This Week You Will Autoplay While Canoodling:
- faked romance
- undiscovered realities
- bogus snacks
- missing projectors
- AWOL animators
- non-live music!
Thanks to the always chill scb0212, Ruck Cohlchez, and Miller for contributing this week. Send articles throughout the next week to ploughmanplods [at] gmail, post articles from the past week below for discussion, and Have a Happy Friday!
Dennis Zhou at Metrograph has a long interview with director Jia Zhange about documentary and narrative, development and inequality, past and future:
Throughout my career, I have been trying to present characters that have never been seen on the screen. They are characters produced in contemporary circumstances, without much representation in past “classical” films. This is due to the fact that they carry the latest problems, situations, and desires. If we look back at the history of literature and film, we find that characters like Ah Q and Kong Yiji (depicted by the famous Chinese writer Lu Xun), or the civil servants in Kafka’s novels, all possess a completely new social and political message. When we present a new possibility or situation in life, there must be a vehicle, that is, the people who live in that time. Of course, these people exist in real society, but to create the image of such a character requires fictional methods and imagination.
Rumors abound that CGI was used to create the climactic kiss between Jonah Hill and Lauren London in Netflix’s romcom You People! Stuart Heritage of The Guardian wonders just how far this will go:
Obviously this is not the first time that a kiss between leads has been faked. As recently as last year, Netflix’s big Lindsay Lohan comeback movie Falling For Christmas ended with a kiss between Chord Overstreet and what was very obviously Lohan’s stand-in. And in his fleet of Christian movies, Kirk Cameron will only ever kiss his wife – even if she has to dress up as his co-star – so as to not destroy the foundations of their marriage. […] But at least all those examples were real kisses, whether through stand-ins or through plastic. CGI is a whole new level up. That’s taking two people and making them do something that they did not, and that raises a lot of issues about the future of acting. If you’re signing on for a project, how can you trust the director not to rush out and make you do things you didn’t physically film? Is the future of intimacy in Hollywood going to be deepfaked sex scenes? Will actors need to seek out specific contractual clauses promising them that they won’t be turned into a horny avatar in post production? There are a lot of legitimate questions to be asked here. How strange that it was 2023’s dumbest romcom that started asking them.
Raquel S. Benedict takes discusses pop culture and the SnackWell effect in The Most Dangerous Newsletter:
“Healthy” junk food media is a clever rhetorical trick that allows the purveyors of low-effort commercial trash to have their cake and eat it, too. Call a superhero movie inconsequential? Ummm, actually, it deals with grief and feminism, so it’s deep and important. But if you examine the way the entertainment product addresses a serious topic—maybe it mishandles an important social issue, or maybe it’s just not very well-crafted, with stodgy dialog and clunky prose? Hey, take it easy! It’s supposed to be popcorn fun! It doesn’t have to be brilliant!
At his substack, Danny Baldwin reviews LEDs instead of projection on the big screen:
Because the individual LEDs can simply “turn off,” the screen can capture “true black” to a degree that traditional projection methods cannot. As a spectator, I found this to be both a blessing and a curse. Within a given image, the contrast range, black levels, and color gamut are truly striking, immersing the viewer in the movie’s vision that much more than they might have in a traditional auditorium. During certain shots in Argentina, 1985 – especially exteriors – I found myself as visually transfixed as I ever have been in a theater. But when the edges of the frame in a given shot are dark or, worse, fully black, it can be a profoundly alienating experience for the viewer. The reason for this is that the darkened edges become effectively “invisible,” as there is no light reflecting off the surface of the screen to keep its perimeter defined. The boundaries of the frame simply become those of whatever figures/objects are illuminated; what lies beyond is imperceptible, even in the front rows. This is not hyperbole; you’re staring into a void.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Lacey Rose and Katie Kilkenny detail the fall of Justin Roiland’s animation kingdom, an empire he may not have been overseeing for some time:
By season three, Rick and Morty had hired its first batch of female writers, which didn’t stop Roiland and others from doodling penis monsters and other vulgar characters on the office whiteboards. As one show source recalls, Roiland could still be highly engaged and appropriately silly, though too often he was “surly, petulant, uncommunicative and grouchy, like he always wished he was doing something else.” According to another show source, he was easily distracted, too; the writers would regularly walk over to a Toys R Us, where they would buy action figures or Nerf guns, and “then he played with them the rest of the day and we couldn’t get any work done.” Other show sources say he’d derail pitches and interrupt with sophomoric non sequiturs like, “What if his brains were on the outside?” It reached a point where multiple sources say it was easier when Roiland wasn’t in the room.
Variety‘s Manori Ravindran reports that shockingly, Netflix’s reality adaptation of Squid Game is meeting with some, uh, challenges:
But as the game got underway, the atmosphere changed. Coats were taken away; hand and foot warmers were scooped out of pockets and plimsolls; and the players’ jackets had to remain unzipped in order to display their numbers as well as the fake blood that would squirt from devices strapped to their chests if they were eliminated. When the show’s giant killer doll stopped singing, they had to freeze in position — but what began as the promised two-minute wait was quickly bumped up to 10 and then 15 minutes. Marlene says she counted a 26-minute wait during one round. (Sources close to the production say the wait time increased to allow independent adjudicators to assess the gameplay.) “The second time the song played, I saw in my left peripheral vision that this girl was swaying. Then she just buckled, and you could hear her head actually hit the ground,” says Marlene. “But then someone came on the [microphone] and said to hold our positions because the game is not paused. After that, people were dropping like flies.” Marlene estimates that around four people fainted. (Netflix has said that three people required medical attention.)
And at The Stranger, Dave Segal looks at the growing world of “listening bars” and how two promoters are trying to bring them to Seattle:
“There was a lot of coming and going from the listening zone, a lot of people socializing and drinking,” [promoter Justin] Cayou says. “About halfway through the night, we said, ‘Everybody get together, let’s do an experiment. Get yourself a drink, get comfortable. We’re going to listen to this really nice pressing of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, the whole way through.’ And we did it! Everybody sat and listened and it was the highlight of the night.” […] “When the bass line comes in on ‘Flyin’ High (in the Friendly Sky),’ you can see everyone having a moment,” [promoter] Jason Justice recalls. “There was another part of the album where there’s a peak and everyone in the room reacted at the same time. It was cool to see that happen.”