Beverly Hills · birthday · culture/multiculturalism · movies · writing

Back on my movie fix

I spent my three-day weekend doing my part to help movie theaters stay open. I’ve been ignoring my Netflix DVDs in favor of hunkering down at my favorite air-conditioned and crowded theater in Manhattan to celebrate the new summer movie season. Did I mention that I’ve always been obsessed with movies?

In junior high, I kept up an “entertainment book,” an up-to-date database of movie and actor information that my friends would flip through during class and lunch. But it wasn’t until college that I could actually fork over the funds to see most of the movies I wanted to see and the stars I’d formerly only obsessed over in my Entertainment Weekly and teen magazine subscriptions. When my then therapist worried I was being antisocial on my 19th birthday by spending the day at the movies by myself, I assured her that my decision was based on the fact that I had very few friends that would swear to a vow of silence during viewings. In my flowery PJs, I ended up at two theaters and four films.

I just finished an Iron Man review that I hope goes up on Tail Slate, a movie website I’ve been writing for since 2004 when I was down on unemployment between the end of my career as a administrative assistant and the start of my teaching career. I’ve writing reviews for them intermittently since then, needing time to recoup between obsessive film and DVD watching, not to mention rather dull movie seasons. I’ll post a link to the Iron Man review once it’s up and will only hint now at the fact that while I enjoyed the film, it was mostly a startling special effects fluff piece.

I also had the chance to catch The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and the new Indiana Jones. Though, I found myself unexpectedly satisfied at both pictures (especially by the sense of wonder Prince Caspian was able to evoke), a friend found Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull mostly underwhelming. Since I’m not an Indy purist by any means, the plotlines of the originals lost in the cloud that was my childhood, I enjoyed the little chortles here and there that were inspired by a piece that obviously meant to be more about reconnecting with loved characters and watching them achieve a sense of closure than about any plot or (thank G-d) restarting a the franchise.

Two of my former students joined me and my husband for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and we all discussed the film industry during the sneak previews. “Are there really four (Iron Man, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk) comic book flicks coming out this season?” I wondered aloud. My former student noted that he believes “Hollywood’s run out of ideas.” My husband agreed with him after watching the preview for (no joke) Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

There might be some ideas still left in Hollywood. One could point out that the upcoming Hancock, starring Will Smith, is one of the rare superhero stories without the Marvel or DC Comics logo attached. A woman in the audience watching the preview for Hancock wondered when the movie would play in theaters and another aptly responded “probably around July 4th.” My husband surmised the same, “Will Smith movies always open around July 4th.” A quick glance at the movie poster on the way out confirmed that the film will open with the intention of drawing in Independence Day partiers by opening July 2nd.

And though, I’ll be adding my measly ticket stub to all that Hancock rakes in July, right now, I’m looking towards finishing up May with Sex and the City, another on the long list of films that draws on the built-in fanbase of a TV show (X-Files: I Want to Believe) or book (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2) or Broadway show (Mamma Mia!) or long dead old faithful (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) to create a bankable “new” film franchise. Even a doll collection aims to become a franchise monolith this summer movie season with Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl.

The real question for me this season is whether or not race or sex will be more offensive to my seasoned moviegoer eyes. I’m perplexed by Robert Downey, Jr.’s decision to follow-up Iron Man‘s success with a turn as an African American character in the Ben Stiller comedy, Tropic Thunder. But I’m also bracing myself to cope with any hot and heavy sex scenes that Sex and the City might bring to the big screen in all their glory. Though I watched every episode during a past summer DVD marathon, I can’t say that there weren’t a couple that shocked me or left me squeamish due to their bold sexuality. And now, I’ll be watching the film version with what I think have become more “sensitive” eyes thanks to my new religious perspective. This summer may prove the first time since I was nicknamed Mother Theresa as a child that I cover my own eyes at the movies.

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