Tuesday Links

My original post on On the Lot disappeared, and I’m too busy to re-create it, but here’s the Cinematical review of the show best described as American Idol meets Project Greenlight minus Simon Cowell. I like the idea of a competition show about making movies, but a big part of the appeal of Idol has always been the liveness of the performances, something that is harder to reproduce in a moviemaking competition. Plus most of this week’s comedy shorts played like Farrely Brother scripts as directed by David Lynch–exquisite visuals to tell fart jokes. I want to like On the Lot, in part because the show seems to be working to cultivate an interesting online community, but so far I’m uninspired. Gabe at Gabe’s Declaration of Principles appears similarly unimpressed.

One of my projects this summer is a co-written article on political mashup videos. We’re obviously focusing on “Vote Different” and “George Bush’s Imagine,” but I found a few others I’d like to discuss, including this Godfather 4 trailer that satirizes the Department of Justice scandal. And while it’s not strictly a mashup, I find this Tom Tancredo 24 video very funny (although I imagine that the humor in this case is unintentional).

I can’t remember how I stumbled across the news about Jonathan Demme’s latest documentary, Right to Return: New Home Movies from the Lower 9th Ward, but it sounds like a compelling film, an important companion to Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke. From what I understand, the film will be playing at Silverdocs, but segments of the documentary will be airing on the Tavis Smiley Show (many of those segments are available online at the link above). More than anything, I think it’s important to continue to focus attention on the rebuilding process in New Orleans, and I’m glad that Demme is using his clout as a filmmaker to tell these stories. Felicia Lee has an article on Return in the New York Times (which may be where I learned about the film).

Also worth checking out: Jason Mittell crunches the box office numbers and debunks an article arguing that this year’s sequels are underperforming at the box office. In fact, Spidey 3, Shrek 3, and Pirates 3 are drawing about as well as, if not better than, the third films in most film cycles. And while not explicitly mentioned in Jason’s post, these sequels are also keeping alive all of teh ancillary sources of income associated with film franchises.

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