All entries for Sunday 17 February 2008

February 17, 2008

on cinema for the sake of it.

I quite frequently go to the cinema to see whatever is new and on.  This is mainly because I like to get out of the house; walking down the road in the cold with a big coat, hood and scarf, occupying about 3 seats for stuff in a near-empty matinee or early evening screening, finishing popcorn even before the trailers are finished and watching something chosen for its store-bought status as the week's major release is infinitely preferable to wandering around the house, occasionally reloading Facebook (although that probably says more about my work habits than anything). 

I don't perhaps get as angry at bad or average films as some of my peers so this is very rarely an entirely negative experience, and sometimes there are surprises and treats.  Anyway I believe that it's aces to explore your present culture, the time that you are living in.  We can't discount the possibility that film and cultural historians will look back at films that we now disregard, and wonder why they were so derided (this can often be the case with B-movies from the classical Hollywood period).  Watching new stuff is especially important for me right now, because my research is about uses of digital tools in cinema - which is very much 'breaking news', and the majority of contemporary releases are thematically relevant to it in one way or another.  I often try to find a good performance, or some ace set design or visual effects, or a pretty actress.  If nothing else, you can ask yourself "Why doesn't that film work?", which keeps your critical tools from becoming overwhelmed by a constant onslaught cinema 'classics' in a film department. 

David Bordwell wrote something recently about cinema releases in the first quarter that I agree with, and that perhaps echoes some of these ideas:

Yet this is a flush period for those of us who like to explore low-budget genre pieces. I have to admit I enjoy checking on those quickie action fests and romantic comedies that float up early in the year. They’re today’s equivalent of the old studios’ program pictures, those routine releases that allowed theatres to change bills often. In their budgets, relative to blockbusters, today’s program pix are often the modern equivalent of the studios’ B films.

I suspect that it may be a tiny bit different for us in the UK, as this is the time of year when we receive the onslaught of award-nominated films, the 'quality cinema', that was released in the US late in the year previous.  The last few weeks have seen No Country for Old Men, Juno, There Will Be Blood and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly released in the UK - as well as the deserved return of Away From Her, thanks to Julie Christie's Oscar nomination.  Still, there's plenty of genre films around - particularly at the Leamington Apollo, which often inexplicably shows genre movies that aren't really being shown in many multiplexes (often at the expense of something else that you'd expect to see - I haven't quite forgiven them for not showing Superbad last year).  

This was going to be an introduction to a post about Jumper, but it's gotten a little unwieldy.  On Jumper tomorrow, then.  I think there's a cool idea in it.

February 2008

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