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Hive mentality and the future

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The Downloads of the Week are Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, because all of a sudden it seems like Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan are joining forces to try and become a thing again. And, if you watch the news it seems like a lot of people on both sides of the border, are into it... WTF?! Really?

In any case, those Tarantino flicks are interesting because while much of his work has been critiqued as "revenge porn" (everything from Marcellus Wallace in the gimp pawnshop in Pulp Fiction, to Shosanna Dreyfus burning her theatre in Inglourious Basterds, to everything about Kill Bill) there is also a pretty valid argument to be made that the ending of Basterds is a commentary on propaganda and the mob mentality of humankind.

Why is it unsettling to watch Nazis cheer at a movie where a German sniper kills dozens of allied soldiers, then suddenly feel empowered five minutes later while watching a couple of Basterds gun down those same Nazis in a firetrap. (Ha, spoiler alert!) Isn't it kind of the same thing — being stoked to watch people you don't agree with die? But it feels different, why? Because Nazis deserve it? Certainly, but why is violence such a natural human response? What does that mean about who we are and what we think we believe? That hive mentality works pretty well for bees and ants, and I'm always going on about the value of a shared human experience in the movies, but if you throw a bunch of Nazis/Klan/Nationalists into to the mix the whole idea starts to go to shit quite quickly. Stay alert dear readers, think, and watch those Tarantino flicks.

Here on the silver screens of the Whistler Village 8, Logan Lucky opens this week and stars Channing Tatum (Magic Mike) and Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) as a pair of good-ole-boy brothers from West Virginia who decide to rob a speedway, except nothing is ever as easy as it seems. This one is a heist movie described by director Steven Soderbergh as an "inbred cousin" to his Ocean's 11 remake franchise — the criminals are unprofessional, not very slick, and Katie Holmes plays the lead female role.

It's only rated PG (rarely a good sign), but Soderbergh came out of a three-year retirement to make this film, so you know it's gonna be fun.

What's equally interesting about Logan Lucky is the story behind how Soderbergh is making and paying for it. As a director, he has always been a game changer — a proud independent who could win Oscars and Cannes trophies — and this time Soderbergh is hacking the costs and techniques of how Hollywood traditionally markets their films by selling foreign rights to cover (speedy) production costs and replay rights (Netflix/airplane/VOD/etc.) to pay for marketing and the costs of producing enough prints for the theatrical run.

This way, Soderbergh cuts out the middleman (Hollywood studio), and all the money he makes at the theatres is actual profit for the people who made the film. It's the opposite of the standard Hollywood way, and it's been done before (Jerry Weintraub did this with Nashville), but in an era where on-demand premieres keep pulling in more talent (Brad Pitt's War Machine, Joon-Ho Bong's Okja), this is another refreshing sign of a future where big studio-driven tentpole flicks and lower-budget quality cinema might both be able to thrive.

The Hitman's Bodyguard is not quality cinema (as if you couldn't tell by the title), but as the dog days of summer kick in it might still work as an excuse to enjoy some popcorn and air conditioning. Ryan Reynolds (Waiting, Deadpool) stars as a fallen-from-grace bodyguard to the stars who gets a very important gig from his ex-girlfriend at Interpol to escort Samuel L. Jackson's hitman to a really important trial. There's some witty banter, some decent action, some shitty effects, and a mangled script. But Salma-Hayek-in-jail saves the film in the end, and Jackson and Reynolds are giving it their all to overcome the scripting problems. And it almost works — there's enough charisma in the cast to salvage this one, but unfortunately it's still really all quite stupid and generic.

See it with 300 like-minded friends and it gets better though.

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