Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Vertical integration and "boards"

According to Eugene Hernandez at indieWire, The Weinstein Company has just amde its announcement about what it will be doing with Wellspring (two months ago, there was an announcement, which only indieWire seemed to carry, about The Weinstein Company's business maneuvrings, in which the Weinsteins bought out or bought into several companies, includuing IFC, The Sundance Channel, and Wellspring. The question seemed to be whether or not The Weinstein Company was trying to create a monopoly in the field of "independent media" (film, television, DVD, cable), but, of course, the answer is that there remains "the majors" (MGM, Fox, MCA-Universal, etc.) and as long as that is true, then a monopoly in the area of "independent" film is not seen as a monopoly at all. But (effectively) it shuts out distribution, exhibition and home video possibilities for a great number of filmmakers. Quite frankly, Wellspring (as an example) has been vital to the Taiwanese cinema: Tsai Ming-liang, Hou Hsiao-Hsien and Edward Yang would not have ANY films in any sort of distribution (theatrical or DVD) without Wellspring. The Weinsteins have shown NO interest in Taiwanese cinema, so look for the work of those directors to become even more difficult to see in this country.

(And besides, in this era of Bush-onomics, if you can create an monopoly, more power to you! Just to prove his arrogance, Bush has announced his plan to turn over the ports in six major American cities to a company from the United Arab Emirates. And it was just revealed over the wires that the traditional vetting and the security checks that are standard were circumvented, because Bush was given assurances that this company did no business with terrorists. As if Bush can be trusted! The man who allowed all of Osama Ben Laden's family members who were in the US to be given special passage out of the US after 9/11, even when every other flight was suspended! This is scary.)

For whatever reason, i was just checking the Criterion Forum, and the "board" on Whit Stillman's "Metropolitan" is just so vicious! I'm not a big fan of the movie, but that's for personal reasons (which Whit Stillman's wife knows very well), but, really, these people are so rude! And it's not that they're being critical, they're just being vicious.

But on one of those reality shows ("Celebrity Fit Club" maybe?), there was a comment that from one of the contestants (to another contestant) that you shouldn't read the message boards.

A (guilty) admission: i almost always say i won't watch the Academy Awards, but i usually do. However, with the exception of the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival (which they've had on various cable stations in the past decade: Bravo, IFC) and the Independent Spirit Awards (it used to be filled with people i knew, and now, as an IFP member, i've actually voted), those are the three award ceremonies that i watch. But the point is: while you're watching these award shows, it's almost always so that you can make some sort of comment. But the viciousness of people on these message boards is (i guess) just another sign of the incivility that seems to be manifest nowadays.

I've seen four films in the Rendezvous With French Cinema series since i last posted: "Housewarming", "Grey Souls", "Russian Dolls" and "Good Girl". When i made the comment about Emmanuelle Devos in "La Moustache", i hadn't seen "Good Girl" yet, because there she is again! She had a great year in 2005 in terms of the films released here: "Gilles's Wife" and "Kings and Queen" and "The Beat That My Heart Skipped". And 2006 looks like another big year for her! But more movies in the next two days, and then i'll try to write about them....


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