The Big Sick
Finds that laughter-through-tears sweet spot, often in the unlikeliest of places.
"Cultural Endurance Outside the Movie Theater": The New Yorker's Calum Marsh pens a provocative piece on how Video On Demand may be the most profitable platform for indie distribution.
“Video-on-demand platforms—V.O.D., for short—have been around for years, but film distributors have lately been pushing the day-and-date model. It’s long been the case that big-budget movies crowd multiplexes, which can make it difficult for smaller films to succeed. Eamonn Bowles, the president of Magnolia Pictures, told me that, in the past, ‘you would open in a couple of theatres and spend a huge amount of money in the hopes that it would open wide so you could recoup that money, and it was an insane proposition on a business level.’ Most theatrical releases don’t turn a profit, though. ‘It was an awful business model,’ Bowles said. But, distributors argue, if you make a film available to rent digitally for seven or eight dollars as soon as it hits theatres—right when awareness of the film is at its height—you can reach people who don’t want to see the film in a theatre, or who live in cities where the film isn’t playing.”
“It’s not, by even the most generous standards, a great movie, or even a good one. Yet it’s part of the long tradition of scrappy imitations, which keeps the blood of genre moviemaking pumping. Castellari directs with great brio, using restless camerawork and a fondness for jarring shifts in focus to liven up even the most ordinary scene, and at one point offering a vision of beachgoers running in slow motion years before Baywatchmade it a staple. He also engages in a game of one-upmanship: In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, he sends his shark to attack a helicopter, first by biting a man in half, then by dragging the chopper to the briny deep.”
"The Roar Over the Funds of the Crowd": Zach Braff chats with Kathryn Shattuck of The New York Times about the controversy generated by his use of Kickstarter to fund his upcoming film, "Wish I Was Here."
“To hear Mr. Braff and his producer tell it, though, he couldn’t get a movie financed. Sure, his nine-season run as Dr. John Dorian on the NBC sitcom ‘Scrubs’ had made him a celebrity both here and abroad — a wealthy one, with a reported net worth of $22 million (a figure he has denied). But that was television, and the series ended in 2010. Other than ‘Garden State,’ his biggest film roles had been voice parts — the title character in ‘Chicken Little’ and a winged monkey in ‘Oz the Great and Powerful.’ In other words, not the foreign box-office draw on whom financiers like to place their bets. There was also the problem of the achingly idiosyncratic script for ‘Wish I Was Here,’ with its themes of Judaism, father and sons, and death, featuring fantasy sequences starring Mr. Braff as a space knight escorted by a flying robotic squire.”
"Our unrealistic views of death, through a doctor's eyes": A very thoughtful opinion piece from Craig Bowron at The Washington Times.
“At a certain stage of life, aggressive medical treatment can become sanctioned torture. When a case such as this comes along, nurses, physicians and therapists sometimes feel conflicted and immoral. We’ve committed ourselves to relieving suffering, not causing it. A retired nurse once wrote to me: ‘I am so glad I don’t have to hurt old people any more.’ When families talk about letting their loved ones die ‘naturally,’ they often mean ‘in their sleep’ — not from a treatable illness such as a stroke, cancer or an infection. Choosing to let a loved one pass away by not treating an illness feels too complicit; conversely, choosing treatment that will push a patient into further suffering somehow feels like taking care of him. While it’s easy to empathize with these family members’ wishes, what they don’t appreciate is that very few elderly patients are lucky enough to die in their sleep. Almost everyone dies of something.”
"Gilding the Small Screen": The co-editors of Reverse Shot, Jeff Reichert and Michael Koresky, explain why the question, "Is television the new cinema?" misses the point of both media.
“The current roster of episodic television series does occasionally offer provocative, gripping works of popular art; they’re just a different form and deserve recognition as such. As co-editors of Reverse Shot, a long-running online film journal geared toward a cinephile crowd, we identify as cinema snobs. Yet most contemporary cinephiles are also avid, even obsessive, watchers of at least one television series. Some adore ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Mad Men,’ perhaps because of their alleged cinematic qualities, or maybe because of their distinct retreats from the filmic form; ‘Downton Abbey’ continually turns up on our DVRs, whether we like it or not; ‘Louie’ and ‘30 Rock’ delight and challenge us in ways most film comedies don’t. Even long-gone shows like ‘The Wire,’ ‘Deadwood,’ and ‘The Sopranos’ still claim passionate proselytizers among cinephiles, whereas movies seem to increasingly have sell-by dates of interest. Who still talks about ‘Juno,’ which premiered to much applause the same year as ‘Mad Men’? Who will care a whit about ‘American Hustle’ a year from now?”
RogerEbert.com FFC Michael Mirasol edits a fantastic montage of classic movie clips in his essay, "Primates: Human Mirrors in Cinema" at Movie Mezzanine.