Commercials

Why Watch? This playful Nike commercial from writer/director Paul Wie does a fantastical/fantastic job of chugging home-brewed nostalgia and reminding us about the power of sports. Plus, it’s the rare kind of commercial that really tells a story. In it, a group of old men sneak onto a soccer field at night and get carried away. Wie and editor Peter Yun do an especially strong job of cutting between the sore-hipped reality and the invincible world of youth. What will it cost? Only 1 minute. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films

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Boiling Point

Depending on your position in life, you most likely fall into one of three camps regarding DVR service. If you’re a user of it, you think it’s one of the greatest inventions of all time. Way better than sliced bread. If you’re someone who has their livelihood tied to commercials, you probably hate it. After all, we use it to skip that shit. The third camp is people who don’t have DVRs and thus don’t really care. Regardless of what camp you fit into, we must all acknowledge that the DVR is here and here to stay. No take-backsies! We have to learn to live with it – well, no, I love to live with it, it frees me up and lets me watch TV on my schedule, but I can understand why some studio people don’t like it. So knowing that a DVR is running in tons of houses, I have a message to Cable Companies: get your shit synchronized!

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Culture Warrior

Last week, we explored the concept of shoving products into movies, but there’s an equal and opposite marketing method where movies are shoved into product commercials – especially if the character is an iconic one. There’s a distinction to be made here about the difference between celebrities endorsing colognes and fictional characters doing it, although the line can definitely be blurred. Movie star endorsements are as old as the medium, whether it’s Buster Keaton slugging out the chalk for Simon Pure Beer, Charles Bronson going overboard with his self-sprinkling of Mandom, Arnold Schwarzenegger scream-laughing for a Japanese energy drink, or Abraham Lincoln selling us churros. And that doesn’t include all the normal, run-of-the-mill advertising where an actress loves a brand of make-up or a wrestler loves beef jerky. A human being selling out is one thing, but there’s something especially heinous about a character being used to market a product because it’s an element of art forced into a square hole of commercialism. Oftentimes its done without the creator’s consent (or consent is contractually taken away from the starting block). In most cases, the original actor doesn’t even have to be involved (for better or worse), especially if there’s a costume involved. In its rawest form, it’s the uglification of something we love. This list is light-years away from being complete, but it hopefully shows a well-rounded view of different types of movie characters in commercials throughout a few different time periods.

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Culture Warrior

We often don’t think of commercials as having authorship, at least not in the same way we think of movies. Commercials are created by advertising companies, by focus groups, by strategists; not by “artists.” But while the purpose of a 30-second ad may on the surface differ from the motive of a feature length film (though not always), both are media assembled through a particular economy of storytelling devices and are made often by a collaborative company of individuals. But commercials don’t often contain credit sequences, and thus the phenomenology of its making is cloaked and the personalities who made it unconsidered. The focus is on the product being sold, not the creative team selling it. So it can be surprising to find out that well-respected, top-tier, artistic filmmakers often direct commercials. Sure, many filmmakers regularly make commercials as a more lucrative and less time-consuming alternative to feature filmmaking, and there are many visual artists who have honed an ability to express their personality in various media forms, but a surprising number of supposedly cinema-specific auteurs make commercials, despite a lack of apparent monetary need or professional benefit. This subject came to my attention recently because of a series of articles on Slate last week by David Haglund about the oeuvre of the Coen brothers that included the filmmaking duo’s commercials in considering their larger cinematic contribution. It’s an interesting way to view a filmmaker’s career, for it forces you to look for their identifying traits and revisited themes via […]

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Boiling Point

There has been the odd occasion throughout the years we’ve taken a moment to talk about commercials. Whether it was starring Michael Bay (Verizon FiOS is AWESOME) or directed by him (Victoria’s Secret is out), or just something especially cool, we’ll talk about it. So it would then make sense to talk about them now, the day after the Super Bowl, which is far more entertaining because of the commercials than the actual game. Okay, the fourth quarter was alright this year. Anyway, I don’t walk to talk about the specifics of these commercials because that’s not actually what this is about. You see, this year I did a little experiment. I didn’t watch most of the Super Bowl and I skipped almost all of the commercials. Why? Because I wanted to know if I had seen them already. So when people started describing these commercials to me about how funny they were – I already knew. And that is bullshit. Click through to find out why.

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We all know that Michael Bay directed commercials before he made the jump to movies that go boom. But little did I know that he was the man behind one of the best Got Milk ads ever.

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How about a little Monday morning silliness to get your work week off on the right foot?

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