by HELEN GEIB
Free-Talking Series: Next Post
NOVEMBER 30, 2010- FINAL POLLS ARE NOW UP FOR THE “BEST OF THE DECADE”
Vote now for the best films of 2008 and 2009.
The reader favorites for 2006 and 2007 were Letters from Iwo Jima and No Country for Old Men. The former won by a small margin, the latter by a healthy one. Voter turnout was down by about half from the polls for 2004 and 2005.
NOVEMBER 27, 2010- SEE MOVIES TO SEE MOVIES: NOW THAT’S A MARKETING CAMPAIGN I CAN GET BEHIND
The multiplexes I go to are all AMCs, so I was pleased to be given a card at my last visit advertising a “see five movies, get a $10 AMC gift card” promotion. That would be five movies “on the following list,” which turned out to be kind of a random assortment. When I saw the lobby poster I assumed they would be all coming attractions, or maybe smaller films they wanted to push, but it proved to be a mix of coming soon, already released films, guaranteed blockbusters, and a few titles that need all the advertising help they can get.
What will you see on this list?
Harry Potter and the Death Hallows: Part I
The Company Men
The Next Three Days
Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
For Colored Girls
I’ll likely end up seeing 6 or 7 of these (I’ve already seen Skyline, more’s the pity, and Faster). There’re also a few they’d have to pay me to see. Come to that, I’m not sure I’d be willing to watch another Tyler Perry movie even if they paid me.
NOVEMBER 17, 2010- SOME MOVIES ON MY TO-WATCH (ON DVD) LIST
My lament started me thinking about recent releases I wanted to see in the theater but couldn’t because they bypassed Indianapolis, and that are now out on DVD.
A few films that came to mind, listed in no particular order:
Flame and Citron
Red Riding Trilogy
35 Shots of Rum
The Baader Meinhof Complex
The Good, the Bad, the Weird
Have you seen any of these? Is there one I should move to the front of the queue?
NOVEMBER 13, 2010- WHY DO I WATCH SO FEW MOVIES THESE DAYS?
Consider that an existential lament.
In point of fact, I know exactly why I watch so few movies (or should I say, so many fewer than before?- more on that next). It’s because there are so many other things that I must or choose to devote my time to. Like my job and my house, the movie club I co-run with a friend, the three book groups I’ve joined (really, what was I thinking?!), and taking long walks along the canal, not to mention this blog.
And no, most people would not say that I’m not watching a lot of movies these days. I once read a statistic that the average American sees five movies a year in the theater. Considering I see more than that in a month, I’m seriously bringing up the average.
Nevertheless, it’s incontrovertible that I don’t watch anywhere near as many movies as I used to. There was a time when I devoured DVDs; I was a dedicated Netflix subscriber and borrowed gobs of DVDs from the library. There was an earlier time, before I started paying my own bills and decided against getting cable- i.e., when I was a teenager and my parents’ cable package included TCM- that I scoured the programming schedule to find dozens of movies every month. Yet, the last couple of years I feel like I’ve hardly watched anything on DVD, and I’ve quite literally watched no movies at all on TV.
Put aside all the important movies I haven’t seen yet. (Of course, I need to stop putting them aside. That’s why I haven’t seen them yet!)
When I was in my classic movie phase and again when I was in my Hong Kong movie phase, I would watch practically anything. As you might imagine, that means I watched a lot of indifferent films and more than enough outright bad ones besides. These days I’m far more discriminating, and I can’t help feeling that I’m missing out because of it.
Illogical, yes? Maybe. Proportionally and in absolute terms, the movies I’m watching now are higher quality and generally more satisfying and enjoyable. So where’s the downside?
I’m rarely surprised. You know how it is when you take a chance on a movie that you don’t know anything about, or that you don’t expect much from, and it turns out to be something really special? I hardly ever experience that anymore, and I miss the feeling.
And then there’re the bad movies, and the unsuccessful movies, that have some good thing in them. A memorable performance or clever idea or striking imagery. Something you remember with pleasure long after you’ve forgotten the rest of the film. Plus failures can be interesting, and even when they aren’t they provide context; there’s a lot of value to being able to put good films in context.
NOVEMBER 7, 2010- SEQUELS THAT ARE BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL
Here’s a fun parlor game: Name a sequel that’s better than the original.
Sequels get a bad rap. Yes, the law of diminishing returns usually applies to sequels, and yes, many of them are outright dreadful. And yes, Hollywood uses sequels as a crutch. But there are also lots (yes, lots!) of sequels that are good movies, and even some that are better than the movie they’re a sequel to.
Because I like to categorize, I’ve broken better-than-the-original sequels out into three groups:
1) One story told over several films. That means series that were envisioned as multi-part stories when the first film was made. Star Wars qualifies; Pirates of the Caribbean doesn’t. Why does this group produce superior sequels? One reason is that series often attain greater emotional richness as they develop their characters and storylines.
2) Sequels in name only. Great idea for a movie, indifferent execution. Recipe for a superior sequel: Keep the idea, jettison the rest. This is an approach taken occasionally by Hollywood and frequently in some of the foreign cinemas. Hong Kong is- depending on your tolerance for blatant attempts to capitalize on last year’s big hit by putting a “2” after its title- either legendary or notorious for the practice. Sometimes they even jettison the idea.
3) The continuing-adventures-of. The talent behind and in front of the camera changes; so does the setting, and the conceptualization of the hero. Which film in a series is the best one very often has little, if any connection to the order they were made when it comes to this group. Think James Bond, or his forebear Bulldog Drummond. The Zatoichi movies fluctuated in quality over the course of three decades (although the first film did remain the series’ best). The Thin Man series improved, crested, and diminished.
What sequels do you think are better than the originals?
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