Hello Sunshine

The media company Hello Sunshine, founded by Reese Witherspoon, has an interest in telling stories that are focused on women. Not only for women but that have women at the center of every story. Her purpose to tell, and share, female-driven stories.

You may not consider the need for someone pushing for telling women’s stories, but according to USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative report, published in late last year:

This year’s study also went beyond the top 100 to look at film slates distributed by major companies over the last 5 years, with results revealing the overall percentage of female directors was 9.8 percent, with 2019 the year in which the highest percentage of female directors worked (15 percent). Still, of the 40 slates studied, 26 of them did not feature a single woman of color as a director.

When stories are told, there is obviously a slant to what message is coming across. So when you omit the stories of women, or of people of color, you’re missing out on voluminous perspectives.

HBO to the max…

HBO Max had a lackluster beginning when only about 90,000 people downloaded the new streaming service’s mobile app. By comparison, 4 million users opted for Disney’s Disney+ service when it debuted back in November.

Three HBO streaming options are available: Now, Go, and Max. I can at least differentiate Max from the other two, but differences between Go and Now are beyond my understanding.

When the streaming wars become such that all content is only available through a number of individual services, each with a $7 price tag or above, there will be push back. That market can’t handle that kind of saturation.

Not to mention the changing face of television and film production

What about the movies?

I like movies. And, additionally, I like movie theaters. Seeing movies in the theater is a different experience than at home. For one, in a full theater, it’s a communal experience.

There are times I’ve talked about the transitory experience of live theatre, and that the performance that night will never be given again. Because, even if the lines and movements happen to be identical (being human, that seems incredibly unlikely), the audience changes. And each audience comes into a performance with something different than previous audiences.

Films, therefore, are subject to similar constraints. Audiences view films with many preconceived notions, and one’s perception of a movie can be drastically different from another seeing the same movie.

Under our current climate, it’s hard to envision what will happen to the movie theater, and to the film industry as a whole. But, as we’ve been programmed to be recipients for story since we first huddled in caves, I’m hopeful that we’ll resume theater-going once we’ve settled down again.

I know, at least, I’ll have a ticket in hand.

 

The awards show

I caught a bit of the Emmys on Sunday night. It’s been DVRed, but finding time to watch it this week will be tough. Easier instead to read the rundowns posted yesterday, either from NYTimes or Vulture, or from Twitter feeds and other social postings.

Two years ago, roughly at this time – following the Emmys, I posted on awards shows. It’s funny to think that again the Emmys prompts a post. After rereading my post from two years ago, I’m happy to say I’ve made some forays back into the entertainment business. Small steps.

But the awards show is an interesting animal. We’re watching the congratulations of people who likely enter our home at some point during the year, when otherwise we’d be watching the shows which they are on. The ratings were a record-low on Sunday, which may have something to do with the abundance of that other that we could be watching. We also are much more involved during the year with celebrity gossip thanks to social media.

So is there a place in the cultural consciousness for award shows? Should they even be televised? I’m sure that the question will continue being thought about among television executives trying to decide how best to sell to advertisers.

Good Omens 2

Finished the show last week. Today I may head out to Disney, weather-permitting (and if I’m not too tired).

For Good Omens, I will day it was an enjoyable, albeit somewhat frenetic, watch. I believe the book itself was also frenetic, so it followed right along.

In one of Gaiman’s interviews I recall him saying how much he wanted the show to follow the book, so as to respect the memory of coauthor Terry Pratchett. In that regard, it was a success.

The cast was good, and it was fun. It had a BBC/Doctor Who feel to the film-making and storytelling, right down to the aliens. I’d watch it again, some time down the road.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

I’m a fan of the radioactive lizard. I had several on VHS and watched the battle against Mechagodzilla over and over again. So it was with some excitement that I went into this movie.

And, I left feeling… meh. Rodin, Mothra, Ghidora and Godzilla looked good. They were used in effective ways. The human characters were not quite as fleshed out.

I wanted to feel more remorse when leading characters died than I did over Mothra getting injured by Rodin. But the storytelling focused on the Titans, and not the mortals. Still, I’ll add the Bandai toys to my collection for this movie.

Good Omens Sunday

One day, six episodes of the Amazon series featuring Michael Sheen and David Tennant as angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley. I first read the novel by Pratchett and Gaiman as a high-schooler, shortly after reading Neverwhere for the first time.

The show is said to be “every bit as entertaining as the novel”, and I’ve been looking forward to it since I heard that it was in preproduction.

Between that today, and a stack of grants I have to finish reading, I’ll have little time for anything else.

On Aladdin

Saw the new Disney offering on Friday. Aladdin’s live-action film, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, and Will Smith, was received with mixed reviews. Myself? I’ll give it a three-star rating.

The movie musical was strong in cinematic ambience, but musically it felt stunted. I often have problems with movie musicals in contemporary cinema. Classics seemed to fare much better – Singing in the Rain, Guys and Dolls, or Oklahoma, for example.

One musical element of the film I did greatly enjoy was the Bollywood-style choreography in several of the songs. The adaptation gives a more authentic Arabian style, even if it is still lives entirely in the fantasy realm.

Some revisions to the script also gave more body to Aladdin and Jasmine, and both Massoud and Scott performed well. Smith also added flair to the performance, though competing with the voice talents of Robin Williams would be a challenge for just about anyone.

Individual performances varied from meh to good. No character was a breakout, however the cgi-renderings of Abu, Iago, and Raja very nearly stole the show.

Endgame

Avengers is… well, done. I’ve been considering the movie since seeing it a few weeks ago. Without spoiling it for anyone, I guess I’ll just try to work through some thoughts.

Knowing that the MCU had to wrap up this first chapter, I had some opinions (as we all did) about how it should be done. I think the movie did a decent job of it, and even left some openings for future changes – though likely not to be capitalized on. Ten years ago Iron Man gave birth to a whole new system of filmmaking, and we’re still seeing the ramifications of that throughout the entertainment industry.

There are some characters that will likely never appear in the new films again, and that feels somewhat devastating. At the same time, actors age. Comic book characters don’t. Rather than pull a Red Skull or Spider-Man and change actors out, better to close doors on characters and open doors to new ones.

I laughed during the movie. Very nearly cried a couple of times (Downey Jr. and Holland about did it, thank you very much). And I left feeling neither disappointed nor contented. It was an end to the first part, and it feels final. Some endings don’t feel like endings. Some leave you room to imagine the next adventure. The next chapter.

Some endings are ambiguous. They can be anything.

And some endings – like Endgame – just end.

Consuming film

The early days of film showed us new possibilities in the world of reality. Images that moved as in real life – no longer just things of fanciful imaginations.

Now, the experience has evolved. And the way that we were cultivated to view cinema is changing as well.

Netflix came under attack recently from industry elites, such as Steven Spielberg, who said that Oscars should be limited to cinema releases, not the Netflix brand of entertainment. (I can’t help but imagine the discussion surrounding film as it related to theatre when cinema began its rise in popularity.)

The joke is, it is industry elites vs. streaming elites, when the real change is through the democratization of entertainment. What will make the most radical difference is how user-uploaded streaming is going to continue to change the face of moving image-making, and what that will mean for the industry.