Thursday, April 30, 2020

AMC's dispute with Universal for "not playing fair" during hard times (over "Trolls World Tour")

A business dispute has erupted in the movie theater business as a result of coronavirus. ANC Theaters has said that it will not exhibit Universal (NBC-Comcast) feature films, as a result of Universal’s decision to put some family films, especially “Trolls World Tour”, right out to VOD rental (expensive at $19.99) and bypassing the usual month or so in theaters. 
Hoeg Law examines the issue with a 30-minute video.

AMC apparently dropped its bankruptcy plans and instead made a private debt offering. That raises an interesting question for people with trusts like me.  Usually you have to be a “substantial investor” with assets over $1 million to buy in.  Also, this has to be money in your own name only, not with a deceased name too, because you have a fiduciary responsibility to other beneficiaries not to make risky investments, even if you are set up with a grantor trust (for the IRS).
Another player in the AMC controversy is the National Association of Theater Owners.  I note the acronym NATO and wonder about trademark. 
Hoeg explains that many affluent families have “home” theaters and can easily enjoy smaller films.  
Only the big films with 3-D and “Dolby Atmos” as he says, really need theatrical exhibition.
In recent years, theater chains have invested in reclining seats and remodeling, resulting in reduced capacity and increasing the likelihood of weekend sellouts and the need to buy tickets in advance online.

Picture above:  Angelika Mosaic in Merrifield VA, opened in 2011.  I don't have an AMC picture of my own handy right now. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

"A Day in the Life of a Middle Manager" by Joshua Fluke (turning filmmaker, in Utah)

2002 Winter Olympics flame

Joshua Fluke is a 30-ish Youtubber from Utah (read, brought up in the LDS Church, probably, and used to be conservative) who has explored his personal and tech workplace problems over the past couple of years, before the Covid crisis.

So now he turns to short film, and may be thinking of moving into film with more deliberation.
He presents himself in a little monologue: “A Day in the Life of a Middle Manager” (“Reflecting on Life at the Office”)  Other taglines:  "Just checking in" and "You do the work, I get credit".  Bad karma. 

Most of the film is shot in a parking lot next to a low-rise office building with the Wasatch range in the background (think about Sundance in January 2021, 50 miles away and 9 months into the future). He makes one foray upstairs to an empty dark hallway.  Since he is alone, he is honoring social distancing. Then he gets on his workstation (alone) and monitors employees handling customer tickets while working from home – like he was managing a hosting company (Bluehost is in Utah). 

He also makes fun of the euphemisms for getting fired.  You get groomed for management, which is then no-mans-land and vulnerable.  It was the engineers who can really fix the production problems who were the most valuable during my own career.
Fluke offers an unusually personal video April 20 on his channel. 
This little short sounds like a parody if the 1999 satire “Office Space”.

In a news item, the Oscars announced today they would consider films shown only online, because of the Covid crisis, for the 2020 year awards. 
Reid Ewing ("Modern Family"), who has made some interesting videos in the past, seems to be looking pretty good in Utah right now judging from Instagram (look at media_reid).  There are recent pictures of him near Great Salt Lake (alone, social distancing). 
Picture from 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, click for Wikipedia (embed) photographer attribution under CCSA. I watched this from a hotel room in Fresno, California (while becoming ill with something that sounded like SARS, 8 months early – I fought it off by myself and completed the trip.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

"Why the Periodic Table Is Arranged the Way It is": Turn Chemistry 101 into game night

32-column periodic table-a
Useful Charts offers us “Why the Periodic Table Is Arranged the Way It Is” (and some Alternatives).

He talks about electron shells (up to 7) divided into sub-orbits, and then rows (horizontal), blocks (subshells, yellow) and groups (vertical).

What he gets looks like a game board, that could be expanded out to something like a Rubric cube almagam, almost.
It’s artistic.

If you click on the Chart artwork at the top you will see the Wikipedia attribution under CCSA and proper credit for the artwork. 

Monday, April 27, 2020

"It's Not a Cowboy Movie": French comedy in a rather mundane physical setting

Gare du Nord night Paris FRA 002
It’s Not a Cowboy Movie” (“Ce n’est pas un film de Cow-boys”) is a comedy short, and rather minalmisl at that, by Benjamin Parent and Joris Morio, from My French Film Festival.  
The film alternates two conversations in latrines, by two teenage boys, and then two teen girls, about Brokeback Mountain (here, Oct. 8, 2017), maintaining that is is not a "western".  There is also a Brazilian short “Cowboy Forever” (here, Dec. 1, 2009).
In the Army they used to say “Never call attention in the latrine.”

Picture: Passenger Train station in Paris, you can see the Wikipedia attribution and photographer credit by clicking on the embedded picture (CCSA).  I was in that station in May 2001.  I then took the Chunnel to England. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

"When Can the Government Lock You in Your House?" panel discussion by lawyers (and an odd coincidence for me)

The Institute for Justice presents “When Can the Government Lock You in Your House? Quarantines and the Constitution”, a two-lawyer panel discussion.

Much of the discussion centers arounds the power of the states, as conferred to governors by legislature.

There is also discussion of the “state of nature” which is rarely mentioned.

The speakers had familiar names (to me, at least):  Robert McNamara, and Anthony Sanders.

In fact, when I lived in Minneapolis from 1997-2003, I met an undergraduate senior named Anthony Sanders who was majoring in philosophy at Hamline University in St. Paul (just north of University Blvd near Fair Park).  He was involved with the Libertarian Party of Minnesota and had run for a city council seat in St. Paul in 1997.

Anthony actually set up my lecture on my book which took place on February 25, 1998, when I was on crutches, about six weeks after a fall resulting in my hip fracture.  The attorney here does not look like or sound like the Hamline student (even allowing for 20 years of age), but the Hamline person might have a similar career and interests.

The link for the entire lecture (57 min) can be found here (first URL;  a second travel film is offered there) and I am introduced. 
The first photo shows a protest at the Minnesota State Capitol, I believe in 1999. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

"Where Did COVID-19 Come From?": valuable short from Never Mind

Coronavirus virion structure

“Where Did COVID-19 Come From?” is an interesting 10-minute video from Never Mind.

The video, dated April 2, is similar in some ways to some from Paul Forster at Cambridge.

The film considers that the first known patient in Wuhan was treated around mid December 2019 and that she worked at the wet market.  But that does not prove that the virus came from the wet market or lab. The genome (a type B, type A is little represented in Wuhan) was decoded by Dec. 24.

The video criticizes China for holding up the information for about two weeks in January.

But it is possible that the virus came from a secondary animal in the wild, and did not mutate into its aggressive and contagious form, capable of killing maybe 3% of those with a major infection, until circulating undetected among humans for a while. The protein furin is involved and this is of concern because a similar protein is found in bird flu (a very different virus).

The illustration shows an inner strand as a double helix, but the virus is single stranded RNA, type 4.

You can click on the illustration and get the Wikipedia attribution CCSA information. 

Friday, April 24, 2020

"Crazy Boy Friend Problems" from QTTV: OK, explicit, but with real characters, real story and a "moral point"

Sometimes explicit film have real stories and “important” content.  I don’t usually post even “soft core” here, but some of it really does have important artistic value.

QTTV presents “Crazy BF Problems” aka “I Met a Sex Addict at a Convenience Store and Now He’s My Boyfriend” (just posted 2020/4/15).

It’s a flippant tagline.  An attractive young executive walks into a convenience store and gets into a cruising session with another man with open shirt.  Intimacy (starting with undoing a tie) starts in the back room, and then a relationship follows.

The “poorer” man (who looks relatively clean-cut for his social status) says that the executive is becoming more like himself. Soon the “poor” man starts asking for money, especially for a crystal meth habit.  Watching the film, you really do care.

The film played without being logged on, but it probably shouldn’t have. The physical stuff may fit barely within gay PG-13, but the language about “acts” and drugs (a little bit of it) would earn this little film an R, so it’s essentially intended only for 17+ viewing.

Still, at the end, you want the characters to do well.  You want the “poor” man to get off his habit.  It won’t be easy.  For the exec, perhaps there are visible consequences if you look closely enough.
No idea where this was filmed, maybe Canada, maybe LA.  Nobody knew what social distancing means when this short was filmed.
Picture: Toronto, my trip July 2019.  Can't drive there now. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

"Game Night" : a young man takes a new girl friend to his parents' house

Game Night” (2019), by Jan van Gorkum and Zuiderlicht Film.

Pepijn takes his new girlfriend to his parents’ house for game night, where they play Trivial Pursuit.
The boy’s parents start treating her in less than a welcoming manner and she wonders why. One of the questions is, what number is unlucky in Asian culture?  Not 13, but 4. 

Most of these films on Omeleto are based on a single concept or idea or situation, as is common in short film. Tyler Mowery talked about that today, and he thinks that beginning writers need to think this way about even features.

It’s common for LGBTQ groups to have game nights.  Chess has never been popular. Blokus is.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

"My Boyfriend Died of COVID-19", animated short film from The Atlantic Selects

Wuhan - Guanngu Streetcar - Wudayuan -

“A Thing By” and The Atlantic Selects present a 7-minute short animated film by Olmo Parenti, with Megan Burney voicing over, “My Boyfriend Died of COVID-19

This is a heterosexual story.  In fact, it is set in Wuhan, China as the pandemic starts in mid January. 
Before the Chinese New Year starts, a young woman living outside Hubei receives texts from her boyfriend that he is sick and found the hospital swamped, on Jan. 22, and that an ultimate catastrophe had taken place.  This was about the time that China started building a field hospital in 10 days.
She receives other texts.  He gets better, then gets worse again and then the texts stop.

This time I've embedded the image of the Wuhan monorail from Wikipedia.  If you click on the image you will get the CCSA attribution and photographer credit. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

"The Dirt Between My Fingers": simple film about friendship

The Dirt Between My Fingers”, from director Joshua Chislett (April 2020, 10 min, 1109 films), offers a teenage boy (Jack Parson) who wakes up another kid (Shawn Vincent) lying on the bank of a river in the Midwest.

The other kid is suspicious at first but gradually accepts the first boy’s friendship, when the first boy demonstrates a desire to live outside all the time.
A moody piece produced on a near zero budget.

Picture: Mine, southern Michigan, 2012 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

"How Are Viruses Classified?"

Useful Charts has an informative video that follows on an earlier one (Nov. 23, 2019, on evolution of cellular life), “How Are Viruses Classified?

The charts look like game boards.  The viruses have their own disconnected little chart because viruses cannot reproduces on their own without entering living cells. 
There are seven numbered categories.  “I” includes all double-stranded DNA and includes herpes (and smallpox).  “II” is single stranded DNA, “III” is double-stranded RNA.  “IV” is single stranded RNA positive pole, and includes common colds and coronaviruses in separated orders.  “V” is single stranded RNA negative polarity and includes influenza. “VI” would comprise retroviruses, including HIV.

Friday, April 17, 2020

"Joseph's Reel": an elderly painter gets to review a day in his life as a young man from a film clip and script, like his life had been a simulation

Omelto presents “Joseph’s Reel” (14 minutes, Forty Foot Films) directed by Michael Lavers.
An elderly man (Robert Hardy) has the chance to review one day of his life, from a projectionist’s open reel and a screenplay.  It was a day when, as a young painter, he had a chance for a relationship.  
Does he get to rewrite the script of his own life as he has lived it?

Picture: Near Waco TX, 2005 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

"Can Hollywood Survive Coronavirus?" (CNBC)

“Can Hollywood Survive Coronavirus?” from CNBC.

Many points are made here.  Theater tickets bring more revenues to studios than online rentals. And one chain, AMC, is apparently filing for bankruptcy.
Many big releases have stopped production and may be halted for an entire year. 
Many workers in the film business work in the gig economy and don’t have health insurance.

Many indie films have lower compensation for actors (SAG-indie). 
On the other hand, really independent videos and films might get made, and that’s been a flashpoint on YouTube, with the whole deplatforming issue in the past years.

Picture: theater in Greenwich Village, Jan. 2019 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

"Destroyer of Worlds", time-travel film from CGBros

CGBros (a game company) offers a short film (44 minutes), “Destroyer of Worlds”, from Pumpkin Money, directed by Samuel Dawes, with one of its game plots in live action.
In 1954, in Plymouth England, an inquisitive teen (James O’Neill) starts paying more attention to his dad’s (Mard Aldrace) mathematical theorems, shortly after the tragedy of losing his mother.
They know a mad scientist (Jamie Saiderwaite) who wants to use them for a dangerous time travel experiment.
The scientist produces a plasma ball (like Taylor Wilson’s fusion reactor) which, when you enter it, offers you time travel.  For practice, the go back to an Egyptian tomb in 356 BC.
Then they see the future at various points until they run into a “barrier” that they can’t cross.  The scientist has devised a series of stepping stones or “beacons” to try to breech the barrier, which shows a future that looks like Syria under Assad.
The characters go back and forth, and the teenager, physically maturing into full manhood himself, gets suspicious of the scientist and wants to protect his father. The kid winds up on what looks like a WWI battlefield at one point and escapes back, and find duplicate copies of himself.
This film won some awards in film festivals in Britain.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

"Lloyd Neck": charismatic gay track runner has his younger sister guessing

March B presents “Lloyd Neck” (16 min), from Saturday Pictures, 2008, in Sundance that year. Benedcit Campbell directs a film apparently set on the Long Island Sound.

Taylor (Aaron Michael Davies) is a charismatic track runner and high school senior. He protects his younger sister Alex (Carina Goldbach) while going on a beach nature outing with his boyfriend Jesse (Brian Dare).  There is a cat and mouse game as to whether Alex figures out they are boyfriends from merely platonic behavior.

Picture: Long Island Sound, from LIRR, my picture, 2014 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Roger Penrose explains "Consciousness Is Not a Computation"

“Consciousness Is Not a Computation”, as Lex Fridman interviews Roger Penrose.

He talks about “orchestrated objective reduction” inside the neurons, somehow connected to microtubules.
It is somehow a resolution of quantum processes at some level where intention and localized decision making is necessary.

I think it has something to do with reversing entropy, for conscious agents to be locally responsible for keeping the Universe from falling apart.  And these agents can't live forever (maybe their local souls do and reincarnate?) and need to reproduce. It's mitosis, reproduction, that preserves the miracle of consciousness. 

Picture: PapPaw tunnel, MD 

Friday, April 10, 2020

"High Risk" and "Every Time I Tell": two short Spanish films from Canal on HIV risks for gay men, even today

Studio Canal seems to have some gay short films from Spain regarding HIV and responsible behavior among gay men, in series called “Indetectables”.

One of them is “High Risk” (or “Alto riesgo”), directed by Juan Flahn, 7 .

A policeman (in street clothes) goes to the doctor to see if he can get post-exposure meds (protease inhibitors – why wasn’t he on PrEP?) and in the last scene he describes an orgy to the female doctor.
In the waiting room he discusses it with another young gay man. But two older women sitting next to him (no social distancing yet) misinterpret what he is talking about in a comic way.  The discussion of nausea in Spanish is particularly hilarious.

Another more explicit film (probably rated R from what you can see, so I didn’t embed it) presents two other gay men confronting the possible outcomes of their pleasures. It’s called “Every Time I Tell It” (“Siempre quelo Cuento”).

By Fotograccion -, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Thursday, April 09, 2020

"Guillermo on the Roof": a young writer is challenged by when he wants to present his own life story in film, by a real-life Syrian refugee

Parandroidd presents the Spanish short film “Guillermo on the Roof” (“Guillermo en el tejado Cortometraje”) directed by Miguel Lafuente.
Guillermo is a young writer who would like to produce autobiographical film about his own loves. He sees the world through his own experience as a kind of moral filter.  I know the feeling. 

His own mentor thinks this is self-indulgent and an inappropriate way to get into writing. She has another docudrama project about a Samir, young Syrian refugee who came to Spain through Greece and then came out as gay before his family went to Sweden, leaving him behind.

It seems as though Guillermo follows both ideas, but he comes to bond with the Syrian refugee.

There is talk about how you write voice-overs and other parts of a screenplay.

With Javier Amann, Mariu Bárcena, David Matarín y Anuar Beno.
Wikipedia attribution license for Madrid neighborhood picture, by Esetene, CCSA 3.0

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

"The Main Event in America": a boxer goes straight, to the chagrin of a boyfirend, and he even loses the fight

The Main Event in America”, directed by A. W. McNight. From Mystic Lotus and Backyard Fireworks, running 29 minutes, just posted by Coreynyc.

The film presents a 28 (guess) year old white male boxed (Arthur Kuklov) living in the South Bronx with a single mom (black) abandoned by her husband, and he says he wants to marry her. He tells his (non white) boyfriend, who is passionately attached to him, that he has a “real life” and that “I f—k people up for a living”   Then he loses a fixed fight at the local ring and his life comes apart.  The place is hardly “Fight Club” though.

This film (which needs more video detail) looks like it wants a sequel and may be expanded into a feature (sort of like a Jorge Ameer film).
My experience in life is being the “boyfriend” and clinging to somebody who has a real life as I regard as a “good master” (remember “the rich young ruler” and “why do you call me good”).
I remember riding by Amtrak through the South Bronx back from Boston in 1975 (I had seen a game at Fenway).  It was a disturbing sight. 

Picture: Harlem, 2014, mine. 

Monday, April 06, 2020

"Broken Places": documentary about resilience of kids growing up in disadvantaged homes

Broken Places” (2018), directed by Roger Weisberg, aired on PBS in abbreviated form (55 out of 76 minutes) tonight. 

The film examines families in the New York area and compares the children damaged by poor environment and those who still thrive anyway, with “resilience”.

There was a lot of attention to families with multiple medical problems, including strokes and multiple sclerosis in parents, fibromyalgia, and pain and sometimes opioid.
One baby is shown with her head covered with electrodes, which apparently can do readings thorugh hair without shaving. 
The documentary looked at the development of PTSD in some children.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

"Kiss": in an outdoor outing in Bavaria, a male couple and lesbian couple interact unpredictably, with two endings

Kiss”, from Queerblick, from Germany, presents a lesbian couple and a gay male couple sharing an outing in Bavaria on a lake.

The short film (9 min) offers two endings, a “realistic one” and a “happy one”.

There is some experimentation as to whether the two men relate to the fluid non-binary “lesbians”.
The film dates back to 2015, before this idea became more popular.

By Björn Láczay - Über dem SpitzsteinhausUploaded by Magnus Manske, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Saturday, April 04, 2020

"Why the Shanghai Tower Failed": Overbuilt, wasteful design

Why the Shanghai Tower Failed”, by B1M.

The last of three competing skyscrapers in Shanghai, built in 1999, 2009 and 2016, it’s 2000 feet tall and twisted (there is a similar condo in Massapequa, Ontario near Toronto).   The developers can’t lease it out.  Much of the floor space is wasted.
But it is spectacular.  

Friday, April 03, 2020

"A New Beginning" for a young man going blind; QA without the short film from Sedona Film Festival 2019

Here’s an interview from the 2019 Sedona, AZ film festival for the 10 minute short “A New Beginning”, directed by Erik Lauer, written with Tyler Mowery (Practical Screenwriting).

I couldn’t find the actual film anywhere, including the Facebook and Instagram handles given by Erik.

A young man with approaching blindness from a rare eye disease goes on a last sightseeing trip with a friend, but then there is a twist.  For him, descriptions of what he could see matter.

By Dr. Igor Smolyar, NOAA/NESDIS/NODC. - NOAA Photo Library: amer0081, Public Domain, Link

Thursday, April 02, 2020

"StandBy": what happens when you don't have a surge protector for your computer (sci-fi) during a storm

StandBy” is a rather curious sci-fi short film from Trey Drysdale (from July 2014), 6 minutes.

In a home in Britain, a business school student (Nico Drysdale) is typing a term paper into his computer. There is a severe thunderstorm outside and the house is hit by lightning. He is plugged in to Britain’s Direct Current without a surge protector, and his computer is fried.
He tries to fix the outlet and it arcs on him.  Then the computer comes back up and seems like a portal to other dimensions.

Picture: From Smithsonian, Washington DC (2015)