By David Kozlowski | 11 August 2017
Welcome to Issue #8 of The LRM WEEKEND, a weekly column offering strong opinions about film, TV, comics, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, animation, and anime. We also want to hear from you, our awesome LRM community! Share your feedback or ideas for future columns: @LRM_Weekend and we'll post your Tweets below!
PREVIOUS ISSUES: 8.4.17 | 7.28.17 | 7.21.17 | 7.14.17 | 7.7.17 | 6.30.17
Hey LRM Weekenders, we've got a bunch of cool stuff for you this week. In our editorial we'll examine the big Disney streaming service announcement and what it means for Netflix. We'll also dive into the career of master crime writer Elmore Leonard, assess Chuck Norris' fighting skills, and have some fun with 80s Action movies. Looking forward to your comments and feedback!
Netflix Is Poised To Dominate And It's All Disney's Fault
Disney's big announcement, to pull their films from Netflix and launch their own streaming service by 2019, might look like a power play by one of the world's biggest entertainment conglomerates, but it's really an act of desperation that illustrates just how badly they've lost pace with consumer behaviors and the explosive growth of companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu. However, this problem isn't unique to Disney, each of the big Hollywood studios are flailing to adapt to the Internet, social media, mobile devices, and streaming services... and they're all losing ground.
Case in point, this isn't first time Disney's tried to play catch-up in the technology-entertainment space. Back in 2010 Disney acquired a small, social games startup called Playdom for $763 million; a move intended to give Disney a foothold in Facebook and mobile gaming, which was then dominated by companies like Zynga. Full-disclosure, I worked for Playdom at the time and watched both organizations struggle to collaborate and forge a working relationship -- many creative folks soon departed, and a few years later Playdom ceased to exist.
Disney is a massive, massive company and it's not surprising that they're struggling to keep pace with the Netflix's and Amazon's of the world. Their core expertise is creating content for established mediums like film and TV... but they're not a technology company, so they're going to struggle with respect to media and tech innovation -- and this isn't something you just acquire (as they realized with Playdom). Growing or acquiring their own service will give them the presence they covet, but it doesn't guarantee success. They're already way, way behind Netflix in terms of making compelling content that fits today's a world of consumers who watch what they want, when they want it, and how they want it.
Forbes's Michael Yu examined the deal, and had this to say:
"Not too long ago, everyone was still watching television on a schedule. I remember rushing home to catch prime time shows in order to share the same conversation at the water cooler the next day. Though commercials were annoying, we were at least able to grasp the contour of a drama series, or the personality of the characters being developed. Absent multiple screens through our smartphones and laptops, our attention had yet to be fragmented. "
Yu is describing the world of yesterday, which Disney is struggling to escape, and Netflix left behind in the dust.
In fact, this move probably forced Netflix to accelerate their original programming, which already has a pretty good choke hold on pop culture. Netflix countered Disney's announcement with several of their own: signing TV icon David Letterman, purchasing Mark Millar's Millarworld company, and inking the Coen Brothers to a new creative deal... to say nothing of their ever-growing list of original films and series like The Defenders, Bright, War Machine, Ozark, and Stranger Things 2. Somehow, Netflix stole the week, and they're now poised to dominate the marketplace while Disney's still sorting out how to build their apps and sell their service.
The mainstream press has been all over this story, and there's a ton of speculation regarding the impact Disney's move will have on Netflix. THR spoke with Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, "The fairy tale has an unhappy ending. Netflix is at the mercy of content owners and can only secure its future and justify its valuation if it successfully develops compelling, owned, original content." With respect to Mr. Pachter's expertise, it sure seems like Netflix has a solid plan for developing plenty of original content, and even though they're currently saddled with billions in debt, at least they don't have to worry about paying advertisers, marketing, and distribution for their existing films and shows, which is still core to Disney's current business model (in addition to the costs of developing and launching this new service).
Netflix already has over 100 million subscribers. The key to their future is retention. It's cheaper to keep an existing subscriber than it is to obtain a new one (user acquisition is MEGA expensive). Disney currently has zero streaming subscribers, and while they have a lots and lots of content, it will cost them a millions and millions of dollars to convince consumers to pay for yet another monthly service. Given that the average consumer is already paying subscription fees for their mobile phone, Internet connection, cable, and probably one or two streaming services this is THE major question for Disney (and CBS, and anyone else thinking of launching their own streaming service).
While Disney, and the rest of legacy Hollywood, flail to sort all of this out, Netflix is already there, and poised to continue growing their audience while creating amazing new original shows and films. All Disney is accomplishing, in the short-term, is creating confusion and fragmenting audiences. There are only a finite number of subscribers out there, and these consumers have limited dollars to spend. This is Netflix time, and they are ready to seize the marketplace. Ten years from now the entertainment mega-corporations could very well be Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Netflix, with Disney, CBS, Hulu, etc. just pieces of their portfolios.
Each week we'll choose a familiar (or not so familiar) fighter and their base style. Our goal is to help fans understand a bit more about the differences between the various fighting styles shown in our favorite movies and shows, how they compare and contrast, and what makes them cool!
CHUCK NORRIS - TANG SOO DO
FIGHT OF THE WEEK: CODE OF SILENCE (1985)
BONUS: THE OCTAGON (1980) Trailer
BONUS: CHUCK NORRIS - BIOGRAPHY (2005)
Who Is Chuck Norris?
Carlos "Chuck" Ray Norris (1940-present) is an American martial artist, actor, producer and screenwriter. After serving in the United States Air Force, stationed on Osan, Korea, he studied a form of Korean Tae Kwon Do called Tang Soo Do. In 1968 Norris won the Professional Middleweight Karate champion title, which he held for six consecutive years. In 1969, he won Karate's triple crown for the most tournament wins of the year, and the Fighter of the Year award by Black Belt magazine.
Norris made history in 1990 when he was the first Westerner in the documented history of Taekwondo to be given the rank of 8th Degree Black Belt Grandmaster. Norris appeared in a number of action films, such as Way of the Dragon, where he famously battled Bruce Lee in what many consider the best martial art fight ever filmed. He The Cannon Group's leading star during the 1980s and later starred in CBS' Walker, Texas Ranger TV series from 1993 until 2001.
Why Should We Care?
Chuck Norris has been the butt of a number of jokes over recent years, but he is a legit martial artist, learning his base Tang Soo Do style while serving in the Air Force overseas. Before becoming a so-so actor, Norris was a highly-successful tournament fighter in the late 60s, and made his acting debut in the Dean Martin film The Wrecking Crew (1968). Norris met Bruce Lee at the Long Beach International martial arts tournament and in 1972, he acted as Lee's nemesis in the movie Way of the Dragon (aka Return of the Dragon), which is widely credited with launching him toward stardom.
Norris' martial arts films were B-movies (at best) during the 70s, but in 1984 Norris had a major breakthrough with Missing In Action, a film about bringing home POWs left behind in Vietnam. He later starred in Andy Davis' Code of Silence (1985), a film intended for the Dirty Harry franchise -- a solid action film by the director of The Fugitive (1993) and Under Siege (1992), and also the closest Norris ever got to mainstream stardom. Just when his film career appeared to be waning, Norris landed the lead role in Walker, Texas Ranger, which is based on the film Lone Wolf McQuade (1983).
Each week in The Creators we'll showcase a legend or innovator from our favorite comics, movies, and shows via profiles, interviews, and documentaries that highlight these amazing individuals from any point in the last 100 years of pop culture.
MASTER CRIME WRITER: ELMORE LEONARD
INTERVIEW: CHARLIE ROSE INTERVIEW (1996)
BONUS: THE FILMS OF ELMORE LEONARD (ADAPTATIONS)
BONUS: JUSTIFIED CAST TRIBUTE TO ELMORE LEONARD
THE ADAPTED WORKS OF ELMORE LEONARD (WRITER TV/FILM):
Who Is Elmore Leonard?
Elmore John Leonard Jr. (1925–2013) was an American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. His earliest novels, published in the 1950s, were Westerns, but he went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures.
Among his best-known works are Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Swag, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, and Rum Punch (adapted for the movie Jackie Brown). Leonard's writings include short stories that became the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the FX television series Justified.
Why Should We Care?
Elmore "Dutch" Leonard is THE definitive American crime writer of the 20th century, more than 40 of his written works have been adapted for film or television (and he was credited as screenwriter in many of these projects). Leonard's stories were essentially about idiots and their half-brained schemes to get away with murder, capture the bad guy(s), and sometimes both at the same time. His characters operated on both sides of the law -- an array of colorful cops, private eyes, thieves, and killers. His early writing career was primarily in Westerns, but he broke through with a series of novels set in Detroit during the 70s that launched his more mainstream work and Hollywood relationship.
What set Leonard's writing apart from just about everyone else was his dialog. Rich, taut, terse, and nasty -- the characters in his novels are people you'd never want to meet in real life, lowlifes who'd shove you into the path of an oncoming train just to snatch a quarter off the sidewalk. The action in his stories comes fast and violent -- it's no wonder that everyone from James Mangold to Steven Soderbergh to Quentin Tarantino sought out his stories to adapt as films.
We all grew up watching all kinds of movies and TV shows from the 60s-90s that turned us into the fanboys and fangirls that we are today! Whether it's Ultraman, Jackie Chan, Voltron, Akira Kurosawa, or Knight Rider (you know who you are!), we tend to associate types of genre (Action, Comedy, War, Crime, Western, Sci-Fi, Horror) or sub-genres with particular decades (80s Action, 50s Westerns, 60s War). Each week we'll profile and analyze a specific genre and decade, while asking what these films or shows said about that particular time in pop culture.
ACTION FILMS OF THE 80s
Loose Cannons: LETHAL WEAPON (1987)
Mercenary Adventurers: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
Military Mayhem: RAMBO FIRST BLOOD PART II (1982)
A PARTIAL HISTORY OF IMPORTANT 80s ACTION FILMS:
What Is The 80s Action Genre?
Action films have been a hallmark of Hollywood since the beginning, but it wasn't until the 1980s that the genre finally blew up and took over American cinema. After the counter-culture of the 60s and the anxiety of the 70s, audiences were looking for films that were simple, dumb fun... and hoo-boy, did we ever get our fill!
Why Should We Care?
Whether you're a fan of cops, soldiers, criminals, or martial artists there's something for you in the 80s. Beginning in 1981 with Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark -- #66 in AFI's Top 100 of All-Time -- and ending in 1989 with Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon 2, this was an incredible time to be an action movie fan. And we're not even talking about the amazing sci-fi films in this decade (that's a whole other article... maybe even next week!)
This was also the era that introduced (or firmly entrenched) action stars like Stallone, Norris, Schwarzenegger, Gibson, Murphy, Seagal, Van Damme, and Willis in some of their most memorable films (and also sometimes their worst films -- see: Cobra).
American culture in the 80s was exploding with MTV music videos, Atari video games, CNN launches, Rubik's Cube, Madonna, the Macintosh... whew! Crazy things were also happening in the real world too (the fall of the Berlin Wall, Reagan assassination attempt, Challenger shuttle disaster) -- it was a crazy, unhinged mess, and also the perfect environment for Action films to step in and say: set aside your complex lives, let's spend a couple hours having big, dumb, stupid fun. And wow, did we ever get our share.
The 80s were a period of franchise explosion: Rambo, Indiana Jones, Lethal Weapon, Death Wish, Rocky, Back to the Future, Missing In Action all saw multiple iterations -- trilogies, universes, and spin-offs became the norm during this era. In fact, almost every current major action film or franchise today can point back to some other action film of the 80s as their source of inspiration!
It's the weekend, which means it's finally time to catch-up on all the stuff we've bookmarked on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Vimeo, Twitch... you get the idea. The LRM community has millions of hours of stuff on our collective DVRs. We want to hear from you; tell us the shows, movies, etc. you've recently finished, or have queued-up!
DETROIT (2017) -- In Theaters Now
What Is It?
LRM fanboy, David Kozlowski, recommends Detroit, starring John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Civil War), John Krasinski (The Office).
In the summer of 1967, rioting and civil unrest starts to tear apart the city of Detroit. Two days later, a report of gunshots prompts the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Army National Guard to search and seize an annex of the nearby Algiers Motel. Several policemen start to flout procedure by forcefully and viciously interrogating guests to get a confession. By the end of the night, three unarmed men are gunned down while several others are brutally beaten
Why Should We Care?
"This is no comforting drama of social protest. It's closer to a hair-trigger historical nightmare, one you can't tear yourself away from." -- Owen Gleiberman, Variety.
My father served in the Michigan National Guard in 1967 during the Detroit riots, it was such an awful and traumatic experience for him that he refused to speak of it... ever. I've lived with bits of this story my entire life, and this film dramatizes many of the events with power and immediacy. There are scenes of brutal police violence against the black residents of Detroit, some were staged for the film but many were taken directly from actual news footage during the riots.
The direction and acting are both fantastic, but the storyline itself, which focuses on the events at the Algiers Motel during the midst of the riots, takes up a significant amount of the plot before shifting to an odd courtroom drama. There's no clear protagonist and there are at least five different subplots going on, which drags the pace down. The film is also overly complicated and confusing, but then so were events underlying the riots themselves. This movie is ultimately a bit of a mess, but it tells an important story and shows that many things have not changed in America since 1967, which is haunting and sobering.
A very solid film that's worth your time. Highly recommended!
SOURCE: Movieclips Trailers
LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL (1994)
What Is It?
This week LRM fanboy Moby85 reaches back to another cool 90s action film, the classic Luc Besson classic, Léon: The Professional (1994). Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin's trade.
Why Should We Care?
This week's recommendation, if you found Valerian lacking, is Luc Besson's best film, "Leon: The Professional." You'll also see how Natalie Portman was also a great actress BEFORE the Star Wars prequels. And you'll know why Gary Oldman is legendary. I think his performance as Winston Churchill may set a new bar for me...But as of right now, this is Oldman at his best. And this movie has some seriously insane action. .
STEVE CARELL RETROSPECTIVE (Netflix)
What Is It?
LRM fanboy, Mark Cook, recommends The Office, starring Steve Carell (Anchorman 1 and 2, Bruce Almighty, Despicable Me 1-3, The 40-Year-Old-Virgin). Seasons 1-9 are available on Netflix right now. .
Why Should We Care?
Who needs a laugh? We all do, right? Most of the series I watch are serious, or action, but I enjoy finishing my day in a good mood, and The Office definitely delivers; particularly Seasons 3-5.
Michael Scott is the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, PA. The characters are all uniquely different all while working in an office where their personalities definitely clash with hilarious outcomes. The show was released in the US in 2005 (there is also the UK version on Netflix starring Ricky Gervais) and lasted through 2013. No matter what profession you are in, you will be able to relate to the vastly different personalities that are forced to work together, and will possibly find some of your coworkers to share some of the qualities the characters portray. Even with its focus on humor, it still provides interesting storylines as well.
Carell in the lead role is completely amazing. He will make you laugh each episode with his naivety. The supporting cast is great as well, and all are completely memorable (and quotable) characters. Once Carell left the series the humor wasn't as consistent, but it is still worth watching, especially for the final episode. Many readers have probably seen the series, but even if you have, I recommend watching it again. Some of the episodes are classics (CPR Training) that will continue to make you laugh. If you haven't checked it out, it starts a little slow in Season 1, so give it a chance and I promise it will not disappoint.
What do you think about this week's selection of LRM Weekend stories? Give us suggestions for future columns in the comments down below!