Autographed 'Thank You' and Christmas Cards for Critics

I always like to comment when movies have autograph scenes. The new movie “The Upside” (my review is here: ) has two autograph scenes. In one of them, Bryan Cranston’s character talks about owning a lot of 1st edition books that are signed, that were gifts from his wife. Kevin Hart’s character stole one of the books from his library to give his son, and realizes he should probably get it back.

Another scene, where Cranston’s character (a billionaire that is quadriplegic) is interviewing people to work for him, one guy shows up with a book he’s written. He then says something along the lines of, “I thought, even if I don’t get this job, at least you can autograph your book for me.”

(of course, he wouldn’t be able to sign it with his arms not working).

But in real autograph movie news, this year has been a bit of a disappointment. As a movie critic, often times in November and December, the film studios will send the critics autographed items. It might be a thank you letter, signed by the film star or director. Sometimes it’s a book. This year, I got some sheet music signed by a few great songwriters, one of them being Dolly Parton (her music and song was used in the Netflix film “Dumplin’”). Well, a few weeks ago I got the sheet music sent to me from the new version of Mary Poppins. But as I looked closely, I saw the signatures were printed on there. And that made me think of all the cards I got this year. It’s the first year in a long time that I can recall, that a number of these cards had the printed signatures. It was so frustrating. I opened a card from the cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” and all of the signatures -- printed on. A Dolly Parton card came with a Christmas ornament that was a pink acoustic guitar -- the signature printed (at least the sheet music had the real signature). There was a card from Wreck-it Ralph and a handful of other films -- all with signatures printed on them. Now you might think...why would the cast of a movie sit in a room and just endlessly sign things for all the movie critics in the U.S. I agree, but...they usually only do it for the critics that are members of groups that vote in awards that they want to win. There aren’t many of them that are, and...they’ve done it in the past.

So, it’s been a frustrating year in that regard, but hey...I can’t complain. I get paid to see movies, write about them, and occasionally get an autographed “thank you” sent to me.

The movie “Leave No Trace,” has a talented young actress named Thomasin McKenzie, and one of my favorite actors -- Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, Lone Survivor). When I got an email from the production team about the film, I inquired as to if Foster would be at one of the awards shows. I wanted to get him to sign my “Hell or High Water” dvd, which is signed by Jeff Bridges and a few of the other cast members. They said, “We’ll be with him in New York next week, send it to us.”

I did that, and he signed it for me. It’s the most thrilling thing ever. And I feel so guilty that I love collecting autographs of the actors I love. But it doesn’t change how I review the movies (as you can see here, my review of that film was lukewarm: )

Now, the movie “First Reformed” stars Ethan Hawke. He signed a DVD for me last year. This year, the studio doing that film, sent me a bizarre gift. No, it wasn’t a signed card. It was a bottle of whiskey with a bottle of Pepto Bismol (Hawke’s character is an alcoholic priest with stomach issues). Maybe I’ll down them both the next time I get a card with a pre-printed signature.

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Tags: Ben Foster, Crazy Rich Asians, Dolly Parton, Ethan Hawke, First Reformed, Hell or High Water, Jeff Bridges, Leave No Trace, Thomasin McKenzie


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