Articles on this Page
- 04/17/14--12:35: _Here's what movie p...
- 04/18/14--05:00: _'Getting Doug With ...
- 04/18/14--09:00: _Inside the video ef...
- 04/18/14--10:17: _Is someone leaking ...
- 04/18/14--10:33: _Wu-Tang fans rally ...
- 04/18/14--11:56: _Here's the 'Scandal...
- 04/19/14--13:14: _Rihanna will voice ...
- 04/19/14--15:30: _White House respond...
- 04/21/14--04:48: _Why we need a show ...
- 04/21/14--06:02: _'Silicon Valley' ep...
- 04/21/14--13:00: _Joss Whedon's new f...
- 04/22/14--07:10: _New HBO Go ads show...
- 04/22/14--13:06: _Experience the thri...
- 04/23/14--06:18: _Colbert and Letterm...
- 04/23/14--06:45: _Swim for your life ...
- 04/23/14--07:39: _This is the first-e...
- 04/23/14--11:17: _A gay dad drives hi...
- 04/24/14--08:21: _Vimeo now hosts a d...
- 04/24/14--09:19: _TV anchors still ca...
- 04/24/14--09:52: _Avril Lavigne denie...
- 04/17/14--12:35: Here's what movie posters might look like with 1-star Amazon reviews
- 04/18/14--09:00: Inside the video effects studio of YouTube star Brandon Laatsch
- 04/18/14--10:17: Is someone leaking Star Wars secrets on Tinder?
- 04/18/14--10:33: Wu-Tang fans rally on Kickstarter to buy the lone copy of new album
- 04/18/14--11:56: Here's the 'Scandal' blooper reel you've always wanted
- 04/19/14--13:14: Rihanna will voice 3-D animation's first black lead in 'Home'
- 04/19/14--15:30: White House responds to Justin Bieber deportation petition
- 04/21/14--04:48: Why we need a show like 'Orphan Black' right now
- 04/21/14--06:02: 'Silicon Valley' episode 3: What's in a name?
- 04/21/14--13:00: Joss Whedon's new film skips the cinema, heads straight to Vimeo
- 04/22/14--07:10: New HBO Go ads show how awkward it is to watch 'Girls' with your mom
- 04/22/14--13:06: Experience the thrilling Twitter version of action classic 'Speed'
- 04/23/14--06:18: Colbert and Letterman take selfies on 'The Late Show'
- 04/23/14--06:45: Swim for your life in this terrifying drowning simulator
- 04/23/14--07:39: This is the first-ever YouTube video, and it involves a goat
- 04/24/14--08:21: Vimeo now hosts a dedicated 'dronie' channel
- 04/24/14--09:19: TV anchors still can't pronounce Lupita Nyong'o's name
- 04/24/14--09:52: Avril Lavigne denies accusations that her new video is racist
Reviews on movie posters are their own strange poetry, wrought from impossibly positive reviews by possibly fake critics vomiting amber waves of praise on blockbuster films.
The mission of @AwfulReviews is simple: “Finding the lowest scoring reviews on Amazon, and adding them to movie posters.” And taking them down about four notches.
Christian Beecham is behind this masterful bait-and-switch, which takes five-star films down to the level of one-star Amazon reviews. He’s truly doing God’s work by scouring through the one-star graveyards of commenters with names like “A. Customer,” “TheBigmac,” and “Rick,” finding some of the best film criticism on the Web, and putting it up on his Tumblr.
Not even Cool Runnings is safe!
Beecham also takes requests. Apparently Blade Runner is a really divisive film. "Deal with it, nerds."
Comedian David Cross sat down on the set of Getting Doug With High, looked at the mass of weed and paraphernalia laid out on the table in front of him, and happily wondered “what the fuck is the point” of the show he had signed up for.
The clock rolled from 4:19 to 4:20, the lighters sparked, and the smoke billowed up.
Ah, so that’s the point.
Getting Doug With High is as simple as a webseries can be. Comedian Doug Benson, a longtime marijuana advocate and stoner comic star of Super High Me, brings in other comedians, gets them high with weed and smoking devices from legal sponsors in states like Colorado, and talks.
“A lot of the people watching at home are high,” host Doug Benson said. “It’s like getting high with your favorite celebrities.”
In addition to being a surreal comedic experience, Getting Doug With High is meant to prove a point: Marijuana is fine. Two or three famous people sitting, smoking, and giggling is the anti-Reefer Madness, a 1930s anti-pot propaganda film that has entered the canon as one of the funniest weed movies ever made.
A majority of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana. So while it’s not exactly a move of sheer political bravery to appear on the show, it is a strong endorsement of the political sentiment.
“People shouldn't feel shame for enjoying marijuana,” Benson told Yahoo News. “I like having guests on my show who are happy to smoke on camera and show the world that you can get high and have fun and nothing terrible is going to happen.”
And as far as the ingredients in talk show goes, stoners have long suspected that weed would be an excellent addition to late night television. On Getting Doug, celebrity guests are properly loosened up. Every celebrity talk show has a basic script and segments, but when the host and guest are both floating up into the clouds, conversation can take unexpected turns both good and bad.
David Cross, a piece of well-buttered toast by 30 minutes into the show, dove into talking about his extensive history of drug use. He gave an honest impression of his single, memorable experience smoking crack.
“It was amazing,” he said, “and I’m so glad I left and walked away. I knew that if I didn’t, my life would change.”
The conversation is slow, meandering, funny, often pointless, and pretty close to perfect.
Comedian James Adomian talked about smoking weed with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, and Tommy Chong said that he inspired Jordan Belfort to write Wolf of Wall Street when the two met in prison in 2004.
Occasionally, of course, the talk can be grueling. When a guy like Todd Glass smokes weed, he becomes even more self-conscious and long-winded than normal. Benson anticipated the problem, however, and booked a hilarious Sarah Silverman as a counterweight, thus hitting the right equation and saving the episode entirely.
“I think making jokes about weed helps to make it more mainstream,” Benson told the Eugene Weekly. “Or at least I hope so. While legalization is a complicated issue, the bottom line for me is that no one should be incarcerated for weed-related crimes. Unless they steal some of mine.”
Getting Doug With High is perfect 4/20 material. It’s like Charlie Rose about nothing. Plus, it’s a goldmine for green philosophizing.
“If the whole earth was a little more sleepy and lazy,” Horatio Sanz said in a recent episode, “there’d be a whole lot less wars, man.”
Yeah, man. Totally.
Photo via YouTube
Brandon Laatsch’s hidden warehouse studio looks like an 8-year-old’s dream fort. There’s an enormous big screen, 16 computers, two couches, a pile of video games, and two bedrooms rented out by friends, and a miniature schnauzer named Bandit—not to mention a fake gun armory. The only thing missing is a “NO GIRLS ALLOWED” sign.
It’s an ideal work environment for a guy who built a career around his three childhood passions: setting things on fire, filmmaking, and video games.
Laatsch is best known as the cofounder of FreddieW, the popular visual effects YouTube channel that’s garnered critical acclaim and over one billion views to date. After four years together, Laatsch recently split from FreddieW in the pursuit of creating longer-form content. He’s now focusing the most ambitious project of his still-burgeoning career, a 12-episode webseries.
Laatsch’s interest in pyrotechnics was sparked early, first by behind-the-scenes DVD of Terminator 2, than in the garage with his father working on cars. His dad taught him how to make his first explosion with a soda can, tape, a cut power cord, and oxyacetylene, which all but sealed his fate.
While attending high school in Minnesota, Laatsch began collaborating with fellow aspiring filmmakers Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer, the gentlemen now responsible for the popular YouTube channel Corridor Digital. Between his jobs as a long-distance trucker and tractor driver, Laatsch spent many late afternoons with Gorski and Pueringer perfecting the skills necessary to pursue action filmmaking.
“The approach was not, ‘How are we going to go schmooze with the right people and get to Hollywood and figure out how to get someone who was going to give us a budget.’ It was more learning how to do everything ourselves so we could form our own self-contained unit,” explains Laatsch, who cites directors Wong Kar-Wai, John Woo, and Stanley Kubrick as pivotal influences.
“The VFX [video effects] weren’t pursued for VFX themselves, it was really, we want to do action, we want to do guns, but we don’t have blank firing weapons, so we need to learn how to do muzzle flashes. VFX were supplemental to unlocking all the different things for action movies.”
After high school, Laatsch moved to Los Angeles to pursue filmmaking at the University of Southern California.
“The whole goal of film pyrotechnics is you want to make it as showy and dangerous looking as possible, while making it as safe as possible,” says Laatsch. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had close calls. “I mean, I had some periods where I wouldn’t have arm hair for a little while. It’s nothing out of the ordinary to have a little shorter eyebrows.”
During his first week in the freshmen dorms, he met his future business partner Freddie Wong, who introduced him to YouTube. As with fellow filmmakers Wong Fu, the two recognized the potential of the video-sharing platform early, especially because it solved the issue of actually hosting content online.
Wong and Laatsch began sporadically putting out videos during college until they made the decision to pursue YouTube full-time. Every week since, the two made groundbreaking VFX shorts, many of which comically presented a different look at popular games such as “Future First Person Shooter,” “Rollercoaster Tycoons,” and “Medal of Honor Cat.” Together, the pair gained over 6.9 million subscribers and produced everything from shorts and podcasts to full-length webseries, most notably Video Game High School.
Halfway through college, Laatsch actually switched majors from filmmaking to sociology, a move that’s reflective of his overall approach to his craft. “I wanted to learn about people,” says Laatsch, who left USC two courses shy of completion. “I wanted to learn about the larger movement of society, and how groups of people interact and move. I figured that would help me more in terms of managing a set or crew, and as a storyteller in terms of just understanding how people work, how society kind of ticks.”
Those are skills Laatsch will certainly need as he looks to restart his work on his upcoming webseries. After creative differences with Mojang forced the filmmaker to prematurely cancel a Kickstarter campaign for a Minecraft-themed movie, Laatsch is now moving forward to create a webseries he loosely describes as a “modern Western.” The series will consist of 12, 30-minute episodes, but a release date has yet to be unveiled.
“It will be much more action-oriented and adult then my previous work on VGHS,” he said. “The fans of my style of shooting action YouTube videos will find a lot to enjoy in this series.”
Through it all, even as he’s running through explosives covered in blankets, Laatsch has kept matters in perspective.
“It’s not you have to run through it,” he said. “It’s you get to run through it. You know? You get to be the one on camera.”
Screengrab via BrandonJLa/YouTube
Director J.J. Abrams and Disney have been aggressively tight-lipped about Star Wars Episode VII, but on a production as large as this, someone's going to start talking eventually. Indeed, reports have already emerged that filming has begun in the Middle East—presumably recreating the original Tunisian set of Tatooine.
However, in what is perhaps nothing more than spurious gossip but is also perhaps a true Star Wars fact, the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National reports that one young man claimed on Tinder (!) to have been an assistant director on a Star Wars film-shoot in that very country.
This individual denied everything when The National called him and asked, even going so far as to claim that it was not Star Wars he was working on but Fast & Furious. The paper reports, however, that his name—which is not given—is nowhere to be found among the list of crew for Fast & Furious, and moreover that it is listed amongst the crew for Star Wars Episode III.
In any event, hopefully what we can take away from all of this is that there are likely to be Jawas and Tusken Raiders in Episode VII.
Last month, Forbesreported that the Wu-Tang Clan’s latest album would exist as a one-of-a-kind physical artifact, encased in an engraved silver and nickel box, which was painstakingly handcrafted by artist Yahya. Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is a double album, and will be sold for a price tag in the millions. Wu-Tang member RZA told Forbes, “We’re about to put out a piece of art like nobody else has done in the history of [modern] music. We’re making a single-sale collector’s item. This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king.”
If you’re a fan of Wu-Tang, this might seem like a very appropriate approach to their craft; their lyrics are often focused on the gilded palaces of history past. As such, the album will be toured through galleries and museums, according to RZA and the album’s producer, Tarik “Cilvaringz” Azzougarh. On the website for the project, RZA and Cilvaringz state, “While we fully embrace the advancements in music technology, we feel it has contributed to the devaluation of music as an art form. By taking this step, we hope to re-enforce the weight that music once carried alongside a painting or a sculpture."
It’s an interesting re-envisioning of the future of music distribution, an anti-leak model that takes the album release out of the realm of digital consumption, and places it on a well-lit pedestal. But what does that mean for fans?
A group calling themselves Fans of Wu-Tang the World Over has created a Kickstarter to fund $5 million for the album, which has so far been the highest bid. If they hit the crowdfunding goal and win the auction, the idea is to give the 31-song album away for free:
The risk is some Saudi oil baron's kid spending his dad's money to collect a trophy and then he'll keep the album to himself and fans the world over will suffer.
If for some reason we are unable to purchase the album to distribute it to all fans or we are outbid, there will be a vote to either refund all money to backers or use the money to fund a Wu Tang related project such as a free concert for backers.
The founder of this group will not profit by even a single penny of backers' contributions, nor will a cent be spent until the auction date when the entirety of funds raised will be bid in an attempt to win the album.
It’s certainly a more democratic process, but is it the process RZA envisioned? The organizers of the Kickstarter, Calvin Okoth-Obbo and Russell Meyer, said they “can’t imagine RZA being upset if Wu-Tang fans get together and raise enough money to purchase [the album].”
They also said that, in the event they do raise enough to buy the album, they’ll rock-paper-scissors to see who holds it.
As of Friday morning, they have nearly 350 backers and have collected a little over $2,000. The funding ends on June 9, which means there's still time for an even higher bid to materialize.
Full disclosure: I stopped watching Scandal at the end of season 2, because Olivia and Fitz’s relationship was causing veins to pop out of my neck, and staring at Fitz’s expressionless face was like staring at a bowl of cold oatmeal. I would throw my glass of red wine across the room in frustration every time she gave into him. (Then I would quickly wipe up that wine and wring out the paper towel in my mouth, like a monster.)
This is what Scandal did to me, but elsewhere it became a Twitter phenomenon, and season 3 especially was discussed and dissected there. Last night’s season finale was the apex of the Internet’s love/hate-watching. I’m not alone in my Fitz-tration.
I even hate Fitz's face when he's consoling ppl. This is real.— DarkSkintDostoyevsky (@daniecal) April 18, 2014
God I hate Fitz.— Laura van den Berg (@Lvandenberg) April 18, 2014
Even Olivia Pope herself stepped in last night to educate her Gladiators:
To quote a fellow coworker, Scandal is “the TV equivalent of eating a bag of Cheetos now. It's not good and no one really likes it but man, sometimes you need a bag of Cheetos.” This could be said about a lot of television these days, but Scandal lent itself exquisitely to binge-watching. Even FLOTUS binge-watched. For all the hate-watching, it’s an important show that got people—women especially—talking about the dynamics of women in power.
After the finale, creator Shonda Rhimes appeared on Jimmy Kimmel’s special, "Behind the Scandalabra," to talk about the writer’s room and cast. Kimmel also offered some bloopers from the set. Bellamy Young’s line flubs might be the highlight; they often include exasperated declarations of F-bombs (fart, fuck). Also, there’s that one part where Fitz’s voice cracks, revealing the widdle boy we’ve always known he was! (I’m sure Tony Goldwyn is a very nice person.)
Thank you, blooper gods.
Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube
DreamWorks is raising the bar on diversity in 3-D animation—not that it was very high to begin with.
The company has quietly announced that Rihanna will voice the "enterprising" character of Tip in its new animated feature Home. The pop star will join Steve Martin, who plays an alien member of a race called the Boovs, who invade earth—sort of. Here's the summary, courtesy of Indiewire:
When Earth is taken over by the overly-confident Boov, an alien race in search of a new place to call home, all humans are promptly relocated, while the Boov get busy efficiently reorganizing the planet. But when one resourceful girl, Tip, (Rihanna) manages to avoid capture, she finds herself the accidental accomplice of a banished Boov by the name of Oh (Jim Parsons). Equally stubborn and set in their ways, these two fugitives realize there’s a lot more at stake than intergalactic relations as they embark on the road trip of a lifetime. Good thing they have a flying car.
The story of Home is adapted from the children's novel The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex.
Photo via DreamWorks/Wikia
Although DreamWorks' rival animation studio Disney has added non-white heroines to its famous lineup of princesses, both DreamWorks and Disney, as well as CGI juggernaut Pixar, have had nothing but European and American heroes as main characters, apart from the usual run of aliens, mythical creatures, and talking animals. We won't say anymore about the fact that DreamWorks has cast actors of color like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, and Antonio Banderas to play a long lineup of talking animals over the years. Hopefully Rihanna's turn as a resourceful kid who saves the earth from aliens while driving a flying car will change all that.
The movie isn't out until November; in the meantime, you can get a glimpse of the prequel to Home, a four-minute short that DreamWorks previewed last year:
Since launching its We the People website for petitions from the public, the White House has issued savvy responses to everything from requests to secede to demands for a Death Star and an ambassador to Westeros.
But it's finally met its match: it turns out the ultimate challenge to American diplomacy is Justin Bieber.
The White House responded earlier today to the U.S. people's petition to deport the pop star back to his native Canada. The Associated Press reports that the White House is citing a rarely-used caveat that allows it to decline to respond to a petition. Despite the popularity of this particular petition, which eventually garnered more than 275,000 responses, it looks like the Bieb is just too hot a topic for the Obama administration to handle.
Instead, the White House argued that it was a great time to think about immigration reform, which it told the AP could save the American public $1 trillion, the equivalent of 100 billion Justin Bieber albums.
Thanks, but no thanks, guys. Immigration reform won't help us deal with what is clearly an international pop crisis. Anyone confused by the decision to non-decide might gain some clarity from the White House's official response to a similar petition to deport the controversial pundit Piers Morgan back to the U.K.
"Americans may disagree on matters of public policy and express those disagreements vigorously, but no one should be punished by the government simply because he or she expressed a view on the Second Amendment—or any other matter of public concern,” wrote White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. He was referring to Morgan's contentious views on gun control.
Bieber doesn't just express his lack of American values by peeing on things and dissing former presidents, but it's a safe bet that the U.S. government didn't want to risk the wrath of a fangirl nation by criticizing the pop star. After all, Obama has a Twitter account. He knows what it's like out there.
At least we don't actually have a diplomatic relationship with Westeros. If Joffrey had fled to the U.S. prior to the Purple Wedding, it looks like we'd never be able to give him back.
Photo via alanagkelly/Flickr
The first season of BBC America’s Orphan Black could easily have been its last. It’s a sci-fi drama about clones and genetic engineering, two topics that have been explored to the point of caricature in TV and film, even as their reality slowly creeps in.
But it’s also a sci-fi show about women, and perhaps that’s what saved it.
At the heart of Orphan Black is a search for identity, and the storylines are moved along by actress Tatiana Maslany, who, throughout the first season, portrays Sarah Manning as well as clones Beth, Helena, Cosima, Alison, Rachel, and Katja. All of these clones have different personalities, accents and demeanors; one is an evolutionary biologist, one is a cop, one is an ex-religious cult member; one is a mother and would-be actress; one is the head of a shadowy corporation.
We don't often see this many angles of the prism. Saturday’s season two premiere, heavily anticipated by the show’s fandom, proved that over the last year, Orphan Black has provided something missing from television.
Netflix’s original series Orange Is the New Black, which also debuted last year, is perhaps the closest kin we have to Orphan Black, in terms of telling the stories of several complex female characters. They’re both shows about women in trouble, to some degree, but neither relies on men swooping in to save them. The male characters on the show, many of them villains, are often one-dimensional, but is this really misandry, or perhaps a way for the female characters to tell the story themselves? Maslany effortlessly carries the weight of all the characters, something fans of the show noticed: Earlier this year, the “Clone Club” crowdfunded a special award for her, after she was passed up for an Emmy nomination.
Orphan Black also explores the role of motherhood — between Sarah and her daughter, Kira, and Sarah and her foster mother — but her portrayal of Alison, who on the surface resembles an Old Navy-clad suburban wife and mother, wrings out some humor and emotional depth in season one. After sleeping with a neighbor’s husband, Alison cruises around in her minivan singing along to Meredith Brooks’s “Bitch.” The song’s become a bit of a cliche, but let’s not forget the archetypes it explores. Maybe Chaka Khan predictedOrphan Black.
The show’s two queer characters , Sarah’s foster brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and clone Cosima, are never written into corners where their sexuality defines them. Felix feels empathy for his clone sisters, and the hashtag #clonesbians was created to express the growing fandom of lesbian viewers. It's gotten a discussion going about representation.
The show’s search for identity transcends the screen. Kayla, a 19-year-old fan, says seeing a queer character on TV was essential.
“It was important to me because I grew up in a family and town that is very conservative,” she told the Daily Dot. “I was taught that being anything but straight was wrong. So, when I realized that I wasn't straight, it caused me to sort of hate myself and I believed that no one would accept me for who I was. I still am not completely over these things, and that is why Orphan Black has helped me so much. Seeing a character like Cosima has made me feel less alone. I see all these fans that love this character and see past her sexuality and it gives me hope that one day I can be myself and be accepted as well.
“It is not just Cosima, though. The whole cast has been so supportive of the LGBT community. For example, Jordan, Evelyne, and Tatiana especially always make sure to mention the clonesbians when they address the clone club. They make sure that we're not left out. They also are aware of how important it is that there is queer representation on a TV show like this. Just the fact that they are so mindful of what they are doing and they try to get it right is something you hardly ever see on any popular show.”
She also pointed out that it’s important to have complex women in the lead role.
“So many times female characters are put into boxes and they are so one-dimensional. They're also hardly ever the lead of a show. And here with Orphan Black you have multiple female leads who are all genetic identicals, yet they are still individual and realistic. It is something truly groundbreaking.”
In a recent conversation with Wil Wheaton, Maslany explained why this show has resonated with women:
“So often the male perspective is our default perspective in television in film and in all kinds of different media and I think what this show does is it just goes, ‘Nope.’ Women can be all these different things.”
While Maslany’s portrayal of these characters is groundbreaking, even more so is the revelation that viewers are finding their own identities while watching this show.
Still image via BBC America
When we hear the origin stories of successful businesses, they’ve usually congealed into a myth, with heroes, villains, betrayals, and triumphs. Alexander Graham Bell beckoning Watson and changing the world. Jobs and Woz tinkering in a garage. What must be messy, shambling, failure-dotted struggles get polished into legends.
I don’t know whether Mike Judge intends the Silicon Valley crew to succeed or fail, but these early episodes are providing a backstory so shaggy it’ll be interesting to see how Erlich, Richard, and the rest of the Pied Piper crew recast it as romantic as the seasons progress.
Silicon Valley’s third episode, “Articles of Incorporation,” opens with the carefully chosen images of a company intent on polishing its reputation as an empire: the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, and other titanic human-hewn wonders. No, the motley Pied Piper crew isn’t going on a grand tour. It’s a commercial from Gavin Belson, spewing his tech-can-save-the-world ad-babble with aplomb. “If we can make your audio and video files smaller, we can make cancer smaller. And hunger. And AIDS,” he intones.
Belson is talking about Nucleus, Hooli’s new project (and direct ripoff of Pied Piper.) Richard doesn’t think they have much to worry about. But he also still thinks that “Pied Piper” is a good name for a startup. Gilfoyle and Dinesh point out that inferior products win out all the time if they beat competitors to market.
Richard has bigger problems than his stupid choice in name. Or, rather, his stupid choice in name is a bigger problem than everyone thought: the startup is broken, and the $200,000 check eccentric billionaire Peter Gregory gave them is made out to Pied Piper, Inc. Only problem: Pied Piper, Inc. is already the name of a California irrigation company.
Everyone wants Richard to change the name. Erlich suggests a vision quest to find a new one. Other house developments include the revelation that Gilfoyle is a Canadian living illegally in the U.S., Dinesh is annoyed because everyone assumes he’s there illegaly, but he’s a citizen. Gilfoyle utters the marvelously delusional line, “Your borders are merely a construct. I prefer to think of myself as a citizen of the world.”
Peter Gregory isn’t thinking about Pied Piper, or any of his other investments. While desperate investees show up asking for additional funding, Gregory ignores their plight and becomes fixated on Burger King. Scenes with Gregory elevate Silicon Valley; the role could’ve been a broad caricature of Peter Thiel and the idea of the super-eccentric mega-rich tech titan, but Christopher Evan Welch makes Gregory’s tics and obsessions so specifically his that the satire never feels tired, even when it is obvious. Welch’s enormous success with the role makes it all the more heartbreaking that he died last December. Welch was a successful working actor, but not a household name, and he is so great as Gregory that it’s hard not to dwell on what we’re missing out on. Welch’s pronunciation of “Burger King” is perfectly weird, and he gives Gregory a fizzing, sharp energy that makes him the most interesting character in any given scene.
Richard convinces Arnold, the cantankerous Pied Piper guy, to sell him the name for $1,000, mainly because Arnold is a tech-hating crank who doesn’t understand the company’s potential/thinks Richard has Asperger’s. To celebrate, he buys a Margarita machine from BevMo! and encounters an obnoxious sales guy desperate to pitch his new app. Silicon Valley is doing a good job of showing how startup culture and promise, however remote, of potential vast wealth affects even people removed from the industry who live in the area. Like Richard’s app-obsessed doctor from the premiere, the sales guy has Valley aspirations. It reminds me of the trope that everyone in Hollywood has a screenplay in a drawer or a locked-up ambition to act; it seems everyone around the Valley has an app idea at ready.
The celebration is short-lived, since Arnold reads an interview with Erlich that makes Pied Piper sound like a huge company. He decides to up the price to $250,000.
Richard freaks out about changing the name, prompting Erlich to give him the kind of pep talk that only Erlich would find inspiring. Richard despairs that he has no experience. “Neither did Zuckerberg when he was running Facebook at 19. You think he had any real-world business experience? No! None! But he was such a tough negotiator that now all of his friends are suing him. How awesome is that? And Steve Jobs just took a shit ton of hallucinogens,” he says, genuinely trying to help. Erlich decides to go on a vision quest for the new name himself.
Richard bucks up and decides to confront Arnold to honor his handshake deal over the phone. His brief display of bravado turns into a crisis when Arnold decides to come beat him up.
The situation diffuses when Arnold arrives at the ramshackle Pied Piper headquarters and realizes what a mess the startup is. The sequence reminds me of the time I went to a fancy-seeming startup’s headquarters only to discover a room full of folding chairs and empty tallboy beer cans piled in the corner. Many of these fledgling companies are controlled by young dudes who can build a beautiful product but don’t have the funds or drive to create a professional (or, really, sanitary) office environment. Richard gets his name, which is good, because Erlich’s vision quest is an utter failure.
Meanwhile, it turns out Peter Gregory’s inexplicable preoccupation with Burger King did have a practical component: He surmises that sesame seeds will be affected by a blight, and he decides to play the stock market based on his predicted increased demand for sesame seeds. The money he plans to make will keep his investment afloat. It’s a neat reveal that underlines that Gregory’s character is a genius, which bodes well for Richard.
- The commercial at the beginning was funny, but way too corny for a company that’s supposed to be as major as Hooli. -20
- Gilfoyle asks to be paid in cash or Bitcoin. +10
- The liquor store employee’s horrible startup idea for an app to help you remember where you parked your car was exactly bad enough to be realistic. +10
- Erlich’s startup media tour consists of TechCrunch, Recode, and Pando Daily. Kara Swisher gets name-checked. These are exactly the sites a startup like this goes after. (And now I’m imagining how Valleywag would cover Pied Piper.) +50
- You have to pause the show to get a good look, but the list of new names Jared works on is wonderful. Diminishr, Scrunch, Squish, The Squincher, Shrivel, Shriv, Shrvl, Tiny Dancer, The Wee Machine, and Dwarf-It are all suggestions. +100
Joss Whedon just surprised fans at the Tribeca Film Festival by pulling a Beyoncé and releasing his new movie online, with no prior warning.
Paranormal love story In Your Eyes premiered at Tribeca and as a $5 Vimeo rental at the same time, meaning that many of the film’s first reviews came from Internet commenters rather than professional movie critics. Available with subtitles in Japanese, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese, the aim seems to be to make the movie as easy to watch as possible. As in, you don’t even have to get out of bed.
Starring Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David, In Your Eyes is a romance between two people who share a telepathic bond from childhood onwards.
Compared to Whedon’s 2012 smash hit The Avengers, this is a pretty tiny indie project. But then, Whedon is no Michael Bay. After working on things like Dr Horrible’s Singalong Blog and Much Ado About Nothing (which he famously filmed at his own house) during the gaps between more high-profile ventures like the Avengers franchise, it’s clear that he still has time for more experimental work.
In fact, In Your Eyes seems to take some inspiration from both of those projects, particularly with regards to cutting out the middleman and distributing the movie directly to its audience. Whedon originally set up his production company so he could get Much Ado made in the narrow time window he had available while filming Avengers, and this movie’s Vimeo-based distribution plan was surely influenced by the huge success of Dr Horrible, which was posted in installments online.
This distribution model probably wouldn’t work for your average indie romance movie, but for Whedon, it’s perfect. Not only has he spent the past 15 years amassing a colossal fan following who will eagerly watch everything he ever makes, but most of them are constantly plugged into social media, making this the perfect scenario for a cheap, word-of-mouth publicity campaign.
Screencap via Vimeo
HBO is trying to save its younger viewers from their worst nightmare.
In a new push to get the younger viewers to use HBO Go, the network’s online and mobile streaming service, HBO released a series of ads reminding you what could possibly go wrong when you watched the racy sex scenes HBO is notorious for out in the open with your parents.
If you’re lucky, it might result in some awkward silences during an after-show discussion, but for the family portrayed in the ads, these parents are anything but when it comes to those scenes in Game of Thrones, True Detective, and Girls, among others.
When there are no mental filters, it creates a number of cringeworthy situations that many of us would rather avoid. Instead of watching in silence, the parents use that opportune moment to talk about the scene and overshare about their sex life, the grandparents’ relationship, or who plays that character on that one show.
Or sometimes saying nothing at all might just make it worse.
You could always try to access HBO on another TV in the house if you can, but HBO’s solution is for you to just use HBO Go—assuming they can even get onto the streaming service without it crashing.
It’s 20 years old at this point, but for web developer Michaela McCann, the Sandra Bullock-Keanu Reeves thriller Speed hasn’t aged a day. She even favorably cites the high-octane blockbuster on the “About” section of her website. And what better way to pay tribute to its gimmicky charms than by transcribing the whole thing for a Twitter audience?
Unlike the mysterious and amazing Top Gun Twitter account, which ran afoul of Paramount’s lawyers in hosting frame-by-frame screengrabs, @Speed_1994 sticks to its action-hero lines (which acquire a strange poetry when separated from the film itself), punctuated by appropriately violent emoji. Here, for example, is the villainous Dennis Hopper’s first kill.
Naturally, the individual posts can get a little existential. Which is the whole point, right? That this utterly perfect film can be stripped down to raw philosophical insight? Well I think so.
Makes no sense.— Speed (1994) (@Speed_1994) April 22, 2014
Why?— Speed (1994) (@Speed_1994) April 22, 2014
This is taking way too long.— Speed (1994) (@Speed_1994) April 22, 2014
“I made the bot after wanting to familiarize myself with a new stack and a couple other tools,” McCann explained to the Daily Dot in an email. “[Speed] is perfect for Twitter because the dialogue is mostly short sentences that require so much context and, without that context, I think it becomes hilarious. It's also an exciting story with well-developed characters, including a woman who is a love interest but isn't passive or without a backstory. She's literally in the driver's seat.” The final tweets will coincide with the movie’s official 20th anniversary, she noted.
Also, great news for anyone just tuning in: @Speed_1994 just got rolling recently, and we’re still in the midst of first intense set piece. Nobody’s even on the bus yet! So go make popcorn.
Photo via IMDb/20th Century Fox
He stopped by Letterman's show Tuesday night, the first time since the announcement was made, and he left his satirical character on Comedy Central. Like his first appearance in 2005, he and Letterman caught up about nothing particularly groundbreaking with a bunch of one-liners thrown in, but it was still perfectly enjoyable.
As Colbert later revealed, this wasn’t his first chance to work on The Late Show. He was offered an internship while he was in college in the ’80s, but he turned it down because it didn’t pay. He later applied to be a show writer with writing partner Paul Dinello in 1997, but by the time The Late Show got back to them, they had already gotten Strangers With Candy.
Colbert still had his “Top 10 List” from that application, and he brought it on the show to perform. It’s a little too polished, but it’s the sort of thing that would’ve worked great on The Late Show.
Photo via @StephenAtHome/Twitter
At sea, you tire faster than you think. Six minutes of treading water in a pool might equal thirty seconds against a dangerous current. With cold waters kicking at each side of you, you struggle to keep your head above surface, eventually succumbing to the tidal course.
That’s the reality laid out by interactive life jacket-awareness website Sortie En Mar. The site’s pulled out some interesting stops this round, installing a high-definition drowning simulator that finds you getting knocked off the edge of a yacht by a boom and having to scramble to stay afloat.
That happens via mouse scrolling, but those who try will quickly find that just the simple task of scrolling up on a mouse can get tiresome—and not effective enough to stay above water. Before long, you’re hands are in the sand below, and your life’s flashing before your eyes.
A random smattering of feelings our mind thought during the waterlogged saga ranged from “Yikes, this is taking forever” to “It absolutely would suck to get left out at sea without a life vest.”
The first YouTube video was uploaded nine years ago today, and it involves a goat.
YouTube cofounder Jawed Karim posted the inaugural video, simply titled “Me at the Zoo,” at 8:27pm on Saturday, April 23, 2005. It was shot at the San Diego Zoo, where Karim explains the trunks of elephants at the zoo, and then we hear a goat call out. It’s almost as if that goat knows one day, roughly a decade in the future, goatswillbasicallyrun YouTube.
The man who shot the video, Yakov Lapitsky, went on to be a professor of chemical and environmental engineering. He claimed he "had no idea what he was getting myself into."
The video currently has 14 million views, and 7,500 dislikes.
H/T Time | Illustration by Jason Reed
Lowe is a parenting writer for The Advocate, and tweets very humorous things under the handle @GayDadAtHome. Last week, he asked his followers if they’d like to see a YouTube show featuring him and his four-year-old son, Briggs. Inspiration apparently took hold, because Lowe released the debut episode on Monday.
Driving Mr. Briggs is a single-shot weekly series, in which Lowe drives around and has conversations with Briggs, who already seems wise beyond his four years. The first episode is all about first kisses, unibrows, and the practice of sharing cookies.
Lowe wrote about “taking over YouTube,” and how he hopes the show will inspire other gay men and women to start families:
I often get tweets from gay youth saying that I’ve inspired them to be a parent one day, and that melts my heart (bitter as it may be). I also get tweets asking for more—whether it be more frequent pictures on Instagram or even that we get on a reality show. I think people like to see that “it gets better” is not bullshit, and I’m happy to prove this right.
How soon before Briggs is hosting his own show?
Screengrab via Frank Lowe/YouTube
Last week, we told you about the the brave new world of drone selfies, and the work of photographer Amit Gupta, who’s been perfecting his craft for the past few months on Instagram. Gupta was the first drone aficionado to upload his work to Vimeo, crossing over from social media into a more verdant pasture of film buffs.
Behold: There’s now a “dronies” channel on Vimeo.
Alex Dao, a Vimeo employee, is the channel’s curator. She says she was inspired by Gupta’s viral success from his Bernal Hill shot, and coined the term “dronie” (a drone selfie) to refer to this new type of shot. She even created one of her own dronies over Easter weekend, thanks to her brother-in-law, a drone enthusiast. There’s a Tumblr devoted to dronies as well.
Despite all the paranoia around impending drone domination, there is something sort of beautiful, even cinematic about these dronies. They take selfies out of the typical settings, and give us a panoramic view of the landscape. Suddenly, it’s not about our duckfaces, but our surroundings.
“I think what’s really caught people’s attention is the dramatic reveal as the drone pulls away from the subjects and you see their full surroundings,” Dao says. “There are a lot of beautiful aerial videos shot from drones, but it just adds another level of interest and suspense when the video starts off focused on people before zooming way out.”
Andrea Allen, Vimeo’s director of production, just procured a drone for the company, and has been experimenting with the possibilities.
“I can't wait to see where people take this new form of selfie creatively,” she says. “There are so many possibilities in regard to location and coordinated moves. I predict we'll see healthy dronie competition in the same way that timelapsers keep upping their game. The fact that there's an element of danger inherent with drones is also pretty compelling—and I mean that in the best way possible.”
If there’s healthy dronie competition on Vimeo, using drones in filmmaking is the next logical step. Allen points out that they’re already creeping in. Soon, we might all be making our own droneumentaries.
“I've already seen an increase of aerial shots in lower budget films and extreme sports videos,” she adds. “Where once you'd need to hire a helicopter or professional jib operator to get some of these moves, it's now possible for someone to save up for a drone of their very own. It helps that the copters are getting easier to operate and the competition is driving the price down. The barrier to entry is getting rather low and I find that very exciting.”
Screengrab via Alex MacCaw/Vimeo
Perhaps you’ve noticed this already, but some people seem to have a real problem with pronouncing Lupita Nyong’o’s name.
It’s not clear why this keeps happening. Lupita Nyong’o’s name is actually quite easy to pronounce. Maybe the apostrophe is tripping people up.
Anyhow, it’s pretty unimpressive when one of us normal folk mispronounces her name, but it’s even worse when a TV anchor does it. Which is why Jimmy Kimmel decided to make this supercut of reporters trying and failing to get to the end of six syllables without embarrassing themselves on live TV.
Look, the Oscars were months ago. Lupita Nyong’o is a huge celebrity now. At the very least, entertainment reporters should be able to Google her name before they go on air, particularly since so many people have made this mistake already. Get it together.
Photo via gdcgraphics/Flickr
It’s easy to make fun of Avril Lavigne. She’s been milking the same teen rebel pop-punk image for almost 15 years, she’s married to a dude from Nickelback, and her music is rarely what you’d describe as critically acclaimed. However, her new song Hello Kitty has inspired something more than the typical derision we’ve come to expect from rock music purists.
Featuring four expressionless Japanese backup dancers, a watered-down Kyary Pamyu Pamyu aesthetic and liberal (and nonsensical) use of the word “kawaii,” the song and video have been widely criticized for being an embarrassing example of racial and cultural exploitation.
RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!! I love Japanese culture and I spend half of my time in Japan. I flew to Tokyo to shoot this video…— Avril Lavigne (@AvrilLavigne) April 24, 2014
…specifically for my Japanese fans, WITH my Japanese label, Japanese choreographers AND a Japanese director IN Japan.— Avril Lavigne (@AvrilLavigne) April 24, 2014
The video was pulled from YouTube hours after it posted amid a high volume of negative comments, but it now appears to be viewable on Vevo’s YouTube channel. It’s pretty clear from her reactions on social media that Lavigne doesn’t really understand why people are accusing the video of being racist—or, perhaps, that she is pretending not to understand. “I love Japanese culture,” is the same defense offered by every tweenage weeaboo Japanophile in the Western world, and it doesn’t actually preclude racial insensitivity or cultural appropriation.
It doesn’t help that there are plenty of other things wrong with “Hello Kitty.” Even if you disagree with the accusations that the video appropriates Japanese culture, the song still sounds like a poor Skrillex/Ke$ha mashup. Plus, there’s the fact that the lyrics seem to be about lesbian experimentation at a sleepover, co-written by Lavigne’s husband and two other men. At 29 years old, Lavigne is fully in charge of her image as an artist, and yet the end result is a weird combination of throwback to the mid-2000s, Gwen Stefani-esque Japanophilia, and a desperate attempt at jumping on the dubstep bandwagon.
Lavigne’s Facebook and Vevo pages are full of fans commenting to say that they don’t think the video is racist at all, implicitly backed up by the fact that this album was far more successful in Japan than in the U.S. or Canada. If the song wasn’t quite so bad, it’s likely that the video would’ve flown under the radar and received far less backlash than it actually did. But the fact is that in many cases, people aren’t reacting specifically to “Hello Kitty,” but to the ever-growing list of white celebrities who have profited from appropriating music and fashion styles from other cultures.
On its own, “Hello Kitty” would probably have seemed like an embarrassing but ultimately forgettable attempt to copy Harajuku fashion and J-pop cutesiness. But in a pop-culture landscape that includes Gwen Stefani and her voiceless Harajuku Girls, Miley Cyrus, and Lily Allen’s twerking backing dancers, and most of Madonna’s career to date, this comes across as just another example of a white pop star casually exploiting another culture for YouTube hits and a vague stab at being “exotic.”
Screencap via Vevo