Problems with Netflix

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: our take on the current battle between Netflix and Cannes.)

Times are a-changin’. In just two years, Netflix has ramped up their big push into the film business, and are beginning to make waves in an industry stuck in its old ways. Two films produced by Netflix were curated to play at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and that decision has sent shockwaves through the exhibition community, resulting in a new rule that may prevent the streaming company from appearing at the festival in future competitions. Below, learn more about the Netflix vs. Cannes battle, which is heating up thanks to movie theater exhibitors.
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TV in Trump's America

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: the rise of political television in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency.)

It started with Nazi symbols strewn across public transportation and billboards across D.C. and New York. No, it wasn’t the alarming rise of anti-Semitic vandalism that had skyrocketed in the first three months of the Trump administration. It was advertising The Man in the High Castle, the dystopian Amazon series based off the 1962 Philip K. Dick novel set in an alternate 1960s where the Axis powers won World War II.

And it was just the beginning in a recent surge in “newly relevant” and timely TV shows that took on new meaning after the election of Donald Trump to the White House. The Man in the High Castle kicked off a spate of fictional TV shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale and American Gods, whose stories were conceived long before the White House was even a glimmer in Trump’s eye. But these science-fiction and fantasy stories, at first cautionary or highly theoretical tales, now take on an eerie prescience as fiction and reality collide on the small screen.

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Fast and Furious - Han

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: what’s up with that #JusticeForHan movement, anyway?)

If you’re a fan of the Fast and Furious movies and you’ve seen The Fate of the Furious, you might have experienced a nagging feeling in the back of your mind when you left the theater. If you’re like me, that thought was, “Wait…what about Han?” Without spoiling things yet, I’ll just say that the new film never addresses Sung Kang’s snack-loving member of Dominic Toretto’s “family,” who was killed off in 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift – a death later revealed to be a murder committed by Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw.

That death – and Fate’s ignoring of it – is at the center of the #JusticeForHan hashtag, which hardcore fans adopted as a rallying cry in order to ask some serious questions about this beloved franchise. Read all about the Han-troversy below, and whether or not the film series owes us answers when we want them or if we should wait for the full story before we rush to judgment. Read More »

ZZ050DDD4E

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: Netflix plans to stop chasing tax incentives and why Hollywood should consider following their lead.)

One of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles is to walk through a movie studio lot. It’s essentially just offices, enormous warehouses to house productions, and a few streets of fake backlot facades, but to me, these are special, magical places. It’s a place where many of my favorite films were created. These days,  the experience isn’t without a little sadness.

The soundstages are lined with plaques showing all the famous movies that filmed inside their cavernous interiors. It takes walking past one or two soundstages to realize that most of the stages have not hosted a big movie in decades. Instead, there are huge gaps of years, often followed by a forgettable but hugely popular sitcom that has taken up residence for a number of years.

And that brings us to today’s news: Netflix has announced that they plan to invest in California-based productions instead of chasing tax incentives. The sensible reasons behind this move might be something Hollywood should also consider.

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Finding Dory otters

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: why a new Oscar rule for Best Animated Film sets a frustrating precedent for the industry)

Last Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (or, as we all know them, the Oscars) announced a couple of new rules, one of which may have an enormous impact on the future of Best Animated Feature nominees.

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ghost in the shell whitewashing

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: the subject of racial erasure in Ghost in the Shell.)

The live action Ghost in the Shell has been the eye of a storm of controversy ever since its inception. It’s been accused of whitewashing due to the casting of Scarlett Johansson as the franchise’s protagonist, Major Motoko Kusanagi, as well as deeply unpleasant rumors that CGI had been used to alter an actor’s appearance to “shift [their] ethnicity.” Coming on the heels of similar controversies (Doctor StrangeIron Fist) and discussion, the conversation around it (arguments that the movie speaks for itself when it comes to the casting controversy, that the movie’s visuals are merit enough to disregard the problems inherent in it) only seems more tone-deaf, especially considering how those problems stack up.

Spoilers ahead.

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Netflix Iron Fist Lewis Tan Finn Jones

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: why Marvel’s Iron Fist really blew it by not casting Lewis Tan in the lead role.)

Could Iron Fist have been received better if it had cast an Asian-American as Danny Rand?

Until now, that was a pipe dream for many critics of the latest Marvel Netflix show, who lambasted the series for perpetuating the myth of the white savior by choosing to stay loyal to the comic-book depiction of Rand: as a white, blonde outsider who can punch things with his magic fist. But it was recently revealed that half-Chinese actor Lewis Tan, who played one-off villain Zhou Cheng in episode eight of Iron Fist, was on hold for the part until they ultimately cast Game of Thrones alum Finn Jones.

Let me take a deep breath. I have a lot to say about this.

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netflix logo

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: why Netflix may be kind-of, sort-of right about film fans needing to stop romanticizing movie theaters.)

Watching a movie at home on TV simply isn’t the same as going to the movie theater and watching a film on the big screen with an audience. Streaming giant Netflix believes we need to get rid of this romantic notion around the moviegoing experience…and I think I agree. Kind of.

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Why Netflix Really Bums Me Out Sometimes

Problems with Netflix

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: why Netflix, for all the good stuff that the streaming service offers, sometimes completely bums us out.)

There’s no denying Netflix has been a gamechanger when it comes to bringing entertainment to the masses. Allowing people to rent DVDs by mail was a strong start for the company, but they ended up changing the face of film and television distribution forever when they entered the video streaming arena.

At first, Netflix was only giving their subscribers movies and TV shows from established studios and networks, but eventually, they started creating their own programming. It took them a little while to find their footing, but they came into their own in 2015, doubled their amount of original programming in 2016, and they have their sights set on having 50% of their library be original content in the next few years.

But as the streaming service has increased their output of original content, I find myself being really bummed out by Netflix sometimes. Indulge me, if you will, as I run through a couple of my problems with Netflix’s current path. Read More »

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Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: how should Saturday Night Live deal with Donald Trump if Alex Baldwin leaves the part?)

Saturday Night Live has garnered plenty of attention lately thanks to their skewering of Donald Trump and his incompetent administration in the White House. During the campaign season last year, when it was almost inconceivable that the former reality TV show host could win the presidency, SNL brought in Alec Baldwin to play the president, an inspired piece of stunt casting. Surely Lorne Michaels wasn’t anticipating that they would have to bring back Alec Baldwin once Trump actually won, but here we are. However, that might not last much longer.

In a recent interview, Alec Baldwin made an off the cuff remark indicating that he might not be playing Donald Trump for Saturday Night Live much longer. Let’s talk about what that could mean for the show.  Read More »