Monday, October 3, 2011


I thought there was something wrong with the color on my monitor the other day when I logged onto IMDb and got a load of these posters for upcoming movies. Looks like black-and-white is the new black in movie poster chic—at least for this fall.

What's Hollywood trying to tell us, here? The message seems to be: okay, kids, summer is over, so wipe those goony grins off your faces, sit up straight, and pay attention. Forget about those bubble-gum-colored superheroes of summer. These movies are serious business!

But, wait: gigantic boxing robots? An outer space alien who crash lands in Antarctica? Okay, maybe not SO serious. Only the Geoge Clooney film, Ides of March, a political drama, has any pretensions to grown-up subject matter. But this is always the time of year when Clooney appears in his Oscar-contending movies. Check out the similarly color-challenged posters for Syriana, Up In the Air, and Good Night and Good Luck. (At least the latter was actually shot in gorgeous black-and-white, so the poster is more appropriate.)

Anyway, at least half of the movies coming out between now and Christmas go in for stark black-and-white sobriety in their posters. Chalk it up to another sign of the changing seasons, like longer nights and rain washing away our Indian Summer.

Btw, this new version of The Thing bills itself as a prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 "classic." I say, classic, schmassic. Carpenter's horror thriller had it's moments, but it was basically a more graphic reboot of an older property for the post-Alien age.

The original The Thing, directed by Howard Hawks in 1951, is the genuine classic, and not just in the genre; it's one of my all-time favorite movies! Sure, it sounds silly: a pre-Marshall Dillon James Arness resembles a giant carrot from outer space who menaces a team of Arctic researchers and military personnel.

But the movie is not only relentlessly scary (building acute tension out of shadows and dread, instead of gore), it features spirited camaraderie and snappy dialogue that would be right at home in any other Hawks movie, like His Girl Friday, or The Big Sleep. (It also features a great performance by my favorite unknown character actor, Douglas Spencer, as a wisecracking reporter on the base.) Trust me, Hawks' version is the real Thing.

And speaking of media messaging, did you see The Emmys a couple of weeks ago? Here are some interesting stats:

Number of times an image of James Durbin flashed onscreen during the Reality TV montage: 3.

Number of times an image of putative "winner" Scotty McCreery flashed onscreen: 0.

I'm just sayin' ...

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