Friday, February 22, 2019

"Alternative Math" satirical short film where a "hard math teacher" gets fired for insisting on getting it right, hurting kids' feelings




Alternative Math”, by IdeaMan, directed by David Maddox (10 minutes), as a satire on post-fact, post-Trump, post-Kellyann-Conway America.



A grade school teacher (Allyn Carell playing Mrs. Wells) insists that her pupil understand that 2 + 2 = 4, when he insists it is 22.

The alt-right, anti-intellectual parents and school board get her fired.  But she demands $22000 in severance rather than $4000.

You can set up a vector space where [2, 0] + [0,2] = [2, 2].

She is presented as the neo-liberal. Conservative values consist only of social loyalty to your (white) tribe.

In kindergarten, I was ostracized (in 1949) for drawing pumpkins as red.  “Pumpkins are orange”, the teacher insisted.  I remained a “brownie” downstairs (yes, the teacher used that terminology in an all-white pre-school) and the “elves” go to go to the living room in the heavens upstairs.  Already we had a hierarchal social class.

The short has won many awards.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

"Sunspring": sci-fi screenplay with script written by a computer



Ars Technica has posted 10-minute short film, “Sunspring”, where a computer has written the screenplay, based on certain parameters, like a "48 Hour Film Festival" based on a line, a prop and a character.

The actual film (seems to come from the UK) is directed by Oscar Sharp and starts Thomas Middleditch, Elizabeth Grey and Humphrey Ker.



The characters are floating in a spaceship pod set up like a workshop inside and ponder whether they are real humans or robots or something in between, as a new baby is supposed to arrive – but the old-fashioned way?  It seems to matter what will happen when they get close enough to the next star whose solar system they will visit.   Middleditch is cute.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

"Anarcho-Capitalism: The Movie" from the Mechanical Shark Channel




The Mechanical Shark Channel presents “Anarcho-Capitalism: The Movie” (7 minutes).



In animation, it’s shown that the corporations have taken over all governments, and the “non-aggression principle” of libertarianism is exempted when the other guy strikes first.

People’s first names can be trademarked.

North Korea is conquered with a bloody nose, nuclear strike, and EMP, to protect the MacDonalds in the south.

The film is animated, but at least one character has artificial  body hair.

Monday, February 18, 2019

"War and Peace": 7-hour restored Russian film of Tolstoy novel opens at Lincoln Center



Joshua Barone describes (in the New York Times) the re-opening Feb. 15 at the Lincoln Center Film Society in New York, of Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1966 7-hour adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel “War and Peace




I recall seeing the 1956 VistaVision Di Laurentis version from Paramount directed by King Vidor, with Henry Fonda. Mell Ferrer, and Audrey Hepburn.




The novel and films correlate Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and retreat with the personal lives (love triangles and aborted births) of an aristocratic Russian family;  it is in some ways a kind of Russian “Gone with the Wind”, a period of history that arguable led to the development of Marxism.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

"The JFK Assassination: What Really Happened": Animated short runs through the conspiracy theories


The JFK Assassination: What Really Happened?” on the Infographics Show.


This block-animated 7 minute short makes three interesting points.  Trump has talked about the assassination and conspiracy theories. The Dallas police did not take good written notes in interviewing Oswald, as they normally would.  There was an “umbrella man” on a sunny day, who might have been there for a steganographic signal.  And J. Edgar Hoover behaved suspiciously.

I had not realized Oswald was from Belarus (then part of the Soviet Union). The film asks why Ruby didn't just shoot him in the leg.

A separate group in 1979, after I had moved to Texas, found a conspiracy to be likely, even though the Warren commission did not.

Friday, February 15, 2019

"Pro-vaccine vs. anti-vaccine": film within a film, of a debate


I’ll count this as a film within a film. Dr. Mike Varvhavski annotates another video debate “Pro-Vaccine v. Anti-Vaccine”.




This is an episode of “Dr. Mike”, a young and handsome physician.

Mike points out that children with autoimmune disorders or known reactions are not encouraged to take vaccines.  They are protected by the herd immunity from other children who are vaccinated. This is a subtlety of argument often overlooked.

A woman on Facebook once asked her friends how to protect her unvaccinated daughter from measles in an area with an outbreak (Washington state). But I don’t know if the child might have had a specific immune disorder.

Another Facebook friend used material from the National Vaccine Information Center that appears to be government, but is a separate and apparently biased non-profit, to justify exclusion from vaccines.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

"The Mexican": a mob border comedy from 2001 may not seem as funny now



Gore Verbinski’s 2001 classic for Dreamworks SKG, “The Mexican”, probably has a most politically incorrect title given today’s polarization over immigration and accusations of race bating.


Brad Pitt plays Jerry Welbach, who is challenged by his mob bosses to go into Mexico and retrieve an ancient gun called “The Mexican” and bring it back.  His girl friend Samantha (Julia Roberts) objects by Jerry wants to stay alive.


The scenery of the movie works as a palindrome, where a particular traffic signal in the early part of the film returns.

The gun indeed has a curse.

Picture: My trip, May 2018, actually a park in Harlingen, Texas near the border 

Monday, February 11, 2019

"Room Closet": indeed a metaphor for coming out




Room Closet”, From Entity Productions, is set in a micro-bedroom, very simple.


Rafael (Diego Der Vidts, the more assertive of an 18-ish male pair, is ready to “come out” but Dan (Joseph Keefe), his “best friend”, still wants the anchor of a girl friend first. But he gets a text that she is indisposed.





It’s a familiar situation from my young adulthood, an idea that would work in the 70s.
 

There was no director given in the credits.  Certainly a very simple short film to set up.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

"The 'Learn to Code' Meme Controversy" with Joe Rogan and Tim Pool




OK, I’ll count “The ‘Learn to Code’ Meme Controversy” where comedian Joe Rogan interviews indie journalist Tim Pool in Los Angeles, as a “short film”, at least on a Sunday night.


Pool talks about the way some people who tweeted “learn to code” at some laid-off journalists from Buzz-Feed and other places, and how Twitter suspended them for “harassment”.

The “learn to code” meme is a distant reflection of Maoism, probably with inversion.  Back during the 1960s cultural revolution in China, intellectuals were made to take their turn becoming peasants, actually on the urging of activists, not just Mao himself. It’s like my applying for a job as proletarian letter carrier (or cab driver – now we have Uber) after my “career ending layoff” at the end of 2001 after 9/11.  Call it the “Learn to work meme”.

Then Pool gets into a discussion on how middle-range journalists blew it on the Covington boys scandal.
  
He talks about the Silicon Valley left wing bias, but actually it spreads to payment processors who are freaked out by the sudden rise of the alt-right after Trump’s election, and sensitivity to their possible complicity with the Russians. And “The Church of Jack Dorsey” seems to favor intersectional faith.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

"Iteration 1": Your eternal life might consist of repeated cycles trying to leave an escape room



Jesse Lupini’s “Iteration 1”, from Dust films (12 min). 

A young woman wakes up in a white room with a bed.  She has sixty seconds to escape before dropping dead and starting a reincarnation cycle with copies of her previous selves to help.


The cycles are called “iterations” and are numbered.  The time speeds up in the film, as she gets through twenty of them.

There are balloons, a tree that repairs itself, and drywall.  She isn’t alone.  Maybe she is supposed to be the mother of a new civilization.
  
This concept bears a distant relationship to my screenplay “Epiphany”.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

"Railroad Ties", short at Sundance 2019. traces family trees back to the underground railroads before the Civil War



Railroad Ties”, from the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and Ancestry, directed by Sacha Jenkins (26 minutes).


The film traces six or more families back to roots, including European immigrants and African Americans (including mixed), especially associated with the Underground Railroad.  People were arrested for assisting slaves fleeing north.

People with some slave blood maneuvered to be classified as "white". 
  
The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park near Cambridge MD also has a lot of related material.

Picture: Poor People's March, 1968, Smithsonian 

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

"Is the World Running out of Children and Sperm?" -- what if a virus could do this?



 The Good Stuff goes beyond population demographics: “Is the World Running out of Children (and Sperm?)


Geophysicist M. King Hubbert developed used the bell curve (in a manner similar to Charles Murray) to predict peak oil and other resources, and the same idea seems to apply to population, as richer countries now have lower birth rates. 

But the film makes the alarming suggestion that men are producing less sperm, or less effective sperm, which sounds like a sci-fi scenario (like “Children of Men”).  Theories include pollution, later marriages, more stress, and conceivably unidentified viruses.

TGS also offers “Why Are Violent Killers Almost Always Men?  Like the 90s film “Natural Born Killers”?
  
Picture: Smithsonian, American History Museum, draft physical

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

"7 Things to Know About Making Short Films", from Friday 101 (on a Tuesday)



Okay, for some advice, “7 Things to Know About Making Short Films”, by Russell Haussenauer, from 2013, from his Friday 101 series, for Indy Mogul.


He names a couple of examples where directors got started with short films, like Martin Scorsese and shaving.

The maximum length for a short film is supposed to be 40 minutes, but keeping them under 15 minutes, or even under 10, offers a better chance of their getting into film festivals – and possibly hitting the Oscar circuit.
  
It’s often useful to make a short film that is later made into a feature, to get investor money. Jorge Ameer did this with “The House of Adam” (2006). I think this could work with “Bugcrush” (2006).  What really happened to Ben?  You might want to redo the opening with younger actors.

Monday, February 04, 2019

NFL Films: "Super Bowl LI: The Greatest Comeback in Super Bowl History", by the New England Patriots, for the 2016 season



So NFL Films has its own movie studio.

So here is “Super Bowl LI: The Greatest Comeback in Super Bowl History”.  The game was played in NRG Stadium in Houston Feb. 5, 2017 (shortly after Trump’s inauguration) for the 2016 NFL championship.

The New England Patriots fell the behind the Atlanta Falcons  28-3 and wound up winning 34-28, after 8 minutes of the 3rd quarter, in OT.


The 39 year old Tom Brady led the rally, and there were two controversial catches in the game.
  
Brian Resnick explains what a lifetime of playing football does to the human brain.  Donald Trump doesn’t want his youngest son to play (Face the Nation) .

Wikipedia attribution link for stadium picture by eschipur from Flickr, under CCSA 2.0. 

Sunday, February 03, 2019

"Only Always You": a homely gay man worships a hunk, who then has a girl friend who is "in the way"



Brandon Rogers and Anthony Florian, with Baily Hopkins as the intruder, play mental games in “Only Always You”, a short film by Anthony Aguiar (all in anamorphic 2.35:1).

A homely man hides behind a tree in a park and draws imaginary scenes in a notebook of his making out with a blond stranger. Then the Nordic man’s girl friend arrives.  She spoils his fantasy, well, almost. The drawing scenes are in black and white, but what he sees and imagines is in color.

  
I suppose you could read race or POC issues into this 2013 film (winner at Philadelphia QFest), although the film was shot before society had gotten so polarized.
  
The playful music score sounds French and impressionistic.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

"How to Play 4D Chess" (Instructor loses both games)



Allen Pan and Sufficiently Advanced show us “How to Play 4D Chess


First, Allen shows us 3D chess, as 4 16-square boards stacked, which can be projected onto 3 dimensions. The moves of the pieces are derived algebraically.

Then 4D chess, on a tesseract (as from the movie “Interstellar” has a 256-square playing matrix as a projection of four 3-D stacks and again the same algebra (quaternion) defining the movies.
  
Allen loses with Black to Diana in 3D’s and then with White in 4D’s when he blunders a pawn to a knight. Petroff’s Defense doesn’t work quite the same way as what he was used to.

The term 4-D Chess has been applied to Trumpian politics.  You can check "Economic Invincibility" on "I'm Sick of 4-D Chess".  Note: chess piece team designation has nothing to do with race. 

Friday, February 01, 2019

"Why I Left BuzzFeed": Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell puts on the gloves to make his point




Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell presents his short film “Why I Left BuzzFeed” (5 min).  He even shot this film in anamorphic 2.35:1.  Maybe it will go to virtual reality. 


Eduardo (with the world's best body) boxes with a cartoonish caricature of the BuzzFeed head (seems to be played by Michael Henry -- but Zach Graves is given by the opening credits).  The film emphasizes Ubanell’s own physicality, although I don’t think he would favor a “Fight Club” (1999) or play “Cinderella Man” (2005).

He mentions the fact that BuzzFeed was willing to replace employees with interim “fellows”.
  
The factual evidence of the recent BuzzFeed article implicating Trump through Michael Cohen is controversial.  Andrew Cohen discusses this at Brennacenter.

BuzzFeed, like many media outlets (even large ones) jumped quickly on the Convington story, but then presented Nick Sandmann’s side later.  Later David Brooks opined what sounds like a reasonably balanced account while showing how easily social media viral spread of anger and misleading impression may damage lives.  BuzzFeed does NOT appear to be a target of litigation according to a Cincinnati Gannett newspaper.

Tim Pool has covered the layoffs at several mid-sized media companies including BuzzFeed in January, as related to business model sustainability problems that led the companies to indulge in click-bait.

Ubanell has an earlier film on his channel in April 2018 “Top Five Things I’ve Learned Working at Buzzfeed”. It’s easy to look up on the channel.  Main advice: be quick.

Ubanell appears in another short film reviewed here Oct. 23, 2018, “Pretty Privilege”.