Oct 2, 2022

Real World Assets - When a commercial bank partners with MakerDAO for 100 million DAI

it's True - a Philly bank partnered with MakerDAO for 100 million DAI

DeFiPhilly was fortunate to land a great speaker at their meetups on September 26, 2022 - Dan Krewsom from Huntingdon Valley Bank (HVB).  What makes Dan a great speaker is that he is the orchestrator of the MakerDAO and Huntingdon Valley Bank deal - the partnership where MakerDOA made 100 million DAI available to Huntingdon Valley Bank to specifically increase and enhance their business offerings.  Firstly, this is an amazing announcement and experiment - a bank borrowing money from a protocol.  Simply bonkers today.  But maybe not bonkers in the near future.  We’ll dive into why we think this is only the beginning for businesses working with protocols.  But first, here are the deets of the deal that helps us understand why it’s possible businesses will work with protocol’s in the future.  

The deets of the deal:

This deal isn’t the same as creating a vault through the Oasis app, and posting $ETH as collateral.  Instead, HVB is entering a Master Purchase Agreement with a Delaware Trust who’s beneficiary is the MakerDAO protocol (a protocol being listed as a Trust beneficiary is also bonkers).   When HVB wants to access any of the 100 million DAI, they summon the MakerDAO overlords to buy interest in HVB loans (the real world asset).  In return, HVB gets access to the 100 million DAI to use for their business.  This summary is definitely confusing for anyone not intimately involved with commercial lending (which I am not).  My own grounding required multiple readings of MIP6, and some email exchanges with Dan Krewsom for a dummied down summary.

Not to be a downer, but why do the deal?  

According to Krewsom, the deal took 9 months from start to finish.  The deal required the involvement of many regulators, many lawyers, many accountants, and so many other professional heads that I couldn’t help but wonder “why even bother?”  Sure, it’s an amazing testament for a decentralized protocol, tying real world assets to a digital, immutable ledger.  But what’s the value proposition for a publicly traded bank?  MIP6 is over 45 pages of legalese documentation, which is all HVB trying to convince Maker to grant them access to this 100 million DAI.  So what’s the angle?

As stated on Page 5 of MIP6:

the proposed relationship with MakerDAO will be strategic for HVBank insofar as it will allow the Bank to maintain and grow relationships with customers by expanding its effective lending limit. Loans to new and to repeat borrowers will comply with the same credit requirements. 

What I learned was that HVB has a lending limit of about $7 million (meaning the loans they issue are not allowed to exceed that amount).  But sometimes their clients need larger loans.  HVB has an interest in maintaining a working relationship with that client.  To bypass this lending limit, what they do traditionally is work with other small banks to increase the total money to be lent to a client.  So in the relationship between HVB and MakerDAO, Maker is acting like a small bank.  When HVB’s clients are requesting more money than what HVB can offer, HVB taps into its partnership with MakerDAO, and uses them as a 2nd lender for their clients.

Just from a surface level perspective, this is a great way for a small bank to be more self-sufficient.  When one of your premiere clients requests a large loan that you can’t service, then that bank is probably treading carefully introducing a new bank into the relationship.  Replacing that small bank with an unassuming protocol adds a powerful tool for small banks (and probably small businesses) in the future.  

Where does this go in the future?

After listening to Krewsom’s interview, I couldn’t help but wonder if HVB is forging the way for future protocol-business relationships?  My own question for Krewsom was “does this become an industry standard for future business-protocol relationships?”  And Krewsom’s answer was simple: “yes.”  

According to Krewsom, other banks are closely watching how this unfolds.  If HVB proves that this new relationship is viable, then what small (or large) bank wouldn’t want to work closely with Maker to mint DAI using real world assets?  And if you read through the long-winder MIP6, one nugget of info states:

While the facility will be structured with the intention of having the ability to onboard multiple banks, it is currently only intended to be used for HVB

So onboarding other banks is already in the forethought of both HVB and the MakerDAO.  

But why stop with banks?  Every business generally needs a loan.  And with the federal reserve raising rates, Maker is looking very attractive for anyone needing a bump in cash.  Sure, future regulation could limit who deals with the protocol.  But even that’s still a ground-breaking regulation - protocols getting the same treatment as corporations.  We’ve already seen protocols getting sanctioned by OFAC, now we’re seeing protocols becoming a beneficiary of a Trust.  Where will protocols go next?  Either way, their decentralized, immutable ledger is wedging itself deeper into the fabric and policies of society.  

Sep 20, 2022

Offset Industrial Energy with Bitcoin Mining

Subsidize American Manufacturing with Bitcoin Mining

The year is 2022 and energy is simultaneously becoming more scarce and more in demand.  America is hellbent on onshoring manufacturing.  But our energy costs are mooning.  And we're seeing industrial businesses shut the doors due to unsustainable energy prices.  This is why bitcoin mining is revealing itself to be a budding industrial tool that could convert into critical infrastructure to onshore manufacturing, and ultimately subsidize all of our manufacturing.

Industrial plants are shutting down due to electrical costs.  As stated by Bloomsburg, Century Aluminum and Alcoa are the largest aluminum producers in America, and they are being strong armed by energy prices to shut down significant sizes of their production.  The article assumes that high energy prices are forcing the shutdowns.  However, it could also be questioned if demand is lagging.  But if it is a demand problem, that too could be a result of inflated prices seen by both consumers and manufacturers.

And inflated prices are only the beginning.  The EIA is estimating natural gas prices to nearly double in price.  And a significant amount of electricity is created from natural gas.  These price rises are first hitting energy intensive business first (aluminum smelting), but will bleed out to remaining manufacturing.  

This will be a major monkey wrench in our country's adjustment to strengthen our domestic supply chains.  Because the pandemic revealed how insecure our supply chain is.  So we must progress with more homeland manufacturing, regardless of the rising expenses.  So what's the solution?  Continue to depend on overseas manufacturing?  Or raise our consumption costs due to increased manufacturing costs?  The best solution is to find a way to offset these energy expenses.  One creative solution is shaving peak demand with solar and batteries.  Clever, but the upfront cost can easily exceed millions of dollars of construction, which would take years to recoup the investment.  At this precise moment (and hopefully I rattle enough minds to grow a chanting bandwagon), I am the only one pitching that these industries should be mining bitcoin to offset energy prices.  

Bitcoin Mining Subsidy - American Manufacturing

Commercial and industrial facilities are unique in that they have 2 major line items on their energy bills - they get charged for their consumption (KWh) AND their peak demand (KW).  Residents are not familiar with peak demand because they don't typically require enough electricity to run their homes to jeopardize the grid's stability.

Commercial and industrial plants do draw SIGNIFICANT energy.  This means that power providers have to be ready at a moment's notice to provide peak demand for these monstrous energy consumers.  Here's a graph that can be found on this document from  the US Department of Energy:

In this example, this plant's peak demand (max load) is 340 KW.  That means, at any given moment, the power provider has to have 340 KW of capacity available for this plant.  Because of this max capacity, this plant gets billed for 340 KW of capacity.  But if you look closer, they are only using max capacity for about 20 minutes throughout a 24 hour day.  So they're basically getting billed for energy they are not even using!  All the green in the graph below is inexpensive, industrial-rate energy they aren't using, but they're still getting billed for:

I went into more detail on the economics in a previous article.  But it's clear this unused capacity can be used to mine bitcoin.  Industrial plants have privileged electrical pricing, and get some of the biggest discounted electricity rates in the country.  which can then be used to offset rising electricity costs.  

It should be noted that this is not a perfect fit for every facility.  The right facility will have high peak demand costs, and low consumption costs.  And the difficulty of bitcoin mining also has to be fulfilling to make this work.

Beyond the economic engineering, there's also the physical engineering.  Heat emission, sound reduction, storage, IT set up, power connection are all components that these plants need to figure out.  But these plants are already equipped with the infrastructure and man-power to hook this up!  I've been in over 100 different manufacturing plants, and each one has engineers, IT pros, HVAC specialists, and electricians on staff.  Every plant already has a team in place to work out these important details.  

With this forecast, I see a strong future where bitcoin mining becomes an industrial tool for EVERY commercial and industrial building, which will offset electrical costs,  AND subsidize American manufacturing to give us back our control on our supply chains.

Jul 7, 2022

Should Industrial Plants Mine Bitcoin to Offset Peak Demand Costs?


Bitcoin mining can be an industrial resource for industrial plants to offset their Peak Demand charges on their electric bills.  Peak Demand charges can account for 30-70% of an industrial plant’s bill.  Peak Demand charges are determined by the maximum amount of energy consumption in a given 15 minute duration.  These plants do not demand this maximum amount of consumption during a 24 hour period, meaning they can turn on additional equipment without incurring more Peak Demand fees.  Bitcoin miners could be this equipment to offset Peak Demand fees.

Industrial Plants - American Manufacturing

I'm not an electrician or engineer. But I'm pro-bitcoin and consider bitcoin mining to be its greatest utility.

I’ve spent the past 8 years of my career as a contractor working in industrial manufacturing plants.  I’ve been in food manufacturing plants, pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, waste processing plants, corrugation packaging manufacturing plants, and many more.  Everyone of these plants operates the same business model - anticipate future demand from previous years, and create enough of their commodities to fulfill that anticipated demand.  

This production cycle creates a very volatile energy-consumption profile for every plant.  Imagine a food manufacturing plant with 6 production lines to fulfill their different products. Sometimes, this food plant will need to run at maximum capacity (all 6 lines) to fulfill holiday demand.  After the holiday, some of those production lines can sit idle while maintenance contractors (my experience) inspect the equipment and building during these scheduled shut downs.  

Here’s the kicker for their electric bill - whether this food production plant is running all 6 lines, or only 3 lines, they are still getting billed for the same Peak Demand costs.  WTF?  WTF indeed if you’re first learning about industrial power consumption.  But it actually makes sense from the electric company’s perspective.  

Here’s a graph of a typical/theoretical industrial facility from the Department of Energy (pg. 8)

What you see are 3 load types: base load, avg load, and Max Load.  Max load is how we determine a plant's Peak Demand Costs.  This particular plant has a max load at 340 KW.  This means that in order for the utility provider to properly serve this industrial manufacturing plant the necessary amount of electricity to operate, it needs to offer a capacity of 340 KW of power at any given moment.  This means the utility company needs to have 340 KW of equipment and infrastructure and energy on standby, just for this moment, which is why this cost is a large part of this plant’s energy bill.

But let’s take a closer look.  Only for about 15 minutes does this plant actually need 340 KW of capacity.  The areas highlighted in green in the same graph below, shows all of the demand capacity this plant is getting invoiced for.  But they aren’t using the capacity!  They’re leaving power capacity on the table that they could be using to produce and manufacture some other commodity.  The gap in capacity usage is so large, that there’s 10 straight hours (7PM - 5AM) of 200 KW not being utilized.

How can an industrial plant offset these peak demand charges?  Bitcoin mining?  Maybe…

Every manufacturing plant does the same thing: convert electricity into a commodity.  And that’s no different than bitcoin mining.  So can these industrial manufacturing facilities, who already have electrical engineers and system controllers, use this excess, unused capacity to mine bitcoin to help offset these Peak Demand charges?  


Every industrial & commercial facility gets invoiced for both Peak Demand (measured in KW), and Energy Consumption (measured in KWh).  As residential energy consumers, we’re more than familiar with the energy consumption portion (KWh).  This typically costs us $0.10 per KWh, give or take, depending where we live.  But residential people don’t get charged for the Peak Demand.  Only commercial and industrial facilities get charged for this.  And Peak Demand can cost anywhere between $5 to $50 per KW, or even more.  Here is a geographical chart created by the National Renewable Energy lab in 2017

So for the theoretical plant above, if 340 KW is their Peak Demand, and their peak demand is $15 per KW, they’re getting charged for 340 KW x $15 = $5100 per month IN ADDITION TO THE ENERGY CONSUMPTION (KWh).

So, to find out if it’s worth a facility to crank up extra equipment to max out that capacity, we have to know if the value produced by that extra equipment (bitcoin) is greater than the additional cost of energy consumption (KWh).   This really is no different than any other bitcoin mining operation.  The key difference is that industrial plants may be able to take advantage of lower KWh rates, as long as their extra consumption doesn’t raise the Peak Demand.

Let’s look at some numbers…

In April 2022, the avg KWh price for an industrial plant in Pennsylvania is $0.0754.

Let’s say the KW cost for Peak Demand in this whatever area in Pennsylvania is $15 per KW. 

This means the total monthly bill for this plant is:

210 KW avg x 24 hrs x 30 days x $0.0754 = $11,400

340 KW Peak Demand x $15                 = $5,100

Total = $16,500

Now, let's see what happens when we add some bitcoin miners into this mix.  The goal is that we’re utilizing the capacity that we’re already being invoiced for, to produce additional commodities.

Let’s work with Antminer S19 Pro.  This has a wattage of 3250.  Looking at the chart, let’s assume we can run these for 10 hrs every day.  That means:

(3250 W x 10 Hrs per day) / 1000 = 32.5 KWh

So 1 Antminer will consume 32.5 KWh per day.  This is important to know, since we have about 200 KW of wiggle room between our base load and Peak Demand (because we don’t want to increase our Peak Demand with bitcoin miners).  So let’s assume our fictitious plant runs 6 Antminer S19 Pro’s for 10 hrs per day for 30 days:

32.5 KWh x 6 miners x 30 days = 5,850 KWh per month consumption

So our new invoice, if running 6 Antminer S19 Pro’s for 10 hrs per day for 1 month would be:

210 KW avg x 24 hrs x 30 days x $0.0754 = $11,400

340 KW Peak Demand x $15              = $5100

32.5 KWh x 6 miners x 30 days x $0.0754      = $441

                                                                    Total = $16,941

Now, how profitable was our bitcoin mining?  According to this mining calculator, our S19’s will make $8.31 per day (as of 7-7-2022).  If we’re running for 10 hrs per day, that’s about 42% of the day.  So $8.31 x 0.42 = $3.50 per day

$3.50 per day x 30 days x 6 miners = $628

Meh, not too amazing, but it would offset the cost by almost $200.

Although our energy cost to operate our day to day business, plus the cost to run 6 miners for 10 hrs per day is more expensive, we’re earning a new commodity that is worth more than the additional cost of energy consumption.  Which will help offset the Peak Demand charges.  

Of course, this isn’t accounting for the cost for the ASIC miners.  But, commercial and industrial plants are already setting aside defense budgets to mitigate the growing Peak Demand rates.  Which is why so many plants are looking into battery & solar combos, which is significantly more expensive than bitcoin miners.

Let’s check out another example.  How about a brewery based in Pennsylvania?

Let’s use this load profile from a brewery in California, and just use Pennsylvania rates.  Ironically, this chart came from a battery/solar company that’s trying to offset peak demand charges with batteries.  But when looking at the chart, just pay attention to the choppy line, which is where we are getting our KWh and KW numbers.

Based on the chart, this brewery appears to have a daily energy consumption of about 14,720 KWh.  And, it appears this brewery has a peak demand cost of just under 1100 KW.  So, this brewery’s monthly bill would break out to be:

14,720 x 30 days x $0.0754     = $32,297

1100 KW x $15                 = $16,500

        Total = $48,797

Looking at the chart, and seeing where we can juice that demand capacity, let’s assume we can run 12 S19 Pros for 12 hrs per day.  Here’s what we get when we add bitcoin mining to our energy mix:

Additional consumption

(12) S19 Pro for 12 hrs per day = 14,040 KWh x $0.0754   = $1,059

Bitcoin profitability

$4.15 per day x 30 days x 12 miners                   = $1,494

So, if this brewery decided to run (12) S19 Pro antminers for 12 hrs per day, they would add $1,026 to their consumption fees.  BUT they would net 0.0726 BTC @ $21,000/BTC = $1,524.


Based on this crude, digital-napkin mathamentals, it appears that it is worth industrial and commercial facilities to at least think about running bitcoin miners.  Certainly, the industrial facility needs to have the right energy load profile.  And, the KW rates have to be high enough, with KWh rates low enough for it to make sense.  If you run these scenarios with plants in California, it usually doesn’t make sense.  But it we run these scenarios in places like Georgia, it appears to make a whole lot of sense.  Because Georgia has low KWh consumption rates (comparable to Pennsylvania), but high Peak Demand rates (many locations exceeding $25).

Additionally, we have to be mindful of the variables.  Obviously with bitcoin tanking in price, the profitability won’t be great.  But considering the excellent KWh rates commercial and industrial facilities get, bitcoin mining should be in the discussion for how plants can offset their overhead costs.

External Ramifications and pie-in-the-sky thoughts

  • If industries start to mine bitcoin as supplemental income/commodity production, this can help subsidize manufacturing, and onshore more manufacturing back into America (as James McGinniss quasi talks about in his post)

  • If industries start to mine bitcoin, this strengthens the bitcoin network’s decentralization.

  • If industrial manufacturers start to mine bitcoin, they won’t be under the same pressure to sell bitcoin as pure mining companies, because it won’t be their core business.  They could end up being industrial/corporate hodlers.

  • If industrial manufacturers start to hodl bitcoin, they could end up using bitcoin reserves to trade with other manufacturers, filling up bitcoin block space, and transaction fees.

  • This isn’t a free lunch, however.  The plants will need to buy the miners and put up capital (the glory of PoW).

  • If these plants sign up for Demand-Response programs, they can earn additional cash when prompted to turn off their miners.

Mar 16, 2016

"10 Cloverfield Lane" - The Bastard Child of "Misery" and "World of the Worlds"

Hypothesis - If Misery and World of the Worlds conceived an illegitimate child, they would name the bastard 10 Cloverfield Lane.  

I managed to get out and see 10 Cloverfield Lane opening night.  After reading early reviews, I drank the cool-aid, and harbored some excitement for what I thought would be a decent sci-fi thriller.  But 2 hours later, instead of glowing with the same excitement expressed by many reviewers and Redditors, I was more confused.  My confusion was not caused by the movie, but by the praise 10 Cloverfield Lane is receiving.  

"Smart," "bold," and "solidly crafted;" these are some of the reviews the film is soliciting.  But I don't see anything smart about it.  The protagonist, an aspiring seamstress, welding together a hazmat suit using duct tape and a shower curtain, with a facial respirator make from a soda bottle?  What the fuck.  Do you expect any inquisitive and observant viewer to believe that she suddenly knows how to engineer a functional hazmat suit?  And, would any smart person, in this situation, think this worthless attempt to create a guaranteed-to-fail hazmat suit be a better solution than over-powering the captor?  She managed to wrangle away his keys.  And she managed to burn the bunker down with him inside.  Isn't it plausible to conceive that Michelle and Emmett could have overpowered Howard, and locked him in the same room that Michelle woke up in?         

But regardless of the wonky character decisions derived from the shotty script, here are some looming after thoughts from my displeased experience.

1. Howard Stambler is Annie Wilkes

I'm in disbelief that I haven't seen this comparison anywhere else on the internet.  If you Google Howard Stambler and Annie Wilkes, no claims emerge.  I'd love to reward myself with an honorary ass-scratching, but I just don't believe I'm the first to make such an obvious connection.  Regardless, as I was watching John Goodman unravel his best efforts at presenting obsessive lunacy, it triggered visions of deja vu.  My neurons started firing images of Kathy Bates being asphyxiated with smoldered printer paper by James Caan through my gray matter.

But then I started thinking more: the crash scene, the amorally oblivious captors, shots fired, fight for freedom!  The parallels are so bold, that there's more in common than just Howard Stambler and Annie Wilkes; Misery and 10 Cloverfield Lane are practically the same!  So before we start awarding such honorary accolades to these writers, let's keep in mind that it's not exactly original.  

2. Hazmat suit out of a shower curtain?

I touched on this in the opening.  I didn't want to mention it then, but the silliness of this concept overshadows everything that I partially enjoyed about the flick.  But maybe this says more about me than the film.  Maybe engineering a functional hazmat suit isn't as challenging as I think it should be.  Maybe there's some easy-to-access anarchist instructions that go into step-by-step detail explaining how a shower curtain can become a gas-impervious hazmat suit.  And maybe those step-be-step details are simple enough for a seamstress to comprehend.  So maybe all this is true, and there's something wrong with me for not buying into this stupid idea, and believing that this is actually more plausible than over-powering Howard with the help of Emmett.  But then again, apparently a Molotov can blow up a mother-ship.  let's applaud the screenwriters for forcing a pithy concept past inquisitive viewers, (while sadly succeeding in most cases). 

3. Did John Goodman save this film?

I  believe he did.  He was really the only redeeming quality.  And his screen time was the only time during the film where I didn't have to fight to stay awake (I did fall asleep for a brief 5 minutes.  Or it may have been 20 ...).  The screenwriters tried going all Shutter Island on its viewers by adding some interesting clues to build an intriguing mystery.  But the screenwriters did such a lousy job keeping the mystery involved with the film, that it gets easily forgotten by the fumbling characters.  And then the characters!  The entire time, I gave Emmett enough credit be have the mental capacity to coerce Michelle for the benefit of Howard.  But once Howard shot Emmett, I was slightly betrayed that the writers wouldn't try to build on what would have been an interesting plot twist.  And I just didn't think Michelle was as smart or daring of a character that the film tries to present her as.  I thought the hazmat suit was stupid.  I didn't understand how she was able to sneak around and make the suit in that tiny bunker without Howard noticing.  I sure as fuck didn't expect anything clever from her. And I still don't know why Emmett and Michelle did not try to overpower Howard.  AND DON'T SAY IT'S BECAUSE HE HAD A GUN!  She managed to konk him on the head while trying to flee the bunker.  

I know, I'm rambling about the shitty script.  But I do believe John Goodman saved this film from catastrophe.  No one knows what to think of the ending that came out of left field.  Some people are suggesting that the unusual transition from a thriller movie to a sci-fi wrecker, is like trying to mix water and oil.  And I think there's some truth to that, that each one has a completely different tone, and they don't complement one another.  But, my theory is because Howard is no longer in the film at this point.  

In conclusion, does 10 Cloverfield Lane contain Literary Merit?

 Hell no.

Our ongoing definition of literary merit states that a movie needs to be honest with its presentation.  And this movie was far from honest.  And to reinforce what I define literary merit to be, I am not suggesting that the move is not honest, due to the aliens, or other fictional elements.  I believe this movie lacks honesty in that these characters are not reacting as we would expect them to act in these situations.  I don't believe a person in this situation would attempt to make a hazmat suit from a shower curtain, before trying to over-power their captor.  I don't believe that someone who just wakes up from a coma, finding herself locked in an unknown room, would willingly accept the situation without some type of reservation.  She did show reservation, but not enough.  

10 Cloverfield Lane is strictly a flick for the easily amused.  And you can enjoy it to, as long as you don't come in with in inquisitive mind.  

Nov 1, 2014

Literary Contender or Pretender: DJango Unchained

Hypothesis: Django Unchained offers a fantasy script that will resonate with humanists, but misfires for audiences expecting a masterful composition from Quentin Tarantino.  

There's the typical Tarantino flare that pulsates from Django Unchained: The hyperbolic violence, the candid and extended dialogue, bombastic audio, and animated characters that often parallel cartoons.  This is the good stuff.  This is the stuff that helped Tarantino create his very own style, and almost, his very own genre of film literature.  Many of his works are considered, by the Sirloin Furr blog, to contain literary merit: Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Inglorious Bastards.   But these mentioned films offer more than style: they present well executed story lines that intermingle the zany characters that are standards in Tarantino's work.  And unfortunately, that story line doesn't fully bloom with the same seduction that some of his other works have evoked.  

The Good Stuff

The Visuals

Most of Tarantino's films award the viewers with flawlessly orchestrated visuals.  This is a keystone to not only his success, but a major contribution towards achieving literary status.  Django Unchained offers these iconic screenshots, which helps give the film an distinct placement within the literary community.  

Django Throwing The Blanket
This 4 second moment of Django Unchained is a fraction of a fraction in the 165 minute film.  But, it stands as not only one of the most iconic images of the film, but for Tarantino's portfolio.  Firstly, the scene erupts with frisson, when Django, launches the tattered blanket from his shoulders, and displays his chiseled back like a triumphant boxer.  But even beyond the instant visual, the scene is symbolically driven, with Django's actions speaking vibrantly like a shackled man being granted freedom.  This moment perfectly reflects the rewarding sensation of achieving freedom, and offers a very realistic sensation for its audience, which is what literature is all about.

The Dialogue

(Video is NSFW)
Tarantino's other talent is his absorbing dialogue.  His characters often recite these loaded, emotional, and magnetic strings of dialogue, that perfectly presents every complex modicum of entangled emotions in each of his scenes.  And what makes this talent so important is that the personal divide between movie viewer and witness disappears.  The viewer transcends from passively viewing the film, to actively becoming a member within the scene.  And Calvin Candie's (Leonardo DiCaprio) scene, where he confronts Django and Dr. Shultz, embodies tension, fear, suspense, and anxiety, a web of emotional terror that blankets the viewer with an authentic reflection of a cruel and monstrous slave-owner.

The Bad

Inadequate Editing

Keeping focus for 165 minutes is a challenge.  But indepth stories, fascinating characters, and sublime presentations can help conceal the challenge.  Goodfellas is considered by a few critics to be the shortest 3 hour film they've ever seen.  And it's for good reason, it has fascinating characters, absorbing stories, and has dancing cinematography that tango's with the viewer through the entire ride.  Tarantino has experience building a long film that provides these caveats, but unfortunately, they just aren't there in Django Unchained.  The story is an interesting revenge, history piece, but when broken down to its cinematic DNA, it is a "find a missing person" case.  Great films can be made with this plot line, but it is too one-dimensional for a nearly 3 hour movie.  

Although the editing is the film's biggest issue, it is a LARGE issue.  Scenes drag on, characters sit silently, and the camera doesn't feel like it always knows where it should be looking.  These aren't pandemic throughout the film, but they are serious issues that would be expected from a film student, and not an auteur.  And the issue with these missteps is how it impacts the viewing experience.  These scenes don't carry the emotional frisson, disrupting the film's ability to transition the viewer into the world of the film.  This seriously impairs Django Unchained from becoming literary merit.

The Literary Verdict

Films like Django Unchained stand in literary limbo.  Between its visuals and dialogue, but inadequate editing, there just enough reason to merit the film as literature, as there is to dismiss its credibility.  There is no right answer, as all of these observations are absorbed subjectively.  But as far as Sirloin Furr is concerned, although Django Unchained offers impressive and transcending monologues and iconic visuals, its not polished enough to fulfill literary merit.  It provides enough creativity and skill to provide valuable guidance for aspiring film-makers, and it is another diverse piece of solid entertainment for Quentin Tarantino's portfolio.  But its inadequate editing doom the film's rhythm, and breaks away from the audience too many times during its 165 minute showtime.  

Aug 2, 2014

Literary Review: Glengarry Glen Ross

Hypothesis: Glengarry Glen Ross is a minimalist film that utilizes character exploitation to drive desperate actions by the supporting cast to create a memorable and honest film.  

Displays Literary Merit: YES

Key Points:

  • This film loves (well-written) monologues.  
  • The film is simple.
  • The film exploits every ounce of desperation from its characters.
The Film Loves (well-written) Monologues
Glengarry Glen Ross isn't rich in set pieces or special effects.  But the props don't interfere with the meaty dialogue that does more than enough to make up for the lacking props, by gasconading testosterone-fueled bravado and discourse over intensity and desperation.  The under-performing salesman are presented with a stipulation: either sell, or be fired.  After the salesmen learn that the one who sells the least by the end of the week will be fired, the entire staff is launched in an uproar of defense and panic.  Some try to sell, others think of alternative solutions; stealing the good leads from the office in the middle of the night.  The next morning then becomes a who-dun-it mystery, as the sales staff is forced to defend themselves against the interrogation from the police.  And what really propels the desperation, is each salesman trying to sell their own defense of their innocence against the others.  And just as natural salesmen do, these characters all recite detailed, verbose, and volatile monologues, reinforcing the only trait that this subset of working class has.  

The Film is Minimalist
Glengary Glen Ross isn't trying to preach minimalist ideals (suggested by the natural inclination of a salesman).  But the film's lacking special effects, CGI, or expensive set pieces create a very singlular scene that takes place almost entirely in an office.  And although this sounds like an unlikely environment for a film, the scrip writers put all of their chops and bravado into the script, that maximizes the quality actors used for the film (Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, Ed Harris).  Glengary Glen Ross strips filmmaking to its core, and puts its emphasis into its script, injecting so much power and strength that the lacking set practically has zero influence on the picture.  There's a good chance the film could have been filmed in a remote location, and still offered the same impactful delivery due to the magnitude of its script.  

The film exploits desperation from its characters
Although the film doesn't offer much to chew on, what is there is alot to swallow.  And all that it offers is presented in an honest disposition that makes Glengary Glen Ross a film containing literary merit.  The desperation fulfills the bulk of the honesty, as the desperate actions are believeable because of what is on the line for the salesmen.  

Jul 11, 2014

Literary Review : Prisoners

Prisoners is Literary Merit Certified

Thesis:  Although baring some holes in its script and forcing the audience to accept some questionable antagonist motives, Prisoners successfully executes a gritty mystery/drama by focusing on the perspectives of those most haunted by the trauma.

Key Points:
  • The desperation of the father and detective drive the film
  • The environment and score contribute to the desolate atmosphere
  • The captivating portrayal of the father and detective over shadow the holes in the script and questionable antagonists.  
The desperation of the father and detective drive the film
Their motives and actions are captivating, and ultimately drive the interest of the film.  Although the surrounding environment is enriching and the plot is enough to reach front page of national news, the depth of their desperation draws the audience to enter the deep and dark place that the film dares to descend.  

Keller Dover (father)
Hugh Jackman utilizes the testosterone fueled aggression that helped secure him the role of Wolverine, to present a relatable portrayal of a vengeful father relentlessly seeking the abductor of his daughter. His anger and impulsive actions can be understood by the audience (especially if the viewer has any children of their own), making the film feel honest.  By creating an honest character portrayal, the film has freed itself from viewer skepticism, allowing itself to demonstrate the extreme magnitude that Keller Dover is willing to take to find the location of his daughter.  Kidnapping, torture, and incarceration are all actions that a reasonable person would never consider.  But forced into a situation where a raging father believes that police and authorities are not fulfilling their civic obligation, that are not working relentlessly to find an innocent little girl, then it suspends belief, and allows the audience to believe that the actions of Keller Dover, although extreme, desperate, and radical, are honest.  

Detective Loki (detective)
There isn't much revealed about the detective.  His history isn't revealed, personal tastes aren't disclosed.  All that we know is that he has solved all of his cases, twitches his eyes due to an unknown and unacknowledged condition, and buttons his shirt all the way to the collar.  Should the audience believe that we have an atypical, hard-nosed, down-on-his luck cop?  Or should the audience believe that, because Detective Loki has solved all of his cases, that he's actually a well studied and above his time detective?  It's hard to say.  Not knowing his history prevents the audience from typecasting the detective, which gives the film some more ambiguity.  And that ambiguity gives the character some freedom, by not having to fulfill pre-conceived expectations, of what we're expected of on-screen pigs.

The Score 
The score was great.  It's not a Grammy winning sound track.  Instead, it adds subtly anxiety to very specific scenes, helping the audience commit to the realness of the film.

Plot Holes
The film wasn't perfect, so there are most likely other holes.  But one glaring hole that I'd like to mention is the forensic teams inability to find Keller Dover's truck or bag of tools.  So after Dover is brought to the hole by Ms. Leo, Detective Loki shows up shortly after.  There could not have been any more than 1 hour between the time Dover went into the hole, and the time that Loki showed up.  So how did Ms. Leo find time to hide Dover's truck and bag of tools?  She wouldn't have been able to.  So how did the forensic team not find the Dover's truck and bag of tools?  They had reason to believe that Dover was there, and should have noticed that his truck and tools were there.  This did not deflect from the mood, tension, or atmosphere the film built.  However, anyone paying attention will have noticed that this is something that was not presented honestly, and is asking the audience to dismiss its unfeasibility.

Conclusion: Contains Literary Merit
Regardless of the ending plot hole, the atmosphere and honest characters pitted into this atmosphere justify the tension and radical decisions that the characters present.  Detective Loki's collectiveness, and Keller Dover's anger, build an tense parallax within the film, that contributes to the stressful situations that they both find themselves in.