Archive for May, 2007

Summer gets an early head start in the blockbuster era
May 27, 2007

Hi, I’m one of the movie writers for D.C. Scene and I’m sorry I’m a little late in contributing to this blog. Then again it is memorial day weekend when the summer usually begins:

Five years ago, Spiderman burst into movie theaters across the country an unprecedented three weekends before Memorial day. Boasting a head start over the rest of the summer films, an unlikely choice for the lead in Tobey MaGuire, and a legion of comic book aficionados eager for the movie’s release, the film made movie history by becoming the first film to make one hundred million dollars in its opening weekend.

Since then, Spiderman 3 enters theatres the same weekend, but in an era that’s completely dominated by summer blockbusters. At $151 million Spiderman 3 broke the weekend record once again and has become the eighth picture to do so. Thirty-three movies have grossed $200 million or more domestically and 23 of those came out during the summer whereas only 28 films hit the $200 million mark before this decade.

Ten years ago, there might have been one or two big budget projects like Men in Black, Batman Forever, or Independence Day that would generate water cooler buzz all summer, but nowadays, a big-event picture enters the theaters once every other week during the summer months, with sequels, prequels, remakes. Everything practically falls into this pattern even if it’s not technically a sequel. The 2002 hit Signs and M. Night Shamylan’s sophomore effort, was anticipated “the next M. Night Shamylan film,” which was in essence The Sixth Sense II or we could have called Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 911, “Bowling for Columbine II.”

“Why don’t the studios care about originality?” you may ask. The good news is that they do. In fact, it’s because of their love of film making and their desire to want to make innovative and original films that the studios put us through this cycle and it also benefits us as well. Here’s how: By expending a lot of money on these cash cow films and shamelessly plugging away at them until every person and their grandmother has seen the movie twice, studios are able to pay for all the more interesting films that might not be as sure of a commercial bet. These films usually appear in theaters from around the end of the summer to the end of the year, and you can often find many of them spilling over into January and February. The films that are released during this time of year in hopes of winning Oscars, which are little toy statues that the winners like to wave around to their peers in hopes of gaining respect, power, and priority seating at high-class Hollywood establishments. It’s a strange culture they have out there.

Nevertheless, once Oscar season ends, we have a season of pretty-much nothing on the movie front. Movie fans can spend their time watching the NHL or college basketball or whatever else catches their fancy, because the state of movies is pretty much unchanged. Sure, there are movies in the theaters between February and April but these are films that are released just for the sake of having something new for the movie theaters to show. With a few exceptions, these movies are usually very forgettable (If films in this category like R.V., the Pacifier, Norbit, Epic Movie, Failure to Launch, The Shaggy Dog, Date Movie or Wild Hogs become classics 10 years down the road, than I will eat my words on this one). I think of it as a kind of absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder-type of process where we take a break from watching current releases and might even swear off movies as a whole considering the quality of the films that comes out during this period.

This is where the summer Blockbuster season comes to the rescue. It presents us with sequels, remakes and tent poles which are virtually impossible to turn down. Anyone who’s watched Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and has even the slightest interest in the characters is going to feel compelled to watch the third one just to see what happens to the characters. This is why sequels are so profitable, although that’s based on the cliffhanger element being done well enough. Personally, I thought one of the weaknesses of Spiderman 2 was that it closed off all the loose threads for me to be invested in the third: Spiderman’s identity revealed to Harry, Spiderman’s identity revealed to Mary Jane, Spiderman’s confession to his aunt, Spiderman and Mary Jane getting together, etc. Still, the people saw it in mass droves ignoring mixed reviews because that’s the power of the sequel: It’s a must-see and more than that, it’s a must-see on opening weekend, which some of us (myself included) have not been able to make. The tragedy of this summer is that if we mutually agree that Ocean’s 12 ruined our good faith in the Ocean’s 11 franchise and that the Rush Hour series was never very good in the first place, than the three big trilogy back-ends this summer, Shrek 3, Pirates 3, and Spiderman 3, are all taking place by Memorial Day Weekend which was when the summer season is traditionally supposed to start. “The early bird catches the worm” is the philosophy. So if you haven’t been able to make the big opening-weekend rushes, don’t worry, there’s still the actual summer to see them. I myself am a little behind on starting my summer. I just saw Spiderman 3 last weekend and will see Pirates this weekend.


The Metro, Loud People, Creativity
May 23, 2007

The Metro: Farragut West
(a Haiku)
The seats smell like pee.
The man to my left proclaims;
“I am so bad ass.”

© 2007 A.F.H.

New CD Tuesday! 5/22/07 Edition
May 22, 2007

It’s Tuesday, soo… that must mean it’s time to rush to your favorite music store (there are still music stores, aren’t there?) to pick up the latest and greatest.

Key new releases this week are:

Maroon 5 – “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long”

Not sure how I feel about the title, but I really dig first single “Makes Me Wonder.” My roomie already bought this and swears it’s like the best CD EVER…. so perhaps its worth checking out. I dunno if it will be as big as their first CD, though. “Harder to Breathe,” “This Love,” and “She Will Be Loved” were all massive hit singles.

Ozzy Osbourne – “Black Rain”

Before he became primarily known as a somewhat bemusing television dad and star of the Ozzfest, Ozzy Osbourne actually released pretty darn good hard rock albums. It’s been a while since he put out a good one (“No More Tears”, perhaps?) but maybe the string of duds has been broken with his latest, “Black Rain.” Next year he will turn 60, so hopefully when he tours in support of “Black Rain” he will forgo his tradition of mooning the audience. Please, Ozzy. Just don’t do it.
The Bravery – “The Sun and the Moon”

Still pining for the days when New Wave ruled the airwaves? Thought the “feud” between The Killers and The Bravery was high entertainment? You are in luck. Eighties revivalists The Bravery are back with their second album, “The Sun and the Moon.” Considering that I buy anything even remotely related to 80s music, I will certainly add this to my collection. Hopefully it’s as good as their debut.
Erasure – “Light at the End of the World”
Speaking of the 80s – Erasure is still going strong. Their follow-up to their acoustic experiment “Union Street” is a return to their familiar electro-pop sound. Vince Clarke and Andy Bell can be counted on to deliver solid, and hummable pop songs, and judging from first single “I Could Fall In Love With You”, this album will be no exception.
Happy listening!!
– Chris

Again With the Le Loup
May 14, 2007

A big hearty high-five to DC-based Le Loup as they’ve signed with Hardly Art records, and made a local name for themselves while simultaneously ignoring the fact that they’re still wet behind the ears.
The debut album, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly, comes out sometime in the fall. Catch them May 22 at the Rock and Roll Hotel with The Rosebuds.

A Question About Squirrels
May 11, 2007

Right now I’m in Chicago. Another good thing about living in DC is that when you travel to other busy, pedestrian-centric cities, you know what the heck is going on. You can navigate narrow, one-way streets fairly easily without hitting other cars or people. You understand the mentality of jay-walkers; and somehow inately posess the ability to do these things while looking for street parking, road signs, shopping options, and historic landmarks.

That being said, a friend here mentioned that in Chicago, the only type of squirrel is the black squirrel. It’s true. I’ve been on the look-out. The thing is, it’s the same in Arlington, VA. Has anyone ever noticed this? When I lived in the suburbs, we only had gray squirrels, the same goes for DC.


Thoughts? Humor me.

Don’t Even Bother Registering Your Car
May 4, 2007

Because apparently it doesn’t even matter.
A little over a year ago I got a present from my grandparents which soon became the love of my life. Since then the navy ’92 three-ton Buick Century has been registered under my Dad’s name. This afternoon I drove over to the DMV in hopes of changing it into my name.
When I got up to the counter with everything I thought I could possible need (3 forms of ID, proof of address, title, insurance, even the plates off of my car) and a few pleasantries where exchanged, this is the conversation that took place between me and the person that we’ll call “DMV man”:

Lots of computer keys clicking

DMV Man: “There aren’t plates on this car.”
Me: “Yes there are.”
DMV Man: “No, there’re not registered in the system at all.”
Me: “… I’m holding them right here in my hand.”
DMV Man: “… this is not good… at all….”
Me: (gauging how long I might have to stay at the DMV because my car is illegal) “But I have April 2008 registration stickers on the plates, right here, which I received in the mail.”

More computer keys clicking

DMV Man: “Can you fill this form out please?”
Me: “…sure.”
DMV Man: “Alright, here are your new plates, how will you be paying?”

Moral: It doesn’t even matter that I’ve had two state inspections, an emissions inspection, my brakes replaced, my turn signal system replaced, a speeding ticket, and various oil changes since we first “registered” the car. No one checked to make sure the car was actually registered. All the work one does to transport ownership of a car from Ohio to DC is pretty useless unless the person whose job it is to sit at a computer and enter the transfer, actually does their job. But even then, it’s not really that big of a deal.

Good to know.

Eastern Market
May 1, 2007

This past Saturday I took a friend of mine, visiting from Baltimore, a few stops down the Orange Line, to SE’s Eastern Market. Originally, I was writing a profile on DC’s longest running indoor/outdoor market, and I thought she’d not only enjoy the white and blue Polish pottery, hand-made jewelry, food variety, and Oriental rugs draped over fences, but also the neighborly atmosphere. After all, there’s something to be said for having your very own Metro stop. So after an hour or so and ten or twenty conversations about how one might take a 5×5 ft. ceiling-tile-turned-mirror back on the Metro, we left, promising to drive next time, in hopes of packing my ton of a Buick full.
On Monday I sat down at my desk and was stunned to read on dc.metblogs that the Eastern Market was mostly gone. Actually, I read the same post three times to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding. We were there just a day before, and Sunday night it caught fire. What I’m thinking of now is the tent in the very back of the market, housing artist Mark Cottman’s work. When asked he told us he “didn’t know how long it [took him] to finish a piece” and that he just “worked ‘til it was done”, and I wanted to buy every single piece he had displayed.
Best of luck to all the vendors in pulling through this.
Picture Credit:
“Coneflower Bouquet” by Mark Cottman