Thursday, September 30, 2010
Sesame Street made the call not to air it, but of course...when a network makes a conservative moral decision some people get kind of on the offensive because they would not have made the same call.
My two year old doesn't watch much TV but sometimes on nights, like tonight, before she goes to bed she sits on the coach and we watch some Sesame Street songs together favorite like Destiny Child's version of "New Way to Walk" or India.Aire doing the alphabet with Elmo.
But I haven't watched Perry's opposite-based song Hot and Cold yet with her because...well we haven't asked her mom yet, and sometimes if things enter the gray-zone it seems wiser to stay away.
On the other hand, there's another video, which could be controversial because of the controversy with the singer. We watch it all the time, but sometimes I question whether we should watch the Chris Brown song "See The Signs."
Obviously Chris Brown is not a model-citizen with his abusive relationship with Rhianna in the press awhile back - but we still watch this video all the time...not to mention we've watched it enough I can sing it in the car without Brown's accompaniment.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The movie doesn't seem to twist the Zuckerberg-story, but the general complaint is that it creates an egotistical and unsympathetic view of the Facebook founder (and world's youngest billionaire) Mark Zuckerberg.
Additionally, Facebook seems to want to control the image of the company with an Initial Public Offering planned down the road.
The film maker's didn't buy the writes to Zuckerberg's story but instead based the film off the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.
This film continues to get good buzz, and despite the suggestion that it is not related Zuckerberg has made his first large donation as a billionaire by donating $100 million dollars to public schools in Newark, New Jersey. Oh, yea...and on the Oprah show none-the-less
How Does This Compare to Other Donors?
Some might say, why hasn't he given like this before and say it's a movie stunt. But even for billionaire's a $100,000,000 donation is a pretty big thing. Compared to big givers in 2009 a gift of this size would have put him just barely in the top 10 for 2009.
Why Newark? Why Now?
There's rumors and strong ones that this money is in conjunction with the film's release. There's a side story that it was going to be an anonymous gift by Zuckerberg, but New Jersey Governor Chris Christie convinced him otherwise.
I've tried to understand why Newark was chosen, and while Zuckerberg has ties to the general area, his connections based on his biography seem to be more New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, and California, not New Jersey.
But if you were going to chosen a school system, Newark's is one of the worst, as it was taken over by the state in 1995 and Governor Chris Christie has not released the school district to Newark Mayor Cory Booker, but is giving him authority in choosing a new superintendent (via CBS).
But it seems like if the deal was really considered to be anonymous, the opposite of anonymous giving is going on the Oprah show...so I don't really give that discussion much credence.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
In related copy-write news: A Judge Laura Taylor Swain of Manhattan, New York ruled that the 2007 film Disturbia did not bear enough similarities to Alfred Hitchcock's film Rear Window to warrant a case for damages.
Disturbia is about a young man under house arrest (Shai LeBeouf) who spies on his neighbor committing what appears to be a murder. Rear Window has a similar plot regarding an injured man who spies from his apartment window.
The lawsuit was actually filed by the Sheldon Abend Trust that owns the rights to the 1942 short story "It Had to Be Murder" by Cornell Woolrich from which rear window was adapted. The lawsuit sued among others Steven Spielberg as a Dreamworks studio founder.
I wonder how many times Judge Taylor watched these films before she made her ruling before dismissing the case?
Thursday, September 23, 2010
2. I loved the book Never Let Me Go, and highly recommend it. The last thing you want to read is a "the book is better than the movie" type of post...but, well......it is.
3. My wife, who had never read the book was confused and parts that are climatic and meaningful in the story or lost on the viewers in the dialogue.
4. Between this film, The Social Network, and as the new Peter Parker in Spider-Man...some people seem real excited about Andrew Garfield. Andrew Garfield as Tommy got the job done, but didn't impress.
5. When I first posted on this film March 2009 I presented some dream scenarios for this project. In my post I said I wished Joe Wright (Atonement) was directing this film. I still wish Joe Wright had directed this film.
6. Early word on this film from Variety had strong critical buzz, but right now it's just on the edge of "fresh" on rottentomatoes.com with a 61% fresh rating. And I think that's just about right. I'd say you can skip the popcorn nor do you need Kleenex, although when I watched some people were eating popcorn while others were crying, so you may be on one end of the extreme.
7. If you're not familiar with the literary sub-genre "alternate history" researching this term could be great for post-film coffee shop talk.
8. Is this an Oscar ceremony must see? I'd say probably not - some critical love could do some magic, but I have a feeling this will drift away, with the potential for a nomination here or there (such as original motion score composed by Rachel Portman).
9. Reading my first 8 items makes it seem like I'm totally down on this film. I'm not. I enjoyed it, but without the context of the book, I think I may have been lost. I think the film could yield some good discussions. Kazuo Ishiguro is a great author and his books warrant discussion.
10. I blame most of the failings of this film on screenwriter Alex Garland. I'm not sure if I blame director Mark Romanek or not. I certainly credit Carey Mulligan and Kiera Knighley for their roles in this film - despite the fact that Carey Mulligan's hair in this film is generally unsightly.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
My dad asks me "How would I rent a copy to watch Wall Street. Would I just go to blockbuster and rent it?"
The video store used to be the movie lovers mecca, and now it's just one of many film delivery mediums, and Blockbuster became the big-daddy of corporate video stores wiping out most the completion.
The Associated Press reports that Blockbuster has a crucial interest payment due September 30, 2010. If missed, 900 million dollars in debt would be due in full.
The expectation that Blockbuster will soon file Chapter 11 Bankruptcy has led to it's stock price (BBI) dropping to 2.5 cents (it's stock symbol BBI had been delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in July).
Over the past couple years, Blockbuster's "store closing signs" have become common, and with 5000 more stores left, the bankruptcy will certainly leave a void in the video rental market.
In 2009 I asked "Will Blockbuster Survive? Should it?" and even provided survival suggestions, but it lasted into 2010 the company has continued to be in a decline, and it's hard to imagine Blockbuster having a successful reorganization in Chapter 11 BK.
Renting Wall Street
Yet, if it wasn't for Blockbuster, how would my dad have gotten his hands on an older film, 1987's Wall Street this past week?
It wasn't on the video-on-demand service with the cable company.
Redbox didn't have it, since it's not a new release.
My dad doesn't subscribe to Netflix, but of course they have it there.
He could buy it, but he's more interested in watching it once then creating a DVD library.
The local library has a copy, but there was already 12 people on the waiting list.
Blockbuster had it, and my dad rented a film there for the first time in what I assume had been some time.
It would appear that a lot of people would have to rent Wall Street in the next 24 hours to make that crucial interest payment, and probably far more people renting it then they even have copies in there system.
Blockbuster, can't say that I love you, but have to wonder what happens without you. There was a time where you got a regular stream of money from my wallet, but like many others I've moved on, and it looks like you will be moving on to.
Photo by RC of StrangeCultureBlog.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I continue this discussion with a look at famous film villian, Reverend Harry Powell in the film Night of The Hunter, played by Robert Mitchum (pictured above). Understandably unpopular in 1955 when it was released, this film featuring a villianous traveling preacher, has over time become increasingly popular and influential.
The character of Harry Powell was created by David Grubb who published the book the book The Night Of The Hunter in 1953, based loosely on a murderer who was hung in 1932 named Harry Powers.
In the 1955 film, one of the most iconic images of Harry Powell is his tattooed knuckles, one reading "love," while the other reads "hate." This in itself is interesting to me, and perhaps shows my ignorance of tattoo history, as I have a hard time picturing even the concept of tattooed knuckles in 1955.
Yet, early in the film (in a bizarre floating head intro) with a reference to scripture from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
The Impact of Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
While the 1955 audience might have partially been appauled at the character of Harry Powell because they could have deemed it skeptical or inappropriate to paint a preacher in a evil or deceptive light, over fifty years later this image of the manipulative and corrupt preacher might resonate better.
The world has always had religious scandal, but it seems like in today's world you don't have to look far to find it.
When young John Harper (Billy Chapin) sees through the preacher's manipulation, it is understandable that later in the film when he comes in contact with another stronly religious person (Rachel Cooper played by Lilian Gish, pictured right), that Ben would pull back and run to the porch when she pulls out the Bible to tell a story.
The implication is clear in this film, and relatable in culture. When someone acts on religious authority to manipulate people for personal gain the impact on long-term perceptions on God and other religious leaders and followers is tarnished.
The Modern Discussion: Rachel Cooper & Harry Powell
I think the modern discussion around this film that could really be impactful is to look at this character as well as the Rachel Cooper character.
Rachel Cooper is not Reverand Harry Powell and although both carry a weapon and no the same spiritual songs (their duet in the film of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" is eerly haunting in context).
Yet this film, particularly the juxtaposition of these two characters can open up a whole realm of relevant questions including:
• How can you tell the difference by Rachel Coopers and Harry Powells (especially if you're faith is new or young)?
• How do spiritual followers handle those they identify as "wolves in sheep clothing?"
• How can the influence of "wolves" be repaired?
While this film is hardly for everyone's "must see film lists," I think it's a unique film that has a unique relevance that resonates with modern viewers.
Image of Robert Mitchum as Harry Powell from Guardian's Article: "There Are No Real Men In Movies Any More." Image of Lilian Gish from the blog post by Foxy Librarian titles "In Praise of the Battleaxe."
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Obviously every where you crawl on the Internet gives you the option to "like" things, in fact, you can know how many people "like" this that or the other, and if so...which of your Facebook friends "like" it to.
So, this get's kind of meta too me on the imdb.com page for The Social Network.
So far, none of my friends "like" the social network, but 7748 people "like" the film. Granted, it has no "user rating" so I'm not sure what the 7748 people like about it (except maybe they're fascinated with Facebook and liking things) since the film hasn't been released yet and hence has no user rating.
But whatever. Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. It's everywhere. Facebook.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Tonight was the premier of season 2. And it was great, my wife and I both enjoyed it, and I think my wife only cried once...maybe twice. But we laughed a lot.
One of the great things about the set up of the season was that they allowed the summer to pass and such some time to pass as well...probably about as long as it was inbetween seasons (say 3 months).
The nice thing about the time warp was that some of the more...lets say "draggy plot details" were able to be worked out (such as Zeek & Camille doing a little better in their relationship, but in counseling) or even Max seems like his therapy is going well, and while he had a breakdown in the episode it wasn't the central theme of the episode.
If only they could have found a way for Monica Potter's character (Kristina Braverman) to be less annoying...although, strangely she grows on us in all of her crazy-momness.
They even helped create texture to Joel's character (Sam Jaeger) which was a plus, since he's sort of the character in the background a lot of the time.
Now the only question is will Drew (Miles Heizer) have a role in this season or just show up now and again? Is Jasmine going to stick around in Crosby's life, or is she going to ditch him and sweep for Max's therapist?
My wife was so happy about Julia and Joel talking baby number 2 (just because she relates to Julie) and since we have a girl, she's just waiting for Julia and Joel to have a second child to mirror her life.
Mostly, how will this show continue to make us smile, laugh, and cry all in an hour every week. Thanks NBC for this guilty pleasure for every Tuesday night!
Pictured Above: Peter Krause as Adam Braverman in Parenthood.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
In addition to having one of the most unique movie posters of the season (pictured right), this film seems like one of those award season wild cards, and the Venice win doesn't necessarily clarify it's position in the award calender.
Over the past 10 years a Golden Lion winner have had heavy award exposure by the time the Academy Awards came around, or in other cases no exposure or Oscar-love at all.
Here's the Oscar tally's from the past 10 years:
• 2009 - Lebanon (לבנון) - No Oscar Nominations/Wins
• 2008 - The Wrestler - 2 Oscar Nominations (Actor, Supporting Actress), No Wins
• 2007 - Lust, Caution (Sè, Jiè) - No Oscar Nomations/Wins
• 2006 - Still Life (Sānxiá hǎorén) - No Oscar Nominations/Wins
• 2005 - Brokeback Mountain - 8 Oscar Nominations (including Best Picture), 3 Wins (Directing, Original Score, Adapted Screenplay)
• 2004 - Vera Drake - 3 Nominations (Actress, Director, Original Screenplay), No wins
• 2003 - The Return (Возвращение, Vozvrashcheniye) - No Oscar Nominations/Wins
• 2002 - The Magdalene Sisters - No Oscar Nominations/Wins
• 2001 - Monsoon Wedding - No Oscar Nominations/Wins
• 2000 - The Circle (Dayereh) - No Oscar Nominations/Wins
I do notice that when the Golden Lion winning film is an English language winner, then the chance of the film succeeding through the award season increases pretty significantly.
But this award certainly isn't a strong "precursor" but rather it's own unique award.
So from here we'll have to see if Somewhere shows up other places throughout the award season.
King George VI
King George VI was born on December 14, 1895 as Albert Fredrick Arthur George. His birth was during the reign of his great-grandmother Queen Victoria. The date of his birth was the anniversary of the Queen's husband Prince Albert, and so out of respect for the Queen and prince was given the name Albert by which is was called as a young child.
After the death of Queen Victoria, young Albert (later, George VI) would eventually become King following the his older bother Edward VIII, who followed their father George V, and his grandfather King Edward VII.
Prior to becoming King George VI, Albert attended the British Naval College where he finished bottom of his class, but still progressed and served in WWI for England. With the creation of the Royal Airforce, George VI became a member of the airforce. In 1919 he went to Trinity College for a year to study history and economics.
In 1920 Albert (George VI) met Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon who denied multiple proposals made by George VI for marriage, based on her disinterest in becoming a part of the royal family. She finally accepted and the two were wed on April 26, 1923.
Albert (later, George VI) gave a horribly famous speech on October 31, 1925 at the British Empire exhibition. The speech was criticised for Albert inability to communicate because of speech problems, including stuttering. As a result he began to see Lionel Logue, a speech therapist from Australia who worked with Albert.
Albert and Lady Elizabeth had two children during this time, Elizabeth (Libbet) in 1926, and Margaret in 1930.
After his father died (King George V), his elder brother (Edward VIII) took the throne (January 20, 1936).
Edward VIII's reign was short lived as a unmarried man with no children who fell in love with an American woman with two ex-husbands, it became clear that in order to marry his controversial love Wallis Simpson.
The reign of George VI (previously, Albert) began on December 11, 1936.
King George VI's reign is probably most characterized as having been the king during WWII, and reigning during the breakup of the empire with the independence of Ireland, Pakistan, and India.
Due to the stress of WWII, as well as heavy smoking, King George VI's health came into question, and his daughter Elizabeth took over more roles in the kingdom. George VI developed lung cancer, which led to surgery to remove a portion of his lung where a malignant tumor had grown.
Final speeches made by George VI where either recorded in pieces and edited together or read by others.
On February 6, 1952, George VI died of coronary thrombosis.
His daughter would then be reigned that same day as Queen Elizabeth II, the current reigning queen of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The King's Speech
The film tells the story of the king's stutter and speech therapy with Australian therapist Lionel Logue.
In addition to Firth playing the King, Geoffrey Rush plays the speech therapist Logue.
Also in this film is Guy Pearce as King George VI's brother (the abdicating King Edward VIII), Helena Bonham Carter plays Elizabeth (George VI's wife), while Jennifer Ehle plays Logue's wife Myrtle.
Michael Gambon plays George V, the father of George VI & Edward VIII. And Timothy Spall plays Winston Churchill.
Colin Firth received his first Oscar nomination last year with the film A Single Man. Firth's performance in this historical bio-pic has the feel of the type of film that could earn vast critical support as well as earn him his second Oscar nomination, and perhaps even a win for portraying this Real (Reel) Person?
Friday, September 10, 2010
(Thought after watching The Last Song with my wife)
Thursday, September 09, 2010
I found this interesting because in many ways it made me think of the Flag Protection Act of 1989 and the interesting issues associated with strong symbols (the American Flag in the case of the 1989 act). This act was struck down by the supreme court due to the premise that burning the flag was protected under the 1st amendment of the constitution allowing for free speech.
Similarly, as outrage has mounted over the plan to burn Qur'ans, a sacred religious Muslim symbol.
Terry Jones' church had scheduled this controversial event to occur on Saturday, the anniversary of the September 11th attack.
There has been a great outcry at all levels, from Christians, Muslims, non-religious, military commanders, foreign diplomats, the United States government, and other governments around the world. It's amazing how large a response has been cried.
Yet, no one could say that this was "illegal," yet it was one of those issues that everyone says "just because you can, doesn't mean you should." Especially as the government was warning of backlash in the form of potential al-Qaeda backlash, increased ease of their recruitment, as well as eminent danger to civilian and military Americans abroad.
The Cancellation of "International Koran Day" and a Brokered Deal
Despite the high level of criticism, and potential harm that could be caused by this event, pastor Terry Jones was not budging from his plan to have the Qur'an burning event on the 9th anniversary of the September 11 attack.
But it is being reported that this plan has been canceled, and not due to the outrage and request from various sides, rather it sounds that Terry Jones has brokered a deal with Muslim leaders, including Imam from New York, Feisal Abdul Rauf, and Imam from Florida,Muhammad Musri. The deal that has been brokered is that Jones cancels his event in exchange for a commitment that the Islamic cultural center that had plans to be built on a part of the ground zero location.
How Will The Discussion Be Shaped
Many where outraged at the Qur'an burning event. But in the same way their was no legal reason to stop this event, there was a similar argument to the plans for the New York City Islamic Cultural Center. This center had caused a great deal of outrage, and when President Barack Obama stood behind the legal right for Muslims to build in this location, there was outrage.
So now it would appear, assuming that the church's do not attempt a similar stunt and that Muslim leaders keep the commitment that has been brokered, that two controversies have been quashed and canceled out.
The discourse changes - I imagine some who have spoken out about the burning event will also praise Terry Jones and his church for his boldness and "one man changed things" story. On the other hand, others may feel this is manipulation and unprecedented interference that could spawn similar events to get the political and religious community to respond to disagreeable events.
Does this news change your discourse?
Source of today's news and image via Voice of America News.
Monday, September 06, 2010
This low intake seems typical with what "labor day films" seem to draw, and it makes sense to me.
Here's why it seems to me this happens.
1. Summer's last Bookend. If the film was going to be a blockbuster, why didn't they release it during the summer? Labor Day weekend seems like a dumping ground for films that aren't quite award winners and aren't quite summer blockbusters. It seems like a place studios have recently dropped horror films (Jeepers Creepers, 2007's Halloween) or less than exceptional comedies (Balls of Fury, All About Steve).
2. College Football & Cooler Weather. Obviously your "Entertainment Weekly" subscribes and your "Sports Illustrated" subscribers are different crowds. But your ESPN watchers and your film watchers are often similar circles. Americans across the United States have spent a lot of time in front of the TV these weekend and when not in front of the TV watching the college football season kick off. If they're not watching TV, then they are enjoying a cooler weather that comes at the tail end of summer. The last place people are likely to retreat to is the dark cool movie theater.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Thursday, September 02, 2010
The film so far has glowing reviews, but watching this film I struggled to embrace it as critics at Variety, Film Threat & Village Voice.
The film tells the story of a street hustler named Lucky (played by Prince Adu) selling knock-off purses and shoes in New York City. Lucky is surprised when an ex-girl friend drops off a year and a half year old baby with him, claiming it is his son.
Now, I can appreciate a different story about someone in New York trying to make it in a unique sector of the cities fashion district, but I think what this film brings in realism it lacks in entertainment. In fact, watching this film is like watching a unfortunate situation turn increasingly unfortunate.
This is not your warm fuzzy family movie. Clearly, Simon Baker is not trying to sugar coat anything, and I don't criticize Baker's direction, but as a father of a toddler watching such an awful situation, I found this film very unappealing on a personal level. Only when Lucky is setting up a Pack 'N Play with great struggles, did I smile.
I think the other part where this film struggles is that the dialogue seems improvised, and when the actors seemed loss for a line they would just repeat expletives to create a flow to dialogue.
Additionally, the co-lead of the film Karren Karagulian (playing Levon Krikorian) actually does a really nice job in the film, but somehow his character in the film seems inconsistent (friendly and giving vs. heartless and aggressive). Had this role been written more focused or clear might have been better as well.
The film is a unique view of New York City. It's a challenging film, which obviously isn't bad at all. But it's definitely not an entertaining film, you can skip the popcorn and soda.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
My StrangeCulture had been compromised and the account under the guise of me had sent out many many e-mails to my StrangeCulture contacts regarding 4G iPhones that you could buy from China.
Not exactly sure how this happened - obviously the passwords under lock & key - but I did change my password...but maybe there's something else I'm missing?
All that to say is - thank you for visiting StrangeCulture & if you're looking for imitation Apple products from China - I have no such contacts, even if I just e-mailed many, many, many people about such an opportunity.
It's unfortunate - I feel scammed and now know that my e-mails will probably be spam blocked for all eternity.