On Netflix, ‘Roma’ and Auteur Theory

“We’re streaming, mother fuckers!” Images courtesy Netflix.

Ever since Netflix began to produce and procure original content in 2012, it has struggled to legitimize itself in the eyes of mainstream trendsetters. This has been no real trouble for the company whatsoever – Twitter and other social media had made word-of-mouth much more important even then – but the refusal to validate Netflix’ material is a barrier when it comes to awards discussions, which Netflix has been trying to muscle into for the past couple of years.

It’s been easy – and incentivized – to look down on Netflix’ content, but if history is any indicator, some of its more recent releases are going to change that. It has to do with a critical theory that has shaped film history, forcing new platforms, techniques and ideas into legitimacy wherever it goes.

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The Möbius Strip: Bryan Singer accused by four more, SAG awards

It was a whisper-quiet weekend at the box office, with the top 12 making only $79.8 million overall, the third worst number going back a full calendar year. A big reason why was a lack of exciting new releases – The Kid Who Would be King opened at no. 4 with $7.2 million, and Serenity opened at no. 8 with $4.4 million. Glass repeated at the top with $18.9 million, while The Upside was the only other show in eight figures at no. 2 with $11.9 million- Box Office Mojo

Though he’s been spurned by The Academy over homosexist Tweets from the start of the decade, The Upside proves that Kevin Hart still brings a loud and proud audience, and he’s already signed to two more movies – a live-action Monopoly adaptation and a Sony movie called Fatherhood. Let’s hope there aren’t any gay moments in that- The Hollywood Reporter

Outside box office revenues, the soundtrack for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which is still kicking around at no. 5 with $6.1 million in its seventh weekend, has climed to no. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It follows in the footsteps of sountracks to movies like The Greatest Show and La La Land which peaked in late January and into February during long runs for the associated films- Billboard

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Putting ‘Aquaman’s’ success into context with the DCEU

Images courtesy Warner Bros. All numbers via Box Office Mojo.

Two weeks ago, Aquaman became the first DCEU movie to make $1 billion. In an era of film history that is completely dominated by comic book movies, the franchise so incompetent it couldn’t make financial hay even by putting Batman and Superman into the same movie – which it tried twice – reached the $1 billion threshold for the first time on their sixth try with a character who’s more often the butt of jokes, one for which a big screen adaptation was once thought absurd to the point of parody.

As of the end of the long Martin Luther King weekend, Aquaman’s fifth weekend in release, it stood at $1.067 billion worldwide, which is the series’ best worldwide performance by more than $100 million. However, it is only DC’s fourth best showing domestically, with $306.8 million made in the U.S.

The film’s success, sudden in the context of its source material and its franchise, begs a question that’s been on seemingly every film publication’s mind for the past month and a half, usually in the exact same words – Will Aquaman save the DCEU?

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The Möbius Strip: ‘Glass’ falls a bit short, Oscar nominations announced

The year’s first major release in Glass pieced together a $46.5 million opening over the long Martin Luther King Day weekend, short of Universal’s $50 million hopes. The Upside and Aquaman fell to into the second and third rung, while Funmation’s Dragon Ball Super: Broly scored a surprise no. 4 finish with $11.9 million. Spider-Man: Into the  Spider-Verse, in its sixth weekend in release, also cleared $10 million in the no. 5 slot- Box Office Mojo

Glass is the culmination of several storylines for writer/director/producer M. Night Shyamalan. It’s the long-awaited sequel to one of his first films, and also consummates his rise back to popularity after making some of the most hated movies ever in the late ‘00s. Shyamalan gave several interviews on the past 20 years- The New York Times

Apparently, he had the ending for Glass already in mind all those years ago- The Hollywood Reporter

Shyamalan has written almost every movie he’s been involved in. Owen Gleiberman writes that may be what holds him back- Variety

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Narrative like shattered ‘Glass’ makes new M. Night film a tough watch

This is the type of sinister chiaroscuro image that makes Glass worth a trip to the theater for noir fans. Images courtesy Universal Pictures.

3/10 Almost 20 years ago, M. Night Shyamalan was forbidden from using the words “comic book” to describe his 2000 movie Unbreakable, about translating comic book tropes into a gritty real-world setting, fearing that the recent Batman movies would scare audiences away from such a film. Instead, Unbreakable was marketed as a mystery-thriller in the vein of Shyamalan’s recent smash hit, The Sixth Sense.

In the intervening time period, we’ve seen comic book adaptations swing back to prominence, then its most auspicious and format-specific tropes cross over to film, then more and more obscure gimmick characters swim and size-shift into the mainstream. We’ve even seen Batman himself adapted a gritty, real-world series that was so successful Warner Bros. has been seeking to recreate it precisely ever since.

Now, after Shyamalan’s own concurrent descent into obscurity and recent rise back to popularity, he has finally made Glass, the long-awaited sequel to Unbreakable which brings comic books’ most auspicious and format-specific tropes to the big screen. Where Unbreakable released into a world of such deep skepticism surrounding comic books’ widespread popularity that it wasn’t allowed to be marketed as a comic book movie, Glass releases into a world in which the San Diego Comic-Con, where its trailer debuted last year, rapidly became the largest pop-culture festival in the world as soon as Marvel started spooling up its cinematic universe 10 years ago.

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