Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, on Ferguson, MO

As you probably know, up until this summer I had lived in St. Louis for 6 years. I worked a just little south of Ferguson. In fact, my office was ON Ferguson Ave.

And of course, the protests and riots and violence spread beyond just that one little suburb. There were incidents at the mall I used to go to all the time. There was even a shooting in my old neighborhood, a couple blocks from my house. It was probably “officially” unrelated, but I guarantee that the high tension that had permeated the area in the 2 weeks following the killing of Michael Brown helped to make every bad situation just that much worse.

It’s been surreal, seeing the places I just left covered non-stop by social media and the 24-hr news cycle. I know it’s even crazier for all my friends that still live there. I’m three states away, and I still felt the fear and tension. I feared for my friends and family just trying to travel to and from work.

Anybody who knows me, knows my politics and values. I even let it slip from time to time in this blog. So you probably has a pretty good idea where I stand. I won’t add any more commentary or analysis, because there’s absolutely nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said.

But you know who can say it for me? Jon Stewart.

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to watch The Daily Show regularly, but apparently he had been away on vacation – probably airing reruns – during the worst of the situation. Upon returning, he offered this particularly enraged segment, in which he gave his usual hilarious and biting commentary. He directed his rage specifically at Fox New’s (unsurprisingly, yet still offensively) skewed coverage of this situation.

Note how fast he is talking in this segment. He is doing everything he can to get out as much information as possible in this 9-minute segment.

 

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‘Weird Al’ Sings TV Theme Songs at the Emmys, Calls Out George R.R. Martin [Video]

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic has been big recently, with his intelligent 8-day online music video campaign to promote his newest album. So no surprise he was asked to take part in last night’s Emmy Awards ceremony.

It’s always fun to see him do new things, though the lyrics to these TV Themes were obviously written pretty hastily. At least they saved the best for last: the Game of Thrones segment was pretty hilarious, including handing George R.R. Martin a typewriter and telling him he needs to write more.

EDIT: You’ll have to go to YouTube to watch the clip. They’ve disabled embedded playback.

 

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2014 Emmy Award Winners

Full disclosure:

Despite writing a film and television blog that focuses heavily on the awards season, I rarely pay much attention to the Emmy Awards. There are a number of possible reasons for this: I’ve never seen most of the nominated shows; It’s timing doesn’t coincide with the rest of awards season, and thus just doesn’t feel right; Just plain apathy. Pick any reason, and there’ll probably a little truth to it.

So I didn’t watch the Emmys last night. But they went on nevertheless. And unlike Dr. Schrödinger’s eponymous kitty, their outcome was unaffected by my observation, or lack thereof.

Looking back on the night, the big surprise turned out to be Breaking Bad beating out True Detective in every category except directing. But is it that much of a surprise, really? Yes, True Detective is one of the absolute greatest things I’ve ever seen on television, and Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson were revelatory and every bit deserving of recognition for their work. And yes, most pundits expected them – or at least McConaughey and the show itself – to get that recognition.

On the other hand, not only is Breaking Bad also one of the greatest TV shows ever made, it’s also being rewarded for it’s outstanding final season. (Personally, I’ve got about 6 episodes left to go, as of writing this.) Honestly I don’t know how you DON’T recognize that. It’s kind of like the final Lord of the Rings sweeping up every award it was nominated for at the Oscars.

Here are last night’s winners…

  • Drama: Breaking Bad
  • Comedy: Modern Family
  • Miniseries: Fargo
  • TV Movie: The Normal Heart
  • Variety Series: The Colbert Report
  • Reality: The Amazing Race
  • Actor – Comedy: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
  • Actor – Drama: Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Actor – Mini/TV: Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
  • Actress – Comedy: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Actress – Drama: Julianna Margulies
  • Actress – Mini/TV: Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
  • Supporting Actor – Drama: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
  • Supporting Actor – Comedy: Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Supporting Actor – Mini/TV: Martin Freeman, Sherlock
  • Supporting Actress – Drama: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
  • Supporting Actress – Comedy: Allison Janney, Mom
  • Supporting Actress, Movie/Mini: Kathy Bates, American Horror Story
  • Writing – Drama: Moira Walley-Beckett, Breaking Bad, “Ozymandias”
  • Writing – Comedy: Louis C.K., Louie
  • Writing – Mini/TV: Steven Moffat, Sherlock
  • Writing – Variety Special: Sarah Silverman, We Are Miracles
  • Directing – Drama: Cary Joji Fukunaga, True Detective
  • Directing – Comedy: Gail Mancuso, Modern Family
  • Directing – Mini/TV: Colin Bucksey, Fargo
  • Directing – Variety Series: Glenn Weiss, 67th Tonys

Breaking Bad S5 screenshot

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Jake Gyllenhaal’s Nightcrawler [Trailer]

Jake Gyllenhaal has a new movie coming out this fall. No, Nightcrawler isn’t about a teleporting blue dude with a tail. From the looks of the trailer, it’s about a freelance journalist who’s more than happy to cross the limits of journalistic ethics to sell a story. I see End of Watch or Training Day meets Network. I also see lots of awards season attention for Gyllenhaal’s performance. I mean, just look at that smile! That thing sends chills.

Opens this Halloween. Watch the preview, and scroll down for the poster.

nightcrawlerposter

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Love is Strange [Trailer]

In lieu of describing this Sundance standout starring Alfred Molina and John Lithgow, I offer this amazing quote from a review by critic James Rocchi of The Playlist:

It has been noted that early couples say “I love you” with the force of a thousand exploding suns, but that long-standing couples say “I love you” in a way that can also ask, unspoken, if it was you who happened to leave the goddamn garage door open again. That kind of love is rarely seen on film, and hard to portray when it is; Molina and Lithgow make that happen here, with all of the feeling and fights and closeness that a real couple would have.

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Alan Rickman in “Dust” [Short Film]

Dust is a 7-min short film starting Alan Rickman as a mysterious man who stalks a little girl and her mother. It’s dark and beautiful and deceptively simple. There’s practically no dialogue, and it’s all the better for it. The twist is more than a little reminiscent of Rickman’s character in one of my favorite movies, but it’d be cheating to tell you which one.

 

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Phone and Computer Screen Design on Film [Video]

And speaking of screens onscreen (see the trailer for Jason Reitman’s new Men, Women & Children)…

A Brief Look at Texting and the Internet in Film is a 5-minute video exploring a multitude of varied styles of expressing onscreen information in film.

Showing phone and computer screens, or the activity on them, within the context of a film is an interesting design problem. While the need for showing displays is nothing new – the original A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV series had hand animated cells for each frame of it’s titular “book” – creatively, we’re still in the wild wild west. Every filmmaker ends up having to develop new techniques, and in so doing, they often find a big part of the films stylistic voice within the design.

Babel Fish

So why doesn’t everybody just point the camera at the computer and film the screen? Well many do, and it seems to work well for shots of TVs or movies-within-movies. But one of the big hurdles with computers is that it’s difficult to ask an audience to sit and read a static image for too long within the context of a motion picture. You may not notice it, but most movies are edited in such a way that a screen wouldn’t be shown long enough to read all the necessary information.

Another problem is text size: in relation to the size of the phone or computer screen in question, important text/images/windows are usually pretty small. Have you ever noticed how many films – especially action films – give their characters computers with outlandish displays that don’t look like any operating system you’ve ever seen? Well sure Q is going to equip James Bond the newest and coolest technology, but in reality it has more to do with the director needing to find a way to show all the important information visually in a way that can be deciphered easily on film.

skyfall Q's display

Texting seems to be a special problem, but as the video explores, several films – notably the BBC series Sherlock – have pioneered a style of showing texts as floating subtitles without really showing the screen at all. Not only is this an elegant choice, but also allows the filmmakers use creative title designs to give their work that special unique voice. Again Sherlock is at the forefront for beauty and simplicity, and was one for the first amazing things that drew my to that series.

But it’s certainly on the be all and end all. As this video shows, onscreen display design in films is ever changing, and filmmakers are inventing new techniques and ideas constantly. It’s fun to live in an era where we can watch this art evolve in front of our eyes!

Sherlock

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The Onscreen Star IS the Screen in Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women & Children” [Trailer]

Jason Reitman’s (Juno, Up In the Air) newest film Men, women & Children, technically stars a large cast that includes Adam Sandler, Judy Greer, Emma Thompson, Jennifer Garner, J.K. Simmons, Rosemary DeWitt, Dennis Haysbert, and Dean Norris (Hank from Breaking Bad). But from the look of this quiet, introspective trailer, the real star appears to be the series of phone and computer screens that everyone moves between and essentially lives on.

Kind of apropos to this little blog called The Screen Life, no?

 

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Breaking Bad Boys and Julia Louis Dreyfus in “Barely Legal Pawn” [6 Min Short]

Barely Legal Pawn is a 6-minute short film (ad for the Emmy’s?), starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Julia Louis Dreyfus as herself. It’s a hilarious send-up of reality TV shows, celebrity, and yes even Breaking Bad (watch for Paul’s very last line). 

Brad Pitt is “Fury”-ous [Trailer]

David Ayer’s new WWII drama stars Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, and Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson). It looks like this one’s aiming to be a big player come awards season.

 

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