Escapism

Culture Warrior

In the wake of the horrific shooting that occurred almost two weeks ago at a multiplex in Aurora, Colorado during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. made several last-minute cuts to their upcoming period action film Gangster Squad. The scene in question, which was featured prominently in the now-removed first US trailer and can be seen very briefly in this international trailer, depicted a bevy of gangsters or cops (as the original scene is difficult to find, I don’t recall) shooting bullets from tommyguns through the back of a movie screen. Reportedly, this scene is rather instrumental to the film’s plot, so several very late-in-the-game re-shoots will take place to allow the film to make sense without the now-controversial scene in question. This resulted in the film’s release date being pushed back from September 7, 2012 to January 11, 2013. Altering films and their advertising campaigns has become common practice in recent Hollywood. After the Colorado shooting, many ads for The Dark Knight Rises that focus on the film’s violent moments were removed from the airwaves. This weekend’s The Watch, which opened to middling box office and mostly negative reviews, had its title and advertising campaign altered from the original Neighborhood Watch after the shooting of unarmed minor Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman in Florida this spring. Several movies also incurred changes, delays, and alternative ad campaigns after 9/11. In public relations terms, such changes are typically framed as a gesture of sensitivity to […]

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Criterion Files

The common, received wisdom about Hollywood during The Great Depression tends to go like this: Hollywood played an important role as a place for escape, or a low-cost brief vacation, for a populace struggling to make it day-to-day. Much of Hollywood entertainment no doubt possessed escapist entertainment value, and the importance of Hollywood’s social role in this respect shouldn’t be dismissed. But the assumption that Depression-era Hollywood worked exclusively – or even mostly – as a purely escapist institution with little reflection on the overwhelming social conditions and problems of the time is greatly misinformed. The Depression-era-escapism argument about Hollywood has significant implications. While the industry’s role as an institutionalized dream factory had been well established by the early 1930s, the early years of the Depression were instrumental in the formation of a Classical Hollywood mode because it was during these years that synchronous sound became solidified with other standardized industry conventions. Genres like gangster films and westerns certainly existed during the silent era, but these genres acquired their shared signatures as sound grew into an expected, important part of the cinematic experience, just as the sonic spectacle of the musical or the rat-a-tat dialogue of screwball comedies became essential defining components of their respective genres after the standardization of sound. So, in short, how we conceptualize Hollywood in the 1930s is instrumental to understanding the foundation of Hollywood’s entire history.

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Boiling Point

I’m not afraid of a little capitalism. Hey, we all embrace it, working every day for the man in the city, or stealing shit. Unless you’re high on bath salts and living off the faces of hobos, you need money. People who have money want more money. Money makes the world go round. When people don’t make the money they think they deserve, or the money they want, or they just think that more money would be better, they complain about it. Hollywood is full of whiny babies, whether it’s studios, actors, directors, or theater  chains. They’re all obsessing over money. There are at least a dozen different boiling points that could be about money and who’s crying the most, but this one points the finger at the theater chains.

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A sci-fi epic seems like the logical choice, but an intimate character study would have been a far better choice. Hear me out.

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