Well, there’s the everyone wearing black to protest sexual assault in Hollywood part; there’s the no-Trump-jokes from host Seth Myers part; and then there are the awards themselves. “The annual Oscar race, which starts with festival screenings in late summer, has been unusually chaotic this time around. For various reasons — Hollywood’s attention has been elsewhere, the plethora of strong choices in some categories and few in others — consensus has yet to form. So the Globes could bring some clarity.”
Interesting, in the year of the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement. “You could argue that in a year when powerful men were named and shamed, it is fitting that powerful women are to the fore. Maybe it is a coincidence, not least when you consider how long it takes for a film to be made. But bear in mind, the last time the top three films were fronted by women was back in 1958.”
Well, this is fun to know: “Traffic to the queen’s Wikipedia page peaked on Dec. 10, when the second season of ‘The Crown’ started streaming. The entry about Princess Margaret (played by Vanessa Kirby) spiked on the same day, and hit No. 37 on the list, just behind Melania Trump. (“I haven’t watched ‘The Crown,’ so I can’t really comment on the version of Princess Margaret that is drawing viewers to this site,” one Wiki editor wrote.) Prince Philip‘s page hits its peak in May when Buckingham Palace announced his retirement in real life, though he’s also played by Matt Smith in ‘The Crown’; he’s No. 44, between ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and ‘Star Wars.'”
“I still don’t have a programmatic answer about that. I feel like everybody, critics or fans or whatever, figures out where to draw their own lines and how to deal with every case. … I think there is a rush to disown a lot these guys, to make them disappear, and I think that that is certainly warranted morally in a lot of ways, but I think it lets other people off the hook.” (podcast with transcript)
“The report, commissioned by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, surveyed 1,100 films made in the last 11 years, and found that just 4% were directed by women – which equates to 22 male directors hired for every woman. … Furthermore, just 5.2% of all directors – male and female – were black or African American, and 3.2% were Asian.”
“This year’s anguished discourse about art and artists underscores that criticism is rooted in lived experience. There’s no right or wrong way to review (well, there is, but that’s a discussion for another time). But I’m as impatient with critics who embrace self-serving auteurist fundamentalism or aesthetic formalism as I am with those belligerent fan boys who insist that only a comic-book obsessive can review a superhero movie. None of these camps want their pleasures challenged or their bubble worlds burst by reminders that a cherished director, say, denigrates women. I mean, by all means enjoy! But don’t expect me to shut up about it.”
“In response to the proliferating accusations in Hollywood, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has established a sex-crimes task force, and the police department has assigned five pairs of detectives, including experts in reviving cold cases. So far, twenty-seven investigations have been opened, including at least one involving minors.”
“Along with pursuing lawsuits over irregularities in the FCC process (like millions of fake citizen comments being submitted), several states are crafting their own net neutrality laws, which they will start debating as new legislative sessions commence this month. They would prohibit internet service providers from blocking or hindering access to legal online content sources, or from offering premium-bandwidth ‘fast lane’ deals to others.”
Facebook VP of product Fidji Simo: “When we look at the content that’s really building these engaged communities, it’s content from creators that are vlogging for 15 minutes. … We see incredibly engaged communities around knitting. That’s something that won’t build a massive community like a big TV show, but if you do that for everyone’s passion projects and you can connect everyone to the creator, it can be extremely powerful.”
“The very nature of Bollywood films is changing. Though big-budget films are by no means extinct, such productions are increasingly viewed as financial gambles that must compete with the wider range of high-quality options available to viewers. Even if quite a few Bollywood releases have sold more tickets by virtue of their wider releases, it’s the smaller, more critically acclaimed releases like Newton and Hindi Medium that were among 2017’s most profitable films. This apparent shift has been underway for the past decade—it’s the sense of panic gripping the industry that is new.”
Kenneth Turan on watching The Post and All The President’s Men: “Experiencing that as an adult, and as a critic, has been more complex, even unnerving, and different every time. My range of reactions have also given me insights into what films do and how they do it that I may not have gotten absent that personal connection.”
“Formally called in-flight entertainment, the screens, and the preselected media on them, go a long way toward keeping passengers happy and distracted. The longer the flight, the more useful the seatback entertainment becomes. But those entertainment systems are expensive to install. They can cost $10,000 per seat … They also add bulk and weight to seats and quickly become technologically obsolete.” (Other airlines, however, are doubling down on them.)
This is a great description of where we are … and an idea for how to look for fresh ways to deal with it: “To loudly insist that Hollywood cut it out with the reboots is, unfortunately, to waste your breath. It is, however, at least worth asking the question: If this is the world we’re stuck with, how should a reboot be? Some have begun to resemble something like the filmed equivalent of an oral tradition, passing down different versions of the same story over and over—at least while the story remains immediate. … Our current options for ‘best’ Hollywood reboot are, at best, pretty good. (Batman Begins.) But a better North Star for reboots is out there, and its name is Blazing Transfer Students.”
It all started with Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic (“make flying fun again”), which used hand-drawn cartoons. “In the ensuing years, airlines have pulled out nearly every gimmick imaginable to make their safety video a YouTube sensation. A Qatar Airlines video takes place at an FC Barcelona match, an El Al video takes the form of a cringeworthy Devo tribute, and … even sedate, legacy brands like British Airways, Singapore Airlines, United, and Air France have succumbed to the trend in recent years, with tasteful videos that offer their own unique spin on the genre.” Then there’s the undisputed champion, Air New Zealand …
The blistering growth has prompted new criticism from theaters and studio owners — namely that MoviePass will never be able to make money by charging $9.95 a month when a single ticket can cost almost twice that amount. They say that will cause MoviePass to either raise prices or go out of business, disappointing audiences and ultimately hurting the fragile multiplex business.
“As of Christmas Day, the domestic total for the year was $10.68 billion, or 2.7% behind the same time frame a year ago. The final six days of 2017 are likely to generate somewhere between last year’s six-day total of $408 million and 2015’s six-day haul of $431 million, according to box office tracker comScore.”
“In the film, Verna, Pakistan’s most popular and highest-paid actress, Mahira Khan, plays a teacher who is abducted and raped repeatedly by the son of a regional governor. After failing to get justice from the police or the courts, the teacher takes matters into her own hands. Pakistan’s Central Board of Film Censors banned the film for its ‘edgy content,’ which the board said was ‘maligning state institutions.’ But a public outcry, fueled by extensive news coverage and a social media campaign, #UnbanVerna, bore fruit when an appellate board lifted the ban.”
“The image of Denmark that travels around the world is that of a peaceful, progressive, liberal, educated country on the cutting edge of feminism,” writes Danish journalist Anne Mette Lundtofte. And Zentropa, founded by Lars von Trier, is Denmark’s international flagship in the media world. Lyndtofte was initially “captivated” by Zentropa’s “militant transparency” – open plan offices, glass walls, outdoor swimming pool. “But, the more I visited Zentropa, the more I saw behavior that made me feel uncomfortable – both as a woman and as a Dane.”
When the movie was first in previews, audiences wanted Holly Hunter’s newscast-producer character to end up with one of her two guys. So James L. Brooks, against his better judgment, shot a scene to provide that happy-ish ending. As Jane Craig (Hunter) said in another context, “It’s awful.” Jason Bailey explains.
“In Christmas movies, audiences can bank on heartwarming plots where grouches become kind and misers become charitable. But Christmas movies also tend to reinforce the myth of the “good capitalist,” favoring stories about individual virtue over any real social change. The way Christmas movies tell it, the generosity of individuals is sufficient to mitigate the harms of class inequality.”
Over the past two decades, under CEO Laura Walker and deputy Dean Cappello, New York Public Radio has become known (even more than before) as a programming and podcasting powerhouse. How did things get to the point that three of the station’s best-known hosts were fired within four months? And why only now, when management was aware of the relevant problems for years? A reporter looks into how, as Walker puts it, concerns about growth and content crowded out concern with the people producing the content.
The takeaway? Audiences seem to have grown cynical of the whole Marvel-inspired interlocking universe trope. And in an era when summer moviegoing (the studios’ most reliable money-making time frame) hit a 25-year low, with revenues tumbling more than 14 percent and tying with 2014 for the worst year-over-year decline in modern history, that emphasis on spectacle, formulaic filmmaking, and empire-building (at the expense of creating relatable characters or even coherent story lines) proved to be bad for business.
Summer flops are to blame this year – think Alien: Covenant and King Arthur (or rather, don’t think about them; no one else did) – but that’s not the only problem. “The long-term decline in attendance reflects systemic challenges facing the industry. Audiences are spending less time going to the movies and are consuming more entertainment on small screens and through streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon that are spending billions on original video content.”