Titanic Directed by: James Cameron Written by: James Cameron Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane and Kathy Bates
Looking back 15 years to when Titanic first came out brings back nothing for me except being left with a babysitter while my parents went and saw it. That’s just it, though. In 1997, Titanic was the movie worth getting a babysitter for; a cultural touchstone that became almost as famous as the disaster it depicted. My first experience with the movie was on my first airplane flight, though the humor of showing a disaster movie in that scenario never struck me until a few years later.
The Hangover Directed by: Todd Phillips Written by: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore (screenplay) Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha
When you’re watching comedy, it’s interesting to pause for a moment and examine why a joke was intended to be funny. What is the target of the joke, and who is it aimed at? In mainstream Hollywood’s comedy, more often than not, you’ll find that answer to be pretty simple: masculinity is the target, and men are obviously the intended recipients as well as the writers, directors, and stars.
Rarely has this been more apparent than in Todd Phillips’ The Hangover, a runaway box office success and a raunchy male fantasy with a nasty aftertaste. It takes that guy party in Vegas idea that zips through many films (Knocked Up is a recent example) and instead of devoting maybe 15 or so minutes, builds an entire movie out of it.
It’s interesting to think about which movies will be remembered as classics 20-30 years down the road. Interesting, and also depressing. Stop and think. Is there one film made during the modern movie age that will resonate throughout pop culture like a Godfather or a Star Wars? There are no more Godfathers, mostly because the Mafioso in the modern studio system don’t believe in them anymore.
Movies mirror the culture they’re released into. It’s no coincidence that the biggest movies now are sloppily constructed rehashes used to make a quick buck. See also: the housing crisis. The most endearing movies of the old age are often blockbusters, but they’re also something more: risks that paid off. George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola had to fight like hell to get their movies made, and struggled to keep them once they were financed. In modern times, once you’re inside the system, there is no fighting. You make the movie they tell you to, or else you pay for it yourself.
The Social Network Directed by: David Fincher Written by: Aaron Sorkin Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, and Armie Hammer
There are girls playing PlayStation in the next room, and you’re uploading internet code. Such are the ways of kings in the 21st century, and one of the keenest insights made in David Fincher’s The Social Network.
As you probably know by now, this is “The Facebook Movie.” It’s also a potent drama, fueled by stories and themes as ancient as both stories and themes. Betrayal, identity, and the nature of friendship are all at the core of Aaron Sorkin’s stunning screenplay. The Sorkin/Fincher pairing, however unlikely, pays off in spades.
Just one year ago Hollywood was partying like it was 2009. For second or third straight summer in a row, studios were rolling out films that pleased audiences, critics and their pocketbook alike, which is an extremely rare feat for the industry to do these days. In 2008, Wall-E, Iron Man, and The Dark Knight topped the box office (with The Dark Knight tumbling new records) and were garnering staggering reviews, then received a slew of Oscar nominations down the road. All were happy.
The year 2009 followed suit. Transformers 2 opened to be the largest grossing movie of the summer, crossing the $400 million mark even if it did get annihilated by critics. Up, Star Trek, The Hangover, The Proposal and more had taken box office expectations and blew them away into becoming monster blockbusters. All were reviewed above fair, many dominated come awards season. Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker had just been released. The State of the Box Office was in the best shape ever, and 2009 would go on to gross over $10 billion, a new record.