Monthly Archives: July 2012
There are some people who are art historians.
Some people are classic car buffs.
Others are film historians.
Still others claim to be historians of different forms of musical enterprise.
Many people are historians and researches of different subjects in different fields, ranging from astronomy to horticulture. There are people who study the evolution of vacuum cleaner technology and there are people who know of the history concerning the hot dog in America and abroad. Its seems that there is no end of subjects that can be researched and studied. Surely there are enough to suit the seemingly infinite peculiarities of our human nature. This is a soothing thing to know for those of us who are perpetually worried about the threat of boredom. However, even when the random and unique nature of human inquiry is considered, it is still possible to be surprised with a field of research and history that is very out of the ordinary. Even though I have known of historians of everything from candy bars to car tires, to this day, i’m aware of only one man who is a (professional) historian of Judy Garland.
This man is John Fricke
John Fricke is a historian/author on both Judy Garland and “The Wizard of Oz”. He has been a major figure in the Oz fan community for many years. He has discussed Garland and her body of work on literally hundreds of media outlets including the “Today Show”, A&E’s “Breakfast With the Arts”, “Entertainment Tonight”, CNN, and National Public Radio. He has appeared on many occasions as spokesman for Warner Bros, Turner Entertainment, Capitol Records”, and MGM. Fricke’s four books include “100 Years of Oz”; an overview of the entire Oz phenomenon, “Judy Garland: World’s Greatest Entertainer” and the recent “Judy: A Legendary Film Career”. He has appeared on audio commentaries for a variety of Garland Films including “Babes in Arms” and “For Me and My Gal”. He has also produced and written liner note introductions for countless reissues from Judy Garlands musical library.
Its been my pleasure over the years, as a fan of both Garland and “The Wizard of Oz” to encounter John Fricke’s wonderful passion and insight for the lady and her films. Its always fascinating to encounter someone who has been so touched by the artistry of a performer (in a way that is not at all disgusting or fetishistic) that they devote their life to the study of that persons craft. It speaks volumes of the depth of individual artistry not to mention the enrapturing power of the arts themselves.
I first encountered Fricke’s work in the form of an audio commentary accompanying my umpteenth viewing of “Meet Me and St. Louis”. I was immediately aware that I was listening to something very unique; that is, not like any other audio commentary I’ve heard before or since. Most of the film commentaries I’ve heard before consisted of a stodgy old film historian yawning out boring antidotes from the making of a particular film. Also there are those awful commentaries where the cast gathers together to have a giant party while neglecting to invite the viewer to join in on the festivities. Nonetheless, I would endure these lackluster and non-inclusive diatribes due to my thirst for cinematic knowledge and my appreciation for the film I was viewing. How I would often long for someone who could talk about a film I appreciated with as much lively passion and insight as I felt toward the film myself. John Fricke was the answer to my prayers.
I was moved by the passion and heart he had for the film (“Meet Me in St. Louis). His knowledge was deeper than the grand canyon and not just on Garland but on all things concerning the production of the film. He was able to explain and touch on acting beats and character portrayals. He spoke at length of director Vincente Minnelli’s crafting of certain scenes. He told great behind the scenes antidotes and enlightened the listeners concerning the source material for the film (Sally Benson’s original short stories). His prose was so rich, his passion so grand and his knowledge so great that something happened that I never thought could. I actually found a whole new way to appreciate “Meet Me in St. Louis”. To think an audio commentary for a film could actually make a person like the film any better is a very wild thing to consider but it did happen and I have John Fricke to thank for that.
Even if you are not a fan of Judy Garland (somewhere a drag queen just shuddered), Fricke will still be able to regale you (be it in book, audio, or video form) with a portrait of a ferociously talented artist at various stages of her career. You’ll be given a detailed, honest, heartfelt, non-scandalous view of the life and scope of a woman entertainer. You’ll come to respect Garland the artist regardless of how you feel about Garland the person. If you open yourself to him, Fricke will be the perfect person to show you her world…..over the rainbow.
John Fricke Audio Resources
John Fricke Bibliography:
“100 Years of Oz: A Century of Classic Images”
“Judy Garland: A Portrait in Art in Anecdote” (with Lorna Luft)
“Judy Garland: World Greatest Entertainer”
“The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History”
“Judy: A Legendary Film Career”
John Fricke Audio Commentaries
“Babes in Arms”: 1939 Dir. Busby Berkley
“Easter Parade”: (with Ava Astaire Mckenzie) 1948 Dir. Charles Walters
“For Me and My Gal”: 1942 Dir. Busby Berkley
“Girl Grazy”: 1943 Dir. Norman Taurog
“Meet Me In St. Louis” (with Margaret O’Brien, Hugh Martin, Irving Brecher and Barbara Freed-Saltzman): 1944 Dir. Vincente Minnelli
“The Pirate”: 1948 Dir. Vincente Minnelli
“The Wizard of Oz”(various other contributors): 1939 Dir. Victor Flemming
If my knowledge of film were to be assessed, in the strictly academic sense, I would most likely be considered a cinematic idiot. I have slim to nil formal education in the cinematic arts and i’ve yet to receive a degree with any sort of pedigree in the field of communications (with a focus on film of course). I am very much without those things that usually distinguish the more credible people who’ve made a profession of writing about film or being cultural commentators. I don’t mind telling you these things for three reasons:
1. I already know who I am and what I want to say. More formal education would certainly be of assistance in a purely esoteric way(which would probably help my standings with the more high minded of the cinematic thinkers) but it wouldn’t alter the positions I hold or my core beliefs about the art of filmmaking, which I give to my readers now free from the trappings of formal (sanitized) instruction.
2. You’ll see a movie made by someone without formal education, so I figure you would give someone who just writes about them some leeway.
3. I’ll get my degree one day, and that day is coming soon. Patience.
For now, I write to tell you what I know about the movies. This is a broad subject to tackle with many varied and unique avenues for discourse. It is however, not an area without its own little set of common understandings, as illusive and abstract as those understandings sometimes may be.
One thing I can ascertain from my practical understandings and insights into modern cinema, is that there is hardly anything worth seeing at the movies anymore. I offer no wordy dissertations or hypothesis to back up my claim; just a gut feeling. The feeling I get when I open up my Sunday paper and see what is playing at the nearest multiplex. I of course realize that the constant barrage of sequels, prequels, and reboots can be grating on even the most stalwart of film fans, but what I’m talking about is a deeper, more troubling problem. I see no art anymore, only product. Two hours of carefully researched decisions about what people would pay to see orchestrated by committees and businessmen. I feel as if movies are being made now only to placate the audience and not stir the human spirit.
Plus the movies are bad. Really bad. Poorly written, acted and directed. Again I offer no concrete thesis, just gut feeling. Its like what Pauline Kael wrote in her article “Why Are Movies So Bad?” wherein she states that:
“The movies have been so rank the last couple of years that when I see people lining up to buy tickets I sometimes think that the movies aren’t drawing an audience, they’re inheriting one. People just want to go to a movie. They’re stung repeatedly, yet their desire for a good movie, for any movie, is so strong that all over the country they keep lining up.”
That was 1983 when she wrote that. The good news is, people are no longer being stung by bad movies. The bad news is, its because they’ve become totally numb to what a bad movie is.
So what do we do now? There must be a solution to this problem. I suppose the answer will have to lie with the audience since the studios aren’t looking to remedy any of their deficiencies any time soon, and the owners of the major theaters chains certainly aren’t in the practice of booking anything without a superhero or robot in it. So its left up to us to turn the tide and get good movies back up on the screen. A daunting task to the avid film-patron, and near impossibility to the causal film goer but a tangible reality to those who use Tugg.
Let me just say up front that I have not now or have I every been in the employ of Tugg Incorporated or any of their affiliates, not that I would be above selling out, mind you, if enough cash was presented (don’t worry i’m just 70 percent kidding). Tugg itself, is a brand new organization. I came into knowledge of Tugg a short while back and I’m glad I did because it may just provide the tools necessary to remedy this crisis of bad taste we are currently experiencing at the movies.
The solution Tugg presents is simply this; pick better movies to play at your local theater. Tugg makes this fantasy a reality.
Say there is nothing coming to the theater in the coming month you want to see. You want to go to the movies with your friends but can’t bear to sit through another two hours of empty consumerism posing as art. “Gee”, you say, “I wish I could go see a thriller on the screen that is really good….something like Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps”, but they don’t play movies like that at the cinema anymore. If they did me and my friends would plop down our money faster than you could say Antonioni.”
Well with Tugg these flights of cinematic fancy are possible. You select a film from their diverse, ever growing, multi-generational, genre defying cinematic collection. Trust me, they have more worthwhile things to choose from than you think. Everything from David Lean’s “Bridge on the River Kwai” to Paul Verhoeven’s “Robocop”.
The process to get a film you want to the in a multiplex is a simple one.
1. You choose a theater venue for your film, a decision Tugg has made easy for you by partnering with many of the larger theater chains in America (including AMC). This means you can choose a multiplex right down the street from your house in the burbs, instead of having to drive into the city where the art-house cinemas are.
2. You promote the film within your prospective sphere of influence getting your family, friends acquaintances (and perfect strangers) to want to see it. You must use all the modern tools of communication at your disposal to do this (facebook, twitter, google plus, email, word of mouth, guilt).
3. People buy tickets to your event through Tugg’s own personal version of Groupon.
4. A quota is reached (meaning a number of people have paid for tickets and are set to show). A date and screening time are confirmed with the theater, and Tugg shows up with the film in hand to screen for you and yours.
You can also have fun with your events and plan many surprises for those in attendance. Have giveaways, contests, guest speakers, dance offs…..whatever your little cinephile heart desires.
I urge you to support Tugg in their endeavors. Partner with them. Plan events through them. Buy tickets to Tugg sponsored events. Get good movies back up on the screen. Don’t sit around and complain hoping things get better. We finally have a chance to show the studios, and the people that make those awful films that defile our cinemas, that we in fact do care about what we see up on the screen. We can show them that we are not just interested in product. We are interested in art.
A glimpse of a very pleasant future http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6FXurcdaf0
Since most superhero movies being released today are nothing more than big budget infomercials for toys and pyrotechnic companies and because the pedigree of these superhero films are measured only in box office grosses, it should come as no surprise that any critical thinking about the nature of what it means to be a hero (super or otherwise) has been tossed out of the mix in favor of figuring out the dollars and cents of what it would cost to actually be a superhero in “real” life.
Sad to say, this seems like just another way of deluding ourselves. We obsess over the most trivial and nonsensical aspects concerning the legends and myths in our popular culture while neglecting the more socially relevant (as well as moral and spiritual) issues often raised in the cinematic arts and other art forms as well. If ever any issue or theme from a film is expounded upon its seems it is never for any deep or resonating reasons such as exploring our humanity regarding what we believe and who we are. That doesn’t sell pap….I mean generate website hits. When discussing deep themes or hot topics most film journalist or film bloggers only seek to sell their own popular conformist angles on politics and social issues (such as Ebert’s post Colorado shooting, gun control endorsement). Ironically when most of these critics/pundits have their politics or belief systems confronted or questioned by a film they usually react childishly downplaying or rebuking the belief systems presented in the picture and evaluating only the more technical aspects of the movie (an impossible abortion). The refuse to reckon and come to terms with what the movie is saying and how it reflects, relates and contrasts to who they are as an individual and as part of the collective society with all their belief systems and social norms. This is what the great film critics (Sarris, Kael, White, ect.) do (or did) regularly.Their usual reward is ridicule and skepticism or simply not being read at all, which is the greatest tragedy.
However, these are the film critics/journalists worth reading. For they are the individuals who will provoke and inspire you, making you think deeply and richly in regards to cinema. I encourage you to seek out these true ambassadors to the art-form of film, and reject those who seek only to sell and pander to the worst aspects of your human nature. It may seem like I’m taking this issue to seriously, but I don’t take lightly having mine, or anyone else’s intelligence insulted.
Be a patron of the arts, not just a consumer.
What you are about to read is Armond White’s commentary on the Colorado Theater Shooting.
First a preface.
Much has been said of Armond White. People seem to find it hard to make up their minds about him; either he’s a deliberate contrarian or a fearless revolutionary, a brilliant critic or a lunatic elitist, a silly troll or a renegade prophet.
If you’ve been accustomed to reading posts from this film blog, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that the people behind the scenes here at Film-Cycle are admirers/students of Armond White’s film criticism/cultural commentary.
We find his intuitive explorations into pop culture and society via film to be the most intelligent, provocative, uncompromising and “truthful” (ringing truer than most) forms of film criticism today.
A word of caution; to approach the work of Armond White one requires not only an “open” but mature mind. You must also have, or endeavor to seek and obtain, a more enlightened, deeper look at cinema, far beyond mere entertainment or product, but as a potential and sometimes literal (often transcendent) reflection of society/humanity (i.e. and interpretive form of expression or explanation).
I feel it is important, when viewing the work of someone such as Armond White, to approach it with this frame of mind. You will find you are not as quick, as others have been, to lazily mislabel his prose as the machinations of a deliberately contrarian troll. I think that if you manage to escape this trap of backwards thinking, you’ll find that you’ve come upon a truly enlightened brand of dynamic film criticism.
Now, without any further ado, here is the aforementioned article about the tragedy.
You can find Armond White’s most current film reviews at:
An Archive of White’s work, dating back to 2000 can be found here:
Cassandra Wilson (Elvira)
These are some of the people who have been guests of Inside Horror. The format is simple. Two hosts; the droll and astute Elric Kane and the quirky manic pixie nightmare girl Staci Layne Wilson are your ambassadors of cinematic horror. They conduct interviews with industry professionals and legends, discuss new releases and dissect old classics, and hold lively debates on the hot issues and oldest arguments about the horror genre. This is a great resource not just for horror fans but for fans of cinema in general. The talk is always interesting and informative.The insights offered by those in the know are indispensable for people looking to make their way in the movies. You’ll find the depth of discussion, even at its most superficial and cursory, is to be valued high above the offerings of most popular film blogs who, in the name of film news and journalism, only seem able to offer never-ending news of remakes and reboots. This of course is always hardest on the horror fan, seeing as the classics the genre are always on the go to list of studios for things that absolutely “need” to be remade. The results tend to be unnecessary and underwhelming leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of modern horror fans and making it harder to hope for the future growth and prominence of the genre.
Above anything else, as you watch these industry professions speak, see the lively debates and hear the wonderful recommendations offered, you will be given a small measure of hope for the future of horror.
Or at the very least you’ll find out what happened to the creepy little girl off Halloween 4.
The link above is to the main website for the show. However, not all the episodes can be found here. Many can be found on YouTube and various video hosting websites. Weird yes, but even if it requires a bit of footwork on your behalf, it will be worth it for the information you find. Its pure gold.
The Magic of the Movies
Do Movies Have an Effect on Psychology
Costumes Banned From Theaters (security reasons)
Metal detectors at the movies (security reasons again)
The Movie Theater as a Sacred Place, or Home
All these were topics covered today by most of the major film blogs. These are varied topics, not alike in theme or meaning but all worthwhile discussion points and relevant issues for the modern film fan (gun control is iffy depending on relevance to theme). If it were any other day, I would rejoice that the film blog-o-sphere has decided to grow up a little. Perhaps, for at least one day, they aren’t content with reporting news of sequels, prequels, and rebooted superhero origin stories. They want to talk about larger issues that relate to film culture and our culture as a whole. They want to talk about what we don’t talk about when we discuss movies. This is a good thing.
Of course this wasn’t a natural development, or an evolution of higher standards and maturity occurring in the minds of most film bloggers, but the result of a horrible occurrence of man’s inhumanity to man. The life and light of 12 human beings were lost forever to the cold hearted will and sub-human inclinations of a sole individual. The specifics of the incident are well known by now, relevant only to the community of the cinema literate due only to the proximity and nature of the event. Its seems that the world of “make believe” and the world of “real life” have collided with a sickening and heart-wrenching crash.
………how do we go on? Why did this happen? What were the motives. Where was God? What can we do to help?
None of these are questions being offered by your most popular film blogs, even as personal statements (aside from asking that thoughts be offered up…….but not prayers?). The sudden onslaught of mature and sincere film blogging was not the emergence of a new renaissance, but a scared, scatterbrained, and pitiful response representing in a unfortunate way the lack of maturity, compassion and bravery that these film bloggers posses. In the light of this tragedy they sought not to console but to push their own ill conceived and selfish agendas.
Katey Rich of cinemablend.com thought this would be a good time to stand up and defend artistic integrity and free speech: http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Don-t-Let-Anyone-Blame-Dark-Knight-Rises-Colorado-Tragedy-32040.html
Roger Ebert thinks this tragedy is the perfect opportunity to discuss gun control. http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2012/07/the_body_count.html
Nordling of aintitcool.com thinks the slaughter of 12 and wounding of 50+ in a movie theater is the perfect opportunity to promote escapism by way of celluloid. Cause it’s magic……http://www.aintitcool.com/node/57163
Even the testimony of Christopher Nolan, the director of “The Dark Knight Rises”, is sanctimonious hogwash. He’s seems more sad about the “purity of the cinematic experience” being violated than the loss of life that occurred. Here is his statement (or veiled movie endorsement) courtesy of Entertainment Weekly: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/07/20/christopher-nolan-dark-knight-rises-shooting-statement/
All around the film blog-o-sphere you see fear. Not noble or sensible fear but cowardice. People are afraid to ask hard questions. They don’t want think about what really matters. All they want to do is forget and escape. They want to talk about the sanctity of the movie theater being violated, and how much of an inconvenience it will be going through metal detectors at the local AMC. They want to discuss not being able to wear costumes at the movies and how gun control is the real issue. They want to talk about everything but what really happened. They fool themselves by thinking there couldn’t possibly be a reason for such a thing to occur. As Katey Rich of cinemablend states:
“The thought process that goes behind an act like this is unknowable, and will probably remain so no matter how much we learn about the accused shooter James Holmes. But as the news cycle drones on and people want to know “why,” it’s irresistible to connect the gas-mask-wearing shooter with images from The Dark Knight Rises.But resist it. People have tried and failed for decades to claim that violence in the movies, or in video games, causes these kinds of senseless act, and it’s never stuck.”
Shouldn’t we ask why? Should we just be okay with senseless killing? Don’t we have a right, as free human beings, to question our culture and the content it produces? Should we be just be okay with a zero accountability policy in regards to art? Yes, we need to grieve, and console. However we must be allowed to search for answers to the evils of society. Everything is accountable, and that includes the art that a society produces. How can we say that a person can be persecuted but not the art that is the product of that person. We condemn the human but hold the human produced art in esteem as a morally ambiguous entity. How can we decry the power of the arts: of cinema, music, literature and painting, but deny its influence over mankind if only for reasons as ridiculous as political correctness. When we see the good of society, the good fruits of humanity we hold our art up as a centerpiece, but when the darkness of humanity rears its ugly head, we hide our art away and bury its so it cannot be blamed. We feign ignorance and say that the art we once called our defining centerpiece was all just harmless make believe and that the only wrong lies in the elusive unsearchable motives of the guilty individual. Maybe its time we started asking more of ourselves and what we allow ourselves to see. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing but why can’t you feel free to question what you do with that freedom. What have we been set free to?
Wake up people. Start asking the hard questions. We must be able to hold ourselves and everything about us (art included) accountable. Let us show compassion to the families of the lost. Let us grieve and pray and grieve and pray…..and then grieve and pray some more. Then as time passes let us not forget or seek to escape our problems, but challenge ourselves to look deeper into who we are, artistically, morally, politically and religiously for they are all related to our humanity. We should not do this selfishly with an agenda but humbly in a matter of fact nature, seeking to find out, through the investigation of our belief systems and cultural ideologies, what is both wrong and right with us.
God be with those who hurt…….
The Dark Knight Rises Negative Review Draws Death Threats From Fans: Ridiculous News Item of the Day 7/16/2012
I’ve often decried the failings of internet film journalism citing a variety of reasons (on the whole I find it to be amateurish, unlearned, and sensationalist), but if I were to pinpoint an overarching theme that encapsulates my displeasure with the entire film blog-o-sphere it would be this; the anonymity offered by the internet continues to bread an environment in which there is little or no real accountability for how one conducts themselves online. The moral and scholastic aspects of reasonable discussion tend to suffer the most from this environment. An infuriating side-effect to be sure, but tolerable if taken with a grain of salt. However there are other times when events arise in cyberspace are so unbelievably backwards and distasteful, that you are left wondering in what possible way has this modern era of online communication ever been of benefit (both in a general as well as cinematic sense). Case in point: http://blogs.indiewire.com/criticwire/dark-knight-rises-critic-receives-death-threats
To quote Armond White from his brilliant article about online film criticism “discourteous discourse”
“Attacks from bloggers—crude interlopers of a once august profession— are not about diversity of opinion. What’s at root is an undisguised rivalry. Every moviegoer with a laptop claims equal—vengeful—standing with so-called professionals. This anti-intellectual backlash defies the purpose of the Circle’s founding in 1935. Professional dignity is the last thing Internetters respect. Their loudmouth enmity and lack of knowledge are so overwhelming that it is imperative to put this crisis in perspective.
These new social networks overturn the informed judgments and occupational decorum of journalist-critics, substituting the glib enthusiasms and non-discriminating devotion of apparently juvenile cliques. Worse yet, this schoolyard style of peer group fanaticism has devolved into all-out, ugly intimidation: Internet bullying. It has begun to sway the professional ranks already frightened by media transitions that have cost many of my colleagues their jobs.
The most important concern exceeds the critical profession; it’s the danger these changes pose to the culture in general. Ridiculing the need for mature thought and discriminating judgment diminishes film culture. Any opinion that challenges the blockbuster market gets punished. We never experience a healthy exchange of ideas. The social networking approach to criticism encourages anti-intellectual harassment and the excoriation of individual response; it may spell the end of critical habits altogether.”
What a sad time this is. You hear of stuff like this and its not hard to see how movements like Fascism and Nazism get up and running. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic or overreaching. I just don’t like bullies.
Another Comic-Con has come and gone, and we’re a little bit older and a little bit wis………..well we’re older. Before we rush on to new things and forget all that has transpired, I believe that a summary should be made so we can have a historical viewpoint of all the hype. That way, if anything comes out of comic con that is actually genre defining and culturally significant, we will be able to properly document the origin of its hype and genesis of its following. With this in mind, lets look at three of the movies that were on display at Comic Con this year and see what we learned about them.
1. “Pacific Rim”
What its all about?
Pacific Rim is an upcoming science fiction film directed by Guillermo Del Toro based on a screenplay by Travis Beacham. The film is set in a world where soldiers piloting giant robots battle against giant monsters who have mysteriously risen five miles from beneath the ocean. The film will be an homage to Japanese giant monster films, known as Kaiju. Del Toro has said the film will be “a beautiful poem to giant monsters”
What we learned about it.
Basically, Del Toro wasn’t able to close the deal on “At the Mountain’s of Madness” so he mounts a multi-million dollar cinematic reincarnation of the final act of a power rangers episode in order to pander to his geek fans. Excuse me if I sound cynical, but it takes more than a fanciful concept (“poem to giant monsters films”….) to get me excited for an upcoming film. Especially a concept that sounds as tired and overdone as what Del Toro is proposing with “Pacific Rim”.
2. “The Man of Steel”
What its all about?
“The Man of Steel” is an upcoming superhero film based on the DC Comics character Superman. The film will be a reboot of the Superman Film Series undertaken by director Zach Synder (of “300” and “Watchmen” fame) with a screenplay by David S. Goyer. The entire project will be overseen by Christopher Nolan who acts as both producer and creative consultant.
What we learned about it.
Against all odds, it seems Nolan has found a way of infusing his trademark mindless unimaginative nihilism into the hopeful and pure Superman Mythology. According to film “journalist” Quint at aintitcool.com, the footage shown at comic con is of a Superman who is “unsure of his role in our world”. Really? Are we going to waste over 100 million dollar to reboot the character of Superman just so we can load him down with uncertainty and angst? Seems a waste of time and a tad overreaching since the whole uncertainty angle was treated as only a footnote in the narratives of the Donner and Singer incarnations. I think by now most people (including the character himself) understand Superman’s purpose. I.E. he saves people. He is a modern sort of God/diety in the world. I think there is enough in that concept to explore alone, if you think deeply about it and are brave enough to confront the social and religious ramafications of what being a God/Diety/Savior means to a society, but this whole Superman is an uncertain hero thing is just fashionable pandering of pseudo intellectual psychodrama for the Nolanites. Color me unimpressed.
3. Iron Man 3
What its all About?
Iron Man 3 is an upcoming superhero film featuring the Marvel comics character Iron Man. It is a sequel to IM:1 (2008) and IM:2 (2010) and will be the seventh installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, being the first major release since the crossover film The Avengers(2012). Shane Black, is set to direct and write the script (with Drew Pierce). Jon Favreau, who directed the first two films, will serve as executive producer. Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle reprising their roles as Pepper Potts and James Rhodes respectively.
What We Learned about it.
Favreau fumbled the snap on Iron Man 2, so Marvel scooped up once in-demand screenwriter Shane Black (what, Joe Eszterhas wasn’t available?) on the sly to gain some cheap credibility with the genre enthusiasts and the small percentage of people that think “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” is a modern film noir classic. Other than that we were shown some pretty new suits and some sensational flashy footage, all buffered by a joking Robert Downey Jr. doing his charming rouge routine, all of this distracting the public from the fact that this franchise may not be able to rebound from the misguided excess of its second chapter.
Other Items of Note:
“Judge Dredd” is still awful.
People still worship Joss Whedon over the promise of what “Firefly” might of been.
People are willing to get excited over test footage. Test Footage!
Which I guess isn’t suprising seeing as people are willing to get excited over a teaser poster.
Quentin Tarantino still talks too much.
Lastly, the big secret behind Star Trek 2 is that it won’t be very good. Its sad that people are so concerned with figuring out who the new villain is, while they forget that the first film was a bastardized mess of time travel nonsense, lens flare and rushed character development.
So there you have it. Comic Con in a nutshell. Sad to see how a once humble gathering of comic book fans has turned into a massive commercial pander fest for geeks. It would be nice if there was a convention that celebrated the art of comic books and wasn’t just about selling you something. Not that there isn’t some fun to be had there. Comic-Con isn’t all bad. There is still hope. Maybe one day Comic Con will return to its roots and be more of a celebration instead of a just an excuse for hawking product. Time will tell.
When the search seems fruitless and your hope is weak, you find yourself having to hold on to the positives and find joy in the simple things. For instance, I’ve learned through my searches not to be so quick to take things for granted. I would often lapse into this contemptible attitude as I would undertake my usual internet treasure hunts, digging deeper and deeper for any piece of redeeming cinematic journalism in the film blog-o-sphere. This practice of missing the forest for the trees wouldn’t be such a big deal (in light of the sad state of the forest) if not for sites like trailersfromhell.com. Failing to take notice of this site, in my case, is a serious sin for in the expansive forest of the film blog-o-sphere, Trailers-From-Hell is a beautiful tall redwood.
Trailers-From-Hell in a (cut and paste) nutshell is bascially “the brainchild of film director Joe Dante, new media entrepreneurJonas Hudson, graphic artist Charlie Largent and producer Elizabeth Stanley. The series was born out of their mutual love of classic films of all types, but particularly horror and exploitation films. TFH is the premier showcase for a breathtakingly eclectic assortment of trailers from classic era films both in their original form and punctuated with informative and amusing commentary by contemporary filmmakers. ”
Joe Dante, Allan Arkush, Roger Corman, Eli Roth, John Sayles, John Landis, Edgar Wright, Rick Baker, Stuart Gordon, Mick Garris, Karyn Kusama, ect. The list goes on and on and features some of the most legendary, writers, producers, cinematographers, and directors of genre/gonzo entertainment from the past 70 years of cinema. You’ll be shocked that so much information, history, technical critique, and appreciation can be packed into a span of 2-4 minutes. You should also take notice that this site isn’t just for the horror and exploitation freaks. The sheer breath of trailers in their database is a wildly eclectic mix featuring everything from Howard Hawks’ “His Girl Friday”(http://trailersfromhell.com/trailers/761) to Wes Craven’s “Last House on the Left” (http://trailersfromhell.com/trailers/438). They feature trailers for cheesy romantic comedies alongside adverts for gut munching zombie b-movies, all with wonderful informative commentary to accompany it. It is a veritable gold mine for the modern film fan.
Do yourself a favor and refuse to do with out this resource. I know by now most internet film fans, are aware of Trailers-From-Hell, and i’m sure many of you are yelling, “yeah, yeah, yeah we know about it already!”, but on the off chance someone out there doesn’t know, then I just wanted to take the opportunity to introduce them to a wonderful friend and ally in the fight against mindless film journalism. On the other hand, if you are already in the know, it wouldn’t hurt to get reacquainted.
When is the last time you read a good film book? I don’t mean a popular magazine like entertainment weekly or variety, whose main focus seems to be only the celebrity that accompanies film rather than the art-form itself. I’m talking about the books that deal with subjects like film theory, critical reviews, artistic movements in motion picture history, the aesthetics of a specific director, or the method of a certain actor ( and I don’t mean a seedy “tell all” biography). Please excuse me if i’m a tad pessimistic, but I don’t expect an enthusiastic response to my question. It seems that since the modern film community has regressed to a state of intellectual infancy, due in part to the prevalence of mindless internet film blogging and journalism, it is probably too much to assume that most film buffs nowadays have a general knowledge of film history and theory. Most modern film patrons are so conditioned by the juvenile sensationalist journalism offered by most modern film bloggers that they tend to shun the more substantial film knowledge and wisdom offered by the great old books about film found on the shelves of your library forgotten arts and entertainment section. How can we consider ourselves knowledgeable about film if we forget about the great books on film offered by the great thinkers and critics in cinema such as Francois Truffaut (“Hitchcock”), Pauline Kael (“I Lost It At The Movies”, “5001 Nights At The Movies”), Andrew Sarris (“The American Cinema: Directors And Directions 1929-1968”), and Peter Bogdanovich (“Who the Hell’s in It: Conversations with Hollywood’s Legendary Actors”, “Who the Devil Made It: Conversations with Legendary Film Directors”). How could we as film fans ever exchange the wonderful insights and wisdom offered in those pages for the endless dribble offered by those film bloggers concerned only with sequels and reboots and superheros. I think its time we reevaluate our standards in regards to how we view film and ask ourselves how, if we continue along this path, can we expect cinema to be taken seriously as an art-form?
I want to challenge any one who reads this and is passionate about film, to seek out the more substantial and refreshing founts of film knowledge. I’ll be providing you with links to some sources for great film literature and journalism but first I would like to encourage you to get up off your duff and do something. Go to that public library in your neighborhood and check out the media arts non- fiction section. Don’t be afraid to pick up and read those large complex film books. They don’t have pictures and the words may be really small, but what you’ll find in between those pages is worth more than its weight in cinematic gold. You’ll be challenged, inspired, rebuffed, angered and instructed. You’ll become a more well rounded film lover truly getting into the meat of what makes cinema such a wonderfully expressive art form.
Or at the very least you’ll improve you’ll vocabulary.