Thursday, January 30, 2020

"Circular Filmmaking: The Shape of Christopher Nolan's Films" from Studio Binder

Circular Filmmaking: The Shape of Christopher Nolan’s Films” , from Studio Binder, explains the devices by which Christopher Nolan’s films hold an audience’s attention in an unusual way.

History repeats itself.  Everything comes back.  Ideas early in my life, associated with my time at William and Mary in 1961, have come back in retirement.  A major Internet fiasco involving one of my websites when I was substitute teaching back in 2005 came back – and cost Hillary Clinton the election and led to Trump’s presidency.  I’m not kidding.  The same traps catch everyone.  There are real ironies in the course of my life that are absolutely stunning.

So how does Christopher Nolan show this?

One technique is “clues in motifs”.  A motif is sometimes a prop, like a spinning thimble in “Inception” (2014) representing the reality layer of life.  The film mentions cats in "The Prestige" (2006).  The sea in "Insomnia" (2002).

The short says that Studio Binder production software has the tools to embed motifs into a script. Apparently this is robust competition for Final Draft and Screenwriter.
A second is non-linear stories or layered plots.  Nolan believes in writing a script in the same order the audience will see it.  In my view, the problem with a backstory is usually it is seen through the eyes of one character.  How will the other characters learn the story except by trusting the first character’s presumed narration?  What if the backstory is itself fiction in a story that the first character wrote?  Then I think, at least in the sci-fi script of mine (“Epiphany”) other devices like telepathy could work.  Another character could be a good receptor for the telepathy based on a physical attribute of the character (I call this the “Theta Property” in my own notes, but that is comparable to an abstract motif). Another possibility is recurrent contacts between other characters at key events in the past.  (I use baseball games in flashbacks as such a setting, although it sounds like MLB licensing fees for events – like Bucky Dent’s 1978 home run in Boston, maybe, are probably expensive).  Another obvious idea is that another character has done “ethical hacking” and can confirm the backstories in unusual ways (P2P, dark web, access to the cloud backup of unpublished materials) etc.  But a screenplay needs to make it credible that other characters understand the backstory and have some “skin in the game” in interacting with the character.   But a strong image about a setting or event (sports, games,  concerts, rehearsals, dance floors, pride festivals, etc) for encounters can be treated as a “motif” to explain how other characters have “skin in the game”.  Pewdiepie is on to something with his idea of “memes”. 
A third idea is “bookends”, using motif’s to show circularity (like in Insomnia, the lead character is the guy who crossed the line an never came back). 
The short film here shows a curious scene from “Inception” of a baseball field in a small Kalpana cylinder in space, with all the curvature.
An interesting observation is the notion that the Universe is probably four-dimensional space that has no boundaries, like the inside of a torus or Klein bottle with circularity around more than one dimension.

I see that Don Harmon has videos on "plot circles" and Tyler Mowery has shown them before. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

"China Virus": An easyrider through a deserted Wuhan (there are people indoors), almost like out of Imajica

“China Virus:  Wuhan Resident Drives Through Coronavirus Epicenter”, video from “Quick Take by Bloomberg.”

Since none of us can go there, this is the next best thing.  The video shows this to be a modern-looking city, with almost no people outdoors.  The city reminds me of the First Dominion in Clive Barker's "Imajica" (a city that extends for 100 miles and is deserted, almost).  China is like another planet. 
SBS News in Australia offers a video (not embeddable) of daily life in Wuhan now, with crowds in a grocery store.  People can still go out and buy necessities on foot. 

Just in:  a 25-minute drive-by video (from a car) in Wuhan, link
There are other reports that China does have a biowarfare center (sort of like our Ft. Dietrich in Frederick MD) in Wuhan. 

By Baycrest - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

"Something Is Killing the Astronauts from the Inside" when traveling to Mars

Something Is Killing the Astronauts from the Inside”, by Ridddle (10 min).
The long space journey to Mars at zero gravity will indeed be very hard on the body, even causing fluid on the brain and reduction of spaces in the brain folds.
Bones will gradually disintegrate, and juggler veins can get blocked.
The video suggests the idea of using tardigrade genes to increase resistance to radiation.

Monday, January 27, 2020

"What Medical Residency Best Fits Your Personality?"

Buck Parker, MD, explores "What Medical Residency Best Fits Your Personality?" in a soluloquy, Carousel style. 

Is his BMW driverless?  Looks like he is driving solo in California, a desert area.
He gets pretty cynical and raunchy about some cosmetic or even body part things (OB/GYN? Dermatology?)  Just barely PG-13.  Internal medicine is the catch-all where you never make a diagnosis (except in China). 
This short is part of a three-part series. I want to know more about what residents go through.
I have friends contemplating their medical school applications.  I ponder them. And, yes, I’ll get back to talking about coronavirus soon.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

A curious short film about training for competitive cycling, apparently in the Sierra near Lake Tahoe (in summer when it is dangerously dry)

Here’s something curious.  "Getting Back into Interval Training (My Day of High Intensity Cycling Intervals)" by The Vegan Cyclist. In August 2019 (12 min).  I don’t recall if I’ve covered competitive cycling on this blog (I see the label for it, though, as I type).

This appears to have been filmed near Lake Tahoe and US 50 in California, an area that I was in (by rental car) in September 2018.  The evergreen vegetation looks dry and vulnerable to fire unless they get high altitude storms with actual rain or snow later. 

The film shows the technical monitor for the bike across the bottom of the screen.
The guy does not appear to be “shaved”, and I still wonder if air wind resistance (or water resistance for competitive swimmers) really matters, of it this more a matter of ritual self-sacrifice and peaking.
In the middle of the film, another cyclist named Cole rides alongside him.  Cole has cerebral palsy on one side of his body, level 4. So he qualities for a persons with disabilities competition, but it is not apparent at sight.
The Vegan guy stops near someone’s house and almost drops a souvenir, and talks as if that is acceptable in this area.  Later he is back home and he shows us the stapled of his diet.

Picture: Mine, along I-80 approaching Truckee.  

Saturday, January 25, 2020

"Why I Changed My Opinion on China": a young businessman returns to New York State and says the country is imploding under Xi Jingping

Iaowhy86 offers a perspective (11 minutes) “Why I Changed My Opinion on China”.

(I have another video by him on my “cf” blog, about the coronavirus crisis.)

He describes life in China 10 years ago as freer in practice than in the US.  High speed trains and transit were cheap.  Services and jobs were plentiful even in less populous cities.  He married a Chinese woman and became a father.  He was 27 then (is he 37 now?  He looks very young in the video.)

After the self-anointing of Xi Jingping and the election of Donald Trump and his protectionism, things rapidly got worse.  Foreigners like him were treated much more poorly, and infrastructure wasn’t maintained well, as some new buildings even collapsed and government got more corrupt.  In the meantime, China started implementing its social credit system – trying to bring Leftist ideas of social justice back down to “rightsizing” the individual.  It’s a logical, and still dangerous idea. But it is also a Maoist idea and an expected result of Communism.
Trump used to warn, “China is not your friend.”

Wiki attribution: 
By Majorantarktis - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Thursday, January 23, 2020

"Death by Script" (3 layers deep); Omeleto has a good short film channel

There is a channel of short films, Omeleto, that has a lot of short films ranging 6-30 minutes, mostly ironic drama or comedy and horror, often posing self-contradictory or problematic situations for ordinary people.
Death by Script” (Oct. 2019), directed and written by Jason Kessler, is an interesting meta-film (8 minutes).

A young script reader (Jonathan Flanders) meets his girl friend in a Hollywood diner before making a decision whether to “pass” or “consider” a script he was assigned to read on the job.  The script was itself “Death by Script” which makes this a meta-film.  Somehow I though of Pedro Almadovar and “Bad Education”.  Anyway, he reads the script, and another appealing young man passes on the script and winds up dead.

The next day, Jonathan goes to work in downtown Los Angeles and there is a corpse in one of the cubicles.
Mark Parrish, an actor (“Mustang Sally”, 2006, reviewed here Nov. 7, 2007) once told me he had worked as a script reader for New Line.  People really have structured jobs doing this? 
I guess the most important reason to “pass” is that a script is too complicated to follow.  Christopher Nolan can get away with it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Did we just lose Betelgeuse?

Maybe we just lost Betelgeuse.

This red giant star, on the boot of Orion (the name is Arabic) was a curiosity in children’s astronomy books in the 1950s.

Anton Petrov discusses the gravitational waves that might have come from the area.

He also says that the star could have gobbled up a binary companion, which would account for faster spin and more nitrogen. 

The star is large enough to almost consumer Jupiter.
Wikipedia attribution
By Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI and J. Lim, C. Carilli, S.M. White, A.J. Beasley, and R.G. Marson -, CC BY 3.0, Link

Monday, January 20, 2020

"Why Everything Will Collapse": Because we can't make people give up flying?

Why Everything Will Collapse”, an anxiogenic video by The 4th Money.

He talks about extinctions, of sharks and cetaceans (the most intelligent animals besides us) – we have destroyed their own biological Internet of sonar (we used to use whale oil).

He mentions “Peak Oil” which occurred in 2006, and “Peak Gas” in 2010, and “Peal Coal” by 2020.
Peak metal is a problem – most metal isn’t recyclable. Asteroids, maybe?  Can China squeeze us in the meantime? 

A 6 degree C increase by 2100 would wipe out by mankind.

Humanity doesn’t see these as imminent. 
Change from the ground up is impossible. He talks about a 6-fold reduction in standards of living.
At the end, he demands complete localization and collectivization. 

This film certainly fits into the agenda of Greta Thunberg  ("How dare you?"), and the "Xtinction Rebellion" activism. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

"Surprising Ways Aliens Could Invade Earth" in a young galaxy (?)

Unveiled offers “Surprising Ways Aliens Could Invade Earth” (6 min)

The video suggests pathogens as the most likely (something like an AIDS II that becomes more communicable), or maybe asteroids from our own Oort cloud, or maybe an invisible infiltration.

Maybe it would be creating social media to divide us.  How often have we heard “Mark Zuckerberg is an alien?”
But the next time you see your best friend disappear and teleport himself instantly to another location, remember that’s what the teen Clark Kent in Smallville does.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

"Is Film School Worth It?"

Is Film School Worth It?”  It's a very big deal. 

Tyler Mowery looks at the different ways one can become a professional guild screenwriter (or editor, or producer, or director, etc)  for a living, if that is the goal.
It is possible for people to get there with “alternate paths” even if some people in the industry would resist it for reasons of, perhaps, protectionism.
You really have similar questions in other arts fields, like classical music (playing in an orchestra, concert pianist, composer).
Tyler says he started in film school but switched to another major to finish college more quickly.  Economic Invincibility, who has a similar speaking style to Tyler (and also to Canadian Harvard student John Fish) has hinted at a similar past – he wanted to get to work quickly and be on his own.

Some YouTube producers, especially those who shoot raw news like Ford Fischer (News2share) could well consider migrating into careers as producers and directors of documentary film, given all the turmoil at YouTube with monetization and politics.
I don’t recall discussing film school before on this blog, so I thought this would be a good video to cover.
Another little tidbit:  Walt Disney, having bought 20th Century Fox etc, changed the names to 20th Century and Searchlight.  Will the wonderful Alfred Newman fanfare be kept?  I think it came in with "The Robe" in 1953.  Fox News and broadcasting is separately, and Disney wants to get rid of the "conservative" (Tucker Carlson) anti-woke stain. 

Brain Rose describes why he dropped out of USC Film School. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

"Why Christian Movies Are Bad" (from "The Problem with Christian Media")

Josh Keefe tells us “Why Christian Movies Are Bad”, which is Part 2 of “The Problem with Christian Media

The basic reason is that they essentially video sermons, the film says.  The characters are set up to make religious points and don’t behave in a way that people normally would. Film editing often doesn’t follow the actual flow of a conversation.   He compares a bad sequence from a Christian PureFlix film to a good one from “Whiplash” with Miles Teller, and another one from “The Social Network”.

Preachers are not filmmakers, the video says. They have their own calling.  
The end of the video shows a little clip from “Inherit the Wind” about the Scopes trial.  Like, that old time religion is good enough for me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

"COPPA Got Updated, It's Bad": well, not so fast (short)

Today’s film functions as a short, but it makes a point. It’s called “COPPA Got Updated, and It’s Bad”, by Charmx.

He describes the new “Protect Kids” act which was proposed in Congress Jan. 10 in the House.  I wrote more details Monday (Jan 13) on the BillBoushka blog and gave the Thomas link.

This is not law yet. The main provision that Charmx is concerned about is raising the age thresthhold from 13 to 16. 

This should set off a fierce debate before it goes anywhere. 
Nevetheless, should the age go up, YouTube could not continue behavioral advertising at all without age-gates on everyone even viewing the videos.  There are some more frictionless ways to do this (as an aftermath to COPA, a different law that got struck down) at the router level that, ironically, comes up as a result of my concerns during the immigration sponsorship debates (2016) and the ability of telecom companies to offer guest accounts on routers.  Put this together and find some good nifty programmers and YouTube could solve this and make some college kids good at coding rich (and pay off their college debts with ease), by actually employing them to do something badly needed for their business to continue.

One of my favorite memes is "it won't be so bad, or will it?" 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Oscar nominations in 2020 criticized for shunning PoC, women, creating hypocrisy among the woke in Hollywood

There a lot of talk right now about the lack of PoC and women in the Oscars this year, as in previous years, with the #OscarsSoWhite meme.

Krystie Lee Yandoli writes the politically correct account for Buzzfeed News.
Only Cynthia Erivo from "Harriet"  (as Minty / Harriet Tubman who help run the underground railroad to free slaves before the War Between the States) was nominated for a significant Oscar (for best actress, and best song).

Now BuzzFeed gets criticized for artificial wokeness, from commentators ranging from Tim Pool to gay male fitness guru Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell (who himself produces short films).

John Matrixx, in the video above, says that the award shows are nothing more than opportunities for celebrities to pimp their wokeness.
A bigger issue for me in submitting my own material for movie consideration (which may happen in February) is expectations of casting diversity, when in my material some key characters have to meet some specific criteria for personal appearance, to make sense at all.   

As for other comments about the Oscars, at least two of them (Best Picture) were Netflix films, one of them “The Irishman” which I will make time to watch, I hope on Thursday.  Another such film is "Marriage Story". 

Monday, January 13, 2020

"The Politics of Gay Body Hair" and the paradox of a second puberty

Bradley Birkholz and “The Politics of Gay Body Hair: My Manscaping Routine” (15 min).

This video will show up if you search YouTube for "manscaping". 
Bradley presents his argument in three parts, and starts out with a historical perspective on how men and women were supposed to look, especially in Victorian England. He doesn’t mention that this varies by race.  Generally “white” people have more body hair than blacks or especially Asians.  That seems to have to do with having evolved in colder climates and then the way cultural norms about what his desirable compounded things. Skin color is lighter and skin thickness is less in colder and darker climates often to allow for more Vitamin D.  It’s conceivable that Neanderthal genes could have mattered, but no one has said much about that.  “White” includes most peoples in the Middle East and even some peoples in India.

But in the gay community, “smooth” was in for some people, especially in the 80s and 90s.  He notes the paradoxical or inconsistent “bifurcation” of his own body appearance, and discusses his previous work as a drag queen.  He is 22 and says he is suddenly experiencing a second period of post-puberty and likes it.  His values are changing.
In decades past, this sometimes was an issue with fraternity or even college hazing, as “leg shaving” parties were mandatory for incoming freshmen, as if they could prove they were not too sensitive to the expendability of their own bodies, when they would still be expected to reproduce and have and support families.  This was an issue at William and Mary in the fall of 1961 (actually contributing to my expulsion for refusing to participate).

Sunday, January 12, 2020

"Living on a Generation Ship": Your legacy would be all that matters, and family values would be enforced

Unveiled, with “Noah” narrating, describes “Living on a Generation Ship”.

This would be a 15-20-mile long cylindrical rotating O’Neill Cylinder with perhaps a thousand families, moving to other solar systems and planets, needing to bear several generations to get mankind a new home.  Making artificial gravity work well will be a challenge;  it is not as effective as mass-induced gravity. 
This would have a profound effect on the lives of people living out their whole lives, with no other purpose but to keep humanity going on until it could land many generations down the road. Every able-bodied adult would need to have children and the political system would be authoritarian. You have to belong.  The hive owns your consciousness.
Wikipedia attribution: Public Domain, Link

Saturday, January 11, 2020

"Could a Goldilocks Zone Galaxy Exist?" This video is not as encouraging as a lot of us want!

Unveiled has an important new speculative video “Could a Goldilocks Zone Galaxy Exist?

Not only does an individual star have a goldilocks zone where temperatures are right for planets supporting life to exist, galaxies have a similar concept.  For the Milky Way, it’s about 17,000 light years to 33,000 light years from the center with its supermassive black hole. It’s dangerous for a solar system to pass through the spiral arm of a galaxy, and a circular rather than elliptical orbit is safer.

Finally, galaxies in some parts of the Universe are more conducive to life than others.  Essentially, older galaxies have a better chance because they will have more older stars and more supernovae in their past that could have created heavy elements necessary for rocky planets and for the enzymes necessary for biology.

Our own civilization may be a relatively early one in the history of at least our galaxy.
We could also look more systematically (and mathematically) at what does it take for individualized consciousness to form and persist? Once it forms, can it really be destroyed?

Thursday, January 09, 2020

The "Secrets of Life" got even more complicated: DNA doesn't hold all the cards.

Something Encodes Our Genetics Besides DNA” by Riddle.

The video explains the bridge from RNA to DNA in biology, and notes that DNA helices contain combinations of just four nucleic acids.

But research shows that many other (over 1000) amino acids besides these four might have worked, and might occur on other planets.

The video also explains how a “living computer” could be constructed from DNA based on other amino acids that would have almost infinite storage and might last much longer than conventional hard drives or even solid state drives.

Video title: "Secrets of Life" was a Disney documentary in the late 1950s. 

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

"Taking on the Red Pill: Men's Rights Activism" by Knowing Better

Knowing Better reviews Cassie Jaye’s “The Red Pill” (2016), in “Taking on the Red Pill: Men’s Rights Activism” (29 min) is pretty level-headed in addressing the claims of the MRA, Men’s Rights Activists.  The "red pill" meme comes from "The Matrix" and reveals inconvenient truth's when swallowed. 

The criticism of the film focused mostly on the context around which many claims are based. He notes that MRA often comes from men who have had specific problems growing up. He admits that there is a downside to “male privilege”.  He says men’s rights and feminism could be allies (actor Richard Harmon has said that).  KB suggests that patriarchy itself is the problem:  it expects men to be hyper-competitive, ritualized, and yet prepared to make themselves disposable if need be in an emergency.

KB does give a lot of attention to the fungibility idea early in the video.
KB does talk about the draft and covers the recent interest in Congress in requiring women to register for the Selective Service System since women can not do almost any combat jobs.  He also covers the history of the male-only draft in court. He says that no one born since 1956 has actually been drafted.  

I personally that that the world is unstable enough that the idea that people might have to learn to protect one another collectively is relevant, and that is often part of the arguments for the 2nd Amendment.

He also says there are biological differences, statistically, between men and women which explain why men can play professional baseball or football but women can’t.

He covers the issue of Incel and MGTOW, and also notes that some people in the MRA movement are sympathetic to the alt-right.

He talks about the claims in custody cases and also reverse domestic violence issues.  He doesn’t mention that men have been made responsible for child support when named by women when they had not actually been the biological fathers.

I talked about similar issues on a topic called "Relationship Paradox" at the end of a lecture I gave at Hamline University in February 1998 (on crutches, after an accident), starting at 53:10 on this Vimeo link
The video seems to be sponsored by Curiosity Stream.

Monday, January 06, 2020

An early Golden Globes, essentially calls "1917" best picture before many moviegoers have seen it (a good way for Universal to sell tickets)

I hadn’t been aware that the Golden Globes had taken place this early in January, but they are already done.  The main site announces the winners. LA looks spring-like even in early January (after all, the Tournament of Roses and Rose Bowl have just happened.)

“Best dramatic pictures” is Sam Mendes’s “1917”, which is in only one DC theater now, but will open in general release Friday January 10. 

Jeremy Jahns reviews it, and says the story is simple:  two British soldiers are chosen to go behind enemy lines and deliver a message to save their unit – as the Brits push back on the Germans during World War I, which made young men so expendable.
Best “comedy or musical” was “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”.

Best actor in a drama was Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker”.  Phoenix almost gave up acting.
Best actress in a drama was Renee Zellweger in “Judy”.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

"Scenes from the Men's Toilets at a Ceilidh": conversation in a "john"?

Scenes from the Men’s Toilets at a Ceilidh”, directed by Louis Norris (2019, 10 min, many festival  awards).  

A tall handsome guy from England (Joe Sefton) attends a square dance in Scotland after invitation by his boyfriend (Ben Walsh). But he has doubts as to whether his Scottish friend has come out to his family. But affection builds in this film, shot entirely in a modern latrine with a lot of white tile.  This is indeed a curious idea for a film.
There is bagpipe music, but the title reminds me of Samuel Barber's "Music for a Scene from Shelley". 
Maybe the movie makes a good case for deep cleaning. 

Saturday, January 04, 2020

"The Case for Non-Carbon Life": Maybe silicon works in very hot places

The Case for Non-Carbon Life”, from Unveiled (6 minutes).

The basic idea is that silicon might behave more like carbon at very high temperatures (on hotter planets, maybe on “hot Jupiters”, maybe on Venus now).  The video discusses extremophiles on Earth.

The video notes that arsenic can substitute for phosphorus in some life forms (like in Mono Lake in California).

Silicon’s 4  covalent-available electrons are in the third layer deep which makes their compounds less “hardy”.
The video speculates that even dark matter could be alive.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Bostwiki: short film on setting up his own deep-fake

Bostwiki: “I Paid the Internet to Deep Fake Me”.

Bostwiki, in a 22 minute film, sets up an experiment in which he will be deep-faked and used in porn.

The biggest risk might be for politicians or executives, along with extortion, throwing the stock market. This wouldn’t work if the public caught on to it.

It takes advantage of the fact that some actions (like securities trading) happen on belief and rumor without the time to fact-check.

The “deep fake” industry draws a line between public figures and non-checkmarked persons.
Bostwiki, like Economic Invincibility and Tim Pool, drives holes into conventional leftist and liberal positions on things, mainly for being naïve.

Update: Jan. 8

Facebook has banned some "deep-fakes" but not satirical fakes, story by Tony Romm, et al in the Washington Post today, p. A14. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

"Scientists Hear Plants Produce Loud Screams when Damaged" (Petrov)

Scientists Hear Plants Produce Loud Screams When Damaged”, video by What Da Math by Anton Petrov.

There is a legend that a mandrake root is pulled, it emits a scream that kills the animal that pulled it.

The paper by Katherine Wu in Smithsonian is here, based on this Biorxiv abstract.

The sounds are ultrasonic, way above human hearing but bats might be able to hear it.  The sounds are generated by bubbles.
The video is associated with the Team Trees project (John Fish video). High school biology teachers will love this one.