Movies

Surgical Resident Breaks Down 49 Medical Scenes From Film & TV

“Annie Onishi, general surgery resident at Columbia University, takes a look at emergency room and operating room scenes from a variety of television shows and movies and breaks down how accurate they really are. Would the adrenaline scene from Pulp Fiction actually play out that way? Is all that medical jargon we hear in shows like Grey’s Anatomy and House true-to-life? Is removing a bullet really a cure-all for a gunshot wound?”

She did this in conjunction with WIRED magazine.

This is brilliant, very well done. I was hoping she’d comment on the William Hurt movie, The Doctor (operating room music, among other things) and the Harrison Ford movie The Fugitive where there’s behind the scenes fraud going on to inflate the effects of a drug.

[via Kottke.org]

Tony Scott dies

Tony Scott dies at 68; a film career in retrospective

Director Tony Scott has died in an apparent suicide. Scott directed some of my favorite action movies of all time, movies that I watch enough so that I own high end DVD copies of them and have them ripped on my iPad.

Top Gun, True Romance, The Last Boy Scout, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State, Spy Game, Man on Fire, Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123, Unstoppable, and many others. These are great action films that can bear repeated watching even when you know them by heart.

Man on Fire stands out: Denzel Washington (in many Scott movies), Christopher Walken, Dakota Fanning (as a young girl), the editing, the music, the sense of place (Mexico), the gun tech and violence.

Walken’s character, Rayburn:

A man can be an artist… in anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good he is at it. Creasey’s art is death. He’s about to paint his masterpiece.

Tidbit: if you listen at the beginning of many Tony Scott films there is a signature sound Easter egg, a synthetic car horn sound blended in with the other sounds and underneath music. It’s in Man on Fire, Deja Vu, Enemy of the State, Unstoppable, and maybe others. This sound is a prelude to some of the best sound editing in movies. The sound in Tony Scott films is an important part of the sensory landscape and adds to the unease created by lots of hand-held visual shots.

As Ron Howard tweeted this morning: “No more Tony Scott movies. Tragic day.”

My condolences to Tony Scott’s family as well as his brother, Ridley Scott.

Margaret

This is a trailer for a new movie about to be released, Margaret.

Besides looking like an excellent new film by the writer and director Kenneth Lonergan who did You Can Count on Me, the film has a controversial production history which is worth reading about in the Wikipedia entry (read the Production notes).

It seems Lonergan had a hard time editing the movie and took so long that the producers freaked out, people sued each other, and the movie wasn’t released on schedule. No doubt many movies have a bumpy road from idea to release and many movies never get released. Reading about this one is fascinating to me because I’m a fan of what Lonergan did with You Can Count on Me and I know what it’s like to be controlling enough to not let go of a vision.

Update: I’ve pushed this post up again, The New York Times has published a piece on Longergan and the process of making this movie: Kenneth Lonergan’s Thwarted Masterpiece.

And, Amazon has it available for pre-order on DVD: Margaret.

Why Netflix should not drop DVD rentals

I wrote my first post on the Netflix fiasco (Netflix has made a big mistake and it’s not only in pricing) the morning I got Reed Hastings’ poorly written email about their upcoming changes. Since then I’ve calmed down and thought more about it.

I’ve also read dozens of posts about it, many of them very well thought out and written. No one seems to be defending DVD rentals for the reasons I’m going to list here.

1. DVDs have better image quality than streaming video. If you’ve invested in a decent HD TV, that’s meaningful.

2. DVDs have extras on them not available to streaming customers. I love the behind the scenes, making of, and other goodies on “loaded” DVDs and when I can, I always buy DVDs that have them. Many Netflix rentals have them as well. Streaming offers none of this.

3. The Netflix DVD library is extensive and Netflix may not be able to rip enough of it to make streaming have the long tail of content their DVD library has.

4. If Netflix could and did rip their entire DVD library and their entire 24 million person subscriber base moved to streaming, do you think the current internet could handle it? I don’t. Not at this point. While streaming is no doubt the future this Netflix move is premature given the current limitations of streaming to such a large user base.

My plan is to stick with the new Netflix and whatever the other company will be called for a while to see how it goes but if it doesn’t go well and gets even more expensive I’ll go back to buying DVDs for my collection and reselling them if I watch and don’t like them. I did this for years before joining Netflix and given that if I like a movie I’ll watch it multiple times, I’ll just do it again.

But I’d rather use Netflix, just the way it was.

An opportunity for public libraries

Some may be thinking that this Netflix misstep might be an incredible opportunity for local DVD rental businesses but I doubt that. Brick and mortar costs serious money. What it is however, is an incredible opportunity for public libraries.

Our little library in Warren, Connecticut (population 1000) has a growing collection of both video cassettes and DVDs. I’ve donated dozens of DVDs to them (nice tax write-off) and will continue to do this over time.

Public libraries are free and while their DVD checkout policies aren’t like Netflix’ they’re long enough so one has plenty of time to watch the movies checked out.

If I were running a public library I’d be buying up DVD collections like mad right now and hoping Netflix put their DVDs for sale at some point in bulk so I could buy those too.

No doubt libraries are hurt by Kindles and iPads and other e-readers but those who bet that the end of the physical book is on the horizon may be the same people who are betting that the end of the DVD is on the horizon.

That horizon isn’t in sight yet and physical media has a future. It may not be as commercially viable as it once was but public libraries aren’t money making institutions, they’re pubic services.

Given the economy, as services like Netflix/Qwikster become more expensive free public services like libraries become more attractive.

Netflix has made a big mistake and it’s not only in pricing

I want to preface this with the fact that I was a late comer to Netflix but thanks to my stepdaughter Jessica I’ve used and loved it for three years now. Given that I watch a lot of movies, both on DVD from Netflix and streaming from them through an AppleTV their recent price increase, which was significant, did not drive me away or even give me much pause.

This post from Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, explaining the price increase: An Explanation and Some Reflections is what gives me pause. It’s a poorly written, convoluted explanation of a bad idea. Read the comments, they’re telling.

Here’s their video apology:

He makes no apologies for the price increase, just for not letting us know why Netflix has done it. The reason they did it is because they are separating their two businesses: DVD rental and streaming. The DVD rental business will be renamed Qwikster and the current web site will be rebranded with this name and a new logo and will sit at a new domain. It will have its own separate charge on your credit card.

While I agree that the future of Netflix is streaming movies over the internet this is the most awkward way to handle the transition I can imagine.

For a company that’s done well, it’s obvious to me that Reed Hastings and Netflix have no clue how their loyal customers are hurt by this and it’s not just the price increase, it’s the separation of the services into two web sites.

For me the appeal of Netflix is their web site where I can search for a movie, decide how I want to watch it (DVD or streaming if its available on both) and then, rate it when I’ve watched it. One web site, one search, decide on platform if possible, then one rating. And, the rating system helps fine tune the Netflix recommendation engine which has worked amazingly well for me, pointing me to movies I’d never heard of or considered before. I enjoy poking around the Netflix site rating and re-rating movies. The separation of the two services will mean I’ll have to do it twice.

At this point very little of the content I like to watch on Netflix is available through streaming so much of my business comes through DVD rental. Unless they’ve got much of their collection digitized and will be announcing it soon, I’d drop Netflix (streaming) before I dropped Qwikster (DVD rental).

It may be that the problems with the US Post Office will lead to enough of a price increase for mailing DVDs that the business model Netflix was founded on won’t work anymore. Anyone who’s thought about this for more than a minute understands that at some point in the future Netflix won’t be shipping out DVDs anymore but that transition from, as Nicholas Negroponte put it “atoms to bits” is as much about marketing and keeping “old skool” customers happy and in the fold as it is about an internal business model change that none of us customers were told about.

The mistake is the way they’re doing this, not the price increase on the service. This stumble may put them out of business.