Sunday, April 29, 2018

AMAZON PRIME'S JOURNEY FROM "THE JUNGLE" TO THE MOUNTAINS OF MORDOR or YOU BETTER HOPE THERE'S GOLD AT THE END OF THIS RIVER, 'CAUSE CANCELING ALL THESE GOOD SHOWS IS P***ING ME OFF!



(Sigh)

http://variety.com/2018/digital/news/amazon-prime-membership-fee-increase-video-shipping-costs-1202790187/

Oh-kay, it's time to talk about Amazon. I know, I know, most of our streaming attention has been paid to Netflix lately, and it's not undeserved to be honest, but-eh,- (sigh) well, basically at least brand-wise, I've always been more of an Amazon guy, at least until recently. One of Netflix's many problems, and yeah, they've got more than they let on, but the one I'm talking about regarding their original programming is that they're more into quantity than they are quality. In of itself, that's not an inherent problem, but it doesn't lead to much of an identity. Treating Netflix liek a TV channel for a second, what exactly is the quintessential Netflix show? What show or collection of series could you put together and say that these shows are Netflix? I can pinpoint a few shows and sorta say they belong together and make sense, you know, eh, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt", "GLOW", "Orange is the New Black", maybe at a ten o'clock slot, "House of Cards", that would make sense on a normal TV lineup, but where does "13 Reasons Why" fit in or "Hemlock Grove" or "Santa Clarita Diet" or their stand-up specials or "Dear White People" or "BoJack Horseman" or "Fuller House" or the Marvel shows or the two seasons of "Richie Rich"-, wait, what?! Am I reading this Wikipedia right, "Richie Rich", live-action sitcom? In the 2010's they brought back "Richie Rich"? What the hell? (Sigh) I'm gonna regret this...- (Clicks)

65 seconds in, there's a Kevin Arnold wannabe, a Paul Pfieffer dobbleganger and Winnie Cooper's snooty evil twin, talking to Richie Rich's supermodel maid robot. I did not make any of that up. (Who the hell thought "Richie Rich" would make sense for today kids...- Has that franchise ever actually worked? [Ugh]) Okay that's enough of, whatever that was. Anyway, you see my point? There's a lot of content, but there's no identity. Meanwhile, Amazon shows they all kinda fit together. Part of that is that some shows had the same creators and they also gathered around other similar creators and shows and whatnot, and frankly, I liked most of their shows. Ever since "Girls" went off the air, one of my go-to responses to what the best show on TV is has been "Mozart of the Jungle", which they just recently canceled, and they also canceled "One Mississippi", "I Love Dick" and several others and that's not even counting "Transparent", which I and most others would've probably labeled at Amazon's signature show, and it's current status as being, up-in-the-air at best, for several reasons that we will get to, 'cause unfortunately it is a bit relevant....-  and I'm not even saying I liked all these shows, some of the popular ones like "Goliath" and "Sneaky Pete", I haven't really given a fair shake to yet, but-eh, I can either take or leave "Bosch" and frankly I thought "Good Girls Revolt" just sucked. I mean, it's a good idea, I liked that Nora Ephron's a main character and it's based on true events, but it's basically a boring remake of "Mad Men" except everyone's either Peggy, Joan or Roger. (While I'm at it, I can take-or-leave "Catastrophe" and "Fleabag" too.) But that said, I understood how those shows were trying to fit into this brand that I thought of as Amazon Prime. Or "Prime Video" as it's started labeling itself on my Roku. Anyway, yeah, these all made sense, I can see this mapped out on a network's schedule and the network would make sense. It wouldn't all fit naturally, but you can see the common themes and motifs. Adult, sophisticated, progressive shows, slice-of-life comedies and comedy-dramas, a slight wit to them. historical costume dramas mixed in with hard-boiled throwbacks...- even if I don't like all the shows, and I didn't, I can identify and understand the brand.

This even crossed over into their film productions, which, honestly Hollywood's been a little more forgiving of because they have followed the more common Hollywood theatrical release structure, and I hate to say it, but Spielberg's right, Netflix shouldn't be releasing everything on streaming with only the half-ass minimal attempt at hitting the Oscar qualifier, blah, blah, blah, Amazon knows better how to present a film as a film and get both box office numbers, plus money from providing streaming..... blah, blah, blah, blah, blah....

But, we're talking about the TV side. And, in recent months, despite a loyal audience and some critical acclaim, they've basically slowly started abandoning this brand identity, they've canceled many of their shows, including a lot of major ones like "Z" that we're pretty high-profile and expensive production in of itself and now, they're putting all their on their money into...- (Sigh) "Lord of the Rings". Yes, they've committed, by some estimates a billion dollars, and five guaranteed seasons of a TV adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings" that may or may not exist within or parallel or whatever to the Peter Jackson films.

Okay, yes, most of this, I hate because, well, I despise "Lord of the Rings" in every form and consider Tolkien the antichrist of literature. Okay, that's a little much, he's not the antichrist of literature, but I don't like the books, I hated the movie-, well, I liked the last "The Hobbit" film, but taking that aside, I actually do understand this move. I think it's a risky move, but it's calculated. They've basically said that they want to recreate the success of HBO's "Game of Thrones" so they seeked out a popular vehicle and have devoted much of their funding towards it; this is basically television's equivalent to a tent pole project, and you know, obvious choice is obvious, if you're gonna do it, why not do it with the biggest fantasy franchise in two mediums their is. Business-wise, I get it, and basically, HBO is being kept afloat by "Game of Thrones" and maybe by "Westworld" now, I'd have to double-check the ratings on that to be sure, but that's what they're trying anyway. The funny thing is that I don't think would be too outside their current brand if they didn't start abandoning it. I mean, costume dramas and period pieces were already prevalent on Amazon, even the historical fiction "The Man in the High Castle", and like HBO, they had history pieces like "Rome" for instance that prepared for this. And HBO, for another comparison was the starting point with shows like "Six Feet Under" for people like "Transparent" and "I Love Dick" creator Jill Soloway that evolved to things like "Big Love" and "True Blood", that peppered the HBO landscape for awhile; it's actually really close to following the HBO model and while HBO, I don't think was too profitable during those shows' run, not as profitable as "Game of Thrones" anyway, I don't think they pushed those shows out so much as they let them run their course.

This is why the Amazon thing is a bit weird; this was a very concise decision by them, in fact they're not even really hiding it, they've basically admitted that they want the next "Game of Thrones" and this is the one that they're saying it is. Well..., we do know the reason for this, see the head of Amazon Studios during the reign of most/all of these shows basically was Roy Price and-eh, he got into some trouble.

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-41664180

It wasn't as high-profile as the Weinsteins or some of the other names out there, but-eh, yeah, Amazon didn't look too good in this, anybody, and on top of that, the fact that he also signed Woody Allen to a deal, signed off on Louis C.K., who was a producer on Tig Notaro's "One Mississippi", and also the Jeffrey Tambor thing which...- (Sigh) look I'll be straight, I guess that one surprised some people; it didn't surprise me as much. I actually had heard stories and rumors about him for years, I'm actually somewhat surprised he was still getting so much lead TV work, um,- I thought that even when "Arrested Development" was on to be honest, so-eh..., yeah. Well, that sad note, um...- anyway, this was- well, I can't say for certain, but his shows have been not-so-gradually getting pushed aside or canceled out right and two weeks after this was first word that Amazon was doing a "LOTR" adaptation.

http://variety.com/2017/tv/news/lord-of-the-rings-amazon-1202606519/

I hate to defend a sexual predator and say it's a shame that this is happening, but, for me, I liked the brand identity Amazon had built up under him and I don't hate outright that they've made this dramatic switch, but I am wondering about...- well,- it's not like he created any of these shows, he just was the head man-in-charge when he approved them for his air. I mean, this isn't like everything Cosby ever did being tainted now 'cause he was the centerpiece of his image and the series he did,- I'm not saying they shouldn't do LOTR or that they shouldn't be fading these shows out, but when you're rebranding a network there is such a thing as tonal whiplash.

I can think of successful examples and some not-so-successful; I mean, I remember when Bravo was the artsy cable network and now the only remnant of that that remains is "Inside the Actors Studio" but believe it or not, they implementation of that change was very subtle at the time. Starting from when NBC bought the network and skirted some of the influence there like airing reruns of "The West Wing" and the broadcast rights to "Six Feet Under" and even some of the Olympics, and then finding an artistic reality show to insert with "Project Runway" in their as a bridge between them, and eventually it evolved to the pro-gay pro-reality trash channel we know and love today. (Shrugs) But look at, what is it now Paramount Television. That's been The Nashville NEtwork, then they added wrestling and roller derby, so they became The National Network, they at some point SpikeTV which never made any damn sense, and...- you don't want look into- what is it now, Freeform's history? And those are full brand shifts and name changes, we're not even talking something that extreme, but you know, when suddenly Must See TV was dominated by "The Apprentice' and "The Biggest Loser", people like me who were loyal to the NBC brand and had some expectation of quality from it, they definitely felt like something was pulled from under their feet. (There's a lot of reasons NBC'S gone out of their way to shift away from that in recent years, and basically made the network "The Voice" and mostly decent but underwatched dramas and sitcoms again, but that's an underrated one; trust me, when I started switching to CBS on Thursday Nights, I knew they were soon to be dead and thankfully Jeff Zucker was soon to be excommunicate to CNN)

So, even with a project that, even at a billion dollar budget, doesn't seem like it's doomed to fail, this is a gamble, and this is a potentially alienating shift for the audience that Amazon has built up. But even more than that possibility, the thing that makes this particular network brand shift curious to me, is that, we haven't seen with this with a major streaming service before, at least not to my knowledge. If Netflix's quantity over quality formula has one advantage it is that their lack of a signifying brand actually helps them evolve more easily.

That said, and I think this "LOTR" gamble will succeed, but what if I'm wrong and it doesn't, and some people are predicting that already btw, this opinion piece came out a couple weeks ago:

http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/why-amazons-hugely-expensive-lord-of-the-rings-series-will-be-a-flop/news-story/d3b6b0a1825c09c0ab04d423f36494af

I mean, if this fails for a broadcast network, that's one thing, but they have enough to overcome a failure like this, Amazon is a newer channel on a alternate service that, let's face it, has a lot of dead channels on it. Hey, I have a Roku, I know, every month I go through the 900 or so channels I've added and there's usually a half a dozen or so that I check to see if they actually still work, and they often don't work after too long. I'm not saying that's the fate of Amazon, but no streaming service has so devoted themselves so much on the success to a single project, in fact few networks of any kind have done such a thing, period. This isn't just, you know, NBC building that giant set for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", this is an entire rebranding of a network devoted to this programs' success, and it hasn't even aired yet. It's hard to remember now, but HBO did not plan for "Game of Thrones" to have the position they have for their network, to them, it was another in a long line of high-quality drama series. Hell, it's first season, it wasn't even the favorite to win the Drama Series Emmy in it's first year, among HBO shows. (Trust me, "Boardwalk Empire" had a far better chance of wining in 2011 than "Game of Thrones" did, and HBO had much more invested into that series' success at that time, too.)

So while Netflix is trying to force the public to redefine what a movie's been for 100 or so years, Amazon Prime, is taking a big risk in rebranding it's TV channel, something that definitely hasn't been done on this high a scale for a streaming service, and arguably for a TV network, period. I mean, even AMC before "Mad Men" had experimented with it's own programming before with "Remember WENN" years earlier, and at the moment, Amazon Prime, they don't seem to have a backup plan. It's basically "In Tolkien They Trust" for them, and they're gonna live or die by that. I can't say for certain that they wouldn't be doing this had Roy Price not besmirched their reputation and they've had to systematically alleviate all the shows they can that he had a hand in, ASAP, but I'm weary that this could be an unnecessary risk for them.

And for me, I'm just sad right now that "Mozart of the Jungle" is the latest in a long line of great canceled shows, many of which didn't get the audience or reputation they deserved. (Seriously, how did the Emmys not fall in love with "Mozart..." at least? It's funny, it's pretentious but in a sophisticated-and-clever "Frasier" way,, it's a show about a bunch of artists and all the crazy shit they do, it's centered around classical music, it had major stars everyone loves...- Man, did everybody miss out on this one, and it still easily had a couple years left. [Shrugs])  Well, I guess I'm cheering for "LOTR"'s success anyway. I don't know if I'll like it, and with my tolerance record with Tolkien, I probably won't, but, hopefully, it's success will bring in some other creative and innovative new shows that I will like and the money will roll in for them and go downstream to everyone else. (Shrugs) I gotta come at this optimistically, it's the best I can reasonably hope for, and I'm sure they're seeking out other content. Hell, they just picked up the Angry Video Game Nerd, so maybe there's more to their network's rebranding than they're sharing, oh, and I can't forget that they have "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", that show might be the best on all of television right now actually; if you haven't seen that yet, catch up now, who knows, they might cancel it the first chance they get these days...-. (Shrugs) What?

Anyway, a few scatterings of diversification aside, they've got their eye on a marketshare and they're aiming square at it. If this was a game of pool, this is that shot on the eight ball where you hit it perfectly at the right you can cut it into the pocket and win the game, but if you hit it with a smidge more power than you need to hit it in, you'll end up scratching and losing the game entirely.It'll be interesting to watch either way.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

MOVIE REVIEWS #147: "THE SQUARE", "WOMEN WHO KILL", "GRADUATION", "NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER", "LONG STRANGE TRIP", "CITIZEN JANE: BATTLE FOR THE CITY", "THE WORK", "PHANTOM BOY", and "FRONT COVER"!

I think we're all still following whatever other possible revelations we get out of the Channel Awesome destruction as closely as we can, I'm not gonna update any more on it, 'cause whatever goes on, I'm sure we're gonna find out eventually and-eh, (Shrugs) who the hell knows from there. That said, there's one last thought I have on all this, one that- I don't think has been mentioned before, and this isn't even just a Channel Awesome thing, this can said about the industry across the board: We need to stop being vague about these things. Just,- I understand there can be circumstances where we can't explain everything, but still though, everything-, everything is so vague, until it isn't. Some of the things in that document, absolutely reprehensible, but if much if not most of it, if you just looked at you know, one or two of these incidents, without the context behind it and heard them, "Well, okay those are bad, but there might've been something else going on from their side," kind of things. I had heard a lot of these rumors and stories going around about them beforehand and that's a lot of what I thought, and whether or not Channel Awesome were in the right or wrong, there probably was something more going on and I could probably write off a lot of these incidents as anomalies. Anomalies that every business has, and there's always gonna be a disgruntled employee or two, kinda thing, blah, blah, blah.... When a company or somebody is truly shit and reprehensible, it's not said out loud, maybe they can't absolutely say it for legal reasons, fine, but you still don't get the intensity when you see a statement like, "It was time for me to move on," or "They're a badly managed company," or whatever.... I had a class in film school; I don't even remember what it was called now, but basically it was a class that was trying to teach us, how to- work the room, in Hollywood, but also, how to protect yourself, basically. And we warned about stuff like, "Don't say you'll do anything, cause somebody will take you up on it," or what happens if you ever talk to somebody famous and what to say...- basically, now, in hindsight, I realize that this was a class designed to teach us what to do if you run into Harvey Weinstein. They never said that out loud of course, but basically that's what it was. And you know, for many reasons we probably shouldn't have had it of course, even though it was a good class, but this stuff needs to be more open. It shouldn't be a whisper campaign, if someone or some group of people are really this bad, then, maybe more of these documents need to be made about them. We gotta make a real distinction between, "I had a bad situation with them..." to, "This guy, these people, they're absolute toxic and they're never gonna get better, stay the hell away!" I know it seems like we're at the beginning of that kind of transition, and hopefully we are, but even some of the Channel Awesome people warn us that that document is just the beginning of some of the atrocities they've committed, and I believe them and I believe that we've probably only scratched the surface of some of the other Hollywood names that are being taken down, for in a many cases, far worst offenses. If anything other than the Channel, #ChangeTheChannel that needs to change, that's gotta start changing, if for no other reason then so that documents like the ones they produced, become unnecessary in the future.

Anyway, I hope that rant was somewhat coherent, it probably wasn't but...- yeah, anyway. I watched one docu-mniseries that I talk about a bit in one of the other reviews and I also finally got around to "Memories of the Sword" the Korean revenge feature. Eh, it reminded me a lot of "Kill Bill" personally, "Kill Bill" in a "Crouching Tiger,..." world essentially. It was okay, not overly amazing to me, but it was an okay film. Just a bit of an absurd melodrama mess overall, but it was fun. That's about it, and let's finally get to it. Sorry for all the delays, let's get to this latest edition of our MOVIE REVIEWS!


THE SQUARE 
(2017) Director: Ruben Ostlund


★★★★


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You ever find a piece of art of some kind, film, TV show, music, whatever, and you really couldn't quite figure out if it was good or not. Not, whether or not you liked it, but whether or not it's any good to begin with, 'cause it's sorta right on that line where you're trying to figure out it's smart or stupid, but every clue, kinda goes both ways? You see, I'm getting a weird sense of that with "The Square" but added to that, is the fact that in some ways, the movie is actually about whether or not art is smart or stupid, or "stupid" and "clever" I probably should say.  This obvious happens a lot when the genre is surrealism, which I presume this is; it's definitely got that absurdist tone of some of the more sardonic surrealists; if you ever wanted to see what would happen if Roy Andersson tried to make "The Fireman's Ball" would look like, this is probably the closest film I could think of.


The first thing I notice about the film is how often people are asking for help in the film, help that is never answered by anyone around them that we see, or more specifically, isn't answered when the person asking for help, is asking the general public for it; it is often answered, usually by those who were asking for it the most, when it's asked for by Christian (Claes Bang). Christian is the head of a museum that's putting on a  "The Square" in the title is a reference to a signature art piece that their whole new modern art exhibit is centered around. It is a square space in from the Stockholm museum that Christian is the head curator and face of, and inside is a plaque that reads "The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it, we all have equal rights and observations." This has to of course be promoted for a modern audience, and they bring in a firm to do that, and more notably, Christian gives an interview to an American reporter, Anne (Elisabeth Moss). He ends sleeping with her. She also, has a monkey who does art himself. This is never explained or elaborated on, except for a scene that seems like a lost scene from "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" when a visiting artist Oleg (Terry Notary) interrupts and disrupts a black tie dinner party by acting and dresses like a monkey. Eventually the guests retaliate and murder him. Somehow the literal monkey, a bonobo I'm told, actually makes less sense to me, but that's neither here nor there. What's important is that basically everything is going to shit for Christian. He believes it's all started in the beginning when he's the victim of a clever robbery. He then tries to get even when he finds out that his missing cellphone was in an apartment building and he distributes by hand a message to the thief to return his items, only he distributes that letter to everyone in the building and some take exception to it.

"The Square" earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Feature and won the Palme D'Or at Cannes, and basically the movie is a really elaborate joke about the ideals of man and the realities of our actions and, I don't know, a lot of other pretentious, artistic bullshit that constantly and continuously double-backs upon itself. This is the kind of movie where everything is undercut by absurdity. Interviews are cutoff by an audience member with Tourettes, and art exhibit is accidentally vacuumed, a major conversation is interrupted by construction workers...; I'm not even revealing half the weird shit that happens in the film, it's a Murphy's Law of absurdism and Christian only barely realizes until the end that things are worst than he realizes. Sorta. "The Square" is almost too dark of a satire on modern art, modern culture, modern materialism and altruism ideals, and almost everything. I think that's the point, like modern art, it's supposed to supposedly represent everything and nothing and the art ends up being just as shallow as those it's trying to enlighten. This is why I'm confused on how to rate this. I think I'm recommending it, 'cause there's way too much here and it's way too clever not to be considered. It was written and directed by Ruben Ostlund who made one of the favorite films in recent years, "Force Majeure" a film that examines people's reactions after surviving a potential life-threatening situation. That movie was about human instinct; I think this one is too, but on a much sardonic and metaphysical level. "Force Majeure" could've been played for satire, but I took it seriously as an examination of human behavior; "The Square" is clearly comical. I can appreciate it, more than I like it, but I do think it ultimately works.


WOMEN WHO KILL (2017) Director: Ingrid Jungermann


★★★★1/2


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There's a great little scene in this film that I love. Jean (Ann Carr) asks her ex-lover and podcast co-host Morgan (Ingrid Jungermann, the film's director) to sit down in front of a fountain. Morgan doesn't want to, 'cause she knows Jean is trying to talk to her, but she does it anyway. Morgan then pulls out a notebook that she writes stuff in and Jean immediately gets up and calls her out on her passive-aggressive bullshit, pulling out a notebook in order to seem distracted. It's a brilliant scene that's well-written and paced beautifully that makes us feel like these characters know each other so well that they are always ten steps ahead in the others' thought process. I think we all know a few couple or two like this, a couple who's not necessarily on-again/off-again but might as well be based on how they act with each other. They're always just one awkward pause away from either fighting or fucking and they're never sure which one it'll be until it happens.

"Women Who Kill" is one of the most fascinating and assured debut features I've seen in a long time. Jungermann's film is one of those movies that benefits from having an original and observant point of view. Morgan and Jean are podcasters who do a show on female serial killers, both discussing past ones as well as interviewers current famous known ones from prison. Basically they run a popular true crime podcast, and are general well-liked in their somewhat eclectic group of friends, most of whom are lesbians, and most of them also talk and complain at times about the struggles with their home and love life. Then, Morgan starts dating Simone (Sheila Vand) a new student she meets one day at the co-op she helps run and they begin to hit it off, despite Sheila being about twenty years young than Morgan and also a bit still stuck in that moody-gothic phase. Their friends, including Jean, are originally ambivalent-to-concerned about the pairing as Simone is a bit odd and quirky and they can quite put their finger on it. Then, a few of their friends start, just dying off suddenly and Morgan and Jean both begin concerned that Simone is a serial killer, and try to figure how to investigate her, without tipping off this thought to her, or you know, before she kills them, if that's what's happening.

"Women Who Kill" is a really unique little film. It's constantly keep me on my toes and off-guard and all the characters are really well-written and always playing each other at angles. and not necessarily obvious ones either. These are characters that all have secrets with each other and histories with each other and those details are always working with each other. This is the kind of movie that on paper, would simply work fine, anybody could make it and make a worthy, viable, version of this film. I think this movie didn't with the plot, I think Jungermann, started with creating the world of these characters and then figured out how to insert a plot that is what changes and alters and swings the dynamics of this world to and fro and it continues to unravel, which is really how something should be done, and it's really impressive for a first-time feature filmmaker, and I'm looking forward to what she'll do next.


GRADUATION (2017) Director: Christian Mungiu


★★★★


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It seems like one of the great things about being a cinephile or film buff or whatever is that there's almost a guarantee that somewhere in the world a film renaissance is happening and eventually we will be inundated with loads of films from the great new filmmakers from that country. There's always the stalwart countries like the United States, France, Japan, Italy, etc. but those non-traditional cinematic powerhouses are often where the most interesting and intriguing films come from. One of those countries in recent years has been Romania and one of the leaders of this Romanian New Wave is Christian Mungiu, most famous in this country for "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" a movie that shows a young coed take another down into the depths of the Bucharest underworld in order to get an illegal, emergency abortion. That film was shot with a claustrophobic intensity and seemed to document real time with few obvious cuts and the feeling of following as we watched a dangerous, perilous into the underworld.

Interestingly, "Graduation", kinda has the same approach to it's material, even if, on the surface it appears to be something far less controversial. Romeo (Adrian Titenti) is a father who returned to Romania after living in exile until the Communists wall fell. His daughter Eliza is attacked and seriously hurt on her way home from school. He's concerned about her and getting the suspected rapist into custody, but the thing that's really concerning him is that this attack took place a few days before she was supposed to take her final exam for high school; she's in line for a scholarship to go study in England, which to him, means an opportunity to get her out of this place and perhaps have a real chance in life. I know, it's overdramatic, but he figures that he and his wife Magda (Lia Bugnar) tried to get out once and still ended up there, but she stil has a chance, but she must pass these exams, and now that she's suffered a traumatic attack like this, he's worried it could effect her getting the scholarship. (The Romanian title probably translates more accurately as "Baccalaureate" than "Graduation".) So, in the few days in-between as he's concerned about her future and even walking to-and-from class, he basically dives into the underworld himself, only it's to the police and politicians and school officials, all in order to grease the wheels a bit, in case her test doesn't pan out, even if, it would be completely understandable.

Meanwhile, the real story is how much he's put into this test and essentially how happy his daughter's life turns out, whether or not that's exactly what she wants, and more-than-that, whether or not she'll even be grateful for it. It also, kinda goes in a few other weird directions, from here, that I'm not sure entirely work, at least story-wise. Still though, this is a minor criticism, "Graduation" paints a picture of run-down Romania suburb that's filled with pessimism, corruption and heartfelt angst from all sides. Angst to make things right, angst to protect others from forces that can protect them from, and angst because they can't protect all of them, and that's just the way it is. I imagine this is a film that's more powerful to the Romanian people than it is to a more Western viewer, but I thought it got it's point across nonetheless. It's a bit slow, but ultimately an emotionally stirring film.



NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER (2017) Director: Joseph Cedar

★★★


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You know, for somebody who's so noted for being zen and Buddhist in his personal life and very friendly in every other aspect, and being so anti-violence he got booed at a concert honoring 9/11, that took place only weeks after 9/11, it's amazing how good Richard Gere naturally is at playing con artists. Seriously, have you all noticed how good he is at this; there's a lot of liars and creeps in his recent resume. "Arbitrage" he plays a corrupt hedge fund, "The Hoax" where he plays Clifford Irving, that's arguably one of his best performances; he's good as a "Fixer", I guess in "Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer" as well, he's played several lawyers over the years, his big breakout part was "Days of Heaven" and that's a character's got a violent temper and he tries to convinces his girlfriend to marry his boss, figuring she'd get his money when he suddenly dies. It struck me as curious as I watched "Norman...". The guy is arguably the most underrated actor in Hollywood, and maybe the last name you'd think of for playing a disreputable character, but honestly, he's really good at it. Sometimes, too good, which, I think is part of the problem with "Norman...", we only really know this guy as some conman who's trying to get ahead, and not much else about him, honestly. Still, I recommend it.

Norman Oppenheimer (Gere) isn't exactly a conman, in the traditional sense anyway, he's technically an Advisor on Tax Receivables, or, "In the realm of tax receivables". He doesn't really have a job, he's basically, just, an in-between guy. Or, not even, he inspires to be an in-between guy; a guy who tries to find an in with the rich and elite and manage to gain just enough smattering of trust, in order to be trusted. Other than that though, he seems to be on the outside-looking-in, constantly. The only fact that we ever learn is that he has a nephew, Philip Cohen (Michael Sheen) who works for a big company and can occasionally use his Uncle for some connection work. That's about all he does, make connections to people and through those connections, he manages to fall upward to success, even while still falling down everywhere else. He eventually, befriend the right guy, Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkanazi) an Israeli diplomat who we helps get around during one of those New York evenings and buys him a very expensive, nice pair of shoes. One's that it seems hard to believe he could afford. This lower level undersecretary to the undersecretary to a cabinet member, would seven years later become the new Israeli Prime Minister and they meet up seven years later and Norman uses this connection the best he can, now that he's got an in with the Israeli PM, he's suddenly in-demand somewhat. He also drives the rest of his staff nuts, as they mostly see him as a hindrance, which, technically he is, and one who seems likely to get the PM in political and legal trouble.

Also true, and Norman has to somehow, fix everything for everybody. There's also some good small performances here by Charlotte Gainsborugh and Steve Buscemi among others, and Ashkanazi's performance in particular is really strong; he can just overtake a room with his presence here, it's quite special. That said, the movie is Gere's performance watching him. The movie was directed by Joseph Cedar, the great Israeli director who made "Footnote" a few years back; this is his first film made mostly outside of Israel, who's really good at these low-key pieces that seem to be about the people who value the allusion of importance and power and strive to achieve it, and when they think they do, it turns out that it's, in some ways tainted and unearned. Norman perfectly fits in a Cedar world, a man who acts like he belongs, but truly doesn't, but will continue to act like he does as long as he can, to keep up the charade. "Norman" is a good movie, not a great one, but is centered around some amazing performances that enhances the material into something tangible. Leaving it to great actors to take a story of a fake who managed to scheme his way into corruption.


LONG STRANGE TRIP (2017) Director: Amir Bar-Lev

★★★★1/2


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Okay, so this was exhausting. So, for some reasons, my Netflix queue was having some laughs with me by scheduling both "Long Strange Trip" the four hour docu-miniseries about "The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead" right next to me watching "The Defiant Ones" the four hour documiniseries about the careers of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, back-to-back! Now, you'll notice that I'm not reviewing "The Defiant Ones" but have decided to review "Long Strange Trip", and this is because from everything I can figure, "Long Strange Trip" did have a theatrical screening while "The Defiant Ones" was strictly a TV program that aired on HBO. This is further confirmed that "Long Strange Trip" was on the Academy Awards list of eligible Best Picture films, while "The Defiant Ones" was not. Now there has been a debate recently about whether or not situations like this, should even count as feature films, while other films are TV programs, and while isn't actually that new of a debate, at least in terms of documentaries, oddly enough, streaming services have really begun to make this annoying. Frankly, I do think this should be separated and that programs declare themselves to be one or the other but I go by theatrical releases, so we're reviewing "Long Strange Trip", which is probably the only possible title a film about the Dead could have been called.

Like "The Defiant Ones" "Long Strange Trip" is an epic bio rockumentary that spans the entire careers of it's subjects, in this case, from the strange beginnings of how a cult acid rock band formed from some each member having strange backgrounds themselves, but forming together after basically working on their material separately at a San Francisco coffee shop, up until the band's official death in 1995 when their frontman Jerry Garcia passed away. I remember it being a big even personally whenever The Grateful Dead came to town, especially as a kid, this was a major news story every time it happened. I great I just presumed they must've been one of the biggest bands in the world, which they technically were but strangely they never really had that many radio hits. Only one song, "Touch of Gray" broke the Top 40 and that a weird blip of newfound popularity they had in the mid-1980s. Mostly, they're known for jamming. They're one of those bands who, although they do have some great studio albums like "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty" usually you think of their live performances and shows, which not only became synonymous with garnering a cult-like fandom, with Deadheads traveling from town-to-town just following the Dead thousands at a time, but also, fans, practically joining in with the band as they perform. They are probably the most egalitarian of bands, just let everyone in and out and perform as with them wherever. It's clear that the fan connection is by far the biggest aspect of the Dead, and that's not a knock few bands cared as much about them as they did, and that's not to say that the music is secondary, 'cause it's not. I love the Dead as much as anybody and there music still holds up and is still influential to this day.

I don't think there'll be too many surprises here, there's a few modern interviews includes with Garcia's surviving relatives and some rare recordings of the band that are worth looking at, mostly I think this is just a love letter to the band that anybody, particularly the fans of the Dead can get soaked up in and I can't imagine it wanting to be anything more than that. It's extensive and definitive and basically covers everything you would want to know about them, and I suspect your appreciation of the film goes hand-in-hand with your appreciation of the band.


CITIZEN JANE: BATTLE FOR THE CITY (2017) Director: Matt Tyrnauer

★★★★★




I think it's fair to say that any random city and Las Vegas are complete opposites from each other, but I can tell you that there definitely is a wide difference between my hometown of Vegas and real cities, like the ones back east. I spent some time last year back in Philadelphia where my family is, and I also spent some time walking around Washington D.C. while I was on that vacation, and I do mean, walking around, 'cause, while some of those areas-, I mean, I saw cars driving down the roads, I can't for the life of me imagine how. Of course, any city that existed pre-automobiles are gonna be a little bit smaller but there was a time when the suburbs were being formed and the urban renewal movement began where the basic idea was, well, A. that certain parts of the city, the slums areas weren't pretty and needed to be gotten rid of, but also B. that cities needed to be designed, or redesigned in order to make room for the automobiles. And you know, that's not the worst idea, out west. You see, there isn't really other transportation possibilities for us; we've tried to figure out a high-speed rail system, but to go to and from large cities, that are often too far apart for any other reasonable option, short of an airplane, means that highways are actually a good idea. Now, notice I said "to and from" cities, not, "in cities." See, another weird thing about Las Vegas in particular, it's a really new city. They didn't really start even really building anything here until the 1940s at the earliest, and they didn't build a neighborhood or anything-, I mean, I guess they had Boulder City back then, which was a little south of Vegas and was built mainly to house people who were working on what we now know as Hoover Dam, but the National Highway system was in it's infancy, Las Vegas in particular, was barely above 25,000 people by the fifties., it's about the equivalent population today of Cudahy City, CA, which no, I've never heard of that town either. So highways going through the city, actually made sense at that time, 'cause the one thing we needed was to bring people in, and that was the best way to do that. There's two major ones here, the interstate highway, the I-15, which starts in San Diego and actually goes all the up to Canada, and right through Las Vegas, and there's also the U.S. 95, which, is more Vegas-adjacent than in Vegas, although they do meet up and connect to each other through a nightmarish atrocity of a U.S. highway system known as the Spaghetti Bowl in town, and also heads up towards the Canadian border, but it's more along the suburbs of Vegas which is why I'm actually more familiar with that one. And again, these highways made sense back when Las Vegas was a one-hotel town, and it even made sense for them to go through the city, 'cause there just wasn't much of a city to begin with.


Annnnnnnnd-, that's kinda the drawback. The joke is that Las Vegas doesn't have any culture of it's own, but, well, Las Vegas doesn't have an culture of it's own, specifically a city culture. We are working on it, in hindsight, these two highways, especially the I-15 really separate the city out, especially since, there wasn't a city to begin with and Vegas was being built during the suburban sprawl, so there's really no city here, and what you get is more this idea of carving out a completely separate census-designated area as opposed to a real city of Las Vegas, (Hell, the Las Vegas Strip isn't technically in Las Vegas, it's in Paradise, Nevada) it probably wasn't the best city planning to have them cut right through the Las Vegas Valley, but again, it made sense for us at the time. Now, that's a long introduction to "Citizen Jane: Battle for the City", but this was the constant battle, for the cities over the years; it's bad enough that a barely populated area like Las Vegas would get a couple highways, but Jane Jacobs was fighting to make sure highways weren't built through Manhattan, in the '60s! Yes, Manhattan, I mean, they already built one that cut The Bronx in half, and basically carved out less desirable neighborhoods, and replaced them with gigantic art-deco monstrosities of public housing projects, many of which were large monoliths that soared to the sky and essentially, eliminated the safety and connectivity that a community had, and basically turned a community into a slum. This wasn't just in New York, this was a cross-country movement that thankfully's starting to be eliminated across the country, most notably the (finger quotes) "failure" of The Pruitt-Igoe Complex in St. Louis, and while I think the idea of public housing could work, not the way it was done and funded back then.

It makes sense when you think about it and notice it, the more people on the street, the safer the street it, the safer the road is, the more connected people are to everyone else the better the area is. This is something Jane Jacobs would see. She wrote what was then panned as a simplistic critique of the then-modern city planning movement, which focused more on the symmetry of the buildings and the skyscrapers and really didn't have focus on whether or not it would improve, help or benefit the community. They assumed the people would form around the building, but the building and the highways, they didn't provide anything that would've benefitted the people, so all it did was isolate. Now, it's recognized, but her battle with the infamous New York, the notorious public official, Robert Moses, who was never once voted into office that set off all of these plans that forever changed New York forever, are basically the core legendary battles, which ultimately she's won, if not over the immediate history of city planning, but over NYC and certainly over the future of city planning. 

"Citizen Jane..." is a powerful documentary, it's mostly old footage and talking heads, but it got me really thinking about the area and conditions where we live in and the surroundings I've been around and experienced, and really made me wonder if my perspective and viewpoint on the world couldn't be changed and altered significantly if I went to permanently live somewhere else, or how much that viewpoint was determined by those forces outside my immediate control and by people who didn't know better and designed the world around me, not with malice necessarily, but forced together some unintended consequences and short-sighted projections and assumptions about human behavior.

Like my, desk and basically everything else that's around me at nearly all times that, cities look like chaos, Jacobs observed, but if you actually look closer, there's a pattern and a structure and a method to how they work, and nothing is truly streamlined and perfect, it's often the perfection that looks like chaos that's actually what control looks like that makes the place run. She's right, everything seems like a mess, but so does nature when you look at it from afar, but if you look at it up close and actually live in the environment, or in nature, you'll see how it works. For too long, most city planners didn't see that and I have doubts that my city will ever truly figure it out, but I can tell you this, this movie reminded me of how my clearer and relaxed my mind felt when I was in a place and a city and a community, that, actually works.


THE WORK (2017) Director: Jairus McLeary; Co-Director: Gethin Aldous

★★★


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(Sigh) I hate to sound like a bit of a downer on "The Work", but I really struggled with this one from an entertainment value. It's an honorable film that showcases some interesting characters and personalities, but other than the fact that the setting was unusual, I just felt like I was witness somebody else's therapy session that I just have no real stake or interest in and to be fair, that's kinda what it was. "The Work" documents a successful group therapy session that takes place at New Folsom Prison, where some of the more hardcore and deadliest prisoners, once a week, call off all feuds and grudges and whatnot in order to have an intense group therapy session. It's actually got a really high success rate and these are the kind of sessions where you see grown men, often times emotionally crumble as they look deeper into themselves. The success is shockingly high, so for that alone it's admirably and perhaps worthy of maybe a short film made of them. However, twice a year, civilians are actually allowed to come in from the outside for a weeklong session where they're teamed up with a group of prisoner, to also participate in the extensive therapy. That is interesting, and frankly kinda compelling, 'cause I am curious to see the kind of people who decide to literally go to prison in order to get some emotional clearance in insight, and for a couple of them it makes some sense. Some of them have lots of inmates in their immediate family and were heavily impacted by the penal system, others are just, kinda roving along with life and directionless and hope they can find inspiration on the next step by working it out with those who's next step may never come. He see a lot of really hardened grown men, shatter into catharsis and help out each other, fellow prisoners and the civilians followed in the film as they struggle to understand dynamics about their lives.

Normally, I'm usually compelled by therapy sessions and intense psychoanalysis such as this, hell, I think "In Treatment" as one of the most underrated TV shows of all-time and all that show was basically therapy sessions. Still however, this one was so insular and intense and unflinching that I just don't think it ever reached beyond the walls of the prison. We know a little bit about some of the people but not enough to care. To be fair, this is a documentary aiming to capture not to tell a greater narrative, if there even is one. For that reason I'm recommending it, I just wish it was a little more entertaining for me. The movie does sorta feel like you're at someone else's house while they're in the middle of a major family event and you don't know anybody well-enough to have an emotional connection with them, but there's a chance that maybe that was just me in the moment. Still, I wish we had more time to spend with the people in the session before we simply dived right into it.


PHANTOM BOY (2016) Directors: Alain Gagnol & Jean-Louc Felicioli

★★1/2


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Eh, I guess there's nothing wrong with it, but it's about a sick little boy who can have out-of-body experiences and can, in this state help out the living a little bit, in this case, stopping a crime. I'm calling them out-of-body experience, because it's either that, or he's "Casper the Friendly Ghost" before he dies, or, the little kid version of "Ghost Dad", either way, it's creepy and way more scarier than you'd remember. (Seriously, has anybody gone back to watch those original "Casper" cartoons? What the hell we're they thinking; some of those things are just depressing, Christ.)

Yeah, I gotta admit, I'm a little squirmed and squeamish at the concept of "Phantom Boy" to some extent. This is the second animated feature from the French directing team of Alian Gagnol & Jean-Louc Felicioli after the Oscar-nominated feature "A Cat in Paris". That film was enjoyable, but it was also mostly forgettable. 'Phantom Boy" is really dark in places. It takes place in New York City and focus on a sick little boy named Leo (Gaspar Gagnol). Leo while sick, does seem to have one weird ability, and it's an extreme form of having an out-of-body experience. He can petaphysically leave his body and effect the literal outside world, at least for a little while. Few people can see him and if they can he's usually incapable of being heard in this state, and his physical body is entirely motionless in it. However, he manages to be a bit of a hero, especially when he starts to help out an injured sullen cop, Alex (Edouard Baer) as he's under pressure to take down a vicious supervillain simply known as "The Face" (Vincent D'Onofrio ) as he works on both trying to destroy the city, and kill Alex as well as his reporter girlfriend, Mary (Audrey Taotou).

A lot of this is foreshadowed in an earlier scene where Alex is enraptured by reading a comic book, one that I believe is of his own design, and I guess this is some kind of dreams come true, superhero fantasy story but real, except through bizarre metaphysical means sorta thing that I'm not getting...- I don't know, this personally just felt like a bad Make-A-Wish wish to me.I don't know I guess that's me being mean, and again, there's nothing inherently wrong with this. I think part of the reason it bugs me is that there's never really a decent explanation of Alex's powers and why they work in certain situations and not others, and I think characters who do find out about


FRONT COVER (2016) Director: Rae Yeung


★★★★


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I fear that "Front Cover" is still an amoeba. An early draft, a forerunner, an early piece of a more elaborate and complete piece of art that still isn't made yet. The movie tackles some subject matter that I haven't seen combined in such a way before and does it well, and yet, I still feel like this movie left me unfulfilled. It's a romance story between a Chinese American fashion stylist Ryan (Jake Choi) and a Chinese movie star, Ning (James Chen) who's come to New York for a little while as part of a promotion for one movie as well as a beginning of an image shift. They first meet as Ning is a bit of a diva on set and insists on a Chinese fashion stylist for the shoot. Ryan's earning his way up in the industry although still not quite there yet, but he's more than capable. That said though, he doesn't really consider his Chinese heritage that much. He's been open for years now and works in an industry where that's regularly accepted. Ning is exceptionally private a bit of a eccentric diva behind-the-scenes but is sweet and loving to Ryan and they soon hit it off and there's a lot of small comedy behind their meet cute of a whirlwind romance. One of the excursions actually gets Ryan fired, although in my mind, his actions were justified in that farce of a scenario, but that's nothing compared to his parents, Yen Fu and Ba (Elizabeth Sung and Ming Lee) come over unexpectedly. This is the movie for me, this additional clash of cultures is combined with a clash of generations, and we learn a lot about Ryan, who for the most part tries to not even let his ethnic background judge his background, while Ning still clings to some of the ways of the old world, including the tradition of upholding family honor, and being outed as a gay man would be a major hit in his career because of it.

I think this is a complicated movie that tries to, at the end, rush on a finish to all these conflicts, maybe a little quickly, and in a little too nice of a bow, but it does do it well, but I think I still want more. It's got a lot there, even the double-meaning in the title is accurate and sharp, but essentially this is just a 90-minute extended comedy-romance while I think it could've probably been a longer even more complex romantic narrative, maybe even a good miniseries, the telenovela-type, although I guess since it's Chinese and not Latin American, then that would make it, eh...- Felzaoju? I'm not sure there's a colloquial term for Chinese Soap Operas; that's the closest I can find. Anyway, I'm being picky, this is a very good film that's brings a lot of smart observations to an otherwise sweet romance. I think it's potential to be more than it was is disappointing, but what it is works well.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

CANON OF FILM: "DAY FOR NIGHT"

DAY FOR NIGHT (1973)

Director: Francois Truffaut


Screenplay: Francois Truffaut, Jean Louis Richard and Suzanne Schiffman



Francois Truffaut once said that the only thing he wants to see in a film is either the joy off making movies or the peril of making movies. He has no interest in much else. “Day for Night,” one of Truffaut’s best films, is about the joy of making movies, and also the perils along the way. I've been thinking about Truffaut a lot lately and how he was one of the first people to transfer from writing about film as a critic and essayist and then went into filmmaking himself, but also the fact that before Channel Awesome tried to put out their dumpster fire with nitroglycerin, I usually considered them the modern-day Cahiers du Cinema, only in film form. In hindsight, that might've been a bit much, for one thing, Cahiers du Cinema is still around, but for another, basically any collection of film and entertainment critics are all acolytes of that periodical in one way or another, and that goes for basically any reviewer in video form. I'm certain that had something like Youtube had been around back then Truffaut and most of the rest of the French New Wave would've taken full advantage of it and starting talking about movies on film clips on the internet as well. Especially someone like Truffaut who absolutely loved films and filmmaking.  

 I’ve written on films that give us behind-the-scenes perspective on how films are made before, like Fellini’s “8 ½,” (along that’s about trying to not make a movie if you follow that film correctly) or Robert Altman’s “The Player,”   and other films that were about characters in the movie industry like Nicholas Ray’s “In a Lonely Place,” and Guiseppe Tornatore’s “Cinema Paradiso,” but rarely are their truly great films about the ways films are made, and the people making them. “Day for Night,” is a slice-of-life filled with numerous characters, many of whom are people playing variations on themselves (not just actors, a lot of the crew of the movie play people of the crew in the movie) as they work at Victorine Studios in Nice, France for a film called “Meet Pamela.” The first few days are shot without Pamela, as American movie star Julie Baker (Jacqueline Bisset) hasn’t arrived yet, and he must work around a booze-up aging actress forgetting her lines, Severine (Valentina Cortese, a favorite of Fellini), a lovesick leading man (Truffaut favorite Jean-Pierre Leaud) who thinks he’s about to marry the script supervisor (Dani), unaware she has other plans, the loss of film destroyed in the lab, the nervousness of investors, another actress who refuses to wear a bathing suit for a scene (Alexandra Stewart), all that’s before the American arrives, who’s barely able to hang on as she gets the lines at the last second, while she’s still trying to learn French. Truffaut himself plays the director of the movie within the movie, occasionally giving us helpful narration of his thoughts, and a rare view into his dreams, which includes a black-and-white image of a boy walking down the street who sees something that fascinates him. Only later in the film do we realize what it is he’s interested in, and it correlates to the director odd lack of a social life in a melodramatic behind-the-scenes world that surrounds him constantly. 

Truffaut died very young, only 54, but he managed to make 21 feature films in his short life, not to mention the occasional acting role, most notably in Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, and many books and criticisms on film, including a famous one on Hitchcock. I’ve always been more reluctant than some to fully embrace Truffaut; his old friend/rival Jean-Luc Godard always appealed more to my intellectual and adventurous filmmaking side while Truffaut was a more classical filmmaker. Why I rank “Day for Night,” so high, on top of it being more enjoyable and lighter than much of his other work, like “The 400 Blows,” is that his other work occasionally include very single-minded female characters, often obsessive, other times they’re ditzes. Not necessarily a bad thing as in Jeanne Moreau in “Jules and Jim,” or the great performance from Isabel Adjani in “The Story of Adele H.” Strangely, despite the multiple-character narrative of “Day for Night,” that would challenge Altman experts, I don’t get the feeling that any of the characters are single-minded. They’re all complete characters, all part of this temporary extensive family. Even the occasionally mysterious behavior like Alexander, the old-time lead actor (Jean-Pierre Aumont) making numerous trips to the airport has a surprisingly heartfelt revelation that only makes us feel we now know more about the character. 

Maybe it’s because the actors are probably based on real people and actual experiences, but it is certainly unusual for Truffaut characters, especially female character to be so full. Truffaut dedicated the movie to Lillian and Dorothy Gish, the great silent screen stars of cinema. Of Truffaut’s many desires, this film is about movies, his love of them, his love of making them, and his love for the process of making them, and especially his love of all the people who share in the experience. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"THE PRICE IS RIGHT": RANTS AND RAVINGS ABOUT SOME INHERENT ISSUES THE SHOW HAS! (This is gonna be my "Old Man Yells at Clouds" post, isn't it?)

Ugh. Between posting my commentary, first on this site, and then an updated version on Age of the Nerd, all the Channel Awesome melodrama is wearing my down. Forgive me, but I need something light to write about today. Something that I don't have to think too deeply about. (Annoyed sigh) What's on TV this early in the morning?

Hour seven of "The Today Show", (Clicks remotes) Twenty-year-old rerun of "America's Dumbest Criminal", (Clicks remote) Some college baseball game I don't care about-, god, what the hell is "Stadium", anyway. (Clicks remote) Hour twelve of the bad local version of the "Today" show, (Clicks remote) whatever the hell 'Half & Half" is...- oh, is that an old UPN show? I don't remember that one, (Clicks remote) Jesus, how many Mary Higgins Clark movies did they make, and why are they all on Escape? I guess it's better than nothing but "Forensic Files" all day. Well, maybe not.... (Clicks Remote)



Well, that's never going off the air...- wait, why is that never going off the air? (Puts down remote control, watches for a few minutes)

Oh right, it's a great game show. Still, am I the only one that ever gets genuinely pissed off watching "The Price is Right"? And it's not even the normal things that people complain about with it either, I mean I don't think Drew Carey is Bob Barker but I don't think he's awful either, or Mark Richards's strange producing choices, which, yeah, something's off about it and it unnerves me, especially all the special episodes they have now, but parts of this game show always annoyed me. Hell, the fact that it's still relatively popular pisses me off. And popular with college kids?! Really? You know, I always did hear about these mythical college students that would catch a little break between classes and watch daytime soaps or game shows like "The Price is Right" between classes or sometimes schedule their classes around the times for these shows, but I damn sure never ran into any of them in my eight years of college. I mean, twenty, thirty years ago, before cable was prominent and daytime still had a decent srangelehold on the culture-at-large, sure, but, today, when a college kid can just go to a computer and put on a poker tournament while studying or something, I-, I just did not see this, but I see them on "The Price is Right" all the time.

Where are they finding these kids? I don't know, maybe I had the went to wrong college or had the wrong major or something, but there are fascinating aspects of the game that will never go out of style. Knowing the price of things and trying to figure it out, that's honestly something that's a good concept for a game show and hell, on top of that, it's just a good lesson to teach people, especially kids, know how much things cost, know the value of things. That alone makes it worth watching. Still, there's intricacies to the game that just annoy me. I'm not gonna rank them or anything, I'm not doing a Top Ten or anything, I'm just gonna mention them off in the order I feel like talking about them. Again, I know this is trivial and petty, but for the longest-lasting game show of all-time, that's continuously run and one of only two successful game shows that's still associated with a basic network, the other being CBS's Wayne Brady reboot of "Let's Make a Deal", is it that wrong to criticize some of these things? Probably for some of them, but I want to do it anyway. Alright, here we go.


CONTESTANTS' ROW IS BLATANTLY UNFAIR

Come on Down! Yeah, I hate contestants' row. Not, the bidding part but the way they execute it, that's always annoyed me. There's several aspects, but the first one, is the fact that they keep rotating contestants. This honestly sucks. Every day, there's nine contestants, only six of them get to make it out of the row, and maybe you get multiple chances to win your way out of it. With only four podiums, they're always bringing in a new contestant and that person will always have less of a chance and an opportunity to win. Sure they'll get a little cash or a small prize or two for participating, but, it always bugged me. There's no rhyme or reasons anybody gets picked at any point in the game and I always feel bad for contestants who might only get to play once. Personally, I think contestants should stay and be brought back until they either win  and play a pricing game, or eventually, if they last, let's say three episodes without getting up, then they should be sent off. It would be a little more fair and also more incentives for people to play their best, 'cause you don't want to be the idiot who's on the show for days and can't correctly bid on a washer/dryer correctly.

Unless you are....


ASSHOLE CONTESTANTS

It's bad enough that, like most game shows, they're full of over-caffeinated, yelling, screaming, type I personality, happy-go-lucky contestants, but then you get the real assholes who don't take the game seriously. These are the assholes who bet some variant of $420 on every item and think they're being clever. Or they still think Baba Booey-ing everything still is a thing. I mean, if you really just want to be a dick, wouldn't you want to be a dick with a nice pool table, or a hot tub, or trip to Miami to go on or something? Or a car, if you can ever be sober enough to drive it? Usually these assholes only get away with this once or twice and then try to play for real, but in general these players are annoying and come up more often than they used to. I'd say that they should take the game more seriously, but...-


$1-OVER CONTESTANTS

These assholes:



Serious question, why is that still allowed? I mean, I kinda get it historically, if you go back to the real original version of this game show which had an auction format so the idea was to constantly bet higher than the previous contestant, but that game show didn't have contestants leave to play a pricing game, and it more resembled an auction more in the fact that contestant had the option of upping their previous bids. On "The Price is Right", you're trying to essentially making an educated guess on the price of items, sure, without going over, but you do get a bonus remember if you nail the price exactly, but even still, that little prickish loophole, means that, if you're bidding behind people, you've got the opportunity to find the closest bid and simply bid a dollar above them, essentially making the chances of the other contestant impossible, unless he/she bids exactly right. Just make a rule that say you can't be within $20 or even $10 of above a previous bid or something and this thing would be gotten rid of, and everybody would at least have a chance to win and you wouldn't be punished by bidding well, but in the wrong position. Speaking of the wrong position....


POSITION IS EVERYTHING ON CONTESTANTS ROW

You see, it's not only that some contestant only get a few opportunities to bid on contestants row a game, but they automatically arrive and they immediately start the bidding. Now, I don't mind that a new contestant automatically has the hardest shot at winning by sheer fact that they came late, although I do to some extent and I'm lying, but when you pair an asshole $1 overbidder with a new contestant each time, you can at times see contestants get screwed over entirely. I saw this once as a Kid, I remember it distinctly 'cause one of the contestants was named David and I always cheered for people on game shows with my name. He had the first position and the contestant next to him, every time, bet $1 more than him, all six rounds, until finally the guy bidding $1-over actually won. And he ended up winning the whole show btw, including Double Showcase. What a fucking asshole he was. So this contestant played the whole game and never once had the advantage of playing last, and he saw the guy who screwed him over go and win the whole thing.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a stickler for fairness, and I don't think every game show has to be completely fair, but there's a line. Take "Wheel of Fortune" it's incredibly unfair to land on a bankrupt, especially after building up so much money, or maybe playing perfectly the whole game well and you build up a huge lead, but then on the Final Spin, Pat Sajak hits the $5,000 space, and the dumbass contestant on the end lucks out and gets nine G's in the last puzzle and suddenly he lucks into a win, that's not fair. But, that's tension and drama being built and hell, the guy still has to solve the damn puzzle, so there's still some skill needed. And hell, it's "Wheel of Fortune" it says so in the tittle that luck may be involved, that's part of the dynamics of the game. And there's definitely worst game shows than "The Price is Right" when it comes to fairness; I'm looking at you "Merv Griffin's Crosswords", but with just the Contestants' Row, there's a lot of unfair dynamics involved and frankly most of these can easily be fixed or at least alleviated to an extent and in some ways actually improve the game. These parts that are just unfair aren't designs of the game to increase tension or drama, they're just,- they're just unfair.

The game's always been a bit unfair. Before they have the Big Wheel, it used to just be that the two contestants who won the most over the course of the show would be in the showcase showdown, something that's completely unfair because no contestant had an opportunity to win the same thing equally, since they each played for different prizes that cost different amounts each time.


I HATE THE BIG WHEEL

So, now the contestants who make the Showcase Showdown, is based entirely on, luck. Is that really an improvement? I guess it's more fair, in the sense that it's more random, but that's kind of the problem. I mean, you could argue that a spin on the Big Wheel, isn't entirely luck, in that we have seen the show for years and basically know the order of the Big Wheel and we kinda estimate and prepare to try to spin it with a plan and with an attempt to put enough English on a spin to get it, but really that's about as akin to trying to fix a roulette wheel without cheating. Basically this amounts to, the two contestants competing for the big prize at the end, because of luck.

I guess ultimately this is a minor detail, there's certainly worst shows that use luck as a more immediate base, but for a game show that's so centered around a specific knowledgeable skill as known how much things cost, I personally would like to see a better way to decide that. I know to some, it's the most iconic and memorable part of the game, but for me, I think it's an exciting little game usually, I just don't like the luck factor being so prevalent in deciding an ultimate winner.

How does this show get away with all of this so often? Well, honesty, the tone of the show is the big thing. The bright colors, the ecstatic crowd and energy, it's not a serious game show where you can potentially win life-changing amounts of money or something; it's more fun, it's more loose,- I mean, I guess most of these criticisms in that respect are kinda silly. This isn't "... Millionaire" or "Jeopardy!" or anything; it's probably the one show, maybe outside of "Wheel of Fortune" where you're more happy to win a prize than you are money these days, well, that and "Let's Make a Deal", and none of those are designed for extreme levels of intensity.

And to be fair, most of the game isn't the Big Wheel, or even the Contestants' Row, it's the pricing games, and honestly I don't have too many issues with those. Even the ones that are obviously minor and just there because they're running short on time and need to play something quickly; I know nobody likes those games and I don't either, but it's a game and you can win something that's usually nice enough to sell or pawn if nothing else. I mean, sure, they've had an occasional clunker of a game or two over the years, but they've eliminated those.....

Except for one game!


PLINKO FUCKING SUCKS! 




Okay, seriously, somebody has explain to me why "Plinko" which is by far, the single worst pricing game on the "The Price is Right" is the most popular. The game itself doesn't piss me off, necessarily as much as the fact that it is so popular but in general, but this game absolutely pisses me off. You know how I know, it's the absolute worst game? Cause absolutely nobody, has ever actually won at it! Okay, I'll take that back, people win all the time, but nobody that I've ever seen, or you've ever seen, has won the maximum amount possible one can win on the show. Go ahead, look it up; I can't find it on Youtube, and whether it was $25,000 when I was young, or $50,000 or whatever the total is now, it's never happened! There's been an occasional big winner here and there, but actually achieving the advertised goal of $25,000 or $50,000 or hell, just getting all five chips into the highest dollar amount slot, that's never happened; even "The Price is Right" wiki on Plinko confirms this:

http://priceisright.wikia.com/wiki/Plinko

Goddamn, everything's got a Wiki don't they? The game's been around for 35 years! I haven't done the entire math on this, but I tweeted that I legitimately think you have a better shot at winning a jackpot while playing on a average slot machine, and as somebody who's lived his whole life in Vegas and knows damn well how hard it actually is to hit a jackpot on a slot machine, that's problematic, to me at least. I certainly don't want games to be too easy or two winnable, but damn-near impossible? I mean, outside of getting the chips to drop down the board by playing a quick pricing game, everything else with this game is basically luck and most of it bad.

Also, while they increase the big value chip to 10,000, they kept the others at the same amouts as always. So it's, 10,000, 0, 100, 500 or 1,000 bucks? C'mon the other values up, you just made the game worst and seem out-of-touch and old. Honestly, I don't even see the point in trying to maybe get a smaller amount just to make sure you win something, which that big a divide, you might as well try to either go broke or win it all. Basically, it is the equivalent of pulling a slot machine lever most of the time. $0, $0, $100, $0 maybe $10,000 on the last pull, if you're lucky, or maybe a five hundred to almost break even if you're playing on a $100 machine. I get how it could be fun, the same way a slot machine is, but this is not a good game and the fact that it's far-and-away the most popular game, just absolutely baffles me. Give me Grand Game or Punch-A-Bunch when it comes to the games where you can win big money amounts, at least until I visually see somebody win the damn thing for real.

So, yeah, that's my big declaration, Plinko sucks. (Sigh) I guess next week I'll talk about Amazon's shifting TV lineup or something more important; I just needed a break, okay?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

CHANNEL AWESOME-POCALYPSE! SOME THOUGHTS, (POSSIBLY FINAL THOUGHTS BASED ON HOW IT'S LOOKING), ON CHANNEL AWESOME AND THE LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES ON THE CONTINUING FIRESTORM SURROUNDING THEM!



Well, I wasn't planning on writing about this, at least, not right away, but Jesus; that escalated quickly.

So, as of the moment I'm starting to type this, it's Monday, the 26th of March, 2:00pm Pacific Time Zone, and in the last 48 hours or so, by my count, and I might be off here, but at least six and probably eight producers have resigned from Channel Awesome over the last 48 hours, and that number might be increasing, including but not limited to such names as Linkara, Todd In The Shadows, Diamanda Hagan, Rap Critic, Mike Jeavons, SF Debris and Suede, some of those names have been apart of the site for almost a decade and I'm personally a fan of a lot of them, as well as several of the numerous past contributors, who, for some reasons got into a Twitter discussions about their workings on/for the site and things, kinda escalated from there as one by one, almost in a-eh, what's-the-word...- almost like in a therapeutic therapy session, the horror stories of working for Doug Walker, Rob Walker and Mike Michaud, started coming out.

This was started, apparently by Allison Pregler, fka Obscurus Lupa tweeted about some of her experiences and other names from the past and some from the present started to chime in and pretty soon, this basically became a movement. There's currently a Twitter hashtag, #ChangeTheChannel, (There's also an alternative one #ChannelAwful) and Channel Awesome has not responded well to this mass exodus and the recent revelations. Anybody that's resigned, their names and records were deleted from the website almost immediately, which is somewhat surprising considering one of the major general complaints is the lack of keep-up with regard to the website.

Other complaints...- (Sigh) You know what, I'm not going through all of them. Here's Kaylyn Saucedo's (aka Marzgirl)'s Tumblr page, where she's diagrammed and linked to some of the major complaints, so far, and I say so far 'cause there's apparently going to be an official Google Docs compilation of the issues to be posted next week, as they're still coming in, and I suspect that there's going to be some, if not, several more resignations upcoming.

http://marzgurl.tumblr.com/post/172243441932/things-that-channel-awesomes-management-has

There's a couple other similar pages that are being passed around on Twitter as well....- you can go through it if you haven't already, and I'm sure there's gonna be hundreds of others up who are going to go line-by-line dissecting these accounts as they come in....

(Long deep sigh)

So, alright, so what-the-hell's happened/going on over there? I definitely want to record my observations at this time, but where to even begin to talk about this?

Okay, a brief history of Channel Awesome, partially from my perspective:

So, the first time I became aware of Doug Walker (Aka Nostalgia Critic) was through Roger Ebert who tweeted him after he posted a video that was a tribute to "Siskel & Ebert".  Now, after that, I saw him pop up semi-regularly on Youtube and eventually I started diving into his work. Now this was, much later than most had, because, well, I'm not cool and I'm never up-to-date on what's new and popular at the moment, as you've probably noticed since you're reading my blog, that's how behind the times I remain, I'm a blogger writing about video critics/essayists.

Anyway, after his videos kept getting taken down in the early days of Youtube, Walker founded a site that was originally called "That Guy With the Glasses", which would feature his videos and would eventually begin to feature other fellow critics. Eventually this site morphed into "Channel Awesome". Without diving into every piece of historical detail, they've had a few known incidents and "scandals" over the years, and there's been an occasional current or past content creator who's for one reason or another has complained and/or criticized Channel Awesome harshly, they've even had previous mass resignations before, that said I've mostly praised them, even when they've had their critics over the years, and they've had critics, and I'm gonna dive into some of those criticisms about them they've had, before I dive totally into these latest developments

For instance, one Youtuber actually posted a seven-part series dissecting his criticisms at Doug Walker and several of the other producers past and present; (Well, at the time he posted, present) I went and watched it, and I'm not gonna give you the guy's page, you can look it up yourself if you want, but I wanted to address some of his points 'cause originally he started out okay with a lot of actual interesting critiques and criticisms of Walker and Channel Awesome, but by the end of this thing, most of his critiques had devolved into basically shitposting about everybody's little skeletons in their closet, and while frankly some of those are worth bringing up,  a lot of it was just the guy being a dick and bringing up old shit, most of which was out-of-context that frankly just came off as petty arrogance and self-satisfying superiority and bullysing, so fuck this guy I'm talking about.

That said he points out some of the ways Walker's work has changed, in particular after the Third Anniversary movie he made...- (Yeah, at one point, the content creators for the site would get together once a year as well as with other occasional guest stars to make a special movie for the fans. Just-, it was one of their things.) when he temporarily abandoned the Nostalgia Critic character and attempted to create a different, more elaborate comedy-sketch-based series "Demo Reel", which flopped badly and soon later he returned to being the Nostalgia Critic. Apparently by the Google metric, that was the approximate moment that the site started losing hits and viewers and until recently has been relatively stagnant ever since, which to be fair, is not a new criticism I've heard levied against Walker.

Now, this is the least of his Doug Walker's worries, (At least I hope it is) at the moment, but honestly, I've never understood this criticism. Outside of everything else; I tend to like Nostalgia Critic's current work a lot more now than then. Maybe it's because I did come late, but I watched his early videos too, and I enjoyed most of those, fine, but, as someone who's written movie reviews and blogs now for seven plus years, not to mention several other writings outside of this blog, I can say for sure that people tend to evolve as writers and our work becomes elaborate. It just does, that's not just a "Doug wants to do comedy sketches" thing, it just does. You can read my earliest blogs and movie reviews and read what I write now and see that they're vastly different and more elaborate and complex; writers and creators across all art forms evolve! And sometimes they still make something that's not good or not as good as some of their past work, it- it happens. Apparently, people are upset at that about Nostalgia Critic, as a character, (Which is something else I'll get to in a bit) for this, but I don't really get why. I mean, I get why people are abandoning him now, but that criticism has always bugged me.

Also, in regards to those Anniversary movies, 'cause apparently a lot of the criticisms and complaints, not all, but quite a few regarded these films and the making of them, particularly his last one, a 3 1/2 hour monstrosity of a film called "To Boldly Flee", which, I also can't lie here, I thought was easily his best film, and was actually quite good on it's own... (Shrugs) I gave it 5 STARS, I thought it was really good; maybe I like that it's a look into his soul as an artist in more ways than one, maybe 'cause I thought a lot of it was funny and well-made, and I do think that, even with the obviously cheap budget and rushed production, maybe I like how he managed to get all these people into a film like this and somehow make it works within it's own rules of the universe.... I don't know, it worked for me for what it was; it might not have been what it was supposed to be or should've been however, as it apparently didn't work for everybody else and this represents the other really significant change that put off a lot of the fellow creators and producers and there are definitely some interesting horror stories from the sets of these Anniversary movies and from "To Boldy Flee" in particular that are out there. (Also in a meta way, I think it does sorta make sense that people being brought into the world of the Nostalgia Critic would hypothetically start acting more and more like him.)

Now, based on most of these accounts of Doug Walker, from what I can tell, and this purely from an outsider's perspective with little-to-no insider knowledge, he is ambitious and I don't think he's untalented, but he's maybe misguided in understanding hist strengths at best and incompetent at worst in his ambitions and yeah, a bit egotistical without having the necessary talent and skills to back it up. Maybe I'm being generous, but that seems about right, but at least according to these former contributors' complaints, most of whom are not thrilled with Walker and many find him responsible for a lot of the reprehensible actions that have occurred at Channel Awesome, but that said it seems more hate is driven towards a particular member of Channel Awesome's team, Mike Michaud, who is eh, well, basically the owner of Channel Awesome.

Okay, I've tried to look into this, with similar companies, which is kinda difficult 'cause I'm not sure what to compare Channel Awesome too off-hand, but, one of the strange intricacies of the inner workings of the Channel Awesome is that it's a corporation. Not as, some might've expect, a LLC, a Limited Liability Company. I'm speculating a bit here and I'm not entirely sure how this works, or why they chose to be a corporation, but apparently the company's ownership is partially control through stock options essentially. Mike Michaud was one of the founders and he apparently owns over 50% of the company, and apparently, he actually owns the intellectual property, the IP of the character, the Nostalgia Critic. (The fact that he owns the IP of Nostalgia Critic btw, is absolutely mind-blowing to me, btw.)

This is weird, for a few reasons, one being, I'm not sure why or how, Channel Awesome would be a Corporation instead of an LLC. At least, as early as it was, the paperwork for Incorporation was filed in 2008; this was something they chose from the beginning which-, looking into the benefits of the two, I guess it makes sense in case something happened and they were to get sued over liability...? Keep in mind Nostalgia Critic became famous for having many of his reviews taken down because of copyright claims, so he probably was at some point expecting to be sued, so in that sense, a Corporation which would shield him from personal liability, I guess that makes sense, on that level, however on the other level and ownership and property, somehow this led to the Walkers essentially working for Michaud.  So, here's the thing, Michaud is apparently an asshole who's terrible at running a company, (In my best Kathy Griffin voice) "allegedly". It sounds like he is, at best incredibly two-faced and incompetent and,- let's very generously say it sounds like he has rarely been at his best in the position of Channel Awesome CEO. Anyway, he was around at the beginning and apparently has bought up the most shares of the company, so even if, big if by the way, Doug and Rob Walker wanted to get rid of him, they apparently can't. He's got the most shares of the company and somehow Doug and Rob would have to buy him out entirely. Now, they have money, some they've spent in better ways than others it seems..., but it also seems like Michaud is powerhungry tool who prefers to have the power and influence over any offer of money that the Walkers could offer. He is by far, by far, the biggest change that past content creators insist needs to be changed. That and some kind of legitimate apology.

See, this is the first part that's confusing me, after all these years of disruptive practices and behavior how did the Walkers somehow let him be the one who owned the majority shares? And why? Not only shares, but ownership of Doug Walker's creation of the Nostalgia Critic? I mean, they've gotten rid of some of their original behind-the-scenes people before, including Mike Ellis who was known for some behaviors that even Michaud at some point was offended by, but it still sounds odd and weird that Doug Walker wouldn't have a majority share of the company. This is a guy who's won awards for Entrepreneurship before, but I am confused at how not right this arrangement sounds.

Except...- well, what is he an entrepreneur of? You see, this is where I think Channel Awesome has failed the most. It's-, it's hard to explain everything, but there's always been this aspect of Channel Awesome that's character-based, plot-based even, even though they're reviewers and critics, it's always tried to portray itself as it's own little world and/or universe. (The aforementioned Anniversary movies that Doug Walker would make are probably the best examples of this) To varying extents I didn't mind that, and like I mentioned, I'm somebody who doesn't hate Nostalgia Critic's later more elaborate reviews and in many cases prefer them to the majority of his earlier stuff, and from a creative perspective, even as a critic, I can appreciate the ambition in that objective. That said, there's never how I approached Channel Awesome. To me, what those at the top never fully did understand is that, they're essentially, a magazine. It takes the form of video, but that's the big advantage of Channel Awesome, not that we come for Nostalgia Critic and he's funny, it's a collection of reviews on entertainment, film, TV, video games, music, comics, etc. It's not a TV channel, it's not a world or a universe, it's not the dawning of the new age of internet comedy...- it's the Cahiers du Cinema.

Now some of this idea is admittedly outdated since this was much more beneficial back in the days before a content creator could make a more-than-reasonable living on Youtube if they found an audience before the days of Patreon, and whatnot, but if go back to the beginning of this new trend, the idea of getting a bunch of creative people to make critical video reviews in one place on the internet, that's actually a good idea. Hell, I still think it's a good idea, and hell, I've been apart of or considering being apart a few attempted upstarts websites and alternative magazines that were trying to do just that, not in video form, but the bringing together of a pop culture collective of young critics with different focuses and specialties and ideas about entertainment and culture, that's a good idea. (Hell, that's why I'm a contributor to Age of the Nerd now; I'm still pursuing being apart of something like that) As somebody who loves criticism and analysis, that's something I would look for actively. A place where a bunch of these critics are situated together. Now, over time and over the advancements of Youtube and social media outlets, it's easier than ever to bypass this step and seek out and gain a more specialized audience than ever before, and to some extent, you don't even have to create your own website to do this, 'cause Youtube hypothetically has the ability to group together content creators under their own label separately. And hell, sometimes with Youtube, creators can manage to get together on their own. For example, I've been following some sports Youtubers for a little while now like UrinatingTree, (I know stupid name, but he's actually got pretty good with his sports videos) and Five Points Vids  and KTO for awhile and they've started working together on a semi-regular podcast now and them and a few other sports-based Youtubers have come together to form a collective of sorts, in very much the same way that Channel Awesome critics would also do that.

Now that's a specialized example, but as a whole, this isn't a bad idea and that's what Channel Awesome, could've and should've been for pop culture and entertainment, a collection of reviewers and critics under a singular roof, who periodically produce new critical essays and reviews; that's a magazine. On this page, see what are the music people talking about, on another, here's what are the book people writing on, let's go here to see what are the culture critics commenting on today...? Honestly, it's only now with a bunch of these revelations and resignations happening at once, really having it come to life, and realizing just how they've so amazingly messed this up so badly, way worst than I suspected even it's most vicious detractors of the site could believe.... I mean, they had the content, they've had the reviewers, and hell, twice-over, they had the branding. Okay, some of the main editors want to get into filmmaking themselves to some extent, or some other outside projects but again, the Cahier du Cinema example.... and sure every group like this is gonna have a couple occasional problems and even a few bad apples they have to get rid of, and not everybody's gonna have a positive experience; I totally get that, but imagine if ten years after it's creation all the French New Wave directors had just left the "Cahiers..." over time, and a new crop came in, and now they're all going and suddenly there's dozens and dozens of horror stories of how shitty Truffaut and Godard were. Okay, with Godard, it probably wouldn't be that surprising, but with Truffaut? And Bazin, and Chabrol and what an asshole piece of shit pervert Eric Rohmer was.... And no, that's not a one-to-one comparison, I'm not comparing Walker to Truffaut or anybody to Godard, but that is a weird and damning picture nonetheless that's going on here. And, the nearest I can tell, now that more and more information is coming out and being confirmed, almost as I'm currently typing this, what it reveals is that it never really transitioned well into this ideal place for creative pop culture critics and reviewers, because that was never the real intention of the site to begin with

See, to me, comedy is best used with these video reviews when it's a format a format to tell and/or shape and structure a critical review with, and it's now become clear, at least at the top, that they use the format and structure of a review in order to showcase comedy. There's good-and-bad to that, sure, and I'm sure I could point to some specific examples of this in Walker's work that I could dissect, but the backlash and antagonism from the reviewers themselves, seems like evidence enough of this for me to prove this point. This was a site for reviews, critiques, criticisms, analysis, etc., done in a different video style than beforehand, but...- if this was how they were consistently treating the people who produced this content for which they built the Channel Awesome Empire on, then, I-, I don't see what other conclusion there is to come to.

Now, obviously, the numbers show that there was still an audience that was lost, mainly because of some of the original core critics that originated the group not being there anymore, some of the rumors and scandals involving their departure and for that matter, some of the shady and conflicting practices of the leadership of the site, and that include Doug Walker and his creation of Nostalgia Critic, and how much that's his fault, it's still being measured.... That said, I wasn't apart of that fandom, if anything I was apart of this other one, that wasn't as concerned that some critics I liked would leave; I'd still follow them, sure,  but I was just as excited to see other new ones come in, because it was always the fact that this could happen,- it was essentially having a staff turnover on some level I trusted that new talent would come in, replace and rebuild the site to this ideal magazine-like format that, frankly it should've been already. I'm still holding out to some extent. I haven't tweeted #ChangeTheChannel yet, (Although I've retweeted some who have) I'm watching closely sure, but the potential is for the moment, still there if they can figure out how to get their shit together, although it doesn't seem like they're in a hurry to do that. (Sigh) Maybe I should avoid Channel Awesome for awhile until they do change things, but there are talented people still there, last I checked anyway, some were still there, and this is about the leadership not the individual creators/reviewers, and you know what, sometimes the best way to inevitably create change is to destroy and rebuild, or-eh, maybe I'm just a sucker for a lost cause today. (Or maybe I just want to see something burn out instead of fade away. [Shrugs])

Either way, it's worth keeping an eye on, if for nothing else, to see how this will play out
.

UPDATE: Okay, everything above, that's what I wrote, last week, essentially, knowing that, this document of all the complaints and grievances was gonna get out this week, and-eh, it was released on April 2nd, the link is below:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WZFkR__B3Mk9EYQglvislMUx9HWvWhOaBP820UBa4dA/preview

It's 69 pages, so far; and I stress "so far," 'cause from what I gather this can be updated in the future if for some reason there ends up being more contributors, and still there's some stories coming out. Mathew Buck aka Film Brain announced his departure from the site, by my count that's the tenth, name to resign from the site in the last, like 12 days or so, (I could be wrong on the exact number, but I think it's around ten). Um, this document, has twenty accounts from former and maybe even current producers and other content creators 'cause there's some Anonymous credits here, there's also a fan Google doc that's being spread around, to list some negative interactions people have had with Channel Awesome, in particular the Walkers and Michaud. I should point out here that, there are believe it or not, are some conspicuous names missing from this list of contributors, I can think of a few anyway, including Todd in the Shadows, who was the first of this group to suddenly leave Channel Awesome. Um, Dan Olson's name is missing interestingly enough despite being fired for doing a "Folding Ideas" episode on GamerGate. Kyle Kallgren of "Brows Held High" has expressed his desire to still remain silent regarding his experiences and departure from the site at the moment. There's a few others I could name, but..... (Shrugs)

Channel Awesome, finally after the Google Document was released, responded with, well, what some are calling an apology, although most aren't; it was pinned on their Twitter and Facebook pages, from what I gather it isn't now; I'm posting the link to that below:

https://www.facebook.com/channelawesome/photos/a.1502870036640466.1073741828.1410796249181179/2003765549884243/?type=3&theater

To be fair, one person currently apart of Channel Awesome, Malcolm Ray, who's does have his own Youtube page, but is mainly an actor on "Nostalgia Critic" also posted a response on Twitter, that explains his mostly positive perspective and experience working with Channel Awesome, the twitter thread to that is below:

https://twitter.com/MalcolmtheRay/status/981625399368142848

That response is mostly received positively, even by those who are leading the #ChangeTheChannel movement, even with a few inaccuracies regarding the timeline that he's listed. He does mention that most of the shoots and sets are better and well-equipped than what's being reported for the Anniversaries movies, which, I can believe, 'cause is lots of pieces of behind-the-scenes footage out there for most of Nostalgia Critic's more recent work. I will note, within the list of fellow current co-workers who he positively praises, including both Doug and Rob Walker, the one name that's noticeably not listed in his response, is Mike Michaud. Also, other current contributor, Walter Banasiak, and a fellow actor on "Nostalgia Critic", Tamara Lynn Chambers went on Twitter and confirmed that Malcolm's account of the current situation there is very accurate to the POV of others currently on the website. They're not the only current contributors talking, and some of those, like Tony Goldmark (aka Some Jerk With a Camera) have been much more conflicted in their regard to their employer. (Sigh)

Other than that though..., (Sigh), you know, there's not much more to say, here. It doesn't seem like Channel Awesome, they're ever really gonna fully recover from this. How could they, why would they...? I certainly would be impressed if they do begin taking some of the steps that, that obvious that they need to take but..., I mean, look, you can take, in a vacuum, most of these criticisms, grievances, and reports of behaviors and incidents, in a vacuum, and most of them you, in some possible-if-not-probable scenario, could dismiss for one reason or another as an anomaly, a mistake, a bad choice of who to trust or hire, etc., and that even goes for some of these scenarios that are quite horrific and in some cases, including some cases that skirt the line on legality..., but this isn't a vacuum. This is a constant pattern of behavior that's dismissive, abhorrent, neglectful, incompetent, and as Eddie Izzard would say, other adjectives as well, and there doesn't seem to be an awareness or desire from the higher-ups and Channel Awesome, to either explain, apologize or even an attempt to improve their practices, and in most cases learn from their behavior, at least none that's apparent to me and most others. I think mostly I'm just in awe of the fact that, so many of Channel Awesome's ex-, well they weren't all employees technically, so, contributors/reviewers/content creators/producers/others..., years afterwards still felt such,- I don't even know what the term is, annoyance, anger..., contempt, disdain perhaps, at just how egregious they were treated that years later for most of this, they come together to create such a document of grievances as this, and they feel like had to.... And to read this document, for the most part, you completely understand why. That speaks louder than most of the stuff Michaud and the Walkers are accused of, and that's where I think I'm gonna leave this for now.

I semi-joked on Twitter , that the Ghosts of Channel Awesome, had deciding to burn the place to the ground. I don't know if that was an apt metaphor or not, but if it is, then-eh, keep an eye out as the wildfire as it-eh, apparently continues to spread at this moment.....