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  1. When Steven Soderbergh could say of smartphones, in 2018, that "I think this is the future ... Anybody going to see this movie who has no idea of the backstory to the production will have no idea this was shot on the phone ... I’ve seen it 40 feet tall. It looks like velvet. This is a gamechanger to me” it's probably safe to conclude that the consumers for these phones are even more oblivious and/or indifferent to what's traditionally been regarded as "image quality". This is the way of the world, the march of time, cheaper and worse. And it makes sense, for most smartphone users. People actually like that plastic processed look. Or simply can't tell the difference.
  2. If you really think the kumbaya diversity line sells -- meaning correct attitudes in white movies, as opposed to movies made for minorities or trans types -- examine the sales figures of Sundance Grand Prize winners of the last 30 years, Sundance being way ahead of its time in this respect, with rich white administrators and filmmakers pretending to be virtuous by doing their damndest to promote what they consider social justice, as long as it means they don't have to give up their positions in favor of POC. You can also credit this administrative movement with creating a narrative trope: the wise Black woman/minority. This figure offers timeless advice to confused whites. Meanwhile, there are more black doctors on American TV than in most American communities, and it's unclear how network execs are improving the world by putting black actors in white coats.... The tyranny of the social justice movement unfortunately exceeds the profit motive at this point. A law school prof just got fired for lamenting that black students were routinely at the bottom of her class. Nobody cared whether it was true or not, just the fact that she said it. These attitudes are even more extreme among arts administrators.
  3. Get your facts straight. There's a difference between losing somebody else's funding (for a whole year! terrible!) and not being rich. She had six figures for her first feature. Where do you think it came from? Who paid for NYU film school? Do you know how much that costs a year? And what did she live on the rest of the time? Prep? Post-production? The festival circuit? And Taika Waititi, to answer another here, is not comparable. Completely different backgrounds/circumstances. Are you saying all minorities are the same? How racist! Success in the movie business will always require outsized luck, connections and (usually) money. But if anyone really believes that "Chloe" was offered a $200 million movie on her pitch alone and in the absence of any relevant experience, he/she is in the wrong business.
  4. This is actually hilarious. "Chloe" comes from a rich, well-connected Beijing family; they sent her abroad, to London, for high school. And the idea that recent film school grads with no credits can raise money as long as they're not Chinese and female, is too ridiculous for words. Even worse, this guy is bragging that she's doing a Marvel(!) movie. This, from a director with zero action picture experience. If not for racism, I guess they would have hired her right out of film school. Life is so unfair!
  5. It's Inevitable, given the expense of filmmaking, and the realities of distribution today (it costs a fortune). Herzog and Fassbinder were state subsidized; in Fassbinder's case, the more movies he made, the more he could finance. So he was making 2-3 features a year, for years running. Few actually made money. That era is long dead. When "Marty" and "Francis" were young, there were producers like Roger Corman who would finance movies by unproven filmmakers, because the films didn't have to be blockbusters, to turn a profit. The American indie scene is unique in that the U.S. is the only major country without an art-house tradition; Robert Redford and a few New Yorkers murdered it. One of them currently helps run Amazon Studios. Today, what you see at Sundance is Hollywood movies with the commercial value removed. They love it Park City, but nowhere else. Face it, guys: moviemaking is for people who lack the talent to succeed at pre-industrial art-forms. That doesn't mean art is impossible, but it takes a major miracle, and congenial conditions.
  6. A "depressingly cynical viewpoint" (see above) is exactly what reality demands. Anything less is factually incorrect or wanton self-delusion. For those who regard Robinhood -- at least in its idealized form -- as the great equalizer, think again. Robinhood, you'll recall, doesn't charge brokerage fees. How then does it make money? Well, it sells your data -- your purchases, sales, hedges -- to (you guessed it) hedge funds BEFORE your trades are executed. "Given that Robinhood is playing a central role in retail investors pumping dark horse stocks, it’s worth examining once again how it makes money: namely, by selling users’ trades to other large firms before they’re actually executed. Those firms make money by effectively seeing what the retail investors on Robinhood are going to do before they actually do it, and acting accordingly. Those firms are basically buying information that then informs their own trades." https://www.vice.com/en/article/qjpnz5/robinhoods-customers-are-hedge-funds-like-citadel-its-users-are-the-product Granted, this didn't work out so well for Melvin Capital -- you can't instantly correct a huge short position -- but others did profit.
  7. AMC is owned by a huge Chinese conglomerate; it's not a beleaguered cineaste endeavor run by idealistic capitalists.... And while Melvin Capital can eat shit, there are other hedge funds benefiting enormously from the reddit activity; meanwhile, the retail investors who bought high will almost certainly lose money in the end. Whether short-selling is in itself evil (selling stock is evil, but buying stock isn't?) is another question, though it is true that Gamestop was shorted something like 140%, another indicator of the "financialization" of the economy, where the rentier classes perform no productive activities, beyond manipulating markets and exploiting differentials.
  8. With all due respect to Ben, Scorsese likely doesn't give notes because 1) there's no time for it, 2) he knows it's pointless anyway, either an actor knows how to do a scene or he doesn't, the matter of performance was settled when the actor was cast, and 3) with no background in theater, Scorsese's probably not all that good at directing actors in, say, the Kazan tradition. The fact that nobody takes Leo diCaprio for anyone but Leo DiCaprio in a Scorsese movie is one measure of the limitation of either notes or the lack of them.
  9. We may be fucked, but we've always been fucked. The movie industry is fucked because it's full of people who love money and have no literary imagination. The same is true of most of the indie film world. Try finding someone who could pass World Literature 101, Film Studies 101 and Art History 101. And we're all surfeited on fictions, to the point where fiction, and language itself, can no longer convey information. That leaves instruction manuals and people pointing out that the lady who's staring into the fishbowl has clipped skintones. And by now it's an undergraduate commonplace, but no less true, that art is not possible in a culture where everything is aesthetisized. Ads on buses, music in elevators, every sales pitch a vile story. There will be no 9th symphonies in a world drowning in jingles. So forget your unmade and unmakeable movies and party on. Nobody cares anyway.
  10. First of all, I don't think Amazon (or other streaming services) are actually financing the smaller movies you're citing.... Unless you have access to sums of money far beyond anyone's personal resources, it's a life of fund-raising, not filmmaking. The U.S. in particular lacks what could be reasonably described as an "art house tradition" (the typical Sundance movie is a Hollywood movie with commercial value removed. "Quirky", indeed!) and there's no tradition of funding it philanthropically. As for "democratization", it's more a freedom to disappear and starve. Netflix has long been known as the graveyard of independent film. It's not a viable production model, unless you persuade them to finance you.
  11. Oh, come on. The empty and grandiose filmmaking of Nolan and Tarantino helped bury cinema long before streaming. Essential human drama? Please. VHS cassettes, unsocialized audience members and multiplexes killed the "theatrical experience" for most thoughtful adults, years ago. The Hitchcock ideal of 2000 people coming to the Church of Cinema once or twice a month was dead before he was. There are people now who see more drama in a day than most of humanity did in a lifetime. No form of art or entertainment can survive that much accessibility. These days, everything is a passing diversion. King Lear or reruns of Two and A Half Men, it's all the same.
  12. If what's wanted is an "immersive experience", and anyone's deadly boring life - you know, the one preoccupied with video equipment -- is insufficient, try hallucinogens. Mushrooms can be grown at home, natural and organic, and there's evidence that they have long-term therapeutic effects. Beats 8K any day.
  13. Bro, if what Trump says can't be taken literally, than nothing he says can be believed. See the problem, for the so-called leader of the free world? What's fine for talk-show hosts, TV personalities and wrestling buffoons doesn't work so well in the White House. And "liberal media"? Grow up! You really think Comcast and Disney are funding pinko-liberalism or a Marxist revolution? Even the explicit "liberal" advocacy found in places like MSNBC represents the corporate wing of the Democratic party. If Rachel Madow started advocating a Bernie Sanders program, she'd be fired in a day.
  14. Yes. He's fair game, and could end up in jail, though there's a statute of limitations which he can run out on at least some charges if he's in office long enough. Civil charges are almost certain, New York State is already working on it, but whether he ends up facing criminal charges in state or Federal courts remains to be seen. It comes down to whether they'll have the cojones to do it, for an ex-president and his age. This is one reason he'll do anything to get re-elected.
  15. And to add, for the non-Americans, and poorly informed Americans, the Trump administration is withholding evidence and preventing key officials from testifying. The House could, in theory, imprison Trump administration officials who don't show up, but that would precipitate a crisis, which they're not willing to test, for the simple reason that nobody knows what will happen when Trump flat out refuses to obey the law or leave office. The actual "trial" takes place in the Senate, should the House vote to impeach, but it's not a trial in the usual sense. None of this is. It's a political process, because according to some in the Justice Department (it's not settled law) the president can't be charged criminally while in office. Otherwise, Trump would likely already have been charged with bribery, extortion, tax fraud, perjury, obstruction of justice and violation of election laws. There's also a distinct possibility he could be charged with treason, though it's unlikely such charges would be brought, for political reasons.
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