Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Night Relaxer – Escape to the cinema

Do people turn to escapism when things turn bad? It’s a bit of a legend that cinema boomed during the Great Depression. Proving that it was the escapism of cinema from the grimness of economic pain that caused the boom is somewhat difficult. After all in 1933 movie attendance in the US had fallen by 40 per cent from pre-Depression levels – they then cut prices of tickets and included gimmicks to get in the paying customers, so was it the films or was it the cheapness of the entertainment?

The decade also saw the full integration of sound, not to mention the arrival of great directors such as Frank Capra who knew how to grab an audience, and would have done so, Great Depression or no. 

But all that aside, I think it is true that when things are a bit down in the world we do like to escape into fiction. And while a good novel is great, that two and a bit hours in the theatre is hard to beat for forgetting all else in your life (especially when the cricket is so bloody depressing for any Australian supporter – my tip follow the Redbacks in the Twenty20).

The movie I have been most looking forward to is still a couple months off, but yesterday its latest trailer was released.

Battle: Los Angeles is a film I’ve written about before – mostly because its teaser trailer was so magnificent. This second trailer is equally good – it gives some indication of the story, but not much in the way of spoilers and still uses the absolutely haunting song “The Sun’s Gone Dim and the Sky’s Black” by Johann Johannsson.

The film looks like a mix of Independence Day and Black Hawk Down. Lead actor Aaron Eckhardt has also mentioned that the actors who made up the Marines unit in the film did a boot camp as preparation – which is the usual thing done for serious war films like Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan rather than for CGI laden sci-fi like Independence Day. So I remain hopeful that this will be something special.

Battle: LA

But if you think that looks a bit too heavy, and you still want sci-fi, then I give you Cowboys and Aliens. Its got Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford and is directed by Jon Favreau (who has done the Iron Man films). And with a title like that it is either going to be really good, or really, really bad. (With luck so bad that it is good). It’s due out in July-August (not sure the precise date).

Cowboys and Aliens

However when you really need to escape from reality, there is no organisation that does it better than Pixar. From Toy Story in 1995 to Toy Story 3 last year they consistently hit the mark (yeah I know many don’t like Cars, but my daughter loved it beyond words – I’m not so confident about Cars 2 though). This afternoon I thought of doing a ranking of all the Pixar films, but I quickly realised such a thing required a bit of thought, so I’ll leave that for next week (or later). In late December an excellent clip on YouTube was doing the rounds, so you have probably seen it, but if not here is the Beauty of Pixar – it is truly wonderful and it brilliantly takes you to other places in a way that cinema at its very best can do:

Beauty of Pixar

Have a great weekend.


Red Bakersen said...

I'm with you on Battle: Los Angeles... I CANNOT wait to see that movie. Looks absolutely brilliant. I'll be very surprised if it doesn't live up to the hype.

I've been following Cowboys & Aliens too. Partly because they were filming in Santa Fe when I was living there. I even managed to snag a photo of one of the sets, but my phone crapped out and I lost it. From everything I've seen/read, this looks to be an amazing film as well. Again, I'll be very surprised if it turns out to be awful.

If you really want to escape from reality, hard-core hallucinogenics are the way to go. But, I don't suggest using them because I've heard they can really scramble your brains. ;)

L said...

I used to go to the cinema often, but you know what killed that? Canberra Dendy's stupid reserved seating. You used to be able to leave work at 5 on Friday and think "I'd like to go and see a movie" and as long as you got there 20 minutes before the film started you'd be fine. Now if you haven't booked 3 days in advance you end up taking years off the life of your neck vertebrae by sitting right on the end of the second row from the front or in some other useless seat.

There are other cinemas in Canberra of course, but other than the archive none of them show anything interesting. Stupid Dendy.

I might see Battle: Los Angeles, though. And Cowboys and Aliens even though the name makes me think of Space Cowboys and that is not a good thing.

Hillbilly Skeleton said...

The Toy Story series is my 16y.o. son and his mates' favourite. Everytime a new one comes out they go and see it at the cinema.
Our family has also enjoyed The Incredibles, Ants and Monsters Inc.
One other that is not Pixar but is in that league, IMHO, is Robots. Great, intensely involving storyline. It also was one of the few movies with a follow-up console game that was worth buying.
I'd also be interested to hear what you have to say about Tron:Legacy, with its new Director.
Supposed to be a big improvement as a result. The Green Hornet is also getting some good raps.