The Cinema Lounge
The next meeting of the Cinema Lounge will be on Monday, June 9 at 7:00pm. The topic to be discussed is movies against authority and/or corporations
The Cinema Lounge, a film discussion group, meets the second Monday of every month at 7:00pm at Barnes and Noble, 555 12th St., NW in Washington, DC (near the Metro Center Metro stop). You do not need to be a member of the Washington DC Film Society to attend. Cinema Lounge is moderated by Daniel R. Vovak, ghostwriter with Greenwich Creations.
Last month at Cinema Lounge
On May 12, 2008, we discussed "Why do bad movies get made?" The discussion began with a distinction between "fanboys" and "trolls." A term that originates in the comic book culture, fanboys are people who know everything of movies. Trolls are people who automatically dump on movies, complaining at every chance. It should be noted that 'Dragon Ball Z' was cancelled because fans hated it, probably a combination of fanboys and trolls.
Bad movies exist for seven reasons:
1. Bad scripts,
2. Bad Acting,
3. Bad directing and/or video editing,
4. Bad use of money. Roger Corman is known as the "King of the Bs," a reference to his prolific creation of low-budget films. Ed Wood movies are entertaining, but bad.
5. Lack of audience. Unfortunately, that depends on perspective because niche audiences follow every movie. Someone added that "anything with Angela Bassett needs our support." This also leads to the type of people behind movies, like the Tyler Perry movies, which have been financially successful.
6. Studio interference. This reason for bad movies generated a number of random comments. Someone referenced Blade II (2002). X-Men (2000) delivered everything it promised. Spiderman 3 (2007) is an excellent example of studio interference. Anything by Uwe Boll is considered to be bad, a sharp contrast to Pixar's near-flawless history. (Thus, Pixar ever hiring Uwe Boll is impossible.) Michael Bay gives anyone a seizure. Transformers (2007) had zero story. Tie-ins to marketing hurt Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace (1999). Rambo (2008) was disgusting only because it wasn't a video game. All those comments led to the belief that "there is a difference between bad movies and a movie a person doesn't like."
7. How movies are marketed. Within this point are three sub-topics: (a) Some good movies are just not known to the mass audience, (b) trailers are misleading, and (c) deceptive marketing can mislead audiences to not see films they may otherwise enjoy.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) was a good movie, but little known. Sahara (2005) wasn't bad, it just had bad marketing. Movies with deceptive marketing include Bridge to Terabithia (2007) and Black Snake Moan (2006), which were both movies that had misleading trailers and/or posters.
A closing comment was that "Samuel Jackson doesn't need to be in everything." The comment is well-deserved because Samuel L. Jackson has more known movie credits in the modern era than anyone else in the industry.
In a World Where People Pay to See the Previews:
Summer 2008 Coming Attractions Trailer Night
By Adam Spector, DC Film Society Member
The weather warms, children escape school, and the rich flock to their beach houses. Along with these summer bellwethers we can add the DC Film Society’s Coming Attractions Trailer Night. On May 14, we once again previewed some of the season’s big blockbusters along with smaller arthouse entries. The line formed early at Landmark’s E Street Theater. More than 150 patrons picked up film posters, CDs, books and many more door prizes on the way to their seats.
Local film critics Joe Barber and Bill Henry explained the growing importance of trailers, especially the “teaser” trailers, which come out long before the film’s release date and show little of the actual movie. They also asked the audience to rate the trailers. Joe and Bill divided the previews into seven categories, including “Al Gore’s Nightmares” and “The Triumph of Hope Over Experience.” We had 31 trailers overall (including the surprise one for the new Ice Age movie) and the reactions varied widely. Get Smart, WALL-E, The Fall, Hamlet 2, Hancock, Standard Operating Procedure, and The Dark Knight were the audience picks from their respective categories. Even that needs to be qualified. Not that many people liked The Fall, but it was in such a lackluster category that it won by default. On the flip side, the audiences heartily approved of Tropic Thunder, Redbelt, and the new Indiana Jones film (since released), but not enough to win their categories.
Before naming the big winner, let’s explore some of the losers. To the Trailer Night crowd, Meet Dave looked about as funny as a Norbit sequel, while many felt that The Love Guru was Mike Myers recycling his usual shtick. Meanwhile, the audiences howled during the Midnight Meat Train preview, which would have been OK if Midnight Meat Train were a comedy and not a slasher film.
In the end the crowd named The Dark Knight the best trailer, and most seemed psyched for this latest entry in the Batman franchise. But that did not end the festivities, as Joe and Bill then handed out 13 prizes to the night’s raffle winners. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. It was a perfect kickoff to what will hopefully be a stellar film summer.
Thanks to the DC Film Society Directors and Coordinating Committee, especially Michael Kyrioglou, Jim Shippey, Karrye Braxton, Billy Coulter, Cheryl Dixon, Annette Graham, Charles Kirkland Jr., Larry Hart, Ky Nguyen, Adam Spector, and all other volunteers for organizing this twice annual event. Very special thanks go to Joe Barber, Bill Henry, Allied Advertising, Landmark's E Street Cinema and staff, Terry Hines and Associates, and all the participating film studios.
Look for the DC Film Society’s Winter 2008 Coming Attractions Trailer Night this November.
Calendar of Events
American Film Institute Silver Theater
Silverdocs, now in its sixth year, runs from June 16-23 at the AFI Silver Theater. Silverdocs is an international film festival celebrating the documentary film to improve our understanding of the world. More than 100 documentaries, both short and feature length will be screened; in addition to the films there are workshops and conferences.
A series of films by French "New Wave" icon Jean-Luc Godard began on May 22 and runs through July 3. Titles in June are Band of Outsiders (1964), Le Gai Savoir (1969), Pierrot Le Fou (1965), The Carabiners (1963), Alphaville (1965), Masculine-Feminine (1969), Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967), La Chinoise (1967), My Life to Live (1962), Weekend (1968), and Sympathy for the Devil (1968). Some are new 35mm prints. On June 26 author Richard Brody will appear at the screenings of La Chinoise and My Life to Live signing copies of his new book Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard.
The AFI continues its participating in the "Korean Film Festival DC 2008" which began in April. The remaining titles in June are Love Is a Crazy Thing (Oh Seok-geun, 2005) and The King and the Clown (Lee Jun-ik, 2005).
The "United Artists 90th Anniversary Film Festival" continues with Midnight Cowboy (1969), Raging Bull (1980), Marty (1955), and The Manchurian Candidate (1962).
The Caribbean Film Showcase includes Africa Unite (2008) on June 6 and The Harder They Come (1973).
A series of films to commemorate Jimmy Stewart's centennial began May 20 and runs through July 3. In June you can see Harvey (1950), Winchester '73 (1950), The Man From Laramie (1955), The Naked Spur (1953), Rear Window (1954), Anatomy of a Murder (1960), Vertigo (1958), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).
Freer Gallery of Art
"Korean Film Festival DC 2008" ends in June with the animated film Empress Chung (Nelson Shin, 2005) on June 3 at 7:00pm. Dr. Heinz Insu Fenkl will discuss the way the film, based on the folktale "Shimchong" deals with central Korean values. See the AFI above for the remaining films in the Korean Film Festival 2008.
Also in June are two King Hu films. On June 6 at 7:00pm is Dragon Gate Inn (1967) and on June 8 at 2:00pm is A Touch of Zen.
"Tatsuya Nakadai: Icon of Japanese Cinema" presents a small sample of Nakadai's acting achievements. On June 15 at 2:00pm is Hara Kiri (1962); on June 20 at 7:00pm is Immortal Love (1961). On June 22 at 1:00pm Tatsuya Nakadai will appear in person with Yojimbo (1961). On June 27 at 7:00pm is Untamed (1957) and on June 29 at 2:00pm is Kagemusha (1980).
Bhutan is the country featured in this year's National Folklife Festival. A film from Bhutan Travelers and Magicians (Khyentse Norbu, 2003) is on June 26 at 2:00pm and July 2 at 7:00pm. The film's star Tshewang Dendup and celebrated musician Sonam Dorji will take audience questions after each show.
National Gallery of Art
"Envisioning Russia: Mosfilm Studio" is a selection of Mosfilm archival features from the 1920s through the 1950s. On June 1 at 4:30pm is Tractor Drivers (Ivan Pyryev, 1939); on June 8 at 4:30pm is The Thirteen (Mikhail Romm, 1936); on June 14 at 4:00pm is The New Moscow (Aleksandr Medvedkin, 1938); on June 21 at 2:00pm is The Russian Question (Mikhail Romm, 1947); on June 21 at 4:00m is Carnival Night (Eldar Ryazanov, 1956); on June 29 at 2:00pm is The Cranes are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957); and on June 29 at 4:30pm is The Letter Never Sent (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1959).
"Gabriel Figueroa: Master of Light and Shade" is a presentation of six restored 35mm prints featuring the work of Mexico's great cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. On June 7 at 2:00pm is Enamorada (Emilio Fernandez, 1946); on June 7 at 4:00pm is La Perla (Emilio Fernandez, 1947); on June 14 at 2:00pm is Nazarin (Luis Bunuel, 1958); on June 15 at 4:00pm is Another Dawn (Julio Bracho, 1943); and on June 28 at 3:00pm is Macario (Roberto Gavaldon, 1959) shown with Days of Autumn (Roberto Gavaldon, 1962).
The great Japanese actor Tatsuya Nakadai will appear in person with I Am a Cat (Kon Ichikawa, 1975) on June 22 at 5:00pm. See the Freer Gallery above for more Nakadai films and personal appearance.
On June 26, 27, and 28 at 12:30pm is Julius Caesar (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1953) starring James Mason, Marlon Brando and John Gielgud, presented in association with the Shakespeare Theater Company's stage production of Julius Caesar at the Harman Center for the Arts.
One June 3, 10, 17 and 24 at noon is Glassmakers of Herat (Elliott Erwitt, 1979), a short documentary about a glass factory in Afghanistan using methods from 3,000 years ago.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Films with Ray Harryhausen's special effects are featured in June. On June 5 at 7:00pm is It Came From Beneath the Sea (Robert Gordon, 1955); on June 12 at 7:00pm is 20 Million Miles to Earth (Nathan Juran, 1957); and on June 29 at 6:00m is Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (Fred Sears, 1956). Film scholar David Wilt will introduce each film.
Works from "The Cinema Effect Part II: Realisms" can be seen on Thursdays: at 12:00 noon is Repetition (Artur Zmijewskyi, 2005) and at 1:30pm is The Battle of Orgreave (Jeremy Deller, 2001). On Saturdays The Battle of Orgreave is at 3:00pm and Repetition at 4:15pm. On Tuesdays The Battle of Orgreave is at 12:00 noon and Repetition is at 1:15pm.
National Museum of the American Indian
An "Animation Celebration" of short films can be seen every day at 12:30pm and 3:30pm.
National Portrait Gallery
On June 24 at 7:00pm as part of "Reel Portraits" is Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon (1975) followed by a discussion with One in Ten's Margaret Murray.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
On June 12 at 6:00pm is a program of short films by Stan Brakhage: The Wonder Ring (1955), Window Water Baby Moving (1959), Mothlight (1963) and The Riddle of Lumen (1972)and Bill Viola: "Four Songs" (1976). On June 18 at 6:00pm is a program of Langston Hughes beginning with the film version of Hughes' coming-of-age story Salvation and a short documentary featuring interviews with Hughes biographer Arnold Rampersad. On June 26 at 6:00pm is Bill Viola's The Passing (1991).
Films on the Hill
On June 18 at 7:00pm is Sealed Cargo (Alfred Werker, 1951) a film noir spy drama starring Dana Andrews and Claude Rains. On June 21 at 7:00pm is Dark Angel (Sidney Franklin, 1935) starring Merle Oberon, Fredric March and Herbert Marshall in a romantic triangle set in WWI. On June 25 at 7:00pm is a silent double feature of films supervised by D.W. Griffith made at the Fine Arts Film Company in 1916: Let Katie Do It (Sidney and Chester Franklin) and Hoodoo Ann (Lloyd Ingraham) starring Mae Marsh.
Washington Jewish Community Center
On June 3 at 8:00pm is the great German expressionist film The Golem (Carl Boese and Paul Wegener, 1920) with live music performed by Davka. On June 24 at 7:30pm is Rabin-Peres: Everything is Personal (Arik Henig, 2007), a video documentary about Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, two titans (and bitter rivals) of Israeli politics. On June 30 at 7:30pm is The Debt (Assaf Bernstein, 2007) a psychological drama of three Mossad agents who capture the "Surgeon of Birkenau".
"Tudors on Film" is a four-part series beginning on June 3 at 7:00pm with Anne of the Thousand Days (Charles Jarrott, 1969) with Genevieve Bujold as Anne Boleyn. On June 10 at 7:00pm is Young Bess (George Sidney, 1953) with Jean Simmons as Queen Elizabeth. On June 17 at 7:00pm is The Prince and the Pauper (William Keighley, 1937) and on June 24 at 7:00pm is Mary, Queen of Scots (Charles Jarrott, 1971) with Vanessa Redgrave.
The Goethe Institute takes part in the "Third Annual Asian-European Short Film Showcase." On June 2 at 6:30pm is "Crossing Borders: Germany and China." Mr. Wunderlich Private (Aline Chukwuedo, 2006) and Shift (Nico Zingelmann, 2006), both from Germany. From China is August 15 (Xuan Jiang, 2008) and A Midnight Story (Antonio Wong Hoi-chung, 2005). Speakers are Sabine Muscat from the Financial Times Germany and Hsuan Ou from the Chinatown Community Cult Center. Make a reservation. Other screenings in this series at at the Korus House, the Italian Cultural Center, the Alliance Francaise and the Japan Culture and Information Center.
National Geographic Society
Several programs will complement the new exhibitions Visions of China, Shaolin: Temple of Zen and China's Forgotten Fleet: Voyages of Zheng He. On June 13 at noon is a screening of Ghost Fleet: The Epic Voyage of Zheng He (2005) followed by a demonstration of kung fu by Shi De Chao, a 13th generation monk of China's Shaolin Temple.
On June 14 three kung-fu movie classics are shown, all set in China's Shaolin Temple. The films will be introduced by Dr. Craig D. Reid, who became one of the first non-Asian actors/stuntmen in Chinese kung-fu movies and worked as a fight choreographer for American production companies. At 1:30pm is Shaolin Temple (Chang Cheh, 1976); at 4:00pm is Executioners from Shaolin (Liu Chia Liang, 1977); and at 6:00pm is The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978).
The Japan Information and Culture Center
The Japan Information and Culture Center takes part in "Crossing Borders: Third Annual Asian-European Short Film Showcase" with short films from Japan, Italy and France. On June 5 at 6:30pm is Road to the Away Game (Hideyuki Tokigawa, 2006), Back Mirror (Loic Sturani, 2006), Guilty Unless Proven Otherwise (Hedy Krissane, 2005), Our Secret (Mauro Mancini, 2005). On June 12 at 6:30pm is Surprise Brothers (Takuya Fukui, 2006), Date Scout (You Komaya, 2006), On the Other Side (Nassim Amaouche, 2004), Little Fish Killer (Alexandre Gavras, 1997). Discussion will follow the films. Other programs in this series will be held at the Goethe Institute, The Alliance Francais, the Italian Cultural Institute and the Korus House.
The National Theatre
To celebrate Bette Davis' centennial is a series of summer films: On June 2 at 6:30pm is Now, Voyager (Irving Rapper, 1942); on June 9 at 6:30pm is The Little Foxes (William Wyler, 1941); on June 16 at 6:30pm is Marked Woman (Lloyd Bacon, 1937). More in July and August.
Movies Under the Moon
This outdoor series of summer movies is at Van Dyck Park, 3730 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax. Movies include: June 18 Shrek 3; June 19 Transformers; June 20 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; June 21 Hairspray; and June 22 Bee Movie. All are at 8:30pm. Refer to the website for more information and directions.
On June 14 at noon is The Best Man (1964) starring Henry Fonda, part of the "Running for Office" film series. On June 26 at noon is Thirteen Days (Roger Donaldson, 2000) a dramatization of the events of October 1962 based on the book The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.
National Museum of Natural History
On June 6 at 6:00pm is The Accordion Kings: The Story of Colombian Vallenato Music (2008), a documentary about the music of Colombia's Caribbean coast with a Q&A after the film. At 7:30pm is a concert featuring the musicians seen and heard in the film.
On June 11 at 8:00pm is Shark in the Head (Maria Prochazcova, 2005), part of the "Lions of Czech Film" series. On June 19 at 8:00pm is Finding Our Voices about the peace and justice movement.
The Resident Associates will host a preview of Get Smart, based on the 1965 TV series, on June 17 at 7:00pm.
Embassy of Argentina
On June 13 at 6:30pm is A Less Bad World (Alejandro Agresti, 2004). On June 27 at 6:30pm is Sofabed (Ulises Rosell, 2006). Both have English subtitles.
On June 26 at 6:30pm is The Anniversary (Ham Tran, 2004), Tran's first film and his UCLA graduate school thesis project, about two brothers separated by the Vietnam War. After screening the short film, a discussion about the Vietnamese American experience on film will take place. Location is the S. Dillon Ripley Center Lecture Hall; see the website for more information.
Anacostia Community Museum
On June 21 at 2:00pm is There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace: Life in the Negro Baseball League (1984) a first-person account of life in the Negro Baseball League, narrated by James Earl Jones. Shown at the Historical Society of Washington, 801 K Street, NW.