16 July 2009

The Context of Stars

So, my Dad loves to drag me to the big summer movies. I like drinking with my Dad so I go the movies with him in the summer with the caveat that we hit our favorite bar (Groucho's) beforehand. It’s located right near the most hideous of all the local multiplexes (a 16 screen Cinemark located inside a mall) so the experience is entertaining, even if the film is not. Knowing we were heading in to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I ordered shots with our first beers. The quality of the movie is irrelevant to this conversation (as anyone who listens to the show knows my feelings about Mr. Bay) so the only thing I’ll say is that I found myself taking a walk down the cinema’s hallways trying to kill time after a bathroom break because trying to take a nap in a theatre showing that movie is impossible.

Cinemark, at least the ones in Cleveland, have an odd decorating style that ended up getting me to think about the context of stars in a way that I hadn’t. I’ve come of age watching films in an era that is arguably a low point for the art form-with the exception of the late 1990’s. There has been more and more product every year with less and less quality. The so called Golden Age of Hollywood has such a nostalgic tinge to it that I just assume that people going to the cinema on a weekly basis were having a blast watching the classics we now enjoy via DVD or the rare repertoire screening.

But were these films classics when they came out? Did people in the 1950’s look at Cary Grant the same way people look at Matthew McConaughey today? Some love him, some hate him and still others just don't care.

This is what Cinemark got me thinking about. In the hallway, there are posters up on the walls for all of the upcoming films of the summer and early fall. In between these are frames stills and headshots for stars of the past. So there is a poster for Battle for Terra next to Audrey Hepburn and Harry Potter is next to Sidney Poitier and GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is next to a picture of the Rat Pack.

The combo that stopped me and sucked up ten minutes of my drunken thoughts was the combo of the poster for Ghosts of Girlfriends Past next to a nice headshot of Cary Grant.

My god, is Wooderson really comparable to Dr. Huxley?

The more I gave it some serious thought; I began to think that Cinemark was right. When my Grandma tells me about seeing Bringing Up Baby or North by Northwest, she never tells me about their box office success or failure. Mr. Grant was simply an actor who did some romantic comedy work and some action pictures and some thrillers and so on.

When I got home that night I looked at their IMDB profiles next to each other and became convinced that I actually had learned something by going to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at Cinemark night. It’s all about context. I’m growing up with Mr. McConaughey the way my elders grew up seeing Mr. Grant. Just another star up on the screen entertaining us with their antics. The older ones have more of an untarnished image to people my age because all we know of them is their screen persona, not the awkward interview they gave to Jimmy Kimmel or that fat picture that was printed in US Weekly.
But, to my son, they will all be the same and he’ll have a new Mr. Grant/Mr. McConaughey that I’ll be bitching about.

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