Editor's Choice

The PopMatters Summer Movie Preview

In past years, Hollywood purposely counter programmed these renowned Cineplex dog days, trying to offset the perception that cinematic scraps were all the studios had to offer. Today: August films, including The Bourne Ultimatum.

Stay tuned each day through Friday as we preview the coming summer films month by month.

The ape is back. That's right, that sizable simian known as the Summer Blockbuster movie season is ready to make its way, Kong like, across the vast pop culture landscape. Back in the days before such massive motion picture monkey business, in the halcyon days when two or maybe three films total felt like legitimate contenders for the typical sun and fun hyperbole, audiences could catch their breath, noting that said unavoidable 800lb gorillas were few and far between. But over the last couple of years, studios have stopped playing fair, and instead have decided to overwhelm us with weekly doses of mass marketed choices. That's right, every Friday between 4 May and 31 August there will be at least one inescapable big budget extravaganza making its way onto multiple screens at your local Cineplex, demanding your attention, and dollars.

It's really quite astounding when you think about it. May 2007 alone will see the return of three major franchise films, with two promising to bring their terrific trilogies to an epic, earth-shattering end. June will see the arrival of four more, while July and August offer up a pair each. In fact, with nearly 10 guaranteed moneymakers in the commercial queue, over the next 16 weeks Hollywood could have one of the biggest popcorn picture paydays ever. Sure, the budgets have ballooned astronomically, making such a windfall seem insignificant, but with a half dozen films poised to bring in $300 million or more, these cash machine chimps should enjoy one helluva championship season. And don't worry if you forget one or two -- Madison Avenue will make you well aware of their already overwhelming presence.

Of course, for every Alpha male entry, the chest-pounding movie destined to dominate the leisure time arena and business bottom line week in and week out, there are ancillary choices. Call them 'Simian Sidekicks' or 'Outsider Primates' -- ready to relieve some of the "Sold Out" stress that comes with summer. In fact, many of these off titles promise more art and invention in their cinematic stance than their higher profile brethren. So no matter if you choose the 800lb gorilla sitting smack dab in the middle of the room, letting these blockbuster brutes overpower you with the sheer size of their status, or you make an effort to seek out and enjoy some of the beast's creative kinfolk, it's clear that industry evolution is redefining the Summer Movie season. For most, it's just survival of the fittest. For others, it's a question of entertainment extinction.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

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

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.