Matinee (1993)

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Matinee (1993) Empty Matinee (1993)

Post  BoG on Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:25 pm

Matinee (1993) Matinee1993
This isn't really sci-fi, but in some ways it is - a tribute by director Joe Dante and a charming nostalgic piece set in Key West, Florida during the scary Cuban Missile Crisis in '62, this probably presents an idealized version of the old time movie showman, played by John Goodman (a version of real life producer William Castle), and wouldn't certain fans, especially of a younger age, want to be on the road with him, selling movies town to town, theater to theater, tricking audiences with goofy special FX? It's every monster movie fan's dream, all right. Most of the main cast are kids who, one way or another, get involved in the showing of "Mant!" - the latest sci-fi/horror flic in 'Atomo-Vision' - at the local theater. "Mant!" reminds one of movies such as Them! (54) and The Fly (58), being about a man transforming into a giant ant (on the old Laserdisc from the nineties, all the Mant footage is shown in order without interruption on one platter). The showman, Woolsey, also uses physical effects outside the movie screen, such as shock gizmos under the seats and 'Rumble-rama,' which could pose a danger to a theater's stability. Goodman is a natural as Woolsey, strutting about with a huge cigar and enjoying himself like an overgrown kid. Cathy Moriarty is also amusing as his gal pal and leading lady, who can't really get into her roles when outside the silver screen. Robert Picardo (appearing in all of Joe Dante's films) is funny, as usual, as the nervous theater operator.
Matinee (1993) Mantposter
Matinee (1993) Matinee1993a
Besides the kids, Dick Miller & John Sayles appear as 2 'plants' - rabblerousers who stir up the locals with warnings about the movie within the movie but are really in Woolsey's employ, creating buzz on the picture (this was how buzz was built before the internet and if you couldn't afford TV ads). Matinée creates an interesting juxtaposition between make-believe scares in movies and the pervading fear of real-life nuclear terror. Images of the nuclear bomb going off abound, complete with all the accessories built up by the U.S. culture during that time, such as tacky bomb shelters and the famous 'duck-and-cover' drills practiced in schools. This is a like a good-natured, relaxed version of the classic Dr. Strangelove (64) and pokes a little fun at the nervous public of that long ago era. The kids are on the cusp of leaving their fun, make believe worlds behind, a situation brought into very sharp focus by the tension between John F. Kennedy and the Soviets at that time. Matinée captures a moment in time when the simplicity offered by Woolsey's monster pics represented an escape. There is a purity and innocence to those old time pictures which is forever lost. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10

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