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Surrealist Jan Svankmajer Is Crowdfunding His Final Film

Jan Švankmajer has been working for more than half a century to blend live action and stop motion into more than 30 unsettling shorts and feature films. In features such as Alice (1988) and Little Otik (2000), plus dozens of shorts adapted from Edgar Allan Poe and other masters, his work manages to be both humorous and grotesque, deeply absurd, and strangely joyful. Švankmajer has also been deeply influential to the likes of Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, and David Lynch, although perhaps most notably to the Brothers Quay, who have used a similar blend of stop motion, Central European atmosphere, and eerie, exaggerated sound to produce gems like Street of Crocodiles (1986).

Now, as Open Culture notes, Švankmajer and his longtime producing partner Jaromír Kallista are crowdfunding to produce what they say will be Švankmajer's final feature film, Insects. According to the Indiegogo page, the film will be inspired by the “misanthropic and surreal imagery” of a trio of other Czechs: Kafka and the Čapek Brothers. The latter pair wrote The Insect Play (also called The Insect Comedy), first published in Czech in 1922, and Švankmajer's last feature promises to tell the story of an amateur theatrical group rehearsing the play in a pub after hours.

“The Čapek brothers' play is very misanthropic,” Švankmajer says on the Indiegogo page. “I’ve always liked that—bugs behave as a human beings, and people behave as insects. My screenplay extends this misanthropy further while also reflecting Franz Kafka and his famous Metamorphosis.”

Švankmajer's work is not the kind of thing that gets funded in Hollywood, at least not today. The plots are fragmented, the visuals are at times disturbingly strange, there are no action sequences or feel-good heroes in the way you might expect them. There’s also an embedded critique of capitalism. “The civilization we live in has little interest in authentic artistic creation,” the filmmaker says. “What it needs is well-working advertisement, the iconographic contemporary art, pushing people towards more and more mass consumption. It gets increasingly difficult to fund independent art that scrutinizes the very core of our society. Who would deliberately support their own critics?”

With 11 days to go (as of this writing), the campaign has met its first stretch goal, but only about half of its dream goal, which is $400,000. There are some great perks—film posters, lithographs, art photobooks, bugs used as props in The Nightmare Before Christmas—although someone has already snapped up the “the deceased and majestic tarantula actor” the Quay Brothers used in their film The Cabinet of Jan Švankmajer (1984). However, if you have $15,000 to spare, you can still score “A dinner with Jan Švankmajer at his mansion in Czech Republic and a commented visit to his Kunstkabinet.”

Švankmajer says he is eager to start filming as soon as the funding has been secured. In the meantime, according to the Indiegogo page, "He’s very busy visiting entomological auctions, buying various kinds of bugs, doing rehearsal shots with them and so on."

“I promise you that I will invest my entire body and soul into this last feature film of mine," the filmmaker writes. "After all, that’s the only way I know how to create.”

[h/t Open Culture]

Header images via YouTube.

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The Most Searched Shows on Netflix in 2017, By State

Orange is the New Black is the new black, at least as far as Netflix viewers are concerned. The women-in-prison dramedy may have premiered in 2013, but it’s still got viewers hooked. Just as they did in 2017, HighSpeedInternet.com took a deep dive into Netflix analytics using Google Trends to find out which shows people in each state were searching Netflix for throughout the year. While there was a little bit of crossover between 2016 and 2017, new series like American Vandal and Mindhunter gave viewers a host of new content. But that didn’t stop Orange is the New Black from dominating the map; it was the most searched show in 15 states.

Coming in at a faraway second place was American Vandal, a new true crime satire that captured the attention of five states (Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Even more impressive is the fact that the series premiered in mid-September, meaning that it found a large and rabid audience in a very short amount of time.

Folks in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon were all destined to be disappointed; Star Trek: Discovery was the most searched-for series in each of these states, but it’s not yet available on Netflix in America (you’ve got to get CBS All Access for that, folks). Fourteen states broke the mold a bit with shows that were unique to their state only; this included Big Mouth in Delaware, The Keepers in Maryland, The OA in Pennsylvania, GLOW in Rhode Island, and Black Mirror in Hawaii.

Check out the map above to see if your favorite Netflix binge-watch matches up with your neighbors'. For more detailed findings, visit HighSpeedInternet.com.

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Monthly Internet Costs in Every Country

Thanks to the internet, people around the world can conduct global research, trade tips, and find faraway friends without ever leaving their couch. Not everyone pays the same price for these digital privileges, though, according to new data visualizations spotted by Thrillist.

To compare internet user prices in each country, cost information site HowMuch.net created a series of maps. The data comes courtesy of English market research consultancy BDRC and Cable.co.uk, which teamed up to analyze 3351 broadband packages in 196 nations between August 18, 2017 and October 12, 2017.

In the U.S., for example, the average cost for internet service is $66 per month. That’s substantially more than what browsers pay in neighboring Mexico ($27) and Canada ($55). Still, we don’t have it bad compared to either Namibia or Burkina Faso, where users shell out a staggering $464 and $924, respectively, for monthly broadband access. In fact, internet in the U.S. is far cheaper than what residents in 113 countries pay, including those in Saudi Arabia ($84), Indonesia ($72), and Greenland ($84).

On average, internet costs in Asia and Russia tend to be among the lowest, while access is prohibitively expensive in sub-Saharan Africa and in certain parts of Oceania. As for the world’s cheapest internet, you’ll find it in Ukraine and Iran.

Check out the maps below for more broadband insights, or view HowMuch.net’s full findings here.

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

Map of Internet costs in each country created by information site HowMuch.net.
HowMuch.net

[h/t Thrillist]

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