prof. e.

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Archive for the ‘film’ Category

Movies are Made to be Seen

Posted by prof e on October 4, 2012

Have you ever tried to describe a movie to your friends…but they just didn’t get it? You may relate to this humorous spot from French TV.


Posted in film | 3 Comments »

Dark Knight Falls Short

Posted by prof e on July 29, 2012

The latest in the Dark Knight series is struggling to bounce back from the tragic shooting in Aurora that appears to be having a greater impact on attendance than initially projected. It may appear callous to be talking about box office receipts and financial success when so many lives were lost and others were changed forever. But that is the nature of the business of big media. The studio, Warner Brothers, took steps to try to appear sensitive to the tragic shooting. They delayed reports of box office receipts that first weekend and cancelled premiere events in Paris, Mexico City and Tokyo. According to the WSJ, a spokesperson for the studio said, “We just felt it would be disrespectful and not the right thing to do to go forward.” Warner Bros also pulled trailers for Gangster Squad from theaters because of a scene that includes shooting up a movie theater. Meanwhile, security has been beefed-up and theater chains are implementing new rules about patrons showing up in outfits and masks.

Christian Bales’ surprise visit to patients in Aurora hospitals was certainly well-received by both the patients and the media. The visit may have been inspired by a Facebook viral campaign calling for the star to make a visit to the victims. And while I sincerely hope that the visit was made for all the right reasons, we’re sure to hear criticism from skeptics and cynics who question motives whenever fame and fortune is at stake.

Public Relations experts have been weighting in on the difficult position facing Warner Bros. Some had advised that all screenings of Dark Knight Rises be pulled for a short time. Others have argued for business as usual. According to a report by Fox News, Daniel Keeney, President of DPK Public Relations and PR crisis expert, believes that the best response is to acknowledge and move forward.

“There realistically is no way in the foreseeable future to extricate the Batman brand from this horrific tragedy,” he said. “So instead of hoping to get beyond this, the studio needs to accept that this event is a part of this movie from this point forward. A simple way to acknowledge this and recognize as well as honor the victims is to add a slide to the beginning of the movie along with a moment of silence prior to the start of the film.”

According to a report filed by LA radio station WKZO,

Ronn Torossian, chief executive of New York-based 5W Public Relations, agreed that the public “has a very short-term memory” of news events and said the Aurora shooting would not leave a long-term impact on film promotion. “Reality shows have had tragic suicides and other incidents, yet reality shows continue,” he said.

Of course it is entirely possible that Word-Of-Mouth and film critic reviews are responsible for the lackluster performance. But it is also possible that potential movie-goers are not in the mood for a film that will remind them of senseless killing by a deranged “Joker” from Aurora.

Posted in film, media effects, media industry, PR | 22 Comments »

Another Mass Shooting in Colorado: A Dark Night Indeed

Posted by prof e on July 20, 2012

Yesterday I posted a short entry and link to the Media & Society facebook page about the heated debate on Rotten Tomatoes about The Dark Knight Rises. The essence of the story, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, is that the comment section of the latest Batman film was out of control with trash talk and threat of physical violence because of a couple of unflattering reviews of the newest movie in the Batman franchise. Apparently fans of the series were not taking kindly to the negative reviews and, as often is the case with online discussions, the anonymity and deindividuation (I know it’s a big word…look it up) led to brutish behavior on the part of some.

This morning I woke up to horrible news that a gunman had opened fire in an Aurora (suburb of Denver, CO) theater where movie goers had gone to see the newest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. Dressed in a bullet-proof vest and gas mask, and with his hair colored red, the shooter opened canisters of gas and then opened fire with multiple weapons in the crowded theater. Some 71 persons were shot and 12 are reported killed. Taken into custody, the gunman–recently a PhD student at CU’s medical school–claimed to be the Joker, the villain portrayed by the late Heath Ledger in  the previous Batman film.

All of this will no doubt raise questions, and even political posturing, about the shooter’s motives and the state of our society. Some of these questions may be genuine attempts to deal with the loss by looking for explanations. Others may be asking questions in an effort to direct public dialog to topics in which they have political axes to grind. Some of the questions will look to the media. Was the shooter in any way influenced by the Batman movies? Are villainous portrayals on the big screen capable of triggering desperate acts by deranged individuals?

I began this blog with reference to the uncivil behavior in an online forum. Some might argue that this online incident is indicative of a greater social illness that found its final outlet in a horrific act of carnage. While causal links are incapable of providing explanations for the behavior of psychotic and deranged individuals, it won’t stop people from trying to connect the dots. There may well be connections to be made, but those will have to wait for now.

Posted in film, media effects, politics | 76 Comments »

Caution: 3-D Action Movies May be Harmful to Your Health

Posted by prof e on May 4, 2012

I saw The Avengers in 3D this afternoon and it made me wonder if I wasn’t doing incremental harm to my finely tuned survival instincts. You and I were born with some amazing skills at recognizing, and avoiding, danger. Think about it…in a split second we can see, and react, to something that is headed our way. We duck or swerve to avoid a flying object that might otherwise take us out. So, here’s what I’m thinking. Every time we have a virtual 3D experience with a flying object that DOESN’T do us harm, that part of our brain that is well trained to react in a split second registers a direct hit with no consequences. In other words, it has been fooled by the visual artistry that makes 3D action films so much fun. You may have heard the old saying, “fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me.” Every technology comes with hidden consequences. Consider the loss of penmanship since keyboarding took its place. Others have argued that ready access to the internet and Google is reducing our capacity to remember. I can imagine a future where we are a nanosecond or two slower to react because of the de-evolution of our highly-refined reaction instinct. Something to think about the next time you are standing in line to see the latest 3D blockbuster.

Posted in film, interactive media, media effects, new media | 9 Comments »

Academy Award Apps

Posted by prof e on February 23, 2011

Many people engage in simultaneous media use…often a laptop or smart phone while watching TV. If you’re one of them…and you’re planning to watch the Academy Awards show this Sunday evening on ABC…this may be just what you need to occupy your attention during those boring acceptance speeches.

According to USA Today,  apps for iPhones, iPads, Android and Blackberry devices are available offering a wide range of features.

For example, the Oscar Backstage Pass is, according to their promotional copy, the coolest thing since…well, the vuvuzela app from last summer’s world cup!

Get the ultimate insider’s view of Hollywood’s biggest night with Oscar Backstage Pass! The Oscar Backstage Pass app is the perfect companion app to have when you are watching the 83rd Academy Awards® on February 27th. You’ll get access to live streams from exclusive cameras placed throughout the Red Carpet, the Kodak Theatre and the Governors Ball so you can go beyond the tv broadcast and watch more live Oscar action as it’s taking place. With Oscar Backstage Pass you get more stars, more glamour, more of everything you love about the Oscars®!

To get the Oscar Backstage Pass for only $.99, visit the iTunes app store.

More coverage from the NYTimes.

Posted in film, interactive media, new media | 23 Comments »

C 3-D PO coming to a screen near you

Posted by prof e on September 29, 2010

Lucasfilm Ltd. just announced that the Star Wars films are being remastered in 3-D and will be released in theaters in 2012. The work is being performed by the team at Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic.

According to the Star Wars website,
There are few movies that lend themselves more perfectly to 3D; from the Death Star trench run to the Tatooine Podrace, the Star Wars Saga has always delivered an entertainment experience that is completely immersive. Presented by Twentieth Century Fox and Lucasfilm Ltd., the cutting edge conversion will take that immersion to the next thrilling level, with Industrial Light & Magic supervising the project.Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace is expected to be released theatrically in 2012.
According to the website The Wrap, IL&M visual effects supervisor John Knoll “told Variety that there are no plans to add or fix visual effects in the films, which should please fans who were upset when Lucas made a few digital tweaks to the original trilogy.”  Unfortunately, that means we’ll have to endure Jar Jar Binks once again! Oh well, hopefully the fly-throughs will make it all worthwhile.

Posted in film, media industry, new media | 22 Comments »

Dot. A very cool stop-motion animated viral video

Posted by prof e on September 18, 2010

Check this out. Nokia asked Oscar-winning film makers Aardman Animations – the guys behind Wallace and Gromit – to create an animated short to celebrate the Nokia N8’s 12 mega-pixel camera and a specially designed microscope. The cell phone camera and microscope can be used for a lot of things, including remote diagnosis of medical conditions for people in remote areas of the world.

Watch the short animation, then watch the making of…

The short film is in the Book of Guinness World Records as officially “the world’s smallest stop motion character animation.” This is also related to our discussion of social media because the viral success of this short animation is bringing a lot of attention to Nokia and their new phone. Pretty cool, eh? What could you shoot with your cell phone camera?

Posted in film, interactive media, new media, social media | 17 Comments »

It’s Almost Oscar Time

Posted by prof e on February 22, 2010

The 82nd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards show, aka the Oscars, is just 12 days away. For the first time since 1943, ten films are up for Best Picture. Some speculators are predicting that Avatar will take home the gold. But there are some reasons to doubt. Avatar didn’t win a best screenplay nomination and none of the actors were nominated for their roles.

There will be awards for best actor, best actress, best director, best costume design, best makeup, best editing, best visual effects, best sound mixing, best…well, you get the idea. This is a big party and lots and lots of accolades will be distributed to the best and the brightest. For a partial list of nominees, see the Oscar website.

Two of the films up for best director are Avatar and The Hurt Locker. Both films have been nominated in eight categories in addition to Best Director. Directors James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow are not only competitors, they were husband and wife for a couple of years about 20 years ago.

As a fan of documentary films I will be watching to see which film wins in this category. I’m pulling for Food, Inc. Here’s a documentary that will make you want to go out and buy five acres, some chickens, goats, steers and take up farming and ranching. Any documentary that can make me reconsider eating meat (or at least meat produced on factory farms) deserves some kind of award.

The hosts of this years show are Steve Martin and Alex Baldwin. The broadcast, by ABC TV network, will air on Sunday, March 7th and will originate from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California.

Posted in film, media industry | 12 Comments »

Avatar Sinks Titanic and Moviegoers Turn Blue

Posted by prof e on February 4, 2010

A blockbuster is, by definition, either a large bomb (as in explosive) or a huge media sensation.  The sci-fi movie Avatar fits comfortably in that second category where it has been making news by racking up some impressive numbers….over $600 million domestically and more than $2 billion world-wide to be precise. As of late January, director James Cameron is now the proud owner of the top TWO spots on the all-time, world-wide, box office receipt ledger board with Avatar at #1 and Titanic at #2. The exceptional performance of Avatar is not only accounted for by strong ticket sales, but also reflects the additional revenue generated by the 3-D screens. Because the film continues to attract movie-goers the final total may be much higher.

But there is another story here that may be more interesting than the record receipts. According to news reports, the stars of Avatar are not the only creatures feeling a little blue. CNN and Huffington Post reported that fans of Avatar are experiencing a let-down (“Avatar-induced depression”) when they leave Pandora…er, I mean, when they exit the theater. It seems that the film is such a powerful experience for many fans that they are having difficulty readjusting to the boring reality that defines their humdrum existence on planet Earth. Wow…sounds like somebody needs to get a life!

Posted in film, media effects, new media | 14 Comments »

Movies by and about Michael Moore

Posted by prof e on October 5, 2008

There’s a new film out by Michael Moore (Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko) but you won’t find it in theaters. In an attempt to allow as many people as possible access to the film, Moore is making the film available as a computer download at

The documentary chronicles Moore’s sixty-city tour in 2004 to get out the youth vote for John Kerry. In large stadium rallies, Moore challenges those in attendance to go to the polls. To help sweeten the deal, Moore is seen handing out Raman noodles and clean underwear to those who take his pledge to vote. Of course the outcome of the 2004 race turns this film into a review of what went wrong for Moore and his campaign. One suspects that the release of Slacker Uprising now is another attempt to motivate the college crowd to get out the vote….this time for Obama.

The documentary also chronicles Moore’s celebrity pals who show up to lend support. Eddie Vedder, Joan Baez, Viggo Mortensen, and Rosanne Barr are just some of the celebs who adoringly introduce Moore to the auditorium crowds. Film critics have been accusing Moore of being self-indulgent since Roger & Me premiered nearly 20 years ago…and this film will fan those flames again.

If you want to see a totally different perspective on Moore you can check out David Zucker’s comedy spoof called An American Carol, out in theaters now. This parody pokes fun at a character clearly modeled after Moore who is trying to abolish the Fourth of July holiday. While conservatives rail against Moore’s “liberal bias”, liberal critics accuse An American Carol of being “right-wing propaganda”.

What do you think?

Slacker Uprising trailer at

An American Carol trailer at YouTube

Posted in film, new media | 13 Comments »