When words like “legacy” start worming their way into your everyday vocabulary, it’s usually a sign you should start taking Metamucil, voting for McCain and giving every show on CBS a TiVo Season Pass. Yet we found ourselves dwelling on that other “L” word after a June 1 fire erupted at Universal Studios California, eradicating everything from the New York street set used in movies like Batman & Robin (yipeeee!) to a hefty portion of the studio’s film archives (oooooohhhhhh).

Universal’s public response was typical of an industry that’s based its market strategy on sweeping format changes, leaving cultural documentation a cute hobby. We shouldn’t worry, we were told, because the fire had only claimed 35 mm prints. Everything of import had already been – wait for it – digitized. (Next stop: colorizing those bitches!)

Days later, we intercepted an e-mail from the studio to theater owners that translated the situation from public-relations-ese into English. “The good news is that the elements survive,” it read. “The bad news is that most likely, only the ‘big’ titles will ever be reprinted in 35 mm. Many Universal titles will never be seen in 35 mm publicly again.”

If you still don’t grasp the tragedy inherent in that statement, do yourself a favor. Find a revival theater that shows cinema classics on celluloid, the way they were made to be seen. And get ready for a beguiling, never-to-be-forgotten evening of old shit nobody cares about.


Opening Friday, June 20

Get Smart After taking a Technicolor bath on Speed Racer, Warner Bros. would dearly love for its remake of classic 1960s TV series Get Smart to be a breakout hit. Stars Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway certainly displayed sparkling chemistry when they presented an award together at this year’s Oscars (and those bits are always death). But director Peter Segal didn’t bank much cachet from Anger Management, 50 First Dates or Adam Sandler’s version of The Longest Yard. And we’re somewhat troubled by the reports that Get Smart is less an homage to its source material than a summer actioner in the Mission: Impossible mold. (Then again, seen M:I2 recently? We defy you to make a funnier film.) (PG-13; Warner Bros.)

The Love Guru Mike Myers claims that his latest attempt to build a franchise doesn’t have racist underpinnings, because its hero – a Chopra-esque relationship coach – is not actually a South Asian, but has merely been brought up to act like one. This might be a good time to once again mention our awesome Dave Chappelle impression, and why it never seemed to go over as big at Johnson’s Diner as it should have. Philistines! (PG-13; Paramount)

The Children of Huang Shi Having already proven his commitment to humanitarian causes by murdering Scarlett Johansson in Match Point, Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays valiant British journalist George Hogg, who in 1937 rescued a bunch of Chinese orphans from the invading Japanese. (R; Sony Pictures Classics)


Available Tuesday, June 24

Bonneville Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange and Joan Allen climb into a vintage convertible to embark on a cross-country vision quest. Poor storytelling choice: They get to come back. (20th Century Fox)

Xanadu: Magical Musical Edition Note to Jeff Lynne: The title of this deluxe package does not imply that your previous work was considered “unmusical.” It merely means that, after a well-received Broadway sendup, the market is primed for a remastered edition of the 1980 film, with an attendant soundtrack CD. On our wish list for 2009: Joseph Papp’s Can’t Stop the Music. (Universal)

In Bruges Amid the supposed upper echelon of movie critics, playwright Martin McDonagh’s debut as a feature-film director was largely dismissed as a Tarantino-aping talkfest. Guess some people didn’t have enough of a grounding in legitimate drama to grasp the emotional impact of seeing (and, yes, hearing) Brendan Gleeson and a career-high Colin Farrell wrestle with the big issues of guilt and salvation. And, dude: There’s a midget. (Universal)


Available Tuesday, June 24

Wall*E In the tie-in game to Disney/Pixar’s forthcoming sci-fi comedy, the title robot has the ability to fashion useless debris into helpful playing aids. (You know, just like Pixar appears to have cobbled together a whole new movie out of Silent Running.) Players have the option of playing in pairs by assuming the personas of Wall*E and his lady love, Eve. Maybe we’ve been watching too much 30 Rock, but we suspect somebody’s going to hit on a way to make that activity filthy. (THQ)


Available Tuesday, June 24

Sex and the Cinema Giving new meaning to the phrase “original score,” the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra performs “16 Sensual Classics from the Silver Screen.” Would a request for the theme from Babe be giving too much away here? Or should we just go back to playing Wall*E one-handed? (Silva America)

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