Commentary

  • February 7, 2011

    Viewing the Oscars at the local theater

    With rumors that the world-wide Oscar television audiences are diminishing there will always be movie fans who long to watch it from start to its drawn out conclusion. More so, these devout die-hards would much rather be there, in person, if possible.

    One feeling of almost being present in Hollywood is to watch this fabulous ceremony on the BIG screen hosted by an historic theater. This is something this writer has enjoyed several times, for free, at the glorious Bagdad Theatre in Portland, Oregon.

  • August 14, 2010

    The End of Theatrical Moviegoing?

    Blogger and industry executive Mark Lipsky is speaking out against the future of theatrical moviegoing — and in favor of the coming digital options — in a series of posts that have spurred a lot of angry debate at TheWrap.com. Here’s a sampling from his original post:

    There are currently about 6,000 theaters in the U.S. containing nearly 40,000 screens. In 10 years there will be under 1,000 and in 15, under 100. And we won’t miss them.

    … and from his follow up piece after getting a number of angry responses:

    I realize that moviegoers of a certain age (let’s call it 30+ to be generous) have romantic and/or nostalgic notion about theater-going. Not so for younger folks or anyone born today and forever after. Instead, those folks will embrace the coming sea-change with abandon. They’ll barely have a thought that movie theaters even existed outside the few that remain…

  • February 19, 2010

    The iPhone Palace

    Happy to see that the magic of the movie theatre will never go away.

  • December 10, 2009

    The past decade was SUPER, SUPER, SUPER (but not all of it was good!).

    The decade is almost over! Reflecting on it, it would seem that we were bombarded with more sequels, remakes and CGI effects-driven-who-cares-about-a-good-story films than ever before. But I think if someone were to ask me what I’ll remember most about the movies between the years 2000 through 2009, I’d have to definitely say it was the decade of the SUPER COMIC BOOK HERO!

    Not to say, of course, that the screen has not graced generations of moviegoers with legendary superheroes before – the 1930s and 1940s provided the weekly serial cliffhangers of Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and Batman. Max Fleisher gave us the best short Superman cartoons ever made.

    For my generation (35+), the screen superhero had a fresh new beginning when Warner Brothers brought “Superman”(1978) to the big screen, and it was larger than life. Between 1978 and 1982, it seemed the screen super comic heroes were back in action, and it also included films like “Flash Gordon” (1980), “The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1980), "Superman II” (1981) and “Conan The Barbarian”(1982). The rest of the decade, unfortunately, brought super-disasterous results with turkeys like “Superman III & IV”, “Supergril” and “Conan the Destroyer”.

  • August 26, 2009

    1979 was the year of the vampire!

    If you were to recall movies and TV thirty years ago, you might remember that Dracula and other vampires had become quite popular in pop culture entertainment.

    • “Love at First Bite” (April 1979) – George Hamilton played the legendary Count who comes to New York City to sweep sexy model Susan Saint James off of her feet. This was, of course, a silly comedy, but it set the stage in our minds for more of the “Prince of Darkness” to come in the following months.

    • “Dracula” (July 1979) – This was director John Badham’s (“Saturday Night Fever”) second film based on the hit play of the ‘70s, which also starred Frank Langella as the Count. I’m probably in the minority when I say that this has always been my favorite film version of Bram Stoker’s classic tale. Maybe it’s Langella’s good looks and sexiness (and this is coming from a heterosexual male!), maybe it the class, charm and grace he brings to the character (no disrespect intended toward Bela Legosi), or maybe it’s the rich color and score by John Williams that adds more depth to the story. Who knows. This version just seemed to always work better for me.

  • August 10, 2009

    Director John Hughes – Don’t You Forget About Him.

    There was a time in the world of movies, somewhere between 1984 and 1989 when director John Hughes ruled the screens. With a successful string of theatrical hits like “Sixteen Candles”, “Weird Science”, “The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Planes Trains & Automobiles” and “Uncle Buck”, his films not only addressed and embraced the rather tedious social lives of young people, but also brought a new degree of fun to screen comedy. Several of his films ushered in the era of the “Brat Pack” in the 1980s, which included young stars like Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall.

    I was saddened to hear that John Hughes died of a heart attack in New York City last Thursday August 6, 2009 – this following what has seemed like an unfortunate string of celebrity deaths this summer, including Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson (both of them on the same day, no less).

  • August 3, 2009

    Hollywood studios, yesterday and today – What happened?

    As we are knee deep in yet another summer of pointless and mindless sequel and remake blockbusters, I cannot help but think back to last summer of 2008 when I was absolutely shocked to find that I not only went to the neighborhood movie theater to see “The Dark Knight”, but that I also absolutely loved, loved, loved it! Anyway, it got me thinking about how major studios have chosen to take a cowardly route towards promoting adventurous material the past few decades.

    But in looking back at the last 30 years, there are four (4) films in particular that I’d like to take a look at which, by today’s standards of movie making and marketing, would likely have NEVER been released by a major Hollywood Studio.

    1. Breaking Away (Twentieth Century Fox,July 1979) – There is very good chance that if there had not previously been two “Rocky” films already, this simple, yet inspiring sports drama about four simple Indiana boys who look to gain respect and dignity through bicycle riding might never have seen the light of the big screen. But 30 years ago this summer, this Oscar-winning tale embraced our hearts and we cheered for the simple, Italian-wanna-be who rode his bicycle to victory. It starred four virtual nobodys (Jackie Earle Haley, the possible exception; having done three “Bad News Bears” films) and Fox was willing to put its faith (and balls) behind the project. Good for them!
  • January 9, 2009

    A look back at the year 1979: the year of science fiction

    It was thirty years ago. It was the year 1979, and it may be quite safe to say that science fiction movies were dominating the motion picture screen more than they ever have since. This enormous outbreak of sci-fi sensation was, no doubt, due to a little gem two years earlier by George Lucas called “Star Wars”. At the time, it was the highest-grossing blockbuster movie in the United States since “Jaws”, and literally every motion picture studio wanted to get on the sci-fi bandwagon and rake in the sci-fi cash! And so, join me now on a chronological jourey together, as we look back at the year 1979; the year of sci-fi screen magic!

    • “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” (March 30, 1979) – Yes, you make have forgotten this, but before the hit series premiered on television in September 1979, it had a short, but profitable theatrical run. It was this film that served as the television pilot for the series which ran for two seasons.

    • “Mad Max” (April 12, 1979) – By today’s film standards this low-budget apocalyptic thriller of dystopian Australia, starring a very young Mel Gibson might fall under the independent film category. It only received mixed reactions from critics, but still managed to spawn two successful sequels.

  • October 28, 2008

    Thirty years ago was the night HE came home!

    Thirty years ago, on October 25, 1978, horror films changed forever. A very young John Carpenter, whose previous films were “Dark Star” and “Assault on Precinct 13”, made a low budget, independent film which many critics credit as the film which inspired many years of slasher films to come. Although it can be argued that “Halloween” is originally inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. It launched the career of Jamie Lee Curtis (a.k.a. “Scream Queen” during her early horror film days).

    Because I was only eleven years-old when the film came out and was not permitted by my parents to see horror movies, I would not discover “Halloween” until 1980 when I was able to catch bits and pieces of its edited version on NBC-TV. In fact, it was not until college that I would finally see the entire uncut and unedited version on VHS. To this day, I have (sadly) never seen “Halloween” on screen.

    Here are some “Halloween” movie facts that may interest you:

  • April 21, 2008

    Challenge issued to those hating how things turned out

    Regular Cinema Treasures commenter schmadrian has issued a challenge to those movie palace aficionados who wish things hadn’t ended up the way they have.

    “As hinted at in a recent ‘Cinema Treasures’ thread, I’d like to challenge all those who so animatedly decry ‘how bad things have gotten’ to put aside their frustrations, their habitual indignant ravings, and instead, invest these sometimes not-inconsiderable energies into suggesting how we might not have ended up here. (While ‘here’ is subjective, for the sake of this experiment, let’s say we’re referring to not only a loss of cinematic heritage by way of the wrecking ball, but also leaving us with bland, over-priced boxes-for-theatres with mannerless idiots for patrons.) Using the concept of ‘alternate history’, I’m challenging any and all to have a go at jiggling circumstances, at rearranging cause-and-heartbreaking-effect, at playing with all the contributing factors to end up with-