Levitt Reviews Masters Of Sex-Season Finale (spoilers)

masters

Masters Of Sex did tick-up in quality slightly this year from the Dan Logan-Centric previous season but unfortunately the year also doubled-down on soapy intrigue and melodramatic shenanigans.  The season finale had a rushed-up feel.  Subtlety gave way to easy closures and bizarrely unexpected detours.

Libby Masters JD-

libby

 When did Libby’s deep love of the law begin,  two episodes ago?. Libby was formerly the queen of domestic complacency; spending the past 3 seasons doing absolutely  nothing except smoking, and inwardly brooding about her condition.  This season, the staid former housewife however, suddenly decided to head on down to Woodstock and… eschewing the counter culture phrase, “Turn on, tune in, drop out”, instead decided to…become a lawyer. If you troubled to ask,  I’m sure people’s first impulse after dazedly emerging from the mushroom /mud infused grounds of Woodstock was probably not to decide to buckle down to 3 years of intense study and preparation for the Bar Exam.  Talk about your bad trip!

Johnny Masters- from neglected child to teenage martyr

johnny

In this hyper-melodramatic finale, Johnny Masters (estranged son of Bill) overhears his parents bickering and -apparently because he has an extremely low tolerance for parental discord- completely freaks; jumping into his dad’s Jaguar and driving off in some wacky vehicular tantrum.  I’m not sure why Master’s son (absent all season) was suddenly called in for this melodrama.  Maybe due to some child labor laws in AFTRA, kids must appear in at least one episode per season to be granted health coverage. Johnny’s sole scene depicted him overhearing that his mom (kids in tow) would move halfway across the country to attend law school. Its hard to believe that Johnny’s character, so long estranged and even insulted by his father, would get so worked up about the fight that Johnny would both freak and -in some bizarre  magnanimous impulse-volunteer to live with his dad to ease his fatherly loneliness.  Luckily, the still “paternally ambivalent” Bill Masters quickly put the kibosh to any “The Courtship Of Eddies Father” scenario by announcing that despite Johnny’s kind offer,  Dad would now be keeping house with former mistress, fellow sexpert, Virginia Johnson.  Music to any estranged kids ears!

Dr Nancy-  Going Off “Half cocked”

nancy

After a whole season of sniping at Virginia and de-masculating husband Art, what was Dr Nancy’s exit strategy this season?  Just steal Master’s and Johnson’s Clients, move to another city and set up shop using their approaches? Great plan!  Good luck getting a good job recommendation/employer referral after that one! .   This year, Dr Nancy and Art already won my  award for least fun, open-marriage swingers ever. Nancy was cold blooded, stone-faced, and ambitious and Art was  devoted, ethical, and soul searching. Instead,  Masters could have tapped into the more casual, promiscuous vibe of this era and even added some “far outs” or “groovys” to add some tacky flavor and more of a smarmy groove.  Unfortunately, the show apparently wanted to end the season by making Dr Nancy, Betty Gilpin, the single least likable woman on cable; aborting her husband’s baby without his knowledge/consent and stealing her bosses clients. On the plus side though, she did like her some “open marriage sex”.

Masters And Johnson- How About A Wedding Quickie?

wedding

What do you get for the couple whose relationship was sizzling, bubbling, percolating for 4 seasons (spanning 10+ years)?   a quickie marriage in the clerk’s office of City Hall and presided over by a grumbly functionary. Yeah, that hit the spot!  Seems satisfying.  I guess the writers wanted to avoid any  needless romantic proclamations by Masters or any earnest love-filled vows by Virginia to keep female fans of the show happy. No, we don’t want that! Look, They got hitched.  Isn’t that enough?  The show didn’t even go to the trouble of throwing up any last minute roadblocks.  No last minute Dan Logan or “Dotie” objections to clog up the works and kill any remote dramatic tension. No last minute Barton Scully indignant meltdowns at the courthouse (always good for a laugh)  Bill was late to the ceremony. that’s it.  It would probably be a more dramatic payoff if Masters suddenly realized he forgotten his beloved bow tie.

Betty- What, Did Her Invite To the Finale/Wedding Get Lost In The Mail?

betty

Killing her lesbian lover in childbirth, losing custody of her new baby to her lover’s hateful, intolerant parents…They did everything to Betty this season but chuck her head-first down a flight of stairs.  What happened here? who’d she piss off?  Did she accidentally  drop a #2 in the Toilet of Lizzy Caplan’s private dressing room?   The show didn’t even have the courtesy to invite her to the courthouse nuptials of Masters and Johnson.  Screw Scully or Guy, Betty deserved to be there.

Levitt Rates “The Duff” (B- On A Teen-Comedy Scale)

duff

On the surface, the plot of The Duff, follows in a long tradition of Boiler-Plate Teen comedies .  The recipe is: Take a misfit protagonist, a stuck up homecoming queen, the school jock, and sprinkle in some John Hughes teen angst  and stir.

The plot off “The Duff” is the most highly derivative teen comedy I have ever seen and, since most of these films borrow from each-other, that’s saying alot.  Here are some of the more copy-cat plot points:

The central character of the film is a social mis-fit who is just one make-over away from being attractive (in every teen flick): check

The embarrassing viral video (see “American pie”)

The pretty but dim friends (any teen comedy) check

The climactic prom scene where the jock must make a decision to choose love over social convention. (She’s All That)  Check

The cool girl’s come uppance (every teen comedy)

The central story of the film involves Bianca’s realization that she is the Duff (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) for her friend group to whom people approach who are more interested in her prettier friends. Once she realizes this less-than-profound fact, she is able to take a stronger ownership of her invisible social status:to act/dress different, confront her peers, ie get out of her comfort zone and take more risks. She quickly buddies up with jock, “Wesley Rush” who, in exchange for help with his science Class, agrees to help tutor her to confront her Duff Status and navigate through the tough social waters of high-school life ( you know,in between push-ups/making out with the homecoming queen).

Ulitmately, What makes these geek to chic teen comedies work is largely the likability/relatability of the central character. That’s where this film, for me, breaks above the average pack of this genre.  The writers make The Duff, aka Bianca Piper (played appealingly by  by Mae Whitman) a fully three dimensional character. Not too Goody-Goody, not too much of an angry outsider. She just seems real.  She’s casual and self-deprecating but also sharply critical of the people around her. Physically, Mae Whitman she reminds me as sort of a cross between Amanda Bynes and janeane Garofalo ( although with less real-life baggage than Bynes and less sardonic than Garofolo).  The writers also smatter-in plenty of witty social media references and pop culture references to keep things moving and entertaining.

But of course, “The Duff” is the most likable character in the film  The writers hardly give the other characters a fighting chance. The other actors are mostly  stock figures: pretty girls who take turns either preening or mercilessly bashing their underclassman.  The only other character who has a more singular personality is the 2nd lead of the film, The Jock/heartthrob “Wesley Rush”.  I like how the writers named a football character “Wesley Rush”. Get it? I guess the name “Scott Scrimmage” was too on the nose. The writers make him a decent guy but with raunchy streak that gives his character more depth/reality than your basic jock/good samaritan type which is pretty common in these types of films.  Less successful, though, is the odd addition of  actress  Allison Janey to play The Duff’s mother Its questionable why they cast Janney as mother since she towers above Mae and physically they barely seem part of the same species much less family members.  The film largely sidelines the talented Janney relegating her to just a sounding board for Bianca’s problems .

The film is obvious in its treatment of social groups. These types films never met a cliche’d teen niche they didn’t like/exploit.  From the original template of The Breakfast Club: you have your Jocks, criminals, nerds, wierdos etc.  Anyone who has experiences high school, knows that social groups that not very sharply delineated.  Its not like jocks or nerds telegraph their status that obviously:  “Look, I’m a jock and I can’t be seen talking to you.  Read the contract!”.  Social groups are, more often than that more varied;  weird melting pots of people who could probably and do hang equally with many different social groups.

The ending morality of the film, everybody is somebody’s duff.  We’re all nerds, blah blah is straight out of every other teen movie from John Hughes On. Not that earth-shattering.  But its still nice to see difference being embraced after the slew of body shaming/ cyber bullying that happens so frequently online and through social media these days.  Its also nice, if cliched, to see the heroine of the film achieve love and self-acceptance.  So, despite its extremely copy-cat, by the numbers plot-line and cardboard supporting characters, I liked the lead actors and some of the sharp/witty dialogue enough to give this film a B- (On a highly more generous Teen-Comedy Scale)

 

 

 

Actors Who Can’t Do Accents

Some Film Actors like Meryl Streep are adept at playing characters with a whole range of different accents and regional dialects. However, some film actors who should be best kept nameless  but who I will now mercilessly name are best kept to their “mother tongues” because when they try to venture into changing the natural rhythms and cadences of their voices, the results are often quite painful to the human ear.

Park The Cah in Haavad Yaaad

hanks

Having gone to school in Boston, I know that the regional accents are often subtle. I can therefore categorically say that not everyone speaks like John F. Kennedy after a visit to the dentist.  Unfortunately, I don’t think Tom Hans or Rob Morrow ever got my memo.

Sure  Charles Van Doren famously lied about getting the answers on 21 in the film Quiz Show, but I believe the more grievous crime was Rob Morrow’s ridiculously thick “bahstonian” accent in Quiz Show. Its lucky he was a lawyer and not a dialect coach. His clients would sue.

Tom Hanks is a respected actor known for versatility in comedy and drama.  Yet accents are not his strong suit.  Even Forrest Gump where he must put on a southern accent is cartoon-ish and only aided somewhat by the reality that Gump was mentally challenged so therefore  spoke in a halting and overly deliberate way.  But, Hanks bizarrely bad boston accent in “Catch Me If You Can” cannot be attributable to any inferior intellect.  In this instance, Hanks character was in complete control of all his faculties…except for speech.

2 thick accents don’t mix

crowe

Russel Crowe is known for his intensity and dissolving into the characters he plays.  unfortunately his australian accent doesn’t always make the seamless transition.  In A Beautiful Mind or Cinderella Man  his accents it still sounds like a mix of australian/new york or australian/southern.  A mumble-mouthed jumble… a verbal concoction that savages two dialects in the process.  Maybe the more merciful way to go was to dub Crowe’s audio using another actor.

Keanu-Bad

keanu

In the history of bad accents, Keanu Reeves should be given the gold trophy.  In the film Dracula, his accent is so bad you wish that a vampire would put an early end to his life. In the film, “Devil’s Advocate”, Keanu voices a southern accent so fowl, him and his law clients deserved death by lethal injection.  In fact, in most films Keanu seems even barely able to speak his native language, English, with any degree of fluency or meaning . When he is called on to speak, Reeves talking pattern is as awkward as any space alien or a 6 year old reading a Dick and Jane Book for the first time.

Holly Hunter- The accent from nowhere

holly

Holly Hunter has an eccentric sounding southern accent which she cannot shake and even sounds out of place in films in which her characters are supposed to have southern roots. Simply put,  her voice doesn’t exactly match her face.  When watching any of her films, you might always find yourself asking,  Why does this character have this weird southern accent?    So film-makers almost have to concoct a colorful backstory to explain why Holly Hunter has an eccentric southern drawl…ie her character often summered in a farm in rural Arkansas. fittingly, she Hunter was honored for an Oscar for  her work in the Piano, in a role in which she did not speak out loud.

Speak Russian?  Nyet!

malkovich

I think its safe to generalize and say that most actors cannot do a convincing Russian Accent. Inevitably, they all sound like some variation of “Boris” from the old Bullwinkle Cartoon . For instance  John Malkovich’s ridiculously over-the-top accent in “Rounders”. If he tried that voice in real life, He’d be laughed out of any self-respecting Russian Bathhouse or denied service in any restaurant in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn which served pirogis. Thankfully, in the film “Inside John Malkovich” the actor was not called upon to to illicit any  particular foreign accent. The last thing you’d want to be is trapped in his subconscious or the scene with the multiple malkovich’s all speaking in bad Russian continuously. Nyet, Definitely Nyet!

Levitt Reviews Straight Outta Compton (B+)

compton

I’ll get this out of the way early…I’m not the biggest fan of rap.  When it comes to music, I’m more of a traditionalist;  tune and melody slightly more important to me than the words wheras in rap, the opposite is largely true. So, when it came to watching “Straight Outta Compton”, I was really coming at the subject largely from a beginners perspective. Of course, I’ve heard of NWA and knew of Ice Cube largely from his movies and “Aint nothin but a G Thang” but I was largely ignorant, except in very broad strokes, of the bands history and importance to gangsta rap.  I wanted to check out the movie, though, because I usually like music biopics and this film got such universal positive praise.

Most music biopics follow a very familiar template:  clashes with dissaproving moms (do moms in movies ever approve of anything?), low-level club owners who warn the band “their kind of music will never sell”, soon early success leads to drug excess and ego clashes, and for some reason each biopic I’ve seen always features a greedy jewish band manager with a bad hairpiece.  “Straight Outta Compton” hits all these familar beats without apology but what separates this film and what stops it from being a superficial “movie of the week” is the throbbing vitality of the music itself and its unflinching portrait of the world it depicts.  NWA, the film’s focus and its main members:  Eazy E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube not only write and rap about their violent culture they live it.  Unlike many musicians who visit and report on injustice in songs in an “aint that just to bad” or detached coffee-house way, these guys are the ones who are getting guns flashed in their faces and thrown down on the hoods of cop cars. Much of their rhymes serve as a retaliatory gut-punches on what just happened.  The lyrics have a raw. blunt, immediacy that could not be denied by the music industry and the public at large.

The film shows the rise of NWA and the politics within the group and clashes with record producers/managers.  There are many scenes  and the groups manager, Jerry Heller played by Paul Giamatti who adopts a paternal protective image with the band and forms a special Bond with Eazy-E. I liked this relationship but felt that these scenes and much of the films middle part was a bit insular.  There are boardroom scenes and scenes noting the band’s success by showing lavish pool-side parties. But Since NWA,  was such a fan favorite, I would have preferred more scenes which showed the group interacting with the public….laughing or commiserating with fans,   or the group connecting with old people of their neighborhood.

Interestingly, in a film largely about violence and bravado, I found the film was at its most effective in moments of quiet. The scene where Dr Dre learns about his brother dieing is a standout.  The guys are allowed to take a pause and reflect on the transitory nature of life despite any momentary material/financial advantage.

As I mentioned much of the film is about the groups clash with record executives. In a fit of rage, Dr Dre is scene taking a bat to one excutive’s display of gold records.   But, the primary relationship of the film with Eazy E and his manager, Heller needed a more satisfying resolution. Despite Dre Dre and ice Cube leaving NWA because of Heller’s corruptness/skimming off the top earlier in the film,  Eazy-E stayed loyal to the the manager despite mounting evidence that Heller was cheating the band of some profits.  I think there needed to be an extra scene which showed why Eazy was so blindingly trustful or why Heller was so unnecessarily greedy to make a better payoff at the end.

I enjoyed Straight Outta Compton and found the pace of the film good and the performances first rate. (especially from O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube who captures the sullenness, and Jason Mitchell (as Eazy E) who inhabits the films most dramatic moments.  I would have liked a scene or two about the actual writing process and the members of NWA struggling more to find their musical voice.  But, I realize that the writing/creative process is a hard nut to crack in a dramatic way on screen.  Films from everything from Barton Fink to Throw Mamma From the train have tried to depict the writing process in a competitive but ultimately unsuccessful way.  Maybe ultimately true creation is often too random and elusive to truly capture on screen.But, At least we have films like Straight Outta Compton to testify to the vibrant/ lasting end result.

 

 

Levitt Reviews “Creed” (3 stars)

 

rocko

As Sylvester stallone knows only too well after having to come up with 6 Rocky’ flicks, Its hard to make an original boxing film.  Even before Rocky you had films like “The Champ” and “Somebody Up There Likes Me”  which were already about underdog boxers chasing the title. in 1976 Sylvester  stallone brilliantly re-invented the genre with a more contemporary sensibility and inspirational modern score.  The first Rocky film took its time, and allowed you to get to know and appreciate all the characters. Unfortunately The newer films/sequels were like shortened Best of clip reel: workout scenes, power ballads, motivational speeches, and a victorious fist raised in the air at the end to serve as story.

Through it all, front and center in the rocky films was of course Rocky Balboa immortalized by Sly. Rocky as a character was  interesting because, in addition to boxing, he loved animals, had a thing for the mousy pet store worker down the street, had a sparring brotherly relationship with Paulie and his Loan Shark Employer, and developed a deep father/son vibe with Micky his soon-to-be trainer  He was a “neighborhood guy” a lovable lug. In essence,  The first Rocky did a lot to establish him as a character even before he put on gloves.

Sylvester Stallone is largely the hero of this new Creed film. Retired, old, and tired, Rocky has to curl his pain into words instead of a fist.  The script allows him to be in turns reflective, nostalgic, and wise in a way that his characters haven’t quite been able to tap into before because they were too busy training.  To me, the film could have been called, The trainer, and it would have been equally apt.  Stallone is the heart and soul of Creed and if Stallone doesn’t at least get an Oscar Nomination for his performance I would be very surprised.

Where the film falls down a bit for me is in the performance/writing of the film’s main character, Adonnis Creed.  The character of, Adonnis father,  Apollo Creed, was larger than life.  A brash, fast talking champ in the style of Mohammed Ali.  His son,  Adonis creed, is  unfortunately monosyllabic and dour through large stretches of the film so its hard to really build up a lot of enthusiasm for him as a character. Sure he’s bitter because his father Apollo died and he has to fight against his image in the ring but is that it, is that all he is bitter?  The film does try and humanize him a bit with a romance with a local singer but his character is both under-written and the actor himself is largely undemonstrative.  What we are left with as an audience is simply to root for Adonnis because he is a good Boxer and his father was a legend. This is not enough for me. He also has to be likable.  Its also hard to see where his true love and passion for boxing comes from because he has a corporate job and seems more of a boxing hobbyist when the film begins. also, unlike Rocky, Adonnis doesn’t have any kind of an entourage.His mom is kind of a cameo, his former boss, and would be trainer are off the screen quicker than a first round TKO. So,  He’s basically a loner.   Without a Paulie  in his world to “bust his chops a little” or an Adrienne to keep him on the straight and narrow, Adonnis just seems a little too self-involved and boring.

Aside from the limitations of the main character, however,The film is a nice, gritty, if not highly original fight film. The plot, of course, features the well worn grooves of most rocky films and throws in everything that has worked. The film even borrows liberally from the ill-advised Rocky 5 installment where Rocky trains a boxer who just “shows up” in his neighborhood because he asks. Underdog chasing the title, facing adversity, working out, etc. the  goes through the familiar beats  Of course we know that Rocky will eventually go out of retirement, acquiesce and train Adonnis.  In the wacky (one more round) Rocky Universe, who knows, its not even out of the question to assume that, if asked by Adonnis, Rocky may have even consented to put on his own moth eaten boxing trunks and step into the ring one more last time.

The film, I feel, could have touched/mirrored on one of the more interesting things about father Apollo Creed’s ultimate demise in the ring. Apollo died in the ring (in Rocky 4), not just because he was a fighter and wanted to go out  fighting but he also ventured back into the ring because of ego and nationalist sentiment.  He didn’t want the Russians (evil) to win. the Us against Them vibe of the cold war. I’m not suggesting that they have Adonis battle a member of a group like Isis  to make it relevant politically (Although that might be interesting if they were able to do it without being insensitive or cornball- no small feat) but perhaps they could have drawn a parallel to Adonis own ego and that he boxes for some larger goal: pride, equality, self-hood, or his place in society/ the world to give him a larger motivation to box other than the mere competition aspect.

Some may think it unfair for me to compare Creed with Rocky.  But with a plot so familiar to every other Rocky film, its hard not compare the new incarnation to its classier predecessors.  Throughout much of the film, Adonnis is called “Baby Creed” and must work his butt off to, stand on his own, and get out of Apollos shadow.  I think he has a bigger problem than that, to break out of Rocky’s shadow and with Sly’s previous 6 films and his charismatic presence in Creed, Rocky is still the champ for me.  But see the new Creed film for yourself and see if you agree.

Levitt Rates The RomComs

sally

There are tons of Romantic Comedies out there so I thought its high time I compile a list of the Best/almost best/and the downright worst of this entire genre. Here it is:

The Best (in no particular order)

gold

When Harry Met Sally- Probably the gold-standard of the genre. the one weakness is that for me Billy Crystal is, at times,  a little Shticky. Doing his stand-up nebishy personna in a couple of scenes which detracts a little from the films authenticity.

The Goodbye Girl-  snappy Neil Simon dialogue and characters which bristle and best thing yet, no obligatory best friend character to weigh down the plot.

Silver Linings Playbook-  two people united in their neurosis.  What love should be.  The drug comparison scene could have gone on a bit more.  Not sure why comedian, Chris Tucker is in the movie but…

The Graduate .kind of an incestuous as  rom-coms go but has  The father of all wedding interruption scenes at the end. Elaine Elaine! (not said in a Jerry Seinfeld voice)

Sideways- not sure if many people consider this a romcom, more of a wine country odyssey but a strong cast, a wonderfully loopy Thomas Haden Church.  Sure it’s a stretch that Virginia Madsen would be into Paul Gimatti but he’s such a good actor it almost seems credible.

Bridget Jones Diary- Yes it’s a remake of Pride and Prejudice. But a klutzy, socially awkward Rene Zelwegger is a good spin on the  Elizabeth Bennet Character. I’m surprised enterprising food execs didn’t launch a line of “Blue Soup” after the movie was released.

As Good as it gets/something’s gotta give. Kinda  interchangeable  in my book. Romcoms for the older generation Who’d have thought Jack Nicholson would make a good romantic lead.  Certainly not shelly Duvall in “The Shining”

Tootsie- Good romcom Best man in drag movie. Sorry Mrs Doubfire and Victor Victoria. the hilarious agent scene should make this film at the top of any list including a romcom.

Films That Almost Made The List

cigar

The Owl and The Pussycat- sort of a low rent “The Goodbye Girl” (with the romantic leads sharing an apt together) with a nerdy/ likeable pre- Just Shoot Me, George Segal and the ditzy sometimes hooker Barb Streisand in probably her most likeable role. Cool score also by Blood Sweat and Tears and who wouldn’t want the sun to “Spit morning” into their face? or take in a mid-afternoon screening of “Cycle Sluts”.

Notable films that didn’t make the list and why

cut

Notting Hill- .  I kept thinking Julia Roberts kept over-reacting and leaving Hugh Grant/England for no good reason long periods of time.  Also whoever wrote the line, “Im also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her” should be shot.

Pretty woman-  Okay but overrated. Hard to get the appeal of the film without Julia Roberts and Richard Gere’s attractiveness and show me a world which allows George Costanza to almost rape Julia Roberts.

Love Actually-  Edit out the stupid subplot about the English guy trying to score in a US bar whose only patrons are Supermodels (this bar isn’t listed anywhere on Zagat) and the annoying subplot with Laura Linney who experienced coitus-interruptis at the hands of her handicapped/call-dial-happy brother and you might have a bearable film here.

Horrible RomComs to avoid

poison

What If-  horrible, no comedy, no chemistry, lame payoff at the end.

Something borrowed- Only watch if you think its a good time to watch Ginnifer Goodwin tear up for two hours

Maid of Honor- one of the most derivative romcoms I’ve ever seen. Finding love with the best friend, a bizarrely cast best friend character (kadeem Hardison) can’t even strike an original chord with a trip to Scotland.  and as a side note, who doesn’t crash someone’s wedding on horseback?

 

Levitt Sounds Off On Project Greenlight

greenlight

I  watched the Premiere of Project Greenlight last night with much interest because I’m also an aspiring film-maker.  More of a writer than director etc but  in the ballpark.  Anyhow , first off not crazy about the show’s premise: the fact that Affleck, and Damon sponsor a contest and  help to hand pick the director of a comedy film There’s just something too…” Success anointing success about it”.   I realize that most deals in Hollywood done by successful people. this way but the fact that two primo sucess stories in the room and are personally choosing the director(with the exception of the one they actually picked) are expected to kiss their Affleck and Damon’s ass and make a case for themselves is just too much fawning for me.  At least with shows like “Undercover Boss” the guy in the power position at least pretends to be on equal footing to begin with so that he can get a true perspective of his workers and not their “Best sucking up behavior”

To Heighten the stakes, In the very beginning of the show, Affleck and Damon claim they are putting their integrity/career on the line with their choices.  Obviously, they’re not.  The prior winners of Project Greenlight were barely a blip on the movie radar Yet Ben managed to go on to Box Office, Oscar and nanny boffing success regardless. Now, if Damon and Affleck, would agree to give all their money/posessions to charity if the winner of Project Greenlight didn’t succeed, then there would be real drama and we could see  the duo get more emotionally invested in the show,  instead of appearing occasionally in perfunctory phone conversations about this or that insignificant detail.

After some preliminary back and forth with Damon, Affleck, and the rest of the other judges (The Farrelly Brothers) and Brown (who argued for ethnic diversity), The show went out of its way to pick a volatile/arrogant director because they thought he had the most talent. Even though the director they chose specialized in dark films and they were shooting a broad comedy. But,   Its also no secret that dicks are good for ratings: (ie Simon Cowell, or Dennis o’leary SharkTank). So, its likely they picked this guy at least partly because he was an obnoxious jerk.  I mean  No one is going to tune in to watch a show about a a well-run movie production team lead by nice guys high-fiving eachother

In the end result, if these contest driven reality shows (America Idol, The Voice etc) prove anything at all, its that you can’t engineer success. Even successful people occasionally produce shit -literally and figuratively- (Affleck and Damon not excluded). In addition,  How can anyone really be expected to really “Create good art” in such a high stress atmosphere in which every decision they make is filmed for HBO, high profile stars like Affleck and Damon are breathing down your back,  and every decision you try to make is second guessed by a committee?