Monday, June 27, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 424: The Free State of Jones

The night before the Brexit vote, I went to a screening of a new film called "The Free State of Jones". Written and directed by Gary Ross, and starring Matthew McConnaughey, it promised to tell an untold story of the American Civil War.

24 hours later as I watched the reaction to the British decision to leave the European Union, I realized it was as much about the truth of today's world as the one which existed a century and half ago.

It's a flawed film on many levels, but powerful in the way it clarifies the difference between most of us and those who strive to control the events which impact our lives.

It's a film about doing what's right as opposed to what the world around you deems appropriate.

Please see it. At the very least, it will help you understand the Brexit. And...

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Lazy Sunday #423: The Joke Police

Last week a little boy watching fireworks at Disney World was killed by an alligator. An unbelievably tragic event by any measure of tragedy.

Being a guy who grew up on the Disney classics, however, the first thing that crossed my mind was "How come nobody heard the beast ticking as it came ashore?".

That's of course a reference to "Tick-Tock the Croc" who swallowed Captain Cook's hand as well as his watch in "Peter Pan". And of course, the second thing to cross my mind was "Too Soon", that term which seems to have been at the forefront of comedy since 9/11 and dictates that a certain amount of time must pass between a tragedy and when it's okay to joke about it.

A couple of guys either braver or dumber than I am, posted their own versions of the same joke and were immediately pilloried by that incredibly fast growing demographic known universally as "The Joke Police".

We're definitely in a time when those who don't appreciate either humor or ideological difference or that some people have an alternate take on life or are simply unaware that "shit happens" quickly take offense. And I'm not really sure what benefit that is to anybody except those who want the world to be absolutely clear on what they find offensive.

Friday night, Bill Maher did his own Disney Alligator joke which offended many in his audience and later did some Muslim and Gun jokes they also didn't appreciate. And by the growing disgust I see on Maher's face, I can tell that one of the Left's most admired comics is frankly wondering what happened to the openness and acceptance that used to typify the Leftist audience he cultivated.

We've all got jokes we don't get or find funny. Most of us just shrug, offer a weak smile and move on. But the Joke Police want humor stifled and silenced. And going down that road inevitably means the joke will one day be on them.

For further insight into this, I offer conservative pundit, climate change denier, gun rights supporter and otherwise thinking speaker most of the Joke Police would consider a right-wing wing-nut. I say that only because I don't want anybody watching what follows without knowing he's somebody they're not supposed to find funny from the get-go.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 422: Heavy Metal Parking Lot

There's an old adage stating: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Public." And you can substitute "American" for just about any other audience on the planet.

Therefore the essential rule in entertainment is  -- "Know Your Audience". Because to be truly successful, you've got to appeal to what it is they want, not what it is you want them to like.

Oh, you can claim you're leading them to some better place, or improving their tastes. But if you do, you're either kidding yourself or courting disaster. 

Which brings me to the current kerfuffle over people not being able to get tickets to see the final tour of "The Tragically Hip".

Now, a lot of bands retire. The players get tired of touring or choke on their own vomit. Albums stop selling, the lead singer opts for a solo career, or what they were doing simply goes out of fashion.

I've never been a huge fan of "The Hip", but I've liked some of their stuff and understand the attraction. And if they had simply announced they were calling it quits, I'm sure they would have enjoyed a successful and celebratory farewell.

But concurrent with the announcement of the tour, the band also let fans know that Gord Downie, their lead singer, was dealing with a terminal Cancer.

And, of course, the demand for tickets went nuts. 

In my current hometown of Victoria, where the tour will kick off on July 22nd, the arena sold out in 30 seconds and StubHub is offering pairs of floor tickets for $10,000 -- US -- which puts them at $12,800 Canadian.

Why would people pay prices like that?

For the same reason they gawk at traffic accidents. They want to see the dead guy.

The Promoters knew the real money wasn't in directing sales at fans of the band, but in appealing to the geek factor in the rest of us. 

People weren't purchasing a last chance to watch Gord sing "Bobcaygeon" or "Blow At High Dough", they were paying for the opportunity to gawk at a dying man, perhaps getting a chubby at the possibility he might do a Jackie Wilson and gack right in front of them while warbling his biggest hit.

30 years ago, filmmakers John Heyn and Jeff Krulik borrowed a video camera from a local access station to document the arrival of fans at a Maryland "Judas Priest" concert. It's as fine a depiction as you'll ever find of most of those for whom you are creating what you consider works of art or entertainment and has been named to Rolling Stone's list of "Best Rock Documentaries".

I've appended it with a video of "Judas Priest" in performance. Those of you willing to spend a few grand for Hip tickets may enjoy it simply for the fact that some of these guys are now probably dead as well.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Heavy Metal Parking Lot from Jeff Krulik on Vimeo.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 421: 3D Inferno

Writing a blog is a little like being the artistic director of a little theatre company. You can pretty much program to fit your own mood and hope it strikes a chord among those who happen to notice the marquee.

A few weeks ago we tried sharing some virtual reality around here and boy, did that seem to get a lot of people excited.

So today, I'd like to take a small technological step backwards to one of my favorite movie going experiences -- 3D.

Now modern 3D gets a lot of knocks. It's too dark. It's not properly used. I don't care. I probably saw my first 3D film when I was 9 or 10 and loved it.

Remember the first time you saw a Hi-Def hockey game or something in 4K? Well it was like that. You might still be watching the Leafs play the Canucks. But it's better. 

It's more like real life and thus knocks down one more of those subtle reminders that what you're seeing is "only a movie".

Less disbelief has to be willingly suspended -- which, for me, makes the experience far more immersive.

There's a ton of 3D on-line already. There's even a place where you can turn 2D images into Anaglyphs, which is the tech term for a 3D version.

The one drawback with 3D, of course is you need to wear special glasses. If you haven't already scammed a pair from your last visit to the multiplex, there are people who will send you free ones. You can find them here.

Drop them a line and a couple of days later you'll be able to watch what follows. Or clearly make out this image.

And after that, check out the massive libraries of  3D content on Youtube and Vimeo.

Not only is there stuff that feels like you can reach out and touch. There are films that will touch you deeper because they have an added dimension.

Enjoy Your Sunday.