Sunday, July 30, 2023
The Atlantic - "Does Sam Altman Know What He's Creating?
By Ross Andersen
New Yorker - "The Thrill on the Ground at the Women’s World Cup"
Sunday, July 23, 2023
"That one character detail was enough to help Nolan envision the world he might be able to create on-screen, as told through Oppenheimer’s eyes: one of sweeping desert vistas combined with an array of abstract special effects, again created without CGI, to illustrate an interior life of quantum physics and atoms and molecules. “That contrast is wonderfully cinematic,” says Nolan, who then set out to craft a story that he describes as part hero’s journey, part heist film and part courtroom drama, set against the imagery of a western — all presented in very Nolan-esque, nonlinear fashion.
The director knew he wanted to explore Oppenheimer’s rise to prominence — as well as his humiliating trial after the war, which resulted in the revocation of his security clearance due to his associations with communists. The part he was calling the “heist” section depicts the mad scramble for the world’s most brilliant minds to pull off the impossible project of building an atomic bomb before Adolf Hitler did.
They had just three months to get ready for a film that would shoot in just 57 days and run three hours, Nolan’s longest yet. “We’re not like other big films that prep for months and months and months,” says executive producer Thomas Hayslip. “Chris is of the mind that he and the crew need 12 weeks of prep and we’ll get it done in 12 weeks, and any more than that is just a waste of time.”
As the company began gathering in New Mexico to start filming at Ghost Ranch on Feb. 28, 2022, the paint was barely dry on the reconstructed town of Los Alamos. Construction had taken place in the dead of the high-desert winter, with the crew losing days of work because the ground was too frozen to dig into, or because snowfall had blocked the roads. Because of time constraints, the production team would have only six scheduled days at this $3 million set they’d spent three months building."
Saturday, July 15, 2023
Sunday, July 9, 2023
Tuesday, July 4, 2023
World of Reel "Jon Woo’s ‘Silent Night’ is An Action Movie With No Dialogue"
"Principal photography on Woo’s “Silent Night” wrapped in May of 2022 in Mexico City. The film is the first U.S. movie directed by the iconic Hong King filmmaker in almost 20 years.
Woo’s last American film was 2003’s terrible Ben Affleck action flick “Paycheck.” He swore off Hollywood after that one, but he’s back now with a film that sounds absolutely intriguing, at least on-paper.
Woo tells Vulture that “Silent Night”, which might be released in the fall, is a film with no dialogue. Rather, its story is told visually with music accompanying the drama:
It allowed me to use visuals to tell the story, to tell how the character feels. We are using music instead of language. And the movie is all about sight and sound. The budget was a little tight, and the schedule was tight, but it made me change my working style. Usually, for a big movie, a studio movie, we shoot a lot of coverage, then leave it to the cutting room. But in this movie, I tried to combine things without doing any coverage shots. I had to force myself to use a new kind of technique. Some scenes were about two or three pages, but I did it all in one shot."
Related, New York Times - "Seth Rogen and the Secret to Happiness" (Apr. 2021)
"Rogen had come to accept that his and Evan’s chance “to be the biggest names in movies has come and gone,” he said. But rather than demoralizing him, this insight was freeing, and now he and Goldberg were plotting their return to filmmaking with a project unlike anything they’d done: “A big action movie,” as Rogen put it, called “Escape,” that was heavily inspired by Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan.
“Escape” grew out of a challenge the duo set for themselves to try and make people laugh without using dialogue. In “Pineapple Express,” Rogen explained, “the scenes people remember are the fights, the foot through the windshield and, like, with ‘Neighbors,’ you think of the airbags” — moments, that is, of outsize physical comedy. “We were like, Why are those just the supporting things? Why are those, amidst a sea of talky jokes, these things that pop up once in a while? Why don’t we make a bunch of these jokes and not rely on verbal humor?”
Rogen and Goldberg have flaunted virtuoso stoner ingenuity when it comes to crafting set pieces — even the unfairly maligned “The Green Hornet,” which they wrote and which Michel Gondry directed, is significantly redeemed by its daffily inspired action sequences alone, like the one in which a car rides an elevator, or the one in which a character shoves another character into a foosball table and “kicks” him in the face repeatedly. With “Escape,” Rogen said, “we did add talking eventually, but for a while there was almost none.”
New Yorker - "After “Barbie,” Mattel Is Raiding Its Entire Toybox"
By Alex Barasch
"When the Israeli-born businessman Ynon Kreiz became the head of Mattel, in 2018, he was its fourth C.E.O. in four years. Toys R Us had recently gone bankrupt, causing a slump in sales; Kreiz’s predecessor had resigned after Mattel suffered a loss of three hundred million dollars. Kreiz, whose résumé includes a stint at Fox Kids Europe, saw an opportunity for growth. Mattel, he argued, had a children’s-entertainment catalogue “second only to Disney.” Just as Marvel had gone from ailing comic-book publisher to Hollywood behemoth, the toymaker could leverage its intellectual property at the multiplex. Kreiz told me, “My thesis was that we needed to transition from being a toy-manufacturing company, making items, to an I.P. company, managing franchises.”
At the start of the “Barbie” process, Gerwig decided to write the screenplay with her partner, the writer-director Noah Baumbach. Mattel and Warner Bros. insisted on seeing a preview of the script’s contents. The couple balked—they needed the freedom to experiment. Jeremy Barber, an agent at U.T.A. who represents Gerwig and Baumbach, is close with Brenner, so he could be blunt. “Are you crazy?” he told her. “You should’ve come into this office and thanked me when Greta and Noah showed up to write a fucking Barbie movie!” In the end, Gerwig presented executives with a poem in the style of the Apostles’ Creed. They agreed to take their chances—and, after the script came in, the budget was set at about a hundred million dollars.
The gamble now looks like a smart one. The hyper-saturated trailers for “Barbie” have sparked endless memes, and interest in the film’s aesthetic sensibility, which mimics the look of Mattel play sets, is so intense that the hashtag #Barbiecore trended on TikTok for months. The movie, which opens in mid-July, is tracking to be one of the blockbusters of the summer. Meanwhile, Mattel has amassed a long slate of other projects. Daniel Kaluuya, for example, has agreed to produce a feature about Barney, the purple dinosaur. Thirteen more films have been publicly announced, including movies about He-Man and Polly Pocket; forty-five are in development. (Some of the projects have an ouroboros quality. Tom Hanks is supposed to star in “Major Matt Mason,” which will be based on an astronaut action figure that has been largely forgotten, except for the fact that it helped inspire Buzz Lightyear—one of the protagonists of Pixar’s “Toy Story” franchise.)"
The Next Era of Movies After Superheroes? (Apr. 2023)
"Danish artist Thomas Dambo is the man behind the sculpture project Northwest Trolls: Way of the Bird King, and he’s building six of them with a team of volunteers in the Pacific Northwest. Five will be installed in the Puget Sound region and one in Portland.
Dambo is an environmental artist; the six sculptures will all tell an environmental story unique to their location.
Dambo has created 100 troll sculptures all over the world, all made out of recycled materials.
Each site location will only be revealed at the end of each build process, between August 1 and September 17. The sculptures will remain at each site for at least three years."
Serious Eats - "How to Make a Pickleback (and the Truth Behind its Origins)"
"But the pickleback as its own distinct pairing has a very specific history: It was created on March 12, 2006 at the Bushwick Country Club by a female patron who walked into the bar and saw then-bartender Reggie Cunningham eating McClure’s Pickles straight from the jar. The patron asked Reggie if she could have some pickle brine with a shot of whiskey; he served it to her and joined her in the drinking, and a star was born.
“I don’t think we were the first people to ever drink pickle juice with liquor, but as far as the phenomenon itself, I think Bushwick Country Club was ground zero that night,” says Cunningham, who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. “We had restaurant industry people drink there after hours and that’s kind of how it spread, an organic thing through bartenders and eventually onto menus around the world.”
Now, the pairing is ubiquitous, says John Roberts, the owner of Bushwick Country Club. “It was mostly just bartenders who would know about it, and then it just blew up. It’s literally worldwide. One of my ex-employees was backpacking in Central America and a bar in the jungle had a sign that said, 'Try the Pickleback.'""
Reuters - "'Pizza' painting found in ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii"
"A fresco that depicts what might be an ancestor of the Italian pizza has been found on the wall of an house in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, Italy's Culture Ministry said on Tuesday.
Archaeologists presume that the flat bread depicted in the painting, next to a wine goblet, may have been eaten with fruits such as pomegranates or dates, or dressed with spices and a type of pesto sauce, the ministry said.
While it cannot technically be considered a pizza, since it lacks classic ingredients such as tomato and mozzarella, what was found in Pompeii "may be a distant relative of the modern dish", according to a statement.