Posts Tagged ‘U.S.’

Summer of the Comic Book Movie

June 2, 2011

Yes, summer means longer days, school being out, vacations and blockbuster movies. Yet, this summer the studios will be putting out six, count’em six, movies based on comic books/graphic novels. What gives? There was a time when comic books were considered a sign of the downfall of civilization and were blamed for corrupting young minds. Even Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, Thor and other superheroes of the Marvel Comics universe, didn’t think too highly of comic books when he first started out. He became a comic book writer because he needed the money and Timely Comics, which later became Marvel, paid him very well for his work. Yet, many years later both he and movie studio executives realized that there’s storytelling gold in comic books. They have action, drama and a love story for when there’s a lull in the action.

Still, if there is going to be a superhero movie during the summer blockbuster season, there is usually one maybe two, not six. Well, here are my theories on the increase, at least for the summer of 2011, of superhero movies:

It’s still the economy, stupid.
Last summer people wanted to escape the recession with animated films, this year the escape “vehicle” is the superhero movie. While last year moviegoers wanted reminders of childhood, this year they want a hero to save them from unemployment and home foreclosure. Unfortunately, superheroes can’t do much about those things, but it is fun to imagine that they could. After all, the U.S. is still in the grips of a recession and escapist films have traditionally done well during difficult times. Last year’s summer blockbuster movie season saw $4.05 billion worth of ticket sales, so the studios must be doing something right.

They get the job done.
Why do people want a superhero? Because a superhero gets the job done. Superheroes get the bad guy without so much of a grumble and they do it with style. Just look at Superman, Batman Spiderman, Ironman and the like. They either have gadgets, strength or a little of both and they get the villain. Crime will not pay if a superhero is on the case.

The story of the superhero goes waaay back.
If you think the superhero story is a 20th century invention, think again. Stories such as Hercules and Samson show how far back the idea of a superhero goes—and those are just from the Western culture. Other cultures have their stories of someone who can perform amazing feats of strength for the good of a community. People all around the world and in all times have had to deal with evil and injustice, so it is no wonder that stories of a person with both amazing physical strength and the will to fight the good fight were told. They were and still are exercises in fantasy and an inspiration for others to fight the good fight, as well.

As for which superhero movies will be very successful and which ones will just bomb, I’ll most likely write about that in a future blog entry.

Sources:
http://www.reelzchannel.com/article/1082/summer-2011-preview-20-movies-well-be-talking-about-next-year/

Cantu, Hector, Heritage Magazine “Stan the Creator” Fall 2008, pg. 52

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118023577.html?categoryid=1237&cs=1

 

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Other Cinemas

November 17, 2010

Yes, the movie offerings from Hollywood are fun to watch. The thing is what if you want to watch something different and I’m not talking about foreign or indie films.

Well, what else is there to watch? You ask. Old television shows? No, I’m talking about oddball films like educational films from the 1950’s or short documentaries about public parks, feature films that were made, then quickly forgotten or even employee training films.

Who wants to watch films like that? You ask. Believe it or not, loads of people. In this entry I will mention several organizations that specialize in preserving and most importantly, showcasing oddball films for public enjoyment.

Secret Cinema London
Just when you thought you could only see movies in a sterile multiplex or at home, Secret Cinema in London, brings spectacle and mystery to the moviegoing experience. Founded by Fabien Riggall, in 2005, Secret Cinema shows films in locations around London and the UK. To take part in the Secret Cinema, people have to sign up via a newsletter on the organization’s website and locations aren’t announced until the day of the screening. If that wasn’t mysterious enough, the title of the film isn’t announced until the credits start rolling. Yet, there are clues littered along the way to the viewing location, such as mock posters and actors wearing costumes related to that evening’s movie screening. One viewing featured an actual heavy metal band that entertained people before the film. To learn more, go to:  http://www.secretcinema.org

Secret Cinema Philadelphia
The “Secret” in Secret Cinema Philadelphia, isn’t the location. Organizers announce that on their website weeks ahead of time. Rather, it is the subject matter which ranges from, what founder Jay Schwartz calls “neglected films of all kinds… teen-exploitation, rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelia, oddball black comedies, ‘golden turkeys,’ ’70s nostalgia…” even rare movie shorts and educational films. What makes Secret Cinema unique is that they show original films on 16mm reels, not video or DVD. Viewings are in various locations in the Philadelphia area and the show’s been going on since 1992. To learn more, go to:  http://www.thesecretcinema.com

Found Footage Festival U.S.
What happens when two guys stumble upon a fast food training video?  They, being Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, start collecting what they call “…strange, outrageous, and profoundly stupid videos on VHS.” In 2004, they had enough footage to start the Found Footage Festival.  The rules of Found Footage Festival are:

1) Footage must be found in a physical format, as in VHS tapes.  It can’t be floating around on YouTube.

2) Whatever the footage’s original intention, it has to be “unintentionally” funny. “Whatever it’s trying to do,” states the Found Footage website. “It has to fail miserably at that.”

The Found Footage Festival travels throughout the U.S., Canada and even the UK with Pickett’s and Prueher’s collection of VHS tapes ranging from instructional/informational videos to straight to video cartoons to employee training videos. The one thing they have in common is that these videos are, as the founder put it, “unintentionally” funny.

To learn more about the Found Footage Festival, go to: http://foundfootagefest.com/about

See, a person doesn’t have to live on multiplex, Netflix or YouTube movies alone. There are organizations that brings the oddball and unexpectedly humorous films to the masses.

Sources:
http://www.secretcinema.org/

http://www.thesecretcinema.com/

http://foundfootagefest.com/