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THE 6TH ANNUAL SUMMER MOVIE EXTRAVAGANZA

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THE 6TH ANNUAL SUMMER MOVIE EXTRAVAGANZA

By Big Red

 

HOW TO MAKE A SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER
by JAMES MANNING
101 WAYS TO MAKE A "B" MOVIE - X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
by JAMES NADEAU
WATCHMEN & THE LIMITS OF ADAPTATION
by JAMES NADEAU
THE HANGOVER
by MATTHEW NASH
HARRY POTTER & THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
by SHANE GODFREY
BRUNO
by JUDY KERMIS BLOTNICK
TRANSFORMERS 2: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN
by MICAH J. MALONE

Movies – a tawdry, corrupt art for a tawdry corrupt, world – fit the way we feel. The world doesn't work the way the schoolbooks said it did and we are different from what our parents and teachers expected us to be. Movies are our cheap and easy expression, the sullen art of displaced persons...

- Pauline Kael

It is upon us once again. That great wave of films involving explosions, wizards, monsters, and robots as engulfed us. It is the summer movie season. The air is hot, the sun is shining and everyone is at the beach. Oh wait, that hasn't happened yet. It seems that this is the perfect summer to be inside watching movies. The weather sucks and we are all in danger of being washed away in a flash flood. What better time to be indoors subjecting one's self to inane dialogue and meaningless explosions? But this summer as also brought us smaller, more interesting films that should grab our attention.

This year we have had The Hangover, Humpday, and Kathryn Bigelow's masterpiece The Hurt Locker. These films eschew the bombastic in favor of the character. As more and more studios shutter their "art house" divisions this type of film gets rare. The economic downturn has forced the big studios to fixate on the bottom line. They maximize profit at the expense of credible filmmaking. That is the big picture (quite literally). On the other hand you have films like Agnes Varda's The Beaches of Agnesand Duncan Jones' Moon, which demonstrate that independent films are still being made. Albeit my two examples aren't perfect – Varda's history and reputation enable her films to get funding while Jones happens to the son of David Bowie, a man who could certainly bankroll any film he liked.

The fact that you have these films emerging in one of the tightest economic times ever speaks volumes about our desire to create, see, and experience films that are outside the Hollywood behemoth. One only need to take a look at the list of films and filmmakers appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival to see that low budget, complex films are still being made despite the media's fixation on the death of the independent film. Pedro Almodovar, Todd Solondz and Alain Resnais are all screening new films. And the festivals Wavelengths program will be screening new work by Michael Snow, Harun Farocki, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Goddard. The unfortunate thing is that many of these films will never be seen. Sure, a few will make their way to the festival circuit and you can see them as part of the Boston Independent (or Underground or International) Film Festival. The fact remains that these films have become tailor made for a circuit that has traps and foibles all on its own.

What seems to be needed is a genuine re-thinking of how the film industry functions. As more of us turn to the computer for film and television viewing (thank you Hulu) the industry is going to be forced to change. Its economic model is as outdated as that which crashed Wall Street. The age of the micro viewer is here. The recent death of Michael Jackson signified an end to the all-encompassing media figure. We are now divided and subdivided into smaller and smaller categories of viewer. And just when you think you have a box for us we move again. Technology has enabled us to watch what we want, when we want it. What good does a focus group serve when individual tastes are fickle and infinite?

In the face of this evolution there is the cold hard fact that millions of people went and saw Transformers. Millions are seeing Harry Potter. So it seems we are in a dichotomous age. We want individuality but we also want a group viewing experience that brings us action and excitement. We want our cake and the ability to eat it too. The cool thing is that perhaps this is possible. As the studios crank out their blockbusters and we flock to see them on enormous screens, we are also reveling in the possibilities of the minor film that makes us think. We are fortunate enough to have both. I like that I can see Harry Potter in one afternoon and then go and see Soul Power at night. I am appreciative of both. Each one satisfies a part of my brain. One is purely visceral and the other intellectual. But which one is which I'll never know until the light goes dim and the film begins. And that is the great thing about watching movies. And so, on that note, welcome to our annual Summer Film Issue.

James Nadeau - Executive Editor

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