Yesterday, Indiewire film critic David Ehrlich ran an illuminating essay on Netflix’s testy relationship with the original films it releases, explaining how their model of bypassing theatrical release and going straight to streaming ultimately degrades the viewing experience and makes the movies harder to find and appreciate. (This comes hot on the heels of an official denunciation from the Federation of French Cinemas against the Cannes Film Festival for allowing TV into their lineup for the first time ever.) Clearly, his words went straight to the top of Netflix’s corporate office, as the online video giant has issued a letter to their shareholders assuring them that everything’s going to be fine and movies aren’t dead, probably.
Sex with movies — until now, it’s been an impossible dream. But Netflix is a company of innovation, and they’re not going to stop at reshaping the home-entertainment industry top to bottom. Much ruckus was raised recently when Netflix announced that they would do away with their widely reviled star ratings and switch to a thumbs-up/thumbs-down system for recommendations, but a new video from the streaming giant released today clarifies the nature of this new recommendations engine. At long last, we can decide which movies we want to do it with, as if the film industry was one big textual Tinder. And that’s not my comparison, either — Netflix wants you to think of this like a dating app!
Almost exactly a year ago, tech entrepreneur Sean Parker (better known as the guy who correctly identified a billion dollars as cooler than a million dollars in The Social Network) fronted a proposed business venture called The Screening Room, a potentially game-changing set-top box through which Hollywood studios would offer their biggest new releases to stream at home the same day they premiered in brick-and-mortar theaters. (With an astronomical price tag, naturally.) Though it gained some traction and support from significant voices in the film community, it ultimately sputtered and spun out. But with the rebirth of spring, so comes a rebirth for this impractical, frightening, cineplex-annihilating idea. (Kinda.)
When pals asked, “What was your favorite part of Rogue One?” and I responded, “The part at the end when they all died,” it sounded like a bitter joke. But it‘s true — the choice to take advantage of the film’s stand-alone nature by concluding with the cast’s noble, obliterating sacrifice was a bold and decisive storytelling choice that helped distinguish Gareth Evans’ film from the rest of the franchise. The characters meant more in death than they ever did while living, and the selflessness of their risky suicide mission attests to the power of the human spirit in wartime. But this was not always the game plan.
Hey, are you between the ages of 18 and 25? Are you of Middle Eastern descent? Are you free from April of this year right on through to January 2018? Have you ever been described as ‘telegenic,’ and most importantly, can you hit a high C? Then good news, you have a solid shot at landing one of the starring roles in Guy Ritchie’s upcoming live-action Aladdin remake for Disney!
Disney’s concept for Christopher Robin — a live-action reimagining of the happy tales of Winnie the Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang — was kind of weird from the start. The idea was that the film would rejoin Pooh’s young pal Christopher Robin as a family man swept up in his professional life, with Pooh returning to remind the jaded grown-up of the wonderment of childhood. Perhaps Disney recognized what a tricky sell that might be, and accordingly decided to throw all the talented people they could at this. They brought in acerbic indie-circuit favorite Alex Ross Perry to draw up a script, and then hired eclectic director Marc Forster (responsible for everything from World War Z to Stranger Than Fiction to Finding Neverland to Quantum of Solace) to head up the operation.
Unless your name happens to be Kathryn Bigelow (and if it is, then may I say that it’s a pleasure, Ms. Bigelow, big Point Break fan), Hollywood has had a lot of trouble figuring out how to portray the Global War on Terror. The odd movies that have succeeded critically or financially — Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper — take an ambivalent stance on a complicated and nuanced geopolitical situation, but many more have attempted the same and floundered. So it’s with memories of the high-profile failure of one-time Oscar hopeful Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk that we greet the trailer for War Machine, Netflix’s latest foray into this risky genre.
Every family argues at the table. Some squabble about religion, some yell about politics, and some get into screaming matches at Thanksgiving dinner over whether or not Jimmy Fallon is a sniveling sycophant. But while all happy families are the same, all unhappy families are miserable in their own way, and the Lohman clan has an ocean’s worth of bad blood between them. It‘ll all come to the surface when Oren Moverman’s new drama-thriller The Dinner debuts at the Berlinale Film Festival on February 10, and today, those of us unable to jet to Europe can still check it out with the newly released trailer.
As is tradition, the night before the Oscar ceremony takes place, the 37th Annual Golden Raspberry Awards will descend on Los Angeles to commemorate the worst that Hollywood had to offer in 2016. A mean-spirited diss-fest in the estimation of some, a good-natured ribbing to others, the so-called Razzies are twice as unpredictable and ten times as frank as the usual awards program. The expected categories of Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Actor/Actress share space with the distinctions of Worst Screen Combo and Worst Prequel, Remake, Ripoff, or Sequel at the ignominious ceremony. Some celebrities take the jokes in stride (Sandra Bullock famously showed up to receive her Worst Actress Razzie for All About Steve the day before she dropped by the Oscars to pick up her Best Actress prize for The Blind Side), but the program goes widely ignored by the industry overall.
Forcing audiences to watch a movie in which a dog lives, finds true happiness, and then dies over and over again would’ve been an act of sadism all on its own. But the crew of the upcoming family film A Dog’s Purpose have recently been outed as sadists of another, more stomach-churning sort. TMZ posted a shocking video from a second-unit shoot for the film in which an animal handler forces a reluctant German Shepard into rushing waters, the dog begins drowning, and handlers rush to retrieve the animal amid cries of “cut it! cut it!” PETA has already called for a boycott of the film, with the most shame heaped upon the industry supplier Birds & Animals Unlimited, and the rest of the fallout has been swift.
Chances are, you’re currently reading these words on a phone, computer, or tablet manufactured by Apple. Maybe on your morning commute, you listen to music downloaded from the ITunes Music Store. If you are an on-the-go sort of person who’s not afraid to be made fun of, you may have an Apple Watch wrapped around your wrist right now. The tech giant’s influence has permeated so many facets of modern life, and as we patiently await Apple’s big foray into the burgeoning field of teledildonics, they’ve announced plans to plant their flag on one more heated battlefield.
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