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Good news for moviegoers, theaters

Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith, starring once again with his father Will) seeks a lost beacon on Planet Earth of the future in "After Earth." (Courtesy: Columbia Pictures)

Call it the NATO talks.

But not that NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Association.

While these tense negotiations do have something to do with politics, they also may have a direct impact on you and me; i.e. all moviegoers.

According to an article written by Pamela McClintock and posted on the Hollywood Reporter website, the National Association of Theater Owners  (NATO) "is pushing for new marketing rules that include limiting the length of a movie trailer to two minutes -- 30 seconds shorter than is the norm."

It's a controversial move.  Movie studios count on the Friday Night Faithful to see the "Man of Steel" trailer about a dozen times (or more) before the latest "Superman" reboot starring Henry Cavill ("Immortals") as the fellow in the tights and the big red "S," Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Russell Crowe (Jor-El) and Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent) as the big guy's dual dads, biological and step, swoops into theaters on June 14.


Full disclosure:  I've sort of been enjoying the long, long, long string of trailers (up to about 20 minutes total)  that serve as a warm-up to the feature films.  That's something I missed out on while attending critics' screenings for three or four decades.  I'm seeing films with the general public more often these days.

On the other hand, frequent movie fans accustomed to showing up 15 minutes later than the posted start time may have a surprise on their hands if the theater owners get their way.  I see their point, though, the owners are the folks who take the heat from disgruntled moviegoers thinking "Enough, already" when the fifth or sixth trailer lights up the screen.

"Studios currently abide by voluntary marketing guidelines set forth by the MPAA restricting a trailer to 2.5 minutes. Each company is granted one exception a year (as an example, one theatrical trailer for 'Man of Steel' runs three minutes)," the Hollywood Reporter article states.

It's likely to be a while before any decision is made.  That means that for now if you want to change your car's oil out in the theater parking lot while your significant other or date takes in the seemingly never-ending string of coming attractions there will be no need to rush. 


The Greatest Generation preserved our freedom.

Perhaps the Next-To-The-Greatest Generation are those who ensure that we never forget the sacrifices those who came before made for us.  That's many of us and hopefully our children, grandchildren and their children and grandchildren.

I felt a little extra patriotic on Memorial Day this year.  Here's why:

I took my Movie Memories presentation "The Greatest Generation:  A Salute to the Great War Movies" to the Town Village North Dallas senior living community Sunday afternoon before Memorial Day.  There's nothing unusual about that.  I've been invited to speak there many times before.

The audience was small.  Sundays, especially holiday weekend Sundays, are shared family time.  Relatives arrive to whisk Mom or Dad or both off to lunch, or a Sunday outing.

As we began exploring The Greatest Generation at war in film, however, I mentioned that the clip I was about to show from "Saving Private Ryan," the 1998 World War II Oscar winner directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon, was noted for its authenticity.

Near the beginning of the emotional war saga, Hanks and his band of brothers hit the beach as part of the Normandy invasion.  When the movie opened, World War II vets praised Spielberg and his technical crew (cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, the effects team of Gary Rydstrom and Richard Hymns and editor Michael Kahn and the four member sound team -- all of whom took Academy Awards for their work) for recreating the hell-on-Earth that claimed loved ones, body parts and hearts as our soldiers sloshed ashore that fateful day.

As the clip played, I heard one lady in the audience sobbing.  "My husband was in the second wave at Normandy," she told the man sitting next to her.

Everyone in the room was moved.  And, for once, I was speechless.

Letters250I told the group about my father, H.R. Ratliff, who fought in the South Pacific during World War II but would never talk about it.  He verbalized his memories only in nightmare screams, which occurred on a regular basis and have been handed down, through no fault of his, to me.  During plenty of sleepless nights I've tried to make sense of them and of the Japanese sword and flag that my dad brought home, put in our attic and never spoke of either.

After we viewed a clip of "Letters from Iwo Jima," Clint Eastwood's excellent 2007 film about the Battle of Iwo Jima as told from the Japanese perspective, I shared with the group that my late dad probably wouldn't be able to understand -- or even view -- a film that humanized the "enemy" like that.

The woman who wept over her husband's experience at Normandy thanked me for coming to Town Village North Dallas to keep the memories of those who gave so much alive.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon I won't soon forget.  And a restless night last night; those handed-down embedded emotional war wounds, you know.

So if you're feeling a little extra patriotic today, as am I, celebrate it the way we did Sunday with a heart-lifting finish.  Click the link below and know it's quite all right to tap your feet and clap along.


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