Working Title: It’s Old! It’s New Like You’ve Never Seen!

This week Will Leschber looks back over the closing summer season so we can all then look forward to the fall.

I find myself at that much maligned crossroad. The crossroad of the job hunt. What is it about the dawn of fall that thrusts us into another phase of life whether we want to or not? Is it that we’ve been conditioned to see this time of year this way? Maybe it’s all the back to school shopping we did growing up. Or maybe it’s the habitual feeling that wraps around summer’s end and edges the nervous excitement surrounding something new: New School year, new season to see, new jobs to hunt. Summer is closing and playtime is up.

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The thing about summer is that it’s comfortable. The weather is warm, weddings are in season and vacation is on the horizon. Sure, adult living in the Bay Area may look a little different with heightened workloads and rampant cold fronts, but you get my drift. Also we are fed a wave of comfort food in the form of summer entertainment: remounting of old classics, new installments of franchise favorites, new additions to old genres. I know, I know, so much of this recycled dreck is a fraction of the quality we’d like to see. For every¬†Dark Knight there are twice as many Transformer entries or Amazing Spiderman 2 misfires. That being said, I’d rather focus on the surprise successes. This summer we’ve seen familiar ground retread to spectacular ends. That’s my point, There is comfort in the familiar and also hope that these retellings or new genre entries will aspire to be better than their predecessors.

Along the indie film lines we were treated to familiar genres turned on their heads. My favorites were: a stylistic and ever-cool reclaiming of the vampire genre in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive; The romantic comedy as you’ve never seen it before with Jenny Slate’s turn as comic misanthrope, peter-pan-adult facing abortion in Obvious Child; And Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel which takes stories within stories to package nostalgia in a superb pseudo-coming of age tale. All of these remind me how good familiar stories can be when told by a superior storyteller. Blockbuster-fare impressed as well. Here are the highlights: The spectacular sequel to an unlikely reboot in The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a rock-em-sock-em adrenaline punch in the under seen sci-fi flick Edge of Tomorrow, and the new addition to the Marvel Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy. On paper each of these films appear unlikely to succeed with characters ranging from aliens to talking apes to gun-toting raccoons to walking trees to Tom Cruise! But the filmmakers succeed threefold: they have a clear vision of the kind of movie they are, the filmmakers balance tone and pace perfectly and lastly, in the end the final product plays to our familiar taste while providing something new an exciting in the process. Hell, even my favorite theatre experience of the last few months was a classic remounted. Custom Made Theatre’s production of The Crucible reminded me how fresh and powerful an old classic can be.

The best somehow finds a way to merge the new and the familiar. We need both to move forward. It’s enriching. Contrasting ideas can enrich our general point of view. Old ideas slammed against new ones, that’s summer! The old is new again. Now that we’ve taken stock and peered back over the closing summer season, we can prepare to look ahead to fall and all that lies forward. Tune in next time for a fall preview!

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And as a post script shout out, I’d like to hail fellow Tpub Blogger Anthony R Miller. In his last blog entry. Anthony said, “I find conversations about the new Planet of the Apes film are just as important and stimulating to me as conversations about the role of regional theatre in America today. I need both dammit.” I agree. Keep talking theatre, keep talking Apes, keep talking my friend. I like what you have to say.

Working Title: Tom Cruise, Get Over It!

This week Will makes two quick recommendations …

Alrighty, film fans, get ready to have an opinion! Due to this weeks overly full docket (I am getting married in 10 days after all), I am going to make two quick recommendations and begone!

Number One! -If you haven’t seen The Crucible at Custom Made Theatre just go already. It’s excellent. The smaller space brings the fever pitch of the play to great heights. I know you’ve seen it before but it’s better than you remember and it just extended its run. So do it! it’s worth it.

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Number 2 – Go see Edge of Tomorrow. I know, I know. You hate Tom Cruise. Oh wait you don’t? Then stop reading this and go. What’s that? You do hate him? Gotcha. Apparently that’s pretty trendy right now. Either way, listen. Regardless of what you think of Cruise, Edge of Tomorrow is a finely tuned, lean summer blockbuster. It’s the best summer blockbuster of the season, so far, if you ask me. Noah, Captain America: Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spiderman 2…all these clock in at almost 150 minutes! Edge is less than two hours. In and out excellent popcorn entertainment. Great pace, seamless CG, unique creature design, a familiar concept (resetting the day/re-doing events) done in a new way (Think Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers…yeah, you read that right). I’m not asking you to hang out with Cruise or to join Scientology. I’m just asking you if you want to see a good movie. You’ll have a better time than you expect. And, sidebar, Emily Blunt is a proper badass.

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If you want to have a longer discussion of Cruise, read this article by Gabriel Urbina and get back to me. I think he lays out an interesting summary.

Lastly, before you tear into me about going all populist and mainstream, remember I wrote about Jim Jarmush too.

Sources:

Edge of Tomorrow. Digital image. http://www.imdb.com ;N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2014.

Urbinda, Gabriel. “Why Do We Love/Hate Tom Cruise So Much?.” MXDWN.com. 09 Jun 2014: n. page. Web. 10 Jun. 2014.

Yamada, Jay. Mary Warrens Spirit. 2014. Photograph. http://www.custommade.org, San Francisco. Web. 27 May 2014.