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by Ben Travers

8 Feb 2011

By now I’m sure everyone has analyzed and re-analyzed every Super Bowl commercial a few dozen times with friends, family, and that crazy internet blogger who somehow didn’t like the Darth Vader Volkswagon ad. Soon, the ads that aren’t re-aired a hundred thousand times during normal programming will drift out of your memory and into YouTube infamy. Some ads, though, need to be remembered. Some marketers count on it, and may not know if their $3 million clip was worth it til May, June, or July.

Movie previews are those of a different breed. They pop up on Super Bowl Sunday to alert you of their existence and provide enough brief, flashy images to stick in your brain for months and months. Some do it better than others. Some don’t have to try. Some are a giant waste of cash. Most are for people who won’t think too hard about them, but you are clearly not one of those people. Neither am I, so let’s dig in and debate which spots proved worthy of their hefty price tags and which won’t ever see that money again.

1 – This movie will gross less than it cost to air the ad, and it’s because of this horrid spot.
5 – Meh. It won’t help, but it probably didn’t hurt it either.
10 – I didn’t want to see it before, but I darn sure do now! Wow!

by Nathan Pensky

1 Feb 2011

Oscar Nominations came out last week, raising their usual mixture of fawning and foul-crying. The naysayers make their case for deserving artists who were ignored. The faithful nod their heads, waiting anxiously for the list of the lucky ones to be handed down. Meanwhile, the artists themselves seem ashamed about the whole dirty business. What do these shiny statuettes really signify?

The process of handing out awards seems rigged by a lack of veracity inherent to its own nature. Awards are decided by committee, through discussion. Except consideration of quality presents diminishing returns when taken up with immediate concerns. The usefulness of qualitative criteria tends to have an inverse relation to the immediate use one is putting to it. Or in other words, if discussion happens “for its own sake, outside time” then good things come, but if there is a definite needfulness attached to the criteria by which one judges, then that needfulness rules over all. (Even the most useful things were once just ideas being tinkered over in a workshop; we didn’t know we needed them until someone told us we did.) As the anointed ones of a given cultural moment make lists of nominees, which inevitably giving way to canon, discussion ends and a spirit of competition antithetical to the creative spirit sets in. And cool heads have never prevailed in a room-full of artists and multi-millionaires.

by Bill Gibron

31 Jan 2011

Sometimes, the communal consciousness of the cinematic community gets it “right”. Of course, by ‘right’ we mean modeling most of the critical consensus that arrives via the various journalistic organizations and collectives providing their positions over the last few months. Awards season is all about a shared coming together, about a year’s worth of performances and personality whittled down to a determination of ten, or five—and then finally one. As trophies come and go, as bottles of champagne are uncorked and gift bags bulge with unnecessary trinkets, the suspense dissipates, each new member of the annual media shouting match removing one more layer of intrigue to the seemingly predetermined list of winners. 

Of course, there is always a baby to come along and soil the bathwater, and this year it’s the Director’s Guild of America. The DGA, almost always a bellwether for who will win the coveted Oscar for filmmaking, is rarely ever wrong. Even when they are—Stephen Spielberg’s snub for The Color Purple, Ang Lee and Rob Marshall’s Guild wins vs. Academy loses—they tend to be on the correct side of the situation. But over the weekend, the DGA pulled one of those unbelievable movie biz boners that will have movie lovers kvetching until the next time they nullify reason. In a decision of deceptive bends, they gave Tom Hooper—a UK TV name with only four features to his name—the year’s highest honor.

by Bill Gibron

17 Jan 2011

It’s rare when the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press’s excuse to party with the PR savvy stars, gets its right. Now, by “right”, we mean that they come remotely close to mimicking The Academy Awards in staying true to critical consensus. In the past, the glorified champagne exchange has been nothing more than an anomaly, a less than accurate indicator of where Oscar will wind up. But for some reason, this year was so predictable, so ingrained in the communal consciousness of Tinseltown, that the otherwise unsteady members of the Globes avoided embarrassment and stayed true to the temperament of 2011.

It is indeed odd. No selection of an otherwise laughable film or performance. No left field recognition (outside of the nominations) of something that causes snickers instead of serious consideration. For the most part - all avoidance of True Grit aside - the Hollywood Foreign Press broke open the magnums and bowed to the better judgment of the rest of the motion picture populace. Over the next few weeks, we will see how accurate the Golden Globes actually were, as the Director’s Actor’s, and Producer’s Guilds give out their respective appreciation. Of course, nothing matters but Oscar. Maybe for once, instead of trying to circumvent the truth with tackiness, they fell into the fold…at least, until next year.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article