Posts Tagged ‘genre’
People go to the movies at all times during the course of the year, but summertime always seems to be the period when movies are most popular. It’s the time of year when we can usually look forward to a blockbuster or two, whether they be special effects extravaganzas or what have you, which attract massive crowds of patrons young and old to the local cinemas where they eat tubs of popcorn and drink frosty beverages. What is it exactly, though, that attracts, or even compels so many to see summer releases? Is there something special about the films themselves, or the audiences who watch them? The answers to these questions can be found by figuring out what all of these various audience members have in common, and how what that is relates to the movies they’re seeing.
In order for a horror film to be affecting it must accomplish an array of feats that manipulate its audience in a way that steers it toward a desired end, which is usually one of disenfranchisement, disgust, dismay, or paranoia. But one key element to effective horror that goes largely unmentioned is the importance of pity. When a horror film does not take seriously this pivotal aspect, or neglects it altogether, what usually results is a campy flick that allows, if not promotes an audience to react with disinterest or laughter instead of shock, terror, or other sorts of psychological distress. In order to properly convey the importance of a scary movie’s ability to make an audience pity we must first examine precisely what pity is and how it works to assist a movie’s efforts to jar its viewers. From doing this we can hopefully discover the major faults of modern American horror, and see what needs to be done to revive it.
It’s a question that’s plagued me for a while now: whatever happened to big Hollywood movie musicals? Movie genres typically go through cycles of popularity and I think we’re due for another round of flashy, dance-filled musicals.
Musicals have been a long-enduring genre since the early days of film. In fact, the very first sound film was a musical—1927’s The Jazz Singer. When it became a runaway success, studios rushed to create more musicals, some of which became the beginnings of a series. Warner Brothers’ triumph with The Gold Diggers of Broadway led to The Gold Diggers of 1933, which became one of the most celebrated musicals of all time thanks in large part to Busby Berkeley’s intricate choreography. RKO Radio Pictures first paired dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers—who danced together in nine films—in 1933 in Flying Down to Rio, creating arguably the most famous dancing couple in film history. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released The Broadway Melody in 1929, which not only started a series but also won the Academy Award for Best Picture. As time went on, production companies made more and more musicals until the genre reached its greatest popularity in the 1940’s and ‘50s.
Though many studios made musicals during that time, MGM arguably became the company most associated with producing expensive, opulent and immensely successful musicals. They produced Easter Parade, Summer Stock, An American in Paris, Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Guys and Dolls, as well as numerous others. Those films were a mixture of song and dance and while they weren’t exactly realistic, they were always entertaining. MGM musicals have always been my favorites and when I think of the kind of musicals I’d love to see now, I imagine huge productions with the same glamour and spectacle as MGM’s greatest musicals. I’m talking musicals with big, expensive set pieces and extended dance sequences with dancers wearing costumes of every conceivable color. I’m talking great songs that not only convey exactly what the character feels, but are also catchy and make the audience want to sing along.
Disclaimer - We have painted video games with an overly large brush, and trust us that we have done so begrudgingly. However, because perception always takes time to catch up to reality when it comes to public opinion, and perhaps in this case critical and executive opinion as well, we felt it was necessary in order to make things more explicable.
It has been interesting to note how critics have commented on the source material for the recently released Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. As most of you know by now, if you didn’t know before the release, the film is based off of a video game of the same name. And like with most films that are adapted from video games critics have pointed out the various congruencies between the two productions, such as story structure and character construction. In the case of Prince of Persia, these two things along with the aesthetics of the movie’s action sequences have been said to resemble (some say closer than others) their corresponding elements in the source material, but the intriguing thing is that the comments written that illuminate these similarities usually paint them as being faults. Anymore if the reception of a movie can be compared to the manner that video games are received (though there are many inherent differences between the mediums) it is taken to be as a deficiency or imperfection. Why should it be considered an automatic negative that a movie resembles its source material if that source material is a video game? Before we get into any sort of discussion that might explain a possible discrimination against video games, let us first try to discover why it is that so many critics find the storytelling techniques of video games and movies to be so incompatible. Read the rest of this entry »