Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Unyielding Commissioning Jealous All Over Again

Hulosing Out - As you may know, I live in Argentina. That brings with it all kinds of benefits. The world's best ice cream. No real winter. Beautiful natural wonders and beautiful women. But there are limitations to living abroad. One of those is that we can't get on Hulu. This has been slightly bothersome as there have been moments when I wanted to remind myself of an old Saturday Night Live sketch or watch whatever random crap may be available. But now I am really upset.

The Criterion Collection has been made available on Hulu Plus. I have no idea how much Hulu Plus costs, but whatever it is, it's worth it. You may not like all the Criterion films, but there are so many hidden gems and landmark cinematic experiences that your life will surely be enriched for this feature. Mine, sadly, will not as Hulu has yet to figure out a way to make themselves available in foreign countries. Just another reason why everyone here pirates all their movies. Also, a letter from Hulu's Eugene Wei on the announcement.

Just givin' the people what they want, depending on the people - I love the Oscars, even though much of the program is utterly boring. The reason it's always given me a thrill is that when on its game, it is a great celebration of cinema. Apparently this year they are looking to celebrate other things. The Hollywood Reporter is, ahem, reporting that there will be fewer montages and more songs this year. Maybe the Academy assumes that fans of movies will tune in no matter what and they hope that all those Randy Newman die-hards will boost their ratings. Either way, it is a disappointing decision.

- Roger Ebert unveils his Best Art Films of 2011. Many of these films have gotten a ton of great buzz, and I want to see them all. Who knows when they'll arrive down here.

Maybe he should have listed BabeIn other Ebert news, my buddy PMaz (rightfully) sticks it to one of At the Movies cohost Ignatiy Vishnevetsky's selection of the five films that made him want to become a critic.

They obviously haven't been reading this blog (#nobody_is) - This is now old news, but Grammy fans across the globe were outraged that Arcade Fire won Best Album. And there's a hilarious tumbler of their twitterings.
My take on the Grammy. Uh, I guess it's good for the Arcade Fire. The Grammys are the least relevant major awards show around. I've never watched their broadcast. I can't now pretend to care simply because one of my favorites was honored by them. I'm fond of saying that the Oscars get it wrong about half the time. But the Grammys don't even care about whether things are wrong.

New Blog Alert!! - Check out Positive Spin. Do it now! They have just recently launched and have been busting out a dozen or so postings every day. As best I can tell, the overall premise is to be as codgery as possible while still celebrating the best rock music to have come down the pike. Many entries are Youtube clips, but they're all rare finds worth your time. I recommend this one to get you started.

Surprised at how many of these I have - Greg Kot lists 10 classic albums from Alligator Records in honor of their 40th anniversary. I'm especially happy to see Luther Allison's comeback on the list. That dude could really play - a great mix of soul and Chicago blues, and a fantastic live performer.

Watch it all - Yet another long video. Yet another that's well worth it! DJ Cheeba puts on a visual and musical mashup that will keep you moooovin'! (HT, my man Chili)

DJ Cheeba - Revenge of The Nerd from Solid Steel on Vimeo.

Friday, February 11, 2011

SS - We're open to other views

Here's someone else's take on Commando.

If that didn't whet your appetite for the original Schwarzenegger Sunday synopsis, well, you're a cold bastard then aren't you?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Unyielding Commissioning Predicted the Future (again?)

This is too much film for you - Time Out New York lists the 50 most controversial movies of all time. Usually I like to be a snarky jerk about these kinds of lists, but there is virtually nothing to argue with here.

Function and Form - Some of you may recall this blog's look at the Biggest Paycheck Hounds in Hollywood. Over at Scene Stealers, they've got a Top Ten that looks similar. Well, the concept is the same anyway. There are plenty of differences in practice. I happen to disagree with a number of technical points regarding the order its author chose to use. Though the goals may be the same, the criteria is obviously not. My main point about this difference is that bad movies were not necessarily done simply for the cash. Sometimes they just don't work out, and you can't always blame the star. But when an actor admits that his involvement in a film was solely because he could buy himself a "terrific house," well, that's a pretty strong data point right there.

Then, just a week later, Scene Stealer's next Top Ten List highlighting chick flicks for guys made a nice complement to FtY's look at the chickiest chick flicks that ever flickered.

I used to think the brain was the smartest part of my body, but then I thought, well look who's telling me that. - Tony Comstack, noted erotic documentarian takes a stab at the evolution of the X/NC-17 ratings.

But in Italian, it sounds even better - Criterion's quote of the day is pretty creative, and from someone who knows what the hell he's talking about.

Ready to press start? - One and a half hours of live Arcade Fire recorded at MSG last August. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On Ebert's New Show

As you have probably heard and hopefully even seen, Roger Ebert returned to television with his new show, Ebert Presents At The Movies. Since he lost the ability to talk following complications from cancer, the fate of his long-running "At The Movies" endured a series of blows before finally being shut down. First, Buena Vista put a pair of mismatched hosts, one of whom was designed to appeal to the "average" movie fan. This completely failed. Ebert deserves credit for having the gumption to restart the program, doing it the way he wants.

After seeing the first episode, here are my reactions. The format is nothing new. It's the same one that Ebert created with Gene Siskel 25 years ago. Two critics debate the latest releases, and get it over with quickly enough to cover five or six movies in a half hour plus commercials. And that's probably OK. The only real reason the last show ended was that Ebert couldn't perform anymore.

Now, all eyes are on Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and Christy Lemire. I have to feel for them. Siskel and Ebert were able to start with a complete void of expectations. Nobody was paying much attention. Now these two are expected to carry the mantle while everyone watches them get their sea legs. And it's clear that they don't have them yet. Every movie discussion feels like they are a couple on a first date. They're both polite and when they disagree, they don't really want to get into an argument. Both are still hoping they'll hit it off and at least make it to date #2. And in that respect, the chemistry will simply take some time.

Perhaps more worrisome is that both hosts are clearly reading their parts. Yes, I know this is how television works. But it's important to keep in mind that these are writers, not talking heads. And it is also going to take them a while to feel comfortable being in front of a camera. They will surely improve, but the question is how soon. In this area the show may have made a miscalculation. For me, I don't really give a damn. If they are giving insightful commentary and an interesting take, I don't care if they stammer their way through the half-hour, but what I think doesn't matter so much

What is important is that a show like this succeeds. Because the movie industry is steadily devolving into marketed products. As Erik Lundergaard recently pointed out, whether a movie is, you know, good or not plays a bigger role in how it fares commercially than movie executives would like to think. But that's because most movie executives don't really care about seeing quality movies. They are marketers who are looking to get return on investment. And they feel that if they can get their movie's toys in Happy Meals across America, they will make a profit.

A show like this has power to combat that. It can bring more attention to the best movies, and get more people to shun the awful ones. But that will only happen if the show is good. People like you and me are going to find our own movie news and opinions. If the show fails, we will have our other outlets online. And there are only so many of us, anyway. What I would love to see is this show having the same impact on the public at large that Ebert's previous show did.

I know. I'm judging this output way too quickly. We owe them a fair shake. Watch as much as you can. Write the TV stations and tell them you want more. Because it's the best chance we have for worthwhile criticism being as mainstream as possible. The show matters, and the more support it gets, the better.

Bear with the new hosts. Once they're grow into "couplehood", we can expect some worthwhile battles of wit between Lemire and Vishnevetsky. Ideally they can even get to fighting like an intelligent yet acerbic married couple. If it doesn't work out, well, we'll have to try to find a way to enjoy Ashton Kutcher movies.