Some Media

I was giving out a lot of recommendations for media lately so I figured I’d compile it all here.

The first thing I want to highlight is a tv series called Black Mirror. Wow. This show is pretty awesome. It is 6 one hour episodes and it was made by Channel 4 in the UK. blackmirrorEach episode is stand alone but they all follow a theme in that they imagine some scenerio that explores our relationship with our internet connected smart devices. Right now it’s streaming on Netflix. So go see it while you can!

Next up is a cool movie I saw a little while back called Coherence. coherence-2014-review-rearrange-your-brainThis film reminded me a lot of Primer (which you should also see if you haven’t) even though it’s not really about time travel exactly. It’s more about parallel worlds. After I watched it I did some research and learned a lot of really cool things about how it was made and the process the creators used to get the really interesting performances from the actors. I urge you to do the same.

And then there is this cool little movie I saw recently called Locke. The reviews weren’t all together awesome but I liked this film a bunch. What makes it unique is that is staged in real time in a car. maxresdefaultThere are no other setups. It’s just a dude in his car talking on his cellphone. It has a unique tie in for me in that he is a cement foreman on a job site and I’ve been obsessively watching the building of our new Comcast building next door and coming up soon is a big cement pour for the foundation.

So in the 70s there was this director named Alejandro Jodorowsky. He was a very artistic genius filmmaker. In 1974 a couple of frenchmen optioned the book Dune and brought in Jodorowsky to make a movie of the book. This guy took it to 11.maxresdefault (1) He cast Salvatore Dali (for $100,000 an hour), Orson Wells, Mick Jagger to star and brought in Pink Floyd to do the soundtrack and HR. Geiger (of Alien fame) to do the art. The movie was going to be completely epic in scope and execution. But sadly, it was never made. Jodorowsky’s Dune is a movie about this experience. It was an incredible story and this film captures it spectacularly!

And now for something completely different. After 9/11, Chaney and Bush took it upon themselves to completely change the mission of the NSA to focus on surveillance inside the USA on US citizens. We all knew that. (who remembers the warrantless wiretapping scandals?).

frontline-the-united-states-of-secretsBut what we didn’t know was all the stuff going on in the government bureaucracy at the time. There were whistleblowers and leakers and there was a ton of very interesting intrigue going on while the White House was pushing through it’s agenda. In an absolutely incredible documentary that interviews many key players involved and that wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible bravery of Edward Snowden, Frontline produced “United States of Secrets“. I know this may sound boring to you but I assure you that it’s told in a very interesting and compelling way. It’s simply an incredible story and it’s told so thoroughly. Take 2 hours of your life to give this a watch!

 

 

Some ideas for Netflix

I’ve been a Netflix subscriber since the beginning. I also have owned their stock for ages as well, but the story about that is for some other time. They do some things really well, but in some ways they do some really dumb things and also are missing some opportunities. Here’s some thoughts:

Movie Reviews
At one point, whenever I gave a star rating to a movie, a little box came up and asked for a short review. This review popped up on facebook along with my rating. This was good. It wasn’t great. But it was the start of taking all that movie review data and adding a social aspect to it. Interestingly, Netflix had (still has) a second review system in place where you can type a review and other Netflix subscribers can see it. Unlike the short review box, this one is moderated and is far from instant. Not good at all. And worse? They discontinued the FB integration and removed the short reviews entirely. Why? Who knows?

So what should happen here? First off, Netflix has to realize that they have a golden opportunity to become the ‘Yelp’ of movies and tv shows. Most Netflix users are compulsive about rating things (since it improves their recommendations) and they are reminded to do it after every movie return. Netflix should make it very easy to post movie reviews. They should bring back the FB integration and add Twitter and others as well. Make it the users option to publicly say ‘hey, I just watched this film, check it out on Netflix’. Netflix members also need to have some kind of public facing identity, a profile page with all the users reviews and recommendations, etc.

User Accounts

This is a no-brainer and I can’t figure out why this idea has been given so little love. Allow one household account to have separate users! Each user should get a queue and a login and a profile, etc.

Right now this is sort of allowed: I can add users to my account and they share in my 3 disks a month (1 goes to my girlfriends queue and 2 to mine) but there are many issues with it. First off, they don’t have the ability to set their passwords and thier accounts don’t work on their devices. (My girlfriend has an iPad but to use it she needs my logon info. Lame). Secondly, these ‘profiles’ can’t be removed, even with a phone call to Netflix. So my ex has a profile still listed in my account. Why?

The Queue

How stupid is this? I search for a movie and once I find it I have to decide which queue to put it in : watch now? or Send to me?. Why do I have to choose this? Why are there two queues? Why not one queue? When I add to my queue it should be set to send me a DVD but also show up on my devices as an instant view (if available). I can’t explain how stupid this looks to the average user. Also, make it easy to export from and import to the queue. I have a huge list, I want to maintain it myself or add stuff in bulk. Let me.

Super Add
I’m at the movie theater and I see some previews before my flick. There should be a way to easily add what I see here to my queue. Make an app (or add ot the netflix app) that will allow me to point my phone cam at the preview and have it figure out the movie and add it to my queue. How cool would that be? So when the movie comes out I can get it.

Spiderman 3

Well, I would never have gone to see this film on my own.. it seems too commercial and lately all big budget action films have all kinds of over the top digital effects. Add this to the fact that I haven’t seen the other 2 and you can see why I would never have gone on my own.

But today I did see the film. And I’m posting here to show off about it. See, with the exception of the 200 other people I saw it with, nobody in the nation has seen this yet. It doesn’t open until 12am tomorrow. As you know, my company has been spending a bunch of money and resources promoting the premier and well, as a reward we got to see it today in a special screening courtesy of the studio.

So, I will give you a little review. I was overall, impressed and entertained. The film was pretty believable and wasn’t over the top at all. I suspect that the other 2 were as well since they got good reviews from most fans. This film was also surprisingly funny at times (the intercom buzzer on the editors desk, the French maitre’de). The effects were not overdone at all and in one instance (the “birth” of the sandman) quite spectacular and beautiful. There was also a sequence with a crane and a steel beam. While it was hardly plausible, it still looked real and was pretty cool. Especially when one floor collapsed into another.
I saw 2 cameos. The first one you can verify for me when and if you see the film. Look in the first classroom scene. Behind Peter I am very confident that I saw Paris Hilton.. was I right? Secondly, I loved the Stan Lee cameo. That was a great touch.
I do have a couple of complaints. First of all, the action/fight sequences were shot very close up and I had no idea what was going on at any given time. This is common in action films and I find it very sloppy and uncool. I wish directors would not use the close-up crutch to cover for a lack of detail in their action sequences. Also, I think that the villan named Brok was not motivated enough to all of a sudden want Peter dead.. that came out of left field and it was pretty lame.

Overall, I’d recommend it if you like comic book movies. Enjoy!

Film Production and Global Warming

I don’t have the time to look up the reference right now but I read somewhere recently (think it was a blurb in The Week) that film production was an incredibly huge contributer to the greenhouse effect and a huge waster of natural resources. I think it was listed as the 2nd worst offender nationwide… Apparently the generators and trucks and electricity usage really take their toll..

In either case, I was thinking that actors and directors (many of who are hard core environmentalists) could easily begin to effect change in this arena by simply refusing to work on films that don’t take an active stance on being c-neutral. I’m sure it wouldn’t take much to force producers and studios to start thinking about their energy usage and it would be a really good way for these celebs to use their clout for good..

MASSACRE!!!

If you haven’t seen the cover of the Daily News today, the headline was huge and it read “Massacre at the Navy Yard”. In some ways I was happy to see it. I was expecting some super sensationalized story about our upcoming snow storm.. but instead some real news appears to have made it to the cover. On the other hand I ask you a simple question: How many dead would constitute a “massacre”? Although there is no number mentioned in the dictionary (or web searches for the definition), one thing appears common and that is that the killing is savage (ie. with a machete as was done in Rwanda) and that it occurs on many people.

Neither of these things happened at the Navy Yard last night. 3 people were killed with gunfire by a man who ended up shooting himself. That makes 4 dead total (but only 3 murdered).

Why do I care? Because this is a symptom of what is wrong in the media today. Every story has to be attention grabbing and has to seem important so papers can be sold and tv news programs can get more ratings.. It’s all about money and no more about the story. This is having a very negative affect on our society in that people are not able to discriminate on their own what is important and what isn’t.

I read something the other day that speaks to this (in a sense). As you all know, the world is in agreement now that global warming is real and that we caused it. But did you know that some scientists are saying that if we stopped all carbon emissions right now, there is nothing we could do to stop it? Some believe (and maybe more in the future) that we have passed the point of no return on this. If true, that would mean that we should have been doing something about global warming 20 years ago and not now. Who’s fault is this? It’s ours of course. Our media didn’t use it’s enormous motivating power to raise awareness of this issue when it was important and so we (being the type that only process data that is spoon fed to us by them) did nothing.

There is a movie I just saw by Mike Judge (Idiocracy) that wasn’t great in most traditional ways but made a point that was horrifying. The future (in this case 500 years from now) could turn out to be a very, very lame place, where the average IQ is under 100 and people are just illiterate, clueless slaves to the world they have created. Happy with their TV and fast food… It’s really shockingly plausible.

And yea, we can’t fix it in one place and everything is interconnected. I know that. But the thing is that we can change the world by changing ourselves. If everyone began to simply question the world and the media and their government just a little bit, if everyone would simply wonder a bit more about things, if everyone could be a tiny bit more creative and think of conspiracies (even though they may not exist).. maybe that would be the catalyst that we need to turn the world around and get on the path to a positive future.. maybe.

No Internet

Sorry to have been so distant, but alas my net connection is again down and has been for 3 days now (thanks Comcast!). But I do have a couple film reviews for you. Since I had no net yesterday I had time to watch tv. Saw 2 films. First was “Born into Brothels” and it was pretty good. Not amazing, but still interesting. If you ahven’t seen it, it’s about a group of children from the Red Light area in Calcutta (India). It’s sad in a lot of ways that these kids are essentially fucked from day one and also amazing that they show these talents that make you think: “shit, they don’t deserve this life they are in”.. I guess in some ways thats the story of a lot of us.. in civilized society and otherwise.

The other film.. yea.. almost didn’t watch it but it was reccomended by someone so I had to.. I’d been putting it off for a long time since the star (Vin Diesel) was someone that I hardly respected in any way, but it was directed and co-written by Sidney Lumet (Dog Day Afternoon, Network, etc) so it had some credibility. The film was called “Find me Guilty” and it’s a courtroom drama that pretty closely follows the true story of a RICO trial in New York in the 80’s. Most of the courtroom dialog is straight from the public record of the trial.
I have to say that the film was quite good actually with Diesel the biggest surprise. I totally reccomend it if you want to see a cool mafia courtroom drama.

Why We Fight

Well.. today was a perfect day to see the film “Why We Fight“. It’s a film about the military-industrial complex and talks about 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Let me just say this. After watching it, if there was an easy way for me to leave this country and renounce my citizneship I would. It’s not just the Bush White House, it’s not just the neo-cons. It’s the entire system we have. Congress, D and R all are in the pockets of these companies. There is this battle between capitalism and democracy and guess who’s winning? In November we need to vot out the old guard and clean house across the board!
Wow.. This film was spectacular and I think you should see it.

Snakes on a Plane

Saw “Snakes on a Plane” last night. I was totally entertained. I knew this film would be far fetched in the plot department so I wasn’t expecting much in terms of quality story and I was actually surprised that it had no major holes. It actually reminded me a bit of the old “Airport 77” disaster films. It was funny and Sam Jackson took his role seriously.

Now, what I didn’t like was the theatre experience. I’ve complained before about this stuff and I will complain again. First off, $12 to see a film is pretty steep when you have studios releasing so many bad films and a reviewing infastructure that is useless. Studios need to address the quality to price issue. I’ll spend $12 for a film that I really want to see, but I won’t spend it on something that looks interesting but I’mnot sure about.

This theatre was remarkably quiet (ironically not what we wanted fot this film). No cellphones when off, nobody was talking, there was no talking back to the film, etc. No, in this case, what made me mad was the fact that while the projection was very good, the sound was miserable. There was no surround at all, there was no dynamic range at all and worst of all, it sounded like there was ony one speaker (set right behind the screen) doing it all.

I know that films come in different formats and I know that theatre PAs are complex, but there needs to be some way to assure viewers that they are going to hear the film the way the director intended. There’s just no excuse.

So, the deal is that I don’t go to films much. And for someone who loves movies, that should tell the studios something. If its the social experience, the theatre experience, or the quality of films themselves, the studios should get thier shit together and soon.