Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press

The Netflix documentary “Nobody Speak” examines the Gawker and Hulk Hogan trial and how this is an example of an attack on the First Amendment.

Nobody Speak PosterOne of the things I’ve had to contend with in the last six months of Donald Trump’s presidency, as well as through the whole 2016 campaign, was justifying my outrage. I had to step back and ask myself, “Is this all really as bad as I think it is?” It’s been very easy for Republicans to now turn around and point the finger at liberals for being hypocrites. Everything they were panicking over eight years ago, now we’re losing our minds. It’s been an endless back and forth of hypocrisy and hysteria.

The Netflix documentary “Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press” is a good barometer for that paranoia. It’s a movie that argues, quite convincingly, that recent events have set the wheels in motion for the richest individuals to silence speech and press they don’t like and to use money and power to influence the truth and the message in the media. Director Brian Knappenberger believes this is a direct attack on freedom of the press and the First Amendment.

So is he right, or is he cherry picking and stoking more hysteria? I’d like to approach this review from the perspective of someone who might genuinely be dismissive of it, the type of person who uses the phrase “the media” as a pejorative, the type of person who takes pleasure out of drinking liberal tears, or the type of person who wouldn’t bother watching a documentary like this in a million years, let alone exist in the same universe of logic to argue rationally about it. Now I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading “Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press”


“Okja” is a scathing commentary of the food industry and an outrageous, cartoonish thrill ride full of hyper kinetic action and colorful social satire.

Okja PosterSatire, not drama, has been the primary way to provoke change and discussion in the 21st Century. So if you want to get a huge population to think twice about where their food comes from and maybe even think about going vegan, don’t show them a depressing torture reel; show them a farce. To paraphrase of Tilda Swinton in the opening scenes of “Okja,” Bong Joon Ho’s film isn’t just monstrous, disturbing, eye opening and surreal. “Most importantly, it needs to taste fucking good!”

“Okja” scathingly critiques the food industry and the perils of a corporate culture that exploits food consumption. But it does so in the guise of an outrageous, cartoonish thrill ride full of hyper kinetic action and colorful social satire. The premise is absurdly fascinating, the characters are extreme caricatures, and the film moves at a blistering pace. Continue reading “Okja”

Cinema Isn't Dying; The Business Is

Big Data could be poised to help the movie industry stay afloat, and it can do so without damaging the integrity of the art.

“Ack! You can’t make movies out of statistics! That’s not art! AARRGGHHH!”

That’s my impression of a filmmaker or critic reading an article about Big Data, a currently buzzy, business-y tech term that every industry is currently figuring out what to do with, including Hollywood.

Now, I understand that most of the people who got into making movies or writing about them did so because they never wanted to have to learn about something like Big Data. But as a struggling movie blogger, I’ve had no such luck, and Big Data makes up a big chunk of the articles I’ve been reading for the past few months.

So it came as a shock to me to hear about this panel called “Big Data and the Movies” at the Tribeca Film Festival and see my worlds colliding. It happened to coincide with Netflix’s release of “House of Cards,” this New York Times article about a man using analytics to give notes on screenplays, and then of course two wonderfully insider and apocalyptic discussions about the state of cinema, one by A.O. Scott and David Denby at Tribeca, the other by allegedly retiring filmmaker Steven Soderbergh at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

With all those things together, I began to wonder: How does the movie industry innovate? Continue reading “Cinema Isn't Dying; The Business Is”

The Netflix and Qwikster debacle

I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

It’s not because I myself potentially jeopardized and certainly embarrassed a media entity that single-handedly revolutionized the way people in the 21st Century watch movies and TV.

It’s because I didn’t write about this mess sooner.

The opening statement comes verbatim from an email that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sent to all subscribers apologizing for first raising Netflix’s prices, sweeping this news under the radar until it hit everyone by surprise, and then spin it in press releases that this was actually a good thing.

That was a mistake Netflix made, and now they’re back in the news again two months later with Phase 2 of their “frustrate everyone who has already sold their souls to us” campaign.

They’ve announced that the two components of Netflix that has made the company what it is is now splitting into two separate entities. The site that manages the streaming will still be called Netflix, and the completely different site that handles only DVD streaming will be called Qwikster. Continue reading “The Netflix and Qwikster debacle”