June 26, 2007

Slate. Summer Movies.

Die Hard "We hear the sound of a Michael Bay movie in the distance. Bruce Willis is blowing up stuff with that guy from the Mac ads. We finally finished Proust. It must be time, then, for another edition of the Slate Summer Movies issue."

Four pieces are up today and it looks like there'll be more throughout the week (so watch for updates to this entry). While we give Slate V time to figure out what it wants to be, this'll more than tide us over.

"Since the Die Hard franchise, and its catchphrase, have been absent from the screen for 12 years, a question arises: do the words 'Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker' still matter? And why did they resonate in the first place?" Eric Lichtenfeld looks into the matter and, along the way, revives memories of "the golden age of the one-liner" in action movies, the 80s.

Updated through 7/2.

You already know Grady Hendrix knows how to tell a story. Here, he's got a great one: ninjas, from their introduction to Western pop culture, courtesy of Tetsuro Tamba as Tiger Tanaka in You Only Live Twice through "the most important moment in ninja history: Israel's Six-Day War" all the way to Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow.

A Tragic Honesty Instead of ahead to how Sam Mendes, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio might adapt Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road, Blake Bailey, author of A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates, looks back at how the novel and its author got kicked around Hollywood off and on all those years ago, often more off than on: "From the beginning, ambitious filmmakers couldn't help being tempted by the book - a 'tough' look at the squalid heart of the American Dream - but only tempted. In the end, would people really pay good money to see a movie in which almost everything ends badly?"

The title of Marisa Meltzer's contribution says it all: "Leisure and Innocence: The eternal appeal of the stoner movie."

Updates, 6/28: "There have been bright spots, but given that this season's last hope for delivering a summer-defining blockbuster involves a decades-old toy franchise, it might be time to start thinking about next year." Keith Phipps takes an entertaining look ahead to next summer's contenders.

"[C]laiming a macho film friendship is not-so-secretly gay has become its own kind of silly convention, a fake-subversive cliché," writes Matt Feeney. "It is better - sounder both aesthetically and sociologically - to view the masculine pathos in films like Point Break in light of the tradition of heroically minded philosophy that runs from Aristotle to Nietzsche. If Point Break is homoerotic, in other words, then so is Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit."

What'll terrorists think up next? Denis Seguin reads the winners of the second annual Movie-Plot Threat Contest, dreamed up by Bruce Schneier.

"[T]he notion of the action hero as a pop icon isn't entirely a Hollywood invention," writes Elbert Ventura. "In the 1960s, Sergio Leone made a string of Westerns that introduced to audiences a new sensibility - gloriously baroque, self-consciously iconic, and steeped in movies. The release this month of The Sergio Leone Anthology, a box set composed of remastered versions of the Dollars trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) and the little-seen Duck, You Sucker, gives us the chance to reacquaint ourselves with a blockbuster director who pioneered that now-familiar archetype: the film buff as artistic savant." More from Keith Uhlich at Slant.

Jill Hunter Pellettieri offers a "Short History of Movie Theater Concession Stands. Plus: A Candy Quiz!"

Updates, 7/2: A Ratatouille double: "Brad Bird, Animation Auteur," a slide show from Josh Levin, and Troy Patterson races through a brief history of rodents on screen before concluding, "Remy will succeed partly by emerging as an anti-Mickey and partly because the big guy has taken him under his arm."

And Geoff Anderson rounds up readers' commentary on the Summer Movies collection.

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Posted by dwhudson at June 26, 2007 11:54 AM