Julia Roberts and Ioan Gruffudd in Dennis Lee's high-profile/low-profile film, "Fireflies in the Garden"
Movies that don't open - or that open without any advance critics' screenings - are automatically (hastily?) written off by said critics as embarrassing failures. Hence, the reluctance on the part of the studios.
Not so. Sometimes films are abandoned - or dumped, to use a less polite term - strictly for political reasons. If the head of a studio doesn't personally like you, chances are your film will be sacrificed. Or maybe your film is politically incorrect, stepping on the toes of other companies associated with the studio (see Mike Judge's "Idiocracy") that paid you.
The fact is, Hollywood routinely markets and screens awful films all the time and sometimes quite enthuiastically. I mean, the big-screen version of "The Avengers," hidden from the critics in 1998, was no better or worse than any other film released by Warner Bros. (or any studio) that year.
Willem Dafoe with RobertsThis is all in preamble to bringing to your attention Dennis Lee's "Fireflies in the Garden," which was made in 2008 but whose planned June 24th release in New York this past summer never happened. Which is odd, considering the film's star wattage: Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hayden Panettiere and Ioan Gruffudd.
Carrie-Anne Moss and Ryan ReynoldsIt would be too facile to dismiss a movie that can attract a cast of this calibre. Certainly, there must be something about "Fireflies in the Garden" that's appealing and/or compelling - at least, to actors. Or, it could be awful.
Dennis Lee, who based his film on the Robert Frost poem, is an Asian filmmaker new to me. He had penned the scripts for a well-regarded shorts prior to making his directorial debut with this one.
A domestic drama, "Fireflies in the Garden" reportedly is driven by a lot of flashbacks and flashforwards as it delineates three generations of a troubled family, headed by Roberts and Dafoe as a woman and her domineering husband. Reynolds plays their grown son, a writer driven to examine his life, particularly his childhood, when his mother dies in an automobile accident. Moss plays Reynolds' wife, and both Panettiere and Watson play Roberts' sister, then and now.
The core of "Fireflies in the Garden" revolves around the edgy, contentious dynamic between father and son - Dafoe and Reynolds. I, for one, would have liked to witness it.