The History of The “Lofi Girl”

How a continuous cult stream appeared on YouTube with an “eternal” student

Reading time 8 minutes

On March 18, 2015 a Paris student Dmitry created a YouTube channel called “Chilled Cow”. About two years later, on February 25, 2017 the channel launched its first live broadcast with music in the Lo-fi genre, the background being an excerpt from the anime “Whisper of the Heart” , in which the main character is studying. The channel was starting to gain popularity and with it came increasing copyright claims due to the use of an animated clip by Studio Ghibli. In 2018 the channel was blocked and with that, the stream stopped.

Fragment from the anime "Whisper of the Heart" used in the broadcast
Fragment from the anime “Whisper of the Heart” used in the broadcast

It seems to be a short history of an unremarkable channel. The live broadcast option appeared on YouTube in 2011 and by 2017 there were several dozen channels broadcasting music of different genres. The Chilled Cow is likely to be just one example of a media failure.

However, the key word here is indeed “seems”. Now the channel has more than 11 million subscribers and 1.3 billion views: its name is heard by almost all pupils and students. Let’s remember together how “Chilled Cow” turned into a cultural phenomenon called “Lofi Girl” and where the girl with endless homework came from.

In 2018, the channel was blocked for copyright infringement. Not wanting to give up the idea of ​​a musical line, channel creator Dmitry decided to create his own heroine in a similar classic anime style and began to look for an artist. In September 2018, Dmitry’s announcement to the Emil Kohl School of Animation was responded to by Colombian artist Juan Pablo Machado. He was in his senior year when he received an offer to draw a new character for a musical genre.

Among Machado’s many sketches, one is particularly notable. This is how Jade came about (yes, lo-fi student with a name). She sat at her desk, flipping through the pages of her notebook and occasionally glancing out the window as soft lo-fi music played in the background. Notably, the Jade room window overlooks the historic center of Lyon, the city in France where Juan Machado spent five years studying the art of animation. A small nod to Alma Mater, thanks in large part to the famous student appearing online. And every few hours, the broadcast changes the time of day, which creates a sense of immersion for channel viewers. Especially those who live in the European time zone.

Machado himself has more than once admitted that he did not expect the 80-second animated film to be so successful. In early 2020, he was even contacted by a representative of a museum in Seoul who wanted to make the illustration part of a permanent exhibition.

Not only the Korean museum recognizes the cultural significance of “Lofi Girl”. From a background character for music programs, Jade has become a virtual icon of the digital space. Several dozen channels with a similar musical orientation began to feature their own characters, and fans of the original heroine kept coming up with drawings with a rethink of Jade’s image. Thereby, for instance, in 2020 artists from all over the world decided to paint the eternal student in the reality of their country.

"Lofi Girl" from Brazil / credits: @LeticiaEfing
“Lofi Girl” from Brazil / credits: @LeticiaEfing
"Lofi Girl" from Greece / credits: @arjunks
“Lofi Girl” from Greece / credits: @arjunks

 

 

References to “Lofi Girl” can even be found in popular culture. In the Steven Universe animated series: Future, one of the heroines – Connie – is depicted sitting in the identical “Lofi Girl” pose. And the game’s official YouTube channel World of Warcraft published a Jade-themed parody as part of a campaign promoting the Shadowlands add-on.

The heroine of the cartoon "Steven Universe" - above, Jade - below
The heroine of the cartoon “Steven Universe” – above, Jade – below

Jade has become a loyal companion and role model for those who are drawn to the flow while working or studying. She is concentrated, undistracted and constantly immersed in her studies. The stream goes on around the clock and is uninterrupted, so that anyone can connect to the “study session” with a student who never looks up from her notes. Many users admitted that the virtual girl helped them a lot to survive lonely evenings spent studying textbooks and even motivated them to spend more time on homework.

On February 22, 2020, an unexpected and shocking event happened to Lofi Girl fans: YouTube moderators blocked the channel with the broadcast for “violating the rules of the service.” And although after a couple of hours the platform apologized and restored the channel, the broadcast had to be restarted. The abrupt end of the stream was recorded, creating the longest video in YouTube history at 13,165 hours, or 548 days of non-stop streaming. Users calculated that during all this time of continuous study, Jade would have already managed to get several higher educations and learn seven of the most difficult languages ​​​​of the world (on average, it takes 1750 hours to reach the level of fluent communication).

Many users have grown and learned with the anime girl, the audience has changed with each other, and Jade has always remained the same, opening up more and more new notes. Maybe one day she’ll be able to relax, like all those chilled out on her cozy lo-fi playlist.

 

Crypto winter: why did it happen and how to fill the hole?

Причины, последствия и преодоление встречных ветров криптозимы 2022 года

Reading time 6 minutes

According to CNBC statistics, 2022 rocked the cryptocurrency market, which has lost two trillion dollars since its peak in 2021. This period of market cooling is known as “crypto winter”. But there is something about this latest crash that sets it apart from previous crypto downturns: this year’s crypto winter was marked by a series of industry-wide events that exposed holes in the operating system of the “future money” market.

Stablecoin no longer stable
Coinbase and Bitcoin signage during an Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, USA on April 14, 2021. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg
Coinbase and Bitcoin signage during an Initial Public Offering (IPO) at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York, USA on April 14, 2021. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

The most important reason for the crypto winter is the explosion of TerraUSD or UST, a currency known as stablecoins designed to reduce volatility in the cryptocurrency market by maintaining a fixed value. The stability of TerraUSD depends on a complex mechanism driven by an algorithm tied to its sister cryptocurrency LUNA rather than a stable reserve asset like gold or dollars. As Nansen reports, in early July, LUNA’s valuation plummeted from $80 to a fraction of a cent, and TerraUSD also collapsed.

Once praised for providing cutting-edge blockchain investments to users around the world, “the collapse of the Terra blockchain and the UST stablecoin was unthinkable,” Clara Medali, director of research at crypto data firm Kaiko, told CNBC.

The sudden collapse of TerraUSD and UST caused panic in the market. The price of bitcoin has fallen to $26,000, 60% from its peak in November 2021, while ether, the next largest cryptocurrency, has lost 30% in value. Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, posted a loss of $430 million. In addition, a tornado swept through crypto networks and hedge funds that had direct contact with UST, in particular the hedge fund Three Arrows Capital or 3AC.

The burden of individual traders
TerraUSD cryptocurrency crash. Source: Coinbase
TerraUSD cryptocurrency crash. Source: Coinbase

The collapse of TerraUSD and LUNA caused a domino effect throughout the electronics industry, including individual investors. Celsius, a company that offered users over 18% returns on staking its cryptocurrencies, filed for bankruptcy in July 2022. In the US, this procedure allows you to restore the corporate debt structure to support the company’s business. Individual investors who have invested their assets in Celsius risk losing them completely.

The risk stems from the fact that the protections and property rights that are used in normal banking legislation for deposits do not apply to cryptocurrency exchanges and exchange contracts. Cryptocurrency translators may disclaim liability for the total deposit amount in accordance with the Celsius terms of use.

Celsius operates like a bank. He will take the deposited cryptocurrency and lend it to other players with high returns. Other players will use it to trade. And the Celsius profit generated from the yield will be used to return back to depositors.

“Players looking for high returns exchanged fiat for cryptocurrency, used lending platforms as custodians, and then those platforms used the funds they raised for high-risk investments – how else could they pay such high interest rates?” said Carol Alexander, professor of finance at the University of Sussex.

Government reaction

As the global financial outlook becomes increasingly cloudy due to rising interest rates, the Special Military Operation in Ukraine, and fuel and grain shortages, consumers are looking for safe investments such as less risky crypto products like ETH. Therefore, it is necessary to issue some rules related to the security of cryptocurrencies in order to minimize the risks and instability of this market.

The Central Bank of Singapore has proposed new measures to regulate the trading of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins, including banning lending companies from taking cryptocurrencies from some retail customers and then lending to others with it – such a scheme does not provide sufficient security for depositors’ assets.

On October 26, the Australian government stated in its budget announcement that investors would be required to pay capital gains tax on profits from the sale of crypto assets through exchanges.

On October 27, the UK Finance Minister added to a bill submitted to Parliament the UK’s right to regulate all cryptocurrencies.

In all the chaos of the crypto winter, imposing rules on all participants, potentially destabilizing the market, will provide the necessary protection to consumers and maintain long-term market stability.

 

 

 

 

How does Netflix make money and why is it at a loss?

The financial strategy of the global leader in the streaming-on-demand entertainment business

Reading time 8 minutes

During the three-month period, the streaming giant laid off around 450 employees due to a loss of a raft of subscribers. According to the statistics provided by Macrotrends, from 2014 to 2019, the loss of Netflix has only increased, although the situation was rectified in 2020 and the coronavirus pandemic, which brought in a profit of almost two billion USD, 2021 again ended with negative indicators for the platform. Many experts attribute this situation in the market to the economic model in which the platform operates.

THE BIRTH OF STREAMING AND THE DEATH OF CABLE

In 1999, Netflix started as a DVD rental service, offering customers an unlimited monthly cassette subscription, as well as a personalized movie recommendation system. To create a large movie library, the company purchased the rights and licenses to a wide variety of content, part of an online cinema portfolio that still includes these acquisitions.

A decade later, Netflix pioneered the Internet streaming market, while other media giants offer cable TV subscriptions for $100, Netflix only requires its subscribers from 8 up to 15 dollars. In addition to the pricing policy, viewers are bribed by other factors: multiple people can use the same account from different devices, favorite shows can be viewed at any time, and the library constantly being replenished with hit shows that Netflix buys the rights to and content of its own production.

All this caused consumers to abandon cable subscriptions in favor of streaming, and movie and TV series creators not to release their products on TV, simply because Netflix and its similar companies offered more money than cable channels that were losing money. According to Bloomberg’s statistics in 2018, 6 people give up cable TV every minute, of which in return, many people subscribe to online services.

THE FLYWHEEL MODEL
Flywheel model for Netflix
Flywheel model for Netflix

Despite the removal of these competitors, Netflix is still operating at a loss. This is largely due to their economic policy, known as the “flywheel method”. It works like this: the service takes money from a user’s subscription and spends it on content creation, content distribution and creating a pleasant user experience, which forces the user to renew the subscription theirs and everything went back to the way it was. The problem is that Netflix spends more than $500 per user while it only brings the company about $10. This difference is covered by the new viewer’s subscription, i.e. your payment for one subscription offsets the cost spent by the user who purchased it before you and the amount the next subscriber will reimburse you.

The problems of this plan will become apparent once Netflix hits the subscription threshold – there will simply be no potential buyers left in the US and the world able to cover these losses with their own money. Analysts estimate that the maximum number of Netflix subscribers in the US is 60-90 million and around 200 million in the rest of the world, while in the first quarter of 2022 there were around 80 million people in North America and about 150 million people in the rest of the world.

Simultaneously, due to the peculiarities of the market, a subscriber outside the United States brings the company much less money than an American: for example, the cost of a subscription in India at the start was only $3 – three times less than in the company’s homeland.

By way of explanation, in order for the flywheel to continue working, Netflix is forced to look for new subscribers outside the United States, in the face of the fact that local markets cannot offer a profit comparable to the United States, as well as to raise prices in richer and more developed countries, which already leads to an outflow of subscribers.

COMPETITORS AND WOLVES OF WALL STREET

For Netflix, the situation is compounded by increased competition: almost every major corporation has already launched or is preparing to launch its streaming service. Coincidently, knowing the need for their competitor to raise prices, other streaming services deliberately underestimate the cost of a subscription: Disney+ asked for only $ 7 at the beginning, while providing exclusive and discussed content like the new parts of Star Wars and the Mandalorian series, as well as absorbing another online movie theater Hulu. In other words, purchasing Disney+ for a price half the price of a subscription to Netflix, the user received two streaming services at once.

Netflix official account tweet saying "Love is password sharing"
Netflix official account tweet saying “Love is password sharing”

Simultaneously, Netflix itself is also forced to take not very pleasant measures for users, along with the mentioned price increase, the company also wants to ban users from sharing passwords with loved ones, and about 1/4 numbers all subscribers do this, although the company previously considered this function as one of the important being.

This policy affects the number of people who unsubscribe. Users are also canceling subscriptions due to the lifting of quarantine restrictions in many countries: people work, study, travel, and less sit at home in front of computers and TVs. As a result, in the second quarter of 2022, one million people canceled their Netflix subscription, and a similar number of unsubscribes is expected before the end of the year.

Netflix's largest shareholder Bill Ackman
Netflix’s largest shareholder Bill Ackman

This situation in the market also affects the investment attractiveness of the company: in the past year, the value of shares has decreased by more than 60%, in such a crash, one of the company’s largest shareholders lost more than a billion dollars, and then sold his entire three million shares.

Despite the unfavorable economic situation and loss, Netflix is unlikely to stop, in a letter to shareholders the company assured that canceling family subscriptions will only lead to new users. Streaming and the loss of subscribers are also tied to macroeconomic factors: the consequences of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory. In addition, the company will not reduce its content costs: in 2021, online cinemas have spent 17 billion dollars on it.

Don’t throw away. Swap it

How swap parties have proven to be an effective way to swap out boring items

Reading time 5 minutes

Swap parties (from the English word «swap» – to swap) have been around for a while now, and have proven to be an excellent, and most importantly eco-friendly, way to update your wardrobe. However, they are only beginning to gain popularity in Russia. Usually, «swaps» are arranged in cafes, in open spaces, at someone’s home or online. It depends on the number of participants. There is a «thing-for-thing» rule, where everyone brings clean and intact but unwanted items and takes something they like in return. But the most important requirement is that the things participants bring are in good condition. Party organisers advise bringing something they would not be ashamed to wear themselves

Singapore Swap Shop (Source: bangkokpost.com)
Singapore Swap Shop (Source: bangkokpost.com)

Swap parties have several key advantages:

  • It’s a direct route to conscious consumption. By participating in swap parties, people are speaking out against the thoughtless disposal of clothes.
  • It’s not second-hand: all items will be available for free.
  • It’s an opportunity not just to get rid of unwanted items at home, but also to make sure that they still last a long time for other people.
  • It’s a way of getting to know people and their personal styles.
Swap party at a cafe (Source: sustainyourstyle.org)
Swap party at a cafe (Source: sustainyourstyle.org)

In today’s age, the issue of sensible consumption is as important as ever. Mikhail Antonov, head of the Moseco movement notes: «The phenomenon of ‘fast fashion’ is now prevalent, where up to 50 cycles of clothing can change in one year. Half of all clothes sold in the capital become rubbish within a year or after a couple of wearings! Meanwhile, clothes are difficult to recycle, tossed in the rubbish dump, they clog up sorting equipment.» For people, swap parties become an opportunity to swap their old and good stuff for other people’s already new and good stuff. If something has lost its value to its owner, it does not mean that its fate must necessarily end up in a landfill. Sometimes the option of selling clothes can be difficult, given how quickly trends appear and disappear, in which case the «swap» option proves to be more effective.

The fast-fashion alternative (Source: biome.com)
The fast-fashion alternative (Source: biome.com)

«Swaps» can of course not only be conducted with clothes and jewelry, but also with a variety of items, from books to crockery. Also, unwanted items will not go unclaimed anyway. If there is anything left after the event, it will be sent to charity organizations or recycled.

In Russia it is possible to take part in such a swap party not only in the capital but also in Krasnodar, in Kazan and many other cities. And in Moscow, apart from the one-off actions, a real shop has also appeared, but the rules of the “swap” apply to it too – no sale, only exchange.

Sharing clothes (Source: theecologist.org)
Sharing clothes (Source: theecologist.org)

You can organize such a swap party yourself, together with a few friends and acquaintances. You can have a fun and enjoyable time watching a film, listening to music and sharing food and drinks.

 

Films are therapeutic

What is film therapy and can it replace psychotherapy?

Reading time 7 minutes

With the onset of autumn often comes a slight sadness and apathy. According to statistics, in the autumn season, one in two people may be in a  depression, or otherwise moping. In this period of grey workaday life and distancing can lift your spirits with the help of films. But is it possible to cure yourself with them?

A movie will brighten up a dull autumn evening (source: Istockphoto.com)
A movie will brighten up a dull autumn evening (source: Istockphoto.com)

HOW CAN CINEMA BE A THERAPEUTIC TOOL

When watching a film, the viewer often associates him- or herself with the main character and notices the similarities between the situations in his or her life and the character’s difficulties. Because of this, there is empathy for the characters. Thus, the behavioral tactics pursued by the film’s protagonist can inspire the viewer and encourage them to solve their own problems. This is called film therapy.

Film therapy is a branch of psychotherapy in which films are used as medicine. Movies reduce anxiety levels and help people find answers to their worries.

HISTORY OF FILM THERAPY

Throughout history, filmmakers have searched for ways to hold an audience’s attention. Hence the interest in the study of the human psyche and methods of influencing it through color correction, sound, editing, and other creative mechanisms of cinema.

The audience’s reaction to the movies they watched was actively studied from the early 50s. Both individual and group perceptions of films have been studied, in conjunction with the psychological processes that can arise during viewing.

The first publication on film therapy came out in 1951. It was an article by M. Prados’ article «The use of films in psychotherapy».

So how does our mind react to films? (Source: Vuzopedia.ru)
So how does our mind react to films? (Source: Vuzopedia.ru)

BASIC METHODS OF FILM THERAPY

«Cinematology» by Antonio Meneghetti: films can be used to analyze people

The first book on film therapy was written by Antonio Meneghetti. One day during a collective discussion of a film, the psychologist noticed a consistent link between the complexes of the participants and the opinions they held. This was the starting point for the discovery of a therapeutic method, which the author called cinematology.

The author believes that from the patient’s reaction to the film he watched, one can draw significant conclusions not only about the person himself but also about his psychological traits.

«The purpose of cinematology is not to teach or critique the director’s work, but to use the film to analyze the people experiencing these images: the viewer is emotionally complicit in exactly that which identifies him,» Meneghetti wrote in his book «Cinema. Theatre. The Unconscious».

Films often make viewers feel strong emotions (source: Bigstockphoto.com)
Films often make viewers feel strong emotions (source: Bigstockphoto.com)

Harry Solomon’s film therapy: films make our problems obvious

American neurologist Harry Solomon tested the effectiveness of film therapy through his own experience. As an adult he became bankrupt, addicted to alcohol and drugs, but he got himself out of this state thanks to films.

But he started to use films as therapy after a particular situation that happened to him at work. A patient’s life story reminded Solomon of a film, so he recommended her to see a film. The practice made a lasting impression on the woman and helped her to cope with the problem.

Solomon found that film therapy was more effective if films were chosen in which patients could recognize themselves. This helps people to recognize problems that they did not want to hear about.

You empathise more with someone who is similar (source: Kinorium.com)
You empathise more with someone who is similar (source: Kinorium.com)

Tav Sparks’ Movie Therapy: Movies as a GPS navigator for self-discovery

Psychologist Tav Sparks also believes in the healing power of film. In his book «Cinema Yoga», the author explained how cinema therapy works. Each person has an inner power, which is expressed in their reactions to the world around them. The task of the patient, therefore, is to learn to control his or her emotions and to stop being a victim of what is going on around him or her.

The author sees watching films as a process of self-knowledge, in which, as in a psychotherapist’s appointment, one works on oneself. However, the advantage of film therapy as a method of healing is that film allows you to learn about yourself in an entertaining and playful way. Interesting fact: In his book, Sparks describes in detail how film therapy takes place using an example of how a navigation system works.

Sergey Krasin’s Directed Film Therapy: The Importance of Film Therapists

Sergey Krasin, PhD and psychologist, has long developed film therapy training programmes for teachers, parents and school students. In the course of his work, the author became convinced that treatment with films can be more effective if patients are psychologically prepared beforehand to watch a film and discuss it afterwards. Thus began the story of Sergei Krasin’s method. The author divided film therapy into three equally important stages: work with the film therapist before, during and after watching the film. The task of the therapist is to help the patient mentally adjust to consciously watching the film in order to gain new information about themselves and their difficulties.

Film therapy can help people cope with their difficulties on their own, without the intervention of psychologists or psychotherapists. It is worth remembering, however, that in serious cases this method is best used strictly under the supervision of a specialist.

 

Turnips instead of heads

How did vegetables become the main attribute of Halloween?

Reading time 5 minutes

Saints’ Day Eve, better known as Halloween, is celebrated on the night of October 31 to November 1 in many countries around the world. Originally a pagan Celtic end-of-summer holiday, it became part of popular culture in the late 19th century when it spread across America. In Russia Halloween came in the 90’s, and although according to surveys only 3% of Russians celebrate it, many people have heard of Halloween in one form or another and are familiar with the traditions that accompany the holiday. In October, specialized decorations appear in shops and themed movies are in theaters.

A mask made for Halloween (Source: museum.ie)
A mask made for Halloween (Source: museum.ie)

One of the symbols of Halloween is the so-called «Jack lanterns» – lanterns carved from a pumpkin that resemble heads with scary faces. According to Irish legend, where the tradition originated, Miserly Jack was able to trick the devil twice by taking his word not to claim his soul after his death. But when Jack died, Heaven refused to accept him, and the Devil, because of his grudge and the promise he made, kept him from Hell, sending Jack wandering the earth with a smoldering fire that he had put into a carved gourd.

Turnip lantern (Source: fatherly.com)
Turnip lantern (Source: fatherly.com)

The legend served not only as an educational tale, but also helped explain the «wandering lights», a rare natural phenomenon observed on marshes and cemeteries at night. The flickering light, produced by the inflammation of gases from decomposing organic matter, often led travelers astray – if they started to follow it, they might fall into the mire and drown. The inhabitants of the time believed it to be the work of Stingy Jack, a lost soul trapped between two worlds.

Wandering lights (Source: lensculture)
Wandering lights (Source: lensculture)

To ward off Jack and other evil spirits entering the land on Halloween night, people began carving their own lanterns, and more often used large turnips, potatoes, radishes and beetroot instead of pumpkins. «Metal lanterns were quite expensive, so people carved root vegetables, – explains Nathan Mannion, senior curator at the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin. – Over time, people began to carve faces and drawings so that light could pass through the holes without extinguishing the charcoal».

Although the tradition became widely known thanks to Halloween, Celts from northern Europe have been using round vegetables and fruit to represent human faces since pre-Christian times. There is speculation that this symbolized the severed heads of enemies appearing as spoils of war.

An exhibition of Halloween memorabilia at the National Museum of Ireland (Source: catholicphilly.com)
An exhibition of Halloween memorabilia at the National Museum of Ireland (Source: catholicphilly.com)

The carving of lanterns from root crops is only one aspect of the All Saints’ Eve celebrations which date back to ancient times, but many customs have been lost. Celtic priests built huge bonfires, practiced divination rituals and performed rites to keep evil spirits at bay – but because they kept no written records, little is known about these practices.

 

Lobster’s adventures

On the merger of the real and virtual worlds in the works of Philip Colbert

Reading time 3 minutes

Actual art is often perceived as the antithesis of the traditional, when the artist breaks with its old forms and patterns and creates something fundamentally new, and — most importantly — consistent with the interests of the modern public. The most unusual means of expression are used now. The more extravagant these methods are, the better: it’s more likely to surprise the viewer. Many art objects in galleries today are perceived by visitors as “divorced” from aesthetic samples of past years. Philip Colbert’s work (by the way, some find similarities between him and Andy Warhol) is another example. This British artist manages to saturate classic painting subjects (such as a hunting scene) with elements of modern reality, recreating their original meanings.

Like a bolt from the blue
Like a bolt from the blue

«I became an artist when I became Lobster», — said Philip Colbert in an interview. Exactly this fictional character in bright pajamas, placed in the center of most Colbert’s paintings, reflects the author’s alter ego. For him, Lobster became a kind of mediator between the real and virtual worlds, which, according to Colbert, today are often mixed and become difficult to distinguish. The influence of the consumer society and, as a consequence, mass culture (one of the main topics for this very artist), which for Lobster turned into a struggle for survival, is ironically played out in many works, which at first sight amaze in their own way with aesthetic randomness and wide color spectrum.

Find your alter ego!
Find your alter ego!

«I believe the duality in my work is expressed primarily in the use of very bright colors — festive, positive and cheerful, which convey positive energy, but with dark, gloomy subtext, scenes of violence, as well as a reflection of the modern cult of consumption and the negative effect that it is having on our planet», — explains the author.

The charming Lobster is at the center of events
The charming Lobster is at the center of events

Colbert boldly mixes time periods and styles, collecting his own cultural code from disparate fragments. It contains dozens of logos of popular brands, faces of recognizable artists of past eras, landscape elements, pop-ups of social networks, and even references to surrealism (for example, Salvador Dali’s elephants in the background of an artwork).

Everything we can imagine is real
Everything we can imagine is real

Lobster Land is a semi-fiictional/semi-real world. An alternative reality, overwhelmed by the possibilities of choosing a wide variety of goods and entertainment for any taste (though first you have to «obtain» it). However, perhaps the most difficult thing for someone who once appeared there, is not to lose his or her head and return to the earth in time!

Марвел покоряет мир телесериалов

Кинокомпания взяла курс на многосерийные проекты

Reading time 4 minutes

Марвел покоряет мир телесериалов
Кинокомпания взяла курс на многосерийные проекты

Marvel Studios известна по экранизации супергеройских комиксов и по таким блокбастерам, как «Железный человек», «Мстители» и «Тор». В 2021 году кинокомпания выпустила три многосерийных проекта на Disney+ с уже знакомыми зрителям героями: «ВандаВижн», «Сокол и Зимний солдат», «Локи». Эти сериалы положили начало Четвертой фазе кинематографической вселенной Марвел.
ВандаВижн
Минисериал рассказывает о событиях после «Мстители: Финал» – фильма, который заканчивает повествование о первой команде супергероев. В центре сюжета два бывших мстителя – Алая Ведьма, девушка со способностями к колдовству, и Вижн, робот-андроид в теле человека. В отличие от фильмов Marvel, сериал снят в жанрах ситкома и драмы: Ванда, не смирившись со смертью любимого, создает отдельный мир, где они оба счастливы. Со временем герои начинают подозревать, что их реальность ненастоящая.
Роль Ванды Максимофф исполнила Элизабет Олсен, а роль Вижна – Том Беттани. Режиссером выступил Мэтт Шекманн, известный по работе над «Игрой престолов» и «Доктором Хаусом». Ситком оценили критики: на IMDB рейтинг составил 8,1. Прямым продолжением сериала станет фильм «Доктор Стрэндж: В мультивселенной безумия», который выйдет в 2022 году.

Сокол и Зимний солдат
Сериал о Соколе и Зимнем солдате хронологически располагается после заключительного фильма «Мстители: Финал». Сэм по настоянию Капитана Америки должен стать следующим символом надежды и принять щит. На фоне личной драмы героя разворачиваются другие события: появляется анархистская международная организация, Зимний солдат учится жить в современном мире, а государство создает нового Капитана Америку.
Съемки начались еще в 2019 в Америке и Чехии, но были приостановлены из-за пандемии коронавируса. Премьера минисериала состоялась 23 марта, эпизоды выходили в течение месяца. К ролям Баки Барнса и Сэма Уилсона вернулись Себастиан Стэн и Энтони Маки. Продолжением телешоу станет четвертый фильм из цикла картин про Капитана Америку.

Локи
«Локи» – американский сериал, созданный Майклом Уилдроном на основе комиксов Марвел. Несмотря на то, что вышло только три серии, проект получил высокую оценку на рейтинговом сервисе Rotten Tomatoes: критики дали шоу 93%, а аудитория – 88%. Кинокомпания также анонсировала выход второго сезона.

Локи не только бог обмана и лжи, но и знакомый зрителю персонаж в исполнении Тома Хиддлстона из «Тора». В первой части «Мстителей» (2012) он был главным антагонистом, который пытался разрушить Нью-Йорк. Действия шоу развиваются после сразу после нью-йоркского нападения: Локи сбегает от команды мстителей при помощи Камня бесконечности. Бог попадает в бюрократическую организацию «Управление временными изменениями», где ему предстоит ответить за совершенные преступления.

5 reasons to watch Patrick Melrose

Not recommended for the faint of heart, but still...

Reading time 6 minutes

In 2018, German filmmaker Edward Berger premiered the mini-series «Patrick Melrose», which tells the story of the eponymous hero’s attempts to deal with the traumas of his past and live a life of dignity. The project did not receive an unequivocally enthusiastic response from the audience but was nevertheless extraordinary. This article explains why it’s worth watching.

  1. An atypical role for Benedict Cumberbatch

One of the most in-demand actors, not only in the UK but worldwide, admitted in an interview:

«I think my strength is in my brain, not my muscles. But that doesn’t embarrass me. It is very easy to look clever. It is much harder to play smart. But, because I grew up in high society and went to one of the oldest schools in the world, I have to play asexual sociopathic intellectuals for the rest of my life…»

Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.

So Patrick’s eccentric role is an entirely different one. The protagonist claims to be a self-destructive leader in every possible way: alcohol, drugs, promiscuity – the list does not end there. Not every film gives you the opportunity to watch an almost completely demoralized Benedict dancing in a drunken stupor.

  1. Visuals.

«Patrick Melrose» is full of its own aesthetic: in places bright and juicy, like the fruit on the trees that grows outside the luxurious Melrose villa, in places depressing and gloomy, highlighting the spiritual poverty of the individual characters (no spoilers).

Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Melrose Jr.

The detailed interiors complement the style of the recreated time. The same applies to the choice of locations (the French countryside alone) and the costumes of the characters: together, they create a harmonious picture that is particularly pleasant to look at in natural, warm light.

sun was shining. What else was it supposed to do? - Patrick Melrose
The sun was shining. What else was it supposed to do? – Patrick Melrose
  1. The sound of music

The musical accompaniment to this story also leaves no one indifferent. The retro atmosphere here is not just in the picture, but also in the soundtracks. The pilot episode, for example, is accompanied by the Cat Stevens song «Wild world», as if preparing the viewer for a mental transport to a couple of decades ago. Except that as one gradually delves into Patrick’s childhood and learns details of his interactions with his parents, it becomes difficult to call the nostalgic mood evoked by the music a restful one.

A person can lose their mind because they are experiencing an emotion that they have to suppress. - Patrick Melrose
A person can lose their mind because they are experiencing an emotion that they have to suppress. – Patrick Melrose

The series also has a place for original soundtracks, with emotional responses ranging from anxious and disturbing to melancholy and alienating.

  1. A witty tragicomedy

Patrick’s story is a coherent narrative not only and not so much about the ways in which he destroys his ‘normal’ life, but about the reasons that have made the latter unbearable (primarily mentally). Melrose was born into a well-to-do aristocratic family, but his background and wealth did not make him happy. His mother’s indifference and his father’s unreasonable, perverted cruelty turned little Patrick’s life upside down for many years to come. The relationship within the family is a central theme of Berger’s mini-series, and one which all of us can feel particularly strongly about.

Forgiveness is an important thing, especially when you are forgiven. - Patrick Melrose
Forgiveness is an important thing, especially when you are forgiven. – Patrick Melrose

With each series, the life of the protagonist grows more and more hopelessly detailed.  Nevertheless, his story is presented in an interesting, even amusing and satirical way so that we want to watch it through to the end (even if it is psychologically difficult).

  1. A chance to compare the series’ experience with the books

The plot of the series is based on the series of novels by Edward St. Aubyn, whose work is highly regarded by the performer of the title role. The series of books is called a modern classic, noting the author’s distinctive style with its inherent sincerity, impartiality and irony. It is important to note that the works about Patrick Melrose are largely autobiographical: their idea was inspired by real events in the life of St. Aubyn.

 

How Estella became Cruella

Disney has filmed the story of the antagonist from «101 Dalmatians»

Reading time 5 minutes

«Cruella» premiered in Los Angeles on 18 May. At the same time, on 28 May, the film became available for viewing in cinemas and on the Disney+ platform. The screening in Russian cinemas started on 3 June. The director was Craig Gillespie, known for his work on the drama «I, Tonya».

«Cruella» is a prequel to the Disney animated films «101 Dalmatians» and «102 Dalmatians». Work on the adaptation began back in 2011, when the studio saw the first script for the project, and after another five years the cast was joined by the lead actors. In 2019, Disney unveiled the «Cruella» announcement at D23Expo.

Half a century after the release of the cartoon series, Disney presents the personal story of the villain. In the film adaptation, the action takes place in ’70s London – a time of punk rock and flashy clothes. The plot tells the story of the antagonist’s childhood and her traumas, which turned young Estella into the villainous Cruella. The heroine is not just an evil and bloodthirsty millionaire who tortures dogs. She dreams of becoming a famous designer. To achieve this, Estella takes a job with Baroness von Hellman, the owner of a fashion house. A rivalry between the young fashion designer and her boss leads to unexpected consequences.

Still from the film, 2021 (source: YouTube)
Still from the film, 2021 (source: YouTube)

An important part of the film is the world of fashion. In the original, Cruella prefers a voluminous, red-lined coat and a black tailored dress. The color palette is retained in the film adaptation, but the outfits themselves have changed. «Cruella» follows the current trends of veganism and eco-consumerism: fur is replaced by artificial leather. Estella’s images are inspired by the punk aesthetic: rough boots, bright prints and army jackets. Cruella’s wardrobe is more feminine and extravagant. Costume designer and Oscar winner Jenny Bevan created the clothes for the film. A total of 47 full-length looks, inspired by the style of Vivienne Westwood, the punk grandmother, were made for the main character.

A still from the film, 2021 (source: Vogue)
A still from the film, 2021 (source: Vogue)

An Oscar-winning cast has been recruited to work on the film. Emma Stone, known for her roles in  «La La Land», «Spider-Man: No way home» and «The Favourite», plays the title role. The cast also includes Emma Thompson («Harry Potter» film series) and Mark Strong («Kingsman»). Little Estella was played by Tipper Seifert-Cleveland.

The audience met the fresh take on the children’s cartoon approvingly. The worldwide box office reached $84 million and «Cruella» was rated 7.4 on IMDB. Rotten Tomatoes editor-in-chief Joel Mears shared the positive sentiment on his Twitter: «If you’re wondering what a mix of «The Devil Wears Prada», «The Witcher» and «Death Becomes Her» would look like, then watch the film.».

Emma Stone with the makers of «Cruella» at the premiere, 2021 (source: Disney)
Emma Stone with the makers of «Cruella» at the premiere, 2021 (source: Disney)