Seattle International Film Festival, the largest film festival in the country, has been searching for a new executive director for a year. Thursday morning they announced they’ve found one in Sarah Wilke, who has been the managing director at Seattle’s premier contemporary performing arts haus, On the Boards, for the last 12 years. She’ll take over for interim director Christine Martin in January.
“Pakistan on Wednesday imposed a blanket ban on Indian shows on its television networks and radio stations, a day after one of India’s top film directors vowed not to hire actors from Pakistan in response to a major Indian cinema group’s declaration that it would not screen films with Pakistani casts. The tit-for-tat measures come amid deteriorating relations between the two countries after an attack in September on an Indian Army base by militants who India says were from Pakistan.”
The video game industry is in the midst of a boom, with $23.5 billion in domestic revenue in 2015 — including spending on hardware and accessories — up 5% from the previous year. Popular games often gross more than Hollywood’s biggest movie releases, with “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3” raking in $550 million in three days to become the bestselling game of 2015. But one group feels left out in the cold — actors.
Since acquiring AMC Entertainment, the second-largest cinema chain in the US, for $2.6bn in 2012, Wang Jianlin, who is worth an estimated $32.5bn and has ties to the communist Chinese government, has been aggressively staking his claim on the industry. So far, he’s snapped up Europe’s biggest cinema group, Odeon and UCI, purchased the US production house Legendary Entertainment (the company behind the Dark Knight trilogy and Jurassic World), and boasted that he intends to soon buy one of the six major US studios.
As you probably noticed for the first time while watching TV late at night, actors in the Hollywood films of the ’30s and ’40s did not speak the way actors do now. That wasn’t because you were stoned; the elocution style really was different – for public figures in real life as well as in fiction films. (Think of FDR’s speeches.) Linguist John McWhorter explains why. (podcast)
“Netflix is promising two big highlights for 2016 [sic]. For viewers, there’ll be 1,000 hours of original new shows, part of a planned $6 billion in spending on content. And for investors there’ll be serious profits for the first time in the company’s history.”
“Biopics! Coming-of-age tales! Socially conscious historical dramas! You might even call them ‘Oscar bait’ – but should you? Below, Vulture editors Mark Harris and Kyle Buchanan debate the utility of the term.”
“The trend is evident in such acclaimed serials as Girls, Unreal, and Transparent in the U.S. Meanwhile in the U.K., period pieces Call the Midwife and Victoria, Blighty’s biggest new drama this fall, have put women to the fore in two different centuries. The fashion for female leads is just as clear in comedy.”
“One thing is for sure: looking back, the 90s was a golden age. The amount of black cinema breaking through at that time is astonishing. … A new generation of black film-makers is starting to respond to this reality, down the road those 90s pioneers paved.”
“The union said that it has tried for more than 19 months to negotiate a new deal with prominent employers in the video game industry and that performers have been governed by a two-decade old contract still in place.”
“RT’s editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, … said she had received a letter out of the blue from NatWest saying that it was pulling the plug on the broadcaster’s accounts from mid-December. ‘We have recently undertaken a review of your banking arrangements with us and reached the conclusion that we will no longer provide these facilities,’ it said.”
“The colossal body counts of action blockbusters are incapable of rousing our concern. The vivisections of the torture porn genre we can endure with nary a wince or grimace. We’re unmoved by bloody fisticuffs, unruffled by cities levelled en masse, forever unperturbed by peeled-eyeball gorings. Violence, in the movies at least, has a tough go of actually bothering us. So what about it does?”
“Bollywood is known for its sumptuous costumes, elaborate dances, and catchy songs. Mark Bennington was interested in something else: What did the Indian acting community look like off the screen?”
“Mr. Goldsman, who won an Oscar for ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ has persuaded other top writers to join him in adapting seemingly cheesy Hasbro brands like M.A.S.K., a short-lived ’80s toy line and TV series about secret agents whose cars and trucks turn into weapons. Among those he attracted to this year’s Hasbro room are Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ screenwriter Nicole Perlman.”
“‘Desus & Mero’ is loose, cheerful and profane. ‘Late night as a structure of programming does not matter,’ Mero said. ‘It shouldn’t feel like ‘Yo, here’s the news.’ It should feel like you’re looking on the internet with your friends. ‘Yo, you saw this video? That’s wild!’'”
“It felt different than a movie. … It felt like a kind of virtual reality.”
“Critics are now grappling with the particular ‘hyper real’ look of [Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk], a visual experience that apparently gives both clarity and immediacy to the film’s battlefield scenes, and an odd stiltedness to the everyday life. (And that’s not even getting into their thoughts about poor Steve Martin’s face.)”
“We estimate that in the U.S. 90% of movies made before 1914 have disappeared,” Nicolas Seydoux cautioned. “In France we don’t know the amount we’ve lost, but I think the fact we can reproduce them [digitally] gives us new hope,” he added. French film journalist Fabrice Leclerc in a presentation noted that, by his count, “one fourth of America’s cinematic heritage is now preserved outside the U.S.”
“The past few years have been dominated by headlines about criminal justice and sexual assault – the latter has lately consumed even the coverage of the 2016 campaign. The cultural appetite for grim true crime storytelling, meanwhile, has never been so keen. We are seemingly more susceptible than ever to both Grace’s material and her method, to narratives about sexual violence and to blunt outrage. What happened to Nancy Grace?” Laura Bennett figures it all out.
“Ernest Hemingway having a drink, astronaut John Glenn in his Mercury spacesuit, even the US Constitution are among the GIF glimpses of American history released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on GIPHY. The collection launched last month as a shareable portal into the National Archives Catalog.”
“Researchers at the Czech national film archives said Tuesday they had found a film by early cinema pioneer Georges Méliès that was thought to have been lost forever. The silent two-minute Match de prestidigitation (‘Conjuring contest’), dating from 1904, was found on a reel given to the archives by an anonymous donor, labelled as another film.”
This new Rocky Horror, airing Oct. 20 on Fox, “is its own strange experiment. It will test whether a decades-old musical about science-fiction B-movies and all kinds of sexual awakenings is still relevant or has grown quaint, and whether a Rocky Horror movie made with some polish and preparation is still Rocky Horror at all.”
“Because neither indie distributors nor streaming services release audience numbers for VOD movies, our hands are tied: We have no idea what constitutes a hit or a flop on VOD — how many thousands, or maybe it’s tens of thousands, or maybe it’s hundreds of thousands — of people will watch a movie during its VOD run.”
Chinese money has been buying up Hollywood movie companies with the intent of pursuing global business. So is this a problem? “When you control the movie experience, you can subtly influence public opinion. And the Chinese government has been transparent about that goal.”
“It’s taking a genre that’s long been pitched at one small sector of the viewing audience, and drawing the circle a little wider.”
“Under the terms of this 10-picture deal [with iPic Entertainment], the luxury theater chain will screen original Netflix films in its 15 upscale theaters in cities including Los Angeles and New York.”
“If you’ve gone through great effort to be closer to someone, and you have plenty of space for other solitary pursuits, sometimes the most valuable things are the ones that anchor you to reality.”
“We live in an epoch in which the battle for the complex and the resistant seems (“seems” is the operative word, as it often is) to have been lost. One of its early casualties was prose style. Style is not just a writer’s personal signature; and yet “classic style” is an oxymoron, because style is essentially idiosyncratic.”
“Come December – once the likes of Moonlight, La La Land, Arrival,Manchester by the Sea, Elle, Loving and a dozen more all-time classics hit theatres – it will be impossible to argue that film is dead, and everyone who advanced such a click-friendly theory will feel pretty foolish. But it would surely help if studios decided that audiences didn’t have to wait until the end of the calendar to realize that the medium would live to see another year.”
“At most studios and networks, [Joe] Lewis would be thought of as the head of comedy. At Amazon, he’s in charge of what the streamer more vaguely characterizes as half-hour programs – perhaps a more accurate descriptor, given how blurred the lines are between comedy and dramas these days. … Vulture recently spoke with Lewis for nearly an hour about how he approaches series development … and why the definition of an Amazon half-hour is likely to evolve over the next year.”