The Best and Worst Casting of a Movie

The director, Cary Fukunaga, once said that a movie is 70% casting–or something to that effect. Great casting goes a long way to make a great film, while if a film has no chance is the casting is awful. I was watching the original Karate Kid recently, and the casting stood out. Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita may be one of the best cinematic buddies, and that’s primarily a function of casting, in my view. But then the villains are also great, not just Martin Kove, as John Krease, and William Zabka, as Johnny Lawrence, but even the other Kobra-Kai thugs. What are some films where the casting really stood out, either good or bad?

Notes on Bela Tarr’s Satantango

7 hours and 30 minutes. That’s how long this film, by Bela Tarr, is. For any film of similar length (and there are others), the first question I would ask for those who have seen such films is, Is it worth the time? And relatedly: Is the time justified? I will provide an answer to both questions, but before I do, let me explain why I’m writing about this film. This is a film I’ve been wanting to see for a long time. I really liked Werkmeister Harmonies and Turin Horse–both by Tarr, and both are great–the former would definitely make my list of all-time great movies (and the latter also has a shot). Satantango also appears on all-time great lists, including the 1001 Films You Must See Before You Die list. So, I’ve wanted to see this. Unfortunately, it was not easy to find, and the DVD was expensive. This year or last, I saw that they were screening this in Seattle, and I felt excited, but disappointed that I couldn’t go. (It would have been extra special to see this on the big screen.) But recently, the kanopy.com website, to my delight, made the a newly restored version of the film available for streaming. I recently watched this, and unsurprisingly I have a lot to process. And this is why I’m starting the thread now.

Art: Innovations and Innovators

I really love artist that push and sometime break boundaries, leading to a new style or vocabulary, or even redefining what constitutes art or not. Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and maybe Andy Kaufmann would be examples of the latter. Other innovators, who may not cause us to re-think art, but I still I like a lot are Frank Zappa, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, to name a few. This is a thread to discuss innovations of specific artists as well as innovations in art more generally. I want to start by talking about two different innovations in music that I’m interested in.

Best Movies of the 2010s

Much of my interest and enthusiasm for movies has waned significantly (and I never thought I’d get to this point). But I am interested in seeing some of the best movies of the decade, especially those that compare favorably to all-time great movies prior to the decade. I’m going to use Film Comment’s top 50 as a guide. If you guys know of any other good lists, or have any strong, personal recommendations, let me know.

Solve the Brewster’s Millions Challenge

Montgomery Brewster could receive a lot of money if he could overcome one challenge–namely, he had to spend $30 million dollars in one month–basically $1 million a day. In the challenge, I believe only a smart percentage could be given away. Additionally, if he bought or did anything of value, the value would be added to the remaining balance. This was from a movie, that most of you know, and maybe the amount would be different now. In any event, I like thinking about ways I would overcome this challenge. How would you solve this challenge?

Is Streaming Video/Music Economically Unsustainable?

Jazz critic Ted Gioia has some tweets about how streaming services are “the black hole of the entertainment business.”

I’ve updated my quick and easy guide to streaming economics—the black hole of the entertainment business.https://t.co/7AXsrUgB0E— Ted Gioia (@tedgioia) March 13, 2019

His basic point is that streaming services lose, and continue to lose, a lot of money, and I assume he thinks this won’t change. At the very least, Gioia doesn’t seem to believe that streaming model will be able to support the making of movies, TV shows, and music. Equally dispiriting is the notion that musicians are getting even less revenue from streaming services (less than money they’d get from the traditional recording industry). That really sucks. I really don’t want to pay for a service where the musicians and artists don’t really get far less than they deserve (which, actually seems to have always been the case, but this is going in the wrong direction). Should serious music fans consider purchasing music in a traditional way (e.g., cds, records), and, even better, from the musicians themselves?

Another question: Why can’t artists ever take control of the distribution so that they can receive the majority of the profits?