Thursday, September 17, 2020

"Capitalism and the American Pandemic Response" from "Second Thought" (back in March)


Capitalism and the American Pandemic Response”, from Second Thought, on March 28, 2020, certainly pits the “ethics” of capitalism against handling the coronavirus.

Toward the end, the speaker pits saving the lives of the elderly against the financial stability for everyone else.

But lower income working people definite take contagion risks that white-collar work-from home "nerds" don't have to take, and the latter group still seems to have very little illness.  

There is a lot here about the failures of our system in health care.  Insulin costs $300 here and #32 in Canada.  Truvalda costs $8 in Australia and $2000 in the US (and related drugs might work against coronavirus).

The top “0.1%” owns as much as the bottom 90%.

The speaker insists that workers organize and accept the idea of class struggle and considers rentiers parasites and criminals.

He also says that landlords don’t “work” for a living.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

An indie journalist records "What Portland, Oregon Looks Like Right Now", and it is in ruins

Portland Protesters in Tom McCall Waterfront Park on June 3, 2020

 “What Portland, Oregon Looks Like Right Now”, by NALF.  He says he will do another video soon on the aftermath of the Oregon wildfires, dated Sept. 9, 2020.  

This is an unedited tour of the barricades and homeless camps, everywhere, after over 100 days of protests and rioting after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. The protests seem to have stopped with the smoke and nearby wildfires. 

One comment said that downtown Seattle looks the same.

Why did Portland’s and  Oregon’s politicians allow this to happen?

I visited Portland in 1996 when I was researching my first DADT book.

Picture: Wikipedia embed, protesters at Waterfront Park, click for attribution., 


Monday, September 14, 2020

"Unravel": a male couple unravels (short)


Travis Bryant presents a new gay short film, “Unravel”.  

He appears to play one of two gay men in a breakup of a relationship which has gone on for some time but become stormy.

Music by Los Leo. 

I think Travis plays the “smoother” man.  I could lose the tattoos, as for the other partner.

The film has the air of a Terrence Mallick meditation.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Ethan Lusby: "Escaping the Wildfires in Oregon"

Downtown Portland from SE Portland during 2020 wildfires - 2020-09-09 - tedder

 Ethan Lusby, an 18 year old adventurer, has a channel called “Van Life”, and the latest episode is “Escaping the Wildfires in Oregon: Vanlife Update”.  

He woke up at 4:30 AM in a trailer park and could smell the smoke, and drove away from Oregon, toward California, and got to safety.  He had to get gas in a station running on a generator without power.

It will be interesting to see if he reports further on the wildfire catastrophe in northern California and the Pacific Northwest (which should have some rain).

Ethan, in other videos says he is gay.  Right now, he travels to outdoor areas alone with his dog, and seems to be making YT a business.  His speech manner is gentle.  He is quite accomplished at outdoorsmanship and backpacking, and at some athletic skills like diving and swimming in natural environments. He is much better at this stuff than I was at his age (which would have been 1961) and that really matters to me now. 

I hope Ethan can provide more reporting on the wildfire crisis!

Picture: Portland after during wildfires, unclear if the smoke will stop the protests for a while 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

"T-Cells and COVID-19 Immunity": short from SciShow

Blausen 0625 Lymphocyte T cell (crop)


“What Do We Know About T-Cells and COVID-19 Immunity?” from SciShow, narrated by Hank Green.

The speaker explains that T-cell “immunity” refers to the T-cell response, in directing memory B cells to make antibodies to a virus similar to ones it has seen, and killing infected cells.  It does not make one immune to COVID by itself.

He notes a rather disturbing observations:  strong T-cell response in females correlates with a worse outcome, but in some men it has resulted in cytokine storms.

However, we’ve noticed that outdoor protesters (who use masks sometimes but shout a lot) don’t seem to be getting severe COVID, and neither do the journalists who cover them (male or female).  

And there are numerous reports of severe illness even in young women. What seems to be a common denominator may be size of exposure, in a prolonged indoor event or in a large household.

Wikipedia embed:  3-D rendering of a T-cell, click for attribution 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Will diversity inclusion standards from the Oscars affect creativity (at least for "Best Picture")?

The Oscars have announced some diversity representation rules for “Best Picture” Oscar, as explained in the New York Times by Nicole Sperling.  

The most visible provision might be at least one major or major supporting role be not white.  But an alternative includes up to 30% of other characters from underrepresented groups, which can include LGBTQ.  But a cis white gay character probably would not be perceived by audiences as meeting the standard because of being part of the establishment.  It would be interesting to ponder “Call Me By Your Name” in this regard.  It could be controversial when straight men play gay characters, but maybe not “cis” characters.  The full standards don’t take effect until 2024.

A sensitive issue occurs in a male LGBT film is a white character is attracted only to other cis white males.  There are anthropological reasons why this happens.  

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

"Portraits and Dreams": a record of Kentucky coal country in pre-digital amateur photography

PBS POV stations (although not in DC) aired a 52-minute film “Portraits and Dreams” on Sept. 7. 2020 (PBS Streaming Link).

This episode was advertised as a POV TV episode and film both, and appears to be complete.  It is directed by Elizabeth Barrett, Wendy Ewald, and Robert Sayler.

The film examines some rural Kentucky families, largely in the coal mining area (hint, probably Trump supporters in 2016) whose grownup had, as kids, learned manual photography back in the 1970s and how to develop their own pictures, in the time well before digital photography.

Some of the pictures are touching, as of a boy who would commit suicide.

Another sequence describes a family that became homeless and begged for places to stay and actually found neighbors to take them in.  But they had the pictures.

A lot of people are living in rural shacks or trailers having lost jobs or fallen into ill health in coal country. Almost all are white.

In those days, it was common for people to buy cartridges of 27 frames at pharmacies and send them out for processing.  That remained common until a few years ago, and eventually pictures were usually put on CD’s.

But there were earlier cameras, like the Brownie Hawkeye, of the 1950s.

There was one sequence that showed the scenery around Cumberland Gap, which I visited in August 2016.

Monday, September 07, 2020

"The English Teacher" (short): a teacher is invited to tutor an immigrant hiding a tragedy


The English Teacher”, posted in May 2020, 12 minutes, is a new short film from (Vietnamese I think) director Blake Ridder.

Blake plays a young man who purports to need to learn English to pass a citizenship exam in the UK.  He contacts a (white) widower Robert Brammel (Louis James) who offers private English tutoring to immigrants.

When Brammel arrives at the immigrant’s flat, the lesson goes well enough even if awkward.  There is a disquieting discussion about payment.

Later, at home, Louis gets a “.mov” file sent to him on Microsoft one drive (which I have never used  to share videos privately, but it can be done – I am more used to Google drive).  The video is a “movie within a movie”, an embed or backstory, and contains a confession.

There had been a hit-run bike accident that killed Louis’s wife (Sophie Cardona).  It is even possible it was the cyclist’s “fault” (riding the wrong way, when drivers don’t have time to see them at intersections).

There is a feature film from 2013 by Craig Zisk by this title, reviewed here April 15, 2014.  Let’s not forget Anthony Minghella’s “The English Patient” (1996).

Sunday, September 06, 2020

"How to Make a No-Budget Short Film" when the story comes from your resources

Ryan Camp explains “How to Make a No-Budget Short Film”, for the Piedmont Motion Picture show.

Camp shows a dilapidated barn in the background, as if for a horror short.  What comes to mind if “The Blair Witch Project” (1999), which was shot in a state park in the Catoctin Mountains not far from Frederick, MD, I thought.

His main idea is that you write your script inside out, from the people (as characters) and locations available to you for no money.

He does give a rundown of the minimal equipment you should have.  This video reminds me of the way 48-hour film contests work. 

Friday, September 04, 2020

"Birdie": what can a short film make of a woman getting on a commuter train?

Shelly Lauman’s short film “Birdie” is offered by Fox Searchlight Pictures (a real studio) on the Alter Channel on YouTube.

A young woman (Maeve Dermody) finds herself in a staring game with a young man in a commuter rail station, probably in London.
He eventually maneuvers the situation to sit by her.  It’s a bit of a stretch to call this a horror film. Maybe a touch of attractive  The young man is attractive and hairy-chested.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

"Dinah": a ghost story about the evils of lookism

Dinah”, from Grave Lake Media and directed by James Williams, presents the tragedy of lookism.

A young woman whose face had been destroyed in childhood by flesh eating bacteria has committed suicide (with her own arson of her mom's country house, probably in Canada).

But she left a Facebook video showing herself.  A lonely hermit (man) clicks dislike on the video, and her ghost from the afterlife starts to taunt him after a power outage.

This film (11 min) has won a lot of horror film awards (released March 2020).

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

"Bubble": teenager caught up in her parents' foreclosure crisis in 2008 and rescued by her girlfriend


“Bubble”, by Alyssa Lerner, presents a Filipina teenager confronted on the front lawn by the sheriff foreclosing on her family’s house and car, during the 2008 financial crisis, in California.

The officers ponder whether to approach the child first or wait for the parents.

But the teen has another resource, her own girl friend.  She can actually look for a place to stay. This is another family losing everything. 

Filmed in a narrow aspect ratio, just released (17 min).

The teaser is shown, but the full film appears on Youtube, as well as a brief QA.

“Bubble” was also the name of a Steven Soderbergh mystery in 2005, which was offered online and in theaters at the same time.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

TENET and time inversion (an explanation)


TENET Time Inversion Explained (The Movie’s Timeline), from “Heavy Spoilers”. 

The time inversion means that the person reverses backward through the exact event with no changes allowed, so that causality in physics (the “grandfather paradox”) is not challenged.

Although this preview doesn’t say that, some people say that with a non-traumatic death, you relive your entire life and can see any moments you want, as time slows to a standstill. 

 The film is due to preview in theaters Thursday, Sept. 3. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

"5 Signs of the Sigma Male" by Einzelganger


I want to link to Einzelganger’s “5 Signs of the Sigma Male” which supplements a film presented May 24 on “not belonging”.

Sigma males dislike participating in social hierarchies or tribal conflicts (such as partisan politics), especially the polarized political climate today with extremes on both Left and Right.

They also may consider marriage and relationships as less important, and might venture into what is sometimes seen as schizoid or avoidant.

But they do have a rich internal world of their own making and can “self-date”.  (Interesting reference to that idea in an older book by Katherine Kersten).

Friday, August 28, 2020

"Corona in Brazil", by DW Documentary; right wing president Bolsonaro oversees the second-highest death count in the world (behind guess who)

Brasilia aerea torredetv1304 4713


President vs. Virus: Corona in Brazil” by DW Documentary (12 minutes) with M.K. Boese and others.

Right wing president Jair Bolsonaro has called COVID “a little flu” but got it himself, a mild case. He seems to believe in “survival of the fittest”. Brazil has the second highest death toll, at 118,000 in the world, after the U.S.

The film shows his left-wing opponents, with a lot of community engagement, like a soccer group called “Corinthians” delivering food to the poor, especially in an underground homeless shelter in Sao Paulo. The food is starchy and has no fresh produce  Families who lost jobs to the virus were simply evicted, with no safety plans even comparable to those of Trump. One family had moved some its furniture to the shelter but was given shoes by the volunteers.

The film also shows the right wing support, especially around Brasilia.  In one family a “gay conservative” is presented, despite Bolsonaro’s homophobia.

Brasilia picture from Wikipedia, click for attribution.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

"Wild West: Wanted Cat Steals Food from Moving Freight Train", in a model railroad


Here’s a cute short from CatPusic, in Russia (I think): “Wild West: Wanted Cat Steals Food from Moving Freight Train”, from January 2020.

A young man has set up an interesting model train layout in his basement with a self-propelled strain and large track that I’ve never seen in American stores. There is a tunnel, a bridge, and some unusual loops and designs.

He fills the flatcars with food and invites his cat in to the room to stalk the train and steal food from the toy flatcars and hoppers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

"Coronavirus in Spain": DW Documentary on Spain's lockdown during the pandemic, which extended to the islands

22 de marzo 2020-Gran Via-Madrid

Coronavirus in Spain”, a 28-film by Natalia Bachmayer, for DW Documentary (which has docs on many different countries). The other title is "Close Up: Spain's Fight with the Coronavirus" (wiki link).

Natalia documents the strict lockdown in Madrid which started around March 14, with people socializing only from their balconies, with road checkpoints, and people allowed go out only once a day for groceries.

She is allowed to move around because she is a “professional” journalist for a living.  But a blogger like me could not do this.

With restrictions so strict, I don’t know what happened if something broke in your home (an appliance or an Internet connection).

She moves on to the Canary Islands, with the volcanic scenery, before returning to Spain and seeing the people, often migrants, in food lines.  Spain’s social safety net is not protecting everyone from complete destitution due to the extended lockdowns.

Picture:  Madrid on March 22, embed, click for attribution in Wikipedia. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

"Voices from the Black Lives Matter Protests", short film from Vanity Fair, and it does make a point

Breonna Taylor Memorial Louisville Kentucky

 Vanity Fair and director Rodney Passe present the 8-minute short film “Voices from the Black Lives Matter Protests”, and that pretty much includes all of them recently.

One protester explains something.  It goes like this.  “You are bent up on property destruction.  But if police can come at will at kill us, we don’t even own our own bodies”.  (That refers to slavery in the past, although he doesn’t say that explicitly.) What good is your property then?  He could have added, your property is worthless because it is predicated on an unfair system that victimized us.  It’s time for you to learn what it means to become the victim you despise because of the prejudices of others.

So this gets very personal.  Even so, mainstream journalists and vloggers are paying heed to BLM as an organization when as such (not the movement, just the organization) seems to have Marxist origins.  And Marxism (especially Maoism) can turn vengeful. 

The Jacob Blair medical condition update was broadcast by the family late today (see Issues Blog). 

Picture: Memorial for Breonna Taylor in Louisville KY, wikipedia embed, click for CCSA attribution  

Monday, August 24, 2020

"How to Film Yourself" entering or leaving a building, for openers


Continuing in the spirit from yesterday, I’ll present Jussi Alexander’s “How to Film Yourself”.

Jussi uses a modern Sony something and tripod, as well as a drone, to show himself walking in and out of a building, and then down an alley.  The drone is quite high, above decks on the nearby apartment rowhouses. 

I don’t know where this is, maybe Los Angeles.

It does take a lot of technique and practice to do this well.  Oli Barrett would have done the same thing in his videos where he talks while walking around in cities in China.

If you want to get serious with video yourself, in order to prepare selling a script, this gives you an idea of the skills you (“I”) need to master.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

"Making a Short Film Alone": Joe Simon films his sci-fi "The Volunteer" who remains in Austin TX


Film Riot presents the instructional video from Ryan Connolly, “Making a Short Film Alone”, which relates to a 4-minute short “The Volunteer” by Joe Simon.

The film shows a lone man who has decided to stay behind in a deserted Austin TX after an evacuation during an alien invasion.  A spacecraft hangs in the sky.

Simon chose the subject matter as appropriate to do alone during the pandemic when streets would be deserted naturally.

His most important prop was a yellow hazmat suit that he ordered online for $427. 

He uses editing software called Resolve, rather than Premier (or Final Cut).

He pays a lot of heed to the composition of a scene where he sits in an old bathtub.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

"Wicken": a proof-of-concept short (for a feature) about a deadly online chain letter


Wicken” is a proof-of-concept horror film from HashmiHouse, or Faisal Hashmi.

A woman (Noir Safieh) sits on her bed and chats with a boyfriend (Stuart Richard) on her laptop with Zoom or Skype.   She notices curtains moving in his apartment as he sends her a demonic image as part of a chain letter (usually a TOS violation). 

She has to send it to someone else to get rid of the same entity who now is stalking her. She sends it to a woman with a newborn.

The 7 minute film links to a “making-of” which is longer than the film (14 minutes). The director says he plans a longer feature based on the same idea.  (This idea of a teaser short was tried by Jorge Ameer for his “The House of Adam”. May 12, 2012).

This morning, “The Priceless Benefits of Not Belonging” flashed into my YouTube queue.  I didn’t recall at first I had written a quirky review (very personalized) May 24, 2020.  It still holds. It’s driving polarization and the radical Left.  

Also, don’t forget “The Wicker Man” (two films).

Thursday, August 20, 2020

"Can You Catch COVID-19 Twice?" Maybe not very likely for a couple years; Important short from the UK

Red White Blood cells

 Run-DMC offers the 10-minute short film “Can You Catch COVID-19 Twice? How Long Does Immunity Last?

The speaker, from the UK, gives many academic references, and the best one comes from DDB-Future, “The people with hidden immunity against Covid-19”. 

He explains that the “humoral” and “myeloid” arms of the immune system themselves split into compartments.  Memory T-cells are recruited like mercenaries with resumes, for their ability to fight a specific new invader. It’s almost like your T-cells had LinkedIn accounts. But the separation of functions within your immune system (a workplace concepts) is really quite elaborate, almost like the CIA.

 The practical likelihood is that, even though obvious conspicuous antibodies wear off (like going bald), serviceable immunity (in immunologically healthy people) may last 1-2 years, enough time for yearly vaccines to work.   

Wikipedia embed from NCI. click for attribution   

Update: Aug. 25  There is one case in Hong Kong,  See International Issues blog Monday Aug. 24. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Journeyman Pictures offers us "Batshit", ready for something like "DC Shorts"

Desmo-boden (cropped)


Journeyman Pictures releases video documentaries of issues overseas, especially in autocratic countries.  They also take up some other issues, like censorship (the video channel has many trailers for featurettes to come).

So then here is the satire. “Batshit” (7 min).  Humans, dressed as bats, infect Los Angeles.  They look more like actors out of “Cats”, than anything from the Batman or Gotham franchises. The letter "i" in the title is replaced by a bat emoji for common decency. 

With Rich Hall and Romash Raganathan.  I could well be from bat feces or guano in caves that Sars-CoV-2 jumped to humans.  This is the narrative of Mojiang Miners Passage hypothesis in China. 

Wikipedia embed of vampire bat, click for CCSA attribution. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Game night: "The Witness Review"


I haven’t talked about games much on my blogs (except for the Sony litigation) but I wanted to present as a “film” a review of the 2016 game “The Witness” (from Thekla), review from IGN.

You can also look up Joseph Anderson’s 40-minute 2016 misadventure, “The Witness: A Great Game that You Shouldn’t Play”.

The game places you on a fictitious island.  As you traverse it, you are presented with puzzles as “Keys” where you have to solve the puzzle (a navigation with unknown rules) to reach the next area. People say that a typical game takes 60-80 hours to play.

The game has been associated with philosophies like “non duality”.

It seems to have been derived from 20-year-old games like Myst and Riven. 

Picture is from my own condo train set. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

"Requited": a rather personal gay male short film drama as a young man revisited the life he just left

Sal Bardo presents “Requited” (2010, 5 Hands Films, 20 minutes), re-released this week.

A young man (Chris Damon) living in Manhattan chooses between seeing his current boyfriend off to the airport, or seeing his first love one last time forever at a wedding, a look back at his whole youth.  

The film starts in bed, which kind of reverses the opportunity for tension.

His other friends from his past, maybe before his “second coming”, remember his as talkative, maybe like me?   There is a very long penultimate shot of him alone in bed near the end.  

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Workshop film: "Best Camera and Equipment for YouTube Beginners", from Think Media


Think Media offers some advice to people who might be considering starting a YouTube channel, and who want the production quality to be good enough to attract subscribers and become monetizable. It’s “Best Camera and Equipment for YouTube Beginners” from 2018.

He talks about an upscale Canon camera for about $700 and even sets it up on a stack of books that looks like a leaning tower of Pisa. Then he wises up and sets up a tripod that he recommends, and shows how to film yourself seated in a couch with lighting gear.

The topic fits into my own plans a little bit more now than it used to, since I have to think about the future of my own channel and the “commercial viability” issue.

There is also the issue of boxing yourself talking while you show content on your screen.  One way to do this is with Zoom (video).

As you can see from my condo living room, I would have some housekeeping to do. Does Think Media have anything to do with ThinkFilm? 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

"Hand Off": a gay rugby player comes out to his team while living in a fantasy world

Rugby Lineout

 Hand Off” is an interesting gay short film from Germany, directed by Chadlee Skrikker, about gay men in contact sports, this time, rugby. It stars Andhar Cotton and Arno Horn. The title is indeed metaphorical.

A rugby player confronts his best friend on the team that he has lost his lover, and (only then) that the lover is a man.

The teammate is mildly surprised that his friend is gay.

The film goes into a long intermittent dream sequence where the player goes to bars and a wild Roman party and makes out, in costume, with another player, before coming back to reality. Somehow living in an alternate reality fixes things. 

Then he comes back to the team and does not necessarily find himself welcome.  Some players do have a problem with it. 

(Video link). 

Picture: Wikipedia embed of a game in the UK, click for attribution  

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

"About Love": a single woman living in a multigenerational home in Mumbai ponders herself v. family and tribe

Mumbai AC local

 On Monday, Aug. 10, 2020, PBS aired the film “About Love” by Mumbai filmmaker and writer Archanda Phadke, about her own life as a single adult living in a multi-generational home in a crowded but middle-class are of India’s metropolis  The film was shot before Covid, but it depicts the practical problems of integrated family life when there are many people.

Archanda, 32 when finishing the film, was working out her own attitudes about family and marriage, as she gradually had to come to terms with cultural ideas about a woman’s place in the home in her society. Family was about more than focused love, it was about the continuity of a tribe. “If you wouldn’t serve your husband’s family, then stay home.”

Part of the “plot” of the “livestream-style” film deals with her brother Rohan’s planned wedding to fiancĂ© Gurbani.  That raises more questions about marriage or singlehood in Archanda’s mind.

Her 87-year-old grandpa Madhav is becoming ill, needs adult diapers at night, and finally goes to the hospital for a tragic but expected end.  Her grandmother Neela says she doesn’t know why she married him, but he used to be good looking and relatively humble.

Her parents, especially her dad, are a bit hardheaded in running a family jewelry business. There are arguments about the physical assembly of accounting statements into binders able to hold them.

The infrastructure around the house seems suspect;  the TV or Internet go out “when it rains”.

Toward the end of the film Archanda talks about her own novel, and her own mind, as separate from family.  She talks about the idea of your soul living at different times (135 years apart) through imagination or reading (or maybe virtual time travel).

Wikipedia embed of Mumbai railway picture, click for attribution.  See also "In Praise of Love" Oct. 7, 2007. 

PBS POV link

Kpbs link

Monday, August 10, 2020

"Cloud Cities of Venus: Settling Earth's Twin": Venus is habitable 30 miles up (sort of)

Topographic Globe of Venus


SpaceRip presents “Cloud Cities of Venus: Settling Earth’s Twin”, by David Sky Brody, narrated by David Grinspoon.

At 30 miles altitude above Venus, the atmospheric pressure is about the same as Earth, with atmosphere of carbon dioxide and clouds of sulfuric acid.

But the film imagines cities, of blimps (maybe 1000 meters diameter) strung together.  If a large balloon is pierced at atmospheric pressure, it does not deflate immediately and it can be repaired.

Robots would be sent to the surface of Venus to mine for raw materials.

The film also discusses terraforming, even of Venus, which would take millennia.

GIF -- embedded from Wikipedia, click for attribution, topographical map of the surface of Venus 

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Most US movie theater chains probably won't reopen until well into 2021; this all was very sudden for them (look at Landmark)

I think it’s interesting to review a typical theater chain’s “coronavirus notice” back in March 2020, with progressive entries (like a blog) March 12 (Thursday), 13, and 16.  Landmark tried to implement a policy of 50% seating on March 14, and decided on March 16 to close March 17.

This notice shows how suddenly and unexpected the lockdown hit most service and performing arts businesses.  Most of the owners and investors say they had no idea that could even happen for the reason given at the time, to “flatten the curve”.  The same goes for restaurants and bars.
Most analysts now say that movie theaters can’t reliably open until mid 2021, after vaccinations have started in some earnest.

A good question then is how well film production continues for the VoD market.  Even in the gay “soft core” world, I am seeing stuff come out, as if actors could be tested for coronavirus first and then act the scenes safely.
On March 10, I was on a day trip in Pennsylvania and ate in a typical restaurant. By March 17, I pretty much realized “it would be this way” but it doesn’t sound like a lot of businesses had.
 Update: Aug. 11:
 Kate Cox writes in Arstechnica that a federal judge has vacated the Paramount Consent Decree, which could open the motion picture theater industry to vertical integration with large studios, after it is possible for them to open given Covid. I'll probably come back to this issue again as to how if might affect what scripts get greenlighted. 

Saturday, August 08, 2020

"3 Reasons You Should Be Making Short Films" by Jo Jo

Here’s a video that gives the technical side of storytelling in short film, beyond the screenwriting.

3 Reasons You Should Be Making Short Films” by Jo Jo Productions.

There are four reasons, really.  (1) Learn the camera system, with frame rate (24) and shutter rate (usually close to 48)  (2) Learn to do the lighting; (3) Learn to do the storytelling (beginning, middle, end). And (4) Learn to do the audio with a separate hardware pack, which will be integrated when you edit (I guess Final Cut Pro). 

I don’t think this is quite the setup that news journalists use, like when filming protests.
Tyler Mowery just did a livestream on his channel where he read short film scripts submitted to him, we’ll come back to that soon.

Friday, August 07, 2020

"New York City's Big Tunnel Problem" hasn't gone away

NJT NEC enters Hudson Palisades

The Deteriorating Tunnel that could Break New York City”, as explained by Cheddar (and Jil Jonnes). I would retitle “New York City’s Big Tunnel Problem”.

The documentary gives the history of the two tunnels under the Hudson that Amtrak and commuter railroads depend on, and the controversy over reconstruction projects, especially since the Hurricane Sandy damage in 2012.  The north tunnel (southbound) seems particularly vulnerable.  The two tunnels are called the "North River Tunnels".  In the past, the passenger would see an open area coming out of the tunnel in NYC before going into Penn Station (which has been completely remodeled).  Now you don't see that.  (You can't go right now because of the quarantines, but that is another matter.) 

You can see the NJ/NY stateline inside the tunnels (as with the Lincoln Tunnel). 

There is mention of the bankruptcy of Penn Central in 1970, which I remember well from my young adulthood.

A permanent closure of one tunnel could cost NYC $16 billion a year. 
There is a rotating draw bridge over an inlet in NJ south of the tunnels that often fails, causing Amtrak delays.

Picture: embed from Wikipedia, north Bergen entrance, click for attribution 

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

"Pandemic": short film meditation on living through it in quarantine, separated from a lover

-RedForEd (41008219574)
Darious Britt (“D4Darious”) directs and stars in his meditation “Pandemic”, with Darious playing Ty, Late Cannon playing Brin, and Travis Klecska playing Bruce, and music by It has the feel of a Terrence Mallick film. 

A mixed-race young couple is separated by quarantines in Arizona, while bad news about the pandemic keeps invading their spaces.

Darious (Ty) goes on hand-washing binges (it’s mostly your fingertips that touch things) and then there is bizarre metaphor with a dripping showerhead.

Then it seems he travels, maybe he’s in the Army.

Then he and his girl friend, communicating with Skype, agree not to talk about coronavirus or watch the news for 48 hours.

The film is accompanied by a detailed “making of” short, and D4Darious’s channel seems to be made for filmmakers.

Picture, Wikipedia embed, Arizona teacher's strike protest from 2018;  maybe there will be another one about returning to classroom  (click for attribution). 

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

"Chez jolie coiffure": a hairdresser in Brussels gives her take on immigration and racism

Brussels Summer Festival (4890801736)

Rosine Mfetgo Mkakam directs “Chez jolie coiffure” (Oct. 2019), shown on PBS POV on Monday Aug. 3, abridged to 52 minutes from the original 71 minutes (title: "at a joyous salon"). 

In the African Matonge area of Brussels, a hairdresser shop owner Sabine works with customers and talks about the harrowing difficulties of immigrants from Africa, particularly the Cameroon.
When white people come by to gaze into her shop, she says that white people think they are going to a zoo.

She also says that white people imprisoned Africa (settlements with colonialism) by gazing at it, a kind of quantum theory statement.  She is definitely arguing for anti-racism. 

She says that some immigrants are indentured to specific wealthy families in Belgium.

Toward the end, the police come and arrest people and close her down temporarily.

The entire film is shot like a livestream from the shop.
The film (French, with subtitles) comes from Tandor Productions and is distributed by Icarus.

Picture: Embed from Wikipedia, summer festival in Brussels, 2018, click for attribution 

Monday, August 03, 2020

"Bell’s Theorem: The Quantum Venn Diagram Paradox" -- this may help me with a concept in my own novel

Mermin's inequality

Bell’s Theorem: The Quantum Venn Diagram Paradox” by Minute Physics.

This video presents Bell’s hidden variable theory in quantum physics which posits the possibility of “local realism”, that somehow information (of entangled particles) is so fundamental that it is instantaneous (faster than light).  Or is it because the observer changes the result by staring at it?
The theory could explain some biological paradoxes (maybe even how viruses evolved).
There is a sci-fi idea that somehow information somehow can transcend the normal limits on energy (speed of light), and is so fundamental that aliens (“angels”) could use it to teleport themselves in some strange circumstances.

Mermin's inequality is embedded from a pdf on Wikipedia, click for attribution. 

Sunday, August 02, 2020

"Leaving this Place": kaleidoscopic film by Connor Franta of troubled times

Connor Franta has produced an engaging 2-minute short film with a kaleidoscope of what is going on in America right now, “Leaving this Place”.

I don’t know what the title means.

He enclosed the words of his poem in the YouTube video notes.

Often he uses a split screen.
He may be intending a submission to “A Day Life 2020”, discussed July 22. 

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Does Hollywood censor scripts for movies even for American viewing to placate China?

Passengers lining up in Wuhan railway station for their body temperature to be checked during the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak

Iaowhy86 (who lives in China, I think) explains “How Hollywood Is Censoring YOUR Movies for China”.   Moviegoers (especially when theaters reopen) should complain about this. 

 He opens with an explanation of how Maoist China censored everything so as to memorialize “the Proles”.  But China made a tremendous turnaround and embraced statist capitalism, and eventually became a big market for Hollywood. 

So often Hollywood would censor scripts for Chinese screenings, but overtime started writing scripts to be acceptable in China wherever they were shown (in the US).  That seems really sensitive now (given the theories about the pandemic). 

This sounds like it could be a big deal for screenwriters trying to sell scripts, if they are politically charged (let’s say talk about the US and China in a space race, for openers). I would even wonder about Tyler Mowery’s script “Blue Moon” which he shares on his YouTube channel.
Picture: Wikipedia embed, Wuhan, click for CCSA attribution. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

"Top Coat": when staying at home, the simple things matter

Top Coat” is a 5-minute lesbian film about simple things, and its recent (May 2020).

The thumbnail is a piece of strawberry cake, like what Longhorn Steakhouse sells for takeout.  The headin picture is in black and white, even if the little things in the film are in garish color (like "The Gang's All Here").   There is a model flamingo, and then we see two young women (PoC) played by Jlouliet Amak and Alexa Mareka, the first given the second a nail manicure, a superficial top coat.

All this stuff moves inside during the stay-at-homes for the pandemic.
My own mother used to get her hair done, and then got permanents, sometimes within the same week (at least once), and they would take four hours.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

"A Day in the Life in Mexico City" (Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell), maybe could wind up in the 2020 compendium

Angel de la Independencia Mexico City
Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell offers the short film “A Day in the Life in Mexico City”, probably into the “A Day in the Life 2020” (or "Life in a Day") Project by Ridley Scott (see July 22, 2020).
He visits his parents in a high-rise in Mexico City (some of his earlier videos explain his background). Not a lot of businesses or attractions are open (this compares to videos by the Barrett Channel in China where pretty much everything is open but carefully monitored),  so then the film focuses on indoor exercise routines (with a trainer video playing on a laptop) and then homecooking delicious food from ingredients, which the film celebrates for its own sake.
 I’ve been there myself, once in 1974 (link).  I do remember the Zona Rosa, the Anthropology Museum, and the Metro -- and the National Palace as there was an outdoor ceremony there Sept. 1, 1974.  
Picture: embed from Wikipedia, click for CCSA attribution