Is movie Universe creation approaching a possible saturation and breaking point? We’re deluged with content on the movie and television screen and the market leader, Marvel, is fast approaching the point where newcomers could be too intimidated by the breadth of their universe. Meanwhile the other studios are racing to reach that same breadth with mixed success.
So, it is tempting, though not necessarily correct (yet) to claim there is a sort of reaction going on whereby established filmmakers are interested in making standalone stories. Examples include Shane Black’s hilarious and madcap The Nice Guys, Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and, this, Steven Soderbergh’s return to the heist film. There is also growing speculation that DC might capitalise on this idea by making standalone films out of their properties (i.e. the rumoured Scorsese Joker origin film).
Like with Wright in Baby Driver, Logan Lucky feels like an act of escapism for Soderbergh. It is essentially a return to the well that was Ocean 11 overlaid with a different setting, target and cast of character tropes.
The movie is heavily stylised but feels a little too bright. There is no hint of the southern gothic which often makes southern texts much more interesting and unique. Beyond the accents actors adopt this movie could, really, have been set almost anywhere in America (or even Australia with a few changes), the setting is horribly underutilised. There is not quite enough of anything, not quite enough car racing or stunts, not quite enough stakes, not quite enough character, and not quite enough reveal at the end. Unlike in Oceans 11 players in the heist are essentially all amateurs. They have no established set of skill and so the heist is almost unbelievable and somehow anti-climactic. There was an extra motivation in Ocean 11, revenge, which helped explain the film whereas the characters of Logan Lucky avoid and decry any sort of motivation.
Adam Driver and Channing Tatum could perhaps have been playing opposite roles to have suited their acting abilities better while, Daniel Craig is fun because it’s fun seeing him ham it up and it works in this movie but is part of the problem as much as it is a boon. Soderbergh avoids easy beats and the painful American movie second act interpersonal conflict and, for all of this movie’s problems, many also shared by Baby Driver, it is still fun simply going to see a well-made film not connected to another movie or necessitates staying around after the credits for a preview of what is to come.
I don’t use Facebook very regularly anymore and so have missed its push for users to make and use livestreaming. I’ve noticed it a lot on other platforms like Instagram and there seems also to be many mid-level channels on YouTube who have been encouraged to produce live videos.
Frankly, most live videos I’ve seen so far have been glitchy and made with token effort. Platforms are pushing for producers to provide live content but some of the best producers of video content are great because of the planning and editing they put into their normal videos. In a live setting, they are unable to provide the same slick form of entertainment and, ultimately, most content producers seem to use their live streams for Q and A sessions or virtual meet and greets.
In terms of journalism live streaming seems to have more potential:
With Facebook Live there has been an uptake in the use of already available streaming capability. This is because of the high number of Facebook users and the platforms ability to place such heavy emphasis on Live streaming.
The effect on journalism as cited by Matt Dusenbury is best exemplified by Justin Stapleton’s live reportage severe weather in Houston in 2016. This example shows livestreaming provides the potential for reporters to interact with the viewers of the broadcast and tailor factors of the broadcast to their reactions. As in the example of Stapleton he was able to, in real time, provide viewers of his broadcast with information they needed.
Live streaming journalism is already leading to an increased immediacy and candidacy in the reportage of breaking and rapidly developing news events. In addition to the increased speed of the news cycle tools such as Facebook Live could also lead to an unprecedented self-reflexivity of news and a breakdown of the divide between reporters and their audience. Traditionally audience input has had to pass through producers. Live streaming has the potential for the broadcaster and audience to directly interact and for the news to be tailored to the audience’s needs.
The various social platforms have been intent on becoming media companies for a while now. Twitter has a deal to live stream the NBA and Instagram and Snapchat are still trying to pivot their ‘story’ style into watchable channels and news sources. Similarly, YouTube is trying to curate the best of its platform into YouTube tv.
I wonder where all of this is head? To what extent are these platforms looking to curate? Could we all one day have our own 24-hour non-stop tv channel of live and scripted content which is unique to our own personal preferences and priorities?
Based on the Instagram models our channels could be location based, preference based or revolve around subscriptions. But what about the shared experience of watching pre-scripted content.
As interesting an idea as this might be do any of us really want this? I wonder if live streaming is a technology we don’t want to be pervasive. Live streaming suits us for news and legitimately interesting live events but I think it could be a development which, like video chat, we prefer to only use occasionally.
Perhaps it will evolve eventually and make more sense. Perhaps live-streaming will be integrated into subscription based TV. Perhaps. In the meantime, I’ll continue to grit my teeth while content producers fiddle with cameras bulge their eyes as they try to react to subscriber comments.