Posts tagged Cinema
Posts tagged Cinema
Drop everything, Akira Kurosawa’s Criterion films are free on Hulu for the weekend
To celebrate what would have been Akira Kurosawa’s 103rd birthday if he hadn’t died in 1998, Hulu is streaming 24 of his films from the Criterion collection, plus various supplementary featurettes and interviews, for free this weekend. They’re available now through Sunday at the site’s Happy Birthday, Akira Kurosawa page, and they amount to more than 44 hours of viewing, so you’ve got just about enough time to make some lame excuse to your boss, professor, or the friends you made plans with this weekend, then head straight home, grab some popcorn, and move in for the duration. Need help prioritizing? Our Kurosawa Primer from 2010 covers the director’s career, which films are essentials, and why he’s a crucial part of the cinematic landscape. It does not cover the essentials of peeing into a cup and going without sleep for three days so you don’t miss anything, but we figure you’ll work that out for yourself.
I have never been nostalgic for Hollywood or the products (including celebrities) they manufacture. They are old. They are entrenched. They are increasingly self-referencing and scared. I see a different path forward, one outlined recently on Y Combinator:
Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.
That’s one reason we want to fund startups that will compete with movies and TV, but not the main reason. The main reason we want to fund such startups is not to protect the world from more SOPAs, but because SOPA brought it to our attention that Hollywood is dying. They must be dying if they’re resorting to such tactics. If movies and TV were growing rapidly, that growth would take up all their attention. When a striker is fouled in the penalty area, he doesn’t stop as long as he still has control of the ball; it’s only when he’s beaten that he turns to appeal to the ref. SOPA shows Hollywood is beaten. And yet the audiences to be captured from movies and TV are still huge. There is a lot of potential energy to be liberated there.
How do you kill the movie and TV industries? Or more precisely (since at this level, technological progress is probably predetermined) what is going to kill them? Mostly not what they like to believe is killing them, filesharing. What’s going to kill movies and TV is what’s already killing them: better ways to entertain people. So the best way to approach this problem is to ask yourself: what are people going to do for fun in 20 years instead of what they do now?
A question was posed to me today:
Sometimes the fault of the Manic Pixie lies not with the girl, but with how the guy perceives her, right?
I agree it’s about the male perception because, as far as I can tell — the history of these characters stems from male writers whose sole goal is sanctifying male wish-fulfillment. The manic pixie is to men of any age in throes of a mid-life crisis, as the prince charming is to women of any age in the throes of their romantic reality.
These gender tropes have been compounded, if not created, by many decades of Hollywood films. I say Hollywood because their aim in filmmaking has always been singular; to reach the widest audience. A goal achieved by diluting reality and stripping away variety — any deviance from the lowest common denominators — so their films can be enjoyed by everyone.
Speaking of lowest common denominators…
You can see the same in the history of political candidates. The push to become as central as possible, to widen the acceptance of the candidate, happens right before an election. Especially in presidential elections. The idea is self-projection.
Our spiteful selves do not want to believe in good things happening to other people that couldn’t happen to ourselves. That’s why America, which offered the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness to all, has been the greatest country in history. The distinction being to all.
But behind all of this is advertising.
Until recently, when the internet transitioned from a left-brained tool to a hyper-personalized interactive community, access to specific targets and markets was, metaphorically speaking, analog. Now, as we interact online, behind the scenes is the largest collection, processing, archiving, and charting of information that has ever existed.
This information can now be used to target specific communities, genders, age groups, sexual preferences, religions, etc. This means advertising, which is what creates revenue for films, can reach the intended markets the film was created for.
This is why spec sales have gone up and why there are more successful films being created outside of the Hollywood system — films are finding their audiences. On the flip side, it’s also why Hollywood is making films with a focus on global appeal, using its access to this vast system of information to attempt to widen their audience, instead of targeting it. This reach for the world market has actually lead them into massive failures such as Battleship. While there are fiscal successes like Avatar, Iron Man, and Avengers, to reach the widest market in history the stories in these films are increasingly being diluted again — this time to a global lowest common denominator.
The additional thinning of narratives has especially targeted pillars of American culture.
The limits of your physical location, and the culture that effects it, no longer exist. So anyone is free to pursue, for better or worse, their inward leanings. Lynn Truss in her book Talk To The Hand expressed her concern for the ability to tailor ones life experience with such severe precision, believing it has lead to individuals who have no coping skills for living in a society they can’t control with the click of a mouse or the flick of a power button.
The same concept of tailoring your existence to be just as you wish it to be, was addressed in an article lamenting the loss of the VHS tape and video rental stores. There were many brilliant points in the article but to paraphrase a few them — going to your local video store and perusing the stacks of tangible videos, with cover art and cases, was an investment. And it was a community because people worked there and you could talk about film with them. Your favorite employee could say, ‘Have you heard of this?’ and point you to a film that was outside of what you knew you already wanted to see. That experience would push you outside your self-imposed parameters and widen the scope of your world.
It is an uncommon ability to be able to think outside the scope of your own experience, for most people your world is what you have seen and know. But that ability is what is required for interesting stories to be told. Stories that don’t draw from the same well over and over. Stories that don’t dilute characters into gender tropes because they’re not offering you personal-projection*.
There is some truth in the manic pixie. People come into your life and change who you are. Be it positive, negative, large or small — they do.
The classification of the manic pixie, however, doesn’t really apply to reality. The reason it’s so irksome is that the trope depends on something which cannot exist. The pixie — a magical person who is singularly there for the transformation of someone else and carries no internal reality of wants or needs.
She is the antithesis of reality because relationships are based on mutual and opposing wants and needs and love is created through the giving and receiving of those same essential properties — of which, by her very definition, she has none.
The manic pixie is in direct opposition to the trope of the free spirit whose actions are a direct result of wants and needs.
Are we all clear? Good.
*All of this is why I love foreign film.
As a postscript: This post from GingerHaze yesterday about Manic Pixies is interesting.
International Movie Poster: Strictly Ballroom - Spain
International Movie Poster: Bella Martha - Japan
by Simon Brew
When a film or TV show comes up with a big central concept, the temptation is then to explain it all. Simon argues that Groundhog Day may have got it right…
Groundhog Day isn’t just a grand comedy, it’s also a terrific piece of light science-fiction. The concept is simple: a man lives the same day over and over again, until he gets it right.
The reason offered by the film for why this phenomenon comes about? Absolutely none. There’s no big space alien. No experiment. No nothing.
At no stage do the characters stop and ponder what’s causing what Phil Connors is experiencing in the film. Even Connors makes no attempt to investigate it.
The film is all the better for it, too. Because Groundhog Day’s big lesson is that sometimes, it’s okay not to give an answer. That the audience can appreciate you’ve elected not to do that, in favour of telling the more interesting story…
Over two years later and I still reference this article constantly. Happy Groundhog Day.
by Alex Lowe
…Nolan has found his next film in the form of Interstellar, written by none other than his brother, Jonathan Nolan.
Very little is known about the script at this point, but THR did have some plot details, which we’ve included below.
“The project involves time travel and alternate dimensions in a story that sees a group of explorers travel through a wormhole. The script is based on scientific theories developed by a Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist, a gravitational physicist and astrophysicist at Caltech.”