Posts from Film

Amour

The two best films of 2012 that I saw were both French films with subtitles, Amour, which I saw last night with the Gotham Gal, and The Intouchables, which we saw when it came out last summer.

The Intouchables is a joyous film about two people in need coming together to enrich each others' lives. It is uplifting.

Amour is not. It is a gut wenching account of an elderly husband caring for his dying wife. The film made me deeply uncomfortable. There were scenes I couldn't even bring myself to watch.

It is said that great art makes you uncomfortable and if that us true Amour is great art. I dreamed about the movie and woke up with it on my mind. I am blogging about it now. I can't get it out of my brain so I am hoping that by writing it down I can move on.

Amour means love and I guess caring for a dying spouse is the greatest act of love one can make. I can tell you that I am not looking forward to that part of our marriage and I got a fast forward to it last night. It was painful but ultimately deeply moving and powerful.

I would say you should go see it but honestly you might not want to. I am not sure I would have chosen to see it had I known what I was in for. But I am glad I did.

Lincoln

The Gotham Gal and I saw Lincoln yesterday. I would encourage everyone, certainly every american citizen, to see it. Spielberg creates a time machine via the magic of film. And Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal of Lincoln is masterful. I feel like I got to spend 2 1/2 hours with my favorite President yesterday.

We all know the stories we were told in elementary school about the heroic President who went to war with his own country in order to save it. We all know his speeches and about his upbringing in a one room log cabin. That was enough to make Lincoln a hero of mine since childhood.

But what Spielberg and Day-Lewis capture is Lincoln's masterful manipulation of the american political system to cause it to do things considered impossible by both sides, most notably the passage of the 13th amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery once and for all.

The film is based loosely on Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team Of Rivals which is about Lincoln's political genius. I haven't read that book but I am certainly most tempted to after watching Lincoln.

But more than anything, the film conveys the greatness of this man. In the scene where he lies in his deathbed after the doctor declares the fight for his life over, you get a sense that Lincoln was a saint sent to our country in a time of need. There's also this one scene I can't get out of my head where he sits in the telegraph room trying to figure out what to tell Grant about the delegation from Richmond. He wonders outloud about his purpose and God's role in it.

The history of the United States is one where the right person showed up in times of need. Washington, Lincoln, FDR. We have been blessed to have heroic leaders in our most difficult moments. If you want to get a real sense of Lincoln's greatness, go see the movie. It is terrific.

3D Movies

I've been to a bunch of 3D movies now. It seems to be all the rage in the movie theaters these days. I have to say that I am not a fan. I have yet to go to a 3D movie where I didn't want to take the glasses off and watch in 2D. That doesn't work, but I sure wish it did. And I've been to the films that people say are the best of the 3D medium (Avatar, Hugo). So it's not that I haven't been to the right films. I just don't think 3D improves the experience in any meaningful way.

What's worse is that 3D films cost more to see in the theaters than 2D films so you get a worse experience for more money. And judging by trailers I've seen in the theaters recently, it seems that Holywood is using 3D as an excuse to reissue some old favorites with a 3D facelift. 

I feel like 3D is a gimmick. One the other hand the new HD display technologies like OLED and quad-HD are getting us to crisper and higher definition displays that produce some of the same effects of 3D without the gimmicky stuff.

I'm hoping 3D will turn out to be a fad and that wearing glasses in the theater (and god forbid at home) will be something we look back on in ten years and say "did we really do that?"

Scarcity Is A Shitty Business Model

The Gotham Gal has been under the weather this weekend. Last night we made soup for dinner and decided to sit on the couch and watch a movie and go to bed early. After dinner, we fired up Boxee and checked out Netflix. Nothing good there. Then we fired up the Mac Mini and checked out Amazon Instant Video. Nothing good there. Then we went to the Cable Set Top Box and checked out movies on demand. Nothing good there. Frustrated and unwilling and uninterested in heading to a "foreign rogue site" to pirate something good, we watched a TV show and went to bed.

Making movies is expensive and risky. I totally get that the studios need to make a lot of money on those movies to make their business model work.

But denying customers the films they want, on the devices they want to watch them, when they want to watch them is not a great business model. It leads to piracy, as we have discussed here many times, but more importantly it also leads to the loss of a transaction to a competing form of entertainment.

We would have paid good money to watch Sherlock Holmes or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But it simply was not an option. So we went with a TV show that was free and then went to bed.

I am sure there was a time when scarcity was a good business model for the film industry. And I am sure that many of the leaders of the film industry came of age during that time. I understand their muscle memory in terms of the scarcity business model. But restricting access to content is a bad business model in the age of a global network that costs practically nothing to distribute on.

I've argued this point many times with film executives. They insist that they need their windows. They argue they need to manage access to their films to extract every last dollar from the market. That just doesn't make sense to me. If they went direct to their customers, offered their films at a reasonable price (say $5/view net to them), and if they made their films available day one everywhere in the world, I can't see how they wouldn't make more money.

I understand that many participants in the broader film ecosystem might do worse under this model. And I understand that moving to such a model will cause great disruption and pain to the broader film industry. But the studios themselves are likely to do better in a direct distribution model where they reach a broader market at lower effective prices to the end customer. This is what happens in digital distribution. Prices come down, markets expand, customers see lower prices and broader availability. Producers do better. Everyone else does worse.

But for some reason the fim industry doesn't want to move to the new model. They want to stick with scarcity. So they lost a transaction last night. And they lose transactions every night, to piracy, to competing forms of entertainment, and possibly to apathy brought about by frustration. Such a shame.

Fun Friday: Movie Recommendations

We've been going back and forth between Feature Friday and Fun Friday the past few weeks. I like them both. So we'll continue to go back and forth between the two on fridays. Today is Fun Friday and I thought we'd trade movie recommendations with each other. The holidays are coming up. Downtime with family is around the corner. And one of the things the Gotham Gal and I like to do during downtime with family is go to the movies.

So I'd like everyone to share a movie review with us (one you posted or one you read) or alternatively a movie that is in the theaters that you want to go see, or both.

My movie review is courtesy of my partner Albert, who saw Hugo with his mom and kids. You should read the entire review, but Albert summarizes it with:

Overall, one of the best movies I have seen with the kids in a long time.  It works for both kids — based on enchantment — and for adults through the many references to movie making sprinkled throughout.  Also, unlike the empty entertainment calories of so many kids movies, this one leaves a lot of lingering impressions and many points to revisit in subsequent conversation.

Let the fun begin.

Flip Cam Fun

It's Josh's 13th birthday today. He's a valentines day baby.

We spent his birthday skiing and boarding in Keystone Colorado where we are staying with our friends Brad and Amy.

The Gotham Gal and I gave Josh a flip cam for his birthday and he's having a lot of fun with it.

This video is telling on several levels:


Concentration from fredwilson on Vimeo.

We Live In Public

Ondi
I was asked at some point early last year to sit for an interview with a woman named Ondi Timoner. I wasn't exactly sure what it was for but I knew it had to do with the NYC Internet scene in the late 90s and Josh Harris. So I found myself sitting in a tiny greenwich village apartment with a camera on me answering questions from Ondi. It was an interesting experience but I quickly forgot about it.

Then when I was getting ready for the web 2.0 keynote on the history of the NYC web business, Josh Harris contacted me and suggested I use some of Ondi's footage in my talk which you can see here. When I first saw that footage I knew that Ondi had something special on her hands.

Yesterday I saw the news, via twitter, that Ondi's film, called We Live In Public, won the Sundance award for best documentary. That's fantastic news for Ondi and Josh who really wanted to see this movie made.

Here's the trailer for the film:


We Live In Public TRAILER from We Live in Public on Vimeo.

I am certainly going to see this film when it plays in NYC. If you are interested in the early days of the Internet and the guy who invented a lot of the stuff we now take for granted (streaming audio, streaming video, self publishing, etc), then you might also enjoy the film.

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