Since the Labor Day weekend, this humble writer has been receiving a number of e-mail messages from public relations companies informing me about a new film that is going to be opening within the upcoming days or weeks. These movies (and I am using the term “movies” are most of these titles will be released in a traditional theatrical distribution system), appear to be selections that are either of a melodramatic nature, hipper and perhaps “smarter” comedies, or are documentaries that deal with subjects of importance ranging from human trafficking to political strife here in this country and other nations abroad. These same features are being released or distributed by smaller independent companies that are separate from the standard Hollywood studios. If the company is connected to a bigger studio such as Sony Classic Pictures witch is linked to Sony Studios aka Columbia Pictures, then the distribution firm deals with so-called “independent” films or are one that are of an “art house” nature.
Anyway, this humble writer has been receiving notices that these titles will be released into theaters. And unlike traditional features where their opening means a massive amount of movie screens will screen this movie at the same time (say, 2000 screens plus), these titles will open in just a handful of places, even as little that one sole theatre, usually found in New York City and/or Los Angeles.
Now, why you may ask (assuming that you readers even care), on why is this writer getting all of these press releases about these movies that feature a heavy story line with a cast of performers that are far from being “box office” material, or are documentaries are were created to speak about an issue or issues of importance?
First or all, yours truly is a member of a film critics trade group whose same members write about newer movies, and these notices are being sent for general awareness. In addition, these notices are also being sent in connection to their release dates as it’s coming closer to the end of the calendar year–the deadline when movies can be eligible to become nominated to win awards, from the citations given by the trade groups (Director’s Guild, Writer’s Guild, Art Director’s Guild, etc.) to the holy grail of them all, being able to win an Oscar or two!
That’s all fine and good for what that stands for. However, upon seeing what films are coming through the pipeline of late, this writer sometime have to ask one question. What demographic are these movies being addressed to? The movies that were released during the summer season that ranges from late April-early May to the end of August, tend to be bigger titles that are either an action/adventure genre with a lean toward comic book super hero types, all-ages animation, or other similar titles that are big on star power and are overladen with special effects! And that market that desire those type of movies are steered toward a younger group, usually the under the 30 year old set. Even through this age group is perhaps the most wired of the bunch, they are still willing to plunk down $10.00 and up to see these movies in a traditional theatre setting even though these same folks can see these same movies on any electronic device that sports a video screen. The method they may use may not be legal by any means, but it can be done nevertheless!
So who are these smaller movies geared toward? From what it appears to be, the demographics are of folks of a certain age that grew up on the notion to see movies in a movie theatre and are not based upon comic book characters or are animated titles more appealing toward kids! That demographic are those over the age of 55, better known as the ever lovin’ “Baby Boomers”. This same demographic are also members of those for noted trade groups that hold the voting privilege to choose a film to win some kind of award.
Or course, there is noting wrong for movies that might be favorites to the more seasoned groups. These folks are just as willing to watch films that are not viewed on a screen device and pay for the privilege. However, the younger set are just as willing to watch movies in a movie house as well. Those films just make more money that a “art” movie can churn out.
Recently, the AARP, that writes about movies geared toward their demographic calling their musings Movies for Grownups, made a comment over the movies released during the summer of ’17. They stated that out of the film titles that made the most in domestic gross, the top five, Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Despicable Me 3 and Dunkirk, only one was an original title, the Warner Bros. release of Dunkirk, a movie that takes place in the early days of World War II. The AARP also noted that unlike the big summer hits ruling the way, there were a few disappointments, such as The Mummy, Alien: Covenant, Baywatch and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Those same studios should not overlook the more mature potential moviegoers that will still see a movie that isn’t viewed through their phones!
But in spite of all of this notion of what movies are for who, this is all based upon simple business principals. The reason why movies are made is to make money. The reason why people want to see movies is to be entertained. If a studio makes a movie that is indeed entertaining, people will plunk down admission to see these films and thus, will generate movie for all involved. It’s the basic case of supply and demand!
It’s going to be rather hard to tell if these so-called award grabbing films will make money as that is generally up to the movie goers who pay to view these movies, and the titles that the studios will make available. Some will indeed make an amount that is of blockbuster quality, while others will be praised by the industry to be declared as the best films ever!
Again, just as long as the movie is worth one’s time and it’s entertaining for what it is, then you have an appealing film to deal with! But keep in mind that video content is just about anywhere and everywhere wherever and whenever the user wants it! Movie houses for what they are, still holds its appeal. With admission prices for what they are, as well as the audience that sit in the same room to where the film is showing, these movies better be worth one’s 100 or so minutes! Super hero action pictures can be amusing too, y’know!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
The Victory Theatre presents the world premier of RESOLVING HEDDA, Jon Klein’s comical farce that serves as a soft-of sequel to Henrick Ibson’s classic play Hedda Garber where the title character makes an effort to change the plot of her play in order for her to not kill herself as she eventually did.
The setting is the same living room where all of Hedda Garber’s play takes place, located within the stylish home of Hedda (Kimberly Alexander) and her husband George (Ben Atkinson). Hedda, now living within an early 21st century mindset, is hell bent on keeping her character alive by making no effort of shooting herself with a pistol as she did in the original play. The regular cast of characters are present, such as the well meaning Aunt Julia (Alyce Heath), Judge Brack (Tom Ormeny) who still takes a shine towards Hedda, Thea (Marisa Van Den Borre), a childhood pal of Hedda’s whose current married life is still miserable, and Eilert (Chad Coe), Hedda’s one time lover. Each character still keeps in character as they appeared in the original source. Now Hedda is in charge, making every effort to damage the original concept of a play that’s still a function of stage theatre study, as well as part of a repertory of plays still performed on theater floorboards somewhere in the world!
This “new” version of a classic work moves in a very rapid place, full of comical hijinks, witty one-liners, and plenty of buffoonery that waters down upon the concept and seriousness that Ibson’s masterpiece (one of many?) tries to get across. Kimberly Alexander as Hedda is now a very strong minded woman of the post-modern age who is as cocky as she could get away with. The rest of the characters make their attempt to catch up with Hedda, still somewhat stuck in the latter 19th century. However, they are still within their same methods as they are (were?) when Ibson first placed his pen on paper to write his piece! However, Ibson’s didn’t know where to place the funnier lines, so Jon Klein did his part in making this play a laugh fest!
Maria Gobetti, co-artistic director of The Victory Theatre, directs this show with humor, comic pathos, and overall, proves that a quintessential play can indeed become a “laff riot” in spite of the fact that the Ibson version is heavy in plotting, yet can be rather dull for contemporary audiences.
Beside the cast of players that appear in this production that also features Sean Spencer as a stagehand (a character not found in the original Ibson work), is Evan Bartoletti’s set design of Hedda’s living room space, loaded with period furnishing that reminds the audience that it’s still the late 19th century! The same goes for A. Jeffrey Schoenberg’s costuming. Both entries make this show a feast for the eyes that adds to the fun and mirth as depicted and spoken by the cast of seven.
RESOLVING HEDDA is a fun screwball type of a comedy. It’s only caveat? Unless one is familiar to the oft-noted Hedda Garber play, the characters presented and their backgrounds can be slightly confusing to follow! However, because it’s too funny and amusing, those lost elements are quickly forgotten! Henrick Ibson’s estate might like this show as well, but can’t do a damn thing about anything since all of Ibson’s works are in the public domain!
PS..does Hedda keep herself alive as she desires? This writer placed enough spoiler alerts toward the original source, and we’ll leave it at that!
RESOLVING HEDDA, presented by the Victory Theatre Bare Bones Ensemble, and performs at The Victory Theatre (Mainstage), 3324 West Victory Blvd. (one block east of Hollywood Way), Burbank, until November 12th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 4:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (818) 841-5421, or via online at http://www.TheVictoryTheatreCenter.org
The Impro Theatre opens their 2017-18 season taking selected residency at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage’s Edye Second Space Theater.
For once a month through June, The Impro Theatre company, specializing in creating shows based upon various forms of literary works ranging from the classics, 20th century authors/playwrights, and from the media, develops a brand new full-length play based upon the genre highlighted improvised right on the spot! By working with a suggestion or two taken from the audience, a set of performers creates a work in the style and fashion of the subject matter only using their wits and wisdom that matches the genre in near perfect timing and style, not knowing what they are going to do next! Since these shows are made up right in front of the audience, their creation will be seen once and never again! Every performance serves as both opening and closing night–or day, depending on the time of performance! Its result is a presentation that is witty, amazing, perhaps deep and moody, and in short, a show birthed right on the stage!
The series opened at the end of September with Sondheim Unscripted, that performed a musical work resembling a creation by Steven Sondheim. A team of six rotating players, consisting of a combination of Kelly Holden Bashar, Kari Coleman, Lisa Fredrichson, Brian Michael Jones, Stephen Kearin, Brian Lohmann, Edi Patterson, Ryan Smith, Michele Spears, and Floyd VanBuskirk, presented a musical that features much of the style and persona that one would find in a standard Sondheim musical. These team of players knew their stuff pretty well as they were able to pull off a production that was born by its opening number, and died once the virtual curtain closed the show forever!
Dan O’Conner, artistic director of Imrpo Theatre, co-directed with Michele Spears a piece that’s funny, charming, warm in mood, and perhaps the most important stance of them all, a show that didn’t previously exist! And since this was a musical, Peter Smith alternating with Matthew Loren Cohen, performed the musical score on the keyboards.
For the rest of the season, the Impro Theatre will host another presentation using a different genre and format. The weekend of October 27th-29th will be Horror Unscripted taking its inspiration from a 1980’s-era horror “B-movie”. November 10th-12th will be L.A. Noir Unscripted featuring back-alley characters from the gutters of 1940‘s and 50‘s Los Angeles. Jane Austen Unscripted takes place December 15-17th using the methods employed by this early 19th century author. February offers two separate shows: Fairytales Unscripted on February 3rd suitable for the entire family, and Chekhov Unscripted February 23rd-25th for the adults. Submitted for your approval, Twilight Zone Unscripted returns on March 16th-18th. April 20th-22nd will host Shakespeare Unscripted, featuring a classic as sort-of written by The Bard. Dorothy Parker Unscripted performs May 18th-20th inspired from the musings of The Algonquin Round Table (or not). And rounding out the season will be Tennessee Williams Unscripted June 15th-17th, highlighting those characters direct from the hot and steamy (and whiskey and gin soaked) confederate states!
The Broad Stage is located at 1310 11th Street (at Santa Monica Blvd.) in Santa Monica. For further details on all Impro Theatre shows performing at The Broad Stage, visit the official website for ticket information and for specific showtimes at http://www.TheBroadStage.com.
For more information on Impro Theatre, visit http://www.ImproTheatre.com
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2017 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!