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Sunday, August 13, 2017 

Luc Besson can't come to terms with his incompetence

The filmmaker still can't accept that the overall failure of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is mainly his own fault, and thinks he knows why it wasn't a success in the USA, though truly, he doesn't:
Leading French filmmaker Luc Besson has a clear idea why the sci-fi epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets flopped in the US after being slammed by critics.

"If a film like this was working huge in the US, that's a problem for the studios," the prolific director of Lucy, The Fifth Element, Leon The Professional, La Femme Nikita and producer of the Taken and Transporter movies says.

"It's independent. It's not superheroes defending the power of America. It's European – it's different – and they can't accept that."
Oh, do tell us about it. There were plenty of critics favorable to Forbidden Games, A Man and a Woman, My Night at Maud's, Belle de Jour, La Nuit Americain, among various other notable films from France, so it's not like US film critics can't even get the hang of a European-made sci-fi flick. There's smaller outfits like Miramax and Lionsgate who've had their share of successes and failures alike, and nobody saw that as a problem. What matters is Besson's own goofs as the screenwriter/director, to say nothing of the leading actors, who were panned for their uninspired performances. It looks like he also stuffed in far too many ideas and characters drawing from the comics, not unlike how the Green Lantern movie did the same, and that can weigh heavily against the screenplay too. If he were smart, he would've saved some elements for the sequel that'll probably never happen now.

He also sounds oblivious to the James Bond franchise, which, if it matters, could just as well be about defending the power of the UK, even though they've proven themselves little better than any country with dreadful socialist politics running amok. A lot of audiences embraced 007 in past decades, so I don't see his logic here. And is something wrong with defending America for the right reasons? Or, if it's such a big deal to him, how come he's not paying attention to how recent superhero comics aren't defending America's powers, just because Trump was elected?

And he's wrong about studios having a problem with independently produced films, comic-based or otherwise: Atomic Blonde, made by a small company called Focus Features, is based on the 2012 graphic novel Coldest City by Antony Johnston, and it's gotten a favorable reception so far. Again, what matters is the talent involved, or lack thereof, as in Besson's case. I saw the Fifth Element years ago, and it was honestly overrated in retrospect.
Besson, who lives in Los Angeles but remains very much a French auteur with a taste for action, strong female characters and visual spectacle, says no other country in the world would have the guts to call a movie the national equivalent of Captain America.

"It's their right – and sometimes these films [about American superheroes] are very good – but I think diversity is the key for everyone," he says. "If on 10 screens we have 10 Marvel [movies] we're losing something.

"It's like eating fast food every day. And I come from France so I'm more for cuisine."
Umm, France has fast food networks working there too, along with plenty of customers, so don't go around making it sound like being French means you literally stick with cuisine, even if it's healthier than most fast food is. And for somebody who says he's mad about the negative reception in the USA, he sure doesn't seem to have a problem insulting the intellect of other Europeans when he says they wouldn't have the guts to name a local equivalent of the Star Spangled Avenger. If somebody wanted to, I'm sure they'd try to write up a story starring a variation on American superheroes. Besides, I'm not sure why somebody who doesn't even live on his native continent's complaining, when he hasn't shown the willingness to try it himself. He already made clear he's not fond of superheroes, so his point's very weak.

I'd also think to take issue with the notion Besson actually upholds strong female leads, because his 1990 movie Nikita's lead was a character who'd murdered a policeman after holding up a store, and it makes little difference whether she was under drug influence when she did it. Is that somebody we should care for? It's a very shaky premise, I'd say.

And while Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe may have been contributing to a US publisher's UK affiliate, they created a variation on Captain America for Marvel in the guise of Captain Britain, Brian Braddock, created primarily for the UK-based Captain Britain Weekly anthology in 1976. But I guess since Besson's made clear he doesn't care for superheroes, he's never cared to check that out.
While as reluctant to read reviews as he is to being photographed, Besson admits to being upset by one prominent American critic who called Valerian "Eurotrash" and declared it a certainty for the Razzie as the year's worst movie.

"You know since the beginning of art that some people will love it and some people won't like it and that's fine," he says. "Every artist accepts that.

"But why insult someone? We worked seven years on this film. There are 2000 people who worked [on it]. Why insult these people?

"We are proposing something that people are not obliged to watch. We're not building weapons so why not use all this hate to defend real causes or put the fingers on people who are selling weapons?"
So he's upset by one mere review, when there's plenty of others that made more valid critiques than others? Gee, what thin skin! Must I point out that, despite the film's failure, there actually were still quite a few critics who gave it favorable reviews? Why doesn't he bring that up? He sure does have some nerve to obscure valid critiques of acting, scripting, directing and other behind the camera activities by confusing them with mere insults.

Oh, and what "causes" is he talking about? The ones he defends, stemming from his ultra-leftist POV? On which note, has he ever considered that quite a few of the film critics he's got issues with are as leftist as he is, if not more so. And if they have a problem with a movie made by a smaller studio, their politics could be guiding their opinions? The guy just can't take the time to think about how his fellow leftists could be the biggest obstacle to success he'll never achieve without learning to write competently.
Besson fell in love with the comic book Valerian and Laureline when he was a lonely 10-year-old after his parents split up. But he had long thought it unfilmable.
Yet he never thought himself untalented, the very reason it would be unfilmable.
"I go where talent is," Besson says. "I'm not looking for the passport. And there are not enough good French actors any more.

"They wake up too late; they wake up at noon.

"The girls – the French actresses – work much more, that is why they're so popular. But the English, the US, their actors are very strong. And the French don't want to learn English."
What's this, he's slamming his own nation? Gee, considering how many travel to English-speaking countries like Britain, the USA and Canada, I don't see how that makes much sense either. And this begs the question: why insult someone? Because that's exactly what he's doing, after whining about but one critic whose review he didn't like.

While we're on the subject, Cosmic Book News also translated an interview from Brazil's Cine Pop, and he comes off sounding much worse:
Totally tired of it. Totally. I mean it was great ten years ago when we seen the first Spider-Man and Iron Man. Now it's like number five, six, seven. There's superheroes working with another superhero, but it's not the same family. I'm lost. But what bothers me most is that it's always here to show the supremacy of America, and how they are great. I mean, which country in the world would have the guts to call a film 'Captain Brazil?' or 'Captain France?' I mean no one. We would be like so ashamed and say 'no, no, we can't do that.' They can. They call it 'Captain America' [laughter]. And everybody thinks it's normal. So I'm not hear for propaganda, I'm hear to tell a story.
Yep, you're here to tell a whole shaggy dog story alright, with a script that's otherwise incoherent, contradictory and even features some dreadful leftist politics, as noted earlier. That's why it's not too hard to guess he can only see the USA as a one-dimensional domineer, and little else. Even though he's living there! Besides, I'm sure that if a European writer/artist wanted to, they could come up with a variation on Captain America or even the Flash, but something tells me the loss of self-esteem in Europe's made it exceedingly difficult, or, most European publishers would probably reject them simply because it doesn't reflect their idea of what an adventure comic should be about. Why, that could explain how Captain Britain's been ruined in in the past decade by shoving so much leftist PC crap into any story involving the hero and/or his role. We've come a long way since Claremont and Alan Davis launched Excalibur in 1988, where such dreck didn't usually clog up the proceedings.

When Cinema Blend brought this up, they said:
Ouch. It looks like Luc Besson believes the superhero genre portrays a sense of American nationalism, and goes on to even accuse the Captain America franchise of being propaganda. Those are some pretty strong words, especially considering Besson has just directed a comic book adaptation of his own with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Of course, that particular series of graphic novels is French, and not DC or Marvel made.
A point can be made that he's adapted a GN series that's got political propaganda of its own, so he's just confirming his hypocrisy.

And when Indiewire addressed the interview, they noted that:
Despite his problems with the genre, Besson did make a movie about a kind of superhero: “Lucy,” which stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman who develops psychic abilities and superhuman intelligence after ingesting a highly advanced drug.
So why is he bothering to complain? All he's doing is discounting all the foreigners who have no issue with being Captain America fans, and again, he's failed to consider that his overt love for the creation he went out of his way to turn into a film is what botched it in the end.

And that sums up Besson's mind in a nutshell. A man who lives in America, far from his native France, yet doesn't have what it takes to appreciate any of the USA's benefits. Is it any wonder his new movie was a failure?

Update: Screen Rant's also taken issue with Besson's ridiculous comments.

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