Netflix Cares About Net Neutrality Again, and Here’s Why You Should Too

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/06/netflix-net-neutrality-fcc-protest-july-12-1201842862/

Netflix has made a public declaration on behalf of net neutrality. On Thursday, the streaming giant took to Twitter with the message, “Netflix will never outgrow the fight for #NetNeutrality. Everyone deserves an open Internet.”

The account then linked to the Battle for the Net page, which promotes July 12 as an Internet-wide day of action to save net neutrality. It urges users and websites to join the protest that day:

“The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online. If they get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees. On July 12, the Internet will come together to stop them.”

READ MORE: Netflix: Every Canceled Show on the Streaming Service So Far

Net neutrality prohibits internet service providers (ISP) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from taking control of internet usage by changing the speed of, or blocking, any content. The choice to go anywhere and communicate with whom you want on the Internet isn’t hampered by how well it works. If FCC chairman Ajit Pai succeeds in dismantling net neutrality, that might change. Net neutrality supporters fear an ISP could discriminate against certain applications, block websites with opposing opinions (or competitive offerings), and hike up fees to only service those who could afford it.

How the July 12 protest will play out is still unclear, although in 2014, certain sites like Tumblr and Reddit posted symbolic images of spinning wheels, the usual indicator that the site is taking its sweet time to load – a commentary on how ISPs could create fast or slow lanes arbitrarily. Ars Technica expects sites participating in the protest will also include information about Pai’s plans to dismantle net neutrality, as well as contact information for Congress and the FCC.

 

Netflix’s return to a strong opinion on net neutrality comes after the streaming service had wavered in taking a stand. Previously, The Verge reported that CEO Reed Hastings wasn’t as concerned with net neutrality because of the level of success Netflix had achieved. “It’s not narrowly important to us because we’re big enough to get the deals we want… we don’t have a special vulnerability to it.”

READ MORE: Netflix Is Finally Canceling Shows, and Network Executives Admit Why They’re Thrilled by the News

And indeed, a recent Forbes report had stated that the streaming service now has more subscribers than major cable networks. Netflix has been so successful that it only recently acknowledged a need to start canceling some of its shows, and subsequently dropped the ax on “The Get Down” and “Sense8.” But it was the protections of net neutrality 10 years ago that allowed Netflix to have the ability to flourish and become the powerhouse it is today.

By siding with net neutrality, Netflix is acknowledging that the internet should be open for everyone whether it’s for free speech, business purposes, private communications, organizing against social injustice, developing new technologies and more. Netflix joins companies such as Amazon, Reddit, Etsy, Vimeo, Kickstarter, OKCupid, Mozilla and many more in protest.

Recently, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” called for viewers to defend net neutrality, which resulted in the FCC website allegedly crashing from viewers looking to post comments. Here’s a refresher on the finer points of what might happen if net neutrality were taken away:

Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV email newsletter here.


Read More »

The Coen Brothers’ Rules: 4 Filmmaking Practices That Give ‘Fargo’ Its Cinematic Consistency

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/06/fargo-coen-brothers-rules-cinematographer-dana-gonzales-1201842591/

Although the Coen Brothers jump to a new genre with each new film, their approach to filmmaking and story is so distinct it’s nearly become a genre in itself. And what’s most remarkable about Noah Hawley’s limited series ‘Fargo’ on FX isn’t that it’s a clever homage to the filmmaking duo (which it is), or that the show has become its own story universe (it’s that, too).

However, its biggest achievement may be that the show’s visual presentation and cinematic style remains at such a high level of quality and consistency, despite having different directors. Even showrunner Hawley – the show’s principal writer and a creator of FX’s “Legion” – isn’t a consistent presence on set.

READ MORE: ‘Documentary Now!’: The Secrets to Recreating Film History the Right Way

“For ‘Fargo’ we have these visual rules that keep it in the Coen world,” said cinematographer Dana Gonzalez, who works closely with Hawley months before every season to nail down the show’s look.

We asked Gonzales to break down those rules and give us insight as to how the show’s look has evolved. Here’s a slightly edited version of what he had to say.

Wide-Angle Lens: A One-Camera Show

FARGO -- “The Law of Inevitability” – Year 3, Episode 7 David Thewlis, Ewan McGregor

“Fargo,” Year 3, Episode 7

Chris Large/FX

It starts with lens choices. The 21mm, 29mm and 40mm are the three go to-lenses we use. Coens early on loved their 18mm; 25mm was probably their tightest lens [they used]. I think probably [cinematographer] Roger Deakins pushed them a little tighter.

So that’s number one, we don’t do long-lens close-ups. All our close-ups are 21mm or 29mm. We have two cameras, but our primary goal is to be a one-camera show, so we never sacrifice a single camera for two cameras. A director can’t come in and say, “Let’s do a close-up at the same time,” because it won’t work – [that second camera would be in the wide-angle frame].

Directors can’t just come in and think at the end of the day they can do what we call “hosing down the scene,” by putting a long lenses on and just panning the camera. That’s not going to happen. We have to block the scene a certain way. We have to shoot it a certain way. You have to give the close-ups and two shots the same treatment over and over again, because that’s the visual storytelling of “Fargo.”

Camera movement

FARGO -- “The Law of Vacant Places” – Year 3, Episode 1 (Airs April 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle. CR: Chris Large/FX

“Fargo,” Year 3

Chris Large/FX

The camera moves a lot, but the camera only moves to take the story forward. It never moves just to move. It doesn’t reframe, it’s never just drifting. We’re always on tracks, we’re always on cranes, we’re always on a gib, there’s no steadicam.

READ MORE: How ‘The Americans’ Turns Brooklyn Into an ’80s World of D.C. Espionage, All on a Basic-Cable Budget

In episode 5, Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) goes [to steal] Emmit’s stamp (Ewan McGregor). She comes [into the house] and the camera basically cranes all the way back — you don’t even know it’s a crane — she goes up the stairs, it follows her all the way into the study.

There’s lots of descriptions in the script of what is happening; that’s where the director and I, with the camera operator, break it down in prep. I’ll push the directors to [move the camera]. Some directors will come with really great ideas. Maybe they really know the show — Keith Gordon, who directed in season 2, had some really great ideas based off a script and kind of knew what would work in the tone of the show. In prep talk, there are certain directors it takes a lot of convincing that what we are doing is the right thing.

Sometimes the camera locks [on a tripod, no movment] for a long period of time in the show. All the information is in the script. We don’t need to move the camera to make the show cool. We just watch the characters perform this dialogue that Noah’s written. At the end of the day, people talk about the style of “Fargo,” — we never do style for styles sake. We go against that constantly. If the script action isn’t something that calls for camera movement, we won’t.

Each Season Is an Homage To A Certain Film

Inside LLewyn Davis

“Inside LLewyn Davis”

Every year seems to have its homages. Season 1 was “Fargo” and “No Country.” When we started talking about season 3, Noah asked what I thought about “Inside Llewyn Davis.” We talked about what I liked and didn’t like about the film — the look and tone. That was our starting point.

We designed the season with that look in mind. We extracted the blue channel from the image. It’s pretty hardcore. [The] entire production design was built around this, so there was no turning back. We designed the wardrobe and production design — paint and car colors — to work. Reds and yellows popped quite a bit; blue would become monochromatic.

There was lots of testing to show Noah, who pushes me to go as bold as possible. I built the LUT [the Look Up Table, which are customized settings that adjusts how color is captured by the camera] myself in Davinci Resolve. It tried to get a DIT to work on it with me, [but] he just never went extreme enough. So I built my own and brought it onto set. We always do a live grade, so I’m able to see what we want it to look like.

FARGO -- “The Principle of Restricted Choice” – Year 3, Episode 2 (Airs April 26, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured (l-r): Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Nikki Swango, Ewan McGregor as Ray Stussy. CR: FX

“Fargo,” Year 3

FX

READ MORE: The ‘Mr. Robot’ Experiment: Can a TV Show Be Shot Like an Indie Film?

Allow the Show to Evolve

Season 3 was interesting because we all had just come off of “Legion.” That was quite a visual experience. We were able to do “Legion” with whatever aesthetics we liked; no rules. We added a lot of longer lenses, wider lenses, moved the camera wildly. Some of that came to season 3 of “Fargo,” which I think evolved this season as a result. We brought a lot of the tools and the way used the tools — not just the cranes and gibs — but an even bolder sense of moving the camera. Noah did a really good job of using some of that stuff in the pilot he directed, which helped us. If he’s calling for it, than we are allowed to do it. I think this season was definitely our most cinematic as a result.

But still, never gratuitous, because you are following the story. Any time we stray from that goal, I’m going to hear about it from Noah.

LEGION -- Pictured: Jean Smart as Melanie Bird. CR: Frank Ockenfels/FX

“Legion”

Frank Ockenfels/FX

This year we also did a little bit more racking of focus.

Also, with it being set in 2010, cell phones and modern technology really started to come into play. Subtle, but we put lots of that in the backdrop. I made little lights for the phones, so you could really sense they were there. It’s little details to feel the era.

Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV email newsletter here.


Read More »

‘Bill Nye Saves the World’ Renewed For Season 2, Because Twitter Proves We Need It

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/06/bill-nye-saves-the-world-renewed-season-2-netflix-1201842770/

Guess who’s back? Back again? Bill is back, tell a friend. That’s right, Bill Nye is coming back to Netflix for season two of “Bill Nye Saves the World.”

READ MORE: Netflix and Bill Nye Aren’t Censoring His Old TV Show – Sorry, Conspiracy Theorists, Here’s What Really Happened

According to the official summary provided by Netflix, “Bill Nye Saves the World” is a show where “Emmy-winning host Bill Nye brings experts and famous guests to his lab for a talk show exploring scientific issues that touch our lives.” The first season explored how science connects to topics such as politics, pop culture, and society, and featured correspondents to help present each episode, including fashion model Karlie Kloss, science YouTuber Derek Muller, and comedian Nazeem Hussain.

In addition to his correspondents, Nye would also bring in special guests to appear in each episode such as Zach Braff, Tim Gunn, and Donald Faison, among others. The show’s theme song was also produced by rapper Tyler, The Creator.  

“Saving the world turns out to be a big, complicated task, so we’re coming back for Season 2. We want people to view issues in our society through the lens of science and to be inspired and informed about the role it plays in our everyday lives,” Nye said in a statement.

The 13-episode first season premiered on April 21, 2017. While we don’t have an official release date just yet, we hope that Season 2 will grace our Netflix queues by the end of this year. 

Stay on top of the latest film and TV news! Sign up for our film and TV email newsletter here.


Read More »

John Carpenter Will Co-Write ‘Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack’

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/06/john-carpenter-big-trouble-in-little-china-old-man-jack-1201842645/

More than 30 years later, John Carpenter is returning to Little China. The filmmaker and Anthony Burch are co-writing the new comic-book series “Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack” alongside Anthony Burch, with Jorge Corona contributing art. Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall and Dennis Dunn starred in the 1986 film, one of the “Halloween,” “Escape from New York” and “The Thing” director’s many cult classics.

READ MORE: ‘Halloween’/’It Follows’ Mash Up Video Shows the Rebirth of John Carpenter’s Style

Here’s the synopsis: “The year is 2020, and hell is literally on Earth. Ching Dai, sick of relying on screw-ups like Lo Pan to do his bidding, has broken the barriers between Earth and the infinite hells, and declared himself ruler of all.

“Sixty-year-old Jack Burton is alone in a tiny corner of Florida with only his broken radio to talk to, until one day it manages to pick up a message. Someone is out there in the hellscape, and they know a way to stop Ching Dai.”

READ MORE: John Carpenter Producing New ‘Halloween’ With ‘Eastbound & Down’ Team

Boom! Studios is producing the new series, which is scheduled to begin publishing in September.

Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.


Read More »

‘The Book of Henry’ Review: Naomi Watts’ Family Drama Has the Most Ludicrous Twist of the Year

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/06/the-book-of-henry-review-naomi-watts-colin-trevorrow-1201842503/

Before it takes a bizarre dark twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan bristle with envy, “The Book of Henry” is a very familiar sort of family drama: Single mother Susan (Naomi Watts) juggles a thankless waitressing gig with caring for her two young children. One them, 11-year-old Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) exhibits above-average intelligence, managing the family finances and providing a practical voice to offset Susan’s chaotic personal life. Henry’s idiosyncratic personality leads to a number of whimsical, bittersweet exchanges. Somebody gets cancer, and the movie becomes a painfully obvious tearjerker.

And then, quite suddenly, the sentimentalism gives way to Hitchcockian suspense, and the most ludicrous conceit of any American movie this year. It’s a high-stakes gamble that doesn’t quite pay off, and at times courts disaster, but it’s fascinating to watch the movie go there.

That’s due, in part, to the conditions surrounding its existence. Though best-selling crime novelist Gregg Hurwitz wrote this original screenplay long ago, “The Book of Henry” is directed by Colin Trevorrow, whose career took its own sharp turn after his Sundance-acclaimed debut, the quirky time-travel comedy “Safety Not Guaranteed.” That lightweight breakout catapulted Trevorrow into his unlikely sophomore effort, “Jurassic World,” which then paved the way for him to become the helmer of the forthcoming third entry in the latest “Star Wars” trilogy.

Trevorrow reportedly was interested “The Book of Henry” years ago, but now its production is sandwiched between two massive blockbusters. As unlikely as his career trajectory has been, this story’s an even tougher sell, one that fuses two dissonant genres to an extent that’s likely to baffle audiences at both ends of the spectrum.

But that also makes it a more natural step forward for Trevorrow than “Jurassic World,” and in some ways it’s the sophomore feature he never got the chance to make. As with “Safety Not Guaranteed,” which teased out rom-com and sci-fi possibilities over the course of a whimsical plot, the new movie unfolds with a risky mishmash of tones — it’s intermittently funny, mopey, and tense, sometimes totally off-base but certainly ambitious in its approach.

For the first half hour or so, “The Book of Henry” plays like a hokey “Little Miss Sunshine” knock-off. The garrulous Henry annoys his teacher by upstaging her in class, then heads home to help his mom cope with her rough days at work and serving as surrogate father to his younger brother Peter (“Room” star Jacob Tremblay, who spends most of the movie delivering wide-eyed reactions). Susan’s only real friend is co-worker Sheila (Sarah Silverman, tattooed and foul-mouthed but otherwise one-note in her ongoing quest to find substantial movie roles); as far as we can tell, the pair spend their off-hours guzzling wine and talking about how they need more men in their lives.

On the other hand, as Susan’s quick to point out, Henry’s enough man for her to handle. There may be creepy, Oedipal connotations to their relationship, but that’s hardly the most outlandish component of this movie once Henry determines that next-door neighbor Glenn (Dean Norris) has been abusing his stepdaughter Christina (Maddie Ziegler) and takes it upon himself to set things right. Then, documenting his plans in a red notebook filled with an insanely detailed strategy, he ropes his mother into a scheme that pits her against her moral code.

The circumstances grow ever sillier, but Trevorrow manages to frame them with the imagery of the thrillers that come to mind. Peeking out her window late at night to spy on the alleged criminal activities next door, Sarah becomes enmeshed a “Rear Window” plot meted out by her son’s voice echoing in her head. The scenario suggests that just as children absorb the anxieties and passions of their parents, it can go the other way. Watts, who sings a touching song to ease her children to sleep in one scene and drops a one-liner about dead leaves with morbid implications in the next, serves as the anchor in an otherwise messy plot. Lieberher brims with energy from the movie’s earliest scenes, though his extreme intelligence is so hard to buy it limits the potential for the movie to earn the serious thrills of the final act.

"The Book of Henry"

“The Book of Henry”

The competing variables of the plot collide during the climax, which involves both a cheesy elementary school talent show and late-night showdowns with guns. The circumstances behind it all are laughably absurd, but within the confines of the movie’s own deranged logic, totally unpredictable. Carried along by Michael Giaccino’s score — which shifts from awe-inspiring to ominous with ease — “The Book of Henry” reappropriates the mold of the vanilla suburban drama by pushing it in subversive directions. Caught between capricious moments and grim genre tropes, it’s a ridiculous premise that’s never quite self-aware enough to obtain much depth or sustained entertainment value.

Still, there’s no question that “The Book of Henry” imbues a hackneyed premise with fresh edge. For Trevorrow, it amounts to something of a battle cry as he continues venturing into blockbuster turf. If nothing else, it’s proof of a filmmaker willing to think outside the box, or at least try to make an old one look new, even if the end result comes up short.

Grade: C

“The Book of Henry” premiered at the 2017 LA Film Festival. It opens theatrically June 16, 2017. 


Read More »