Tuesday, May 24, 2016

hyper-reality links

---"At times I feel as though I’m in a bad science fiction movie where everyone takes orders from tiny boxes that link them to alien overlords." --Rebecca Solnit

---"11 Ways to Make a Video Essay" by Conor Bateman

---"Western Culture is built around ideals of individual choice and freedom. Millions of us fiercely defend our right to make 'free' choices, while we ignore how we’re manipulated upstream by limited menus we didn’t choose.

This is exactly what magicians do. They give people the illusion of free choice while architecting the menu so that they win, no matter what you choose." --Tristan Harris


---"as a private company, Facebook has no particular obligation to reveal the inner workings of its products. But Facebook isn’t shy about its ambitions (or successes): It hasn’t just upended journalism and advertising; it plans on upending the retail, telecommunications, and entertainment sectors, too, inserting itself not as a competitor but as an entirely new layer in businesses around the world. It’s building drones that provide internet access through lasers. Its black-box sorting now governs a whole variety of experiences, or even entire industries. 'It just works,' a selling point on your desktop, is less compelling at global scale. How does it work? How does the system serve up information? More important: What are we not seeing?" --Brian Feldman

---"Peekaboo! The Movies of 2016 at Halftime" by Dennis Cozzalio

---“In today’s world we are surrounded by gadgets. Our phones, televisions, fridges, everything around us is sending real-time information about us. Already we have full data on people’s movements, their interests and so on. A person should understand that in the modern world he is under the spotlight of technology. You just have to live with that.”

---"listening machines trigger all three aspects of the surveillance holy trinity:

1) They're pervasive, starting to appear in all aspects of our lives.

2) They're persistent, capable of keeping records of what we've said indefinitely.

3) They process the data they collect, seeking to understand what people are saying and acting on what they're able to understand." --Ethan Zuckerman

---"The Future is Almost Now" by Elizabeth Alsop

---The Art of Film Editing

---"Stillman’s movies are always half-glamour, half-thrift. He speaks on behalf of a lifestyle many will recognize as their own: One of cocktails and suit jackets, but also one of student loans and difficulties paying the bills. Hollywood seems to imagine every person in America as either a multi-millionaire or a beggar on the dole, as though anyone who reads the New Yorker owns a yacht. Stillman understands that many of us are somewhere in between. His heroes are the sort that have college educations but don’t have cab fare. Do they lead a life of luxury? No. But Stillman’s films know what it’s like to live paycheck-to-paycheck but still feel a little debonair." --Calum Marsh

---trailers for Personal Shopper, Our Kind of Traitor, Sausage Party, Ghostbusters, De Palma, Hell or High Water, Zero DaysBilly Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, and Into the Forest 


---“Everything’s designed to be bland, homogenised, user-friendly. As someone says in the book (and I’ve used it before, I know, but it’s a slogan I’m going to keep pushing) the totalitarian regimes of the future will be ingratiating, subservient. No longer will it be Orwell’s vision of a boot stamping on a human face. We’ll have something highly subservient and ingratiating, where the tyranny is imposed for our own good. We see it all the time.” --J.G. Ballard

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"You are about to be killed by a Zamboni": 10 questions about Deadpool

1) Why is it that one of the most successful superhero films insists upon making Ryan Reynolds ugly, demeaning him in multiple ways by calling him "God's perfect idiot," etc., and turning the 39 year old actor into a peculiarly adolescent variation of Donnie Darko (complete with hoodie) who will, as his friend Weasel (T. J. Miller) points out, "die alone . . . for others sake"?

2) What is it about breaking frame that makes Deadpool appealing? Is it because it makes him the viewer's confidante, a partner in speaking the truth of the current state of rotting superhero cliches? Why watch Deadpool at all as it mocks the very form it participates in? Have we reached the point in postmodern culture when the snarky commentary has become superior to the consumer product itself?

3) Why does Deadpool live with an older African American woman named Blind Al (Leslie Uggams)? Is it because she's the living opposite of the standard youthful white male superhero lead? Is Deadpool a hit movie because it calls attention to Captain America's lack of any recognizably human discernible personality, or Superman's for that matter?

4) Why does Deadpool draw crude images on paper on the edge of the spaghetti freeway? Is it because he's the representative portrait of the postmodern artist?

5) What should one make of the scrambled narrative structure of Deadpool with an extended flashback occurring just as our anti-hero skewers a bad guy with his long knives, holding him for a sustained amount of time in the air as he dies?

6) Why does Deadpool insist that his real story is a romance? Is it because that is the one storyline that much of the movie's geek audience may never attain?

7) How much is Deadpool a particularly snarky variation on Spiderman?

8) Why does Wade Wilson have to endure a particularly horrific torture porn sequence to gain his superpowers? Why is so much of Deadpool hellish, with grey spaghetti freeways, crashed SUV's, the burning interiors of warehouses, graffitied bathroom walls, scummy biker bars and strip clubs, mounds of detritus, and garbage piled everywhere? Why are there no images of nature anywhere? Is Deadpool popular because it consists solely of leftover waste of popular culture, because it acknowledges that so many blockbusters just consist of recooked cliches?

9) What does Deadpool affirm? The desire to be an antihero, the love of his prostitute girlfriend (Morena Baccarin), and the need for acceptance once he has become so deformed as to reach Elephant Man-level ugliness?

10) How does Hello Kitty figure in the success of the movie? My Little Pony? Is Deadpool the new hit Marvel franchise because the man wears Crocs, enjoys Wham!, frequents TGI Fridays, and idly looks through Segway tour pamphlets in his free time?

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Film Doctor's Eighth Anniversary

Eight years ago, the Film Doctor started posting reviews, including this one concerning Lost in Space (1998) starring William Hurt, Matt LeBlanc, Heather Graham, and Gary Oldman

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

split diopter links

---Cher on Kitsch

---"What Is a Video Essay?" by Paula Bernstein

---Citizen Kane: A Tribute from the Movies

---Writer's Block: a Supercut

---"18 photos that show how drastically making movies has changed in the last century" by Courtney Verrill

---"What do you prefer about the 18th century?

In terms of almost everything, I think it’s a superior time, for music, architecture, manners, thought. Not the movies. The movies from that time aren’t so good." --Whit Stillman

---Cinephilia and Beyond considers Dressed to Kill and All the President's Men

---11 filmmaking apps for the iPhone

---The 15 Split Diopter Shots in Blow Out

---"Owen Gleiberman’s recent memoir Movie Freak: My Life Watching Movies reminds us that popular criticism—hyphenated adjectives! exclamatory interjections!—has become a spasmodic parody of itself. But my four writers cultivated distinctive styles that still crackle unpredictably. Agee’s roundabout self-interrogations, Ferguson’s wisecracks, Farber’s sardonic hyperbole and understatements, and Tyler’s sidewinding coinages ('Hepburnesque Garbotoon') make their criticism permanently provocative. For me, each man’s sheer verbal panache is central to his appeal." --David Bordwell

---trailers for Microbe and Gasoline, Yoga Hosers, SnowdenAbsolutely Fabulous: The Movie, Tulip Fever, X-Men: Apocalypseand Approaching the Unknown

---Burn the Witch and  Daydreaming by Radiohead

---"The Feed Is Dying" by Casey Johnston

---Man / Woman / Mirror

---"A practical guide for making your first short film"

---"Sex and Sexier: The Hays Code Wasn't All Bad" by David Denby

---Mirrors of Kane by Joel Bocko

---“I think my stories always have to lead to a moment of grace,” Gerwig tells me after the shoot has wrapped for the day. We’d left Williamsburg for the Marlton Hotel in Greenwich Village, walking distance from Gerwig’s home. Margaux, the restaurant on the main floor, was quiet—too late for lunch and too early for dinner, so we ordered coffee (for me), tea (for her), french fries sprinkled with parsley, and crispy brussels sprouts (for both of us). “It’s the most resonant theme for me as a person.”

---To Make a Great Movie, You Need a Great Ending


---"through the Apple Music subscription, which I had, Apple now deletes files from its users’ computers. When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize—which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself—it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted." --James Pinkstone

---The Eyes of Taxi Driver

---"The Teenage Heartbreak of Sofia Coppola's Mary Corleone" by Mayukh Sen

---Hitchcock's staircases

---"[Richard Kelly] focused on Southland, a film he began writing as a response to the 9/11 terror attacks and the Bush administration's reaction. The Virginia native and USC grad had been living in Los Angeles since the mid-'90s and began processing his anxiety and frustration via the ambitious script. Southland started as Kelly's take on the encroaching madness of the war on terror, juxtaposed with the birth of trash culture and a news cycle in which wars in Afghanistan and Iraq competed for airtime with Kim Kardashian's sex tape." --Tatiana Siegel

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New Jack Kitty: 4 notes on the excellence of Key & Peele's Keanu

1) I've been annoyed all week because my regular job has kept me from giving Keanu the attention and the blog post that it merits. Captain America: Civil War will likely take over everyone's consciousness soon enough. Key and Peele deserve better than to have their modest but witty movie suddenly shunted aside, knocked out of the cineplex by the new battling superhero blockbuster.

2) To give a sense of the current comedic context, my wife and I recently attempted to watch Sisters on Blu-ray (and we normally like Tina Fey's and Amy Poehler's work). We could stand it for only 14 minutes and 46 seconds before we turned it off. Tina appeared to choose the more childish and immature of the two roles, but we found its posturing unbearable. When I pause to consider good Hollywood comedies that I've been recently, there's, uh, Tangerine? Bridesmaids (2011)? Welcome to Me was good, but I'm blocking most everything else.

3) By combining a contemporary gangster action movie with a cute kitten, Keanu succeeds. Keanu made me want to watch all of Comedy Central's Key & Peele. There's something fundamentally mysterious about the film. Isn't the repeated use of a kitten dodging gushing blood and gunfire in slow motion too obvious? My 70+ year old mother went to see it with her older cat-loving friends, and they loved it. About twenty minutes into the film, Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) somehow persuades some serious thugs that George Michael was a heavy duty bad motha for dropping Andrew Ridgeley from Wham!, and no one has seen Andrew Ridgeley alive since. Simultaneously, Rell (Jordan Peele) encounters some wild drugged out people who happens to include a deranged-looking Anna Faris in a role that subverts every form of cameo that I've seen in other movies. Did you know that the filmmakers excluded Faris from Scary Movie 4 because she was seen as too old?

4) I'm not sure how. I'm sure why, but Keanu in its slightly wicked yet geeky way proved one of the best R-rated films I've seen this year. Usually, movies set in Los Angeles are an embarrassment to the industry. Critics have proclaimed that Key and Peele shouldn't have tried to extend their sketch comedy skills to a full-length movie. I respectfully disagree. Pro-feline anti-racial stereotype cinema has arrived. Will Forte even appears in Keanu as a charmingly dreadlocked drug dealer, and I was even willing to forgive him for MacGruber. That's saying a lot.