None of this makes sense. It didn’t make sense back in March when I first tried to get my head around it all, and I’m none the wiser now.
Miramax is suing Tarantino over Pulp Fiction NFT auction — Quartz Earlier this month, Tarantino announced plans to auction off unique digital versions of items from the 1994 cult classic, including scanned copies of script pages for seven scenes that didn’t make the final cut. The “secret” NFTs will only be viewable by whoever purchases them. But here’s the five-dollar shake: Miramax claims these NFTs are not Tarantino’s to sell.
A fake Banksy sold for $330K is a perfect symbol of a wild NFT market – The Next Web There are numerous reports of NFT fraudsters selling fake artworks, stealing credit card information, and hacking into cryptocurrency accounts. Perhaps the most notorious example yet is this week’s sale of a fake Banksy NFT. […] As well as not looking like a Banksy, the piece was reportedly unsigned and hadn’t been authenticated by the artist’s agency. The true mastermind may forever remain a mystery. Whoever they may be, their ruse has further exposed the risks of buying NFTs.
Boy, 12, makes £290,000 in non-fungible tokens with digital whale art – The Guardian Benyamin Ahmed’s collection of pixelated artworks called Weird Whales went viral during the school holidays. His success may be a harbinger of the digital business models that could disrupt the banking sector. His father, Imran, a software developer, described the artwork as similar to “digital Pokémon cards” and said they had been a big success because collectors realised their historical significance.
It’s a good time for spaced-based sci-fi at the moment, with the latest Dune and Foundation adaptations on screens of various sizes. The former seems to be making a bigger impact than the latter, though. This article from the Long Now folks suggests a reason why.
“Dune,” “Foundation,” and the allure of science fiction that thinks long-term – Blog of the Long Now In a moment of broader cultural gloominess, Dune’s perspective may resonate more with the current movie-going public. Its themes of long-term ecological destruction, terraforming, and the specter of religious extremism seem in many ways ripped out of the headlines, while Asimov’s technocratic belief in scholarly wisdom as a shining light may be less in vogue. Ultimately, though, the core appeal of these works is not in how each matches with the fashion of today, but in how they look forward through thousands of years of human futures, keeping our imagination of long-term thinking alive.
Long-term thinking, that can only be a good thing, right? Longtermism, on the other hand…
Against longtermism – Aeon Essays Why do I think this ideology is so dangerous? The short answer is that elevating the fulfilment of humanity’s supposed potential above all else could nontrivially increase the probability that actual people – those alive today and in the near future – suffer extreme harms, even death. Consider that, as I noted elsewhere, the longtermist ideology inclines its adherents to take an insouciant attitude towards climate change. Why? Because even if climate change causes island nations to disappear, triggers mass migrations and kills millions of people, it probably isn’t going to compromise our longterm potential over the coming trillions of years. If one takes a cosmic view of the situation, even a climate catastrophe that cuts the human population by 75 per cent for the next two millennia will, in the grand scheme of things, be nothing more than a small blip – the equivalent of a 90-year-old man having stubbed his toe when he was two.
Let’s stay in France with these articles about Wes Anderson’s new film, The French Dispatch, based loosely on The New Yorker’s writers and editors. Whilst it’s fascinating to read about the real life editors and reporters that inspired the film, I’m more interested in its aesthetics.
The New Yorker writers and editors who inspired “The French Dispatch” – The New Yorker According to David Brendel, who worked closely with Anderson on “An Editor’s Burial,” an anthology of New Yorker articles and other writing that inspired the film, the filmmaker discussed the significance of the movie’s vibrant visual language during post-production. “This is a world where all of the eccentricities are preserved, and it’s as if the magazine’s offices and culture back then were as colorful as its covers,” Brendel said.
When Wes Anderson comes to town, buildings get symmetrical – The New York Times The top floors of the building, which include a sign so wordy (The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun) that it continues across the upper-floor windows, were actually designed as a miniature. That miniature was digitally merged with the real building to give the top of it a more stylized look. The townscape of buildings in the background to the left is also a digitally added miniature. But on the ground level, the fronts were constructed for the film.
I noticed that this photo of the original building is credited to Accidentally Wes Anderson, the website that highlights similarly interesting and idiosyncratic places from across the globe. It was nice to see some local architecture featured there, amongst all the others.
But back to the movie, or rather the music video of the movie (with Jarvis Cocker!).
Watch Wes Anderson’s animated music video for The French Dispatch’s ‘Aline’ – Dazed Wes Anderson has directed a new, animated music video for Jarvis Cocker’s rendition of the 1965 Christophe track “Aline”, performed as the fictional pop star Tip Top. The song is one of several French pop covers to feature on Cocker’s musical counterpart to Anderson’s The French Dispatch. Titled Chansons d’Ennui, the record will also include versions of tracks by Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Bardot, Marie LaFôret, Jacques Dutronc, and more.
I note its style is very similar to the design of the initial movie poster, though they seem to have gone in a very different direction for this new set of posters.
Looks like we’re heading off to Spain for the next one.
Wes Anderson is shooting a new film in Spain this summer – Dazed Sets for Anderson’s as-yet-untitled project can be seen on the outskirts of the town in south east Madrid, says the Spanish newspaper, ready for shooting in July, August, and September. These sets reportedly include a mock train station and landscapes typical of a classic Western (though the film isn’t said to be of that genre).
Listening to people worry about how streaming services and mobile phones are changing how we watch movies, you’d be forgiven for thinking that in the past movie-going must have been a pretty straightforward affair. Not so, as this fascinating ramble through a long lunch with Orson Welles shows.
O.W.: I’m the opposite. It’s a question of age. In my real moviegoing days, which were the thirties, you didn’t stand in line. You strolled down the street and sallied into the theater at any hour of the day or night. Like you’d go in to have a drink at a bar. Every movie theater was partially empty. We never asked what time the movie began. We used to go after we went to the theater.
H.J.: You didn’t feel you had to see a movie from the start?
O.W.: No. We’d leave when we’d realize, “This is where we came in.” Everybody said that. I loved movies for that reason. They didn’t cost that much, so if you didn’t like one, it was, “Let’s do something else. Go to another movie.” And that’s what made it habitual to such an extent that walking out of a movie was what for people now is like turning off the television set.
Similar to Voleflix but with less actual content, here’s a new streaming service for when you’re after something a little more meta.
Nestflix Welcome to Nestflix, the platform for your favorite nested films and shows. Fictional movies within movies? Got ‘em. Fake shows within shows? You bet. Browse our selection of over 400 stories within stories.
Not quite sure why, but I found myself wondering what Audrey Tautou, the star of Amélie, is up to these days. Yes, she’s still working as an actress, but has also found another outlet for her creativity. Here’s a hint from a 2008 interview, ostensibly promoting a rom-com she starred in at the time.
‘It doesn’t take much to catch a man’ – The Guardian Audrey Tautou has this thing with journalists: she takes their photograph. She started doing it soon after the release of Amélie, when she became, almost overnight, one of the most in-demand interviewees on the planet. She waits until the end of your allotted slot, asks politely if you’d mind, then points her Leica at you and presses the button. She has no idea how many of these snaps she has taken – “maybe as many as 400, I guess” – nor what she is going to do with them, but they are her compensation for the time she has spent, over the past few years, sitting in over-decorated hotel rooms talking about herself.
“They’re just kind of lost hours for me,” she says, apologetically. “All that time talking totally about myself, which is of course a fascinating subject but not exactly new and exciting for me. And then the interviews appear, and obviously there’s not really going to be anything very new or exciting for me in them either, because I was the one being interviewed. I wanted there to be something in the whole process for me. I’m thinking of maybe turning them all into table mats. That was a joke, by the way.”
Almost ten years later, these snapshots became part of something a little grander than table mats.
Audrey Tautou’s very private self-portraiture – The New York Times In July, the annual Rencontres d’Arles photography festival will show Tautou’s photographic work for the first time. The precisely cataloged and annotated portraits of journalists will sit alongside three other bodies of work by the actress: All are forms of self-portraiture. Counterbalancing her pictures of the journalists responsible for creating her public image are small, spontaneous snapshots Tautou takes of her own reflection. “I always have a camera with me,” she says.
“I’m an actress, but I’m not only an actress,” Tautou says. “This part of me that has grown and grown and grown for all those years was more important for my balance than I’d thought. Now it’s this part of me I want to express and develop. So to me, it’s something very intimate, it’s not a hobby. It’s a way to become complete.”
Audrey Tautou: Superfacial – Les Rencontres d’Arles In a series of self-portraits using film photography, and shown to the public for the first time, Audrey Tautou explores her image, playing with her celebrity status by turning herself into her own model. As creator of her own image, she imagines herself, not without humor, from head to toe, in dramatizations which openly bear the signs of their artificiality. These photographic fictions create the space for her long-distance look at herself, and invent another angle on the actress.
By dressing herself up, she says, she enters a kind of “no woman’s land”, where she is neither herself nor a made-up figure that might readily be associated with her. It’s a sort of “fake instantaneous moment”. “It’s not realistic mise-en-scène. My subject, in these photos, to me it’s not a real proper character. It’s somebody between the character and who I am. It’s somebody just right in the middle of the travel between the regular humans, the normal humans, and the one who’s going to become a character.”
She loves the poetry and the evanescence of photographers such as Nan Goldin, Diane Arbus and the great chronicler of Parisian life, Brassaï. Is it because, perhaps related to her work as an actor, she is interested in those who suggest the story beyond the frame? She agrees: “I like when an image could be just one of several others which would create a story. That you can imagine who are those people or what would happen before, what’s going to be next; I like when there’s a past and a future that we can imagine when we see photos.”
Double Take – The Guardian No better way to mark the 50th anniversary of Psycho … than with this bizarre and distinctly inspired mash-up by writer Tom McCarthy and film-maker Johan Grimonprez. Their ever so slightly mad cine-essay, based on a Borgès short story, and perhaps influenced by British film-maker Chris Petit, is a delirious bad trip, imagining that Alfred Hitchcock, working on the set of The Birds in 1962, is visited by his own double: the near-dead Hitchcock from 1980, who enigmatically hints at how cold war history may or may not turn out. (The older Hitchcock double is of course only slightly better informed on this subject than the younger.)
Double Take by Johan Grimonprez – Vimeo Acclaimed director Johan Grimonprez casts Alfred Hitchcock as a paranoid history professor, unwittingly caught up in a double take on the cold war period. The master says all the wrong things at all the wrong times while politicians on both sides desperately clamor to say the right things, live on TV.
Double Take targets the global rise of ‘fear-as-a-commodity’, in a tale of odd couples and hilarious double deals. As television hijacks cinema, and the Khrushchev and Nixon kitchen debate rattles on, sexual politics quietly take off and Alfred himself emerges in a dandy new role on the TV, blackmailing housewives with brands they can’t refuse.
After 25 years, the original Space Jam website has been replaced – Esquire Middle East The original website, launched in 1996, became a viral phenomenon in the early 2010s, as an internet that had evolved far past the 56k dial up modem found the site completely untouched from what it had once been. In an online world in which it often seems nothing is preserved, visiting the website felt genuinely like discovering the Tomb of Tutankhamun.
Web designer Max Böck compares the resources and loading times of the two versions. Progress?
Here’s something from the Web Design Museum for those in the mood for more movie reminiscences.
… which brings us back to where we started — Americans and royalty.
Royale with Cheese (dialogue) – Genius As Jules Winfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) drive along they discuss trivial matters regarding the little differences between Europe and America.
Hot on the heels of that Second Life/digital identity documentary I shared earlier is news of another documentary exploring virtual themes, but of a very different kind. Have you heard of simulation theory? It’s like Second Life, but instead of being outside looking in, we’re on the inside wanting to look out.
Are we all living in the Matrix? Behind a documentary on simulation theory – The Guardian Coincidences we accept as quirks of chance are just imperfections in the system we’ve been plugged in to, whatever shape it might take. We could be brains in a vat, receiving electrical stimuli through wires manipulated by scientists, or perhaps we’re nothing more than bytes of data on some intelligent being’s hard drive. Plato posited that we could be shackled in a cave, mistaking the shadows on the wall for the things casting them. From VR video games to pop culture, any number of metaphors speak to the core concept of a dimension that can be seen through by those who know how to look. In the case of the more adventurous psychonauts accepting these figurative ideas as literal fact, some even attempt to control the illusion.
What is Simulation Theory? Do we live in a simulation? – Built In New York University philosophy professor David Chalmers has described the being responsible for this hyper-realistic simulation we may or may not be in as a “programmer in the next universe up,” perhaps one we mortals might consider a god of some sort — though not necessarily in the traditional sense. “[H]e or she may just be a teenager,” Chalmers said, “hacking on a computer and running five universes in the background… But it might be someone who is nonetheless omniscient, all-knowing and all-powerful about our world.”
Yes, as conspiracy theories go, it’s pretty out there. But think of it as just another whacky creation myth. I mean, do you really understand superstring theory and quantum entanglement? Nah, me neither.
William Gibson’s short story Johnny Mnemonic first appeared in Omni magazine in 1981, before being published in his Burning Chrome collection in 1986. It takes place in the same world of Gibson’s cyberpunk novels, Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive and, in the 1995 movie at least, starts on 17 January 2021.
Johnny Mnemonic – Museum of Arts and Design Artist Robert Longo’s directorial debut, Johnny Mnemonic adapts for the big screen William Gibson’s story of the same name. Set in a dystopian 2021, when megacorporations rule the world, the movie features Keanu Reeves as Johnny, a “mnemonic courier” who discreetly transports information too sensitive to carry over the Net via a special device implanted into his brain—a career that’s cost him his childhood memories. Hoping to recover them through an expensive surgery, Johnny agrees to one last job, which requires him to download more information than his implant can handle.
2021 and the conspiracies of Johnny Mnemonic – WIRED Johnny is a digital-era delivery guy. If you need some data transported hypersecurely, simply load it into his head and off he goes: your very own walking—more often running, from bad guys—USB air-gapped meatstick. So what if the gig comes with memory lacunae and the risk, in the event of information overload, of brain-burst, to say nothing of the Yakuza at your back, who are more than happy to carry out a file transfer by way of decapitation? It pays well, and you look cyber-cool doing it.
Gibson’s cyberspace was always bound up with the body. Data can be wet-wired; manipulating files requires Power Gloves and an “Eyephone.” When Johnny jacks in, it kind of hurts. Such meat-meets-metal has, in the quarter-century since Johnny Mnemonic came out, been called a failure of prediction. Our internet ended up disembodied, virtualized, socially distanced, our iPhones more of a figurative prosthesis. Yet, this last year, we sat slack at our desks, muscles atrophying, nerves attenuating, as we doomscrolled our way to new aches, new anxieties, new ailments. Some wild-eyes went so far as to claim that 5G triggered the pandemic, which is the most Gibson-sounding conspiracy of all. In Johnny’s world, the black shakes are caused not by a virus but by a signal. Epidemic through technic. There’s something in the air, no matter what you do. You’re already sick, you’re already dying. Connectivity is killing you.
Looking back at Johnny Mnemonic – Den of Geek Really, it’s pretty difficult to figure out exactly why this film doesn’t live up to the brilliance of Gibson’s material, and why it didn’t find a wider audience. It may be down to the studio’s interference – allegedly, the film was re-cut shortly before its release, to be more mainstream; Gibson himself attests that the rough cut was funnier and more alternative. It may also be that the general cinema-going audience may not have known what to make of it – it was science-fiction, yes, but without the usual tropes they might expect of the genre. Virtual reality had also been done before, and Johnny Mnemonic’s cyberspace sequences are similar to those seen in 1992’s The Lawnmower Man, and 1995’s Virtuosity also played around with the concept a few months later – really, audiences were promised nothing new. And, of course, nobody knew The Matrix was only four years away, which would redefine the way in which simulated realities had been presented in films forever.
Can technology make you sick, like ‘NAS’ does in Johnny Mnemonic? – Syfy Wire The real risk of exposure to technology might exist not in the technology itself, but in our relationship to it. It’s true that excessive internet usage is linked to depression. What’s unclear is which factor is the instigator. One interpretation of the data suggests that excessive internet usage causes depression. This makes intuitive sense as the information most readily available online is overwhelmingly negative. Another interpretation is that those predisposed to depression exhibit higher internet usage. […]
NAS or the Black Shakes, the physiological disease showcased in Johnny Mnemonic, has yet to rear its head, but the psychological impact of constant information demanding attention can have real consequences. And we all need to be aware of where we devote our attention, what society is demanding from us, and how we navigate an ever-changing and increasingly digital landscape.
Tenet up: listen, Christopher Nolan, we just can’t hear a word you’re saying – The Guardian It’s hard to be anything other than completely perplexed by Tenet’s sound mix, where almost every scrap of dialogue that isn’t being screamed by Kenneth Branagh is smothered under a thick blanket of soupy noise. Don’t get me wrong, it might still be a good film – I’m looking forward to watching it at home with the subtitles on to find out – but a movie where you have to try to lip-read several complicated theories about the nature of time isn’t exactly accessible to a mass audience.
You seen Tenet yet? I have, though I think I’ll need to go a few more times to be able to tell you what it was all about.
Tenet review: ‘It feels like several blockbusters combined’ – BBC Culture He has often said that he would like to direct a Bond movie, but he must have got tired of waiting for the producers to hire him, so he has gone ahead and made one of his own. From its opening action set piece, to its whistle-stop tour of international beauty spots, to its super-rich, heavily-accented bad guy with an army of expendable henchmen, Tenet follows the 007 formula to the letter – the only notable change being that the main role has been split in two, with Washington playing the tough, dedicated government agent, and Pattinson adding the English accent, the insouciant humour and the taste for alcohol.
Is seeing Tenet in cinemas worth the coronavirus risk? – Wired UK As in Nolan’s previous films, characters spend the beginning zooming busily from place to place, delineating the world’s underlying rules. And like his other films, this quickly spun pseudoscience drives the plot. I found both increasingly impenetrable, an impression Nolan seems to anticipate – one scientist, her lab coat underscoring her authority, makes bullets spring, grasshopper-like, backwards through time. “Don’t try to understand it, feel it,” she implores.
It was great to be back in the cinema, though.
The spectacle, then, is the point. Watching a Nolan movie on your laptop is like watching someone else ride a roller coaster; abstractly, you can see why it would be fun, nevertheless, it is not. This is a film best presented in 70mm, at the iMax, the biggest cinema in the UK (™), at a head popping scale of image and sound. And it was moving, just as Nolan described it in his editorial, to be back in the cinema, even this cold new cinema of masks, hand sanitiser and vacant seats. It is so central to social life. The film opens with a crowd attending the theatre – unintentionally its most poignant scene.
If you find yourself with some free time during these strange days, why not settle down with some of these free films.
Free movie of the week – Oh You Pretty Things
Filmmaker Gary Hustwit is streaming his documentaries free worldwide during the global COVID-19 crisis. Each Tuesday we’ll be posting another film here. We hope you enjoy them, and please stay strong.
I’m a little annoyed I’ve missed Helvetica, but I’ve just watched and thoroughly enjoyed this documentary about Dieter Rams.
Rams – Vimeo
“Rams” is the new documentary by filmmaker Gary Hustwit (Helvetica) about legendary designer Dieter Rams. For over fifty years, Rams has left an indelible mark on the field of product design with his iconic work at Braun and Vitsoe, and his influence on Apple. “Rams” is a design documentary, but it’s also a rumination on consumerism, materialism, and sustainability. Dieter’s philosophy is about more than just design, it’s about a way to live. The film also features an original score by pioneering musician Brian Eno.
And from the sublime to the ridiculous, here’s a collection of films of a different but equally charming kind. Yes I know it’s just directing you to YouTube, but I love the Netflixy interface.
Voleflix free movies
Cheaper than Netflix and Prime! Dozens of free public domain movies plus our Voleflix Originals. Includes films featuring Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, Roger Corman, Bette Davis, Fred Astaire, Rock Hudson, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and more…
The 33 best movies over 3 hours long – Vulture Some of these long movies inflate the familiar three-act structure to epic proportions, while others use their expanded lengths to stretch out and wander into unexpected places. We wouldn’t necessarily suggest marathoning these films back-to-back, but watching them one at a time is an experience worth clearing your schedule for.
Pandemics: An essential reading list – Vulture Just as the film Contagion has found a second life with news of the coronavirus outbreak, so too are novels about epidemics popping up on reading lists around the country. With stakes so high, it’s easy to see why novelists find outbreaks of disease so compelling. Here are 20 great fictional takes, ranging from the historical to the futuristic.
The 40 best horror movies on Shudder – Vulture If you’re new to the service and wondering where to start, don’t fret: We’ve dug into Shudder’s increasingly impressive catalogue to find the best films worth your time, from classics like Halloween to newer entries like Mandy. Watch them all.
That’s because in the Spring of 2020, the world’s musicians are not playing to audiences, they are not showcasing their craft for the applause, or even rapt silence. They are simply playing to share music with a world that needs to hear it.
Bong Joon Ho’s latest film Parasite has been doing quite well recently, subtitles notwithstanding.
Trump inexplicably complains about ‘Parasite’ Oscar wins – The Wrap
“By the way, how bad were the Academy Awards? And the winner is a movie from South Korea,” said Trump. “What the hell was that all about? We got enough problems with South Korea with trade. On top of it, they give him the best movie of the year? Was it good? I don’t know. Can we get ‘Gone With the Wind’ back please? ‘Sunset Boulevard.’ So many great movies, the winner is from South Korea. I thought it was best foreign film, right? Best foreign movie. No! Did this ever happen before?”
I loved this take on it from Language Log, a wonderfully anachronistic-looking blog from the University of Pennsylvania.
In his speeches and interviews, director Bong Joon Ho consistently code-switches between English and Korean (e.g. here). This is another novelty. Code-switching is not commonly seen on American TV. I loved his half-apologetic, half-cheeky laugh when he said in perfect English: “I am a foreign language filmmaker so I need a translator here. Please understand.” The interpreter herself has been in the spotlight as well.