Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remember Me Discussion Group

Care to share? How many times have you watched RM? What keeps bringing you back?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Robert Pattinson Selling Remember Me: The Press Junket

Jessegirl is back with her 12th amazing article! This one deals with some of the issues surrounding Rob and the marketing of Remember Me, in particular the time of the press junket prior to the release.

-by jessegirl- September 28, 2010

The Product:
Remember Me is not an easy story to sell; it was difficult to get financing for the project and then later it was a hard sell during promotion. Part of the reason is that it cannot be pigeon-holed into the usual genres, and when a close type is identified, it turns out most of the viewing public is not ready to pay to see that type of film.

Allen Coulter, its director, said it could be a ‘romantic drama’, but that it has “so many different layers...even we [the filmmakers] couldn’t describe it...which can be a terrible disadvantage and perhaps this is the kind of movie that wouldn’t get made if someone like Robert Pattinson didn’t want to make do you explain to people...”. [to Edward Douglas at Coming]

I ‘m not sure of the exact timeline, but Pattinson definitely read the script and met with Coulter and producer Nick Osborne and signed on to Remember Me long before Twilight came out. At that point none of the men knew that Twilight’s success would catapult Pattinson into the stratosphere of fame, but when it did, he then had the clout to get Summit to back the project. This phenomenal occurrence was a double-edged sword, because, when filming began, Coulter reports that it was “incredibly difficult” to film on the streets of NYC, with disrespectful paps and Pattinson’s eager fans hampering their efforts.

Because Remember Me defied categorization, even the star had problems selling it on the press junket. When speaking with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, the usually articulate Pattinson was a loss for words. He said:
“ seemed like there was a reason to do seemed like it wasn’t written just to be a film...I don’t know..there was just something special about it and I thought every part of it helped it become what it is..” This was the star’s chance, on national TV, to give people a reason to see the film. Hmm.

I am not faulting Pattinson or Coulter, and, with perspective, I realize it’s not as easy as it seems to give people a hook to hang the film on. For me, knowing a few plot details—like the families of two lovers coping with loss—was intriguing enough. And the way Pattinson and the filmmakers spoke of it, their passion, also drew me in. Obviously I’m not the run-of-the-mill filmgoer.

For the sake of normal filmgoers, how do you sell what you can’t describe in a sentence or two, what defies categories? Lauer was not about to ask him more in-depth questions. ‘But how was it different than a film? What more was the script meant to be? Did it seem too real to be a film, is that what you mean?’ I would have asked questions like that, delved deeper, help him figure it out. That’s the way to make discoveries. The Today Show is not the venue for pursuing any deeper thoughts though.

Remember Me, its raison d’ ĂȘtre if you will, is hard to encapsulate, especially in these frustratingly short press interviews. The funny thing is, its purpose and the total effect of the finished product, is something you just feel, not necessarily with understanding. As Pattinson said: “there was just something special about it” (the script). And all the little bits, the separate scenes, come together to transfer that special something onto the screen. As he went on: “every part of it helped it become what it is.” I think he knew but didn’t understand. He knew with intuitive, instinctive comprehension, and Pattinson trusted it. This man has wisdom and an authentic demeanour which made me trust his judgement.

When it comes right down to it though, how do you sell the dark night of the soul? How do you sell tragedy? People today have an aversion to the depth of a film like this.

The Front Man...and his Baggage:
While Coulter, Osborne, Fetters, and co-stars Brosnan, Cooper and especially DeRavin all took part in promotion, Robert Pattinson was the front man. His star power would highlight this little film in a way which, without him, wouldn’t happen. But Pattinson came with baggage, namely the public’s perceptions of him as the vampire from Twilight, and the critics and TV hosts/interviewers’ preconceptions.

It turned out that his fan base was not homogeneous, not merely hormonal young teen girls. One group of fans initiated Remember Me Saturday, a campaign to get his fans out on opening weekend in a show of support. However, backlash from large numbers of Twilight fans who had not been able to separate Edward from Robert and refused to see him with another love interest boycotted, which counteracted the other campaign. I must admit I had not factored in the scope of this immaturity. Good to know.

Of course Remember Me was never meant to be a teen flick, Coulter and Pattinson were clear on that, and Pattinson was instrumental in getting a trailer changed. (The fact that many thoughtful teens—male and female, internationally—love the film is an interesting aside.)

Pattinson hit not only The Today Show, but The Early Show, The Daily Show, Jimmy Fallon, and The View (with Emily), MTV. Part of the print articles in Vogue and Details magazines dealt with Remember Me. There was the press day, where interviewers were given no more than 5 minutes each with him, the speed-dating format. And the press was out in full force at the premieres.

Again and again the inability to sum up the film in a sentence to entice, or to pigeon-hole it, was evident when he spoke:
-“I really don’t know how to summarize it, it’s quite’s a family drama I think...” –“It seemed like it was written for a reason.” –“When you see clips they don’t make any sense outside the movie. It is such a kind of whole..”

On the red carpet at the London premiere, with fans screaming:
RP: “ doesn’t really press the same buttons as normal films; I hope people don’t go into it thinking ‘I’m going to watch a really happy romantic drama’, ‘cause it’s not really.”
The interviewer: “Well, SELL it!”
RP: “I’m so terrible at selling stuff. It’s really good though.”
Interviewer: “People are watching...We put money into it...”
RP: “It’s really different...It doesn’t really fit into a genre.”

The closest he came to identifying it was when he compared it to films like Ordinary People. “There are no heroes. There are no villains. Everyone in it is a good person. It’s just sort of a good family trying to deal with tough times...It’s hard to categorize.” To which Maggie Rodriguez [The Early Show interview] counters: “How would you categorize it?” In an otherwise good interview, even this gentle woman is like a dog with a bone. It must have frustrated him.

Added to this issue was the importance of keeping the big secret about the ending. All the filmmakers were very careful not to give it away, as was Pattinson. All this care blew away in the wind when Matt Lauer blurted it out on national TV. The only thing he didn’t do was say “9/11”. Oops. Thanks, Matt.

In general all the big shows talk about other things—Twilight, his hair, his private life, the tabloids, anything to make the audience laugh. This is their MO generally, with everyone. It’s light and bright and superficial. I have no problem with that, but the irresponsibility of some of these household names is amazing. Many of the big name hosts have had the gall to have him on their nationally broadcast shows without bothering to do minimal research. They glibly talk about fangs when anyone who knows Meyer’s fantasy world knows her vampires do not have fangs. They are incredulous when Robert says he wanted to be a rapper in his youth [Oprah], yet any cursory biography would have told them that. They interrupt him just as he’s started answering their question [Regis]. This type of insulting dismissal is glaringly evident to anyone who does know. Yet Pattinson handles them with finesse.

I will pursue an interesting aside here, since Pattinson’s baggage and public persona is crucial when he is sent on press junkets.

Although so many who interview him repeat the same tired questions, he attempts to vary his answers for interest. He affords not only the interviewers but the public courtesy and respect for their intelligence. His innate curiosity and genuine willingness to learn and to play along with their silly games is evidence of his good nature [Ellen –woman fondly him blindfolded; Fallon –Robert is Bothered]. The scratch my back variety of publicity. The game.

And yet when he assumes others are as intelligent as he is, his jokes go over their heads or are culturally misunderstood. Media reaction typically feeds the misunderstanding instead of clearing it up, so that ‘vampire boy’ is left swinging in the wind on TV. This type of media manipulation is reprehensible. And yet those who perpetrate it have no qualms. The big names feel entitled to do this.

A case in point: Pattinson had made a humorous comment to Jenny Lumet during a print interview for Details magazine [March 2010]. He had been surrounded by practically nude models for this long photo shoot and said something like, it made him “allergic to vaginas”. I must admit when I read the article this remark puzzled me, until someone, a Brit., told me the joke.

Here it is:
Male Patient: Doctor, what’s wrong with me? I’m allergic to vaginas.”
Doctor: Why do you say that?
Patient: Because every time I see one, I swell up and need to rub.
A bit off-colour, but fine in a print interview in a magazine catering to adults. He had just subtly referenced the joke, assuming it was common knowledge.

So, what happened when he and Emilie De Ravin were guests on The View for the Remember Me junket? There he was, surrounded on stage by four female hosts and his co-star. His whole family was in the audience. An impressionable pre-adolescent female fan was also in the audience. Family and fan had previously been pointed out by the hosts. Nevertheless, Barbara Walters brings it up—what’s this about vaginas?- expecting him to explain. She hasn’t bothered to research? The irresponsibility, the tactlessness, the ignorance, from this veteran ‘journalist’ is mind-boggling. For heaven’s sake, his mother was in the audience! So much for the hope that a couple of interesting questions about Remember Me would be posed.

The two dangers I see for him as a result of this insane amount of fame.
First, how would any of us react to the level and intensity of adulation he deals with? A big ego-booster, right? Cool enough to counteract what amounts to worship? The thing is, down-to-earth and self-deprecating though Pattinson is, this type of attention is enough to warp anyone’s ego. The real danger is if he believes he is as great as the fans think. It’s an abnormal and rare circumstance he finds himself in, and we’ve seen stars subject to far less become insufferable narcissists. They lose their moral compass, their sense of limits and decency wiped out by a wave of entitlement. In my opinion, this is the single most important threat to Pattinson the man.

Second, is the loss of his privacy. This is the price of fame and fortune, which would be a deal breaker for me. After filming Remember Me, when asked how he copes, the sad answer was that he looked down a lot. When asked what he does in his spare time he laughed: “Just basically running down alley ways and hiding in dumpsters.” It makes fun of the situation, yet gives nothing away. He is a master at adroitly deflecting their intrusive personal questions, usually with humour. The man is recognized everywhere, no matter how many beards, glasses, hats he uses, and Twitter makes it next to impossible for him to go anywhere without being besieged. His recent ‘road trip’ is a case in point, although in one bar, it took four whole hours for someone to recognize him.

Loss of privacy and adulation also isolate him. He is now separated from ordinary people and this cuts him off from a grounded existence, from discovering and enjoying normal people, and vice versa. He cannot trust, as previously. Do the famous realize how sad this is? It is another thing which threatens his sense of reality. Some have said that Pattinson’s bonds with his old friends and his family are strong enough to ‘keep him real’. Maybe so, but the tug of fame could change them too and lead their relationship in another direction. There is no easy solution. Roles like Tyler help, IMO.

This digression addresses what must always be remembered when he does anything. Without his fame Remember Me would not have been made. Yet without his baggage, the making and selling of Remember Me would not have been so complicated.

The Market
Say Pattinson, Coulter and Fetters had been able to elucidate Remember Me’s thrust. What is the market for tragedy, for the dark night? Why do people go to the movies these days? After all, at home they have theatre systems with 55” flat screens in HD and surround sound, cushy recliners, privacy, cheap snacks and they don’t have to put up with advertisements blaring at them at the cinema. What can compete with that?

It seems they go for special effects, 3-D, with movies they can take their families or dates to. Blockbusters, action flicks with explosions, rom coms and animated fare with lots of CGI are the order of the day. Or feel good movies like The Blind Side. So many want to escape and judge films with sad endings as bad.

However, for all their 3-D magic, blockbusters are often one-dimensional. They are plain, the ‘depth’ an illusion. They take you on a ride like a high-powered roller coaster and it’s so exhilarating, so exciting! But, after the buzz wears off, it is nothing. It is gone. Poof, -like magic.

Contrast that with films like To Kill a Mockingbird, Ordinary People, Dead Poets Society, Remember Me. These films invite you in. They offer up their stories—which are strong and have substance. They give them to you. Beneath this cordiality is a hardness, because they know you will have to work for the magic. You will have to become a co-creator. You don’t need to put anything on, like 3-D glasses; instead you’ll have to remove your defences.

Now that actually scares some people. They’d rather have blood, gore, violence. They say they just want to be entertained. They want to be put into the action, be thrilled. Film as adrenalin rush. Strapped into their seats and go for a ride. They’re tired after school and work and just want to be taken away.

But with Remember Me there are no special effects. No 3-D. Ironically though, in Remember Me there are more layers and dimensions waiting for us to find them. They don’t engulf us so we lose ourselves; they wait for us to excavate so we can find ourselves. We engage, our imaginations, our hearts and minds, our humanity all attuned to that multi-dimensional world Tyler lives in. 3-D? Pffft! 3-D has nothing on that. There is no razzle-dazzle in Remember Me, just blood, sweat and tears.

When we engage, only then, does the miraculous reveal itself. At some point quiet magic has been worked. Not by the filmmakers alone, but by our responses and participation. Otherwise it won’t happen. With Remember Me, if we allow it, our entire beings respond to the Tragic. And that is the most powerful of all. It is not a ride that leaves you dizzy but a journey you take with the characters. And it stays with you. Over the coming hours, days, weeks...maybe more, you allow it to stay inside, working its little miracle within you. And, here’s the kicker; it changes you. You’re not tired anymore, but energized, emotions in high gear. The action is all inside you, that’s part of Remember Me’s magic.

-“But when you see it, it’s like, have I ever had that kind of transformative experience in a movie before? Rarely...” [VAgirl –IMDb message board]

-“This movie had the power to change the way I feel about things, the way I act towards others...” [shazbott89 –IMDb message board]

What did these viewers have to say about Remember Me and its competition?

-“..I’ll remember the poignancy of Remember Me far more than I’ll remember Alice in Wonderland or even Avatar. What does that say for the big budgets, huh?” [Kerri –Bartyzel ]

-“I saw the film and it stayed with me. Not many films do that anymore. I doubt The Bounty Hunter, which cost $50M—more than 3 times the budget of Remember Me —will be lingering in people’s thoughts afterwards.” [Sling –Bartyzel]

-“People actually cried while watching this movie. People felt all sorts of emotions from this movie. How many movies have you seen throughout your lifetime that affected you this way?...While watching Alice (In Wonderland) I forgot the previous scenes when the next one came up. After...I didn’t remember much about the movie. But for Remember Me, I still remember the movie and my emotions throughout. That’s a powerful movie in my opinion.” [Tawndy –Bartyzel]

Some people can’t tolerate their own, or anyone else’s strong emotions; they want to go to the movies for fun, laughs, fantasy, horror, for the ride. To uncover their strong emotions embarrasses them, angers, annoys. Of course, anger and annoyance are emotions too, as are fear and joy. It is specific emotions these people don’t want to admit. It’s not cool to reveal how compassionate you are. It’s not cool—or manly?—to cry at the movies.

One commenter at IMDb mocked that the message board was “full of emos that would cry at the drop of a hat, no matter how contrived a movie is”. This person is part of the problem. He thinks if he disses those whose finer emotions are engaged by Remember Me, he is above it all.

Are we, as a society, still back in that restrictive place which ties down a man’s sensitive emotions? Then we are talking about pathos, not tragedy, about a culture which refuses to cultivate the ‘higher’ emotions, like compassion, the only emotions which will, by the way, get us all out of the mess of the kind of terrorism perpetrated on September 11th. That’s clear, isn’t it?

Given all of the above, how could Pattinson et al have told us this, how could he have even predicted it? The story was always going for the dark night of the soul and audiences had to be willing to go there. That was the point. But they weren’t supposed to know that. Remember Me is not for the faint of heart. It requires bravery.

How do you categorize the unique?
We can only put Remember Me beside other unique films of depth and emotional power. Films like: To Kill a Mockingbird, Ordinary People, Dead Poets’ Society, Terms of Endearment. You know the ones. That is the class and ‘type’ of movie Remember Me belongs in. These are the meaningful films. They engage your entire being, just as all good art does, and at a deeper level than ordinary movie fare. They are multi-layered and multi-dimensional. They have substance, heart, compassion for the human condition.

And yet they are also very entertaining, unpretentious, and totally accessible. They are the real “must sees”, the “not to be missed” films. They are not flashy yet, in their quiet way, they grab hold of you to work their little miracles, then stick with you. All great stories are hard to pigeon-hole. Will wrote an original story, in an extraordinary context. And, one by one, producers, director, actors and the crew too, became passionately involved.

It’s easy to give a movie like that a chance, if you trust to the tenor of Pattinson’s words about it, and to Coulter’s, Osborne’s, DeRavin’s, Fetter’s. And once you’ve given it a chance, it’s easy to fall in love with it. Who needs categories? They all fall away.


“Post-Movie Coffee: Remember Me”, by Monika Bartyzel. March19, 2010.
Post-Movie Coffee:Remember Me

Various IMDb Remember Me and Robert Pattinson message boards.
Remember Me IMDb page
Robert Pattinson IMDb page