Hawaii Five-No: Cameron Crowe’s Aloha trashed by critics on US release

29 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Aloha: Is Bradley Cooper’s romcom doomed before it’s even released?.

After being warned by his ex-girlfriend that her husband, Woody, is a man of few words, military contractor Brian Gilcrest and Air Force pilot Woody Woodside engage in a deft and funny bout of silent communication.

‘Aloha’ is Sony’s first film of the summer season but it’s being hampered by controversy including problems stemming back to last year’s hack attack.The opinion of then Sony chair Amy Pascal, which emerged as part of the studio’s hacking deluge last year, appears to be one of many factors dogging Cameron Crowe’s new romcom-drama Aloha before it has even been released. It’s one of the finer riffs in writer-director Cameron Crowe’s romantic-comedy “Aloha,” which stars Bradley Cooper as the contractor who arrives at Hawaii’s Hickam Air Force Base with unfinished as well as unforeseen business. Ever since the two co-starred in 2009’s Zombieland, Murray has extolled the actress’s virtues in the rare interviews that he’s given. “I love that Emma [Stone]. . .Just a doll,” he told Esquire. “I really like that girl, Emma,” he said during press for the film back in 2009. “She’s really, really got it. . .

Out on Friday in the US, and June 18 in Australia, early reviews at best call it a “harmless miss”, amid reports that “bad buzz” has killed the film off before it’s even reached screens. However sprinkled in between the franchises and popcorn flicks are movies like Sony’s (NYSE:SNE) Aloha that are designed to be a calming force for audiences looking for a reprieve. Air Force general requests “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” at a Christmas party, and the Tears for Fears tune resonates with other power-hungry guests in “Aloha.” The writer-director also provides subtitles for a wordless exchange between two men who wonder if they’re romantic rivals and confirm some essential information with glances, shoulder clasps and a hug. She’s really funny.” He also revealed that while filming his Zombieland cameo, Stone cracked him up so often that he broke character in almost 15 takes. (The actress so impressed Murray that The Ghostbusters star even suggested her for the female reboot.) So when the two reunited to film Cameron Crowe’s Aloha, and Stone fell ill, Murray took it upon himself to make his protégé feel better. Some of his best have made a lasting impression, pop-culturally speaking: “You had me at ‘hello,’ ” and “Show me the money!” came from 1996’s “Jerry Maguire.” So did “Help me … help you,” a personal favorite.

Why should Aloha, Crowe’s latest romantic dramedy set in Hawaii, where local tradition still bristles under the weight of over a century of cultural displacement by white interlopers, be any different? It’s an odd, funny moment in a comedy that wasn’t at all what I expected, given its underpinnings about the privatization of the space program, questions about controlling the starry, satellite-studded skies and even some Hawaiian myths, which bolster the local flavor. During an interview with Yahoo!, Stone revealed that Murray noticed she was having a health issue and became concerned. “I think Bill Murray was a little bit worried about me during Aloha because I had a really bad acne problem that they [edited] out of the movie [in post-production] because I was having some sleep issues.

I’ll get to that in a second but to start let’s focus on what Aloha was meant to be … and that’s a “thinking” movie about redemption designed around a award winning cast. It meanders around its movie road map although it delivers, as promised in the ads, romantic entanglements past and present with characters played by Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams and Emma Stone. “Aloha” is not Mr.

But seriously, on like a daily basis, he would bring me nice little presents.” Given that this is Bill Murray we are speaking about, the presents were not skin creams and flowers. That Oscar- and Golden Globe-winner starred George Clooney as a very tan white Hawaiian, but at least explored the tricky terrain of identity and ownership bubbling under the surface of local politics in modern Hawaii.

Now it is way too early to start talking about award season in general, however we are getting closer by the day and Aloha is just the type of film that (on paper) would initially look good to potential voters. Crowe’s best, nor is it his worst, but it does boast a handsome, appealing cast, scenery off the beaten path and an original story about second chances. Instead, Stone said of the tokens: “He would go to a concert and bring me a key chain, or he would go to a store and bring me Maui Onion potato chips. . .a visor, some slippers.

Alas: Aloha falls more in line with the Elvis Presley tradition, in which Hawaiian concerns serve as plot-driving stepping stones for a white hero’s personal and romantic misadventures. Of course now that the reviews have started coming in that may no longer be the case, but regardless it is the latest project from Cameron Crowe and that will get audiences’ attention. The much-loved UK author has been lauded by fans for supporting marriage equality, propagating the possibility of a same-sex wizarding power couple and deliver a stinging take down of the Westboro Baptist Church, known for its opposition to homosexuality, all in the space of less than a week. It’s also a puzzlingly disjointed ditty that falls much closer to Elizabethtown than Jerry Maguire on the spectrum of Cameron Crowe hits and misses.

Crowe is of course the man behind Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous, which aside from being two of my favorite movies have each found itself in the little golden guy’s good graces. Cooper is Brian Gilcrest, a onetime member of the Air Force turned military contractor who returns to Hawaii on behalf of billionaire industrialist Carson Welch (Bill Murray).

Rowling jubilantly blessed this fan fiction union, tweeting “Then they could get married IN IRELAND!” with a meme of a shocked Keanu Reeves accompanied by the text: “What if Dumbledore and Gandalf were gay together”. The problem…and one that distributor Sony is keenly aware is that the writer/director’s last two films were not as successful and that’s even more distressing when you remember he’s only put out two films since 2005. The tweet earned 4,700 shares and was favourited over 10,000 times as her followers cheered on the author and her legions of fans shared their appreciation for the outspoken accidental adovcate.

Select Alison Ng, it’s the scenes in which little is said that often exert the most charm in “Aloha.” When he lands in Honolulu, Gilcrest is a tarnished Air Force vet who’s gone on to work in the private sector. There, he reunites with the ex-girlfriend he ran out on 13 years ago (Rachel McAdams), who’s now married with kids to one of his old Air Force buddies. No it’s not a new series hosted by Janet Jackson, viewers of Wednesday night’s The Project were confused when host Gorgi Coghlan appeared on screen looking like a glazier and partially naked. “It’s the colour with the seams, when I first looked up at the TV you looked topless,” a viewer posted on Twitter about her optical illusion inducing outfit which gave the impression the host was suffering from a severe case of the chills.

The caramel and cobalt coloured dress, which was made with lamb’s leather and wool crepe by new Melbourne label Di-Lia and retails for about $690, was perfectly suited to Coghlan’s skin tone. A little too perfectly, as avid viewers mistook the gown’s darts for nipples and beige neckline for her actual skin. “People are questioning the air conditioning in the studio,” co-host Peter Heliar said in response to the amount of social media attention the dress garnered throughout the show. “I’m so sorry, it actually isn’t, it’s just the seams, there’s heaps of buffering there and heaps of stuff there but I apologise if I have offended you,” she said. She announces, more than once, that she’s one-quarter Hawaiian, slipping in the fact that her mother was Swedish, which would account for her fair hair and skin and green eyes. Since Wednesday’s headline grabbing episode, Coghlan has now amassed more social media fans in the hours following Nipplegate, than her three years online. And their early interactions have the kind of bite to them that reminds moviegoers that Crowe is a practicing fan of the screwball comedy and its typically tart/smart hook-ups.

Gilcrest has sold his soul to the devil, a cunning billionaire with an interest in satellites (Bill Murray) and is in town to hustle together a deal to get local Hawaiian sovereignty leaders to bless a ceremonial gate opening that has something to do with a U.S. military rocket launch. Brian must negotiate a deal with the spiritual and political leader of the indigenous Hawaiian movement, a role played in real life and on screen by Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele. Coghlan, who is hosting The Project for the duration of longterm host and Gold Logie winner Carrie Bickmore’s maternity leave, addressed the social media storm on air on Thursday with aplomb while introducing a story about the FIFA scandal. “The soccer world has been rocked by a massive bribery scandal with more than a dozen FIFA officials and sporting executives arrested. Not since a TV host wore a dress that appeared to accentuate her nipples has there been a scandal of this size,” she deadpanned to rapturous applause from the live studio audience.

Stone’s character tags along as they politely wrangle over ownership of nearby mountains, free cellular service for the locals and keeping the skies above the islands safe from weapons. No word yet if Today host and fearless defender of fashion freedom Lisa Wilkinson will don a similar look like she promised when Natarsha Belling’s jacket became famous for its phallic neckline back in March. It never not even once works.” It didn’t get much better as you read on as Pascal then took a shot at both Crowe and someone named “Scott,” who is widely assumed to be mega-powerful producer Scott Rudin. On the personal front, Tracy reminds Brian why they broke up and adds, “Hey, I really loved you and, uh, you wrecked everything.” Her husband, an Air Force C-17 pilot (John Krasinski), is a quiet man who doesn’t talk much — at all, most of the time.

At the time of her rally cry to female presenters to wear the Scanlan Theodore blazer, Wilkinson forgot to retrieve the jacket from the drycleaners – the fashion world’s equivalent of “my dog ate my homework”. Meanwhile, Aloha’s already caught heat from Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders for appropriating its title from a word laden with meaning and history. This also comes on top of accusations by natives of Hawaii that the film is full of “white washing and cultural misappropriation,” which caught the studio a little off guard as Crowe’s films don’t usually incite any type of controversy.

If it seemed obvious whom Gilcrest would wind up with when Ng picked up him on the tarmac at the start of “Aloha,” it becomes less so as the story moves them closer but also creates hurdles, romantic and professional. A scathing statement issued by the Media Action Network for Asian Americans fired the first shot. “60% of Hawaii’s population is [Asian American Pacific Islanders]. Caucasians only make up 30 percent of the population [of Hawaii], but from watching this film, you’d think they made up 99 percent,” said MANAA President Guy Aoki. “This comes in a long line of films—The Descendants, 50 First Dates, Blue Crush, Pearl Harbor—that uses Hawaii for its exotic backdrop but goes out of its way to exclude the very people who live there. In terms of the story, Hawaiian myths are touched upon but not explored in depth, and the same can be said of Brian’s black-hearted misadventures before returning to the islands. It’s an insult to the diverse culture and fabric of Hawaii.” MANAA and other Aloha critics didn’t get to see the film before issuing their statements; Sony didn’t conduct a press day for the movie (translation: no stars did interviews) and hid the film from everyone, including journalists, until three days before it opened.

In that regard, “Aloha” is like a slice of cherry pie in which the filling — the romcom material — is fresh and sweetly tart, and the crust or almost everything else is too chewy and difficult to swallow. Crowe’s “Elizabethtown” defined as a “disaster of a mythic proportion,” just more of a well-meaning failure likely to be pummeled at the box office by a movie that happily embraces its roots in disaster.

After all talent attracts talent, but it is a little concerning to investors when they realize the majority of his film never break the $100 million mark (Jerry Maguire being the outlier). The other factor though that Sony has released just three films so far in 2015 so its investors want a hit as badly as its executives do, but they won’t be sold on the “awards/prestige” argument if the company’s own topper expressed major issues with the picture.

This is really a no win for Sony and honestly it’s not going to get better next month when its live-action Wreck-It Ralph type film Pixels hits theaters. The opening credits begin with a montage of newsreel-style images of Hawaii around the time it became the 49th state and the military’s space-program efforts. The movie about videogame characters come to life sports a comedic cast of top names like Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Josh Gad (plus Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage), but early buzz is not exactly promising. When Gilcrest and Ng travel to a rural commune to get a Hawaiian blessing for a checkpoint, their visit has the feel of a trek to a reservation to meet with a tribal council. Yet there is a upside and it comes in the fall when the studio’s slate really kicks in courtesy of its big-screen adaptation of the Goosebumps novel, the Oscar-bait NFL concussion flick Concussion, animated franchise Hotel Transylvania 2 and of course James Bond film Spectre.

Native, because the blond, green-eyed Ng is one-quarter Chinese, one-quarter Hawaiian, and one-quarter Swedish, making Aloha the first major studio movie to explain to white folks how you pronounce the name “Ng” (like ‘ring,’ without the R). Crowe might’ve even gotten away with it if he’d cast any of his supporting characters with minorities, more accurately repping the ethnic makeup of the islands. Instead, his “love letter” to Hawaii feels about as authentic as a mainlander’s #TBT to that one exotic Oahu vacay years ago, sipping Mai Tais on the beach at sunset while watching the hula show. Americans took the land away from its rightful owners long ago, he says with friendly reserve, resisting Gilcrest’s offer to get in bed with the U.S. government.

Responding to the whitewashing backlash, Sony jumped to Crowe’s defense citing years of research and “many months” spent immersed on location in Hawaii. “While some have been quick to judge a movie they haven’t seen and a script they haven’t read, the film Aloha respectfully showcases the spirit and culture of the Hawaiian people,” the studio said. He earned the trust of many Hawaiian community leaders, including Dennis ‘Bumpy’ Kanahele, who plays a key role in the film.” Unfortunately, the plot thread involving Kanahele and the Native Hawaiian cause dissipates like the mythological Menehune into the misty Hawaiian night. Aloha’s minority characters take the backseat, left to look for signs in the sky as Cooper’s flawed hero saves them from a fate of his own making, transformed by the island’s mana, and by love.

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