For a time, Summer Movie Season was a perennial shift in the Earth’s polarity, as much of a cosmic mandate as any other part of our collective trip around the sun. Recent events, however, strongly suggest (and almost conclusively prove) that there’s as little room for debate about climate change in our movie theaters as there is for that in our environment.
The parameters of the Summer Movie Season have persistently been challenged over the course of the past decade. Studios and audiences alike seem to agree that the dog days of August must remain a transitional period of some kind, but every year has seen a high-octane release moving the goalpost at the start of the season further away from the one at the end of it. Summer Movie Season traditionally began on the first weekend of May, so when Fast Five was released on April 29, 2011, pundits sensitive to such things reacted like the move was a game-changing affront to the sacred code of Hollywood profiteering.
The film opened to more than $86 million in its first weekend, paving the way for the April release of Oblivion in 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014, and—most telling of all—2013’s successful 3-D re-release of Jurassic Park. It’s probable that the definitive summer blockbuster of the last 25 years was re-released out of season in order to avoid the gauntlet of new releases, but the box-office triumph of Steven Spielberg’s double-dip (it grossed $45.4 million, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of any kind released that month) confirmed that summer movies no longer need the summer to survive. They can breathe out of water. The fish hasn’t grown lungs; the world has been flooded.
Interesting take, with which I have many quibbles.
In which I am humbled to discover the existence of Level 4. Read more
So what can I tell you? I fucked this up, didn’t I. Everybody loves Mamo 324, except for me, and my reasons are entirely vain - I feel like there was an opportunity for me to interact with what Matty Price was saying, thinking, and confessing, that I didn’t get on top of in the moment of truth. Now, as per the usual with Mamo, the moment of truth is literally the - i.e. only - moment of truth. We don’t do retakes. We don’t edit (much). And we almost never talk about what we’re going to bring to the show before we bring it to the show, because that would rob the episode of its conversational nature - we want to respond to one another’s ideas in real time. So, I responded in real time to Matty Price’s ideas about how his dislike of horror movies was linked to a shame response triggered by his experiences being bullied as a child - and I sucked at it.Read more
ICYMI: It’s your Saturday content recap! Because holy crap, there was a lot of content this week.
Column: Jerry Bruckheimer and the dawn of the mega-franchises, a major plank in my thinking on how movies are changing forever
Podcast: Mamo #323 closed up the summer box office contest!
Watched: I speculated that in the back half of its second season, The Newsroom actually got kinda great
And the blog: I called Mark a hermit!
But Wait, There’s SHIELD: I, like everyone else, had thoughts on the pilot.
All this and more can be found at tederick.com!
Mamo returns, having survived the wilds of TIFF ’13 – if “survived” is a word you can apply to a festival where Matt Price announced his retirement from moviegoing and a lunatic film blogger in a press and industry screening called 911 because someone else was using their mobile phone. What kind of a future of movies do you call this?!
When Mamo was going to attend its first Podcamp, one of our ideas was to do an entirely silent “podcast” via twitter. We backed out of that one out of cowardice, but on June 21 2013, something very like the silent podcast happened on twitter anyway. The Matts, Ryan, Jandy, and later Mike got into a discussion about the future of filmgoing, presented here in its entirety:Read more
Stepped out of the game for what was going to be a minute and turned into four months - four months in which I never visited the Lightbox, rarely went to the movies at all, and sat on the sidelines while the whole world flipped on its back like a drunken sea turtle. And then I went to New Zealand, and had one of the best moviegoing experiences of my whole life. And then I came back, and then the Substream died and then Ebert died, and absent an outlet or even a clear sense of what I’m doing, I’m a writer sorely in need of a content strategy; until then, though, there’s always the blog, and Watched, and here we are.Read more
Lake Ferry - Our Mount Doom hike has been scuttled, because the Tongariro crossing is in permanent nastiness, weather-wise, for the next several days. This has left a rather gaping crater in our final week in New Zealand. We’ve ended up in Lake Ferry - a bleak stretch of sand out near the pinnacles, where the hotel (a lovely, barren motel overlooking the sand spit) could be the gathering place for anyone within twenty miles.
Have I mentioned the food here - the food in New Zealand is one hell of a best-kept secret. With exactly one exception, we have not failed to find UNBELIEVABLY good food in every restaurant we’ve visited, largely sourced from local products, and always plated with an aesthetic solvency that would blow the hair off half the Food Network hags. Last night at the hotel restaurant it was prawns and fettuccine tossed in tomato sauce with chorizo sausage and pine nuts, and it was - yet again - one of the better meals I’ve had in my life. No one talks about this place as the culinary centre of the world? Is it because they’re too busy talking about the propensity to jump off bridges?
Have I mentioned the drought? It’s stunningly dry here, and all the highway “fire hazard” signs (of which there are many) are set to “EXTREME.” But more than that, you see it as you move through the land - driving down here, across mile after mile after mile of sun-blasted scrub land, one begins to worry. Demetre was saying that the country is within a stone’s throw of water rationing if they don’t get a good downpour soon. (They should go to Tongariro.)
Wellington turned out to be a compellingly livable, friendly city, with a solid strategy for public art, and walkable streets that are - for whatever reason - replete with pregnant women, suggesting that they have lots of sex there and/or are as fertile as the average fruit fly. Wellington also puts Chicago’s quaint notions of itself as “the windy city” in striking perspective - especially down by the bay, that town has WIND, man. But no one seems too bothered about it. Friday morning the folks heading to work did not seem in any particular rush about it, and Friday night the streets exploded with nightlife to a degree that was more than a bit startling.
We went to the Weta Cave and then I did my Obi-Wan Kenobi straight-line walk to Stone Street Studio without any plan or navigational assistance. The highlight of the stay, though, was going to the Embassy Theatre for a midnight screening of The Hobbit in 48/3-D/Atmos, which would have been a treat in itself, but… THIS THEATRE. Quite legitimately the best movie theatre I’ve ever been to a movie in, with a stunning lobby, tony nighttime bar under the screen (which creates the rather surreal visual of walking into the lobby and seeing no ticket counter or concession stand, but rather a vulva-ish tunnel leading to a brilliantly designed room full of flappers drinking Old Fashioneds), an upstairs cafe and lounge area, and then - of course - a brilliant theatre, with a gargantuan screen, the best sound system I’ve ever heard, and wide leather armchairs bearing the names of the benefactors who sponsored them. (I sat in Liv Tyler’s.) If they played Return of the Jedi on Saturday mornings, it would be like all of my life’s ambitions had crashed together in one place. The Embassy is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and puts Wellington near the top of the list of places in New Zealand now vying for my permanent residence.
The big draw out where we are right now are the pinnacles, which served as the Paths of the Dead and must be seen to be believed. Made up of dissolving towers of compacted scree, the pinnacles seem like a winding labyrinth of crumbling castle turrets and proud, erect penises stabbing the darkening sky. (Also: if the metaphors in this entry any indication, I’ve spent too long absent the company of a woman.) We were in the pinnacles as the sun went down, and the encroaching chill and preternatural silence - broken only by our exhausting efforts to scramble over the voluminous piles of skull-like stones - was immense. I would love to return with a good set of speakers, and bounce the Raiders march off every corner of that large, natural echo chamber.