US Justice Department strikes down landmark “Paramount Decree” after seventy years

As part of his review of legacy antitrust decisions (up next is a 1941 music royalties decree) since his appointment in 2017, Makan Delrahim, the chief of the United States Department of Justice’s antitrust division, struck down the Paramount Decree, according to the Financial Times. The 1948 competition case began as a 1938 price-fixing and monopolization lawsuit against eight Hollywood film companies; the outcome regulated the divestiture between distribution and theater ownership, as well as the practice of studios dictating minimum ticket prices. Delrahim told an American Bar Association antitrust conference in Washington online streaming services have changed exhibition over the last eighty years, but the Independent Cinema Alliance says this move will hurt smaller theater chains.

Composer discusses film scoring

On Wednesday, Branford College hosted a Residential College Tea with composer Howard Shore, who shared with conductor John Mauceri the technical method as well as the emotional artistry behind cinematic scoring, according to the Yale Daily News. Shore, who scored the likes of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, says one must be disciplined enough to write music bar by bar and page by page, while, at the same time, composing from the heart, rather than analytically or intellectually (which all comes later). Shore’s next project will be featured in François Girard’s The Song of Names (2019), with a Christmas Day release date.

This year’s Best Picture race

The male-dominated Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019) and Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman (2019) and the female-led Jay Roach’s Bombshell (2019) and Greta Gerwig’s Little Women (2019) are all Best Picture contenders, according to The New York Times. If so, then Gerwig may be competing with boyfriend Noah Baumbach and his Marriage Story (2019), which represents Netflix alongside The Irishman as well as Fernando Meirelles’s The Two Popes (2019). Todd Phillips’s Joker (2019), Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite (2019), Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit (2019), and Lulu Wang’s The Farewell (2019) will be up against the as of yet unreleased Sam Mendes’s 1917 (2019), Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell (2019), and Tom Hooper’s Cats (2019).

Film and native language preservation

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Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s SG̲aawaay Ḵ’uuna (Edge of the Knife) (2018) is the first motion picture ever to depict the language and culture of Haida Gwaii; fewer than twenty-four people speak Haida fluently. (Image Courtesy: The New Yorker).

One hundred sixty-five indigenous languages remain out of the three hundred spoken in North America before colonization, and tribal elders, humanitarians, as well as linguists are tapping into the power of film to preserve these dying tongues, according to The New Yorker. Following the release of Zacharias Kunuk’s Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) (2001), the first feature to be written, directed, and acted in the eastern Inuit dialect of Inuktitut, the likes of the Star Wars saga and Andrew Stanton’s Finding Nemo (2003) have been translated into Navajo. Iñupiaq filmmaker Andrew Okpeaha MacLean says, “In the academic space, the language survives; in the cultural space, the language lives.”

Agatha Christie’s cinematic renaissance

With the release of Rian Johnson’s Agatha Christie-esque whodunit Knives Out (2019) coming up November 29, the Queen of Crime is making a comeback after BBC One’s Miss Marple (1984-1992) and ITV’s Poirot (1989-2013) sanitized her writing, according to The Guardian. Johnson cites Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express (2017) as well as even Kyle Newacheck’s Christie parody, Murder Mystery (2019), as inspirations behind his own homage. David Brawn of HarperCollins, Christie’s publisher for the last twenty-five years, says the darker, more psychological crime authors of the 1980s are the reason audiences stopped taking her as seriously.

Hulu review: Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3” (2007)

Not only did this abortion of a movie kill Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, it also spawned Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) reboot, a franchise which lasted all of two films.

Yes, it really is as bad as the reputation that precedes it.

If you don’t know what not to watch next, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 (2007) is available to stream on Hulu. The filmmaker is also part-responsible for Ivan Raimi and Grant Curtis’s script.

That sixty-three percent of positive reviews aggregated via Rotten Tomatoes is a passing grade for a failure of a superhero film.

One year after Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 (2004), the time is right for an uncharacteristically vain Peter Parker (Maguire) to propose to the struggling (not to mention jealous and selfish) Broadway actress Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), whose star flickers as Spider-Man’s rises.

Harry Osborn (James Franco), Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), and their sisters all do battle with Spider-Man.

Ad interim, an extraterrestrial parasite falls to Earth on a meteorite and bonds itself to Peter, teasing out the dark side of his powers, jeopardizing his humanity, and whispering disastrous hairstyling advice into his ear.

To be fair, Spider-Man 2 was the all-time greatest of its genre until the release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008), so any sequel was all but destined to fall short (much like Nolan’s own The Dark Knight Rises (2012), as a matter of fact).

And Spider-Man 3 comes its closest to working in the first act, with the conflict between Peter and the New Goblin mounting to a critical pitch throughout the course of the (accidental) trilogy.

Once Harry succumbs to amnesia (yes, seriously), the soap operatic melodrama drowns the drama in so much curdled cheese, and the tightly wound tension wets its pants in a flaccid anticlimax.

Even the laughably miscast Grace as Venom could have seduced Peter into killing Harry under Raimi’s horror auteurship (which distinguishes the hospital setpiece in Spider-Man 2), but, instead, we get a superfluous Sandman, and an underused Gwen Stacy (Bryce Dallas Howard).

Consequently, the character arcs are oversimplified into the most thoughtlessly digestible versions of themselves.

That’s why this critic strained to synopsize this overcrowded picture.

It’s an opportunity missed – Peter could’ve lost MJ after murdering Harry, and then Raimi could’ve directed a sequel about Gwen, with the splendidly computer-animated Sandman as the antagonist – and it’s an opportunity sorely missed, because Maguire is Spider-Man.

His boyish screen persona satisfies the comic book wish fulfillment of a nerd becoming a superhero, as opposed to the hipster supermodel that is Andrew Garfield; Tom Holland is the best of both worlds, and he may not be what Sony deserves, but he is what they need right now.

Fans react to “Sonic the Hedgehog” redesign

Amidst backlash, Paramount pledged in May to overhaul the character design behind the titular video game hero of Jeff Fowler’s Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), and with the new trailer released yesterday morning, the response on Twitter has been positive, according to The Guardian. With his human teeth removed, his eyes enlarged, and the color of his fur brightened, the Sega mascot now more closely takes after character designer Naoto Ohshima’s original vision, a lovechild between Japanese kawaii as well as American “cool.” The preview for the Jim Carrey vehicle also features more aesthetical takeaways from the games, both scenically and auditorily.