You’ll remember Mel Gibson‘s The Passion of the Christ, and you probably know about the recent biblical epics Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings and this year’s Jesus bopics, The Young Messiah, Risen and Last Days in the Desert. There’s a similar trend in Middle Eastern cinema covering the early days of Islam.
“The saga includes an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor and film director, his much-younger, Russian-born Chekhov-loving fiancée, a dying actor’s wish, a friend of Allen Ginsberg, a one-line New York Times review, and the deep, dark closets in New York, Los Angeles and Paris, where the coffee-colored, bruised-looking box holding the film languished for more than 50 years.”
Every big tech company is trying to spread artificial intelligence throughout every step of its business, but it’s hard to find people who can work well with AI: “Everyday coders won’t do. Deep neural networking is a very different way of building computer services.”
France really, really does not like Netflix. But Netflix is like a particularly persistent puppy, and it keeps going back and back to France with new and different ideas (and big eyes and a wagging tail). Did it get things right this year?
Disney’s animators – who took a lot of care to consult Hawaiians, Samoans and other Polynesians while developing the film – explain how the character got to look the way he did over a five-year process.
“They are dark and bleak and often end in death. Some double as articulations of the political exceptionalism of ordinariness itself. Most, though, do something more basic, and more pessimistic: They assume the fundamental dirtiness of politics, and the related idea that any hope we’ll have of purifying the system must come from outside of it. They leave very little room for optimism about the hulking beast that is “the establishment,” very little room for hope that the system in place—one populated by career politicians—can take compassion and make it scale.”
“L.A. has seen a staggering 95% drop in on-location porn permit requests in the last four years, following the passage of a separate 2012 county measure requiring condoms, according to county permit data. But porn industry leaders say they are now bullish that the defeat of Prop. 60 as well as other recent condom-related victories will reverse the exodus.”
“It may be hard to believe at the moment, but there was a time in the US when spouting racist and misogynistic hate speech would damage your career, rather than propelling you to its highest office. Just ask Mel Gibson.”
Well, besides the 200+ movies over 56 years and the countless broken bones. “For anyone who has doubts about Mr. Chan’s skill onscreen, here are five clips that, together, illustrate some of his most impressive work.”
“Currently, about 46 percent of China’s 710 million internet users watch young people, mostly girls, sing, dance, and eat bananas erotically (OK, that has been banned) live on the internet.” The demographic that performs for the webcams, and that watches it, calls itself diaosi – losers.
Between 1910 and 1929, the height of the silent film era, numerous women had developed enough skill and clout to helm their own movies. But most of their work had been set aside and forgotten, and one distributor has launched a project to put it back together.
“The service has 47 million subscribers in the United States, and its movie library is affected not only by the limitations of particular licensing deals, which means that the number of titles is constantly contracting and expanding, but also by what subscribers actually watch. To use the contemporary buzzword “curated,” Netflix would argue that it does indeed take a curatorial approach to movies, but one that’s appropriate to a consumer product rather than a museum. It does not see its mission as a conservational one. And the hard truth about the future of streaming services is that even those with the loftiest stated ambitions will be obliged to balance those ambitions against market demand.”
The director of such classic films as “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” can’t quite seem to stop working. “Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki commented that Miyazaki will draw storyboards until he dies.”
Christina Laughlin: “You were given power so that you can use it. You were given people who follow you, and look up to you, so you can point to things in the world that are unjust, and call those people to action. You were given that giant, swelling bank account so you can use that money to ease the suffering of someone, something, somewhere, in the world. You were given the ability to do the right thing, because it needs to be done. Because the world needs real heroes, not the ones you play on the screen.”
“The powerful women in or near the Oval Office on Scandal, Veep, Madam Secretary and House of Cards, who until Nov. 8 seemed to reflect or be just a step ahead of the news, now seem like an increasingly distant dream. And on shows like Designated Survivor and Graves, about a current and former president, respectively, outlandish plots about ethnic bias and immigration pop out and appear more believable.”
Michelle Dockery says she loves playing complex, not always likeable characters – “like with ‘The Sopranos’ or ‘Nurse Jackie’ — or even Lady Mary, particularly in the last [season] — they’re characters that you go through phases with. You’re rooting for them but you don’t always approve of their behavior.”
When movies push the boundaries of the craft – you know, like when color and sound came around – they can fail hard, and then change everything. “But for every Mustang there’s an Edsel, and after two very costly, public humiliations, I think we can safely say that high frame rate is not the future of cinema.”
“We’re starting to get away from the idea of the old-school radio drama with a capital R and a capital D,” said Julie Shapiro, the executive producer of the podcast network Radiotopia. In its place, she said, “a more contemporary sense is developing of what audio fiction can be.”
Delusions have been around since people have been around, “but that delusions often bear a complicated relationship to the cultural context in which they occur. During the Cold War, for instance, there was an uptick in people believing they were under surveillance by the C.I.A. or F.B.I.” The rise of the “Truman Show” delusion has coincided with the advent of reality television and other media in which people actually are recorded and broadcast all the time. “We’re raising our children with the notion that you, too, can be famous tomorrow.”
The suit says: “This law unfairly targets IMDb.com (which appears to be the only public site impacted by the law) and forces IMDb to suppress factual information from public view,” said the 15-page complaint (read it here) filed in U.S. District Court. “Moreover, the factual information being suppressed from IMDb is available from many other sources, not least including Wikipedia, Google, Microsoft (Bing), and Apple (Siri).”
The ‘shock-and-arouse’ approach of Game of Thrones, the ripped-from-the-headlines feel and consciousness-raising of Law & Order: SVU, the superhero wish-fulfillment of Jessica Jones – “real-life survivors might struggle to find their experiences reflected accurately [in those series] … So it’s ironic that perhaps the best drama to explore the trauma of sexual assault is a show that, unlike SVU or Game of Thrones, very few people watch: SundanceTV’s Rectify.”
“If Netflix or Amazon can control how our perception of how popular a TV show is – how many people are watching it – that controls the TV industry. So that controls what kind of shows the viewer ultimately gets to see. Right? And there’s other people, actors and producers, they want to get paid. And they also want people to recognize that they’re creating shows that are popular.”
George Lucas’ much-travelled museum project proposal made a stop in Los Angeles Wednesday, and LA County supervisors embraced the project. The LA proposal would put the museum at Exposition Park next to USC. But wait, you ask, wasn’t the project going to be located in Chicago? Then the Bay Area? Sure – so what is it about the Lucas museum that can’t quite find a landing spot?
Given the ubiquity and popularity of movies, it’s easy to imagine that there’s some sort of central repository for all the movies ever made. But in fact, old movies disappear all the time, and sometimes it’s only because some obsessive collector found and saved a movie that it still exists.
Nicholas Barber: “Yes, it has James Crabe’s superb Steadicam shots of Rocky Balboa mooching around the industrial sites and working-class neighbourhoods of pre-gentrification Philadelphia. And, yes, it has Stallone’s heart-swelling sprint up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the accompaniment of Bill Conti’s irresistible funk-fanfare. But for every terrific moment you remember, there is another terrible one you may have forgotten.”
“‘In a weird way, the strategy seems to write itself: Like, huh, we have all this stuff, we already own, it, people seem to want it,’ [MTV exec Erik] Flannigan says of MTV Classic. It helps, of course, that MTV’s vintage programming, for many millennials, coincides with ‘that window of your life that’s so formative and so meaningful.'”
“In today’s fragmented, ever-churning pop culture ecosystem, the long tail of home video that once gave oddball movies a shot at a glorious cult afterlife has shortened to the point of vanishing. With even big-budget commercial films often struggling to break through the endless clutter of content, the challenge for smaller, quirkier fare is that much harder.”
“It forbids content that stirs up opposition to the law or constitution, harms national unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity, exposes national secrets, harms Chinese security, dignity, honour or interests, or spreads terrorism or extremism. Also banned are subjects that ‘defame the people’s excellent cultural traditions’, incite ethnic hatred or discrimination, or destroy ethnic unity.”
“The common knock against rom-coms—besides their being too often glibly hetero-normative and horrendously lacking in diversity and ironically ambivalent about the women who generally watch them—is that they are fantasies, in the worst way as well as the best.”
“His plan would fold Telefilm Canada (which invests in film) and the Canadian Media Fund (which supports TV and some digital) into a single new agency that would rely solely on tax credits to encourage the production of any Canadian content. If a Canadian online service wanted to produce a series, it wouldn’t need a broadcasting partner to trigger funding; if a newspaper wanted tax credits for the Canadian articles it published, it would be eligible.”