Friday, September 01, 2006

Best Movie of the Summer?

I saw 7 movies in the theater this summer, and they were all good. Except Snakes on a Plane, which was a whole new kind of bad; a self-aware, highly cultivated badness. Here’s what I saw; An Inconvenient Truth, A Prairie Home Companion, A Scanner Darkly, Strangers With Candy, Snakes on a Plane, The King, and Little Miss Sunshine. It’s funny, because we’re at a time where Hollywood is losing repeatedly at the box office during all the usual big seasons, and summers are now characterized by a scatter shot of moderate successes recycled from age old material (honestly, when was the last time we were so consistently fed remakes, look at the long unending string of redone 70’s cult hits, asian horror films, and luke-wilson-being-stupid-again movies?) instead of by a few run away smashes which used to characterized Hollywood summers. However, despite this grim overview of the general hollywood product, each of the films I saw this summer, while all made in America during the same period, expressed a distinct outlook both on current culture and cinema, and exercised different techniques in narrative, photographic and structural from. The films certainly all had a lot of similarities, and taken together I think they would provide some rather coherent and unified commentary on the contemporary American experience, but they all focused on different elements of it and all played with the general cinematic form, showing that it is still malleable after more than a century. Even Snakes on a Plane, which again was not good and only worth it if you are drunk, attacked it’s ridiculous material from a rather fresh and almost analytic angle, infusing at least some interest into the stale action genre.

I’m not saying that any of these films possessed anything particularly radical. In fact, most of them in form and content were quite derivative on the prevailing American indie film trends. But they had an energy, sincere curiosity, and general faith in the cinema which is certainly lacking from the eleventeenth superhero flick, or the remake of a film which already had 4 sequels in the 70s.

Despite the indie world’s good intentions though, and some mainstream similarities, this is certainly not the hod bed of reckless experimentation and truly new creation that was 1960s and 70s U.S. film culture. I think it’s very fitting that so many 1970s B movies are being remade as glossy studio teen-bait, because it’s Hollywood trying to create and cash in on a nonexistent nostalgia for the wild independent days of the 70s (which they, through their obstinance helped spawn, and then crush) by completely going against the economic and production ideals of that time. The only similarity between that film world and ours is that the studios once again seem to be far removed from the pulse of the country, and that we are again baing fed slushy mass distraction during a time of unpopular war. But whereas in the 70s this Hollywood uselessness opened the door for underground experimentation, small time American filmmakers now seem to be involved in a process of refinement, revisiting and fortifying low budget film trends established in the early 90s rather than forging new ground. As a result, we seem to have an indie culture that is becoming foundationally stronger and displaying a more mature product, but narrower in breadth and risk. One content to play it safe. But what do I know. Nothing.

Oh yeah, best movie of the summer? Little Miss Sunshine I think. Cleaver and satisfying. A fresh take on the now very established dysfunctional family flick. Really fantastic, but I think if I saw it again I would like it less.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

gasping a casm of your own obscurity......

Reviews these days are extremely unaware and highly cultivated ignorance, spit from 5th year out of state film majors. If only they could grasp the extremely obscure hard to find coffee shop that i write reviews in.!!!!

Just picture the modern day movie critic. thrift store clothing, perfectly ironic hair cut, tight faded jeans rolled up and trained reactions to everything that is not obscure and deep.

"You've never heard of the music i listen to." "You've probably won't like the movies i watch." " you can't comprehend the wheels the turning in my head, and beleive me, they're turning at a very rapid rate."

my rebuttle your your arrogance.....

I know for a fact that i'm iller then you. I don't just think. I know. Like neo knew is the matrix.

Yo know who this be

September 01, 2006 5:47 PM  
Blogger Mazur said...

Dammit Brendan, you win again! I always forget how legit you are.

September 01, 2006 11:24 PM  
Blogger radialrelish said...

Damn Andrew, you got shone. Brendon, you're a genius.

September 14, 2006 10:49 PM  
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