Friday, August 14, 2015
:: 10 Former Internet Trolls Explain Why They Quit Being Jerks
:: I love this Funny or Die video of Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg interviewing each other about their new movie. It perfectly illustrates not only why I never watch celebrity interviews, but also the truly infuriating and stupid double standard of how men and women are asked questions.
:: Why 35 screenwriters worked on The Flintstones movie. I keep hoping someone will write a book about the making of that movie one day. I don't know why, but over the years it's sort of become one of those failures I'm fascinated with. It has so many of the right elements, but it doesn't work on any level... how did that thing go so incredibly wrong? Other than, obviously, trying to be a kiddie movie about corporate espionage, social advancement, and other things no kid cares about.
:: An oral history of Lollapalooza '95.
:: First trailer for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight has me excited.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
This partnership is actually a good thing for Sesame Street and for PBS.
What this means is that the next five seasons will be available on HBO, HBO GO, HBO On Demand, even HBO NOW. They'll air there first, and after nine months, they'll air on PBS. Which is fine, because it's not like PBS was going to stop airing old episodes in the first place. They'll just keep airing reruns, like they already do, and then they'll slot the new episodes in after nine months.
Here's something a lot of the people with instant knee-jerk reactions might not realize: Sesame Street airs just 26 or 27 new episodes every year. That's a little over five weeks of content. That's it. And Sesame Street airs every weekday, twice a day. But so little of it is new. When the show started in 1969, it did 130 episodes in its first season. The second season, it did 145. From there, the show did 130 episodes a season, every season, until 1998. After that, they only did 65. And since then, it's been slowly whittled down to about 26 or 27 episodes a year. That's it. So most of the year they air reruns twice a day--one episode in the morning (at least in my market), and an edited-down, half-hour version of the same episode in the afternoon. And that edited-down episode is a little... lighter on educational content and heavier on somewhat educational media parodies with number jokes.
Here's another interesting wrinkle: earlier this morning, it was announced that from now on Sesame Street was only going to air a 30-minute version. The hour-long episode won't be produced anymore, mostly because it will allow PBS to remain competitive with other children's programming outlets. What it boils down to is that the half-hour episodes perform better on digital platforms.
So, this is pretty much good news all over. With HBO paying for the show, Sesame Street is going to be able to do more episodes this season (35), and they're going to make more episodes available on their streaming services. Not only that, but when they go to PBS, PBS (for the first time ever) won't have to pay for them, because HBO already has. One of the key points of the deal is that PBS still gets to air the show, as they have for the last 45 years. This is a great business model, because it actually acknowledges that the way children consume their entertainment has changed and it gives Sesame Workshop the ability to adapt to it.
Not only that, but Sesame Workshop will also be able to produce other series for children, including at least one Muppets program.
So that's good news for Sesame Street, its viewers, for educational programming in general, and for public television.
And for Muppet fans.
Please stop your unnecessary outrage panic.
UPDATE 4:21 PM:
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
60 CYCLES (1965)
A short Canadian documentary by Jean-Claude Labrecque about Quebec's St. Laurent long-distance bicycle race. It's only about 15 minutes and has very little dialogue, but by juxtaposing the picturesque background with the movement of the cyclists, it turns the race itself into something of a personal journey for its participants. Very well-shot and edited; I'm always fascinated by films that really capture movement, and I didn't ever really think that watching a bike race could look so exciting. ****
GIMME SHELTER (2013)
Vanessa Hudgens plays Apple, a pregnant 16 year-old who runs out on her abusive mother and has a disappointing meeting with her long-lost father. Her life begins to turn around when a priest helps her into a shelter for pregnant teens (the shelter is real, and was the inspiration for the film itself). What the film does really well is paint a picture of what the social work system is like in real life, and how it has so many bureaucratic layers that it can be impossible to bring about any meaningful change, even in the life of an individual. It's too easy to get lost in it. Frankly, we live in a country where everyone seems to be so scared that what they have is going to get taken away somehow, or they might have to actually share something for a minute, that they're just being as goddamn selfish as they possibly can. That seems to be what the American Way really is. And this isn't a movie that reaches much beyond Lifetime movie cliches (although Hudgens, bless her, is really trying), but at least it illustrates that people don't deserve scorn just because they need help. ***
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Jaquandor has a post up this morning with some Star Wars thoughts, and some of it is stuff I've been trying to say myself for a while. Chief among them is that my enthusiasm for The Force Awakens is starting to wane in large part because the whole thing seems to really be Star Wars Episode VII: Let's Ignore Everything George Lucas Has Done Since 1980.
I don't love talking about Star Wars online, because there's always someone who is still just SO ANGRY about the prequels that they get too emotional to have an actual conversation with. The thing that bugs me is, given the joyously derisive talk about midichlorians and the reverence for practical effects, those are starting to seem like the people that Episode VII is being made for. The way people are talking about this "new canon" is making the new trilogy seem like a gigantic do-over for prequel-haters. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Han Solo is introduced reminiscing with Chewbacca "Remember that time at Mos Eisley when I shot Greedo first?"
Sunday, August 09, 2015
This beautiful little thing was on last week's episode of Rick and Morty. Performed by guest star Jemaine Clement, this is exactly the kind of exquisite Bowie-esque weirdness that I would describe as my sound. (There's a little NSFW shout at the end if that kind of warning's important to you.)