Behind the Scenes on The Daily Show's Washington Football Segment

In recent years, the biggest story surrounding the Washington Redskins has taken place off the field. Dan Snyder, quickly making his claim of being the worst owner in modern sports, has been embroiled in a public battle over the offensiveness of the team’s name. A less-idiotic businessman would, after some public hand-wringing, have changed the name to something inoffensive, and then cashed in on the flood of new merchandise sales, multiplying good publicity with a tidy profit. Instead, he has bitterly clung to the name, in the face of outrage and protests from every corner of the country.

Recently The Daily Show ran a segment where fans of the team who were against a name change participated in a roundtable discussion where they presented arguments for keeping the name. During the panel, they were interrupted by a group of Native Americans that The Daily Show had brought in, and the ensuing discussion went about as well as you would expect given that one side’s entire argument is based off nostalgia, one of the more dangerous emotions to productive discourse. While the segment was interesting, there seemed to be a more compelling story lurking beneath the surface, and an account of the day’s panel and the following day’s trip to the team’s game from one of the Native Americans who participated in the show seems to bear that out:

There were points during that hour-long experience where I actually was afraid for my life. I have never been so blatantly threatened, mocked or jeered. It was so intense, so full of vitriol that none of the footage ended up being used in the segment. I’m a big dude—6’1”, and a lotta meat on the bones. But a blonde little wisp of a girl completely freaked me out as I waited in line for the bathroom. “Is that shirt supposed to be funny?” she asked motioning to my satirical “Caucasians” T-shirt. And then she said, “I’ll fucking cut you.” Actually, she didn’t scare me so much as the wannabe linebackers standing behind her who looked like they wanted to make good on her threat.

View The Daily Show’s segment at Comedy Central.

Read the entire story at the Missoula Independent’s site.

Don Hertzfeldt Takes THE SIMPSONS' Couch Gag Into The Future

THE SIMPSONS started its 26th season this past weekend with, of all things, a crossover with FAMILY GUY (spits on the ground). While the episode itself was something I will not watch with the fervor of the narrator of the first 9/10ths of Green Eggs and Ham, I’ve had the opening couch gag, directed by animator Don Hertzfeldt, open in a tab so that I can keep coming back to it. Hertzfeldt, whose films can be found on both Bitter Films and YouTube, sends Homer back to the first season of the show, warping his figure into his original form, before sending him careening into the distant future, where things take a turn for the surreal and strange.

All The Opening To ALL THAT JAZZ

The Criterion Collection (previously praised here) released Bob Fosse’s ALL THAT JAZZ to home video earlier this month. Having never seen the film before, I came away from my viewing in awe, and actually turned around and re-watched the film immediately, just to make sure it wasn’t some delirious fever dream.

The film, based partially on director Bob Fosse’s career as a choreographer, director, producer and dancer, stars Roy Scheider [JAWS (The film, not the Bond villain)] as Joe Gideon, a pill-popping, womanizing hedonist who is dealing with the stress of creating a new stage show while also editing a film, each with its own producers and demands. Add to that the stress in his personal life, and Gideon proceeds to careen headfirst into a physical breakdown. The film features sequences that are at turns sublime and surreal, doused in dark humor. To advertise the release, Criterion posted the first sequence from the film online, and it is included below.

The film is a masterpiece and has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. Sadly, it’s not available through any of the streaming services, but you can pick up a copy from Amazon here.

ALL THAT JAZZ (Criterion Collection)

Steven Soderbergh's Silent RAIDERS

Steven Soderbergh is a mad genius. From SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE, to a five-hour biopic of Ché Guevara, to a remake of SOLARIS, to MAGIC MIKE, to the OCEAN’S trilogy (of which the middle film, OCEAN’S TWELVE, is an all-time favorite of mine, but that’s for another piece), his career has been marked by both his choice of subjects as well as technical presentation. Often pulling double or triple duty as editor and/or cinematographer in addition to his directorial responsibilities, Soderbergh has been one of the most visible advocates for digital cinema, shooting almost exclusively digitally since 2005’s BUBBLE, while also filming CHE with then-prototype Red One cameras.

The huge digression aside, Soderbergh is the business, and his involvement in anything will pique my interest. This week, he released, via his personal website (where you can also purchase a Bolivian liquor he’s helped import into the country), a version of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK as a silent film, also drained of its color, in order to study staging and composition. With a different soundtrack also laid over the film (mostly from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score to THE SOCIAL NETWORK), it’s interesting to see how much RAIDERS works even without any of its dialogue or iconic John Williams score.

From Soderbergh:

So I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me. Oh, and I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day (for example, no matter how fast the cuts come, you always know exactly where you are—that’s high level visual math shit).

See the film on Soderbergh’s site. (Extension 765)

Using the iPhone 6/6 Plus in Iceland

A great review of the capabilities of the camera housed in the newest iPhones. Photographer Austin Mann took the devices to Iceland and posted an extensive report. The most surprising part was the demonstration of the autofocus on the new phones, and how much faster they are than even the year-old iPhone 5s. The article will also contain your daily recommended value of horses galloping majestically in slow-motion. Recommended viewing on a computer, as my iPad seemed to eat itself everytime I tried to bring up the page due to its Scrooge McDuck levels of media richness.

iPhone 6 Plus Camera Review: Iceland