by Thom Ernst Tuesday August 30, 2011

Mark Kermode writes for The Guardian - a U.K. publication that ranks with The Washington Post & The New York Times & The SNAM Blog.

Kermode presents a highly amusing (but bang on) arguement as to why summer blockbusters frequently end up being stupid, mindless, prefabricated dribble but could aspire to be so much more. They just don't want to. We'll get to his article later because it's a helluvah read.

But first:

D0ES SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS = DUMB? PART I

• The quick answer - to play Kermode's game - is Yes"!

• It's hot. Sometimes air conditioning is all the draw a theatre needs.

• blockbusters make money.

• Smart gets awards, dumb gets rewarded.

• Audiences don't rush to see TREE OF LIFE or stayed up for MIDNIGHT IN PARIS or clogged internet with blogs and tweets about THE WHITE RIBBON.

DOES SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS = DUMB? PART II

• No!

• Kermode points out director Christopher Nolan's INCEPTION, THE DARK KNIGHT as two examples of smart films with big budgets, big stars and audience appeal. Both have spectacular visuals, gripping stories and yet seem almost 'art-house' in their intentions. (By the Way...is it just me or is Leonardo DiCaprio going to grow up to look like Christopher Nolan?)

So far I'm with Kermode. I decide I will start campaigning to be his friend

… and then …

Just around the time when Kermode starts pointing fingers at the offenders, I come across this little reference:

"....Michael Bay; Kevin Costner's gills; Cleopatra on home video; and the inability of modern blockbusters to lose money in the long run…"

Now hold on a moment....CLEOPATRA?

A summer blockbuster wrecker?

Who would have thought.

And so we come to...

IF CLEOPATRA (1963) RUINED THE SMART BLOCKBUSTERS THEN WHY AM I WORKING SO HARD TO GET THE RIGHTS TO IT FOR SNAM?

• Everyone thinks they've seen CLEOPATRA but they really haven’t.

• It's being remade with Angelina Jolie for a 2013 realese - comparisons are bound to happen.

• It's a spectacle that flopped way back when the word spectacle meant something.

• It was directed and written by Joseph L Mankiewicz .

• It stars the Battling Bickersons aka the late Liz Taylor and the even later Richard Burton.

• The movie is poised to be rediscovered and even reconsidered – we might come to the same conclusion, but then again, we may not.

• At $44 million it was the most expensive film of its time.

• The film was wrought with difficulties, set-backs and conflicting egos - fun before the movie even starts.

• Special effects without CGI.

• CLEOPATRA  was released June 12, 1963 in New York City therefore officially making it a summe blockbuster that at least set out to be smart.

• CLEOPATRA didn’t know it was a summer blockbuster because the term wasn’t invented until the 70s.

AND NOW:

Do yourself a favour and check out this article http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/28/mark-kermode-multiplex-blockbuster

Then follow Mark Kermode on twitter.  The poor lad only has 31,934 followers

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