Last night I watched Book Club. I freely admit that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it. It didn’t feel like my kind of movie, but my wife was really interested. It had a lot of big names, so I figured I’d watch the first few minutes, confirm that I wasn’t grabbed, then shuffle off to bed.
It was hilarious! I couldn’t have left if I wanted to, I was grabbed from the get go. I found the four lead women to be instantly relatable and the dialog believable. Indeed, I’ve taken part in some similar conversations in the last few years, even though I’m not quite in their age demographic.
I did, though, keep getting popped out of immersion in the story because of what I feel strongly was extensive use of greenscreen. In a few instances I could be sympathetic, as a director getting started in the business, as one was the sun setting over a harbor, something with a very narrow window of opportunity to film, so the idea of filming them separately makes sense to me. But there were a few other instances where it was the middle of the day.
We watched the extras and the writer/director (Bill Holderman) and writer/producer (Erin Simms) talked about how they filmed it like an indie, with a small budget, even though they mentioned they were working with a studio. Always scrambling to keep the costs under control, using real locations instead of sets, etc. So today I check to see what they meant by ‘small’: $10 million. Of course, I have no idea how much of that went to the cast (lots of big names!), though I believe they mentioned they had the usual crew for a Hollywood movie. It was interesting listening to them (Bill and Erin) talking about how they ‘struggled’ to get the film made.
Movies are always challenging to make profitably, no question, but when you’re Hollywood insiders and have the ability to directly contact big-name actors and get them to read your script, you’re already light-years ahead of someone like me. I’m not trying to minimize their fortune in getting their project greenlit, just that I’d love to have their resources.
Anyway, most viewers probably won’t be distracted by the greenscreen, but I cursed myself by studying image compression and manipulation and my eye is drawn to the subtle artifacts. I wish I could turn it off. I found it brisk and expect to rewatch it at some point, as they were fun to hang out with.