Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Bird Box

Bird Box
Netflix viewing

I first heard about Bird Box on Facebook. Friends would discuss something called “the Bird Box Challenge” and I, naturally, had no clue what they were talking about, nor did I care. I’m not the type to pursue every trend on social media. Then I discovered Bird Box was a movie, and I kept seeing memes of a blindfolded Sandra Bullock in a rowboat. Why hadn’t I heard of this movie that apparently has quite a bit of buzz?

Oh. Of course. It’s on Netflix.

These days, serialized television dramas drive social media discussion more than any one film, so to see this film not only generate talk, but to develop a life of its own beyond the film — especially a movie only available through a streaming service — says volumes about how movies have changed, and are changing. I seriously doubt the filmmakers anticipated how big a hit this would become, and it’s not like it was connected to a gimmick, like The Blair Witch Project, or spoke to a bigger social movement, like the recent gay romance Love, Simon, or was an overhyped genre blockbuster.

It was just this Sandra Bullock horror movie.

Thursday, April 11, 2019


seen @ Cinemart Fiveplex, Forest Hills, Queens NY

Earlier this year we talked about the superhero formerly known as Captain Marvel, now called Shazam — one of the oldest active characters in comics history, with a wide and devoted fanbase. He was the first superhero to make it to the big screen. He and his supporting cast spun off a ton of merchandise at the peak of their popularity. When DC Comics acquired the rights to the character, he enjoyed a new wave of popularity in the 70s. A big reason why was his television incarnations.

Filmation was big on Saturday morning and weekday afternoon television in the 70s and 80s. While their animation style looks primitive compared to, say, Teen Titans Go, never mind the great WB adventure toons of the 90s, lots of kids from my generation remember them fondly. They also made live-action shows, and their first was Shazam!, in 1974.

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Netflix viewing

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is the first Netflix original film I've seen since I got the online streaming service for myself, and it comes for me at an appropriate time. You may recall Scruggs was a three-time Oscar nominee, including Adapted Screenplay, one of several Netflix films from last year to be feted, and that's starting to rub some people the wrong way.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Links: Disney-Fox special edition

So. Disney and Fox.

My reaction isn't too different from yours, I imagine: I'm not thrilled at Disney's monopolistic takeover of American pop culture and I fear this may not be the end.

The former's acquisition of the latter is a reaction to the rise of online streaming as a viable outlet for film distribution. The Mouse wants in on that — and once they launch their own platform for it this year, they will —but they also wanna stay competitive.

I guess at this point all I wanna say is this: if you're fed up with Disney owning everything, step outside your comfort zone and see what else is out there. The little guys, the properties without a budget, without a slick marketing campaign, will need our help to survive now more than ever. You don't have to settle for the same old thing if you don't want to — and obviously, this applies to way more than just movies and television.


This month's link roundup includes stories related to the Disney-Fox deal, none of which involve superheroes:

What the deal potentially means for you and me.

The layoffs are and will be massive.

A post-mortem on the beloved Fox 2000, a casualty of the deal.

Is Tim Burton's Dumbo an unintentional allegory for the deal?

Data tracking in the wake of the deal: are children at risk?


Ivan on streaming movies.

How Maddy got into silent films.

And then there was that time, as Le tells it, when Fred Flintstone wore a rubber suit in a monster movie.

Will the Amazon HQ2 controversy lead  to the end of New York State's film tax incentive?

A brief history of "white savior" films (including Green Book).

Barbara Stanwyck learned much about being a great film actress from Frank Capra.

Rudolph Valentino and the lifestyle he inspired.

Finally, thanks again to everyone who took part in the Richard Matheson Blogathon and especially Debbie for co-hosting with me.

Monday, April 1, 2019

QWFF 2019 part 2

Part two of my Queens World Film Festival report and while part of me feels a bit guilty over missing days, it's okay because I still saw some good movies.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

QWFF 2019 part 1

I cannot believe this year's Queens World Film Festival is a week and a half long! While it's still not quite as huge as the Tribeca or New York fests, it has gained a whole lot of attention over the years as more and more filmmakers contribute to the event. Don & Katha Cato maintain the drive to keep it going, year in and year out, and they have a passion for film that has to be seen to be believed.

I, on the other hand, am not capable of keeping up for the whole eleven days, so this year's highlights are more abbreviated than usual. I still expect to find good stuff at the two venues, the Museum of the Moving Image and the Kaufman Astoria Studios, here in Queens.

This year I'm gonna try something different: because the majority of films at QWFF are shorts, I see lots of them. I think it'll be easier if I wrote about the ones that leave the biggest impressions on me. Trying to describe the more abstract ones is a pain in the ass and I don't like most of them anyway. Plus, I can say more about the ones I like most, and I'd rather do that.