Angry Robot

Are the movies really doomed?

I haven’t been following the film industry much, so this is a really interesting take. First, on what ails Hollywood currently:

The shift started, Obst explains, when the bottom fell out of the massively lucrative DVD market less than a decade ago. In order to make up for all that lost revenue, the industry turned to booming foreign audiences—particularly those in China and Russia, where screens have proliferated and restrictions on Hollywood imports have greatly eased. Not long ago, foreign box office accounted for about 20 percent of a film’s gross; now it accounts for about 80 percent. (According to Obst, China will surpass America as Hollywood’s No. 1 market by 2020.) It hardly needs be said that movies with cultural specificity don’t translate well to non-English speakers. Accordingly, it’s now all spectacle, all the time.

The article points out this is merely the culmination of a shift that began in the late 70s. Also, Hollywood’s export-based model is not working out well for exhibitors in the US, who have seen their numbers drop. So they have been financing films themselves, such as The Grey, End of Watch and Soderbergh’s Side Effects, which have all done well.

In short, what we’re witnessing right now isn’t the end of original, adult movies; it’s the end of Hollywood’s corrupting influence on original, adult movies.

While I think great independent movies will continue to get made for many years, I think the budgets will continue to drop. And I wouldn’t be very optimistic about the future of theatrical exhibition. It’s such a crummy, expensive experience now, and the experience at home has gotten so good, that I doubt it will be more than a niche activity in a few years.

TTC looking if it can operate the Downtown Relief Line on GO’s Georgetown and Lakeshore East rails

Perhaps inspired by the Transport Action Ontario plan. The problems with using the Go corridor for the DRL: 1. it’s already in use for Go and freight, 2. Union Station already has capacity problems, 3. the Danforth connection would be quite far east (Main Station), therefore diverting fewer people from Bloor/Yonge.

Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought

Various pesticides and fungicides make the bees less resistant to infection, leading to Colony Collapse Disorder.

Google Launches The $35 Chromecast Streaming Device To Bring Chrome To The Living Room

Competes with the AirPlay part of AppleTV, not so much the other parts. (thx Steve)

An Inaugural Ride on 4401

Steve Munro catches a ride on Toronto’s new streetcar.

Bryan Fuller walks us through the first three episodes of Hannibal

Sid Meier: The Father of Civilization

Great profile. Never realized how many flight sims he had made back in the day.

  <blockquote>        <p>“He just thinks differently from us,” said Brian Reynolds, a longtime collaborator who designed Civilization II. “It’s an ineffable thing. His smartness doesn’t come off as, ‘I’m smarter than you, haha.’ You just have this really interesting conversation and it starts to dawn on you how much smarter he is.”</p>     </blockquote>

Introducing Asymcar

Asymco’s Horace Dediu has a new podcast about cars and the lack of disruption in the auto industry.

Fireland – Anyway I’m keeping it real at the OfficeMax, there…

Contains the greatest poem ever.

Cycling safety: Tom Samson’s widow wants probe into teacher’s death reopened

“indicative of a systemic failure by police to conduct thorough investigations when cyclists or pedestrians are killed after being struck by cars on city streets.”

Detroit's Bankruptcy and America's Future: Robots, Race, Globalization and the 1%

“Insisting on a 19th century political economy like barracuda capitalism in the face of the rise of mechanized smart labor and the decline of human-based industry produces Detroit.” Juan Cole is arguing for a type of robot dole. I like it.

Oculus Rift aiming for 2014 release, CEO touts potential on 'next gen cellphones'

The VR goggle people are more excited by phones than by consoles. I would love to try these things at some point.

The Oscar Dream

Dan Harmon describes an anxiety dream about botching the Oscars (that surely describes his feelings about leaving Community as well).

'Community's' Dan Harmon Reveals the Wild Story Behind His Firing and Rehiring

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that every single day, I was the reason why everyone above me and everyone below me had a problem.”

Project Traveller: Court documents “not publicly accessible,” Crown says

“It’s possible the sealing orders are themselves sealed”. Bureaucratic nightmare with a crack tape at the centre.

The 25 Funniest Autocorrects Of DYAC’s First Year

Some of these you may have read in the previous link about autocorretcts, but most are new. Some must be fake, but there are many gems. (thanks Karim!)

Apple’s Move Into TV Relies on Cooperation With Industry Leaders

Disappointing strategy if true: putting channel ‘apps’ in the current AppleTV interface in exchange for money from content providers. Apps would require cable subscriptions to work.

Unitarian Church, Gun Groups Join EFF to Sue NSA Over Illegal Surveillance

Rob Ford and his money-burning vandals on Council have approved a mess already worse than the ‘St. Clair disaster’

GTHA Regional Rapid Rail: A Vision for the Future

Transport Action Ontario’s proposal to use electrified Go lines for frequent service ‘surface subways’ at relatively low cost.

How Writing Heals Wounds — Of Both the Mind and Body

“The calming effect of writing can cut physical wound healing time nearly in half.” (via)

Hannibal

There is a Patton Oswalt joke about the Star Wars prequels – go ahead, give it a listen – in which Oswalt berates Lucas for making the dull origin stories of exciting characters. “Hey, do you like ice cream? Well here’s a big bag of rock salt.” It concludes with Oswalt ranting “I DON’T GIVE A SHIT WHERE THE STUFF I LOVE COMES FROM, I JUST LOVE THE STUFF I LOVE.”

That attitude doesn’t apply to Hannibal.

It’s not that the new NBC show, which recently concluded its first season, is better than Manhunter, Silence of The Lambs, Hannibal (The Movie), or Red Dragon, although it may indeed be better than some of those. It’s that show runner Bryan Fuller realized that a three-page bit of back story from the Thomas Harris novels was actually more dramatic than the front story. Hannibal was, at one time, a psychiatrist consulting for the FBI with his arch-nemesis Will Graham. He was also an active cannibal. It’s almost funny to realize that before this show, the character had spent most of his fictional time in jail.

Hannibal in this series is a different creature from the increasingly hammy Anthony Hopkins. At first, I found Mads Mikkelsen wooden. Gradually, I realized he was actually extremely subtle. The moments that Hannibal expresses emotion are notable for their extreme rarity and telling context.

Hannibal isn’t the main character, though. That honour goes to Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), who is as I mentioned a consultant; in the pilot, he’s lured from his teaching job by Larry Fishburne because he has an uncanny ability to empathize with serial killers. Hannibal becomes his analyst. Those two points – Graham’s empathy and his psychopathic shrink – become this series’ greatest strengths. When he struts onto a crime scene, Graham enters a kind of Empathy Mode where he gets into the killer’s mind. This allows the show some great liberties with visualization that it exploits adroitly. Furthermore, Graham’s empathy with horrible minds makes him increasingly fragile as the show goes on, an arc that propels a lot of drama, and keeps visual interest even away from the crime scenes.

But if Graham’s visions lend the show its visual flair, it is grounded in riveting dialogue, thanks to the emphasis on talk therapy. The Graham-Lecter discussions are captivating, but many other shrinks are in play: Graham has a crush on a co-worker who is also a shrink (Caroline Dhavernas), and many amazing scenes are of Lecter visiting his own therapist, played by Gillian Anderson. The dialogue is generally very strong; it reminded me of the late, great In Treatment.

I suppose I shouldn’t conclude without mentioning dramatic irony. It’s interesting to see a whole show powered by it. We know going in, by the name, that this show features one of fiction’s most renowned killers. How frustrating, then, to see so many lawmen completely unaware of it. It makes you want to yell at the screen at times.

You might assume, like I had, that a show with this name on NBC had to be a G-rated candy-ass cynical cash-in. It is not. It will surprise you. Watch it.

Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice

Via Funkaoshi

  <blockquote>        <p>In trying to assess the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, two seemingly conflicting truths emerge for me. The first is that based on the case presented by the state, and based on Florida law, George Zimmerman should not have been convicted of second degree murder or manslaughter. The second is that the killing of Trayvon Martin is a profound injustice.</p>  </blockquote>

Michael Geist – OECD Report Confirms What Canadians Have Long Suspected: Wireless Pricing Among Highest in the World

Gaming Made Me: Charlie Brooker interview

Great bit (via):

 <blockquote>        <p>My theory is that video games are like speaking Esperanto. Videogame players are like people who learnt Esperanto years ago. We all learnt Esperanto. And there’s all these brilliant Esperanto-language films available, to use a metaphor. They only make sense if you know Esperanto, they don’t have subtitles – but they’re brilliant. And we keep telling people how good they are. But there’s this learning curve which is that you have to learn fucking Esperanto.</p>     </blockquote>