Posts tagged Movies

If you use Netflix, you’ve probably wondered about the specific genres that it suggests to you. Some of them just seem so specific that it’s absurd. Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries? Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life? Foreign Satanic Stories from the 1980s?

If Netflix can show such tiny slices of cinema to any given user, and they have 40 million users, how vast did their set of “personalized genres” need to be to describe the entire Hollywood universe?

This idle wonder turned to rabid fascination when I realized that I could capture each and every microgenre that Netflix’s algorithm has ever created.

Through a combination of elbow grease and spam-level repetition, we discovered that Netflix possesses not several hundred genres, or even several thousand, but 76,897 unique ways to describe types of movies…

…What emerged from the work is this conclusion: Netflix has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable. They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented. The genres that I scraped and that we caricature above are just the surface manifestation of this deeper database.
Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic. How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood.
The First Ever NY Times Indie Online Film Festival
Indiewire:

Those who won’t be at Toronto this week can still enjoy a taste of the film festival experience from home. Today, the New York Times launches its first ever Indie Online Film Festival, a free series of four films curated by the nonprofit Film Independent. The films are available to watch from September 3 to October 2.
The online festival includes two feature length and two short form films from rising independent filmmakers who represent a broad range of styles. Each of these films has played festivals previously but this series marks their debut for a worldwide audience.

FJP: And the empire expands. Check out the four films here.

The First Ever NY Times Indie Online Film Festival

Indiewire:

Those who won’t be at Toronto this week can still enjoy a taste of the film festival experience from home. Today, the New York Times launches its first ever Indie Online Film Festival, a free series of four films curated by the nonprofit Film Independent. The films are available to watch from September 3 to October 2.

The online festival includes two feature length and two short form films from rising independent filmmakers who represent a broad range of styles. Each of these films has played festivals previously but this series marks their debut for a worldwide audience.

FJP: And the empire expands. Check out the four films here.

What are the Top 100 Grossing Feature Docs of All Time all about?
Stats show that the top 100 documentaries are pretty even when it comes to content and genre. It’s no surprise that biography is slightly in the lead (29/100). These numbers are very significant however, because it shows that there’s no “golden formula” for what documentaries will become box office hits. What matters is the quality of the story you tell and the audience you’re telling it to.—Gabbi 

What are the Top 100 Grossing Feature Docs of All Time all about?

Stats show that the top 100 documentaries are pretty even when it comes to content and genre. It’s no surprise that biography is slightly in the lead (29/100). These numbers are very significant however, because it shows that there’s no “golden formula” for what documentaries will become box office hits. What matters is the quality of the story you tell and the audience you’re telling it to.—Gabbi 

Disney Docs
Did you know that 4 of the top 15 grossing documentaries of all time are associated with Disney? The films include Oceans, African Cats, Earth, and Chimpanzee. — Gabbi

Disney Docs

Did you know that of the top 15 grossing documentaries of all time are associated with Disney? The films include Oceans, African Cats, Earth, and Chimpanzee. — Gabbi

Popularity Comes When “B.O.” Goes

You learn a lot about a culture from its advertising. Take, for instance, this 1934 ad for Lifebuoy, a soap that “guards daintiness” as it protects women against unseemly odors.

Equally cringeworthy, it appears alongside “Hepburn Needed Those Spankings,” an article about Katharine Hepburn in Movie Classic, a studio-produced fan magazine.

RIP Roger Ebert

Video: Remaking My Voice, via TED.

Analysis and Explainers: Star Wars Edition
Wired has a delightful twofer that any journalist interested in analysis and explainers should read.
The first comes from Spencer Ackerman and explores how the Galactic Empire is such a miserable fighting force. Taking the Battle of Hoth as his case study, Ackerman writes:

From a military perspective, Hoth should have been a total debacle for the Rebel Alliance. Overconfident that they can evade Imperial surveillance, they hole up on unforgiving frigid terrain at the far end of the cosmos. Huddled into the lone Echo Base are all their major players: politically crucial Princess Leia; ace pilot Han Solo; and their game-changer, Luke Skywalker, who isn’t even a Jedi yet.
The defenses the Alliance constructed on Hoth could not be more favorable to Vader if the villain constructed them himself. The single Rebel base (!) is defended by a few artillery pieces on its north slope, protecting its main power generator. An ion cannon is its main anti-aircraft/spacecraft defense. Its outermost perimeter defense is an energy shield that can deflect Imperial laser bombardment. But the shield has two huge flaws: It can’t stop an Imperial landing force from entering the atmosphere, and it can only open in a discrete place for a limited time so the Rebels’ Ion Cannon can protect an evacuation. In essence, the Rebels built a shield that can’t keep an invader out and complicates their own escape.
When Vader enters the Hoth System with the Imperial Fleet, he’s holding a winning hand. What follows next is a reminder of two military truths that apply in our own time and in our own galaxy: Don’t place unaccountable religious fanatics in wartime command, and never underestimate a hegemonic power’s ability to miscalculate against an insurgency.

Ackerman goes on to explore Darth Vader’s “incoherent strategy in outer space,” the Empire’s mismanaged ground assault and its inability to form an actual blockade against rebel forces trying to escape.
Rhett Allain follows up in the Wired Science blog with an explainer of how much Darth Vader must weigh.
It’s not as easy as it appears and requires a fair bit of math and physics by exploring a scene in Return of the Jedi where Vader does a one-handed grab of a rebel and lifts him off his feet. As Allain points out, despite having bionic arms and legs, we must explore the physics of mass and stability in order to understand how Vader achieved this feet of strength.
Follow Allain’s mathematical formulas to account for mass, gravity, force and torque, and it turns out that Vader weighs in at a minimum of about 520 pounds (236 kg).
Image: Video still, The Empire Strikes Back, Battle of Hoth. Select to embiggen.

Analysis and Explainers: Star Wars Edition

Wired has a delightful twofer that any journalist interested in analysis and explainers should read.

The first comes from Spencer Ackerman and explores how the Galactic Empire is such a miserable fighting force. Taking the Battle of Hoth as his case study, Ackerman writes:

From a military perspective, Hoth should have been a total debacle for the Rebel Alliance. Overconfident that they can evade Imperial surveillance, they hole up on unforgiving frigid terrain at the far end of the cosmos. Huddled into the lone Echo Base are all their major players: politically crucial Princess Leia; ace pilot Han Solo; and their game-changer, Luke Skywalker, who isn’t even a Jedi yet.

The defenses the Alliance constructed on Hoth could not be more favorable to Vader if the villain constructed them himself. The single Rebel base (!) is defended by a few artillery pieces on its north slope, protecting its main power generator. An ion cannon is its main anti-aircraft/spacecraft defense. Its outermost perimeter defense is an energy shield that can deflect Imperial laser bombardment. But the shield has two huge flaws: It can’t stop an Imperial landing force from entering the atmosphere, and it can only open in a discrete place for a limited time so the Rebels’ Ion Cannon can protect an evacuation. In essence, the Rebels built a shield that can’t keep an invader out and complicates their own escape.

When Vader enters the Hoth System with the Imperial Fleet, he’s holding a winning hand. What follows next is a reminder of two military truths that apply in our own time and in our own galaxy: Don’t place unaccountable religious fanatics in wartime command, and never underestimate a hegemonic power’s ability to miscalculate against an insurgency.

Ackerman goes on to explore Darth Vader’s “incoherent strategy in outer space,” the Empire’s mismanaged ground assault and its inability to form an actual blockade against rebel forces trying to escape.

Rhett Allain follows up in the Wired Science blog with an explainer of how much Darth Vader must weigh.

It’s not as easy as it appears and requires a fair bit of math and physics by exploring a scene in Return of the Jedi where Vader does a one-handed grab of a rebel and lifts him off his feet. As Allain points out, despite having bionic arms and legs, we must explore the physics of mass and stability in order to understand how Vader achieved this feet of strength.

Follow Allain’s mathematical formulas to account for mass, gravity, force and torque, and it turns out that Vader weighs in at a minimum of about 520 pounds (236 kg).

Image: Video still, The Empire Strikes Back, Battle of Hoth. Select to embiggen.

Going Behind the Scenes in Middle-Earth
Someone posted a treasure trove of Hobbit set photos. Sit back with a bit of Longbottom Leaf and just try to contain your excitement.

Going Behind the Scenes in Middle-Earth

Someone posted a treasure trove of Hobbit set photos. Sit back with a bit of Longbottom Leaf and just try to contain your excitement.

TCM to screen “Forbidden Planet” in Flordia (and Space)
If you’re going to be in Florida next month and fancy a movie, consider getting free tickets to a screening of “Forbidden Planet” and watch it with some astronauts. They’ll be on the ISS, by the way.
via the Times:

Movies are part of what NASA calls psych support, or psychological support, for astronauts aboard the space station.
One of those astronauts, the American Sunita Williams, is to introduce “Forbidden Planet” from space to the attendees at the Kennedy Space Center screening. 

TCM to screen “Forbidden Planet” in Flordia (and Space)

If you’re going to be in Florida next month and fancy a movie, consider getting free tickets to a screening of “Forbidden Planet” and watch it with some astronauts. They’ll be on the ISS, by the way.

via the Times:

Movies are part of what NASA calls psych support, or psychological support, for astronauts aboard the space station.

One of those astronauts, the American Sunita Williams, is to introduce “Forbidden Planet” from space to the attendees at the Kennedy Space Center screening. 

Archipelago Cinema
One of America’s most nostalgic pastimes is enjoying a revival in Thailand, where moviegoers recently floated to a theater flanked by massive rocks.
Via Architizer:

For the final night of the Film on the Rocks Yao Noi Festival earlier this month, guests were taken by boat to savor a final screening on a floating cinema designed by Beijing-based architect Ole Scheeren. Scheeren’s Archipelago Cinema consisted of a floating screen, cradled between two towering rocks, and a separate raft-like auditorium, together offering a spiritual and vaguely primordial cinematic experience.

And once it has finished showing films, the structure will be remodeled. Made with recycled and reusable materials, the theater will one day function as a stage and playground for community children.

Archipelago Cinema

One of America’s most nostalgic pastimes is enjoying a revival in Thailand, where moviegoers recently floated to a theater flanked by massive rocks.

Via Architizer:

For the final night of the Film on the Rocks Yao Noi Festival earlier this month, guests were taken by boat to savor a final screening on a floating cinema designed by Beijing-based architect Ole Scheeren. Scheeren’s Archipelago Cinema consisted of a floating screen, cradled between two towering rocks, and a separate raft-like auditorium, together offering a spiritual and vaguely primordial cinematic experience.

And once it has finished showing films, the structure will be remodeled. Made with recycled and reusable materials, the theater will one day function as a stage and playground for community children.

A feature length movie is an amazing dataset. You just need to know how to look at it, and you need the right tools.

For his senior project at the Royal Academy of Arts, Den Haag, Frederic Brodbeck created his own software programs that dissembled video files into their constituent parts. In this way he was able to identify elements such as video, audio, subtitles, as well as gathering information average shot length, motion measuring, color palettes and more. 

cinemetrics is about measuring and visualizing movie data, in order to reveal the characteristics of films and to create a visual “fingerprint” for them. Information such as the editing structure, color, speech or motion are extracted, analyzed and transformed into graphic representations so that movies can be seen as a whole and easily interpreted or compared side by side.

Brilliant, my fine friend. Brilliant.

h/t Motionographer

Y Combinator wants to Kill Hollywood

youmightfindyourself:

Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.

That’s one reason we want to fund startups that will compete with movies and TV, but not the main reason. The main reason we want to fund such startups is not to protect the world from more SOPAs, but because SOPA brought it to our attention that Hollywood is dying. They must be dying if they’re resorting to such tactics. If movies and TV were growing rapidly, that growth would take up all their attention. When a striker is fouled in the penalty area, he doesn’t stop as long as he still has control of the ball; it’s only when he’s beaten that he turns to appeal to the ref. SOPA shows Hollywood is beaten. And yet the audiences to be captured from movies and TV are still huge. There is a lot of potential energy to be liberated there.

How do you kill the movie and TV industries? Or more precisely (since at this level, technological progress is probably predetermined) what is going to kill them? Mostly not what they like to believe is killing them, filesharing. What’s going to kill movies and TV is what’s already killing them: better ways to entertain people. So the best way to approach this problem is to ask yourself: what are people going to do for fun in 20 years instead of what they do now?

There will be several answers, ranging from new ways to produce and distribute shows, through new media (e.g. games) that look a lot like shows but are more interactive, to things (e.g. social sites and apps) that have little in common with movies and TV except competing with them for finite audience attention. Some of the best ideas may initially look like they’re serving the movie and TV industries. Microsoft seemed like a technology supplier to IBM before eating their lunch, and Google did the same thing to Yahoo.

It would be great if what people did instead of watching shows was exercise more and spend more time with their friends and families. Maybe they will. All other things being equal, we’d prefer to hear about ideas like that. But all other things are decidedly not equal. Whatever people are going to do for fun in 20 years is probably predetermined. Winning is more a matter of discovering it than making it happen. In this respect at least, you can’t push history off its course. You can, however, accelerate it.

What’s the most entertaining thing you can build?

With the 10th Annual Lebowski Fest kicking off later this week in Louisville, Kentucky, Miiller-McCune looks at scholarly papers inspired by the Coen brothers 1998 film.
To wit:

Grasping to explain this appeal, Comentale and Jaffe point to a minor character in the film: “The Stranger,” portrayed by Sam Elliott, a veteran of numerous Westerns. Dressed in traditional cowboy garb, he emerges occasionally to provide background information, analysis and commentary. In their words, “he just points at something interestin’ and gently nods” — a watch-and-learn stance that is the foundation of academic research. The Dude abides, but The Stranger annotates.

Tom Jacobs, Miller-McCune. Scholars and The Big Lebowski: Deconstructing The Dude.

With the 10th Annual Lebowski Fest kicking off later this week in Louisville, Kentucky, Miiller-McCune looks at scholarly papers inspired by the Coen brothers 1998 film.

To wit:

Grasping to explain this appeal, Comentale and Jaffe point to a minor character in the film: “The Stranger,” portrayed by Sam Elliott, a veteran of numerous Westerns. Dressed in traditional cowboy garb, he emerges occasionally to provide background information, analysis and commentary. In their words, “he just points at something interestin’ and gently nods” — a watch-and-learn stance that is the foundation of academic research. The Dude abides, but The Stranger annotates.

Tom Jacobs, Miller-McCune. Scholars and The Big Lebowski: Deconstructing The Dude.

Esquire brings a whole different perspective to the summer movie review by visualizing genres, kill counts, Raymond Carver adaptations, SNL members vs Mad TV member, sequels and a whole lot more.
Check it.

Esquire brings a whole different perspective to the summer movie review by visualizing genres, kill counts, Raymond Carver adaptations, SNL members vs Mad TV member, sequels and a whole lot more.

Check it.