The Grand Prix went to Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” an American racial drama that just about pops with relevance. From the lofty heights at the top of the carpet, Cannes carried on business as usual. Yet that didn’t stop a great many people, throughout the festival, from asking: Has Cannes lost its luster, its excitement, its relevance? Has its status as the world’s most prestigious and sexy and important film festival been dimmed? Has it been undermined by a perfect storm of elements, from the rise of Netflix to the power of awards season? To put it in the most blunt terms possible: Are the great films now playing somewhere else?
Eight months after slashing its price and expanding membership past 2 million users, MoviePass is now at risk of going bust. The parent company, Helios & Matheson Analytics Inc., which now owns 92 percent of MoviePass, said last week that it had just $15.5 million in cash at the end of April and $27.9 million on deposit with merchant processors. MoviePass has been burning through $21.7 million per month.
And it’s not just the rejection of Netflix and streaming that’s the problem, but the truth – in hard numbers – that “non-English-language film culture has experienced a serious slippage in currency. … For half a century or more, starting after World War II, what we referred to in America as ‘foreign films’ (a parochial term, to be sure, since they’re not foreign in other places) found a way to be part of the conversation. They were movies that periodically produced lines around the block. With rare exceptions, that’s no longer the case.”
Negotiations are at a standstill, but that doesn’t mean everything’s bad. “The shift from earlier talks is a double-edged sword for U.S. producers looking at China’s $8.6 billion cinema market. It could be bad news if broader talks go sour, but it could offer a potential path forward if the two countries find common ground.”
The Cashmere Agency’s business has exploded in recent years, just as the U.S. demographics change permanently. “In the past, Hollywood’s marketing efforts were mostly aimed at white audiences. But as the industry shifts to capitalize on an increasingly diverse nation, marketing tactics have also had to change. These efforts require more nuance and cultural sensitivity to successfully engage young people of color, women and LGBTQ communities.”
Tig Notaro got famous partly because of Louis CK, but she’s glad he’s out of her life and her now canceled Amazon show, “One Mississippi.” She says of all the rumors of the return of various men accused of harassment and attacks, “The attention and support for the victims needs to be continued, more than people worried about these abusers and what’s next for them, how are they going to move on — shut up.”
Haroon Ebrat is both the impresario and the star of Afghan Theatre TV, which streams online in Dari (the Afghan variant of Persian) to a million viewers each month. The program mixes music videos with call-in shows and televised sketches, created and performed by Ebrat and his adult children, that have attracted more than a little controversy in the Afghan diaspora – despite the fact that the channel largely stays clear of politics.
Not queer enough, argues E. Alex Jung: “There have been Oscar-validated prestige pictures (Milk, The Kids Are All Right, The Dallas Buyers Club, Call Me by Your Name), and corresponding flops (Stonewall, Freeheld), indie films (Princess Cyd, Tangerine), and commercial middlebrow ones (Love, Simon). While these films vary in intent, provenance, and quality, they encapsulate a similar catholic spirit: rather than assert difference, they point out similarities. They apply salve instead of salt. They’re safe, often boring, and sentimental, following familiar emotional arcs to tell a ‘universal story.’ In short, we’re in a movie moment defined by the political sensibility of the gay-marriage movement.”
“To what moment does the rise of television respond? And what is the significance of this medium? Above all, new television responds to an omnipresent loss of normative authority, of a robust failure of humans to feel at home in their world: to trust their governments, their leaders, their role models, their traditions and, ultimately, even their senses. New television confronts this state of affairs artistically and politically, presenting – like film – some order to such a world, but over weeks and months and years.”
“It’s bubbling up all over the place. New blogs and podcasts and Reddit discussions concerning themselves with various aspects of Lost have started to appear without warning. Gamers, too, seem to have suddenly rediscovered the series. This week alone, for instance, a Fortnite user found a hatch in the woods, prompting speculation of a Lost crossover, and a Far Cry 5 user recreated the Lost island in its entirety using the game’s map editor. Meanwhile, in entertainment, you can feel Lost‘s influence everywhere.”
It might seem counterintuitive to think so, but the popular dissemination of technology is necessary for the electronic image to function as conceptual art. This isn’t necessarily true with any other medium and has much to do with the value that we as postmodern consumers of images and memes place on a removed and ironic perspective. For example, conceptual video art didn’t reach its proper golden age until the 1960s, with the advent of relatively cheap portable recording equipment.
The content partnership highlights two interesting details about Spotify’s plans for future growth. First, it’s an indicator that Spotify’s audiobook content goals are aimed at superfans of the music streaming service: 33 1/3 is a series written by and for music obsessives, offering up installments about obscure classics alongside more well-known names like David Bowie, Nirvana, or Radiohead.
Magna Global, the Interpublic Group media-research unit, believes TV’s power to woo new dollars from Madison Avenue has peaked. Magna believes national TV hit a high in 2016 when it captured $43.3 billion dollars from advertisers; it now expects national TV to lure $41 billion in 2018. Meanwhile, it’s calling for digital media this year to capture half of all ad dollars spent – he equivalent of $97 billion spent across search and display; digital video; and social.
Director Christopher Nolan saw 2001: A Space Odyssey when he was 7 years old – and now he’s worked “to recreate the experience audiences had in 1968, allowing moviegoers today to see the epic exactly as Kubrick intended. His goal meant there would be no digital manipulation in the new version but the occasional visible scratch would be allowed to slip through.”
Uh-oh: “Shares of MoviePass’ parent company Helios & Matheson Analytics Inc. tumbled nearly 70% Monday through Friday to about 65 cents a share, after the company disclosed that it was running low on cash. That represents a stunning decline for a stock that peaked at nearly $33 a share in October.”
Or just download the updated version of scriptwriting software, actually. Highland 2 will tell you how many lines your characters of different gender specifications are speaking. Its creator is a screenwriter himself: “During the writing process, you’re not always aware of how little your female characters are interacting or speaking … because you’re only looking at a scene at a time, a page at a time. It’s not a good overview.” But this is.
“Why do two movies with nearly identical sex scenes get different ratings for sexual content? And why does the same thing happen with violence, drugs, and swearing? Is our ratings system totally arbitrary? Not quite. … In this episode of Watch Smarter, we explore how the subject shown on screen matters to the MPAA less than how that subject is shown – and the impression the MPAA believes a certain depiction leaves on the audience. Our journey begins with the F-word.” (video)
It’s a cliché of aristocratic military lore that Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton—but like many clichés, it contains more than a kernel of truth. In our frenetically digitized mass society, meanwhile, we casually understand that combat presented as harmless fun in the guise of sports, video games, and television probably goes a long way in softening the military’s image.
In May 1932, with vaudeville in a death spiral due to the Great Depression, Benny turned to the growing entertainment medium of broadcast radio. It was Benny’s understanding of radio’s unique challenges—and his ingenious solutions to them—that helped him become the number one comedian in radio history, forging a template that many imitators and competitors would follow.
“With the service’s subscriber base exploding from 20,000 ([last] August) to nearly two million users in under one year, MoviePass faces fresh doubts about its ability to remain in the game. Specifically, the embattled company is facing existential reckoning about its gigantic negative cash flow, financial sustainability, and protection of user data.” Chris Lee explains the situation.
Because there’s just no way that this endlessly jinxed movie should get some uncompromised good news: Amazon Studios, which helped revive the prospects of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote in 2015 when it became a co-producer of the film, quietly decided several weeks ago not to distribute the title, apparently because of a last-hour rights dispute.