That Summer Tickle
I saw a billboard the other day and it had two lines:
And I have to admit, I got “that summer tickle.” It’s the feeling I get every year around this time thinking about the dark cool caverns I will sit in with my popcorn, and the dazzling display of something amazing that will take me away from it all. I love the big summer movies, and still think of the time I first saw Star Wars.
And Independence Day.
And the lines around the block for each that is a summer tradition I love.
I have no idea what will happen in the fourth installment of Indiana Jones, but I will line up to see it with everyone else. That, and a lot of other movies this summer. In and among the mix are a bunch of sequels: Mummy, Hellboy, X-Files, Dark Knight, and a few re-do’s (didn’t we already see The Hulk?) And some wingnut comedies like Zohan with Adam Sandler and funny fare from Ben Stiller and Will Ferrell.
Two things in my opinion:
1. I believe that after the writer’s strike and the actor’s strike (pending) and what with all the low energy of the current economic turndown, Hollywood should launch a campaign to remind everyone what an amazing job it does. Seriously. I know we are entertained to death, and it’s really hard to jar people away from their Playstations and computers, but movies still play a big role in shaping our world. Movies are one of our biggest exports, and most important influences.
We do it better than anyone in the world. So where’s the pride? There needs to be some kind of Hollywood cheerleader/spokesman (James Cameron? Steven Spielberg?) who can rouse the passions of moviemakers, and remind everyone of our accomplishments. I still think the worst thing that ever happened to movies was the weekly listing of the box office winners in the newspaper, when in fact the spirit of the “dream factory” must rise above that. This leads me to…
2. More showmen! Cool corporate has got to give way to wild dreamers…. and more risk! More “I know this may sound crazy but…” is required. The one problem in the line-up of movies this summer, and movies generally is, it’s all a little too safe. And the default mentality of the filmmaking community is generally negative. (I still can’t shake Jon Stewart’s remark at this year’s Oscars about what downers all the nominated films were — he’s right!) I don’t run into enough people who are willing to try something positively outrageous — and outrageously positive. And that’s too bad. I want to have more people in the industry who are less concerned with the bottom line, and more concerned with “This will knock their socks off!”
That “summer tickle” is a priviledge, not a right. It’s earned… and can go away if we’re not careful. Are movies still our “best entertainment value” — or are we more concerned with other things?
Me? I’m the firehouse dog. The bell rings, I’m on the truck. I will be lined up to see what happens next in the Indiana Jones saga on May 22. Love Harrison Ford, love Steven Spielberg, love the dream.
What’s got you excited about the movies, especially this summer’s fare? Is there anything on the horizon that’s a “must-see” for you? And what is your remedy for reinvigorating Hollywood? I’d love to know.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the trailer, but the Foot Fist Way is my must-see movie for the summer, opens 5/30.
Looks funny in a crazy/indie way.
- Paula B.
I’ve noticed the bleakness too and have a feeling that all these downer movies reflect the mood of the country. People aren’t too happy these days, and the stuff we watch reflects that. The trick is to make us feel hopeful (or silly, or romantic) in spite of our depression, as movies did in the 30s.
Really Looking forward to:
1. Indy and the Crystal Skull
2. Dark Knight
3. Speed Racer
5. Get Smart
Not every movie has to have a Happy Meal attached to it, that’s for sure. I love all kinds of movies, and go see them for all kinds of different reasons. I love the big blockbuster popcorn movies. And I also like the Oscar calibre movies as well (boy, it’s great when a movie is both, isn’t it?). I like small, talky movies. And I’ll also go and see movies just for the spectacle. One of my favorite films is “My Dinner With Andre”. Another is Woody Allen’s “Interiors”. But in my top five are The Matrix trilogy and “The Lord Of The Rings”.
In the end, the only thing that can keep Hollywood making great movies is us writers telling great stories. Having a unique voice, putting a unique spin on classic stories, and at the same time keeping the market and the business side in mind. But that’s not the same as trying to second guess the market. When you do that, we just see reheats of last year’s left-overs. And Hollywood will still produce that crap because they already know how to market it. And market it they will!
Keep writing great stories! Wowing Hollywood and the world wit our imaginations is the coolest job in the world!
I can not wait to see the X-FILES. How I miss them. There are others that
are special, but these guys I adore.
- Mike Rinaldi
I’m looking forward to all of those movies mentioned plus Prince Caspian, all three of Christopher Walken’s movies, and Step Brothers.
Besides the STC rules, I have two primary rules for my own writing. I think if Hollywood adopted these rules, it could be part of the remedy and everyone would win.
1) I only write movies I actually want to see. Too many writers do the first conceivably commercial idea that comes to their mind. Often I suspect they wouldn’t write it if someone else offered them the logline. I ask myself the following:
A. Is it something I can invest three years into without getting sick of it?
B. If this was someone else’s movie, would I pay for myself and a date to watch it?
2) I try to write scripts that are fun for the actors. If it’s fun for the actors, it increases the odds of getting actors attached (it’s worked for me so far!), which increases the odds of a sale and getting produced. And if the actors are having fun, more chance for the final product to be better and that audiences will have fun. If I read any paragraph of action or any two consecutive dialogue lines and it doesn’t read as being fun for the actor to do, I rewrite it. Simple as that. Serving the actors = serving the audience.
Mike, you hit those two nails on the head. Exactly right.
I myself just finished a script that I would definitely go and see myself, even though I was very reluctant to write it because it’s a concept that not everyone would get or go with (it’s a little surreal). But I had such a blast writing it that it really comes through in the writing and I’ve gotten great response from it. I’ve read lots of scripts from writers that made me wonder if the writer would actually pay money to go and see their own movie.
And writing great parts for actors is one of the single best strategies for selling a script (having a concept that a director could also love to run with helps too).
One movie I was waiting for with fingers crossed and high hopes was Iron Man, and I was not disappointed. I smiled all throughout that movie, squee’d and gasped and jumped and cheered, too. It inspired me to want to adapt something I love, and do so beautifully and truthfully and entertainingly.
That’s what I go to the movies for, that ‘tickle,’ as you put it.
I hope the summer fare is as wonderful. I’m eagerly awaiting Indy and Dark Knight, Get Smart and Wall-E…Hell Boy II. It looks like a great line up, and maybe we’ll have our socks blown off along the way.
Happy Summer, everyone!
Indy fans, the ad campaign for the movie is terrific — you NEED to go through the Metro Subway system (yes, LA has one) and see the posters.
The Lankershim station in North Hollywood is set up so that you go down the escalators into that giant underground space and “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” is right there, larger than life.
It’s worth going on the subway just to see those ads.
And then next script you write, think of that poster!
BTW Ironman is walking away with the entire Box Office this weekend, which you know if you went to your local theater and tried to get in.
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Indy’s back! So what if he’s older? So am I.