Tag Archives: It’s Fucking Summer

Friday Relief

22 Jun

 

Today is the last day of school for a lot of kids across the country.  The last day of school always had a special energy to it, as the sun was usually shining, everyone at school had mentally checked out several days earlier, and the long, hazy days of Do What I Want summer are literally hours away.  We can remember several Last Days of School that included 3pm beer bongs in the park.  It’s that kind of day.

Even if you’re no longer in school and have moved on to the working world, there’s no reason you can’t still celebrate the last day of school and the start of summer.  Yeah, you’ve got that pesky day job to worry about for the summer months, but you can still go into full-fledged Summer Mode after today, as if you were back in 7th grade again.  It’s all a state of mind.  Put sunscreen on every day, have some BLLs at lunch, take impromptu midweek road trips, stay out late in the hot nights.  Why not?  Start today by taking that briefcase and throwing it up in the air on your way out of the office.  Just like you’re emptying out the locker.

No movie has ever been able to capture the essence of this unofficial holiday  like Dazed and Confused does, so we offer it up here to help everyone celebrate.  While you’re at it, might as well just watch the whole movie.  It’s only one of the greatest ever made.  And, also, we reserve the right to name our upcoming holiday party “The OFFICIAL 4th of July Brouhaha.”

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Hot Days, Cool Movies

8 May

Summertime at your local movie theater is a season marked by huge stars, lavish budgets, and lots of loud noises.  With schools out and temperatures ranging from uncomfortably warm to oppressively hot, the easy distractions and cool A/C blasts of the multiplex are an enormous draw all across America.  Movie studios spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to fill those multiplexes with all the big stars, shiny effects, and loud noises that the months of May – August can handle, and their efforts are rewarded with enough box office sales and merchandising tie-in revenues to keep the whole routine humming year after year.

It is easy to point to the summer movie season as a perfect example of everything wrong with Hollywood and America today – enormous sums of money spent on hollow excesses simply for the sake of making even bigger sums of money on the back end.  And there is some truth behind that.  A cynical truth, though, and bringing cynicism into the summer movie season can prevent someone from enjoying the great potential behind some of these blockbusters.  If done right, a huge summer movie can represent some of the best things that the medium of cinema can offer –  namely an escape from the mundane realities of everyday life, and the chance to see wild twists of imagination made ‘real’ on the big screen.  Summer can offer the chance to check your worries and stress at the door, and escape into worlds of pure entertainment.  There is nothing wrong with just being entertained for a few hours out of your otherwise busy week.

The Avengers kicked off the blockbuster season last week with a small fortune in box office receipts, and it has gotten us in the blockbuster mood here at Dan Swanky’s.  We sat down and picked out some films from the next few months that have us all-out excited, or at least genuinely intrigued, for what awaits in the cool dark of the theater.  And to add a different perspective, we also got our resident blockbuster aficionado Steed to give us some picks of his own.  Enjoy Part One.

May

The Avengers – May 4

The Avengers is an example of how to make a blockbuster the right way.  Director Joss Whedon manages to pull off a story that remains true to the essence of the comic books while also achieving a broader appeal, and he does it behind strong characters that don’t get lost behind the massive scale of the special effects.  It’s tough to stay grounded and nuanced while pulling off scenes with aliens, Norse gods, and lots of spandex, but Avengers manages to do that while also celebrating the awesome action potential that comes from having superhero legends sharing the big screen for the first time.

The Dictator – May 18

Sascha Baron Cohen continues his trend of playing crude characters with funny accents in The Dictator, and it’s tough to tell from the early trailers if this will be a return to brilliant Borat form, or a continuation of the mild disappointment of Bruno.  Regardless, any movie that brings together comedic talents like Cohen, director Larry Charles, and John C. Reilly is worth the benefit of the doubt.  Hopefully there are plenty of batshit crazy and filthy jokes waiting behind the currently tame trailer.

Moonrise Kingdom – May 25

Wes Anderson returns with another coming-of-age tale (presumably) soaked in warm colors, ethereal indie rock songs, and sharp-tongued youngsters.  You can go into an Anderson film with a strong idea of what you’re going to get, and you’ll end up being mostly right – but he can also hit you with emotionally charged scenes of beauty when you least expect it, and is always wholly unique.  Moonrise could be a welcome change of pace among the special effects melee of the summer landscape.

STEED:

Battleship – May 11

“Let’s run this one down:  Aircraft carriers.  Aliens.  Guns.  Tim ‘Riggs’ Riggins.  Liam ‘Taken’ Neeson.  Brooklyn Decker.  Explosions.  This one had me standing in line from the top.  Then the newest trailer dropped in front of Avengers this past weekend, and things were ratcheted up.  I blacked out from the sensory overload, and when I came to a few seconds later, I was at half-mast and lying in the aisle.  Ticket already purchased.”

What To Expect When You’re Expecting – May 18

“Confession: I’m a sucker for baby humor.  No, not humor meant for babies to laugh at – humor that is made up of babies doing funny things.  Babies reacting to things they clearly shouldn’t be reacting to?  Babies crawling around and stirring up innocent mischief?  Gets me every goddamn time.  This movie looks like it’s got all kinds of baby vs. stupid human interaction, and I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.”

June

Prometheus – June 8

This sci-fi action/horror/mind-bender looks to be one of the cooler movies of the summer, complete with a mysterious plot, creepy alien action, and a great cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba, and Charlize Theron.  And that’s on top of the fact that it’s directed by Ridley Scott in his rumored return to the Alien universe; the early glimpses of the trailers look like there are plenty of the same ‘horror movie in space’ touches that made the first film so great.  In another connection to Alien, Fassbender is playing an android in this one – there are unconfirmed reports that he actually begins the film as a sex robot and that this could be a Shame-in-Space situation.  Stay tuned.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – June 22

This is one of those movies that has the potential to be the perfect ‘turn off your mind and be entertained’ summer offerings.  The concept (spelled out in the title) is borderline absurd – but so what?  Timur Bekmambetov is a director who knows how to craft stylish and inventive action sequences, and he’ll be offering up plenty of badass Abe Lincoln v. Vampires ax fights.  If the movie doesn’t take itself seriously and focuses on just having a good time, then this could be a great late-night summer movie.

Magic Mike – June 29

We’ve talked about this before, but we’ve been looking forward to Magic Mike ever since hearing the logline.  In a story based partly upon his real life, Channing Tatum is a male stripper whose mentor is Matthew McConaughey.  This alone sounds somewhat iffy, but when the kicker is that Mike is directed by Steven Soderbergh, things could get weird, in an awesome way.  Soderbergh is a very good director, and his approach to this particular story will be very interesting.  Plus, McConaughey’s role means that we get to see David Wooderson follow his calling to be a male stripper.

STEED:

Rock of Ages – June 15

“Make sure you put down that I’m not a musical fan.  I’d much rather see someone fight their way through a movie’s plot instead of singing and dancing about.  But when the music is all rock classics from golden gods like Journey, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Bon Fuckin’ Jovi, and the main guy is Tom ‘Maverick’ Cruise?  Then sign me right up.  I’m definitely looking forward to getting out my old denim and bringing a few tall boys to the opening weekend of this baby.  Hopefully I’ll bring it back to the Van Halen show a few years ago and get a little something going in the back row.  We shall see.  We shall see.”

That’s My Boy – June 15

“Well, it looks like the June 15 weekend is going to have to be a double feature for yours truly.  I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the Sand-man’s last several movies, and with this one we finally get to see him in some hard-R glory.  No more dancing around that salty language, Sand-man, just let it fly.  I’m not too sure who this Andy Samberg broheim is, but he looks like he could have some potential and I’ll give him a shot.  As long he doesn’t get in the Man’s way.  I don’t want anyone stepping over those baby-talk lines I love so much.  I’ve got a feeling that like Grown Ups, I’ll be making some return trips to the theater all summer long for this one.”

Part Two covering July and August coming soon…

Personal Soundtrack

2 May

The Song

I Wanna Go by Summer Heart

 

It is officially May and the pleasant haze of summer can be seen just over the horizon.  This is arguably the best time of the year, and preparations for the sun-drenched days are gearing up.  People are busy getting base tans, picking out new party trunks, and coming up with some new summer romance-ready pick-up lines.

One vital component of these preparations is the selection of songs to be included on the playlists that will accompany this year’s seasonal events.  BBQs, pool parties, road trips, stargazing makeout sessions – they all need great background music.

A good summer song can come in many different forms, but with most of them, you can tell upon the first listen that its going to be there for the June-August long haul.  “I Wanna Go” from Summer Heart is one of those songs.  Pretty much all of Summer Heart’s great new album About A Feeling seems to have been made with beautiful summer days in mind, and “I Wanna Go” in particular stands out as a sunny favorite.

With its far-off vocals and gauzy, washed out sound, “I Wanna Go” is like a transmission from the hottest part of a summer day – in that woozy, dazed state just on the edge of full-on heat stroke.  And while this hazy feeling permeates throughout the song, it doesn’t stop it from building up its own propulsive momentum behind a spare drum beat and chiming guitar chords.  The guitar line is the part of the song that takes everything to a whole different level; it percolates and bubbles, seemingly reaching high into the cloudless blue sky above the band.

The carefree vibe of the song immediately recalls the long summer days of years past, when school was out and the only thing worth worrying about was where the next party was going to be.  Frontman David Alexander proclaims that “I had nothing to lose and I had nothing to prove”, and its tough to find a truer sentiment for the ideal summer day or night.

The Activity

It’s an ambiguous day in July.  Ambiguous because without anything to worry about on this summer vacation, you’ve lost all track of which weekday it is.  And also ambiguous because the sun has been beating down since early morning, causing everyone to move around in a slightly dazed state, their minds slightly addled by the heat.  The summer has been somewhat uneventful so far – there have been great times, but not much has really lived up to the epic plans you were hatching back in May.  The big road trip to the lake house has been put off until August, and your dreams of a summer romance with the beautiful girl from down the street have been thwarted by your omnipresent fear of rejection.

And so on this ambiguous day you and your friends are lazing around Steve’s backyard pool yet again, trying to stay cool while most of you reflect on the slight disappointments of June.  You’ve brought out some speakers to pass the time, and as you shuffle around on the dial, a vibrant song suddenly beams out and snaps you momentarily out of your heat-dazed state.  The chiming guitar line and echoing harmonies catch on with something unspoken inside of your head and you ask the lounging group Who Is This?

Oh, That’s My Cousin’s Band, murmurs Steve, as if his now-known connection to this amazing sound is not remarkable.  It is, and without even thinking, you blurt out If We Throw A Keg Will They Come Play For It?  Everyone steps out of their varying states of midday reverie and turn towards you.  This is a bold and dangerous plan, but one that would be undeniably great if pulled off.  If.

Steve responds, Yeah Probably, As Long As We Can Set Everything Else Up.  The unspoken question in that statement is directed towards you – it was your idea so it will fall on you to figure out the Elephant in this figurative room.  The keg.  The gleaming barrel of hops is about two years out of your legal reach, so you’ll have to put in a call to the older Sister.  Who luckily turns out to be in a good mood on this ambiguous summer day, and who, apart from charging an excessive Convenience Fee, is quite helpful in picking everything up and helping to set it up at a notoriously remote and party-friendly area of the nearby lakefront park.

After several phone calls, text messages, and general word-spreading, potential party people begin trickling down into the park.  The band works out some kind of MacGuyver-esque sound system that actually sounds pretty good, and adding that to the fact that two new Good Samaritan kegs have mysteriously joined your initial one – a veritable summer party is about to break out.  The sunset has begun to soak the sky in deep oranges and purples when there’s a tap on the shoulder – it’s your elusive summer girl, smiling and wearing a sundress that renders your voice useless.  Find Me Later she says before kissing your cheek and gliding away.  Mind blank, you turn towards the band as they send the first sublime guitar chords into the summer air.