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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Weekender with Alison Cuddy

Cinemimi [Saturday, February 04, 2012]
These are strange days for the movies. Sure, Hollywood still pretty much owns the world's box office. But as with other media - books, music, TV - moviegoers want what they want when they want it - cineplex be damned! I love seeing movies in Chicago and think we've got some of the best film venues around. But now I'm just as - maybe even more - likely to stream something on my not-very-high end laptop. Works for me.
Fickle consumers, mobile technologies, and professional pirate websites are all changing the way Hollywood produces and distributes movies, whether studios are ready or not. Forget about "straight to video/DVD." Film flops may be headed "straight to cloud."

Is it any wonder than that many of the year's top movies (if for the moment we let the Academy be the judge) are absorbed in the movies themselves? Especially in moments when technological changes had a big impact on movies?

Hugo is about the days of early cinema, when the realist, "scenes of everyday life" approach of the Lumière Brothers won out over the illusionist theatricality of Georges Méliès. The Artist tracks the transition from silent to sound - an audio advancement that totally up-ended the film business as well as the lives of many actors. If you haven't seen the film, you may remember the fate of poor Lina Lamont from Singing in the Rain. Meanwhile My Week with Marilyn is all about the effect of star power - even a doomed and frail Monroe was able to stand up to the studio system.

All of this has many a silver lining. Small operators can try out risky films and bank on a niche home market to stay afloat. And if the last few years are any indication, the more reluctant Hollywood gets about taking risks the more likely you are to see an increase in local off-the-beaten-path film spaces showing unusual movies.

But this weekend you can actually attend a film festival without leaving home! Local podcast F This Movie! hosts the first ever F this Movie Film Fest! Starting at noon Saturday, no matter where you are, you can watch a line-up of films from 1982, and participate in a real-time discussion of the films via Twitter. Hey what do you know - using the latest technology to travel back in time! That's just one of my picks this week. The rest require that you get out there - and enjoy.


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