Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fall: Please, I Can Has Movies?

So first of all, another apology. Just a few weeks ago I apologized for not posting enough, and promised to get Western Star of the Week back on track and start posting more in general. Fail. In all truth, this blog will probably get less and less maintained as my exams approach in February. I'll fight that as much as I can, but I'll probably have no choice. I'll do my best to have everything cruising again after that, and try to keep this sucker afloat in the mean time. But no promises. Unfortunately, blogs thrive on having as many posts as possible, and if I lose a few readers, my readership will be roughly zero.

On to my topic: the Fall. In case you weren't aware, there are two main movie seasons, if you live in a Megalopolis. The first is the summer, in which the biggest, most CGI-tacular releases are crammed down our throats. This year, for some reason, those releases were actually good. The summer starts earlier every year (like March this year) and then peters out in August. Hence, we were overwhelmed with everything from Iron Man to Hellboy II to The Dark Knight through July, then had to deal with everything from College to Disaster Movie to Star Wars: The Clone Wars (CG theatrical feature film) over the last 1.5 months.

Now the fall movie season is here, which will carry on until Christmas and might be called the holiday season by some. Burn After Reading kicked it off. This season is made up of three main kinds of releases: blatant, usually crappy "holiday fare" that warms people's hearts and/or appeals to kids and grandparents alike around Christmas and Thanksgiving, summer style movies that are frequently, but not always, more intelligent, stylish, and middle-brow than summer fare (Burn After Reading, Harry Potter (before it got moved!), Quantum of Solace, etc) and blatant Oscar grabs that won't make much money but could win some awards, including real and semi-independents, and foreign films (for this year, look at The Road, Appaloosa, and any other movie starring Viggo Mortensen). Obviously, certain movies, like Lord of the Rings, etc, can be in both of the latter categories, and some are even in all three.

But now we're at one of my pet peeves: you have to be in a Megalopolis to have this uninterrupted season. Here in Chapel Hill, there's really more like three seasons: Summer (Dark Knight et al), Fall (Quantum of Solace et al) and Films That Won't Be Released Until At Least After the Golden Globe Nominations, But Preferably the Oscar Nominations, Because The Only Way To Get Anyone To See A Movie As Relentlessly Bleak As, Say, There Will Be Blood Is To Dump It In Theaters In December To Qualify For Awards But Not Give It To The Moviegoing Public Until Jan/Feb After They've Seen It Get Nominated For Stuff.

This means that, for this blog, the actual movie year has to be Feb-Feb, or, more precisely, from Oscars to Oscars. A real critic, or a NY/LA/Toronto resident, can see all of "this year's" movies by Dec 31. I won't be so lucky. And in the case of foreign films, I often won't see them until after they've already won their Oscar, in which case I have no idea what year to put them in. It's frustrating to have A.O. Scott put The Lives of Others in the best movies of 2006, and then get to see it in April of 2007.

All of that's to say, it's fall. This is my favorite moviegoing time of year, and the most frustrating. Because, outside of the highly anticipated wide releases like Quantum of Solace, I just have to scan the local theaters and bitch about the fact that real critics have already made their top 10 lists, and most of the movies haven't even come to the Triangle yet. It's an exciting, nerve wracking period, trying to see everything notable, drinking everything in, and being painfully aware that I'm a second class film citizen, not worthy of There Will Be Blood until January. I can't stand it. Please, bear with me in this difficult time. Also, write your local studio exec and inform them that if every single under the radar Oscar release is put out in Dec and then expands in February, most of them will fail. May I suggest August?

A final note: I will open up five more spots on the year's top 10 list, to 15, which I'll fill as fall movies come out and I regard them as worthy of the list (I intended to put Burn After Reading on the list with as much pomp as I could muster, but that one turned out to be a whimper). I'll add five more spots (making 20 total) on Dec 31st; those 5 will be for the various Oscar releases, and let me recognize any fall or summer movies I've overlooked. That's right, my end of year list is 20 films. Because I'm twice as opinionated as any other critic.


MovieMan0283 said...

Great post - I know the feeling. Though even when I lived in New York I didn't get around to seeing a lot of the films until the following year either. You found "Burn After Reading" underwhelming? (I haven't seen it yet.)

Graham said...

Yeah, I did find Burn a bit underwhelming, although I've got a whole post for this weekend about how Coen movies often underwhelm me at first. Definitely good, but too mean spirited for me.

Ironically, I didn't make it to the theater to see Frozen River before it left town, even though I was bitching about them not releasing here soon enough. So yes, I too have not availed myself of opportunities to see smaller films, even though I just complained about not having those opportunities.