Tag: pulp media

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San Diego River, Mission Valley

While walking home from UltraStar Cinema in Mission Valley, after watching “Ad Astra” on opening day, I crossed over San Diego River along Mission Center Road. Ripples upon the water delighted my eyes, which demanded capturing the moment, and I did using iPhone XS.

The film, starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray, is in essence about the consequences of solitary living—astronaut Roy McBride, his hero father Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), or all the living creatures (including humans) of Planet Earth. Somehow, looking down the river—even with the roar of Friday afternoon rush hour behind me—I experienced a moment of welcome solitude, ennobled by having just seen “Ad Astra”. Hence, the Featured Image and its companion.

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AMC and I argue the Semantics of A-List Membership

Earlier this week, movie theater chain AMC dumped coal in my Christmas stocking when I attempted to cancel the $19.95-a-month, watch-three-movies-a-week Stubs A-List subscription. One, and then another, customer representative informed me that at signup, the terms of service explicitly states that commitment is for three months. He, then she, warned that cancellation would trigger immediate charge for the remaining two months. But the ToS restriction shouldn’t apply to me, being a returning customer.

Everything comes down to the meaning of one word: Initial. When A-List launched, on June 26, 2018, my wife and I joined. We ended our membership about 90 days later. The ToS states: “A-List has an initial non-cancelable term of three (3) monthly membership periods (the ‘Initial Commitment’)”. We were good with accepting that requirement, which we met. But on November 18, with a few holiday movies of interest, I resubscribed, presuming that by making a second commitment I could cancel whenever. However, AMC service reps claim that my 3-month obligation reset and initial is the applicable word. Oh, did I futilely argue the semantics of that. C`mon? Doesn’t initial mean first time

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There’s Philo Coal in My Christmas Stocking

I didn’t last long with streaming startup Philo. At 3:37 p.m. PST today, I purchased a gift subscription for six-months of discounted service. By 4:43 p.m., Philo acknowledged my cancellation (without refund, incidentally). I deserve some blame for not choosing the 7-day trial first. But the features are so modern and channel selection so perfect, I didn’t want to miss out the Holiday sale available since at least Black Friday. Besides, I had pondered Philo for nearly two weeks, all while brain-vacuuming professional reviews that offered little less than praise. Nowhere did I read, and perhaps carelessly missed, the dealbreaker: Cough. Cough. Streaming caps at 720p. Say what?

We live in the early era of 4K, which video quality I didn’t expect from Philo. But I fully anticipated watching 1080p on my Pixelbook or days-old Roku Ultra. As expressed, with flaming antagonism, in a requested cancellation reason emailed back to Philo: “I never imagined that streaming quality would be limited to 720p, which is jarring on my 43-inch TV…I hugely regret spending $99 for six months. Ho. Ho. Ho. Bah Humbug. There’s Philo coal in my Christmas stocking”. 

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AT&T sinks FilmStruck

For two years, I have been an annual subscriber to FilmStruck. Tonight the relationship ends, as AT&T shutters the service. Go back a few months, when making promises about consumer benefits, AT&T merged with Time Warner. Since, services like Direct TV Now cost more, while others are going or have gone. There is, or was, nothing like FilmStruck on the Internet—well, for content obtainable legally. Not that AT&T brass care.

The service was a cinephile’s dream. Where else do you see movies cataloged by director, or are there fascinating extras available almost nowhere else? I chose “Night to Remember” as Featured Image because it is one of my favorite classic films and for the accompanying interview with the last living Titanic survivor (before she died). Her recollection is rare footage that punctuates the movie’s storytelling. 

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Six Films Every Journalist Should See

Yesterday afternoon, I started watching movie “Spotlight”, which later won Best Picure during the 88th Academy Awards. Following the Oscars, I finished the film, which warrants inclusion in my list of movies that every news gatherer should watch. If there are others worthy, please prompt me. I previously posted, on Dec. 30, 2014: “You Could Study Journalism, or Learn as Much Watching These Five Films“.

All six movies offer valuable lessons about responsible news reporting and ethical boundaries that matter in the real world—beyond the ideals that J Schools teach, regardless the kind of journalism you practice.  My ebook Responsible Reporting: Field Guide for Bloggers, Journalists, and Other Online News Gatherers identifies five types (and really should count seven): Advocacy, contextual. conversational, mob, and process

Downfall’s Downfall

 

If you can view the video clip above, Vimeo has not been compelled to take it down. Gulp, yet. The clip, using new subtitles, is from “Der Untergang“—”The Downfall: Hitler and the End of the Third Reich”. I rented the captivating German film from Nextflix in August 2005. In the original scene, Hilter learns that he has lost the war. Its revision is one of the most successful and visible Internet memes of the last half decade. The scene has been repeatedly parodied, replacing the subtitles so that Hitler rages about something else.

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The Battle of Jericho

Okay, I’m hooked. Few days back, I downloaded the full season of “Jericho“, the end of America saga, where terrorists nuke 23 cities, which include Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Lawrence, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tucson, and Washington, D.C. I had heard rumors about the apocalyptic drama, but I watch little network TV and no CBS programing. I think of CBS as the old folks network.

“Jericho” is unusually good TV drama, similar caliber and mystery-driven format as “Battlestar Galactica” or “Lost”. The show deserves much more viewership than in its dismal ratings. 

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License, Stupidity, or Politics?

It is nitpicking time for the bone pickers. Last night, the DVR recorded the pilot episode of “Bones,” which was telecast for no reason I can guess; it’s an old episode. I hadn’t seen the first, which shocked from the opening sequence. Anyone from Washington should know that the airport above couldn’t possibly be Dulles. The identified airport isn’t in Washington but Virginia—in, duh, Dulles—and absolutely nowhere close to the U.S. Capitol. About 30 miles distance separates runways and the domed government building.

The view above would fit for Reagan National Airport. No doubt it is that airport. So, why does “Bones” kick off with such a glaring mistake? I make a big deal out of this for two reasons: The show is all about brainiac forensic anthropologists who live and breathe minute details; the setting is Washington, D.C. For either or both reasons, “Bones” should get the airport right. 

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The Corporation

End of last week, I watched a startling documentary, which resonated well with some suspicions I already had. Staunch capitalists probably wouldn’t be moved by “The Corporation“, although hard-core liberals or even communists might delight in the documentary.

My response is neither political nor economic, but rooted in my sense of right, which in part defines good as putting the wellbeing of others above oneself. People or organizations that prosper by harming others do wrong. Many societies recognize cannibalism as wrong, yet those same peoples often do not recognize as wrong another kind of cannibalism: The consumption (or sacrifice) of one person’s livelihood or well being to support another person, group or organization. 

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An Inconvenient Theory

Earlier today, my daughter and I watched “An Inconvenient Truth” at the AFI Silver Theatre, which likely is the best movie house in the Washington area. A harsh critic of the science behind global warming, I hoped that maybe the film would live up to its hype. No way. For people predisposed to the idea of global warming, the film probably would be moving. The movie did affect my thinking, nevertheless (I’ll explain how in a few paragraphs).

Here’s what I most liked: Former Vice President Al Gore relied more on historical data to make his point than use forward-looking forecasts. Oh, I hate computer modeling for proving climate change. The major reason I’m so critical of global warming theory is bad science. There are too many assumptions and too little reliable data to develop reliable forecast models. In best-case scenario, the computer models are only as good as the data put into them. 

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Superman’s Story

Well, Roger Ebert didn’t like it. New York Times found plenty to fault. EW was much kinder, as was Rolling Stone.

I liked “Superman Returns“.

Whenever a movie follows a successful franchise—whether on screen, on stage, or in print—the hurdle is raised high. And sometimes, reviewers can’t let go of how things were done in the past. They compare against expectations, such as in the case of “Superman Returns” the performance of Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel.