If I didn’t have a life to live with diverse interests, I’d rush out to see every “buzzed about” film coming out of film festivals. Years of disappointment and 35 years of industry expertise has taught me to ignore the chatter. My favorite film of 2018, THE DEATH OF STALIN, happened to be one of those buzzers (Armando Iannucci and Steve Buscemi were why I saw it). By year end awards hoopla, the film wasn’t mentioned once (neither was Charlize Theron’s acting in TULLY which had the same “buzz”). The “tastemakers” are like babies with their new shiny toys, PR flacks know how to distract them with their lollipops.
Same old, same old. Healthy, healthy, healthy. Blah. Everybody seems to be chasing the same brass ring and releasing product that duplicates something else in the market without any improved bells and whistles (if you don’t count ghost peppers or superfruits). I want to enjoy my food, not have my senses assaulted. Manufacturers have seemed to forget that their mandate is to sell product and have the customer binge eat that entire bag of chips or box of cookies. Having one chip and sealing up the bag or a single sip of that decadent beverage and putting it in the refrigerator doesn’t help the bottom line.
I have given up on trying to catch all the films getting rave reviews coming off the festival circuit. The waste of time and money this year was ridiculous. I spent the week between Christmas and New Years Eve catching up on films that have been littering End of Year Awards lists and have not liked most of them. I can be vicious about certain films but I’ll save that for when I get around to opening a Twitter account which will get me in trouble as my sarcastic wit is appreciated by select well-rounded individuals who don’t live or die on box office tallies.
What interesting times we live in. The retail industry is crashing and burning due to e-commerce (Macy’s, Payless, Sears/KMart, Radio Shack, J.C. Penney, The Limited, American Apparel etc.) Greedy landlords who have been jacking rents through the roof for years and leveraged their portfolios to buy more over-priced real estate are now facing the grim reaper as their major anchor tenants have walked away from long term leases. The vulture capitalists are circling the carrion. The unlikely knight in shining armor turns out to be low profit margin supermarkets who have figured out they don’t need 100,000 square feet when 40,000 will do.
We have to reach into the world of hip hop to come up with an analysis of the films theatrically released in 2016. As Public Enemy would say “Don’t believe the hype.” At every major film festival, any many of the minor ones, a buzz starts about the “hot film” that’s a must see and a guaranteed award winner come end of the year. Everyone gets hot and bothered and starts repeating this statement which most likely originated with the publicist or sales agent. (I have been both and write mean ad copy for lazy journalists.)
I began my career with the investment banking firm JP Morgan, beating the thousands of applicants for a coveted slot and a life of three-piece suits and the dreaded power tie. One plus one equals two, it’s not that hard. When someone offers to double your salary, you take the bait and jump ship. From JP I joined up with an old school brokerage house, soon to be gobbled up by a financial services firm looking to emulate Sandy Weill and Citigroup. I watched the banking industry consolidate, followed by the brokerage industry and, later in my career, the advertising agencies and then the cable stations. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
The Summer Fancy Food Show had an interesting undercurrent I only caught wind of due to my early career start in Investment Banking with JP Morgan — Mergers & Acquisitions, especially with respect to the natural and organic foods industry. The Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) conglomerates have always been on the prowl for competitors — whether to force out of business or sideline, if possible, or to replicate new product successes, co-opt or takeover. In 2016 the emphasis is on identifying new trends or ones that have been bubbling under the surface for awhile and buy them out. Hormel recent bought both Applegate Farms (a personal favorite) and Justin’s Nut Butters. General Mills started the trend by acquiring Annie’s (the bunny mac & cheese).
More films are being made, more “distributors” are launching and yet way too many films are not getting released in a way that avid, or even casual, moviegoers are able to watch them, let alone know they even exist. I…
The Summer Fancy Food Show and the Gay Pride Parade both celebrating victories this year in New York. Fancy Food inaugurated the first ever Specialty Food Week in New York and the LGBTQ community celebrated the historic Supreme Court ruling. 2,500 exhibitors showcased 180,000 products, thankfully not all of them food or I wouldn’t have been able to finish the show. There were some interesting new products this year that made it worth spending three days trudging through NYC’s infamous Javits Center. These are the ten food items that are worth you tracking them down and trying them with your friends and family.
More and more films are being sent to purgatory (aka VOD) so I’ve probably missed some of the gems I usually discover every year that would be on my annual Top 10 list. Many of the film festivals that are presented in New York City have seemed to have lost their way with respect to programming as they seem to rely more on the manufactured buzz of publicists and sales agents when it comes to their selections. Mumblecore is NOT a reincarnation of La Nouvelle Vague, just what happens when the cost of film production falls through the floor and everyone thinks they’re creative. On a serious note, with everyone shooting on digital, what is going to happen to film preservation down the road? 35mm is still the best archive format around. I started in this industry on the tail end of 2″ Quad, try finding a lab with the equipment to do a transfer from that format today.