Wednesday Links

The latest and greatest from my blog reads over morning coffee:

  • I’m not really in the mood to revive the “film criticism is dead” debate that seems to take place every few months.  I pretty much covered it when I criticized Thomas Doherty’s Chronicle of Higher Education article on the subject a few months ago. But Paul Brunick’s discussion of the changes in film criticism is quite good, and he makes a point that others ignore: if some of the great ’70s critics, such as Pauline Kael, had access to the platforms available online, doesn’t it seem likely that they would have used them?  He also points out that the number of talented writers on the web deserve more institutional support, and dismissive articles about the state of film criticism may have the effect of making those voices less visible.
  • I’ve generally tried to avoid the Justin Bieber hype machine, so I don’t quite know what to make of the news that there are plans to produce a Bieber biopic in 3-D.  Some of the proclamations of impending doom seem sort of silly to me, given that there is a long history of using movies to promote popular musicians.  This film seems to fit neatly into the demographic most likely to see 3-D movies: tweens and their (likely unwilling) parents and seems unlikely to end the revival of 3-D, as the writer at NewTeeVee suggests.  Probably the oddest bit of news in the whole story is that Davis Guggenheim, the director of An Inconvenient Truth and the upcoming education documentary, Waiting for Superman, is planning to direct.
  • That being said, Anne Thompson has traced some resistance to 3-D, not just among fans but also among directors, including Christopher Nolan, who wisely avoided using 3-D for Inception.  Speaking of 3-D, this image is pretty funny.
  • David Poland has an interesting overview of the “new toys” that are now making more content available anytime, anywhere.  Poland’s concluding questions are well worth asking: “how much anything/anywhere is enough? When does everyone who is not in puberty get to too much/too many places?”
  • Speaking of on-demand, Mike Hale of The New York Times discusses the role of IFC On Demand in expanding access to movies that may not be available in major cities, while adding that more and more filmmakers are seeing on-demand as a “first option.”  Of course as Hale hastens to add, informing audiences about these films is a bigger issue: “The challenge for the viewer is to find what you’re looking for or, more likely, what you don’t yet know you’re looking for.”  I briefly address IFC’s on-demand service in my book, and although acceptance seems to be increasing, I think there is still work to be done to help audiences find some of these movies.
  • Slate did an interesting study of the curation of Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, using a computer program to monitor how many and what kinds of comments are taken down from the site.  See also the Wall Street Journal blog. In addition to negative comments about Palin and her family, the site’s monitors also deleted comments that criticized candidates Palin had endorsed, comments that promoted birtherism, and even comments that complain that she endorses too many women.

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