Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Netflix turns up heat

From the Hollywood Reporter:

In a note to shareholders Monday that accompanied its first-quarter earnings report, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells wrote that the House of Cards decision “was driven by a desire to test a new licensing model using a small portion of our content budget.”
“We want to confirm our theory that because we are click-and-watch rather than appointment viewing, we can efficiently build a big audience for a well-produced serialized show,” they say in the letter. “We’ll license two or three similar, but smaller, deals so we can gain confidence that whatever results we achieve are repeatable.”
House of Cards, produced by Media Rights Capital, will star Kevin Spacey and some episodes are expected to be directed by David Fincher. Instead of airing on TV, Netflix has commissioned 26 episodes and will stream them to its customers beginning in 2012 at an estimated cost of $100 million.
Netflix added 3.3 million domestic subscribers during the quarter, giving it 22.8 million in the U.S., enough to tie it with Comcast as the biggest media-subscription business in the country. Sirius XM Radio boasts 20.2 million and Microsoft’s Xbox Live has 30 million, though the company hasn’t said how many are free and how many are paid.

To read my thoughts on the House of Cards deal from when it was announced, head here. As a Netflix devotee, I'm hyped to see them making this move.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

On watching Jesus: Appreciating 'Last Temptation'

"Easter films" don't have quite the categorical recognition and distinction as, say, Christmas films. Part of this is undoubtedly from how "Christmas" has a very bizarre secular manifestation in contemporary culture (it is, after all, a pretty capitalist holiday: why not make capitalist products to promote it?). But there is very much a vested concern with portraying Jesus's crucifixion and, in some texts, resurrection on film. This is a historical issue as much as a contemporary one, as Passion Plays are not anything new.

But today, I found myself compelled to watch Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ for the second time. I first saw it in 2008 and had kind of a revelatory reaction. I watched it late at night, in the dark, consumed by the very lyrical work Scorsese and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus applied to Christ, along with Paul Schrader's incredibly complex adaptation of a pretty controversial (which seems like putting it lightly) book.

I think Scorsese's film has been horrifically misread. I don't think it's just a beautiful film, replete with the kind of eye-catching editing, atypical fusion of music and sequence and striking compositions that have made him one of America's best filmmakers. It takes the kind of psychological qualities he gives all his character studies and daringly applies them to Jesus Christ.  It's brilliant and stirring in a way quite unlike any other spiritual film I've ever seen. So this Easter, I thought it was worth talking about.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cannes lineup finally revealed

Opening Film
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)

In Competition

The Skin That I Inhabit (Pedro Almodovar)
L'Apollonide (Betrand Bonello)
Foot Note (Joseph Cedar)
Paterre (Alain Cavalier)
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
The Kid With the Bike (The Dardennes)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismaki)
Hanezu no Tsuki (Naomi Kawase)
Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh)
Tree of Life (Terrence Malick)
La Source de Femmes (Radu Mihaileanu)
Polisse (Maiwenn Le Besco)
Harakiri (Takashi Miike)
We Have a Pope (Nanni Moretti)
Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
Michael (Markus Schleinzer)
This Must Be the Place (Paolo Sorrentino)
Drive (Nicholas Winding Refn)
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsey)

Un Certain Regard

Restless (Gus Van Sant)
Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin)
The Hunter (Bazur Bakuradze)
Halt auf freier Strecke (Andreas Dresen)
Skoonheid (Oliver Hermanus)
Hors Satan (Bruno Dumont)
Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro (Robert Guediguian)
The Days He Arrives (Hong Sang-Soo)
Bonsai (Christian Jimenez)
Tatsumi (Erik Khoo)
En maintenant, on va ou? (Nadine Labaki)
Ariang (Kim Ki Duk)
Loverboy (Catalin Mitulescu)
Toomelah (Ivan Sen)
Yellow Sea (Na Hong-Jin)
Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo)
L'exercice de l'Etat (Pierre Schoeller)
Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier)
Travailler fatigue (Juliana Rojas, Marco Dutra)

Out of Competition

The Beaver (Jodie Foster)
The Artist (Michel Hazanvicius)
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Rob Marshall)
La Conquete (Xavier Durringer)
Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom (Jennifer Yuh)

Special Screenings

Labrador (Frederikke Aspock)
Le maitre des foreges de l'enfer (Rithy Panh)
Un documentaire sur Michel Petrucciani (Michael Radford)
Tous au Larzac (Christian Rouaud)

Midnight Screenings

Wu Xia (Peter Chan Ho-sun)
Dias de gracia (Everardo Gout)