Some 3.5 million downloads were claimed for the latest "Phantom Menace" trailer within five days of its appearance at the official and Apple sites. This despite it being a QuickTime exclusive, unlike the multi- platform "teaser" which was launched a few months ago. The two-and-a-half- minute epic is just the latest stage in the determinedly digital strategy for George Lucas's saga: test digital projection screenings will take place during the US release starting in May, and the next title in the series, early next year, may be shot electronically, with long-term plans to download the whole thing to cinemas by satellite. Meanwhile, lawyers are clamping down on copyright infringement, but not so far on the inevitable web parodies, such as Park Wars: the Little Menace (http:// sabbeth.com/menace/ specialedition.htm) which unofficially enlists the whole South Park crew. Kenny, of course, continues to meet his usual fate.
Speaking of teaser trailers, that disconcerting Cruise-Kidman-Kubrick footage is, unsurprisingly, now floating around on the Web, sometimes in rather dubious contexts. No sign of it, though, at the official Eyes Wide Shut page, which so far offers only a discreet memorial. The above site is one of the best of the Stanley Kubrick pages, and like the director himself leaves the interpretation of his films to the viewer, offering mainly images and sounds from the movies themselves. Other sites are even more reverential ("the Man, his Films, the Genius", "The Master Film-maker"), while one offers a trivia quiz: "Name at least three films which feature saliva coming out of a character's mouth." A dedicated newsgroup, alt.movies.kubrick, recorded the dismay of fans at the recent news of the director's death; the group's archive, The Kubrick Site, (http:// amk.atc.dmacc.cc.ia.us), is a mine of information on everything from Nietzsche's contribution to 2001 to the precise technical details of a bullet's "full metal jacket".
Hooray for Bollywood, on this showing still in the best of health despite the predations of international TV satellites and video piracy. Kuch Kuch Kota Hai seems to have swept the board at the recent Indian film awards, and the veteran actor/politician/ minor deity Amitabh Bachchan's latest, Lal Badshah, has just been released. Rani Mukherjee and Govinda shared some "very relaxed vibes" on set recently, but are not having an affair of course! Along with all the gossip, there is extensive RealAudio of latest musical hits, a quiz, a history of Indian cinema since 1897, and that all-important height-of-the-stars table (Amitabh in the lead at 6'2", but Amir Khan a mere 5'5").
Though it lost out to jodi.org at the Webbys, this site from a group of pioneer New York multimedia artists is an equally challenging, if less playful, exploration, in this case of the overlapping territory between video, web and performance art. Centrepiece is a mosaic of archived sequences created between 1994 and now allows viewers to control the frame rate as they unravel, and includes recent pieces which merge live elements from different national locations. Other projects here include VirtuAlice, a mobile camera on a wheeled "throne" which can be controlled both by website and gallery visitors and thereby explore various issues to do with memory, subjectivity and surveillance. The Park Bench project itself involves placing various location-specific computer booths around the city, seemingly part artwork, part public utility.
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