Friday, July 03, 2009

500 Days or Bummer?:: Fox Searchlight Looking to Cash in on Indie Cachet

Back in March, I tweeted on quirk being part of the current North American zeitgeist. I think there's also a relationship between quirky and indie sensibilities, as Hirschorn states in The Atlantic. Alas, just like punk, grunge, and old-school hip-hop, the formula was cracked and now "indie" is being marketed like nobody's business. Well, it's being marketed like mainstream media's business. Last month, I saw a trailer for (500) Days of Summer, so laden with treacle my teeth started aching the moment Zooey Deschanel started to sing an à cappela rendition of The Smiths' "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out."

A few days later, I noticed banner ads on sites like Stereogum.  Seeing the trailer, I saw how Fox Searchlight was pulling out all the stops to market to the hipster crowd, hoping to repeat {or cash in on} the successes of Garden State and Juno.   Some quick observations on the formula::
  1. Hip cultural references
  2. Indie music songs on the soundtrack
  3. Unconventional storyline, often with bittersweet aspects
  4. Witty dialogue
  5. Cleverness
I read an article on the film and the director, Marc Webb, which made me hate the idea of the film a tad less.  I could see how this film speaks to the quirky alone set and I've seen many a blog anticipating its début, of course, these blogs are far-too-cool to use "OMG!"

The international trailer is {to me} far more palatable::

It's a more straightforward trailer, but I can see how the North American version plays to North American notions of "indie."  I find trailers to be interesting cultural products, a variant of the ad, and plan on examining this in a future research project.  The idea of "indie" also interests me.  Like "cool," once it becomes mainstream, isn't it killed?  While "indie" cannot be defined by budget, doesn't a relatively large budget with large budget expectations violate "indie" sensibilities.  Juno had a budget of $7.5M.  A film that I think truly captured indie sensibilities, Michel Gondry's La Science des Rêves/The Science of Sleep had a $6M budget.  Keeping costs low lowers risks and increases the chances of turning a profit, but I think it also maintains an authenticity to the work.  It gets fuzzy around at the upper margins.  Wes Anderson used $50M for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and I felt that there was a mainstream sensibility and accessibility to the film that gives my categorization scheme pause.  Does it matter?  I think it does.  Currently, indie has meaning as a genre in media, but once it becomes dominated by the interests of financial capital {studios/distributors}, as opposed to cultural capital, it loses its cachet.  

I'm slated to screen it on 9 July, so who knows, I may be pleasantly surprised.

Here's the soundtrack listing::
01 Mychael Danna And Rob Simonsen - “A Story Of Boy Meets Girl”  
02 Regina Spektor - “Us”  
03 The Smiths - “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”  
04 Black Lips - “Bad Kids”  
05 The Smiths - “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”  
06 Doves - “There Goes The Fear”  07 Hall & Oates - “You Make My Dreams”  
08 The Temper Trap - “Sweet Disposition”  
09 Carla Bruni - “Quelqu’un M’a Dit”  
10 Feist - “Mushaboom”  
11 Regina Spektor - “Hero”  
12 Simon & Garfunkel - “Bookends”  
13 Wolfmother - “Vagabond”  
14 Mumm-Ra - “She’s Got You High”  
15 Meaghan Smith - “Here Comes Your Man”  
16 She & Him - “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”  

Twitterversion:: #500DaysofSummer packages slick #indie film. Does the #marketing do violence to indie sensibilities? Does it matter? @Prof_K

Song::  The Stars "Romantic Comedy"


Chico Mazaltoff said...

Perhaps this will further encourage you to check out the film. Personally, I can't wait for them to do a DC Cab cinemash!

Kenneth M. Kambara said...

Ah, and Mother, Jugs, and Speed. I sort of like the Cinemash idea, but not so slick, but that's me.

Did I ever tell you we should start a Wildly Inappropriate line of toys for the "pre{co}cious" kid? In a Dollar Store, the LinnyQat & I tried to assemble a toy funpack hodgepodge of odd assorted stuff. You know, so kids can re-enact scenes from age-inappropriate films like The Sweet Hereafter & Battle Royale. Are blog comments the new cocktail napkin jottings for ideas?