Genial, William Castle-esque impresario Lawrence Woosley heads to sunny Key West, Florida to launch his latest cinematic creation – a B-movie extravaganza (in Atomo-Vision and Rumble Rama) called Mant! But he finds the thrills of his monster-populated film competing with the chills of the Cuban Missile Crisis taking place just a few miles south. In Dante’s subversive and affectionate portrait of Cold War America, it is hard to say which of the two are scarier, or more real. —MIFF
Joseph Dante Jr. was born on November 28, 1946 in Morristown, New Jersey, and raised in the nearby borough of Parisippany. His parents were professional golf players and his father wrote some books on the instructions of playing golf some of which included Four Magic Moves to Winning Golf, and Stop that Slice. After a bout with polio that nearly crippled him at age 7, he slowly recovered and decided to take up drawing rather than athletics as his parents did.
Dante studied at the Philadelphia College of Art after graduating from high school. As a teenager, he contributed to Castle of Frankenstein and Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines with various drawings, and upon graduation from he College of Art, he became a film critic for the Film Buletin newspaper for which he later became the managing editor. With a friend, named Jon Davidson, Dante cut together a series of movie clips and film trailers and edited them into his first short film which was titled The Movie Orgy (1968… read more
The first time I saw this I was 9 and probably had only seen 50 or so movies, none of which had boobies or anything. This is better as an adult and is nice little movie about communism or some shit. I dunno, I was surprised I didn't know the kid from Hocus Pocus was in this. Wow. I'm fucking old...
By far, my favorite film directed by Joe Dante who, in Matinee, manages to speak about cinema without annoying his audience. Like Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, Matinee reminds me the reason why I love cinema so much: it's an art who can unveil its own mystery and tell us how we are manipulated and nonetheless still provide magic. Masterpiece.
I read a review suggesting that the focus should have been Goodman's character rather than his audience. Presumably this critic didn't engage with the material in the slightest. Though there are a few problematic elements (its politics seem confused, Mant! is overly parodic), Matinee's theme of the joy of cinefear versus the horror of life in an insane world is a strong cohesive for some enjoyable character moments.