Bring Back Intermission

This weekend, I finally cracked open my copy of How the West Was Won, a massive epic produced by MGM and Cinerama. Released in 1962, it had three (!) directors and, of course, used the Cinerama technology that you can look up elsewhere because it’s really cool but not the point of this post.

The point of this post is about something that was included in the film that we don’t see in new releases anymore. This 2-hour-and-44-minute sweeping epic had an intermission. Blessedly, in this release, it included the Intermission cue and the Entr’acte cue as well. (It also had the overture, but the odds of that ever coming back as a film feature are very slim.)

Avengers: Endgame was a whopping 3 hours and 1 minute. That’s a full 17 minutes longer than a film that utilized FOUR directors of photography, a technology that shooting with three 35mm cameras sharing a single shutter, multiple locations, and – again – THREE directors.

How the West Was Won also starred just about every name that could be cast in Hollywood. In one scene alone, in the segment directed by the legendary John Ford, George Peppard kills Russ Tamblyn to prevent him from assassinating Harry Morgan (as Ulysses Grant), who’s talking with John Wayne (as General William Tecumseh Sherman). That’s just one scene, and of those four actors it’s George Peppard that has the only role that goes beyond that segment of the film.

I don’t want to digress into further specifics. The point is simply that these two films are of a similar type.

They were both giant, spectacular blockbusters with large and popular casts placed into epic stories to get people to pay money. One, however, will be remembered as The Greatest Movie of All Time until the next Marvel™®© movie comes out.

kenneth branagh hamlet | kesseljunkie
Branagh also had the decency to put an intermission in his sublime adaptation of Hamlet.

The Intermission is the Difference

How the West Was Won had an intermission, whereas Avengers: Endgame was constructed with the modern philosophy of the Film as Endurance Test. My biggest question is, “Why?”

I’m not saying every film needs to be a three-or-four-hour epic. I’m saying that intermissions make sense for longer films. Aside from giving the audience a break to get to the bathroom, digest the film up to that point, and even carry on a fine tradition from live theater, it gives the audience permission to discuss.

Instead of asking talkative people – especially in the social media age – to go three hours without telling the world what they thought of the last fifteen minutes of their lives, an intermission gives them time to go out and indulge the gift of endless gab. Social media addicts will be more likely to attend a long film if you bake in a promise that they aren’t expected to be quiet for the entire run time. It’s a polite agreement to prevent a war.

(To be honest, an overture is still a good idea to give people time to settle down. I know I said earlier it was even less likely to come back, but I think if you had a built-in time to allow everyone to get the “shushing” out of their system when the dialogue wasn’t happening, it would be better.)

It also gives you the opportunity to leave if the film isn’t working for you, without causing a ruckus. Imagine the relief to know that you’ll be given a chance to politely exit if you think something sucks. As an added bonus to the aforementioned social media addicts, you can get a jump on the hashtags on opening night!

Tarantino had the decency to put an intermission into The Hateful Eight. Sure, it was part of his whole throwback philosophy. But it worked.

If theater chains balk, remind them that people at intermission are also more inclined to buy more concessions. That’s a great thing for them.

So let’s bring back the intermission!

how the west was won intermission screen | kesseljunkie
This image is hosted elsewhere. Internet magic!

The Premise and the Promise

This may not go over very well with some people nowadays, but here it is. I’m extremely happy that I was born to live in this time and in this place.

I am grateful for it.

I have avoided the worst parts of history’s difficult arc that was filled with plague, technological stagnation, superstitious oppressions, widespread famine, and feckless despotism. I live in the midst of technological marvels that would have been beyond the dream of imagination in ages past.

I am grateful for the country into which I was born. I consider it to be a beautiful, wonderful aberration that bent the arc of history toward a better way. Our founding inspired other revolutions and changes that were to humanity’s benefit.

I understand the urge to judge a work and see it wanting. I know the compulsion never to pronounce a work completed, but rather see all the ways that it could have, or should have, been better.

Very little lives up to what you think it should be. Not everything is how you wish it was.

Sometimes people make compromises they regret. I know any human makes choices they wish they could take back. I believe there is some moment of enlightenment, even if it’s at the point of death, where people understand the ways they could have been better or made smarter choices.

But so long as I have the freedom to voice a frustration, I rejoice. There are people who cannot speak for fear of persecution and death.

So long as I have the freedom to keep trying, I rejoice. There are people who believe they have no reason to keep trying.

So long as I have the freedom to understand that working toward perfection doesn’t mean I have to destroy all that’s been done before, I rejoice. Life itself is a work in progress.

So yes, this is a brief love letter to the country of my birth. It’s not some oddity to be proud of that.

It’s not a rejection of things that could be improved. It’s an embrace that imperfect people get to the future in imperfect ways.

It’s a recognition that, for all its imperfections, the country of my birth has produced great people. It has great people in it still. Those people are still capable of great things.

There are great people who come here for new beginnings because they see that, too. If only we could see what they see, they could be our mirror to the beauty we are.

So yes, I am grateful for the land where I was born. I know the flaws and missteps of its history because that knowledge has always been open to anyone who wanted to seek it.

To bring it back to Star Wars, as I love to do, Luke learned to love and understand the basic humanity of failure, and build on that to bring forth the light of promise.

Anger and fear are a dead end. History is littered with the products of anger and fear. They are horrors unto themselves.

Love, understanding, and hard work are the path forward. They always have been. They always will be.

Let’s embrace each other and be happy for the things we can do together.

And so I proudly say to my fellow Americans, Happy 4th of July. Let’s not waste the premise and the promise.

Photo by Matej on Pexels.com

An Incredibly Controversial Movie Opinion

All right, here goes. This might be the very thing that pushes everyone over the edge to stop talking to me. But it’s something that, after today, I can no longer keep to myself.

I have to live my truth, no matter what it costs me.

The Opinion

Green Lantern is a pretty good movie, actually. It doesn’t deserve the scorn it received.

Released in 2011 and starring Ryan Reynolds, this is a fun piece of entertainment. After watching it again today at the request of the youngest padawan, I can plainly say that I enjoy it unapologetically.

Reynolds is far more restrained than he is in Deadpool, or even X-Men Origins: Wolverine. (As a side note: the former is not truly as great as its reputation, and the latter is not as bad as its own.) His comic instincts are still great, but it’s obvious that the director kept it turned down to a 7 or 8 instead of the typical “11.”

I like this level of Reynolds’ snark. It’s the same reason Just Friends works so well. He’s just as much of a smart aleck as he needs to be, instead of running roughshod over any semblance of emotional connection for a quick laugh.

The effects are overly ambitious, but I like ambitious effects. The production design is still very solid, and I like the tweaks they made to the technology to sell it as part of our “real world.” The supporting cast is strong, and sell their parts.

Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds | kesseljunkie
I said what I said.

It’s Fun

Mainly, though, it’s just fun. It has that comic book energy that’s been slowly draining out of that genre of films ever since executives realized they could focus group them into money printing exercises.

Of course they wanted to make money with this. Of course they wanted to make this their Connected Universe jump off point.

The amazing thing is, this is a perfect jumping off point for a connected universe. You’re on a galactic scale from the beginning, and building a world that would accept a Superman, Wonder Woman, or even a Martian Manhunter.

There are parts that don’t work. I’m not presenting this as the modern era’s Superman (1978) or Batman (1989). But it does have the grand scale and world-changing stakes that those did, while also having a sense of humor about the natural absurdity of it all.

It’s possible, even, to see Man of Steel is a logical counterbalance to Green Lantern, and therefore a better puzzle piece than starting point. Man of Steel is also far from perfect, and has a bit too much self-seriousness about itself, but is clearly a part of this world.

If you were to watch both back to back, I imagine you could draw the line from Dour Superman could find his way toward sharing screentime with Green Lantern’s more whimsical sense. They could then both learn from each other how to balance it all out.

Heck, Green Lantern’s super-saturated color palette could also bleed a little into Superman’s washed-out hues. You see the two extremes next to each and discover the direction both need to take to meet in the middle.

Too Much

I’m not trying to read too much into it. Again, Green Lantern is decidedly imperfect in a few key ways, not the least of which is too much plot crammed into a story that’s not robust enough to support it.

But it’s of a similar construction to 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. While that’s not as good as Green Lantern, it nonetheless has a similar flaw of trying to cram just too many producer demands into a single film. Green Lantern, however, at least has a more engaging ending and satisfying resolution.

I know what I risk by putting such a statement out there. I accept what is coming my way. But I’ll say it even more clearly this time.

I’d watch Green Lantern a hundred times again before I re-watch Iron Man 2 or even Thor: The Dark World. I could go even more controversial than that, but I think you get my point.

Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds | kesseljunkie
I know I’m not alone, too. Rally around me!

The Prophecy of Total Recall

Let’s get something out of the way first and foremost. The title and the inspiration for this blog came from a conversation with my pal, @craigsorrell. If I don’t acknowledge that off the bat, I’ll get an earful.

Total Recall, released in 1990, is not a particularly good film. To be sure, it’s got cheesy nostalgic appeal; there was a young kesseljunkie many years ago who saw the film in the theater and loved it.

He loved it so much he wanted to go right back in the theater and see it a second time. I know that he saw it more than once in the theater, because back then it was a lot cheaper to go to the movies and if something was mediocre it was still a cheaper option than anything else, so long as you didn’t get popcorn.

(That young kesseljunkie also had a friend who immediately pointed out that the physics of the atmosphere wouldn’t blah blah blah something something oxygen who cares yes we know and do not care.)

But part of growing up is being able to be honest with yourself about the things you once loved, and their place in your life. It’s OK to change and have your opinions or tastes change. It happens! Anyone who thinks they have it all figured by the time they hit their twenties is an idiot, a cult member, or both.

But what I’m talking about this time is the eerie prophetic quality of one scene in particular.

Two Weeks Total Recall GIF | kesseljunkie
You hear the voice in your head every time. EVERY TIME.

TWO WEEKS!

If you haven’t seen the movie, there’s a scene where a woman is going through customs on Mars and she declares she’s going to be there for two weeks. She then starts repeating “TWO WEEKS” with more and more fervor, pulling at her own lips as if her body has betrayed her.

As her breakdown continues, repeatedly saying “TWO WEEKS,” she backs away into the wall. You then find the real surprise: it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger in disguise! It’s not as satisfying as a Lando in disguise, but we make do.

But what I was discussing with my pal was, in this time we’re living everything is measured in TWO WEEKS. We just have to wait TWO WEEKS to see the latest doomsday predictions come to pass. We just have to wait TWO WEEKS to find out if that stuff about the thing is true. We’ll see in TWO WEEKS if Ghislaine Maxwell didn’t kill herself.

So I ventured an idea. What if Total Recall was at least partly written by someone who traveled from the future and was just screwing with us because TWO WEEKS would be a permanent GIF in usage and people would keep discussing and watching Total Recall.

I’m going to investigate this possibility and get back to you with what I find out.

In TWO WEEKS.

This is from my personal Special Edition of the movie.

The Best Movie Logo of All Time?

Looking over my movie collection, I’m frequently struck by the collection of eclectic logos on display. I’m not saying that as if that’s a product of my collection in specific. I’m sure that everyone’s movie collection, if they have one, has a wide range of logos on display.

They’re typically designed to be eye-catching. Logos try to communicate something about the work to which they’re attached. A glance should catch your eye, and keep it.

I come from the school that color should be secondary. I should be able to glance at a simple line drawing version of a logo and still “get the point,” as it were. I can look at the logo for Planet of the Apes in any color arrangement and it’s still indelibly right.

Planet of the Apes Logo | kesseljunkie

With Planet of the Apes, the elongated treatments of the vertical lines on the “L” and “P,” along with the all-caps and tight kerning, convey tension and something recognizable-yet-abnormal. The “E” joined to the “T” and “S” further convey something that I can recognize but isn’t what I expect.

The beloved Star Wars logo carries on this same sense of scale, but keeps its letters regimented and precise. It conveys energy and scale, too large to ignore and with horizontal lines that pull your focus out. This is a story on a grand scale, though it obviously owes a bit to the Apes logo.

Star Wars Logo | kesseljunkie

The logo for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight has letters set with imperfect alignments. The worn edges and splatters, hinting at the snowstorm and bloodshed at the center of the plot, capture danger and the rough, displeasing characters. It’s evocative of the Old West type that we’ve been inculcated to recognize over time, which subconsciously communicates when it’s set.

Of course, it proves that color can make a big difference, because if that “8” were also black it wouldn’t be as impactful. An exception that proves the rule, as it were.

The Hateful Eight | kesseljunkie

But these are only a barest handful logos of the many, many that are out there. I’m not trying to position myself as any sort of expert, just going on about some logos that I love at this point.

The Question at Hand

Obviously this is all subjective. That’s how it works. If you love a movie, you’re likely to respond to its logo on an emotional scale and assessing it dispassionately is difficult.

Favorites come into play, along with personal preferences. I’m not going to attempt to answer the question on my own, because obviously it’s too big a topic for one person to tackle.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to give an honest read. You may even hate the logo for a movie that you love! Here’s looking at you, Manhunter.


I mean…ugh.

So what are your favorite movie logos? Which ones work the best?

If you’re reading this, I’m legitimately interested what movie logos you think are great.

If you’re not reading this, I’m legitimately scared because…how are you in my thoughts?