Friday, July 29, 2016
The world surely has no shortage of movies about the international drug trade or about law enforcement using everything in their arsenal to take down the cartels. There’s also plenty of movies about the perils of going undercover to take down a criminal organization. The Infiltrator combines both for a premise that is not especially original, but which is often enthralling. There’s something about the story of a person who goes into another world pretending to be something they’re not. There’s the adrenaline rush of going into the danger zone. There’s the excitement of getting to be someone else for a while leading a sort of double life. It’s like getting a chance to be someone and do something that you’re not. Who wouldn’t like the opportunity to see how that fits? Of course who wants to take with it the possibility of getting killed?
Sunday, July 24, 2016
So I've maintained some consistency through three years. I watched a total of 79 feature films in the first six months of 2016. 77 of those were unique features, meaning there were two movies that I repeat viewed within the six month period. That’s right on par with the last two years. Additionally, 61 of those movies were first time viewings for me. Once again, that’s almost identical with January – June the previous two years.
Now, where I’ve fallen off is going to the cinema. I saw only fifteen feature films at the movie theater in the first half of this year. That’s down from eighteen last year and twenty-two the year before. And when you consider that I go to the movies a lot in January and February to catch up with the last of the best from the previous year, that basically means I’ve seen almost nothing new in the cinema this year. In fact, I’ve seen only five 2016 releases in the cinema through June. My focus has been much more on watching things at home, saving the time and money it takes to go out, and catching up on old favorites.
In this era of reboots, sequels, re-imaginings, and reinventions, one thing has consistently escaped the Hollywood executives who greenlight this stuff. They continue to make blockbuster cinema a boys club, catering to and casting men in most major action and comedy films. But leave it to Paul Feig, the director of the hysterically funny female response to the male gross-out comedy – Bridesmaids – to bring us the female Ghostbusters. A second sequel in the franchise was part of Hollywood lore for years with talk of Chris Farley being involved shortly before his death in 1997. But now we finally, at long last, even though almost no one was demanding it, have a new Ghostbusters with the all-lady cast of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon.
So as my son gets older I find myself wanting to introduce him to the films I found to be magical experiences when I was a boy. And so he’s seen the Star Wars trilogy and E.T. and The Wizard of Oz. But there’s one that I loved that was perhaps less well-known, certainly less popular compared to those blockbuster classics. Disney’s live action adventure Swiss Family Robinson won’t be making anyone’s list of the greatest films, but boy is it fun!
This movie has everything: a shipwreck; exotic locations; a menagerie of incredible animals; pirates; guns; coconut bombs; and the coolest fucking treehouse you’ve ever seen. That treehouse is so awesome, so wondrous that it became a beloved attraction at both Disneyland and The Magic Kingdom theme parks.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
The enticement of big studio backing, larger budgets, and wider distribution must be great to successful indie filmmakers. Jeff Nichols had a string of well-received films that did well on the festival circuit and then got a lot more money for his fourth feature, Midnight Special. Unlike what often happens with directors who display talent on the small scale, Nichols didn’t move on to the latest superhero movie or some other blockbuster. Instead he took the money to make his own story and make it without the limitations he surely faced in the past due to budget constraints.