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Parasite’s Best Picture Oscar Is Historic. Is This the Beginning of a New Era in Film?

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When Bong Joon-Ho went onstage to accept the Academy Award for Best International Film for Parasite at the 2020 Oscars, he thought his night was done. “I am ready to drink tonight until next morning,” he said gleefully. He had already collected one Oscar before that, for Best Original Screenplay.

But instead, Bong would return to the stage to collect two more trophies: one for Best Director, making him the second Asian to win that award, after Ang Lee—and one for Best Picture. Parasite‘s upset win in the biggest category of the night, over frontrunner 1917, made it the first foreign language film ever to win Best Picture across 92 years of Oscar history. “I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now,” one of the film’s producers, Kwak Sin-ae, said while accepting the award.

Gone are the days when foreign films only stood a chance of opening to coastal cinephiles. Parasite has shown that foreign language films can be unifying blockbuster events—and its success is proof of the fact that, as director Bong Joon-Ho himself said at the Globes, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”

Released concurrently with many structural changes—including the advent of streaming and concerted widespread efforts to champion diversity—Parasite’s runaway success could mark a pivotal turning point for foreign language films, and especially Asian ones, in America. “This is a huge breaking of a psychological barrier,” Janet Yang, a veteran Hollywood producer, tells TIME. “This wall we’ve built, in which non-English language movies were limited not just in release or box office but in people’s minds, is being cracked.”

But Parasite’s success also arose from a very specific set of circumstances that may not be easily replicable. And in Korea and elsewhere, a new crop of Asian filmmakers is working hard to ensure that Parasite isn’t just a momentary bout of glory but the start of a new global era.

The marginalization of foreign films

Things were very different for foreign language films at the start of Yang’s multi-decade career. When she arrived in Hollywood in the ’80s, Asian-language films, in particular, weren’t even considered a possibility for mainstream wide release. “They would be marketed in a different way. It was all about getting the Asian audience out, along with the specialty festival crowd,” she says. Indie distributors that are now long gone, like New Yorker Films and Circle Films, funneled international films to theaters like New York’s Film Forum, where they found success with erudite and adventurous audiences.

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But these films were mostly low-budget, low-grossing specialty affairs that rarely made a dent at the box office—and received even less recognition from the Academy Awards. While Hollywood likes to think of itself as the center of the film world, 92 years of Oscar nominations support Bong’s claim that the Oscars are “very local.” Just 12 foreign language films have ever been nominated for Best Picture—and most of those films depicted a monumental historical event or figure, whether it be the Holocaust (Life is Beautiful), World War II (Letters from Iwo Jima) or Pablo Neruda (Il Postino). The Academy’s choices pointed to the idea that voters valued the modern lives of people around the world less than their historical or American counterparts.

In 2000, Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon exploded to $128 million at the North American box office, becoming the highest-grossing foreign language film produced overseas at the American box office. The 18th-century martial arts film, the first Asian-language movie and only other one besides Parasite to land a Best Picture nod, showed that audiences would be willing to read subtitles—but also reinforced the idea that the only foreign films worth paying attention to were those that told exotic or historical stories. Over the next few years, other martial arts films like Hero and Kung Fu Hustle successfully replicated Crouching Tiger’s success, but did little to expand the scope of foreign language film in America.

The Korean auteur generation

While Lee was stringing together a run of multilingual epics, a new generation of Korean filmmakers was in the midst of its own golden age. Emboldened by the country’s expanding democratic rights and flush with cash from chaebols—large family-run conglomerates—a group of auteurs led by the trio Bong Joon-Ho, Kim Ji-woon and Park Chan-wook rose in the ’90s with films like The Quiet Family, Joint Security Area and Barking Dogs Never Bite. In 2004, Park’s Oldboy became the first Korean film to win the Grand Prix at Cannes.

But it was Bong, in particular, who would chart a path toward international stardom through a set of savvy strategic choices. “He’s able to think 10 years ahead—he understands the industry very, very well,” Jason Bechervaise, an entertainment professor at Korea Soongsil Cyber University who also wrote a Ph.D. thesis on Bong’s work, told TIME. In 2013, Bong crossed over to Hollywood with Snowpiercer, his first English-language film, which raised eyebrows for being one of the first films to come to streaming soon after theatrical release. In 2017, his bilingual film Okja caused a firestorm at Cannes when audience members objected to the inclusion of a Netflix production in the festival.

“This chaos is all good news for Bong because they talk about him, and more people become aware of who he is,” Bechervaise says. Having gained an international profile—and many high profile friends and admirers like Tilda Swinton and Quentin Tarantino—Bong ensured that when he returned to Korea to make a fully foreign language film, the world would still be paying attention.

Streaming and social media rewrite the rules

At the same time, American audiences were also seeing more faces of color on their screens thanks to the erosion of traditional gatekeepers in film and television. In 2015 and 2016, #OscarsSoWhite exploded on Twitter after two consecutive years of all-white acting nominees, leading the Academy to announce an initiative to double their number of female and minority members by 2020. In 2018 and 2019, social media campaigns helped lift Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians to huge box office returns—and even non-blockbusters like Roma (in Spanish) and The Farewell (in Mandarin and English) fared better than expected thanks to insistent support from communities of color.

All of these successes showed production companies and distributors that increased representation was, if nothing else, a sensible economic move. It was in this climate that the distributor Neon came to the fore as a rising powerhouse that invested both in English and non-English films. In 2019, they released four well-received foreign language films, including Parasite, Honeyland and Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

While traditional film production companies and distributors warmed to a broader range of releases, they also received a push from streaming services, whose potential subscribers could come from anywhere in the world. In 2016, Netflix put a stake down in South Korea, spearheading not just Okja but the zombie series Kingdom and the romantic teen drama Love Alarm. Their algorithm placed Okja in the same ‘taste cluster’ as Mad Men—meaning that viewers with no experience with foreign language films might still be prompted to watch it, and give it a chance from the comfort of their couch. In the coming years, the Japanese reality show Terrace House and the Spanish language drama Narcos: Mexico would become global phenomena.

Global resonance

In May, Parasite opened at Cannes to an eight-minute standing ovation, eventually winning the festival’s top prize. In October, the film opened in the U.S.—and thanks to rapturous reviews, word-of-mouth campaigns that included the efforts of Gold House—an Asian American organization that had formed in 2018 to boost Crazy Rich Asians at the box office—and all the factors mentioned above, Parasite claimed the biggest-ever opening for an international film in the U.S.

Of course, it was not merely these external factors that drove Parasite’s success, but the quality of the film itself. While the movie is distinctly Korean in its approach to horror and humor, its incisive exploration of inequality hit the zeitgeist at the exact right moment. “Uneven distribution of wealth is a disease we all live with, wherever you are,” Suk-Young Kim, a theater and performance studies professor at UCLA, tells TIME. “It’s something we can all relate to.” This subject material elevated the film from a local Korean story into a larger wave of movies exploring the same subject—from Burning to Us to Joker.

And it can’t have hurt that the movie was shot in a rising center of culture and fashion thanks to the increasing dominance of K-pop. “Seoul is a cultural hub: a fashionable place that more people want to visit and know about,” Kim says.

Thanks to a shrewd rollout from Neon, Parasite continued to excel at the box office throughout the fall and gain momentum into awards season. The awards season success of Roma the year before had eased the path, as had the the increased diversity within the ranks of the Academy. Since 2015, the percentage of female Academy voters has risen from 25 to 32 percent, while the number of minorities has doubled from 8 to a still paltry 16 percent. This year, the invitees hailed from 59 countries.

But the movie’s momentum was also carried by Bong Joon-Ho who led the way as a witty and charismatic presence on the circuit. He quickly became the main event at many Oscars parties and generated headlines for his extremely quotable speeches. “It’s impossible not to be charmed by him, for sure,” Yang says.

In January, Parasite became the first foreign language film to ever win the SAG Award for best cast of a motion picture. Backstage, Choi Woo-shik, who plays Ki-woo, used the platform to open the door for the next generation. “Other than us, there are so many legends out there in foreign countries,” he said. “I really truly hope that after this moment, maybe next year, we can see more foreign-language films and Asian films.”

While the SAG Awards were an exciting bit of recognition, the Oscars were another matter. It was widely expected that Parasite would fall to the heavily favored 1917, meaning that the first non-English Best Picture winner would have to wait at least another year. But Parasite pulled out a stunning upset, much to delight of many online—who christened themselves the #BongHive—and the celebrities in the audience. When the producers tried to turn the lights out on a show that ran half an hour overtime, the crowd roared at them to let Parasite’s team finish.

“Milestone and motivation”

But Parasite’s best picture win does not guarantee lasting change. The Korean film industry has recently become stagnant—with admissions plateauing since 2013—and top-heavy, with many blockbusters taking up an increasing amount of space at theaters. (Last year, a Korean Film Council study said that on any given day, 67.5% of all screenings would be occupied by the three most screened films).

And while any movie by Bong, Park and Kim attracts widespread interest, the rest of the country’s filmmakers are far less known around the world. “The industry, globally at least, is heavily reliant on the auteurs,” Bechervaise says. He worries that the circumstances that led to their creative rise are not replicable—and that young filmmakers will not only have to contend with the trio’s long shadow, but competition from the onslaught of global content arriving in Korea thanks to streaming services.

But for some Korean filmmakers, Parasite’s success is already causing a trickle-down effect. At the 2020 International Film Festival Rotterdam last week, the director Kim Yong-hoon noticed a change in the way people were looking at his new film Beasts Clawing at Straws. “I definitely felt this increased global interest, not only from the festival programmer but from the audience,” he wrote in an email to TIME through a translator. “These international film industry people now notice that there are plenty of good filmmakers in Korea.”

Beasts Clawing at Straws won the festival’s special jury award, while another Korean film, Yoon Dan-bi’s Moving On, won the Bright Future prize. At Sundance, Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, which is set in Arkansas but spoken mostly in Korean, made a big splash, winning the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize for the dramatic category. The Steven Yuen-led film, produced by Brad Pitt’s company Plan B Entertainment, will be distributed by A24, which successfully launched movies like Moonlight and Lady Bird.

So anyone hoping to find the next Parasite won’t have to look far. The Truth, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s first non-Japanese-language film, stars two French legends in Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche and arrives in March. On streaming, Alan Yang’s Tigertail, which is mostly delivered in different Chinese dialects, will arrive on Netflix, while an adaptation of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko in Japanese and Korean is in the works at Apple. Thanks to Parasite, they all have the opportunity to make an impact not just at Film Forum but across the United States and the world.

“I think Parasite could be a milestone and at the same time a motivation to the next generation filmmakers,” Kim Yong-hoon says. “This is a huge opportunity.”

By Andrew R. Chow 11:57 PM EST

Source: Parasite’s Best Picture Oscar Is Historic. Is This the Beginning of a New Era in Film?

Language is no longer a barrier to global success. That is the message from South Korean director Bong Joon Ho, whose film “Parasite” has clinched six Oscar nominations in categories like Best Picture and Best Foreign Film. Subscribe to our channel here: https://cna.asia/youtubesub Subscribe to our news service on Telegram: https://cna.asia/telegram Follow us: CNA: https://cna.asia CNA Lifestyle: http://www.cnalifestyle.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/channelnewsasia Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/channelnews… Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/channelnewsasia
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5 Ways The Rock Has Built A Rock-Hard Personal Brand Online

“Check your ego at the door. The ego can be the great success inhibitor. It can kill opportunities, and it can kill success.” – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has one of the most impressive and consistent cross-platform brand of any celebrity alive today. With a net worth of nearly $300 million and $90 million in earnings this year alone, there is obviously a lot to be learned from Johnson’s branding success.

After beginning his career as a wrestler, Johnson has leveraged his movie star status into an impressive Instagram following, branding collaborations with companies from Apple to VOSS water, and a personal brand so comprehensive that he needs his own marketing agency, Seven Bucks Creative, the strategic portion of Johnson’s Seven Bucks production company that helps promote all of his creative projects.

Here are five brilliant ways The Rock has built his brand online.

1) Leveraging his existing reach.

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Johnson wisely uses his existing reach to amplify the new markets he’s seeking to break into. With three blockbuster films being released in 2019 (Jungle Cruise, the Jumanji sequel, and Hobbs and Shaw) on top of an already long and successful film career, he has amassed quite a following. Johnson leverages the stardom from multiple blockbuster films a year and his 153 million Instagram followers to build markets in other areas. But this strategy is not just for movie stars – brand builders everywhere have existing reach, even if it is only hyper local contacts, past career colleagues, or student networks.

2) Aligning his brand with his passions.

Johnson is the king of brand collaborations, but he makes the decisions about which branding expansions to pursue wisely. Shilling for brands that do not align with who he is would feel inauthentic, so he chooses products that he already uses and loves.

VOSS water is one of those product collaborations that feels natural, since Johnson has been drinking it for years, as he mentions on his Instagram announcement. That rings true, since it even comes up in this GQ feature from way back in 2017. Johnson shared on his Twitter, “Owning water always intrigued me – partly because I drink 4 gallons a day. But finding the right partner with shared values, ethics and a corporate culture I admire is what motivated me to make this deal.” He is starring in VOSS’ new brand campaign called “Live Every Drop,” that will feature behind-the-scenes peeks at his lifestyle and will be produced by his creative agency Seven Bucks.

He also recently helped launch the Project Rock Collection with Under Armour, another brand favorite of is that feels like a natural extension of the things he already loves to use and do. These thoughtful branding collaborations make his brand feel authentic and trustworthy.

3) Discipline, discipline, discipline.

Johnson’s worldwide success is impressive, and according to those who know him, not at all a surprise. He works hard, and is so consistent, that his discipline has manifested into dollars. His Seven Bucks Chief Marketing Officer had this to say about his discipline in a Fast Company feature, “It’s meant to speak to how training is a mentality, that the work you put in the gym extends to real life, and that mentality is consistent. That’s part of what makes Dwayne magical—is how he applies that same discipline from the gym into everything, and we wanted to express that in this campaign.”

It’s obvious even to the casual observer how consistently he churns out Instagram content and how hard he works promoting his films, and it seems that discipline is paying off.

4) Expanding to new markets.

While some may make light of the films Johnson puts out or the North American box office takes, his films are extremely popular in Asian market, which has helped expand his brand to new markets. His recent film Skyscraper had lackluster box office receipts in the United States, but took in over $48 million in its Chinese opening weekend and became the top grossing title worldwide that weekend as a result.

Like his predecessors Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford a decade or two ago, Johnson has been able to leverage his films’ popularity in the Asian market to do Chinese and Japanese branding collaborations, where some others might ignore the potential for success there. But Johnson works hard cultivating those markets – he recently visited Beijing and Hong Kong to promote Skyscraper, for example – and that foresight pays off in his brand’s success.

5) Integrating across mediums.

Because Johnson makes his branding collaboration decisions with such care towards keeping the products consistent with his lifestyle, it makes it easy for him to integrating products across mediums. He wears Under Armour in his films, for example, gaining free promotion for his products and deepening his brand’s consistency.

With all of the success that Johnson has had across genres, continents, and decades, there is much to be learned about his online branding strategy. The ease with which he leverages his social media following, the brilliant alignment of his real-life passions and product integration, the discipline he shows in content creation, and the vision with which he seeks out new markets are all strategies even the tiniest brand can learn from.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m known as the “Oprah of LinkedIn.” My video channel, #DailyGoldie, won LinkedIn Top Voice (the highest honor on the platform) and was the platform’s longest-running daily show with a global community and millions of views. I’m a top LinkedIn creator, digital strategist and personal branding expert.

I run Warm Robots, a corporate social media strategy agency and help companies tell engaging brand stories and navigate C-level executives toward unique personal brands. Previously, I’ve led social media strategy for tech and entertainment companies such as Legendary Entertainment.

On the side, I’ve represented the U.S. as part of an inaugural delegation through the Mayor of London’s office and often lead workshops and summits around storytelling and personal branding. I am a proud member of the Producer’s Guild of America, New Media Council, a Stanford University graduate and have been regularly featured as a fresh voice in CNN, Inc. Magazine, Fast Company and more.

Source: 5 Ways The Rock Has Built A Rock-Hard Personal Brand Online

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The star of the new “Fast and Furious” spin-off “Hobbs and Shaw” talks the action-packed summer blockbuster, live on “GMA.” WATCH FULL EPISODES: http://abc.go.com/shows/good-morning-… Visit Good Morning America’s Homepage: https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/ #GMA #DwayneJohnson #Hobbs&Shaw

Toronto Film Festival 2019: ‘Seberg’ a Missed Opportunity to Honor an Iconic Actress

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The intriguing story behind “Seberg” and the reliable talent of its lead actress, Kristen Stewart, promise greatness. But this biopic manages to squander both, reducing the film to a bland period piece with an irritating lack of focus.

Jean Seberg was an American actress best known for her role in a French film, the 1960 Jean-Luc Godard New Wave drama “Breathless.” But by the late 1960s, this film suggests, the bilingual performer was growing bored of acting and was enthralled with the activist politics of the era, particularly the Black Panthers. It made her a target of the FBI, which harassed her relentlessly. Given Stewart’s own move away from commercial Hollywood fare lately (“JT LeRoy,” “Personal Shopper”), it’s easy to see why she’d gravitate to the project.

On a transatlantic flight, Seberg offers to give up her first-class seats for Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X, and Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), his cousin. The interaction leads to an affair between Seberg and Jamal, both of whom are married, and to her being surveilled by the FBI and shot at by Jamal’s wife (Zazie Beetz, awfully briefly).

Director Benedict Andrews (“Una”) slogs the film along at a languid pace, cutting between Seberg’s life and the FBI men tasked with following and, ultimately, publicly humiliating the actress as part of the agency’s COINTELPRO program of the ’60s and ’70s, dedicated to disrupting domestic political dissidence.

Jean Seberg in 1958, two years before her breakout film "Breathless" was released.
Jean Seberg in 1958, two years before her breakout film “Breathless” was released.Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Vince Vaughn appears periodically as a short-tempered agent (though it’s hard to take him entirely seriously), while Jack O’Connell (“Unbroken”), as his partner, is more morally troubled by the agency’s treatment of Seberg — though not enough to stop it.

“Seberg” isn’t helped by its sometimes laughably uninspired screenplay. We’re told at the start that the actress was badly burned playing Joan of Arc in the 1957 Otto Preminger movie “Saint Joan,” which is later unsubtly echoed when someone warns her she’s “playing with fire.”

The government’s treatment of the iconic actress, who died young in an apparent suicide, is ripe for exploration on film — it’s too bad “Seberg,” despite Stewart’s best efforts, doesn’t do its namesake justice.

 

Kristen Stewart discusses balancing public and private life during Venice press conference for ‘Seberg’ SUBSCRIBE to our channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ETCanada… FOLLOW us here: http://www.etcanada.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/etcanada Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/etcanada Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/etcanada #KristenStewart #Seberg

It: Chapter Two: Release Date, Cast, Plot, Theories, Rumors

Stephen King’s It crawled back onto the scene in 2017, when the first of two movie remakes came out. The second film, based like the first on King’s 1,100-page 1986 bestseller, isn’t a sequel — it’s a continuation of the plot, taking place 27 years after the first film. For It Chapter 2, members of the Losers Club from the first film have been recast with adult actors, though the young actors will also appear in flashback.

Early reviews

Here’s a look at some of the reviews that have already been released for the film, including CNET’s own.

The sequel trap

“While It Chapter 2 brings their story to a conclusive and largely satisfying end, it disappointingly walks right into the same trap as many sequels. Bloated with story ideas, characters and, most noticeably, running time — not to mention excessive CGI — Chapter 2 is at times harder to hang onto than an escaping balloon.”    — Jennifer Bisset, CNET

Kudos for the cast

The casting of the grown up versions of each character is very impressively done, with James McAvoy and Jay Ryan seeming to be the standouts — but that might be because their characters bear the most striking resemblance to their younger counterparts. Meanwhile, Bill Hader pours an impressive amount of heart into the film, despite being forced to try to add the comic relief endlessly, a task which lands most of the time.”    — Brandon Davis, ComicBook.com

First film was better

“The decision [to split the book into two movies] paid off beautifully for Chapter 1, transforming the cerebral novel into a Goonies-flavored coming-of-age adventure with a cast of magnetic, scrappy, lovable kids who faced off against a monster and learned all sorts of lessons about life, love, and friendship along the way. In Chapter 2, however, the cracks in the concept begin to show, and ultimately, the final chapter fails to maintain the spark of the first, succumbing to a dangerous cocktail of muddled timelines, poorly placed novel call-backs, and scattered focus.”    — Meg Downey, GameSpot.com

Nearly three hours is too long

“So what’s the problem? For starters, It: Chapter Two is an ass-numbing two hours and 50 minutes. That’s a good half-hour longer than Chapter One, proving the adage that less is definitely more. The dragging pace diminishes the film’s ability to hold us in its grip. There are endless flashbacks to the characters as kids, as if director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman didn’t trust the audience to have seen the first film and decided to squeeze the highlights into this one just in case.”    — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Trailers and teasers

A featurette released in early September includes some of the stars briefly talking about their roles.

Source: It: Chapter Two: Release date, cast, plot, theories, rumors – CNET

 

Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix Overacts So Hard It’s No Fun

(FromL) German US actress Zazie Beetz, US actor Joaquin Phoenix and US director Todd Phillips attend a photocall for the film “Joker” on August 31, 2019 presented in competition during the 76th Venice Film Festival at Venice Lido. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s official. With Joker, Joaquin Phoenix is a certified graduate of the Acme Academy of Dramatic Arts. You want acting? Come and get it.

Skills on display include but are not limited to leering, jeering, airhorn-style blasts of laughter timed for maximum audience discomfort, funky-chicken style dance moves, the occasional blank, dead stare and assorted moony expressions indicating soulful lonerism.

But don’t for a minute think Phoenix isn’t funny, too. They say you never forget Clowning 101, and Phoenix hasn’t: He hops around like an unhinged Emmett Kelly, twisting his physique into weird and unsettling shapes. His body has a rubbery angularity, like a chicken bone soaked in Coca-Cola.

In Joker — playing in competition here at the Venice Film Festival — Phoenix is acting so hard you can feel the desperation throbbing in his veins. He leaves you wanting to start him a GoFundMe, so he won’t have to pour so much sweat into his job again. But the aggressive terribleness of his performance isn’t completely his fault. (He has often been, and generally remains, a superb actor. Just not here.)

Director Todd Phillips — who made frat-boy comedies like Road Trip and Old School before graduating to dude-bro comedies like The Hangover movies — bears at least some of the blame, and the aggressive and possibly irresponsible idiocy of Joker overall is his alone to answer for. Phillips may want us to think he’s giving us a movie all about the emptiness of our culture, but really, he’s just offering a prime example of it.

Joker is a stand-alone origin story that dovetails with, but does not strictly follow, DC Universe Batman lore. Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck — he’ll later become one of Batman’s nemeses, the Joker, in case you didn’t already know that — is an odd, lonely guy who lives at home with the mother (played by a wan Frances Conroy) he love-hates.

Arthur works for a sad rent-a-clown joint, and nothing ever goes right. This is clear from the moment we meet him: he’s tense, nervous and he can’t ever relax. The movie is set in a Gotham City that’s a lazy approximation of gritty 1970s-era New York, complete with garbage strikes and “super-rats” overrunning the city. On the job in clown costume, Arthur gets beaten up by a mob of nasty punks — and then almost gets fired because they stole and broke the “going out of business sign” he was twirling for a client.

More bad stuff happens, day in, day out. He gets angrier and more isolated by the minute. No one is ever kind to Arthur; he’s the world’s saddest punching bag.

When the city’s social services close down, he can no longer receive counseling there, or get his meds. (He carries around a little laminated card that he holds out helpfully whenever he laughs inappropriately, which is pretty much all the time. It reads, “Forgive my laughter, I have a brain injury.”) The one bright spot of his day, or night, is watching a Johnny Carson-style talk-show host, Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro), on television. He dreams of being a stand-up comic and someday being on the show. His wish will come true, but life will have beaten the poor lad down interminably before then.

As you can probably guess, all of Arthur’s travails are leading up to a series of “See what you made me do?” brutalities, most of which happen while he’s dressed up in his clown suit. Violence makes him feel more in control, less pathetic. Killing — usually with a gun, but scissors or a good old-fashioned suffocation will do just fine — empowers him.

But it’s not as if we don’t know how this pathology works: In America, there’s a mass shooting or attempted act of violence by a guy like Arthur practically every other week. And yet we’re supposed to feel some sympathy for Arthur, the troubled lamb; he just hasn’t had enough love. Before long, he becomes a vigilante folk hero — his first signature act is to kill a trio of annoying Wall Street spuds while riding the subway, which inspires the masses to don clown masks and march enthusiastically around the city with “Kill the Rich!” placards.

Arthur also tries to work out a personal beef with rich asshat and aspiring city mayor Thomas Wayne, father of you-know-who. Because, it turns out, Arthur has some daddy issues too. Who would have guessed?

Joker — which was written by Phillips and Scott Silver — doesn’t have a plot; it’s more like a bunch of reaction GIFs strung together. When Arthur gets fired from his clown job, he struts by the time-clock, deadpans, “Oh no, I forgot to punch out” and then, wait for it, socks it so hard it dangles from the wall. Make a note of the moment, because you’ll be seeing it a lot in your Twitter and Facebook feeds.

The movie’s cracks — and it’s practically all cracks — are stuffed with phony philosophy. Joker is dark only in a stupidly adolescent way, but it wants us to think it’s imparting subtle political or cultural wisdom. Just before one of his more violent tirades, Arthur muses, “Everybody just screams at each other. Nobody’s civil anymore.” Who doesn’t feel that way in our terrible modern times? But Arthur’s observation is one of those truisms that’s so true it just slides off the wall, a message that both the left and the right can get behind and use for their own aims. It means nothing.

Meanwhile, the movie lionizes and glamorizes Arthur even as it shakes its head, faux-sorrowfully, over his violent behavior. There’s an aimless subplot involving a neighbor in Arthur’s apartment building, played by Zazie Beetz, in an underdeveloped role. (Beetz also appears in another movie here at the festival, Benedict Andrews’s Seberg, where she’s given much more to do.) Arthur has a crush on her, and though he does her no harm, there’s still something creepily entitled about his attentiveness to her. He could easily be adopted as the patron saint of incels.

Arthur is a mess, but we’re also supposed to think he’s kind of great — a misunderstood savant. Dressed up for his big TV moment in a turquoise paisley shirt, marigold vest and dapper cranberry suit (admittedly a marvelous feat of costume design), Arthur struts down an outdoor stairway like a rock’n’roll hero. It’s the most energizing moment in the movie, but what is it winding us up for? Arthur inspires chaos and anarchy, but the movie makes it look like he’s starting a revolution, where the rich are taken down, the poor get everything they need and deserve, and the sad guys who can’t get a date become killer heroes. There’s a sick joke in there somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s on us.

By Stephanie Zacharek

Source: Joker Review: Joaquin Phoenix Overacts So Hard It’s No Fun | Time

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It’s Alive! Facebook’s Surprising Video Standout Is A Horror Movie Startup

Like a proud parent, Jack Davis has covered the refrigerator in his Wilshire Boulevard office with artwork. But these aren’t crayon-drawn stick figures of Mom and Dad. They’re the stuff of nightmares—a demonic entity with shark teeth, a cannibal with thorns sprouting from his head, a tree that likes to disembowel its victims.

The gruesome creatures crawled out of the imagination of Davis’ Crypt TV, a digital studio that aspires to become the Marvel of monsters for mobile. Davis, 27, has raised $11 million from investors including Hollywood producer Jason Blum (Us, Ma), media mogul Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital, Huffington Post cofounder Kenneth Lerer and NBCUniversal. The four-year-old Los Angeles studio, which creates horror videos for social networks, is on track to bring in about $20 million in revenue this year through production deals, running ads for films like Crawl and selling merchandise.

When he started, “no one was doing scary for mobile,” Davis says. That signaled a missed opportunity. “This is a huge genre. It has a solid fan base, and scary movies are very, very big.”

The Golden Age of streaming has birthed Netflix competitors that cater to nearly every genre, from U.K. shows on Britbox to anime on Crunchyroll and, yes, horror on Shudder and Screambox. At the same time, studios like Elisabeth Murdoch’s Vertical Networks have built audiences that are reached primarily through mobile-first social networks such as Snapchat and Instagram, which more than a billion people visit each month.

Davis and Crypt TV cofounder Eli Roth, the film director and producer who developed Netflix’s first horror series, Hemlock Grove, bet that an audience who loved films like Jordan Peele’s Oscar-nominated Get Out would snap up suspense and horror on the small screen, too.

It’s an intuition that’s paying off. Crypt TV said on Friday that it had reached a deal with Facebook to develop five series exclusively for Facebook Watch, its on-demand video service. The deal extends a partnership started in 2018, when Facebook green-lighted a 15-episode series based on Crypt’s short film The Birch.

Facebook has been paying as much as $25 million for these original shows, though the bulk of them cost $3 to $5 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. Forbes estimates the new Crypt TV deal is valued at less than $20 million. Neither party would disclose the terms of the partnership.

Facebook might seem an unlikely place to screen monster movies for Generation Z and younger Millennials, who make up nearly half of Crypt TV’s audience. One Pew Research Center survey last year found that the world’s largest social network is no longer the most popular hangout for teens, a big drop from earlier in the decade. Plus, Facebook Watch has struggled to gain traction. A year after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched Watch to better compete with Google’s YouTube and Snapchat’s Discover, only half of Facebook users had ever heard of it, says The Diffusion Group, a media research consultancy.

Still, momentum is gathering for shows that capitalize on the network’s power to amass communities to talk about shared interests—say, Jada Pinkett Smith’s talk show, Red Table Talk, or Sorry for Your Loss, a drama on grief starring Elizabeth Olsen. Facebook says more than 140 million people each day spend at least a minute viewing Watch videos.

“It’s very hard to say that a platform … (of) two-plus billion people on it doesn’t have young people on it,” says Matthew Henick, Facebook’s head of content planning and strategy. “What Crypt does incredibly well is—because they’re able to tell their stories through many different modes or, in this case, products—they’re able to find those audiences and pull them in.”

Crypt TV taps into a community that likes to be scared. Horror has been reeling in fans on the big screen: The genre brought in a record $1 billion in box office sales in 2017, according to Comscore.

Some fans want to get their goose bumps for free. Thanks to The Birch, which was viewed 26 million times on Facebook, the studio now has 9.75 million followers, or more than triple its YouTube audience. On Davis’ fridge hang mementos from fans. One shared a photo of her tattoo—it’s of the Look-see, a creature with no eyes and flesh that’s been stitched together.

“Young people have so much emotion,” Davis says. A scary story “provides an amazing, permissive structure to take on deep emotional issues.”

A fortuitous encounter at a dinner party hosted by his parents in West Los Angeles led to the creation of Crypt TV. Then a student at Duke University, Davis found himself sitting next to Roth and began reciting dialogue from Roth’s portrayal of the bat-wielding Nazi killer Donny Donowitz in Inglourious Basterds.

The conversation turned to Davis’ career plans. The sociology and political science major said he hoped to launch his own company, capitalizing on the dramatic shift in media viewing habits he’d observed during his four years in college. Roth had a suggestion.

“I said, ‘You know that audience that’s going to see horror movies now’—because obviously now horror has exploded—‘They’re all on their phones,’” Roth recalls. “What is the next generation of characters? Who is creating the new Freddy Krueger? Is there a way to launch a Freddy? A Jason? A Michael Myers? A Chucky? Just on your phone?”

Roth introduced him to Blum, who became Crypt TV’s earliest investor and served as a mentor to the company’s 23-year-old founder.

An early success was #6SecondScare, an October 2014 online competition that encouraged users of Vine, Twitter’s six-second video service, to upload their scariest videos.

Roth lent his name to the contest and coaxed Hollywood celebrities including Quentin Tarantino and High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens to promote it and serve as judges. #6SecondScare attracted 20,000 submissions and ended up featured on ABC’s Good Morning America.

In the summer of 2015, Davis’ team launched Snapchat Murder Mystery, a show that gathered ten social media influencers to a mansion party, then killed off their characters in an Agatha Christie-styled whodunit. A year later came Crypt TV’s breakthrough moment with The Birch. The four-minute video follows a terrified schoolboy who summons an ancient being in the woods to dispense a particularly bloody form of retribution on the boy’s tormentor.

Davis faces his own monster lurking in the dark: Quibi. The mobile video subscription service comes with a Hollywood pedigree, a $1 billion cash horde and some of the best-known filmmakers in horror, Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth) and Sam Raimi (Evil Dead), as well as Blum, producing original content.

Quibi launches in April—though Crypt TV, in classic horror film fashion, has gotten a running start.

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I’m a Los Angeles-based senior editor for Forbes, writing about the companies and people behind the biggest disruption in entertainment since cable TV: streaming video

Source: It’s Alive! Facebook’s Surprising Video Standout Is A Horror Movie Startup

Meet The Indian-American Host Of Netflix’s STEM Series ‘Brainchild’

Netflix’s new show Brainchild offers a refreshing take on science “edutainment,” but with a twist: The lead is a woman of color.

In the 13-episode first season, released November 2018, the show’s Indian-American host, Sahana Srinivasan, explores STEM-focused topics, ranging from the science of selfies to the rationale behind the widely held “five-second-rule.” Created in partnership with hip-hop mogul Pharrell Williams, the show features a diverse cast that’s intended to appeal to girls and minorities.

Srinivasan, 22, understands the gravity of her highly visible role, one in which she discusses STEM, a field where women and people of color have historically been scarce.

“It’s important, at a young age, to see a role model who looks like you, especially for kids who want to go into STEM,” she says. “When people don’t see themselves represented, they think, ‘What’s the point of even trying?’ and it becomes a cyclical thing with no real progress.”

Mounting evidence suggests that early exposure to STEM drives continued interest into adulthood. As a result, minority on-screen representation can have a strong impact on how children view their future career prospects.

Thanks to the success of Hollywood blockbusters and television programs that feature diverse casts, representation of women and minorities in leading roles has increased over the years. Yet these communities remain underrepresented in media across the board, according to the 2019 Hollywood Diversity report released by UCLA. Though minorities constitute nearly 40% of the U.S. population, they represent roughly 21% of broadcast scripted leads, cable scripted leads and digital scripted leads.

With STEM-forward shows, in particular, women of color leads are few and far between. The two most renowned science education shows for children, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Beakman’s World, feature older white men; popular cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory and Jimmy Neutron follow the adventures of white, boy-genius inventors; and science-oriented sitcoms geared to adults, such as  Silicon Valley and Big Bang Theory, have white, male leads. When women and people of color are introduced, they often adhere to clichéd cultural tropes, such as the nerdy, virginal Asian-American male or the socially awkward, unattractive female.

Indian-American actress Sahana Srinivasan stars in the Netflix original series Brainchild.”Atomic Entertainment

Relatability is at the heart of Brainchild, Srinivasan says, and her depiction on the show is very much intentional. She eschews the conventional white lab coat in favor of quirky hipster glasses, bold lipstick colors and a changing array of hairstyles—sometimes pigtails, sometimes an updo. The same goes for her castmates, who sport hoodies, skinny jeans and afros.

“A show like this reminds people that science is pretty cool, and it’s not at all nerdy or lame to be curious about these topics,” Srinivasan says. “It tells kids that you don’t have to embody this specific version of what a scientist or researcher should look like.”

http://www.forbes.com/video/6023955335001/

Still in college—she’s a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, studying radio, television and film—Srinivasan wants to dismantle the conventional idea that art and science are mutually exclusive. When she was growing up in Dallas, she took part in local talent shows and performed skits, comedy routines and classical Indian dances. But she never saw STEM fields as a viable career option. “I was so focused on the creative endeavors that I thought that’s all I’ll ever be able to do,” Srinivasan says. “And it’s totally a myth and not true.”

Initially, Srinivasan didn’t realize the impact her role could have on young women of color—and indeed was concerned about being pigeonholed because of her ethnic background and gender. “The show doesn’t really stereotype me. The fact that I’m quirky, funny and passionate stands out more than the fact that I’m Indian and a woman,” she says. But for fans of the show, its diverse representation serves as a source of inspiration, both in the arts and in science. “The feedback, especially from young girls of color, has been awesome,” Srinivasan says. “The cast is very much a true reflection of what we see in real life.”

I’m a reporter covering the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in business and society at large. Previously, I was a reporter at CNBC, where I focused on leader

Source: Meet The Indian-American Host Of Netflix’s STEM Series ‘Brainchild’

Fan Bingbing’s Mysterious Disappearance: What It Means For China’s Elite – Steve Rose

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Imagine if Jennifer Lawrence or Scarlett Johansson went missing and nobody knew where they had gone – even three months later. That is what happened to Fan Bingbing. Fan is one of China’s best known and highest-paid actors, thanks to a string of domestic hits such as Cell Phone and Double Xposure, and small roles in Iron Man 3 and X-Men: Days of Future Past. The 37-year-old was on the jury of the Cannes film festival last year, and is set to star in a new thriller opposite Jessica Chastain and Penelope Cruz. On 2 July this year she posted details of a visit to a children’s hospital in Tibet on Weibo (China’s answer to Twitter). Then her account went dead, leaving her 63 million followers, and pretty much the rest of China, wondering where she had gone…….

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/oct/04/fan-bingbing-mysterious-disappearance-chinese-film-star-elite

 

 

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$400M Fiction Giant Wattpad Wants To Be Your Literary Agent – Hayley C. Cuccinello

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It took a less than an hour in 2013 for Anna Todd to change her life. The Army wife and part-time babysitter had spent a lot of time reading fan fiction, stories by amateur writers about existing fictional universes and real-life celebrities. So her erotic tale about Tessa and Hardin—a wholesome college freshman and a tattooed bad boy who is a thinly veiled stand-in for singer Harry Styles—came together quickly when she sat down to typed the first chapter of After on her phone. Todd posted it to Wattpad, one of the world’s largest destinations for online reading and writing……

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/hayleycuccinello/2018/09/24/400m-fiction-giant-wattpad-wants-to-be-your-literary-agent/

 

 

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