Weekend Update – July 17, 2011

17 07 2011

An Introduction

“Writing should be useful. If it can’t instruct people a little bit more about the responsibilities of consciousness there’s no point in doing it.”

– Edward Albee

So what is this “Weekend Update” thing that Marshall wants me to read now?  Is it some rip-off of the “SNL” feature that seriously needs to get another good-looking girl on it (sorry, Seth, but we need a Tina/Amy) and just roasts American politicians and other assorted morons?

Well, to answer the questions that I posed for you to hypothetically ask me, it’s a new feature on “Marshall and the Movies” that conveniently borrows the non-trademarked name of a popular, long-running “Saturday Night Live” segment.  It seeks to provide a lot of the same things for its audience as that segment – humor, commentary, and all sorts of fun characters.  Ultimately, it’s something dependable that is always here on the weekends no matter what else I’m writing about, just like no matter how poor the “SNL” writing is nowadays, you can always get a giggle from “Weekend Update” sandwiched in the middle.

Now, as to the epigraph of this post, it mainly refers to my random factoid series, which, as you may have noticed, has gone the way of the VHS tape.  It was, simply put, a pain in the butt to come up with some new nugget of commentary every single day.  I would get ridiculously behind on posting them, and writing became a chore rather than a passion.  So with “Weekend Update,” I’ll get the chance to provide you some of that clever witicism I like to think I’ve been providing through the “Random Factoid” series – just on a more manageable timetable.  Who knows, maybe I’ll still surprise everyone with a factoid every now and then when I get REALLY worked up about something.

So without further ado…

In case you missed it…

It was a very Potter week at Marshall and the Movies, in case you couldn’t tell by my changed header (which previously adorned the 2010 Oscar favorites from October).  I got the chance to see the movie early on Monday, which was totally AWESOME.  To show you how true of a fan I am, just 12 hours before the screening, I had all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed.  When the Warner Bros. logo flew at me in 3D, I could still feel some of the anesthesia lingering in my bottom lip.

Read my review of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.”

And then, because I couldn’t miss the opening night festivities, I had to go on Thursday night as well.  I got all dressed up, wearing my Gryffindor Quidditch robe from Halloween … in third grade!  I also had my Deathly Hallows T-shirt and Platform 9 3/4 cap (won at Monday’s screening) along with a wand borrowed from a friend.  Oh, and I rocked the Harry Potter 3D style glasses that I got at the Monday screening as well.  No one had them at the 7 P.M. screening I went to, so they were quite the rage.

The first time was a charm for this movie, but that didn’t stop me from seeing it for the third time on Saturday.  I was babysitting, and the decision was easy between this, “Green Lantern,” and the torture better known as “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”  I got to see it in the lovely RPX, a nice way for Regal to charge slightly more money for a slightly better experience.  Still, the 3D is totally awesome on this movie, something I’ve been longing to say about a movie since … well, “Avatar.”

But the week wasn’t without its sad moments too, as the joy of this momentous occasion also brought the sorrow of knowing that there will be no more “Harry Potter” movies to bring us all together in a night of magic and fun.  With that in mind, I ranked all eight of the films on Thursday – you’ll have to read it to figure out which prevailed.

See how I ranked the “Harry Potter” films.

And there was also a Friday DVD release (can you say random?), so I posted my review since I saw the film back in its theatrical run.

Read my review of “Rango.”

Recommended Reading

Here are some of the best posts that I’ve read in the past week from other bloggers.  For future reference, I’ll probably post things here that are either ridiculously intelligent or ridiculously funny.

And in case you thought I was the only one talking about Harry Potter, think again:

Hard to Say Goodbye

“Harry Potter” truly went out with a bang this weekend, scoring countless monetary records.  The biggest midnight opening ($43.5 million).  The biggest single and opening day ever ($92.1 million).  The biggest opening weekend and three day stretch ever ($168.6 million).  The biggest worldwide opening ever ($475.6 million).  In case there was any doubt that J.K. Rowling’s series is a truly exceptional phenomenon, the record books can speak to its magic.

But this opening speaks to something more than just a movie.  While “The Dark Knight” is definitely an all-time favorite and a far superior movie, I’m not as sad as I thought I would be to see its 3 year run at the top end.  That was a movie that gained prestige over the weekend; there wasn’t such a rush to see it (I, for example, waited until Sunday).  It also had the Heath Ledger factor that contributed to its massive opening, bringing crowds that normally wouldn’t see a comic book movie but had to see the character that brought about his demise.  They came back through the floodgates in record numbers because beneath that performance, Christopher Nolan had actually made a fantastic movie that totally transcended a genre.

“Harry Potter,” on the other hand, is a phenomenon unlike any other in this generation.  It’s an event picture, one that brings together people around the medium of cinema in a way that renews interest and passion in moviegoing.  No matter if you were an avid reader of Rowling’s novels, just saw the movies, or have no interest in Hogwarts, if you love movies, you had to be happy on Thursday night.

The “Harry Potter” movies renewed my faith in an experience that many people are convinced is dying: the communal movie theater experience.  Over the course of cinematic history, we’ve gone from watching movies at a theater to television screens to computer screens to iPod screens to cell phone screens.  Just in the past decade with the series, our availability options have increased dramatically.  When “Sorcerer’s Stone” enchanted us in 2001, we had to go to Blockbuster or Hollywood Video to get our DVDs (and VHS tapes).  Now, we can rent and buy movies on our computers, phones, televisions, video game consoles, and disc players.  Needless to say, times have changed.

So, taking all that into account, seeing everyone gathered in the lobby of my local theater on Thursday night was an incredibly magical experience.  We were all gathered around a common experience: a movie, a character, some enchantment, and the end of an era.  The Christian Science Monitor called it correctly when they called that night the bookend of a generation.  I find this especially apt for people in my grade; as we head off to college, we tie the bow on a part of our youth with the completion of the “Harry Potter” series that we grew up with.  When we were nine, the first movie was released, and their progression roughly matched our aging through puberty, middle school, high school, and finally off towards the rest of our lives.

And as the Monitor article also points out, the books and movies have also endowed a shared moral compass to our generation.  While life won’t always be as simple as an all-encompassing evil like Voldemort, we can learn to be brave and triumph over our shortcomings like Harry, facing whatever life throws at us with courage.  It’s a rare movie series that can do that in addition to bringing the masses to the theater.

On an NPR segment I listened to a few months ago, an expert said that a result of our fragmented culture is our dearth of moments that connect a generation to each other.  Nowadays, it’s almost strictly limited to tragedies.  We will all remember where we were when 9/11 happened, just like we will all remember where we were when Michael Jackson died.  But the “Harry Potter” series defies the times and has produced several moments that have brought together not only this generation, but others as well.  Between midnight book releases and movie premieres, this series has forged positive bonds and provided many experiences that people will remember for a lifetime.  It is only fitting that the last one (at least for now) be the biggest one of them all and, more than that, the biggest movie opening ever.

As J.K. Rowling said at the London premiere, “Whether you come back by film or by page, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”  So although I, along with a world full of grateful readers and moviegoers, am saying goodbye to hellos for the series now, I do so knowing that the magic will always be there in the movies and books.  It has brought magic to the screen for a decade, and this week, it brought the magic back into the theater.  At least for this generation, it will linger there for the rest of our lives, a comforting thought even if at times it feels out of reach.

So thanks, J.K.  Thanks, Harry.  You may have just saved movies.

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