Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

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Oxnard Montalvo
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Tue Jul 17, 2018 5:50 pm

oh shit this takes me back. Jaws was probably one of the first "adult" books I read (back in fifth grade) and yeah I remember the sex stuff.

without re-reading the book, I'm going to take this guy's word that the movie is a better movie than the book is as a book.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by DaMU » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:08 pm

Yeah, the book is... pretty bad.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Torgo » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:17 pm

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by BL » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:20 pm

DaMU wrote:Yeah, the book is... pretty bad.
It wasn't the first adult book I read, but I remember it being the first adult book I finished and thought, "Well, that sucked." It's got a giant shark, some mobsters and sex thrown in for good measure, and it somehow makes that all boring to an adolescent boy. How do you fuck up that badly, Peter Benchley?
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by ski petrol » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:47 pm

Thank you. That was an interesting watch.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Torgo » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:10 pm

ski petrol wrote:
Thank you. That was an interesting watch.
Glad you enjoyed it.
I always forget how intelligent and well-spoken Cronenberg is. If he ever retires from filmmaking to become a professor, I'd quit my job and go to his school.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Torgo » Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:08 pm

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Stu » Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:11 am

Netflix is just going to keep killing its American Vandals:
Last Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published a deeply sourced article about the corporate culture at Netflix. Speaking to more than 70 current and former employees of the streaming service, reporters Shalini Ramachandran and Joe Flint pull back the curtain on a workplace where transparency is valued above all else (except when it comes to being transparent about how many people are watching Netflix original series and movies), where firings are elaborated upon in widely distributed internal emails and “[e]xecutives at the director level and above—some 500 people—can see the salaries of every employee.”

The article also details something called the “keeper test,” just one piece in a glossary of corporate jargon that, assuming it’s not some sort of “grungespeak”-level prank, twists several frequently used terms and phrases beyond their widely accepted meanings. (E.g. “The ‘meme’ on someone at Netflix is their current standing in the eyes of their bosses.”) “Managers are all told to apply a ‘keeper test’ to their staff—asking themselves whether they would fight to keep a given employee—a mantra for firing people who don’t fit the culture and ensuring only the strongest survive,” Ramachandran and Flint write.

In other words: The reasons for a Netflix employee’s termination can be just as nebulous as those for a Netflix show’s cancellation. In the former case, at least those left standing will get a thorough explanation of why they’re down a coworker; your favorite show might not get that luxury. Take the recently canceled American Vandal, whose Peabody Award-winning legacy is now stained with the obscene graffiti of this corporate kiss-off: “American Vandal will not return for a third season. We’re very grateful to the creators, writers, cast and crew for bringing their innovative comedy to Netflix, and to the fans and critics who embraced its unique and unconventional humor.”

But this cancellation isn’t a complete mystery. Like American Vandal’s peerless commentary on class (the kind that’s supplemented by projectile feces), there’s an economic subtext: Netflix doesn’t own American Vandal. It licenses it from CBS TV Studios, which co-produces the true-crime parody alongside Funny Or Die and 3 Arts Entertainment. Netflix has a similar arrangement with its Marvel series, which are the results of a deal struck during the infancy of the streaming gold rush. It was a mutually beneficial team-up: Netflix got six original series out of it, while Disney got some high-profile projects for superheroes from beyond The Avengers’ orbit. But with the cancellations of Iron Fist and Luke Cage and the forthcoming launch of Disney’s subscription service, it’s coming to an end.

There’s a whole esoteric rabbit hole to jump down here, full of FCC regulations dating to the reign of the Big 3 networks and the creation of the massive, legacy-media conglomerates that are now racing to keep pace with moneyed, Silicon Valley upstarts. But long story short, Hollywood is falling out of love with the types of partnerships that led to American Vandal, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and the earliest waves of Netflix originals. We’re in an era of vertical integration, when broadcasters are likelier to order a show if it comes from a studio with which they share a parent company. All four of the new series ordered by Fox for the 2018-19 season (plus the revived Last Man Standing) hail from 20th Century Fox Television, though that’ll be a whole different can of worms once Disney completes its purchase of all the entertainment assets the Murdoch family no longer wants. If you were looking for a perfect snapshot of the late-capitalist dystopia that is media consolidation in 2018, it’s this: Last Man Standing, a show canceled by ABC because it wasn’t Disney property, was revived by Fox because it was owned by 20th, which will soon be a Disney entity.

The considerations that influence what ends up on your TV screen—advertising revenue, broadcast standards and practices, timeslots—by and large don’t apply to what goes into your Netflix queue. But even if Netflix has the latitude to spend more freely than its competitors, its business still mimics linear TV in one key way: There’s no escaping the question of who’s getting paid for the content. The Economist projects that Netflix will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $13 billion on a production slate that includes 82 feature and more than 100 scripted series in 2018. But even with that financial wiggle room, it’s just going to keep canceling shows from outside studios—especially as more of those outside studios invest in their own, Netflix-like streaming platforms.

For a while, it was in Netflix’s best interest to keep all of its originals going, regardless of point of origin. It needed to build a library to attract and retain subscribers, and so shows like Marco Polo and Flaked held on past their initial seasons despite their failure to make Orange Is The New Black-sized waves. Eventually, the tides turned: The Get Down, Sense8, and Girlboss were all axed in quick succession last year; coming-of-age dramedy Everything Sucks! was over and out less than two months after its premiere. The about-face, combined with Netflix’s inscrutable metrics for success, have driven some bizarre viewer behavior: As media scholar and A.V. Club contributor Myles McNutt notes, fans of On My Block—which focused, like The Get Down, on a diverse group of kids in an urban setting—were mobilizing a “save our show” campaign within days of the show’s debut. In the current Netflix order, loving one of the service’s series means assuming it’s been born dead.

Prevailing trends aside, Netflix is never going to go 100 percent in-house; at their most ambitious, executives have called for a 50-50 split between Netflix Studios productions and licensed originals. Just look at its most recent moves: A few days after Luke Cage was knocked out, Sony Pictures Television’s Atypical was given a third season. When the American Vandal news broke, Netflix subscribers were acquainting themselves with Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, which Warner Bros. and Berlanti Productions developed for The CW before it went streaming.

But who’s producing those exceptions is subject to change as more studios wade into streaming. Disney’s direct-to-consumer service is the Death Star on the horizon, its tractor beam locked on Black Panther, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, Coco, and other Mouse House hits currently populating Netflix. WarnerMedia is also poised to enter the fray in 2019; the collateral damage of that decision already includes classic-cinema platform FilmStruck and avant-garde comedy arm Super Deluxe, but who knows which WB TV projects at Netflix could follow. (Can one of them please be Fuller House?) When the time comes, Netflix will be able to boast of its algorithm and its familiar interface, but as my former co-worker Todd VanDerWerff points out, in terms of breadth of content, it just won’t measure up. Hence the billions being spent to bulk up that library of originals.

It’s a telling sign that all of this is happening while Netflix’s first major success stories are winding down. The final season of House Of Cards premieres this week; Orange Is The New Black’s will follow next year. Both came from outside studios, a necessity for a business whose previous experience with original content went no further than the Red Envelope Entertainment, which helped bring smaller and independent films to Netflix users’ mailboxes during the mid-to-late 2000s. Speaking to Digital Media Wire ahead of the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos predicted, “Eventually we’ll be coming to Sundance and saying, ‘We can buy everything.’ There’s a deal for every film.” The article’s actual prophecy shows up one paragraph later, though:

That represents a scary proposition for Netflix competitors. With the company’s January 16th announcement that it would offer free movie and TV programming via internet streaming, it’s clear the company is entering HBO’s territory, but with a key differentiator—its recommendation system—in tow.

And yet, one year later, Red Envelope was no more. Its acquisitions had included Palme d’Or winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days, Oscar winner Born Into Brothels, and Duplass brothers breakout The Puffy Chair, but the division failed to pass the keeper test. It’d be another four years before Netflix streamed its first original series—serving as the exclusive North American home of Lillyhammer, a mob comedy starring Steven Van Zandt—and even then it didn’t make much of a dent on the TV world until House Of Cards rolled out in 2013. The reason for Red Envelope Entertainment’s closure? A 2008 Hollywood Reporter article puts it thusly—an irony fit for the “unique and unconventional humor” of American Vandal: “[T]he company said the reason for its shuttering was that the buys put it in competition with its Hollywood studio partners.”
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Tue Dec 18, 2018 8:37 am

Bringing Back What’s Stolen: Fury Road and the Avenging Feminine

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Rock » Fri Dec 21, 2018 5:53 am

Waaaat, Tilda Swinton was the old German dude in Suspiria? :shock:
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Fri Dec 21, 2018 6:13 am

Tilda Swinton is the Gary Oldman of Meryl Streeps
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Stu » Fri Dec 21, 2018 6:38 am

Rock wrote:Waaaat, Tilda Swinton was the old German dude in Suspiria? :shock:
What, you didn't already know?

Image

:P Yeah, the Internet had this figured out months ago, so you must be feeling a bit like Dan did on Game Grumps when they were playing Ocarina Of Time for like, 10 hours before he finally found out that after Arin almost gave it away about a million different times, ha.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Stu » Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:38 am

Anyway, this is excellent:

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Stu » Sun Dec 23, 2018 4:05 am

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:Bringing Back What’s Stolen: Fury Road and the Avenging Feminine

By the way, I've studied the crap out of Fury Road for years now through various articles and video essays (in addition to actually watching it, haha), and this video is still alerting me to new details about it that I'd never known before... and it's just part 1 of an 8-part series? Thank you,, Ox!
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:02 pm

he also has a pretty good breakdown on Gamergate. which we're still kinda living with. or at least various Gamergate-adjacent backlash movements.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:33 pm

I dunno if this is exactly movie related BUT I'm sure we all need cable or internet to maintain our viewing habits so I'd say this is kinda related

I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Torgo » Wed Jan 16, 2019 7:47 pm

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Slentert » Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:47 pm

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Stu » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:46 am

Slentert wrote: Thanks, that was a great read.
Welcome! And now, for a great watch:

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:43 pm

Inside Dau, the 'Stalinist Truman Show'
What started as a film shoot evolved into a mammoth project which saw the cast eating, working and sleeping on a period set – for years. Is its creator a genius or a monster?
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Torgo » Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:17 pm

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Stu » Sat Feb 02, 2019 4:47 am

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Stu » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:09 am

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Tue Feb 26, 2019 6:21 am

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Stu » Wed Feb 27, 2019 5:04 am

Green Book’s big Oscar victory proves that the Academy, like America, still has a long way to go
Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
I absolutely love me a good video essay, so I saved this for later viewing; thanks, Ox.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:26 am

imo it's one of those things that is hard to talk about without people coming out of the woodwork with bad-faith arguments about the PC/SJW lynch mob. but it's better than not talking about it either.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Torgo » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:03 pm



A Q&A with William Friedkin after a live screening of his 1977 movie Sorcerer.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:30 am

I saw it at a screening at my church when I was 13. didn't really do much for me.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by DaMU » Sat Mar 09, 2019 1:03 am

As a peek into the corrosive psychology of Mel Gibson, it's compelling.

As a movie, it's gorgeous.

As a narrative, it's dull as fuck.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by DaMU » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:11 pm

Not really a deep-dive analysis or anything, but made a video that shows the musical links/remixes in Metroid:

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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Stu » Fri Mar 22, 2019 12:51 am

Cool work, DaMU!
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:20 pm

an excerpt from the book The Hollywood Jim Crow: The Racial Politics of the Movie Industry

https://www.filmcomment.com/blog/labeli ... nbankable/
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Oxnard Montalvo » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:16 am

Jinnistan wrote: I do find it hard to empathize with the banality of Serpell's insights here.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I know it isn't ground-breaking stuff. although I still feel that those kind of "empathy-machine" stories are still valuable despite their limits.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Jinnistan » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:33 pm

Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I know it isn't ground-breaking stuff. although I still feel that those kind of "empathy-machine" stories are still valuable despite their limits.
First off, I honestly disagre on the value of these recent pushbacks on empathy, and the reference to Paul Bloom is the kind of thing that will glaze my eyes a bit. I'll just post a couple of the refutations from Simon Baron-Cohen because I'm far more sympathetic to his reasoning here, and it'll involve a lot of text to lay it all out. Serpell seems to happily apply Bloom's counter-intuitive notion that empathy somehow leads to more racism than it relieves, but that only brings up another issue with her piece.

Serpell is almost terminally fixated on the idea of empathy being limited to demographic distinctions, and this warps her perspective on narrative art generally that reveals itself throughout the article, usually in the form of her various dichotomies. The one that stood out as the most representitive of the problem is the "political justice" vs. "moral feeling". I can't figure out exactly why these things should be in conflict with each other, or especially why a narrative work should fail by attempting to connect them. It seems that Serpell doesn't have a great deal of faith or appreciation in the more esoteric, rather than political, empathy, or can understand why they necessarily inform each other. Instead, she mocks the significance of "the personal" (the "shapelessness" of "inner turmoil") by leaning on Rousseau and Arendt: "This feels like a specious little paean to the triumph of the personal over the public good in our time." Again, the unnecessary zero-sum conflict between the personal and the public good is very telling, as is her inability to comprehend the rather profound ways in which the personal and public are interlocked and mutually strengthened. Civil rights (personal liberty) are a requisite to social harmony. This is much less of a paradox than she makes it seem.

I might add that it doesn't seem that Serpell has a proper understanding of the definition of "empathy", echoing Baron-Cohen's criticisms over Bloom's presumptions. "Rather than virtually becoming another, she asks you to imagine using your own mind but from their position." In fact, this is the definition of empathy: the capacity for "imaginative projection" of one's self into another. The "distance" that Serpell champions as distinct from empathy is actually what distinguishes empathy from sympathy. There are other instances where she indicates that she may be confusing these terms. Also, she questions why we should presume empathy to be a social good at all (eching James Damore's call to "De-emphasize empathy", which is uncoincidentally lock-step with his call to "Demoralize diversity" - I wonder if Serpell is at all cognizant of perpetrating alt-right talking points here), which, first, should require an adequete understanding of what the word means. More importantly, it runs counter to her suggestion towards the end of pushing for more diversity in narrative voices, which is an initiative reflecting an increased empathetic desire, one would think.

In terms of her critique of narrative art and its capacity to inspire empathy among audiences, Serpell's need for clean political categorization leads her astray on at least points: 1) Empathy is not exclusively a tool for demographic transcendence - in films we find that we're faced with empathizing with people who may be more or less like us in ethnic and class attributes, but who have varying psychologies which may not be relatable, where we find empathy with those of weak conscience, poor or corrupt judgment and other manifestations of moral frailty; and 2) The artistic use of "empathy vehicles" is fundamentally a qualitative assessment (like all art), and therefore cannot be easily countered by offering a handful of examples where it's done poorly - claiming Driving Miss Daisy as an example for why empathy in films tends to be shrill and selfish to the audiences' baser motives happens to ignore the empathetic triumphs of other qualitatively challenging films like Do the Right Thing. What she's criticizing most frequently is not the empathy of a particular work but the demogoguery, the emotional manipulation, of more banal work, which I'm convinced should not be confused with empathy itself.

I could go on with finer irritants throughout the article, but I think that about sums up why I think this piece is far more banal than the works that she's accusing. I would try to empathize with her as a writer, but unfortunately she doesn't seem to have the highest opinion of writers despite being one. Maybe she's imaginatively projecting her banality. I'm not a neuroscientist, like Simon Baron-Cohen, for example.
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Re: Recommended Readings: Reviews, Writings and Rants

Post by Stu » Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:47 am

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