When the going gets tough, the tough go to the movies. How better to escape than settling back in a comfy chair for two hours in cool darkness? So taking a look at Moving Pictures magazine seems like a good idea; these are trying times and movies may be our last means of escapism, with "reality" programming taking over the tube.
Moving Pictures is going through a bit of turmoil itself; hopefully it's the good kind. The 19-year-old quarterly has a new editor, Howard Burns, who joined the magazine after 18 years at The Hollywood Reporter.
In his first letter to readers, the veteran journalist says his goal is to make the magazine more accessible. To that end, the summer issue offers new features focusing on travel and entertainment, inspirational narratives, fashion and academia.
These features are plugged in not one, but two house ads. Hmm. Self-promotion is good, but selling ads is better. At the rate at which magazines are folding these days (RIP Vibe), finding ways to diversify your advertisers can't be a bad thing. Kudos to Moving Pictures for doing that by, for example, carrying several travel ads in the travel section.
However, I enjoyed the traditional movie-related pieces more than the new features. I could take or leave the fashion section. As it usually goes with fashion articles, much of it was too kooky for "real" people to wear anywhere other than a costume party. The $595 "Dolman" dress is hideous. I'm not sure who buys $595 dresses these days, much less ugly ones, but it hardly seems to follow through on Burns' purported goal of accessibility. How about showing something working-class folks can actually afford?
One of the new sections, Life Stories, presents a delightful first-person account by Anne Bass about the making of a film about a gifted Cambodian dancer. It was well-written and truly fascinating. I also really like the package of stories out of the Tribeca Film Festival. The Q&As with directors/producers of the films premiered there make me want to seek out those movies.
I'm counting down the days to the Traverse City Film Festival, which is the baby of film impresario Michael Moore, so I am pleased to see it mentioned in a two-page calendar of summer film festivals. I had no idea there were so many! And if they are half as good as the TCFF, I highly recommend checking out the one near you. Last year, I got to see Madonna, who was there for the premiere of a film she directed. This year, Paul Mazursky is going to be hanging around. Hollywood in northern Michigan!
One area the magazine could improve is the quality of writing. Given that its audience is a mostly creative bunch, some of the articles fail to engage, such as the "On Campus" section piece on California State University. It's another one of the new sections, with a good premise: highlighting college film program. But it reads more like a publication produced by the university instead of a national magazine.
A special report on the difficulties facing the Mexican film industry, including the outbreak of the swine flu virus and violence provoked by drug cartels, drew me in. The article starts out strong, talking about how the chaos has prompted many filmmakers to rethink location shooting. But a tangent about how Mexican moviegoers are choosing to stay home seems out of place. I would have preferred to hear more from the filmmakers.
The cover piece on Zooey Deschanel was well-reported and chock full of good quotes from the up-and-coming actress. A piece on actor Shawn Hatosy was equally engaging. Unlike the fluff put out by most entertainment magazines, these profiles delve into the art of acting, and include some interesting insights from the actors on directors, etc.
I love the listing of the 15 gangster movies on MP editors' "most wanted" list. Several are headed for my Netflix list for sure. I could live without the piece on recent releases by self-described "DVD Spin Doctor" Glenn Abel. Abel has written forThe Hollywood Reporter , which was likely his "in" under the new editor. I didn't find his "analysis" all that insightful and the article dragged on and on.
All in all, the magazine includes more hits than misses. It will be interesting to see what else new editor Burns pulls out of his popcorn tub in the issues to come.
Published by: Maitland Primrose Group
Web site: http://wwww.MovingPicturesMagazine.com