Here’s how thoroughly Batman’s influence has permeated the mainstream: he’s claimed tacit ownership of the very notion of shining a light into the sky. The Bat-Signal, introduced in the comics as Gotham City’s method of summoning the Dark Knight, has been endlessly parodied in the annals of pop-culture — just earlier this month, the poster for Captain Underpants paid homage to the iconic (a word I mean here literally, and not in the ‘a photo of the Kardashians’ sense) design of the skyward spotlight. And all too appropriately, the Bat-Signal will now be used to give one former Batman, the dearly departed Adam West, a proper send-off.
Between its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016 and its theatrical release last month, Laura Poitras’ WikiLeaks documentary Risk transformed into a different film. In that interim year, her subject Julian Assange nabbed quite a few headlines as he stuck his thumb in the 2016 Presidential election, and Poitras rightly believed she’d have to recut the film to account for all the new developments. And now, in a similar situation, another festival-feted nonfiction film has been made to rewrite its own story as real-world news breaks.
When the Cannes Film Festival descends on the French Rivieira, movie billboards and banners crop up all around the Croisette area to catch the attention of industry big shots in town. One such poster advertised a little film called Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs, a new animated project out of Korea in which Chloe Grace Moretz voices the apple-eater of note Snow White. But the passersby at the festival were none too pleased with the advertisement, see if you can guess why: it displays two Snow Whites, one thin and tall, the other shorter and a bit plumper. The tagline? “What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the 7 Dwarfs not so short?”
In one of the Trump administration’s more agreeable defilings of decades-long tradition, the White House’s ritzy move theater will now be available to those visitors touring the building’s East Wing. Say what you will about the new Commander-in-Chief — that he’s a pudenda-grabbing, fact-resistant demagogue, for instance — but at least he’s going to allow the general public a glimpse of how the most powerful man in the nation took in Finding Dory.
We owe a lot to scientists — they cured polio, got us on the moon, and they‘re doing their darnedest to stop us from methodically killing the planet. But man, what a bunch of nerds. It seems like every time biologists discover a new species of animal and need to give it a name, they take the opportunity to bust out a reference to their favorite bit of geek-approved pop culture. Lest we forget the velvet worm named after My Neighbor Totoro, and we’d be remiss to overlook the euglossa bazinga, a rare bee with a Big Bang Theory catchphrase as its namesake. And it appears that now the nerds are at it again.
We‘ve only just entered May, but in the first few months of 2017, the year has yielded a surprisingly eclectic array of blockbusters. Survey the biggest earners to date, and you’ll see a socially critical horror flick from a first-time director, a spin-off based on a cross-property licensing deal within a corporate brand expansion, and a tough-as-nails superhero side project with post-apocalyptic Western overtones. The latest Fast and Furious installment looks most at home in the top five so far, but more unexpected still is that it’s been handily defeated by the year’s top earner, Disney’s handsomely mounted revival of Beauty and the Beast. And now, the unlikely box-office behemoth has claimed another record.
In case you weren’t aware, a pretty major situation has been percolating in the entertainment industry over the past month. Unsatisfied with the conditions of their work and continued employment, the Writers’ Guild of America went to the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers to renegotiate the terms of their collective contract. A bitter standoff summarily broke out, with the possibility of another writers’ strike — you may remember the last freeze-out, which stretched from late 2007 into early 2008 — looming on the horizon. Today brings a resolution to the saga of the last few weeks, and in true Hollywood fashion, everyone’s getting a happy ending.
Yesterday, Indiewire film critic David Ehrlich ran an illuminating essay on Netflix’s testy relationship with the original films it releases, explaining how their model of bypassing theatrical release and going straight to streaming ultimately degrades the viewing experience and makes the movies harder to find and appreciate. (This comes hot on the heels of an official denunciation from the Federation of French Cinemas against the Cannes Film Festival for allowing TV into their lineup for the first time ever.) Clearly, his words went straight to the top of Netflix’s corporate office, as the online video giant has issued a letter to their shareholders assuring them that everything’s going to be fine and movies aren’t dead, probably.
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