Film Junk » Open Forum Friday Blog and Podcast Fri, 07 Dec 2018 17:35:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Open Forum Friday: Will You Be Upgrading to 4K Anytime Soon? Fri, 08 Jan 2016 23:53:54 +0000 openforum4k

Will 2016 be the year that 4K finally catches on? 4K TVs have been available for a few years now, but up until now, the amount of true 4K content has been essentially limited to streaming video from Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. At CES this week in Las Vegas, however, Samsung, Panasonic and Philips have all unveiled their Ultra HD Blu-ray players while most of the major studios have announced their first batch of Ultra HD Blu-ray titles. (Highlights include Mad Max: Fury Road, The Lego Movie, The Martian, Kingsman: The Secret Service, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Chappie and Pineapple Express.) The Samsung player and the first wave of UHD Blu-rays will hit stores in March.

That being said, many people are still advising the general public to hold off on buying just yet. Prices are high and the technology is still evolving, plus there continue to be arguments about the whether the difference in quality is even noticeable. On top of that, asking people to commit to a new physical format now that Netflix is taking over is going to be an uphill battle. The good news is that Ultra HD Blu-ray players are backwards compatible. Either way, more and more 4K content is going to be added to the various streaming services over the next year, although whether or not your internet connection can handle it is another matter. What do you think? Is the jump in quality worth the investment? Could Ultra HD Blu-ray help save physical media or is it already dead? Will you be buying a 4K TV or Blu-ray player in the near future? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: Should Dramas Be Allowed to Compete in Comedy Category at the Golden Globes? Fri, 13 Nov 2015 22:28:44 +0000 openforumglobescomedy

Over the years, the Golden Globes have built up a reputation as the less credible but more populist alternative to the Oscars. Not only do they cover both movies and television, but the ceremony itself is generally more laidback and fun. However, as a result, the integrity of the awards themselves also sometimes take a back seat to making the show more accessible. Perhaps the most questionable aspect of the Golden Globes is the fact that they have two separate award categories: Drama and Comedy / Musical. On the surface that might sound reasonable, but why are musicals and comedies in the same category? And more importantly, how do you determine what constitutes a comedy?

In recent years, savvy studios have been trying to slip more dramatic films into the Comedy category because it increases their odds of winning. This year, for instance, Ridley Scott’s The Martian will be competing in the Comedy category along with David O. Russell’s Joy. Previous films that have also been considered comedies include Birdman, Inside Llewyn Davis and The Tourist. Last month, Judd Apatow said on Twitter that putting a drama into the comedy category is a “punk move”, but he is the same guy who was once pushing for the Oscars to add a comedy category. I’m assuming they would have the same problem there. What do you think? Is it time for the Golden Globes to eliminate the Comedy / Musical category or is it a good thing to separate genres? What qualifies a movie as a comedy? Do you think The Martian fits the bill? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: Who Should Be the Next James Bond? Sat, 10 Oct 2015 01:34:31 +0000 openforumbond

Spectre hasn’t hit theatres yet but there has been no shortage of discussion about the James Bond franchise over the past couple of weeks as rumours continue to circulate about who might be next in line to play 007. For quite a while now there has been a very vocal contingent campaigning for a black actor to take on the role with Idris Elba apparently at the top of that list of possibilities. Anthony Horowitz, author of the upcoming Bond novel Trigger Mortis, put his foot in his mouth last month when he suggested that Elba might be “too street” for the part, although the real question is if he might be too old. Recently Damian Lewis (Homeland) has surfaced as another contender along with Tom Hardy and even Emily Blunt. But before any of these can be considered we have to ask… why is everyone so eager to get rid of Daniel Craig?

In a recent interview with Time Out magazine, Craig said that he would rather slash his wrists than do another Bond movie, but it was obviously said with the understanding that he just finished an exhausting shoot and it was how he felt at that particular moment. He has stated that he is contractually obligated to do one more movie after this, but back in 2011 it was being reported that they had made him an offer to star in five more movies after Skyfall and that he would potentially break Roger Moore’s record of seven straight Bond movies. That now seems unlikely, but if Spectre is as big as Skyfall was, anything is possible. What do you think? Is it almost time for Daniel Craig to throw in the towel or should he keep going as long as he can? Is the world ready for James Bond to be someone other than a white male? Who would you like to see as the next James Bond? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: Should Movie Theatres Increase Security Measures? Fri, 21 Aug 2015 22:20:56 +0000 openforumtheatresecurity

The topic of movie theatre security is once again on the minds of American moviegoers and theatre owners following attacks in both Lafayette, Louisiana and Nashville, Tennessee this summer. It was three years ago that James Holmes shot and killed 12 people during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado and at the time nothing was done to prevent a similar attack from happening again. This time around, however, there seems to be increased pressure to enhance security with some people even calling for the addition of metal detectors or armed guards. What remains somewhat unclear, however, is if this is actually something the average moviegoer wants and whether they would be willing to pay for it.

This week Regal Cinemas have announced that they will start checking bags on the way into the theatre. Other chains have yet to follow suit, but you can bet they will be watching to see how people react. It’s a small step toward improving safety, but the last thing they want to do is make going to to movies more expensive or inconvenient than it already is. What do you think? Should movie theatres start implementing the same precautions as concerts and sporting events? Would you be annoyed about extra bag checks or is that a good compromise? Do you feel safe when you go to the movies or are there major changes needed? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: Are People Finally Getting Tired of Comic Book Movies? Fri, 14 Aug 2015 21:49:15 +0000 openforumcomicbookmovies

Over the past decade and a half, we’ve seen comic books go from being niche properties to the biggest entertainment brands on the planet. What was once labelled a fad is now consistently accounting for some of the most successful blockbusters of all time. With five comic book movies having hit the billion dollar mark, and no less than eight currently scheduled for release next year, audiences are showing no sign of losing interest… or are they? Despite the fact that The Avengers: Age of Ultron made almost $1.4 billion, this summer will not go down as a great one for comic book movies. On the surface, there is no immediate cause for alarm, but it does seem possible that comic book movies are not quite as invincible as they once seemed.

Marvel has done a pretty good job at bringing some variety to their movies, but The Avengers sequel was largely met with indifference, while Ant-Man was the lowest grossing Marvel movie since The Incredible Hulk. Fox is expected to lose $60 million on Fantastic Four and Sony threw in the towel with their Amazing Spider-Man franchise and decided to partner with Marvel to reboot the character again. Meanwhile, Universal Pictures is having the highest-grossing year ever for a movie studio, all without releasing a single superhero movie. It could be a coincidence, but one thing’s for sure: there is a lot riding on next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. What do you think? Are audiences starting to get superhero fatigue or was this just an off year? Are the endless reboots and retelling of origin stories starting to get old? Can you see a scenario where the comic book bubble bursts or have they simply become too entrenched in pop culture to die out? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: Are Practical Effects Always Better Than CG? Fri, 07 Aug 2015 21:10:35 +0000 openforumpracticalcg

Earlier this summer, Mad Max: Fury Road took audiences on an intense thrill ride that few other action movies have provided in recent memory. Critics and moviegoers pointed to the practical effects and stunts as one of the things that made it feel so visceral, separating it from many other recent blockbusters. Meanwhile, J.J. Abrams is taking every opportunity he can to remind fans that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is using physical sets and props wherever possible to get back to the feel of the original trilogy. There definitely seems to be reaction against green screen sets and elaborate CG VFX sequences happening right now. But are we all unfairly throwing CG under the bus?

A recent video essay from RocketJump Film School illustrates how the subtle use of CG can greatly enhance a movie. Some people seem to forget that when utilized properly, CG effects are invisible and completely seamless. Also, there are plenty of things that would not even be possible without computer-generated imagery. However, there is still a tendency for some directors to overindulge or use it as a crutch. What do you think? Is CGI ruining modern blockbusters or are we jumping to conclusions based on a few poorly executed movies? Would you like to see more movies return to practical effects? Is one form of special effect definitively better than the other? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: Are Sci-Fi and Comic Book Movies Causing the Infantilization of Culture? Sat, 23 May 2015 02:50:07 +0000 openforuminfantilization

It’s been a while since we’ve had an Open Forum Friday, but this week there has been an interesting little discussion percolating throughout the blogosphere that seemed like it was worth continuing here. The discussion has to do with the “infantilization of culture” and the way that blockbuster movies are being marketed to adults and kids as if they are essentially the same audience. It is certainly not the first time the topic has been brought up with regards to the insane popularity of comic book movies and escapist fiction on the big screen. However, what is interesting is where the debate originated this time: from none other than Simon Pegg, one of the very people who has helped usher in this new era of fandom and geek culture.

It turns out that Pegg recently made some comments in an interview with Radio Times where he stated that the focus on big screen spectacle has led to a “dumbing down” of sorts, lamenting the loss of the big political dramas of the ’70s that used to be touchstones of popular culture before Jaws and Star Wars changed everything. While that might sound hypocritical coming from one of the biggest Star Wars fans around, he clarified these statements further in a thoughtful essay on his website. He explains that he still loves science-fiction and fantasy and does not think they are childish, simply that the commercialization of these genres may ultimately be delivering a lot of empty calories. So what do you think? Does he have a point or is Simon Pegg biting the hand that feeds him nere? Are all of today’s blockbusters just kid’s stuff or are there still thoughtful and political films being made? Is the infantilization of pop culture a reality or are things just the same way they have always been? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: What Did You Think of Serial: Season One? Sat, 20 Dec 2014 04:06:50 +0000 openforumserial

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since podcasting was born, a fact that Slate recently celebrated with a series of features on the history if the medium. It seems fitting then that on this significant anniversary the podcasting world has arguably found its first real breakout hit. Serial, a true crime podcast hosted by This American Life producer Sarah Koenig, has recently taken the internet by storm, pulling in an average of 1.2 million downloads per episode and sparking discussion like no other podcast has before. But is it a masterwork of non-fiction storytelling or is it just a sensationalist sham of questionable journalistic credibility?

Focusing on the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee and the conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, the podcast has been trying to shed new light on the case one episode at a time. While the initial presentation of evidence had a lot of people hooked, the show has increasingly relied on speculation and hearsay to continue the investigation (largely because so much time has passed). Somehow this seems more acceptable when framed by Koenig’s gee-whiz narration, and while some have questioned her motivation, to be fair the podcast has potentially helped Syed get a new appeal. So what do you think? Are you a fan of Serial? Was the final episode satisfying or was it just a wet noodle? Who do you think killed Hae Min Lee? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: Is the Serialization of Movies a Good Thing? Sat, 29 Nov 2014 01:55:50 +0000 openforumserialization

It doesn’t seem so long ago that Hollywood was obsessed with trilogies, thanks in large part to the success of The Lord of the Rings. Now lately it has become apparent that a trilogy is not enough… every studio is busy trying to emulate Marvel by setting up a shared universe or copy the Harry Potter series by dividing book adaptations up into as many installments as possible. Although cinema was once a medium mostly dedicated to stand-alone stories, it has now become increasingly reliant on the serialized format that has thrived for so long on television and in comic books. In a way, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, especially given the growing importance of television in the pop culture landscape… but is this trend somehow devaluing the moviegoing experience?

On the one hand, you could say that the success of Marvel’s formula proves that people are eager to follow a continuing storyline told across multiple movies featuring characters they have grown to love. But on the other hand, when a movie is just one part of a larger story, that can also make it feel less satisfying — not to mention the fact that it requires the audience to have done its homework as well. In a worst case scenario, a movie comes across as completely impenetrable to non-fans and fails to tell a standalone story. But in an increasingly fragmented market, maybe appealing to the hardcore fans is all that matters. What do you think? Are you a fan of the Marvel formula and the direction they have taken Hollywood blockbusters? Do serialized stories allow for more character development and depth or do they just result in disposable stories? Is the serialization of movies a good thing or a bad thing? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: Are These Star Wars: Episode VII Spoilers Getting Out of Hand? Fri, 03 Oct 2014 22:25:21 +0000 openforumstarwarsspoilers

Up until now, J.J. Abrams has largely built his career on the concept of the mystery box and the idea that in the information age people are intrigued by something when they are denied knowledge about it. However, he may have met his match by taking the director’s chair on a new Star Wars movie. Star Wars fans didn’t need any help generating excitement for Episode VII, and their insatiable thirst for info has forced Abrams to give fans occasional peeks at the behind the scenes. Still, the demand continues to grow and on a weekly basis we are seeing more information leak online to the point where it is becoming a serious issue.

This week a major spoiler for the film’s plot has found its way online and movie websites have been split over whether or not to report it. Obviously there are plenty of fans out there who want to know anyway, but they could potentially be ruining the movie for themselves. Considering that the movie is still over a year away, will there be any surprises left by the time it arrives? What do you think? Should bloggers give the people what they want or should the filmmakers have the ultimate say on what gets released about a movie? Is there too much Star Wars info out there or not enough? Are the hardcore fans ruining it for everyone else? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: Are PG-13 Action Movies Always Inferior to R-Rated Ones? Fri, 15 Aug 2014 22:20:37 +0000 openforumfridaypg13action

The Expendables 3 arrives in theatres this weekend with a PG-13 rating, becoming the first installment in the series to make itself accessible to a teen audience and re-igniting a familiar debate across the blogosphere. We’ve already seen sequels and reboots of R-rated ’80s action franchises like The Terminator, Die Hard and Robocop softened up to broaden their appeal and increase their box office numbers. While most of these movies were not particularly well-received, many would argue that the lack of blood and guts was the least of their problems. When it comes to The Expendables, however, the franchise has little reason to exist other than to play to an older crowd and serve as a violent throwback to the days of old. So does a PG-13 rating automatically make The Expendables 3 worse than its predecessors?

In recent years, the action movie landscape has changed from a place where cops and soldiers wage bloody wars against bad guys with bullets to a place where superheroes and CG robots duke it out in much more fantastical fashion. The increasing importance of the teen demographic and a more politically-aware social climate have driven movie studios to focus on escapism over gritty realism. Even when gritty realism is desired, the dreaded “shaky cam” aesthetic and rapid fire editing are often used to tone down violent scenes. But is the graphic violence really so essential or are there other more important elements to making a great action movie? Can a movie still have thrilling action sequences without excessive amounts of blood? Is an R-rated action movie always better than a PG-13 one? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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Open Forum Friday: Is Story Now Completely Irrelevant in Blockbuster Movies? Fri, 08 Aug 2014 20:38:50 +0000 openforumpostplot

The widespread acclaim for James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy last week was nearly unanimous as audiences and critics finally agreed that it was a rare case of a summer movie delivering just as much fun and excitement as the trailers had promised. However, it is interesting to note that if you look at all of the rave reviews, the one thing almost no one has praised is the story. Isn’t that the one key ingredient always required to create a great film? Well… maybe not anymore. Steven Zeitchik recently wrote an article at the Los Angeles Times that explores this disturbing trend, something he refers to as “post-plot cinema.”

The funny thing is, he actually liked Guardians of the Galaxy and he says that there are advantages to movies without clear plots, such as the fact that they are essentially unspoilable and they focus on simply hanging out with the characters (the recent comedy hit Grown Ups comes to mind). It all seems to be a result of filmmaking by committee, where there is no clear creative vision and bits and pieces randomly get changed and tweaked until the final product is a mess. But as long as there are some sparkly special effects and a few memorable individual scenes, audiences will still eat it up. What do you think? Are today’s blockbusters lacking clear plots and compelling stories? And if so, is there anything wrong with that? Can a movie truly be great even when the story sucks? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

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