This is a serious technology question: “With DVDs steadily joining VHS cassettes as extinct technology, what has become of the fun, insightful mixed bag that movie fans came to know as bonus features — the audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, bloopers, deleted scenes and alternate endings? Some of these extras have shifted to digital stores and streaming platforms. But can cinephiles access them as easily as they could when video rental stores prospered in every neighborhood?”
As agencies try to get into the production business during this time of streaming, not everyone is excited by the multi-tentacled operations. “The Writers Guild of America sounded an alarm in March to thousands of its members nationwide, arguing that agencies face a conflict of interest when they step into the producing arena. The union posed the question: Will an agency’s fiduciary responsibility be to the staff writer it represents, or to the TV series that it owns and on which the writer is employed?”
Constance Zimmer, who just directed an episode of UnReal: “I saw Greta Gerwig [an Oscar nominee for her directorial debut of Lady Bird] on a panel recently and she said, ‘When it’s your first time, that’s when you can fail.’ That was my approach. If you don’t go big, you don’t know if you could have done better.”
The director of (most recently) Isle of Dogs has affected not only other movies but also everything about our visual world, including Instagram and much more: “He has had a boggling influence over the rest of pop culture, too, on fashion, design, pop and social media. It ranges from Gucci’s billion-dollar renaissance, trading on various elements of Tenenbaum-chic, to the recent video for SZA’s Broken Clocks, where the singer and friends cavort in a very Anderson-like US holiday camp. And where there isn’t homage, there is downright parody.”
Are Indiana Jones and Lara Croft really meant to inspire kids to go into archaeology? “Although the character of Indiana Jones arguably raised the profile of archaeology as a whole, and Lara Croft could inspire young women to go into the field, both figures have little regard for the cultures whose histories they collect.”
The lead of this piece sums up the issues, really: “For four years after she left Grey’s Anatomy, Sandra Oh waited. She waited for offers to come in, juicy scripts that could come alive in the hands of her Golden Globe–winning talent. Sure, she did acting work here and there, … but there was nothing on the scale of Cristina Yang, the sarcastic surgeon she played on Grey’s for nearly a decade – a standout performance that turned the Korean-Canadian actress into a household name, and earned her five Emmy nominations in a row.”
“Look at the similarities: the Cold War secrecy between the US and Russia, the boardrooms packed with middle-aged men in suits, the supposedly infallible machine which is intent on slaughtering the people who built it. … And look at the convictions which underpin both works: that humans are intrinsically, self-destructively violent, and that anyone who believes himself to be 100% right is probably a dangerous maniac. It may be going too far to call 2001 a cynical political comedy, but if Kubrick hadn’t wanted us to laugh, … he wouldn’t have had a chapter entitled The Dawn of Man, in which man, having dawned, bashes another man’s brains out with a club.”
The channel — derided by critics for formulaic, low-budget fare with dialogue inspired by Hallmark cards — is carving out a space in this divisive, Trumpian age. The worse things get in the real world the more people run to safe spaces. Hallmark, along with sister channel Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, has been a key beneficiary.
Emblemizing the split are author Roxane Gay (“[the show is] further normalizing Trump and his warped, harmful political ideologies”) and comedian Sarah Silverman (“I like that Trumpers will watch and embrace it because it’s secretly liberal as fuck”). Conor Friedersdorf unpacks the arguments.
“The sons, Roger and Brian, claim that the sale of 270 films under their father’s New Horizons Picture Corp banner – which they refer to as ‘stolen film properties’ – violated an irrevocable trust agreement that would have provided them and their two sisters with $30 million-$40 million each. They are also suing [purchasers] Ace Film and Shout! Factory, claiming they ‘knew or should have known that the purported sale of the New Horizons catalog included film properties owned by the trust.'”
The global box office hit a record $40.6 billion with growth in China off-setting declines in movie-going in the U.S. and Canada. The domestic box office fell 2% to $11.1 billion, down from 2016’s record high of $11.6 billion, according to a new report by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Leawood, Kan.-based AMC and the entertainment subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund have signed a deal to operate cinemas in the kingdom, with up to 40 locations expected to open in 15 cities within five years, the theater company said.
“As Stanley Kubrick’s monolithic movie celebrates its half century, special effects gurus, directors and those who worked on the film consider its legacy.”
“The obvious question to bring up here is: Are we complicit? ‘We’ meaning you and me but also, in that awful think-piecey way, standing in for the culture. Sure. I suppose we are complicit. The attention given to sociopaths, and the public pain that results from the potent mixture of attention and sociopathy, exists only because there are reliable consumers who enjoy the cocktail. And then we wait for more of the same, so more of the same is provided.”
Much of the analysis that followed focused on the show’s politics: Star Roseanne Barr is an eager champion of debunked right-wing conspiracies, and the premiere’s storyline hinged on her character’s support for President Donald Trump. And since the 2016 presidential election, television programmers have been working to find ways to reach working-class whites who voted for Trump. The success of “Roseanne” only reaffirmed those efforts. But looking ahead to 2018-19, “Roseanne” may be a harbinger of a less titillating, more significant programming shift — the revitalization of the broadcast comedy after years of emphasis on drama.
AI researcher Robbie Barrat decided to see what would happen when he fed a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) thousands of nude portraits from a dataset and then trained it to create its own bizarre artworks.
Nina Li Coomes: “In the film, the country is a plot device that creates a vague sense of unfamiliarity to move the story forward and explain away bizarre narrative elements. … [In other words,] using Japan as a way to normalize outlandishness, thus creating the illusion of a cohesive story.”
Emily Yoshida: “I reached out on Twitter to a handful of native and/or fluent speakers of Japanese who saw Isle of Dogs on opening weekend … [and] what I found, even in this small sample size, was a similar dynamic I’ve seen before in debates about Asian culture as reflected by Western culture – perspectives can vary wildly between Asian-Americans and immigrated Asians, and what feels like tribute to some feels like opportunism to others.”
If we’re really serious about changing how social networks operate, far more radical interventions are required. Here are three possible ways to rescue social media from the market-based pressures that got us here.
In its 2018 Annual Plan, the broadcaster has acknowledged that young people aged 16-24 in the UK are spending more time watching Netflix than all of the BBC’s programming combined, including iPlayer.
Charles Rivkin, former Ambassador to France and assistant Secretary of State, is the new chair of the Motion Picture Association of America (and the representative for the six “old-line” studios). He has to deal with being the ratings guru and championing movie theaters in an era where Netflix and other streaming services are stomping the movies. But hey, he’s into it: “Reinvigorated at every level,” he says about his plans for the MPAA. (Um, can he fix the sex bad, violence fine ratings issue too?)
Sure, the First Amendment prohibits the government from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” but current case law on religious freedom is deeply mixed. Why? Well, ask Netflix’s Wild Wild Country, a new documentary about a cult community in Oregon that is “a staggeringly improbable mélange of religion, New Age psychology, land-use and constitutional law, group sex, credit-card scams, xenophobia and immigration terrors, fundamentalism, election fraud, germ warfare, terror bombing, assassination squads, and Putin-style poisoning, all enacted against the haunting background of the Oregon high desert.”
Yes, OK, part of it might be the source material. And yet even objectively terrible adaptations like 2016’s World of Warcraft show that “there’s clearly money to be made here, which explains why studios seem so obsessed with pursuing it despite the critical maulings.” Can this project be saved?
“According to Nielsen Audio Fall 2017 ratings, the total weekly listeners for all programming on NPR stations is 37.7 million people – a record that has been maintained since the Spring of 2017. NPR’s Newscasts, updated live every hour, can now be heard on 947 broadcast stations by nearly 28.7 million listeners.”
In December, PBS suspended Smiley’s nightly talk show in the wake of allegations that he had behaved improperly with female members of his staff; within weeks, Smiley, furiously denying the charges and alleging that PBS was “racially hostile” to him, filed suit against the network. “[Now, a] 32-page answer and countersuit, filed in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, alleges Smiley violated the network’s morals clause and seeks $1.9 million in returned salary plus unspecified damages.”
While nostalgia was expected to bring in eyeballs, no one predicted such a huge turnout on premiere night for the blue-collar family sitcom with a Donald Trump-supporting protagonist, especially among the younger demographic. But then, few predicted that Trump would become the Republican nominee and would win the presidential election when he first announced his candidacy.
“A podcast offers up intellectual property in a particularly appealing format – compared with a book or even a script, it’s a stronger proof of concept of how a show or movie would actually play out. ‘It’s one step closer to seeing it onscreen,’ [Matt] Tarses said. ‘You already know what it sounds like.'” (Tarses is the creator of Alex, Inc., an ABC series about a podcaster, based on Alex Blumberg’s podcast about launching his podcasting company, Gimlet Media. How meta can you get?)
Inxeba (The Wound), about a gay love triangle taking place amidst Xhosa male coming-of-age rites, took directing, acting, writing, and editing honors as well as Best Film at the South African Film and Television Awards this week. Yet traditional leaders have furiously opposed the movie, arguing that it is hard-core pornography that profanes a sacred part of their culture. (No genitalia are shown on screen.)
“The culture wars never really went away, but … now feels like a great time to discuss one of the greatest sources of controversy of the past 30 years – Married … With Children, an edge-busting TV sitcom that predated the Streisand Effect but may have been one of its earliest examples.”