Category Archives: Movies

Don’t be so hasty in kicking Hollywood to the Kickstarter Curb

I thought the Kickstarter for the Veronica Mars movie was a great move – but this post from Ken Levine made me at least temporarily rethink that idea. He discusses the Veronica Mars movie but focuses more on Zach Braff’s Kickstarter.

The idea – and it’s a great one – is that Kickstarter allows filmmakers who otherwise would have NO access to Hollywood and NO access to serious investors to scrounge up enough money to make their movies. Zach Braff has contacts. Zach Braff has a name. Zach Braff has a track record. Zach Braff has residuals. He can get in a room with money people. He is represented by a major talent agency. But the poor schmoe in Mobile, Alabama or Walla Walla, Washington has none of those advantages.

I think Levine’s premise is largely correct: after years on Scrubs, and after making Garden State, Braff has the contacts in Hollywood to get a movie done. The problem, one that’s not mentioned by Levine, is whether or not Zach Braff has the leverage to get his new movie made. Braff’s movie, and the “Veronica Mars” movie, appeal to a fringe audience. These are not films that even dare dream they might earn the millions Iron Man 3 or The Avengers earned in their opening weekends. So, to secure funding, they need a show of support by would-be viewers: yes, this “double-charges” most members of the audience (first on Kickstarter, then at the box office), but given the choice between paying twice or not seeing the movie, Braff fans and Kristen Bell fans would probably choose the former.

Levine’s point that the “poor schmoe in Mobile, Alabama or Walla Walla, Washington” doesn’t have the advantages of Braff or Bell is correct. But reserving Kickstarter funding to only the “poor schmoes” diminishes a critical beauty of Kickstarter: letting people “vote” with their dollars for ideas they want to see turn into realities. If the Walla Walla director has a great idea and hers is better than Braff’s, Kickstarter participants can choose the former over the latter (or both, since the choice is not mutually exclusive.) Braff and Bell might have better name recognition and earn some “vote-dollars” on name alone, but they shouldn’t be excluded from a literal marketplace of ideas because they might have the ability to secure funding elsewhere.

[By Ken Levine: I won't give Zach Braff one dime]

Oh Crap, it’s Oscar Night

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t post my guesses at the Oscars, right?

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” (Paramount Vantage and Miramax)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage)

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Julie Christie in “Away from Her” (Lionsgate)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There” (The Weinstein Company)

Best animated feature film of the year

“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney): Brad Bird

Achievement in art direction

“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount): Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

Achievement in cinematography

“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Roger Deakins

Achievement in costume design

“Across the Universe” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Albert Wolsky

Achievement in directing

“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Best documentary feature

“Taxi to the Dark Side” (THINKFilm) An X-Ray Production: Alex Gibney and Eva Orner

Best documentary short subject

“La Corona (The Crown)” A Runaway Films and Vega Films Production: Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega

Achievement in film editing

“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) Roderick Jaynes

Best foreign language film of the year

“Katyn” Poland

Achievement in makeup

“La Vie en Rose” (Picturehouse) Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

“Ratatouille” (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

“Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted” (Walt Disney): Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Best motion picture of the year

“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage) A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers

Best animated short film

“I Met the Walrus” A Kids & Explosions Production: Josh Raskin

Best live action short film

“Tanghi Argentini” (Premium Films) An Another Dimension of an Idea Production: Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans

Achievement in sound editing

“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage): Skip Lievsay

Achievement in sound mixing

“Transformers” (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro): Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Achievement in visual effects

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (Walt Disney): John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier

Adapted screenplay

“No Country for Old Men” (Miramax and Paramount Vantage), Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Original screenplay

“Juno” (A Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production), Written by Diablo Cody

I’ll be back later with how I do.

Whew, just made it.

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Travelodge needs to get out more

And see some movies. You know, like Woody Allen’s “Everything you always wanted to know about sex * but were afraid to ask.”

I’m just saying: these new pajamas made out of Dermasilk? You might want to rethink the color. And the headgear. While the pajamas may help with itchiness, can they really help with the loss of dignity of sleeping in something that makes you look like a sperm?

Check it:

Woody Allen (R) and the sperm outfit

Attractive Model and the sperm outfit pajamas.

Christ, I can’t tell them apart.

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Fast Phile 5

Sometimes I think I could be a hotshot Hollywood producer. Though I usually come to the realization that my talents would be totally worthless and wasted.

Warner Bros president of production Jeff Robinov has made a new decree that “We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead”. This Neanderthal thinking comes after both Jodie Foster’s The Brave One (even though she’s had big recent hits with Flightplan and Panic Room) and Nicole Kidman’s The Invasion (as if three different directors didn’t have something to do with the awfulness of the gross receipts) under-performed at the box office recently.

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Where my snakes at?!

Ah, Snakes on a Plane. If you haven’t heard of it, welcome back from your coma. Otherwise, I’m just counting down the days and mediocre movie releases to August 18th.

I’m putting up $10 that says this movie beats the opening-weekend record set by Spider-Man. (I’m also countering that with $10 on it having a dropoff of at least 50% from weekend one to weekend two, though it won’t break that record.)Â Anyone think otherwise?

Samuel L. Jackson at the MTV Movie Awards (VanWEric delievers!) snakes on a plane, samuel l. jackson

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Simpsons Movie

Pardon me, but I’m just not thrilled with the idea of a Simpsons Movie. I mean, the idea is brilliant: get people to pay for something they’ve been getting for free for, oh, about 17 years. (Good lord, I feel old. Since I remember watching the Simpsons Christmas Special back when it first aired.)

The Simpsons Movie has some serious shark-jumping surrounding it. Will this be a la the Family Guy “movie” (3 more-or-less-random episodes surrounded by thin plot.) What will the movie show that FOX wouldn’t be willing to air? A naked Homer? Profanity?

Part of the charm of the Simpsons is the way it has continually skirted censoriffic issues. Implied nudity is usually ten times more hilarious than actual nudity (think Austin Powers, where naughty bits are covered by, among other things, sausages, bananas, melons, and a balloon.) And profanity, from a dialogue point of view, is a cheap way to fill air (unless you’re going for some sort of F-bomb record, like “Boondock Saints” or Scorcese films.)

So, what will a Simpsons Movie accomplish? Just a glorified lengthy episode. And for a TV show that’s never gone out of the realm of 22-minutes, I think 90-100 minutes will cause some yawns and some seriously flat jokes. And its not like they’ve been jam-packing the past few seasons with jokes, anyways. The idea for a movie feels like about ten years too late.


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Oscar Night

First of all, big thanks to everyone who poked fun at my ten entries two weeks ago. As you can see, I’ve again fallen off the earth for a while, thanks to Olin’s Candidates Weekends.

Now to get to the important: It’s Oscar (not Mur-Miranda) night. As I mentioned last year (sorry, no entry to post to, since site went crazy during June), the quest is a perfect 24-for-24 categories correct. Without guessing, this is somewhat tough to do. (Not surprisingly, the big categories: Picture, Director, Actress – all easy. It’s best Sound editing that makes me cry every year.)

So, without further ado: 24 picks for Oscar Night, less important categories first.

Art Direction: Memoirs of A Geisha Cinematography: Brokeback Mountain Costume Design: Memoirs of A Geisha Doc Short: The Mushroom Club Film Editing: Crash Foreign Language Film: Joyeux Noel (or Paradise Now. Dammit.) Makeup: Chronicles of Narnia: Lion, Witch, Wardrobe Original Score: Brokeback Mountain Original Song: “Travelin’ Thru” – Transamerica Short Film – Animated: One Man Band Short Film – Live Action: Our Time Is Up Sound Editing: King Kong Sound Mixing: Walk the Line Visual Effects: King Kong

And the Big Nine. Or ten, this year.

Doc Feature: This category makes the leap from the uncared about to big-time this year. Since Bowling for Columbine (sorry, conservative folk, it’s because of the buzz, not the content.) was released, more people are taking an interest in documentary features. With three popular films in this category (March of the Penguins, Murderball, Enron: Smartest Guys in the Room), it’s a particularly tough pick – on paper, at least. In reality, none did better than March of the Penguins. So I’m going with that.

Best Animated Feature: Another category to make the jump from the small-time to the big-leagues. This is the first time since the category was introduced that no purely computer generated film is on the nominee list. This could be the toughest category of the night. I’m psuedo-randomly selecting Wallace and Gromit. We’ll see how that turns out for me.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Brokeback Mountain‘s been picking up this award in every other show with ease. No reason to change here.

Best Original Screenplay: I can see Good Night and Good Luck or Syriana picking up this award as well. However, with George Clooney picking up the Supporting Actor award, this one goes to Crash.

Best Supporting Actor: Duh. George Clooney, for Syriana. Well-liked actor throwing around possibility of politics in a film that roasts corruption in the oil industry? Please. Jake, Paul, and Matt didn’t have a chance (and if you screw me over, William Hurt in A History of Violence, I will come find you.)

Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz, for The Constant Gardener. I don’t know why. Probably because that’s the only film on the nod sheet for this category I saw.

Best Leading Actor: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, for Capote. It’s a tough category here as well, with four of the five in the running (sorry, Terrence Howard). Of the four, I’d love to see Joaquin Pheonix win for Walk the Line, but Jamie Foxx in Ray could hurt him (since both films have the same style of musical legend getting addicted to pills then to recover and find love at the end. It’s pretty popular, these sex and drug things mixed in with rock ‘n roll.) I’d like a David Strathairn pick as well, since both Strathairn and Phoenix did an excellent job with their source material (so did, of course, Hoffman and Capote). And while Heath Ledger is in the most talked about movie of the year, he probably only ranks third behind Hoffman and Phoenix, since Heath Ledger didn’t win a single big award for his role. Hoffman takes it, with Phoenix the potential spoiler.

Best Leading Actress – Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line. Not as tough as Actor, but still a tough category. Judi Dench and Charlize Theron don’t have strong enough roles to overcome their previous winner status, so they’re out. That leaves Keira Knightley, Reese Witherspoon, and Felicity Huffman. Throw out Keira Knightley for now, since she would be the ultimate dark horse. That leaves you the two Golden Globe winners (since the GGs award seperate for Drama and Comedy/Musical). It’s a tough race, but I’ll take Reese Witherspoon, who I just plain like more.

Best Direction – Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain. Easiest pick of the night: Pick whatever the DGA (Directors Guild) picks. They’re usually right.

Best Picture – Tonight, at around 11:55, if everything’s on schedule, you could either witness history, or the collective chickening out of Hollywood. While movies with a gay and a cowboy motif are nothing new (see Midnight Cowboy) no film has dealt with homosexuality as frankly (and as some say, as intimately) as Brokeback Mountain. It’s a dicey pick at best though, since everyone laments already how “out-of-touch” Hollywood is with the rest of America, and a plethora of states banning gay marriage.

Hollywood’s backup safe choice? Crash, a film that didn’t win anything at the GGs, but has picked up a lot of steam (and ground) since then. The big win for Crash came at the SAG awards, where it picked up Best Ensemble Cast. To the frustration of everyone, last night at the Independent Spirit awards, both Crash and Brokeback Mountain were awarded for best film in seperate categories.

Still, when has Hollywood listened -or cared- about the rest of America? You’ll still go see Spider-Man 3 when it comes out, so who gives a crap if they pick a gay cowboy movie as their best film of the year. It’s not like Crash deals with a more accesible topic for litle old ladies in Peoria: race relations in a gritty Los Angeles aren’t on the minds of anoyone east of the Rockies. Or west, for that matter.

I think Hollywood will say Brokeback Mountain tonight. Gut feeling. I think tomorrow, the boys with the Christian cable shows will come out and lament the pick, maybe call for a boycott until Passion of the Christ gets released for its annual Easter cash grab, and I think by Tuesday, you’ll have forgotten everything but what Kiera Knightley is wearing.

When I said Hollywood would make history, I didn’t say it was the kind of history you’d really care about.