Summer Movies

The Joy of Blockbusters

Summer Movies Week at Slate.

Brassy summer fun

Welcome to Slate’s Summer Movies Week. For three days, we set aside Truffaut, Clouzot, and Almodóvar. In their place, we embrace summer blockbusters—big, noisy movies that clog up 19 screens at the multiplex. By investigating the art of summer moviemaking, its tone and textures, we hope you’ll feel slightly better about seeing Batman Begins.

The week kicks off today with Tom Shone’s history of the friendship between the summer’s movie gods, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. “Rivalry may not be quite the right word for the relationship that exists between Lucas and Spielberg,” Shone writes. “What they have is far more subtle: something more like the impacted, covert, passive-aggressive version of rivalry practiced by siblings—wherein any hint of hostility is buried in a bear hug and conflict covered with a smile.”


Did Spielberg and Lucas’ sharks, robots, and cockeyed archaeologists destroy the golden age of American film? We’ve got two critics ready to debate: David Edelstein (of Slate)and Joe Morgenstern (of the Wall Street Journal, winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for criticism). David will try to convert Joe to the Dark Side, unless Joe takes shelter in the Bat Cave first.

On Wednesday, Grady Hendrix makes the case against film festivals. “If you’re thinking of running a film festival: don’t,” he writes. “It will ruin your life. It will clean out your bank account. It will drive away your friends. By the first fabulous day of your event you will wish you were dead.” This is a man, we might mention, who programs film festivals for a living.


More coming attractions: Michael Agger examines the “science” of the blockbuster—in which he reads academic papers about The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Bryan Curtis profiles Michael Bay, the maker of disaster movies who regularly employs Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis to save the world. Plus: Christopher Kelly on the pimp who saved Hollywood! Charles Taylor on the return of the Bad News Bears! Thrills! Chills! Dense blocks of 12-point text! C’mon, it beats waiting in line for Batman.



The Pimp Who Saved Hollywood: Hustle & Flow and the rise of the indie blockbuster,” by Christopher Kelly, posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005.

Lucas vs. Spielberg: The worst best friends in Hollywood,” by Tom Shone, posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005.


Did George Lucas and Steven Spielberg Ruin the Movies? The joy of blockbusters,” by David Edelstein and Joe Morgenstern, posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005.

Rupert Murdoch Strikes Back: His bold plan to give away 20 million digital video recorders,” by Edward Jay Epstein, posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005.


Booger-Eating Morons: In praise of The Bad News Bears,” by Charles Taylor, posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005.

So, You Want To Start a Film Festival …: Don’t,” by Grady Hendrix, posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005.

The Bad Boy of Summer: Michael Bay vs. his critics,” by Bryan Curtis, posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005.


Sharksploitation!: Jaws and the sad decline of the shark movie,” by Rebecca Onion, posted Thursday, June 16, 2005.

An Extremely Macho Elf: Reconsidering Steve McQueen, by Matt Feeney, posted Thursday, June 16, 2005.