Cinephiles have been in a tizzy for the last day or so, engaging in fierce and opinionated discussions on Twitter and blogs and message boards, debating the merits of something you may or may not have heard of: the Sight & Sound poll. For those unaware, Sight & Sound is the magazine of the British Film Institute, and yesterday they put out their lists of the greatest films ever made. Big deal, you’d be forgiven for thinking, there’s like a new greatest films list every other day. And while that’s true, Sight & Sound polls hundreds of critics and filmmakers to make their lists (one for each group), and only puts out an updated list every ten years. “It is by far the most respected of the countless polls of great movies,” Roger Ebert wrote in 2002, “the only one most serious movie people take seriously.” And the reason this year’s list is a big deal is because, for the first time since 1962, the list was not topped by Citizen Kane, but by Hitchcock’s Vertigo. For movie lovers and film historians, that’s a very big deal. Too bad it’s wrong. … Read More
Everyone knows that one of a father’s greatest joys is to pass on the things that he loves to his children (a mother’s too, for that matter, but it’s Father’s Day season). In “Trust Me on This,” a great essay series at Salon running through Father’s Day, writers, musicians, athletes and actors answer the question: ”What… Read More
In this weekend’s New York Times Magazine, writer Alexander Huls offers up an unexpected suggestion for “How to Enjoy Going to the Movies Again”: going to midnight movies. Specifically, he suggests going to those first, Thursday night-at-midnight showings of the new releases that are hitting screens that Friday, in order to be among the very first paying audiences to see a highly anticipated new flick. (Huls even admits turning the start time into a verb — i.e, “I’ll definitely midnight Prometheus.”)
The logic is, at first, a little hard to follow, as Huls is offering up these late-night screening opportunities as a manner to restore a faith in the movie-going experience that’s been sapped by non-stop talking and intermittent LCD screens. “As a committed moviegoer who once treasured the cathedral-like atmosphere of the movie house,” he writes, “I now find myself entering the auditorium anticipating a bad experience — sitting and nervously profiling every person who walks into the theater for their yet-to-be-committed misdemeanors.” This all sounds very familiar. So why would a moviegoer despairing of noise and distractions want to view a film with the rowdiest audience imaginable? … Read More
James Wolcott loses me in the first line of his much-discussed Variety Fair piece “Prime Time’s Graduation,” which is pretty impressive, as far as those things go. “After I fell out of love with movies,” he writes, and I’ve checked out already — even more so with the parenthetical that follows: “(new movies, that is — classic Hollywood I still adulate)”. Oh goody, he’s one of those, one of the overbearing boors who insists nothing worthwhile has come out of Hollywood since Jaws, or Ben-Hur, or (if you’re a real, Bogdanovich-style purist) since the takeover of the talkies. But no, it’s worse: Mr. Wolcott is one of these inexplicable “TV is better than movies” people, and because he’s writing for one of the few remaining major glossies (to-do: write my “movies are better than magazines” piece), we now have to have this whole cultural conversation about whether television has, in fact, “surpassed” the motion picture. … Read More
If you try to follow the business end of the film industry too closely, you can get some awfully mixed messages. (I mean “the business end” in the literal sense, although I’d imagine the sentence reads accurately the other way as well.) Perusing the Internet this morning, I found out that a) domestic box office is still on the decline and b) DVD and Blu-ray rentals are continuing to drop as well, though c) IMAX is booming, and d) ticket prices will probably go up, to make it seem like 3D is less of a rip-off. Oh, and e) The Hunger Games had one of the biggest opening weekends in movie history.
In other words, William Goldman was right: In Hollywood, nobody knows anything.
Of course, this whiplash-inducing confusion (are people going to the movies, or not? And if not, where are they seeing them?) is a natural byproduct of the cinema’s current state of transition, where people are as engaged and passionate as ever about movies, but changing the ways they watch them. And that’s why we’re curious about you, the Flavorwire reader: how do you see movies these days? … Read More
Over the course of the past few days, I’ve found myself reading a quite a bit of hand-wringing, and even engaging in a few spirited Twitter conversations, with regards to the number two movie of the weekend, Project X — specifically, the picture’s attitude toward women (towards anyone who’s not a young white male, really). If there’s a buzzword for the Project X’s opening weekend, it’s misogyny. “Project X is the male gaze substantiated and concentrated into ninety sweaty minutes,” writes Badass Digest’s Meredith Borders. “The way these guys talk about the girls, the way they look at them, the way Dax’s camera presents them, validates every misogynistic tendency a high school boy may be capable of feeling. Project X celebrates and rewards that misogyny.” The L Magazine calls it “a misogynist fantasy of high school wildness,” while View London says it’s “ultimately let down by some appalling misogyny and a deeply unlikable central character.” The reviews that don’t explicitly drop the “m-word” at least echo these sentiments (The best one-liner comes via the AV Club’s Keith Phipps: “It would be easy to say Project X objectifies women, if the word ‘object’ didn’t imply too much dignity”).
For the most part, your author agrees with these criticisms, for reasons I’ll expand on presently. What’s curious, though, is how thinking through my feelings on this film and these ideas have led me to second-guess some ideas I’ve had about teens and pop culture and “responsibility” for decades, and that’s where I’m curious to know what you think. … Read More
Last weekend, two new films opened by famous filmmakers who are, to varying degrees, getting the hell out of the film business. Haywire director Steven Soderbergh has been teasing his early retirement for months now; it’s somewhat comical, actually, the way he keeps adding in projects that he wants to do before his self-imposed exile. George Lucas, who spent decades getting Red Tails made, told The New York Times that he was retiring, at least from the business of making blockbuster films (maybe).
Soderbergh is 49. Lucas is 67. Making movies doesn’t have a mandatory retirement age, like fighting fires or flying planes. But should it? … Read More
Let’s put this right out front: nobody’s looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises more than we are. It led off our list of 2012′s most anticipated movies; we sing the praises of every new teaser they put out in our weekly “Trailer Park” roundups. This is a movie we’re really, really looking forward to. But you have to draw a line somewhere, and we think this might be it.
According to Variety, tickets are now available for the first, midnight IMAX screenings of The Dark Knight Rises — that’s right, six full months in advance. So if you’re one hundred percent certain that you won’t have anywhere to be at 12:01am on the night of Thursday, July 19th, you can hop on over to Fandango (here’s the link for my fellow New Yorkers — that IMAX screen at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 is a peach), plop down your $20, and have yourself a ticket right now. You might wanna choose the “print at kiosk” option, though, because the chances of misplacing the “print at home” ticket within the next six months are pretty high. Borderline astronomical, we’d say.
Oh wait, you can’t. The midnight screening six months from now is already sold out.
So, seriously, how out of control is the Hollywood Hype Machine these days? … Read More
Last week in this space, we invited you to share your pop culture “cold spot” — the thing that everyone, it seems, loves but you. Come to find out, boy oh boy did a lot of you want to get that little nugget off your chest; the comments were voluminous, as previously-closeted detractors of Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, the Grateful Dead, Buffy, Bjork, Twilight, the Black Keys, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Lady Gaga, Dylan, and The Wire (okay, c’mon, seriously?) proclaimed their distaste for the tastemakers’ faves. For this week, we thought we’d turn the idea on its head. There’s plenty of stuff out there that you’re supposed to dislike; which of those trends do you buck? … Read More
Last week, your author was charged with working up our most anticipated movies of 2012, and I must confess, it’s an assignment I was dreading. Not because there weren’t movies in the upcoming year worth anticipating (as we saw, there are many), or that it would be difficult to explain why they were worth looking forward to. No, it was because I knew I was going to have to deal with The Hobbit.
I anticipated it, even, noting in the call for comments that there would certainly be hoots and catcalls for the exclusion of Peter Jackson’s return to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien. And there were, sure enough. But here’s the problem, as briefly noted when discussing the release of they eagerly-greeted-by-everyone-but-yours-truly trailer: I don’t like The Lord of the Rings. I just don’t. It’s one of my pop culture “cold spots.” We’ve all got them. Right? … Read More