Notes From The Program Director | Week of July 21st, 2023

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Notes From The Program Director

Week of July 21st, 2023

Melissa Tamminga

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Hello, friends!

Well, it’s here. THE weekend of the summer for movie fans--if not of the whole year--has arrived. From the explosive inferno in the Los Alamos desert that changed the world to the explosive pink of a curvy toy that changed the shape of childhood dreams, it’s time for Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie

As I type, the Wednesday before the films’ previews, the critics’ reviews for both films are just landing in all the major publications, and at this point, both are receiving near-universal praise, each resting right around or just above 90% on the Tomatometer. There is a particularly satisfying, even cathartic, kind of pleasure when much-hyped movies like these two actually meet, or even exceed, critical expectations, and while no movie can ever satisfy every single critic and every single audience member, the rare film that pleases both most critics and most audiences is truly something to rejoice in. And true, though sold-out screenings are being reported across the country with ticket pre-sales (including here at the Pickford), we’ve yet to see how audiences will respond to both films. My dearest hope, however, is that we have an experience this summer of an overwhelming collective love for a movie, maybe for two movies. There are few things better than that kind of enjoyment: people united together in the dark, before the bright light of the screen, transformed and delighted in a collective response. 

Since I couldn’t make it to the industry pre-screening of Barbie, I’ll be joining many of you in seeing it for the first time on July 20 (and yes, I will be wearing my pink “Barbenheimer” t-shirt), so I can only predict what my future self of July 21, as this newsletter drops in your inboxes, thinks of Barbie. But I’ve put my hope in Greta Gerwig, whose track record in writing and directing is practically spotless--and also in some of my favorite film critics, many of whom note the film is much more than just a fizzy pink trifle and more than just a corporate-funded Mattel ad.  Justin Chang, in his piece “With Robbie in Pink and Gosling in Mink, ‘Barbie’ (wink-wink) Will Make You Think” for the LA Times, writes, 

Whatever you think of Barbie, the mere existence of this smart, funny, conceptually playful, sartorially dazzling comic fantasy speaks to the irreverent wit and meta-critical sensibility of its director. (It also owes something, I suppose, to Mattel’s willingness to endure some modestly scathing satire in the pursuit of ever-greater profits.) Working again with her co-writer, Noah Baumbach, Gerwig has conceived Barbie as a bubble-gum emulsion of silliness and sophistication, a picture that both promotes and deconstructs its own brand. It doesn’t just mean to renew the endless “Barbie: good or bad?” debate. It wants to enact that debate, to vigorously argue both positions for the better part of two fast-moving, furiously multitasking hours.”

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We open 30 minutes before the first showtime of the day.
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Pickford Film Center

1318 Bay St
Bellingham, WA 98225

Office | 360.647.1300
Movie line | 360.738.0735

Mailing Address
PO Box 2521
Bellingham, WA 98227