Loki, Lupin and In the Heights

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Savoring a mild Ethiopian coffee this sunny morning, reading the Travel and Entertainment section of the WSJ, I was also curious about:

Is Streaming Making Movies Worse?

This is not simply a reincarnation of the perennial trade-off (as the article seems to claim):

Quantity v Quality.

My own observation is that the variance and variety have increased – which is not a bad thing per se in this context – as movie makers – and more broadly, makers of miniseries and such — are taking more risks, tackling different themes, targeting different segments and creating materials that otherwise may not have been produced with writers and actors that were previously shut out from, or not welcome in, Hollywood

Not surprisingly, Netflix had the highest volume (and lowest quality, as measured by certain metrics) while Disney was the opposite. The good news is that many us have both Netflix and Disney, and so a measure that is more consumer oriented (who has limited time, and will likely see only so many from the available choices) could be:

Have the number of high-quality, innovative shows increased?

This is different from looking at averages or ratios or statistics by streaming company

Not to forget the shows that are on Regular TV 😏:

FBI. Good. FBI: Most Wanted. Decent. Law & Order: Organized Crime. Surprisingly enjoyable. Seal Team. Satisfying. Blue Bloods. Fine. Chicago PD. Topical. NCIS: New Orleans. Meh.

A few months ago, I read an informative book (scroll right on top of post) by Robert Iger:

The Ride of a Lifetime.

Chapter 7, It is about the Future, and Chapter 10, Marvel and Massive Risks that Make Perfect Sense are my favorites.

Here is an unexpected link between me and Bob Iger, in Variety magazine 😳:

Bob Iger Promised Diversity in Disney’s Executive Ranks by 2021.

Now to Loki.

The first (of six) episodes dropped on Disney+ on June 9th. Based on the first two episodes – they are releasing one per week, every Wednesday, midnight Pacific Time – I am hoping – and it has Rotten Tomatoes 96%, and IMDb 9.1/10, so I am not alone in liking what we have seen so far — that it will end up joining my previous favorite mini-series:

The Night Manager. The Queen’s Gambit.

The much anticipated second part of Lupin – in its entirety, 5 episodes – was released on Netflix on June 11th. In one word, after seeing the first three of the five episodes:


It is not able to carry on the “smart, sexy and stylish” first part, in my view, although the Audience Score is 78% (and Critic Ratings is 95%). Maybe the final two episodes will turn my opinion around. Optimism is important, Iger writes. His other lessons learned from 15 years as CEO of The Walt Disney Company on what principles are necessary for True Leadership:

Courage. Focus. Decisiveness. Curiosity. Fairness.

In the Heights is pretty good – with some dazzling sequences – and although it was opening in Theaters and on HBO Max, I decided to watch it at home: I have a 108 inch projection screen, with surround sound and marvelous sub-woofer, and HD/DLP projector. 

Let me take this opportunity to link to our paper (with Tim and Franco, who will be joining Purdue as an Assistant Professor, and research conducted in collaboration with Warner Bros.) that studies whether movies should open simultaneously in theaters and home, and if not, what should be the interval between them (and why):

A Stochastic, Dynamic Model for Optimizing Home Video Release.

Today’s NYTimes has a very nice article, whose print-version title caught my attention: 

The Joyful Physics of ‘In the Heights’.

If I was writing only about musicals, I would have titled this post:

Fame, Footloose and In the Heights.

Indeed, a very enjoyable aspect of the second episode of Loki was that they used the song Holding out for a Hero, by Bonnie Tyler, that was originally created for Footloose (1984)

Now for some fun trivia. As I was enjoying it, watching it with my two sons, they were also tapping to the music. I asked them if they had heard the song before. The elder one said: Shrek 2. The younger one exclaimed POKEMON: Detective Pikachu. (They are correct.) This morning, at breakfast, they both said:

Dad, we watched Footloose late last night. We really liked it. 

I downloaded the song as I went for a stroll around the lake in North Park enjoying an amazing sunny June afternoon in Pittsburgh, musing about the God of Mischief:

Where have all the good men gone and where are all the Gods?
Where’s the street wise Hercules to fight the rising odds?

Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight

Happy Father’s Day.

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