflix synopsis for funsies: In this adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, Puritan settler Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) is accused of adultery in a Massachusetts settlement in the 1660s. Although she’s attracted to the town’s pastor (Gary Oldman), the two resist temptation. But only a whiff of scandal is enough for the town’s morality police to sentence Prynne to live as an outcast and wear a shameful scarlet A for adultery.

(Yeah, straight panned. I’m not sure what Netflix is talking about though. In the trailer we clearly see Moore carrying a baby to her public shaming… where’d the baby come from if they resist temptation? A baby is a little bit more than a whiff of scandal. I almost feel like we should bring Netflix synopsis back. They are wrong half the time on the very basic plot of these films.)

Poster – The Skloglet Letter (B-)

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(Sexy much? I like the coloring (though could have been slightly redder) and the symmetry. Not feeling the dark portion at the bottom. Would prefer a more interesting and creative way of commingling the text and images.)

Tagline(s) – When intimacy is forbidden and passion is a sin, love is the most defiant crime of all. (C-)

(I really should have given this worse. When it’s this long, everyone loses. What saved it a bit was the cadence and the creativity. Way too long though.)

Keyword(s) – adultery; Top Ten by BMeTric: 78.8 Skyline (2010); 75.6 Left Behind (I) (2014); 64.9 The Boy Next Door (2015); 62.4 Postal (2007); 58.4 My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006); 57.0 Dr. T & the Women (2000); 56.4 Body of Evidence (1993); 54.7 The Canyons (2013); 51.3 The Big Bounce (2004); 50.4 The Dilemma (2011);

(That is a nice list. Indeed, adultery plays a major role in: Sci Fi, Christian, Dramatic, Erotic Thrillers, and Comedies. And that is just the ones we’ve seen. The human condition.)

Notes – Listed among The 100 Most Amusingly Bad Movies Ever Made in “The Official Razzie® Movie Guide”.

Three original scores were written for this film. The ones by Ennio Morricone and Elmer Bernstein were rejected. The one used was by John Barry. (these types of fact amuse me)

Meg Ryan lobbied hard for the part of Hester Prynne, but lost out. Sharon Stone was also considered.

Richard Gere, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Anthony Hopkins were all considered for the male lead.

Won one Razzie for Worst Remake or Sequel, Nominated for 6 more (Picture/Actress/Supporting Actor/Couple/Director/Screenplay)

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