Category Archives: In the News

Rejoice, Rejoice

There is hope for us all. And by hope I mean a modicum of opportunity that still leaves out pretty much ever other minority at this point. We’ll get there though, team!

Heather Struck

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People sit rapt on futons and respond to last night’s Gilligan’s Island Premiere

12 million people watched this last night. And it makes…no…sense. It’s really hard to understand Lost‘s popularity now, because that show is really hard to understand.

A selection of live blog comments from last night’s premiere reveal an almost substance-like abuse problem that its self-loathing viewers exhibit. Here are some from Twitter and from a live blog at The Awl:

Maevemealone [#968]

I don’t understand anything at all anymore! I hate Lost! I can’t wait for this stupid show I’m addicted to to just END ALREADY.

Daisy [#2667]

Another Thing I’m Wondering!

Why didn’t Danielle Rousseau recognize Jin after the Oceanic crash? (She and her team had pulled him ashore after he’d time-traveled.)

MisterHippity [#46]

Because the writers are making this up as they go along. And they didn’t think of that.

Jonathan Saffron Foyer [#3201]

But, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t two possible ways the world could have gone to begin with. It’s just now they’ve revealed what would have happened at the plane never crashed. Now, the question is which world is the actual LOST world and which one is the merely possible LOST world? which one is actual Jack and which one is counterpart Jack? This raises more questions they don’t have time to answer. […sorry what? Didn’t Abrams cover that in Star Trek, but made it work?]

blueprint [#2019]

I have seen professional football games with fewer commercials.

TWITTER – jesikalin RT @angryasianman: HELL YES. ANOTHER ASIAN DUDE ON LOST.

zerbeda19763 TV program #Lost: an attempt by humans to reconcile seemingly conflicted beliefs about time, space, religion, science, personal hygiene.

stephenwithph @andrewsunkim wait that was willy wonka music?? [was it?]

lessthanair #LOST PROPS WILL BE AUCTIONED OFF. MUST GET CHARLIES SHOES [yeah, that seems normal]

People really trust that it will end and not sputter out pathetically. And if it doesn’t, so help ABC onMay 23. This is going to be one angry mob whose lives have been sucked from them in a most cruel fashion by Walt Disney.

Heather Struck

Oscar Gala – Best Leading Actress

Sandra Bullock won’t beat Gabourey Sidibe for a Best Leading Actress award (She can’t. I mean I’m not going to a watch a tedious awards show unless I’m roped into it or someone amusing is live blogging it, but if she does beat Precious I think that entire auditorium may implode onto a pile of uneaten vanilla-mousse filled chocolate shells. Or maybe Alec Baldwin’s hair will burst into flames. It can’t happen), but her nomination lets us remember the many years of shallow amusement she has helped to provide us. Good on her for films like the below. Because I watched While You Were Sleeping about 6 times one month, and that is a symptom that something else is very wrong that needs introspection and meditation and thought.

Heather Struck

Oscar Gala – Best Adapted Screenplay

The New York Times’ Carpetbagger blog ran Armando Ianucci’s statement responding to In The Loop‘s Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. No amount of profanity could make it what it is without the script’s fantastic display of brashness and freshness, which helps make idiotic leadership the clearest villain I’ve seen in fiction in a while. [See what I did there? That was a sly dig at current events about gubernatorial races and corporate leadership and stuff].

“We’re all tremendously thrilled to get this nomination,” writes Armando Iannucci, the writer and director of the satire “In the Loop,” a nominee for best adapted screenplay. ” ‘In The Loop’ was just a simple little film about how Tony Blair’s an idiot, so it’s nice to see Tony Blair’s idiocy get such international recognition.

“‘In the Loop’ was just a low-budget independently funded film, so the nomination must be proof that with limited resources but an enormous amount of profanity, you can achieve anything. Personally, it means that I will become unbearably arrogant in my belief I should have complete artistic control over all my projects, to the point that I must never be let near a camera again.”

-Heather Struck

Happy Groundhog Day – Let’s Appreciate Harold Ramis

“Something is different, and anything different is good.” Word.

Curious Case of 2009 DVD Rentals

This tasteful NY Times digital graphic makes me think one thing instantly. What the hell kind of hold did Benjamin Button have on people in 2009?

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/01/10/nyregion/20100110-netflix-map.html

Milk is the leader in most parts of the Tri-State area and in my own New York neighborhood, but that is a lot easier to understand.

Heather Struck

If You Build It…

The secret stimulus that has allowed for a wide peripheral range of cinema success, specifically independent films with small budgets, visionary directors, and a dream, may be the next step for television and video games as well. That is the festival. Robert Redford’s Sundance festival in Aspen every year introduced the idea that when producers and film makers are brought together with fans and critics to appreciate and analyze the films that artists continue to have the impulse to make, it produces business.

The New York Television Festival started with exactly this concept, connecting the studios with the talent.

Anna Vander Broek at Forbes reports that this may be happening in the video game world as well, which at this point is just as full of artists and appreciators who make games and hope to see them fly one day.

http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/12/osmos-indiecade-activision-technology-personal-videogames.html

With the talent embedded in the hands and minds of the kids who grew up playing video games, we have to hope that a Scorsese or a Taranatino is working somewhere on his first masterpiece, and that fateful day at a festival where he or she is discovered may be in our future.

-Heather Struck

Police Blotter — Roman Polanski Arrested by LAPD

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office, in a move that surprised everyone, arrested Roman Polanski at Zurich airport while he was on his way to a Swiss film festival that was honoring him with its annual Golden Icon Award. An award that was given last year to the somewhat less imaginative Sylvester Stallone, but at least he got to accept the award in person. Festival representatives released a note saying that they did not worry in the least about something like this happening to this year’s honoree, and they are sorry that it has. At least I think that’s what it says, I don’t speak German. Why the Los Angeles DA chose to arrest Polanski on this day and time is a bit of a mystery, seeing as he travels around Europe regularly on far less public business, but it seems they took the opportunity to bring him to trial after recent efforts by Polanski’s lawyers to have the case dismissed.

The case is a legendary one at this point, brought by the LAPD against Polanski in 1977 after the 13 year-old girl he had had sex with, apparently in Jack Nicholson’s LA home, charged him with statutory rape. Polanski fled the country after the charges were made, leaving behind two fine films, Chinatown and Rosemary’s Baby, that he had written and directed from Hollywood’s overly-permissive den.

Is Polanski’s case an exemplary one, especially since statutory rape as a practice appeared to happen in circles where artists and filmmakers congregated? There is visual evidence of Melvin Van Peebles’ son, Mario Van Peebles, having relations with a mature woman in his father’s 1971 film, Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song, at the age of 14, which is questionable parenting to say the least. This fact should trouble us, not help to exonerate the perpetrators, about the ways that sexuality and the submission of minors and women were combined and used for experimentation in the 1960s and 70s. What is even more troubling is how these events, and the fact that a respected film auteur is on trial for such an act, figure into the timeline of artistic expression that has produced some of the art we view today. There are certainly black spots that cannot be ignored.

Why Do We Watch Documentaries?

Michael Cieply wrote this in the New York Times yesterday about a panel on documentary filmmaking at the Toronto International Film Festival:

“The report found that documentarians, while they generally aspire to act honorably, often operate under ad hoc ethical codes. The craft tends to see itself as being bound less by the need to be accurate and fair than by a desire for social justice, to level the playing field between those who are perceived to be powerful and those who are not.

That often means manipulating “individual facts, sequences and meanings of images,” said the report, if that might help viewers to grasp the documentary’s “higher truth.” Deception in pursuit of a good story is acceptable to some. A number said that corporate executives and celebrities were entitled to less protection as interview subjects than more sympathetic individuals.” (9-14-09, B5)

This is interesting in light of documentaries that seek to redress ignorance of a subject or a false impression created by a public view based on mythology or ill-informed sentiment. Interesting because the claim seems to be true. Yet the documentaries, in presenting archival and new images, voices and subjects, remain crucial to our perceptions of our own time and history.

Those documentaries that do not seek equitable ends, however, are available for different reasons. In watching the documentaries about individual lives and events and the interaction between the two, we appreciate small gems of human creation that emerge in life as parts of “non-linear” (a word that Drew Barrymore used to describe the Mayles’ brothers documentary Grey Gardens and the subsequent HBO film adaptation during a recent Letterman appearance) stories.

You could consider a film like Comedians of Comedy, a documentary that follows four stand-up comics as they embark on a cross-country tour, playing in small venues and clubs. It is one film among many that seeks to find unique moments in the backstage lives of stand-up comedians, and it resembles films like Comedian (which follows Jerry Seinfeld and a couple of younger comics on tour) and even the verbally filthy doc, The Aristocrats, in which 100 comedians are interviewed by the documentarians (the comic team Penn and Teller), about what has become an inside joke in the industry (which is more about the art of telling a joke than the joke’s subject; no two comics tell it the same way). The Comedians of Comedy, though, brings about a little shining light of talent whose serious approach to comedy glows through the film’s silly cuddling and wrestling between its subjects, which also include Patton Oswald, Brian Posehn and Maria Bamford. All funny, talented, family-oriented people, and all who provide a dependable back-drop for Zach Galifianakis, not yet of Hangover fame, whose enthusiasm for creating funny performaces is abundantly present thorughout the film. His talent is seen in his thirst for the spontaneous and in his willingness to risk the whole game to achieve some real pop art in that spontaneity. He does it a few times, one of those times involving a street-singing jazz duo in New York who, after he meets them in midtown singing for change, he offers $20 to show up later during his set. They do, and he spends several minutes on stage just standing and loving what they are doing. That love is something we don’t easily see in a Hollywood film. The doc shows us that it’s there in real life.

Heather Struck

When the Artists Return to Detroit

Will they be like this?

Link to Hua Hsu’s Atlantic blog, where we see A Guy Called Gerald in a film clip labeled 1989.