Digging through the film blogosphere one last time before my obligations for fall semester begin next week:
- The Chicago Tribune has an amazing story about how Netflix works. Christopher Borrelli got the chance to tour a Netflix hub near Chicago and describes the somewhat bizarre process by which the company is able to deliver those red envelopes to your mailbox so quickly. I’d pictured some version of this story: the 3 AM deliveries of large stashes of movies, the hidden and nondescript offices in an unmarked warehouse on the edge of town, the small army of workers opening envelopes to check for damaged DVDs.
- The Encyclopedia Britannica blog is sponsoring a cool discussion/contest, in which author Raymond Benson will list his ten favorite films from 1969 in ascending order over the next two weeks. Guess the name of his favorite film and you can win a signed copy of Benson’s latest book. In addition to offering an opportunity to reflect back on some great movies, Benson’s list also opens up questions about the social role of movies during a turbulent part of our nation’s history. Check out last year’s contest, including Benson’s discussion of his favorite film of 1968, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- Roger Ebert has a melancholic piece about a “gathering dark age,” another contribution to the genre of articles lamenting the state of Kids Today. Ebert, noting the lack of interest in film critics and TV news anchors (other than Colbert and Stewart, naturally) among people under 50, worries that this state of affairs indicates an increasingly illiterate public. As usual, my tendency is to greet such articles with a great deal of skepticism, first because I don’t think the teens of my generation were any “better” when it came to cultural appreciation and because the cultural texts and forms of expression we value do change over time. Further, while people under 50 may be “rejecting” At the Movies, it’s also true that there is a much vaster entertainment landscape out there (not to mention the fact that the replacements for Ebert and Roeper were mind-numbingly awful).
- On a related note, Ebert also blames the relative commercial failure of The Hurt Locker onyounger audiences unwilling to give a challenging film a chance. I’d blame it on (1) the film’s R-rating and (2) tepid marketing efforts that weren’t sure what to do with another Iraq War film. To be fair, Ebert does acknowledge the problem with the rating system in the comments, but I think that given the opportunity, a lot of teens would find Locker to be an engaging film.
- Errol Morris has a series of blog entries on “lying,” including this incredible discussion with magician and actor Ricky Jay.
- NewTeeVee reports on a couple of online movie-themed games at the Hollywood Player website. One is a jigsaw puzzle, in which the pieces assemble to produce a short clip from a Hollywood film. The images on each piece are constantly in motion, making solving the puzzle even more of a challenge, even if you recognize the movie you’re putting together (mine was a scene from a Bourne movie). The game I enjoyed most was “Well Connected,” which plays like a fast-moving version of the “Kevin Bacon game,” in which you are supposed to connect actors via movies as their headshots rush toward you. Both games are currently in their beta phase.
- Also worth checking out: a few days ago, Tama pointed to some useful research on the demographic data for a number of prominent social networking sites and blogs, including Facebook, YouTube, Metafilter, Digg, MeetUp, Reunion.com, and Twitter.