THE HARDSHIP THAT FILMS FACE IN THE DIGITAL AGE
By Nathan Cruz
With the constantly increasing price of movie tickets, new digital services such as Netflix, and other cable/ satellite providers that make it easier to watch recently released films from the comfort of your own home, not many people make the choice to commute to the movie theater. Even when you make the choice to go, there are desperate “support your movie theater” commercials that run before most film trailers at major movie theater chains. These commercials are basically corporate propaganda that blatantly say you must go to their movie theater, pay their ever-increasing movie ticket prices, and buy a bunch of overpriced candy and popcorn.
Early this summer, the devastating tragedy that occurred in Aurora, Colorado discouraged some movie-goers from making that commute to the one place many of us look to as a space to let our guard down, let our imaginations flow, and escape from the realities of the day.
There is also a debate about many movie chains switching over to digital formats. This decision outdates the classic 35mm film, which has been the medium that films have been shot, edited and viewed for more than 100 years. While the digital format is now used as a cheaper and more democratic option for filmmakers and audiences alike, the 35mm option is a much more soughta after option for cinephiles because of its tangible, transient quality.
Local independent movie theater chains in Los Angeles, such as the ArcLight, the Landmark, and Laemmle, have made it more accessible to stay true to the art of filmmaking. Here, there is no hidden agenda, no tacky commercials, just three film trailers and the film itself. As an avid fan of cinema, I usually make the commute to these theaters because most of what is playing at the huge mega-plex theater down the street from me is just some massproduced Hollywood byproduct.
I know the commute to these can get costly. Being a broke college student myself, I cannot always make the pilgrimage to my favorite independent film chain. However, the Art Theater in Long Beach is a great alternative that screens one recently released (usually independent, sometimes not) film on a weekly basis and it is only a short (free) bus or bike ride away from campus. With all that being said, I did go to the movies this summer and I saw some excellent and not-so-excellent work:
Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson’s latest and best work to date. Of course it features several now cliché Wes Anderson moments such as wide-angle tracking shots, French influences, the unlikely protagnonist, deadpan humor, and overall quirkiness, but what captured me was the innocent story of two children on the brink of adolescence who experience love for the first time.
Sam is a Khaki Scout at a summer camp in a small New England town. One night he escapes to meet Suzy, the girl he has sought for the past year. Together the two flee their small town, which prompts a local search party to seek them out.
The two kids are outcasts from society, Sam is an orphan and Suzy, whose parents think she’s emotionally disturbed, is the child of emotionally unavailable parents. The two kids see each other for who they are. At its core, Moonrise Kingdom is a story of innocence and the innate ability humans have to love and be loved. The two kids found solace in one another. Their urging need to escape made them all the more relatable.
The incredible attention to detail and atmosphere is the signature of Wes Anderson, allowing his films to contain both substance and style. Headlined by newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, the film is backed with an allstar cast including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman.
Last spring I spent a lot of time watching the evasive viral videos that were spread online as a publicity campaign for Ridley Scott’s latest film, Prometheus. At the time, the film looked very promising and equally so because it had large shoes to fill.
Although I do not want to take a total shit on this film, because the sci-fi element and cinematography were amazing, I do feel that Ridley Scott took things over the edge with this one. As the original Alien film felt small and claustrophobic with narrow dark hallways, Prometheus felt large and inviting with more light and widespread landscapes. The fatal flaw of this film was that too many themes were tossed around; the film got lost within itself trying to tackle ideas of creation, evolution, gender roles, free will, religion and then ultimately the point of life itself. It should have eliminated a few of these and picked one or two ideas to dive deeper into. Another flaw was the lack of characterization of major characters for the sake of the plot.
Like I previously mentioned, it was aesthetically beautiful and the little baby alien squirm worthy moments made me smile. Alone, this film might have stood a chance, but when you market yourself with the Alien franchise there is no choice but to be overly critical, especially with the director who helped create this genre in the first place. Even with a strong cast of Michael Fassbender, Noomi Repace, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, and Idris Elba, it was a bummer.
David Cronenberg’s latest thriller is a real return to form for the director. Cosmopolis really shows what Robert Pattison has to offer as an actor other than sparkling in the sun. The film also stars Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon, Samantha Morton, Mathieu Amalric, Jay Baruchel and Paul Giamitti.
The film incorporates a captivating tone of darkness and absurdity. Adapted from the 2003 novel by Don Delillo, set in the not too distant future, Robert Pattison plays Eric Packer, a billionaire who made his money by manipulating the markets. As he is chauffeured around town to get a haircut, he anxiously sets the Chinese yuan exchange rate, killing his bets against it. As an outsider looking at life through his limousine, Packer is a man trying to control the ever-falling world around him, but unlike Edward the vampire, Packer is human and everything falls apart. The film taps into our dark and troubled financial times, not by necessarily criticizing the rich, but by showing the privileged as highly sheltered humans who, like the rest of us, have ideas, sweat, get hungry, get tired, crave sex and feel pain. In a distorted, fucked up way, of course. It's ot necessarily the easiest film to digest, but it will leave your mind perplexed at the end; that is, if you’re into that sort of film. You will leave the theater remembering this: “My prostate is asymmetrical. What does that mean?”