"Op-ed: Movies aren't math": At The Dissolve, Matt Singer tackles the absurdity of IMDb's ratings-driven lists ranking the best and worst films of all time.
“Even under optimal circumstances, movies aren’t math. And on the Internet, optimal circumstances don’t happen that often. IMDb’s head of PR told FiveThirtyEight that while the site monitors potential examples of “ballot stuffing, the policy is not to delete or modify individual ratings from registered users.” So ‘Gunday’’s worst movie ever status stands for now, at least until Justin Bieber mobilizes his followers against the French New Wave. So remember to consider the methodology of what you’re reading online. Rankings and list are fun, but it’s always wise not to put too much stock in anyone’s opinion but your own. Just because IMDb says something is the worst movie ever made, that doesn’t make it so.”
"Zac Efron's Blank Face Is This Movie's Secret Weapon": Vulture's Bilge Ebiri on Nicholas Stoller's "Neighbors"
“Stoller and Efron strike a nice, subtle moment of alienation when Teddy finds himself at a job fair, not knowing what to do with himself. As his frat brothers start to think about the real world after college, Teddy hopes to remain forever young, a perverted Peter Pan of drunk entitlement. A little of that goes a long way, however, and Efron doesn’t attempt to give his character too much of an inner life. Or rather, the movie does it for him. We can’t quite tell what’s happening beneath that placid, emotionless face: Is he scheming? Is he freaking out? Is he just too dumb to care? That very unknowability, which hampered so many Efron performances in the past, turns out to be his most humanizing trait, and ‘Neighbors’’ secret weapon.”
"The Great Flood": Film Comment's Donald Wilson suggests a strategy for critics aiming to cover the increasing number of films set for release during a given week.
“There’s a more apt prescription than jokingly asking distributors to put out fewer films (most indie distributors today tend to use lackluster and mediocre but commercial releases to subsidize more adventurous fare), or trying to shame filmmakers into making fewer movies. Instead of attempting to achieve some impossible platonic ideal of fairness (the ‘Times,’ though it reviews every release, certainly prioritizes films in a number of subtle ways: review placement, photo inclusion, length, additional feature coverage), shouldn’t the cultural gatekeepers live up to their responsibilities? Instead of covering every film released, they should make smart decisions about what films are worth covering (and on what platforms they’re being released—should great films released only on streaming be penalized for how they reach viewers?).”
"'Washington, T.V.': 'House of Cards' vs. 'Veep'": At Grantland, Andy Greenwald makes his case for which show "truly draws Beltway blood."
“’Veep,’ which will begin its third season on HBO on Sunday, April 6, is the only effective antidote to ‘House of Cards’’ smug bile. It’s also a show about an upwardly mobile vice-president trapped in a D.C. bubble that may as well be a bathysphere. Here, too, is the small army of yes-men and -women who fuel the VP’s rise, the bumbling president whose limitations suggest future possibilities, and the general celebration of executive power as its own reward. And yet ‘Veep’ views these things not with undisguised admiration but with the mockery and gleeful contempt they deserve.”
"John Oliver, Charming Scold": Ian Crouch of The New Yorker pens a superb analysis of HBO's weekly series, "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver."
“Where Oliver’s show has the potential to outpace ‘The Daily Show,’ or at least to break from it more convincingly, through a sustained campaign against another target: its own audience. Jon Stewart has gained a steady, dedicated following by marshalling the anger and frustration of his like-minded fans against the villainy of Fox News and the Republican Party. It is a world of us against them. Oliver, meanwhile, appears to be doing something different. Rather than become the leader of an audience of acolytes, he seems to be out to subtly correct his audience’s prejudices and blind spots. If Stewart is evangelical, Oliver is professorial. His bit on the Indian election was akin to the current rush of explainer journalism, in which a smart person more or less reads the newspaper for you, tells you why this or that thing matters, and nudges you toward a final judgment.”
Photographers such as Richard Avedon may want to take note of the patent, "Studio arrangement," recently announced in DIY Photography, that grants Amazon IP ownership of "what we call shooting against a seamless white backdrop."