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The 25 Most Powerful TV Shows of the Last 25 Years


TV doesn’t get much respect. It rots your brain and grows couch potatoes. But the so-called idiot box also swings elections, rewires brains, snares criminals, and even sways the Supreme Court. The following may not be the best shows of the last 25 years—in fact, some are among the worst—but their impact reaches far beyond the living room.

1. Tropikanka: The Show That Won a Presidential Election

As Russians were gearing up to go to the polls in July 1996, Boris Yeltsin was nervous about his job. The weather gave him additional reason to panic. With the sun shining and the temperatures pleasant, Yeltsin fretted that his city-dwelling supporters would decamp to their dachas, or country cottages, instead of staying home and voting. Russia’s president needed a way to keep his base from traveling.

His solution: a cunning use of soap opera. No show was more popular in Russia than the Brazilian morality soap Tropikanka, which regularly drew 25 million viewers to the state-owned network ORT. With the election looming, ORT made a surprise announcement: The show’s finale would air as a special triple episode on election day between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.

More amazing was the fact that the scheme actually worked. Because most dachas didn’t have televisions, viewers stayed in the city, glued to their sets. When the episode ended, it was too late to trek out of town, but voters still had time to get to the polling station. Yeltsin’s soap opera strategy helped him prevail by more than 10 million votes. Meanwhile, The Young and the Restless can’t even sway a lousy Senate race.

Mental Floss | Read the Full Article

How to Make a Monster

Witney Seibold takes a comprehensive look at the history of movie monsters to discover what makes them tick.

Seeing as it’s October, and the film world is abuzz with all manner of horror films (check your local listings for what horror movies are playing at your local movie theater or art house), I thought I would let this week’s lecture be a brief and fun musing on something I think we all can enjoy: monster movies. More specifically, what makes a good movie monster and what makes a bad movie monster. I’ll be pointing to some good and bad examples, and will spitball a bit on how a movie monster should be filmed. This is not necessarily a very intellectual exercise, this musing on monsters, but it’s certainly fun to ponder, and I think any ambitious young filmmakers interested in starting out in the horror genre would be doing an important practice in thinking about what kind of creature they want rending their cast into pools of red Karo syrup.

What makes a good movie monster? Well, to be perfectly basic right up front, I would say the monster has to look right. Now, to be sure, there are plenty of great horror films wherein the evil malevolent ghosts and monsters remain largely unseen (Val Lewton’s classic Cat People famously never shows the monsters at all, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining has its ghosts focused through Jack Nicholson’s awesome performance, The Blair Witch Project angered some fans by not showing a money shot of the titular witch), but these are certainly exceptions to movie monster rules. If we are to abide by the old film school adage of “Show, Don’t Tell,” then we’re going to want to eventually show the film’s monster at least once, and, as such, it’s going to have to look nice.

Crave Online | Read the Full Article

How Accurate is Argo?

Ben Affleck’s Argo tells the real life story of a CIA plot to free six American Embassy workers from Iran who were not taken as part of the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis. But how much of it is fact and how much is Argo-style fiction?  Does it matter if film takes historic liberties for the sake of drama?

Argo, the new movie from actor-director Ben Affleck, has mostly been getting raves—including a qualified but fairly strong endorsement from Slate’s own Dana Stevens, who calls it “a rollicking yarn” and “easily the most cohesive and technically accomplished of Affleck’s three films so far.” But several reviews have also noted just how far the movie departs in certain respects from the historical record. In the movie’s dramatic climax, Stevens writes, the “broadly accurate retelling of real events” gives way to “some fairly whopping dramatic license.” Similarly, New Yorker critic Anthony Lane—who also enjoyed the film—found it a “bit rich” that the movie pokes so much fun at “Hollywood deceitfulness” only to end “with an expert helping of white lies.” Former Slate film critic David Edelstein goes even further: NPR headlined his review “Argo: Too Good To Be True, Because It Isn’t.”

So just how accurate is Argo? And what are the white lies and dramatic whoppers the movie indulges in? We’ve tried to break it all down below. While it seems odd to offer a spoiler alert for a movie based on historical events, be warned that the rest of this post will discuss the movie in some detail. But you should also know that a lot of the most interesting details below aren’t in the movie at all—because, it turns out, much of the stuff Argo leaves out is even better than what made it in.

The Premise

Argo’s central, nutty storyline—in which the CIA establishes a fake movie production, complete with a full script and ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, in order to rescue six Americans stranded in post-revolutionary Iran—is 100 percent true, and pretty incredible. The movie is largely based on a terrific article by Joshuah Bearman published five years ago in Wired, which you should read. (The script also draws on a memoir by Antonio Mendez, the man that Affleck plays in the film.) As Bearman explained in a chat with Gawker readers yesterday, the person who first told him about the story was an independent movie producer named David Klawans, who hoped that Bearman would report it out and write up a “nice yarn” that “might help kickstart a movie.” “Shockingly,” Bearman said, “it worked.” (Klawans is an executive producer of Argo.)

Slate.com | Read the Full Article

Dealing With Foliage: Green and Yellow Saturation

You want to capture the beauty and splendor of the great outdoors but when you load up the photos, something’s just not quite right about the greenery. Whether your shooting DSLR or the Black Magic Cinema Camera (that we just talked about) it’s a matter of mastering the greens and yellows.

I’ve also struggled with foliage and often still do. It’s a very complex pattern covering a fairly wide dynamic range and it completely changes colour, from orange to nearly blue, depending on the lighting conditions.

It seems to me that photographers go out to try to capture beautiful, sun-dappled foliage, or HDRs of green hills and open woods, or leafy forest streams. They get these shots back on the computer at home and somehow, they just don’t look like they remember.

They recall the mix of smells, loam, pollen and resins, the streaming sunlight and the gentle breeze, the singing birds and the tickling water. It all felt so alive, so green. In order to try to visually portray this emotional memory, they then ramp that saturation slider way up to match the heightened stimulation of the outdoors.

Saturation And Color

We all know tonal clipping, where the highlights or shadows exceed the recordable dynamic range of the sensor and are unrecoverable. Saturation clipping is similar, except that it’s usually recoverable as it’s introduced in the post-processing phase.

Photo Tuts + | Read the Full Article

Black Magic Cinema Camera Test sees the Trees AND the Forest

I really hate watching camera tests. After watching test after test you come to realize that it really matters more what you put in front of the lens than anything else. But this test is a little different in that it puts nothing of really great interest in front of the camera… it’s just trees.

That test looks really “life like” so you might be tempted to say “so what”? That is until you’ve ever tried to shoot in a situation like this. Being able to expose for the sunlight and still get details in the dark areas is a huge thing and that’s due to the 14 stop dynamic range this camera is being advertised with. If you don’t believe me, go out into the park at midday with your camera and try it.

This dynamic range gives the footage a certain “filmic” quality that will give some productions a great look.

Via: NoFilmSchool

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