Friday, February 27, 2009

An Open Letter to Mr. Tom Charity of CNN....

Dear Tom Charity,

My name is Danny Jacobs and I am one of the writer/directors of “Humboldt County” – a film you recently reviewed over at I am writing today because I recently read your article, “Whys some films go straight to DVD” and I felt compelled to make a few things clear.

First of all, “Humboldt County” opened on significantly more than nine screens, as you mention in your article. In fact, the film opened in over fifteen major cities including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and Austin. When I first read that error, I was dismayed that such an estimable publication such as CNN would not have done some simple fact checks, even on a piece written for the entertainment section. The more I read of the article, however, the more I realized that my problem with your work was far more systemic than a simple factual discrepancy.

In order to explain this problem, let me go back a bit. When Darren and I made “Humboldt County,” we knew we were making a film with a 70s sensibility. We knew we were making a film that worked, consciously, against the quick cut, fast paced nature of plots in many modern movies. And we did so with the fervent hope that everything everyone was saying about modern audiences was untrue. We didn’t believe that they were ADD riddled media schizophrenics who couldn't hold their attention on something for longer than thirty seconds. We believed that the content being provided to audiences had changed, but that audiences themselves had not. In the absence of full characters and fleshed out worlds, of course attention wanders. But if the product is good, our hope was that audiences would follow. And the funny thing is, we were right. The audiences that have seen the film have, more or less, really enjoyed it. Of course, for some, the pacing was too slow and narrative wasn't their style, but the vast majority was able to fall into the universe on screen.

What we didn't expect was a fundamental shift that had occurred in the world of the nation's film critics that you, unfortunately, have exemplified in your article of February, 27th 2009. And that is that a growing number of today’s film critics are not the purveyors of the medium they once were. The number of excellent critics that truly contribute, in the vein of Pauline Kael, to the discussion of film in this country is dwindling. Sadly, the true ADD riddled, mass media consuming, attention span deficient movie watchers are critics like you.

I say this after reading your “review.” I put that word in quotations because, in reality, it is nothing more than a plot summary told with a dollop of sarcasm. The only real comment you provide about the film is that you were “underwhelmed” and “nothing much happens -- slowly.” Now, let me be clear, my issue with your review is not at all that you disliked the film. “Humboldt County,” though generally liked by critics across the country, has certainly received its share of bad reviews (some much more critical than yours) and every critic has every right to dislike a film. Your “review,” however, stood out for it’s ironic, detached, sarcastic and ultimately, empty tone. And that is the true tragedy of film criticism today. Your readership doesn’t ask that you like every film. What it asks of critics, however, is that no matter how you felt, explain yourselves. Develop arguments, provide insights and give the regular moviegoer a thesis of some depth and intelligence. Speaking as a moviegoer and not a filmmaker, I can tell you that we are screaming for that, hoping fervently that like our new president, we could be graced with film critics that do not treat us like children and give audiences the respect they deserve.

The real irony of your article, Mr. Charity, is that you chose to review three films on DVD to avoid having to review the new Jonas Brothers film and ended up reviewing the DVD films in the same superficially pithy way one might view a concert picture about three teenyboppers in 3D - with a contempt for the audience and a lack of trust that the audience can handle an actual perspective.

Talk to us like adults, Mr. Charity. We can handle it. I promise.

Danny Jacobs
Writer/director “Humboldt County”

P.S. To review Mr. Charity's piece, click HERE.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Confessions of a filmaholic.

This afternoon, I went to the movie theater. I saw "Confessions of a Shopaholic." By myself. And I had a ton of fun - not because the movie was particularly amazing (it wasn't) but because I was in a movie theater. You see, I love going to movies. It almost doesn't matter which one as long as I'm sitting there, Diet Coke in hand, watching pictures dance across the screen. In that space, I'm golden. My "film friends" wonder how it is I am able to sit through the likes of "Friday the 13th" or "Princess Diaries" and they call me disparaging names when I tell them that I actually enjoyed myself. Still, I know the truth - that when I'm sitting there, watching a film, and feeling the emotions of the audience bouncing back against the screen, I feel alive. I feel a part of a community. It's the closest thing I can think of to what I imagine it was like thousands of years ago when our ancestors sat around the campfire and told each other stories. The stories weren't always good and they didn't always move the listeners, but they always brought the community together for a shared experience. And that's why I'll never stop going to the theater, no matter what dreg is put up on the screen before me.

In other news, "Humboldt County" has moved up a notch in the instant movies program on Netflix! Last week, we clocked in at #6. This week, we moved ahead of "Superbad" and stole its spot at #5. Come on, LCLs, let's keep the rise going!

My name is Danny. And I'm a filmaholic.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Top 10 Netflix Movie!

Happy Friday Night LCLs!!

Yes. I'm at home on a Friday night. Yes, I'm a loser.

But onto more important matters. First of all, Darren and I have been hard at work on our next script, tentatively titled New York Challenge. Yes, we know it's not an amazing title. Yes, we know that we're not very good at creating titles. Still, it seems like the right title for the material. Writing again, as we are, is both amazing and terrible. Though, recently, we've completed the first draft of the script that we don't completely despise - which, for us, is quite the step. Still, there is a great distance between "despise" and "enjoy." Though, in the back of my mind, like a tiny annoying little nat, the fear exists that once we do get this script into fighting shape, there won't be an economy anymore. So there's that.

In "Humboldt County" news, the tide is beginning to crest! I just got the following email from a friend, who uses Netflix. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, but the long and the short of it is that "Humboldt County" was the sixth highest rented Netlflix film on their instant movies program. We're ahead of some big films and it's exciting to hear that people are checking out the picture.

See below and in the meantime, I hope no one is home to read this tonight and that you are all doing far more exciting things than I.



Re: Humboldt County in the top 25 instant movies from Netflix


Actually, you guys are #6 for last week on Netflix Instant Movies. Netflix has about 20,000 movies and shows available instantly online or on their Roku player which lets you play movies on your TV - Frankensense and I really like to use that since we often don't know what we want to watch until the last minute. We went ahead and got the Roku player for our TV for like $100 - not a bad idea if you all already use Netflix.

Humboldt also has 20,341 ratings and an average rating of 3.2 / 5 stars - not bad!

Anyway, the top 10 for last week was:
1) Penelope
2) 21
3) Heroes Season 3
4) Serenity
5) Superbad
6) Humboldt County
7) Ratatouille
8) 30 Rock Season 1
9) Next
10) The Office Season 1

I would list out the top 50 - there are some other impressive names that you are trouncing right now including Man on Wire and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, but I think you get the idea!

Take care,
Fuddy P. Duddy