Editor's Choice

The PopMatters Summer 2008 Movie Preview

PopMatters looks at each month that makes up this yearly caravan of summer moviegoing, picking out the winners and wastes of time. Today: Remembrances of Summers Past: 40 Years of Movie Memories: Highlights from Gibron's popcorn moviegoing history.

Stay tuned each day through Friday as we preview the coming summer films month by month and conclude with a historic look back at 40 years of summer blockbusters.

"By the pricking of my thumbs, something celluloid this way comes."

Like the carnival at the center of Ray Bradbury's classic 1962 novel, the annual arrival of the Summer Movie season is like a decidedly deceptive big top temptress. Every year, Hollywood unveils a carefully planned cavalcade of thrills, spills, laughs, and gaffs, and lemming-like we accept. They lure us with cleverly conceived pitches, the shrillness of the shill aimed to remove any doubt in our frequently burned brain. No matter how many underperforming sequels they toss at you, no matter how rigged the big screen games seem to be, they use a trailer's tempting siren song to alleviate any chance of resistance. It's all about the pitch, the barker's cry that calls you into a surreal world of cinematic sawdust and purposely outrageous blockbuster geeks.

And as stated before, we fall for it, hook, line, and routine CGI stinker. We can't pass up the sweet, almost sickening scent of the comic book cotton candy or the stomach stretching fattiness of an overdone franchise feast. The entertainment elephant ears are either fried to perfection or greasy and grotesque, and somewhere, studio clowns laugh at us, wondering how we can be so gleefully gullible. It’s a circus of strange proportions, three or more weekly rings stuffed with astounding -- and subpar -- acts. On occasion, we come across a sleeper, something destined for the smaller tents surrounding the main stage that ends up being more memorable than the marquee performer. There are also the heavily hyped treats that turn out to be as tired and trite as any amateur.

As we prepare to walk the high-wire one more time, to look down below at the unreasonable ramble as they demand more of the same and complain every staid step along the way, PopMatters is here to play top hatted and tuxedoed master of ceremonies. We will look at each month that makes up this yearly caravan, picking out the possible winners and the apparent wastes of time. There will be disagreements over what deserves primary attention, and some smaller efforts may suffer as a result. Still, with nearly 70 individual motion picture artistes lined up to woo us and win us over, there will be choices a'plenty. And who knows -- maybe one of these talented attractions will shine so brightly that it will stand among the year's best come 31 December. Until then, let the show begin!

-- Bill Gibron

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.

20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta

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Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

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The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.

Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.

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Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

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