August 15 is the effective date for the troubled company’s revised subscription plan, which limits customers to seeing three movies per month and excludes certain hit films. “Some fed-up users who decided to cancel their MoviePass subscriptions are receiving confusing emails that suggest the company has enrolled them in its new, modified plan without their consent.”
It’s here: The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time. Stuart Heritage offers a valedictory, if that’s the word: “[The first Sharknado] had an irresistibly silly premise (a tornado made of sharks threatens America), a knowing line of stunt-casting (Ian Ziering and Tara Reid) and a big fat wink instead of any emotional stakes … As tends to be the case with successes like these, sequels were greenlit that only helped to diminish the punchdrunk silliness of the first film. Slowly, the films began to eat themselves.”
“While the majority of Bergman’s movies are available for streaming (largely thanks to Criterion) and cinephiles will always be viewing and discussing them, most audiences today know about his work only through parodies of The Seventh Seal” — the one about the medieval knight who plays chess with Death.
The cartoon character, aimed squarely at young children in Britain, somehow got a “gangsta” vibe in China, thanks to meme-minded internet users with Photoshop. The Chinese Communist Party, disapproving of gangstas, blocked the unfortunate ungulate on several large websites this year. Now the film unit of Alibaba (China’s Amazon) is reclaiming Peppa Pig for wholesomeness with a New Year-themed movie for kids.
The aggressive move toward original programming is having a palpable effect on content available to subscribers and reflects Netflix’s ambition to dominate Hollywood. The Los Gatos, Calif., company has already upended traditional distribution models and is now lessening its reliance on content from competing studios to fill its direct-to-consumer pipeline. But this change could also pose challenges for Netflix as it licenses fewer of the popular titles that have played a crucial role in retaining subscribers.
Jeff Jarvis: The banning of Infowars from most major platforms is a sign of that process beginning to work. Civilization is winning, at last. Alex Jones went too far and the public, empowered by the same tools of social media he exploited, told the platforms that his behavior is unacceptable in a civilized society. The platforms—like media and like regulators—might prefer to start with a set of rules that can be enforced by government, by social-media managers, or by algorithms. But that’s not how we negotiate our standards.
Yes, it seems cute and sweet – but don’t let that fool you. “Wrapping it in this cute little bubble allows you to be a bit darker with your stories. … It’s already in this blanket, so you can dive in a little bit more.”
And then there’s the experience of being nominated for an Emmy for that role, on Killing Eve, as well: “It felt like this place where my community is really waiting to see themselves. And I can just see that in people’s faces. There’s joy and grief in there.”
And the changes in ‘streamlining’ the awards ceremony by cutting the designers out of the telecast? Whew. “The folks below-the-line are the artisans and craftspeople that make a movie speak and sparkle. … You’d think one night a year, Hollywood could find the time to acclaim them for the magic that would be impossible without them.”
The Australian director Matthew Newton, who has convictions for domestic abuse and who also has a history of punching men (a taxi driver and a hotel clerk), wrote the action movie Eve. Chastain’s production company is one of the producers of the movie, and she was set to star in it. “Ms. Chastain’s involvement with Mr. Newton’s movie was particularly jarring to many of the critics. The actress has spoken out in the past about increasing gender diversity in Hollywood, and has said she refused to work with Harvey Weinstein because of his reputation.”
“The aggressive move toward original programming is having a palpable effect on content available to subscribers and reflects Netflix’s ambition to dominate Hollywood. The Los Gatos, Calif., company has already upended traditional distribution models and is now lessening its reliance on content from competing studios to fill its direct-to-consumer pipeline.” But without Disney and other licensed content, can Netflix compete in the streaming market for long?
It’s a movie about eighth grade (roughly, being 13 or 14 years old, for non-American audiences) that eighth graders can’t see on their own because it’s rated R “because of a few choice four-letter words and some squirm-inducing sex talk. On Wednesday, A24, the company behind the film, rebelled against the rating for one night, holding free all-ages screenings in every state. And teenagers came out in droves.”
Some new movies really get it, at last: “Eighth Grade acknowledges the extent to which our emotions and relationships are now mediated through digital channels without coming across as alarmist. That doesn’t seem like it should be rare, but it is. It’s not that we don’t see people use computers and phones on film and TV. But characters don’t spend nearly as much time on them as we do in real life — unless they’re part of a cautionary tale.”
“Pandora’s box is now open — and what’s inside is a lot more than fake sex tapes. New technology is often adopted for prurient purposes, but the prospect of fake war crimes, fake political scandals, and maybe even a fake apocalypse now feels like an inevitability. Let’s take a deep, terrifying dive.”
The decision to announce the new category without a name or a list of qualifying characteristics made a bad decision seem even worse, almost to the point of deliberate self-sabotage. Will candidates for Best Popular Picture be determined by budget? By box-office returns? If the latter, is it possible for a movie like Get Out or A Quiet Place to cross over from one to the other? And if not, will it be analogous to the split between lead and supporting performances, where the line is subject to campaigning and manipulation that sometimes verges on outright fraud?
“As it happens, before the Oscars were even the Oscars (the name was officially Academy-approved in 1939), the awards show actually played this card in its [very] first iteration, but arguably with very different motives in mind.”
It’s estimated that all copies of about 75 percent of silent films have perished, taking with them heaven knows how much memory of an era. In 1978 a significant portion of that memory was recovered by chance when a Pentecostal minister with a backhoe unearthed the last known remnants of 372 silent films from the 1910s and 1920s, as he was excavating a lot behind Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, a gambling hall in the Yukon’s Dawson City.
“But while it takes place in a medieval realm of wizards and dragons, [the new series] is not exactly Mr. Groening’s answer to Game of Thrones. Disenchantment is more like [his] comic amalgam of fantasy franchises like Lord of the Rings and the animated epics of Hayao Miyazaki, to name just two of its dozens of influences. It is also Mr. Groening’s first show created for a streaming service … as well as, consequently, his first to have a serialized narrative.”
NewTV, founded and led by former Disney exec Jeffrey Katzenberg and with former eBay and HP chief Meg Whitman as CEO, “is aiming to launch by the end of 2019, with a premium lineup of original, short-form series comprising episodes of 10 minutes each. The service will have two subscription tiers,” with and without advertising. Just about every major Hollywood studio has bought in.
At one point in its history, Oscar voters routinely named blockbusters such as “Titanic” or “Gladiator” as the year’s best. That’s changed. Recent best picture victors such as “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” and the 2018 winner “The Shape of Water” have been firmly ensconced in the arthouse world, whereas well-reviewed hit films such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” have only been recognized for their technical achievements.
Creating a category that segregates popular films from more elevated fare hardly seems like an improvement or likely to keep the academy relevant, since it calls attention to the awards’ elitism rather than actually broadening their appeal. If the academy really wants to make the Oscars more appealing to a wider audience, it should consider just recognizing the artistic merit of deserving popular films instead of cordoning them off in their own category. After all, wasn’t that part of the justification for expanding the Best Picture category in 2009, that having more than five nominees would allow room for both obscure indies and more popular fare that might otherwise be squeezed out of the race?
“Sorkin’s critiques of digital life looked especially off base in the 2000s and early 2010s, when the internet was a less broken place than it now is. The platforms looked like tools instead of weapons, and Sorkin looked like a boring crank. Now, though, instead of an old man yelling at the sky, Sorkin looks more like a middle-aged man yelling at a mountain of trash emitting toxic fumes. He’s still not offering any productive solutions, but he’s not incorrect.”
For all of MoviePass’s ludicrousness, it has demonstrated that audiences have a real appetite for a subscription-based approach to filmgoing, and larger theater chains are catching on.
“Bad TV,” in this case, doesn’t mean reality television, which has a kind of integrity in its shamelessness, but old-style idiot-box TV like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Gilligan’s Island, and Dynasty. And as the much-ballyhooed age of Peak TV runs on, argues Paula Marantz Cohen, some of the most insidious traits of Bad TV are creeping into what ought to be high-quality material.
“In the aftermath of its July 27 sale to Disney, film historian and author Leonard Maltin recalls Fox’s wild early days, a predator mogul, firings and backstabbings, and along the way, movies from Cleopatra to Titanic (and movie stars like Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Temple) that impacted the world.”
“The Fox film studio essentially died July 27 when shareholders voted to merge with Disney. As the House of Zanuck and Murdoch faces a fraught future, The Hollywood Reporter looks back at the hits (The Sound of Music, Star Wars), the flops (Cleopatra), the stars (Marilyn Monroe) and the legacy of a Hollywood institution.”
The company announced a plan. Gone is the previously planned price hike to $15 a month from $10. Instead, the company is targeting the 15% of users a month who are “stressing the system,” in the words of chairman and CEO Ted Farnsworth. They will do so by limiting the use of the subscription service to three movies a month. The new plan will take effect August 15. Shares immediately jumped 80% on the news.
Women are still massively underrepresented in movies, and no, that hasn’t statistically changed at all, sadly.”What is harder to define, but does seem like a genuinely positive trend, is a shift in the narratives of female-led biopics, a change in the kind of stories that get told. Previously, the main criterion for biopic treatment seemed to be a set of male genitalia, and failing that, royal blood or a singing career. The Hollywood approach suggested that women’s stories were more valuable if youth and beauty were key plot points. And for some reason, doomed and tragic tended to be an easier sell to financiers than difficult and complex. Now, bad behaviour is not just permitted, it’s positively encouraged.”
Scripted series are still on the rise, up five percent over the same time period last year – and that’s because of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and other streaming services. And that trend isn’t about to stop.
James Mathis III plays T’Challa, the Black Panther, in Marvel cartoons and video games. What’s the difference between him and Black Panther (the 2017 movie) star Chadwick Boseman – and did the wild success of the movie change his ways of approaching the character? “It’s still acting, and it’s still creating character,” he says. “You are limited in voiceover though … you have to figure out how to convey emotion using just your voice.”