Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

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Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014
The Directors Guild of America has announced its nominees for their 2014 Awards, and as usual, there are insights and snubs o' plenty.

If it’s January, it’s Award Season and with the various critics groups and cinema organizations announcing their Best-ofs, it’s also the time when various Guilds give it up for their membership. The Producers have already weighed in, as have the writers, and now it’s time for the Director’s to dole out their annual accolades. As a predictor of Oscar glory, winning the DGA has been fairly accurate (it’s rare that its winner doesn’t go on to take home the Academy gold), but the group of filmmakers and friends has been known to go way off base at times in favor of efforts that few would really consider quintessential trophy fodder.


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Monday, Dec 16, 2013
With his passing on 12 December, writer/ actor/ director/ activist Tom Laughlin leaves behind a complicated legacy filled with maverick moves and industry defiance. Here is the truth behind his role in bringing what we now call "the blockbuster" to movie screens across America in the early '70s.

It was the original blockbuster. It was helmed by a heretofore unknown moviemaker who had a couple of successful projects under his otherwise novice belt. It was based on incredibly popular material that many in popular culture knew about and followed faithfully, and it introduced a series of innovations to both the marketing and distribution of films, creating the wide release strategy that started the entire opening weekend/multi-screen approach we know today. And it had absolutely nothing to do with a great white shark, the seaside city of Amity, or a director who would go on to be perhaps the most accepted cinematic voice of the last 40 years. No, no matter what you heard, Steven Spielberg and Jaws did not set the benchmark for future popcorn movie fortunes. Indeed, it was a manic maverick filmmaker and the third installment in his ongoing ‘spiritual vengeance’ franchise that first cracked the boffo box office code.


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Thursday, Aug 29, 2013
Like a nosy parent who swears only they know what's best for you, Harvey Weinstein is once again telling established, award winning filmmakers what HE believes an American audience will tolerate.

The makers of movies in other parts of the world have a bigger problem than Harvey Weinstein. Their work, often far superior and riskier than what Hollywood hopes will connect with the great unwashed, barely gets a release beyond their borders, the allure of exciting subject matter and approaches trumped by a general dislike of subtitles and a feeling that foreign films are nothing more than the same old tired Tinseltown takes with a decidedly different vocabulary. Still, Weinstein is also a thorn in said cinema’s side. He is a ruthless businessman and a protracted fan of such arthouse fare, or so he would have you believe. Yet, recently, a notorious nickname associated with the former Miramax chief has come back to haunt him—“Harvey Scissorhands”—and it’s a reminder that, aside from differing dialogue, international efforts have a bigger barrier to aesthetic acceptance.


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Monday, Aug 19, 2013
Money matters to audiences because you made it matter to them. You thrust dollar signs and the discuss of same like it's an important part of the artistic process.

In the last couple of days, I have read two very interesting articles about the state of Hollywood. One centers on the current beef between the cast and crew of The Lone Ranger and a ragtag group of pre-biased critics who were out to get the movie even before it opened. According to Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Buckheimer, the prerelease buzz over Disney’s desire to cut costs and the ballooning of the budget to near $250 million (rumored) resulted in a bull’s eye on the film’s back. Even before a single frame was unveiled to the public, these underpaid, jealous pundits had their reviews ‘prewritten,’ ready to dump all over the movie before the people got a chance to weigh in (funny, I always thought that was that the box office was for).


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Monday, Aug 5, 2013
Sony will survive. Gone are the days when a box office bust could take down an entire company in one fell swoop. Indeed, when it comes to money, Tinseltown has it all figured out. Why else would Loeb invest there?

Leave it to George Clooney to try and put some perspective into the usual end of summer season speculation. The Oscar winning actor and producer (whose no slouch when it comes to directing and screenwriting, either), was quoted this past week in an article taking on noted hedge fund billionaire Daniel Loeb, who many consider to be an “activist” when it comes to his investments, particularly in Hollywood (he currently controls around 7% of Sony’s stock). Speaking exclusively to Deadline.com, the celebrated superstar took a break from promoting his upcoming film about an Allied effort to save important works of art and culturally significant and rare artifacts from Hitler’s destructive forces, a clear awards season entry entitled The Monuments Men, to blast what he considers to be a carpetbagger, making claims against an industry without firsthand knowledge of what he’s truly talking about.


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