7/21/2018

Ten Years After: 'The Dark Knight'

The folks over at Polygon look back at The Dark Knight, the epic installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy on the occasion of its 10th anniversary.
There is little world-building outside the logic of the immediate narrative. Nolan’s Batman isn’t a superhero in the gleeful, laws-of-physics-defying, action-figure sense, instead burdened by ethical rhetoric and villain complications. The movie is not “for the fans,” and yet it’s held as a blockbuster pinnacle by those who’d self-identify as such. Quality notwithstanding, The Dark Knight is singular. 
The director and his collaborators, Olympians of their crafts, seize the opportunity to push the limits of what movies can do. The Dark Knight is elegantly excessive, a confluence of Nolan’s film-tech obsessions, philosophical puzzles and wealth of popcorn movie knowledge. Everything that can be explored — architecture, performance, film chemistry, noir tropes, screenwriting “rules,” practical special effects, Ethics 101, action geography, orchestral sound, the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale, pragmatic costuming, the spectrum of humor, truck mechanics — is explored. The DNA of The Dark Knight is geek in nearly every way, except for the fulfillment of page-to-screen recreation. Nolan co-opts Batman like so many revolutionaries have over the character’s 75-plus-year history, and burns cash like he’s The Clown Prince of Crime. 
Despite monetary evidence to be argued otherwise, it’s hard to imagine any director in the future having the same indulgent opportunity as Nolan had on The Dark Knight. This is not for a lack of a talent pool; only now, under immense pressure, are studios waking up to the fact that directors of various genders, races and other marginalized factors possess Nolan’s ability to project their collective knowledge onto the canvas of a $185 million blockbuster. But in 2018, the “auteur” director has been replaced by the masterminding producer and committees that ensure there’s a game plan for the next five installments in the megafranchise. The films will be shot, and reshot, whether planned in advance — which is often is the case, and wisely so — or abruptly interjected into the proceedings, in case, say, a Star Wars movie needs to be “more Star Wars” than the director was able to deliver. In theory.
[Polygon: We Will Never See a Movie Like 'The Dark Knight' Again]

No Comedy Without The Cringe?

Let's cut to the chase: Why has comedy become overly reliant on cringeworthy scenarios to entertain us? We're not talking about an occasional moment of painfully awkward and embarrassing interactions or realizations but a constant display of cringe-inducing situations that permeate the modern comedy landscape on film and TV. Frankly, it seems like a way out of not having a genuinely funny scene and resorting to hacktastic writing.

If puns are indeed the lowest form of humor and/or wit, then the crutch that eagerly and repeatedly resorting to cringe has become is quite a simply bane on good comedy writing.

"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana..."

7/20/2018

Today In Music History (July 20)

1940 - Billboard publishes its first comprehensive record chart.

1968 - Cream begin a four-week run at No.1 on the US charts with Wheels Of Fire. The double album consisting of a studio record and a live record reached no. 3 in the UK.
On the same day, Iron Butterfly's second album, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, enters the US album chart on the strength of the album's the 17-minute title track. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida eventually sold over 4 million copies.

1975 - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band play the opening night of their Born To Run Tour at The Palace Theatre, Providence, Rhode Island, which was also the live debut of Steven Van Zandt as a member of The E Street Band.

1986 - Sid and Nancy, a film based on the life of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, premieres in London.

2008 - John Lydon denies claims by Bloc Party's Kele Okereke that he was racially abused and attacked by a member of the Sex Pistols' entourage at a music festival in Barcelona. Okereke claimed he had been attacked by several men after approaching Lydon backstage at the Summercase festival. He said the 'unprovoked' attack left him with a split lip and bruises.

Today's Birthdays include...singer Kim Carnes (73); Mr. Carlos Santana (71); Twisted Sister guitarist and Sevendust manager Jay Jay French (66); Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook (62); Brand New Heavies bassist Andrew Levy and Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard (both 52).

Pay-To-Play: Scamming the Hip Hop Hopeful

In an even more odious version of the pay-to-play scam rock bands have been dealing with for decades (although it's more of an L.A. rather than a NYC thing) in which artists have to sell a certain amount of tickets to earn the right to perform at a certain venue, the hip hop counterpart entails getting ripped of by not even being allowed to perform, after coming thru financially. Ugh.

[AV Club - The Scam Industry: How the Hip-Hop Boom Sets Hopefuls Up for Failure]

Christopher John Cornell (July 20, 1964 - May 18, 2017)

7/19/2018

Jamie Foxx: 'Off Script'

The actor/comedian/musician has been hosting a web series of 10 minute episodes in a lively, informal setting (a purported movie set trailer), where he interviews the likes of Melissa McCarthy, Jeremy Renner, Sarah Silverman, Gabrielle Union, and Vince Vaughn.

Check out the most recent installment, featuring Denzel Washington.

Most Popular Netflix Shows Around The World

This list shows the top Netflix show in every country. (It's Stranger Things in the US.)
Lots of other interesting viewing tidbits as well. Check it out.

7/14/2018

Boosler Calls Out Masking 'Vile' Statements as Jokes

In a CNN OpEd piece, veteran comedian Elayne Boosler called out folks who make incendiary comments only to call them "jokes" when faced with the repercussions of their statements. And while the OpEd focuses on non-comedians, she takes Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee's respective and recent controversial remarks to task as well.

What's interesting is how her fellow comedians will react to Boosler's OpEd, since so many of them, from Bill Burr to Dave Chapelle to Tracy Morgan to Jerry Seinfeld, have been quite vocal about their displeasure in not being able to engage in the kind of jokes Boosler is decrying here. Hmm...

[CNN - Boosler: Saying 'Joke' Is No Excuse For Offensive Behavior]