Sunday, March 27, 2022

2023 Oscar Movies


IMDB user's early predictions for the 95th Academy Awards:

Plot: Rumored to be set in period Hollywood.
Directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land, First Man)
Starring Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Tobey Maguire, Eric Roberts, Olivia Wilder, Spike Jonze, Jean Smart, Flea

The Northman
Plot: An action-filled epic that follows a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father's murder.
Directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse
Starring Alexander SkarsgÄrd, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke

Don't Worry Darling
Plot: A 1950's housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that his glamorous company may be hiding disturbing secrets.
Directed by Olivia Wilder (Booksmart)
Starring Florence Pugh, Olivia Wilder, Chris Pinne, Gemma Chan

Red, White and Water
Plot: A US soldier suffers a traumatic brain injury while fighting in Afghanistan and struggles to adjust to life back home.
Directed by Lila Neugebauer
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Brian Tyree Henry, Linda Emond

Untitled David O. Russell
Directed by David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook)
Starring Zoe Saldana, Christian Bale, Anya Taylor-Joy, Margot Robbie

Killers of the Flower Moon
Plot: Members of the Osage tribe in the United States are murdered under mysterious circumstances in the 1920s sparking a major F.B.I. investigation involving J. Edgar Hoover.
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Jesse Plemons, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brendan Fraser, Robert De Niro

Bones and All
Plot: Maren, a young woman, learns how to survive on the margins of society.
Directed by Luca Guadagnino (A Bigger Splash, Call Me by Your Name)
Starring Timothee Chalamet, Mark Rylance, Michael Stuhlbarg, Chloe Sevigny

The Fabelmans
Plot: A semi-autobiography based on Spielberg's own childhood growing up in a post-war Arizona, from age seven to eighteen.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Paul Dano, Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, David Lynch

Poor Things
Plot: The film will be a Victorian tale of love, discovery, and scientific daring, Poor Things tells the incredible story of Belle Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by an eccentric but brilliant scientist.
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Favourite)
Starring Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Emma Stone

Asteroid City
Plot: Rumored to be a love story set in Europe
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Scarlett Johansson, Rupert Friend

Three Thousand Years of Longing
Directed by George Miller (Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Mad Max: Fury Road)
Starring Idris Elba, Tilda Swinton, David Collins, Angie Tricker

Next Goal Wins
Plot: Adaptation of the 2014 British documentary. The story of the American Samoa soccer team, who suffered the worst loss in World Cup history, losing to Australia 31-0 in 2001.
Directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit)
Starring Rhys Darby, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, Elisabeth Moss

Revisiting Miami Vice (2006)


The End of Movies


New York Times - "We Aren’t Just Watching the Decline of the Oscars. We’re Watching the End of the Movies."

By Ross Douthat

Questlove on Collection


New York Times - "Questlove: Collecting Is an Act of Devotion, and Creation"

"A collection starts as a protest against the passage of time and ends as a celebration of it."

Star by James Webb Space Telescope


NPR - "The James Webb Space Telescope is working as well as astronomers dreamed it would"

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Tokyo Vice

April 7 on HBO Max
Executive produced by many, including Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice)
Starring Ansel Elgort, Ken Watanabe

Baz Luhrmann's Elvis

Written by Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce, Jeremy Doner 
Directed by Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, The Great Gatsby)
Starring Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Tom Hanks

Science "Espionage"


New Yorker - "Have Chinese Spies Infiltrated American Campuses?"

"There is a long-standing conflict between scientists, who see themselves as citizens of a cosmopolitan republic of unrestricted inquiry, and the state, which is likelier to assign a property value to knowledge. Benjamin Franklin held that “science must be an international pursuit” in service of the “improvement of humanity’s estate.” He never sought to monetize his inventions, and shared the fruits of his research with friends and rivals alike. But what looked to some like the magnanimous diffusion of progress looked to others like theft. During the Industrial Revolution, Britain declared the emigration of skilled artisans and the export of specialized machinery treasonous. Alexander Hamilton, unimpressed, paid bounties to anyone who could deliver British manufacturing secrets, and espionage drove the growth of the American textile industry.


I asked Mario Daniels, the historian, why, if we already have the tools we need, there is so much hand-wringing about China now. He suggested that what’s new is a pervasive unease about America’s decline. “The difference between now and the early Cold War was that back then the Americans always thought they were more or less the uncontested leaders,” he said. “And that has changed.”


The deeper issues, though, are less likely to be resolved with the prosecution of individual actors than with a revision of our national priorities. Zuoyue Wang, a historian of science, told me that two historical episodes might guide our way forward: “One was the news of the first successful Soviet atomic-bomb test in 1949. Which spies gave them the secret? Klaus Fuchs was arrested, and that fed into the Red Scare and McCarthyism. The other was the launch of Sputnik, in 1957, and there was more introspection then. That debate led to massive investment in science, education, and technology.” He continued, “There are global problems that affect American interests, like climate change and public health and nuclear weapons, and we need international scientific collaboration to solve them.”


When I visited Tao, Peng brought out fifty dumplings she had made for lunch, but she and Tao took only a few. “We’re in big debt now,” Tao told me. They had borrowed money from several of their friends at church and received donations on GoFundMe. “If I were at Notre Dame now, faculty members’ kids get fifty per cent of their tuition paid anywhere,” Tao said. “My kids are going to hate me in the future.” Peng told me they are likely to lose the home they bought to anchor themselves in the community. She has put her licensure efforts on hold indefinitely. “I have a dream, too,” she said. “I want to be a doctor.” She looked over at Tao, who looked down at his uneaten dumplings. “He should be doing his research. It’s such a waste—it’s unfair to him, and to America. He could make so much more of a contribution, and I don’t know how they can’t see that.”

Bonnie & Clyde Airbnb

iPhone's Computational Photography


New Yorker - "Have iPhone Cameras Become Too Smart?"

"In the twentieth century, photography enabled the mass reproduction of art works, broadening their accessibility while degrading their individual impact. Just as art works have physical “auras,” as Walter Benjamin described it, traditional cameras produce images with distinctive qualities. Think of the pristine Leica camera photo shot with a fixed-length lens, or the Polaroid instant snapshot with its spotty exposure. The images made on those devices are inextricable from the mechanics of the devices themselves. In a way, the iPhone has made the camera itself infinitely reproducible. The device’s digital tools can mimic any camera, lens, or film at any moment, without the manual skill that was necessary in the past—not unlike the way in which early photographs replicated painters’ brushstrokes. The resulting iPhone images have a destabilizing effect on the status of the camera and the photographer, creating a shallow copy of photographic technique that undermines the impact of the original. The average iPhone photo strains toward the appearance of professionalism and mimics artistry without ever getting there. We are all pro photographers now, at the tap of a finger, but that doesn’t mean our photos are good."


"One of the most dramatic features of Apple’s computational photography is Portrait Mode, which imitates the way a lens with a wide aperture captures a subject in the foreground in sharp focus while fuzzing out what’s behind. Available on iPhone models since 2016, this effect is achieved not by the lens itself but by algorithmic filters that determine where the subject is and apply an artificial blur to the background. Bokeh, as that gauzy quality is known, was once the domain of glossy magazines and fashion photo shoots. Now it is simply another aesthetic choice open to any user, and the digital simulation is often unconvincing. Take a picture in Portrait Mode and you’ll see where the algorithm is imperfect. Perhaps the outline of a subject’s hair will come out fuzzy, because the system can’t quite gauge its borders, or a secondary figure will be registered as part of the background and blurred out altogether. This machine-approximated version of bokeh signifies amateurism rather than craft. Hobbyists who dislike such technological tricks might seek out older digital cameras, or they might flee back to film. But the new iPhone cameras, more than most users realize, are forging a template that is reshaping the nature of image-making along with our expectations of what a photograph should be. David Fitt, the Paris-based photographer, said, “It sets a standard of what the normal picture looks like. I hope, in the future, that I won’t have clients asking for this type of look.”"

Breaking a Curse


The Ringer - "The Twins—Yes, the Twins—Landed MLB’s Best Free Agent. What Does That Mean for the League?"

"If there’s one thing the 21st-century Twins are known for, it’s losing 18 straight playoff games, the longest such streak in the history of North American pro sports. If there’s another thing they’re known for, it’s losing most of those games—13, to be precise, which is also a record—to the Yankees. In 2019, Sports Illustrated’s Steve Rushin floated a Bambino/Billy Goat/Colavito–esque origin story for the Twins’ futility against New York, noting that in 1964 the Twins signed a then-unknown 19-year-old Bronx baseballer named Rodney Cline Carew right under the Yankees’ noses—after a clandestine workout at Yankee Stadium, no less. Carew became the greatest Twin of all time. Decades later, Rushin facetiously suggested that the baseball gods were punishing the franchise for absconding with Carew, thereby depriving the Yankees of a 28th Hall of Famer (and perhaps a 28th championship). I’m not sure the Curse of Carew has caught on, but the Reverse Curse of Correa would be a fitting way to break it—especially because the Twins indirectly leveraged the Yankees’ money to make this signing happen."


"The Yankees are their kryptonite, and so it must be sweet for Twins fans that their team used the Yankees’ deeper pockets to free up cash for Correa—and that the Urshela-Correa left side of the infield that many Yankees fans (if not the Yankees brass) envisioned will be playing in Minneapolis instead of the Bronx. It doesn’t make up for decades of submission, but it’s a start."

Sunday, March 13, 2022