August 29, 2010

House Lights: Talk is still cheap

Quoting Avatar director James Cameron (as recently interviewed by the Washington Post):

DVDs are wasteful. I think there's less plastic in a DVD than there is in a VHS. It’s a consumer product like any consumer product. I think ultimately we're going to bypass a physical medium and go directly to a download model and then it’s just bits moving in the system. And then the only impact to the environment is the power it takes to run the computers, run the devices. I think that we’re not there yet, but we’re moving that direction. Twentieth Century Fox has made a commitment to be carbon neutral by the end of 2010. Because of some of these practices that can’t be changed, the only way to do that is to buy carbon offsets. You know, which again, these are interim solutions. But at least it shows that there’s a consciousness that we have to be dealing with carbon pollution and sustainability.

Given Fox's recent "special edition" re–release of Avatar and the no–extras release of the film on home video (three different packages already on the market), any talk of being "carbon neutral" isn't exactly translating into a News Corporation–run studio "walking the talk."

Especially when ClearBits™, VODO, and the Internet Archive, among others, already lead by example.

Oh, yes: Mr. Cameron's output (a considerable glut of monetary excess and with a gigantic "footprint" of its own) is overrated. Including Avatar — itself a gigantic waste that didn't deserve to be bankrolled, dazzling visuals aside.

August 27, 2010

Just observing...

Courtesy of The Daily What, and taken outside the Skyway Drive–In Theatre in Warren, Ohio:

It reminds me of why I went Bollywood.

And I hope that this particular drive–in doesn't go out of business anytime soon.

P.S.: The film line–up has since been changed.

P.P.S. And here's where you might be able to find any of the surviving drive–ins here in the States.

August 22, 2010

Sound familiar?

In honor of a May 25th Indian Express story (cross–linked, interestingly, on UTV Motion Pictures' website) about a comic book being circulated in India (in English, Marathi, and Hindi versions) urging the young not to download movies (itself part of a joint effort between Hollywood and India's film industry)… we bring you another visit from Mimi and Eunice:

Courtesy of Nina Paley.

One has to wonder how Malegaon Ka Superman auteur Shaik Nasir would see things.

August 16, 2010

That first step's a lulu

Leave it to Nina Paley to nail what it's sometime's like for me, whether it's finding a lasting job or getting a video series off the ground:

Courtesy of Nina Paley.

Uh… quite.

August 15, 2010

Just One Story… Episode 5: The Magic Orange Tree

Without any further adieu, here comes Diane Wolkstein with a storytelling classic. That's all I need to say, really.

Except that this one's shot in widescreen and 720p HD (you can watch it that way on its corresponding Vimeo page):

Story ©1978, 1997 Diane Wolkstein.
Video ©2010 Diane Wolkstein/Philip David Morgan —
Promenade Digital [Mediaworks].

Creative Commons License
This work is released under a Creative Commons Attribution–Noncommercial–No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

It's the first of four stories recorded at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen (in New York City's evergreen Central Park) back in June. We'll have the second one in a few weeks.

August 13, 2010

Coming Attractions: Peepli [Live]

It's been a while since we did a Coming Attractions post, but then we've been waiting for one movie to stand out in a crowded field.

The day has come, and the film is Peepli [Live]. Already it has gotten some good reviews, such as this one from Screen India.

There is an entire YouTube account full of videos from UTV (which is handling the release of the film almost everywhere but Germany and the UK) and producer Aamir Khan's company, but I'm highlighting the international trailer. (Note: this video has no opening studio logos or Central Board of Film Certification rating card. The CBFC gave the film an "A" rating — for adult audiences — due to adult humor and swearing.)

Courtesy UTV Motion Pictures and Aamir Khan Productions.
©2010 Aamir Khan Productions (Pvt.), Ltd.

See you at the movies.

UPDATE 2010.08.13: For what it's worth, the producers posted this quote, reportedly from actor Salman Khan, on Facebook (apologies for the Hindi that's peppered throughout, as well as the need to correct some of the spelling):

"Mr. Midas Touch has produced a picture. Midas touch matlab ke aamir khan. Nattha. [Peepli [Live]] has a mad–ass touch [, especially] the press [should see] the film. [When] I came out of the movie[,] [Peepli [Live]] was happening right outside and I was nattha and went nutta.I [didn't] let [Aamir] touch me after the film. Agar mujhe gold mein badal deta toh??? Last — [Everybody should] watch this film. Its comedy tragedy khulasa sansani breaking news."

Sincere reviews are welcome in our moderated Comments.

UPDATE 2010.08.14: An interview with Mr. Khan is now up on AlterNet.

August 11, 2010

House Lights: Ronald SMASH! (Sorry, wrong character, but still...)

There are many things that truly irritate your Projectionist. Not among the least of them is the way Big Food, Big Toys, and Madison Avenue do a tag–team body slam on the inner workings of kids in the States. (We'll try to tackle how it's done in other nations another day.)

In the meantime, Flesh and Stone has called McDonald's and Disney–owned Marvel on the carpet for an unwelcome appearance in many a kid's "Happy Meals"™ by two {ahem} big shot cast members of The Fantastic Four® franchise:

"McDonald's Happy Meal promotions are under attack. It’s not just the negative impact fast foods are known to have on child obesity, say public health advocates. It’s also the major food marketers’ unconstrained advertising tactics aimed at children and their promotion of unhealthy stereotypes.

"McDonald’s latest marketing campaign features 'The Thing,' a bulky orange Marvel comic action figure, who roars, 'It's clobbering time!' when the button on its back is pushed. The toy is inappropriately aimed at preschool boys, says the Campaign for a Commercial–Free Childhood (CCFC). The organization has launched a letter writing campaign telling McDonald’s to remove the toy, and its colleague 'The Human Torch' from Happy Meals.

"'It's bad enough to use junk toys to sell children on junk food,' said CCFC's Director Susan Linn. 'But now, for preschool boys, a so–called happy meal at McDonald's features the horrifying spectacle of a man engulfed in flames and a menacing figure that explicitly spurs them to violence.'"

At last check, when Disney acquired Marvel in 2009, they acquired properties populated by some five thousand characters, heroes and villains alike, as part of the House of Mouse's efforts to claim and dominate the young male populace. So I suspect we will be seeing more of this, not less. (Just visiting the Marvel site will provide a [ahem] taste of sights to come. And don't forget DC Comics, owned by the peeps at Time Warner… yep, the Warner Bros. peeps.)

For those not interested in seeing your toddlers suddenly bellowing "Hulk SMASH!"™ for no apparent or justifiable reason, the CCFC has an online letter–writing campaign waiting for you.

But before you click on that, I recommend devoting a good chunk of time reading Henry Giroux and Grace Pollock's very in–depth probing of marketing the Disney way at Truthout. If you're not already asking questions about the motives hatched at 500 Buena Vista Boulevard in Burbank, California… well, you soon will. Trust me.

Oh, yes: This isn't the first time that the CCFC has tangled with Disney: Here's the organization's "never surrender" declaration on the House of Mouse and the Baby Einstein® properties they bought back in the year 2000 and still vigorously defend to this date. (Even though they're indefensible.)

UPDATE 2010.08.11 @ 15:36: Here is the text of my message to McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner:
Good Hello Mr. Skinner:

Up until now, I have had no reason to contact McDonald's management. But the recent Happy Meals promotion using Disney–owned Marvel Entertainment properties, such as the "Thing" and "Human Torch" characters from the Fantastic Four franchise, has upset me to the point of writing this note.

It is bad enough that the Walt Disney Company routinely promotes its media properties — movies, TV shows, whatever — through your establishments (as do other well known entities). But when you aim a character toy programmed to play a "IT'S CLOBBERIN’ TIME!" message at the press of a button, well…

I am aware that Disney acquired Marvel in 2009, as part of a concerted effort to corner the young male market (and as one of many profit making motives to make more of the world's populace captive to anything branded with one of the many names Disney owns outright). But you can and must learn to set limits, if for no other reason than that of taste.

Yes, I know, this promotion involves The Fantastic Four, a long–established Marvel Comics franchise involving four people with… well, "issues," who suddenly have their worlds turned upside down as a result of radiation that makes them mutate into something other than human. (To call them "superhuman" is another matter of individual taste — you either like Marvel product or you don't; ditto Time Warner–owned DC Comics.) But your decision to hand little boys the horrifying spectacle of a man perpetually aflame or a menacing rock–textured figure with a violence–inducing call is enough to tarnish McDonald’s reputation — if, indeed, it has one — as a family–friendly company. (Disney stopped being family–friendly years ago when, among other things, they acquired Miramax Films and allowed the studio to develop its family–un–friendly Dimension banner under Disney's watch.)

I am a media producer myself, but I know my limits. Please recognize your own, and end this obscene promotion at once.

Thank you.

August 5, 2010

Getting down to business

Your Projectionist is a wee down in the dumps, having recently lost his full–time warehouse job. While he gathers his wits and prepares to re-work his resumé, he is also putting some spit and polish on Promenade Digital [Mediaworks], his little hole–in–the–wall studio. Apple's iWork is now installed on his parents' iMac, which can do things much faster and easier than with his old Mac Mini — and do it in widescreen as well. It'll help because the next episodes of Just One Story… are shot that way.

Post-production will begin soon on Episode 5, the first of a handful that were shot at the Statue of Hans Christian Andersen in New York City's Central Park. This is manna to story lovers in the Big Apple: stories al fresco, in the company of children and their parents. Community wrapped around an hour of story. We'll soon have some of the fragrant fruit for you both here and on the Promenade website.

In the meantime, Mr. Morgan has been working to represent what he "sells":

Now you can't say you didn't meet us

And a good thing they came out well once printed.