I recently found some bizarre footage from the set of Predator 2, and have been trying to pass it off as being from the upcoming Robert Rodriguez film Predators, cuz I'm a jerk like that. Alexa suggested some minor changes that she thought might improve it, so I spent a few minutes figuring out how Windows Movie Maker works. (Easy to make something crappy, hard to make something nice.)
Here's the result, which I think you'll agree is a significant improvement.
I read yesterday that Netflix made a deal with Warner Brothers to delay DVD releases in echange for having access to more of Warner's library for their Netflix Watch Instantly feature.
Interestingly, people seem put off by this, which, as a long-time Netflix subscriber and a Netflix Watch Instantly early adopter has me a bit perplexed. Anyone who's ever used Netflix knows that they often won't get a specific movie when they expect it, and in fact end up altering their movie watch behavior accordingly. Watch Instantly, however, DOES allow people to, funnily enough, "watch instantly."
D bought me the first Roku box when it was first announced, which allows us to watch Netflix Watch Instantly titles (and now Amazon VOD titles as well) right on our TV, using a remote to navigate. In HD, even. The box keeps track of where you are in each title if you decide to stop watching and finish later, and even keeps track of which episode in a TV series you're on. Even without the 2-day time advantage the Watch Instantly service has over having a disc mailed to you, there's value added in keeping track of this stuff. Anyone who's ever had to figure out which episodes they haven't seen after a several month hiatus of watching a particular show can attest to this.
Netflix Watch Instantly is now available on Xbo and PS3, as well as a host of DVD players and Blu-ray players, televisions and other boxes you may already have in your home. Soon, it'll be available on the Wii that you have collecting dust, and there's a range of different Roku boxes that will hook you up inexpensively if you don't already have one of those other boxes in your home. Streaming is the future, and getting more titles available for people to stream is a great advantage for Netflix, helping ensure that they're not only in the game, but at the forefront of it.
So, it seems to me that Netflix is in a win/win situation; not only are their customers already used to delays of new releases, but adding more titles to Watch Instantly will help keep customers like us happier for longer. We use Netflix via Watch Instantly almost exclusively and haven't even received a disc in probably close to a year. I look forward to a sudden influx of new things to watch.
If a 30-day delay on Batman Begins Again DVDs means I can stream the rest of the Batman franchise, then I say delay it. If I really need to see a title within 30 days, there's always a Redbox machine nearby.
One of my favorite movies is Steve Oedekerk's High Strung. Chances are you haven't seen it, because it wasn't released theatrically, was only available as a rental, and the company that put out the VHS tape went out of business. You may occasionally run across a copy at ye olde video shoppe, but it's pretty unlikely since most rental copies have since been stolen.
Over 10 years ago Steve Oedekerk's official website reported that they had finished the video mix for a DVD release, and all that needed done was a 5.1 audio mix and menus and extras and whatnot. About 3 years ago I ran across a VHS copy, digitized it, and made a torrent of it so that more people could have a chance to see this gem of a film -- and maybe increase demand for the "any time now" DVD release in the process.
It's been a couple years since I've checked for an update on the DVD release, but yesterday I came across a copy online purporting to be a "DVD rip." So I downloaded it. Turns out that it is a significantly higher-res copy than the one I put up, and even wide-screen to boot, but still pretty obviously VHS-sourced. It smelled fishy, so I pulled out my copy and compared them side by side.
So, as you can see, someone simply cropped and stretched the full-screen VHS copy and pretended as if it were a 1.78:1 wide-screen-sourced copy. Since it is cropped down, it means that there's even LESS of the film visible, and since it is scaled it means everyone has put on a good 10 pounds. It also means that there is still no DVD.
Just got home from Henry Selick's 3D interpretation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline. Long live stop-motion.
This movie was really enjoyable, was visually stunning, and blew the pants off the last movie we saw at cinema: My Bloody Valentine 3D. I guess that's not saying much, though.
It's no secret that I prefer stop-motion to fancy computerified animation, and this film is a fine example of why. The set design, lighting, props -- everything -- were stunningly crafted, with an obvious amount of love and care for the medium. I was particularly fond of the scale model Volkswagen "New Beetle" that was used throughout the film. Someone spent a huge amount of time on that...
For me, though, the best thing about the film is that it completely eschews the standard cliche elements of this particular genre. [SPOILER ALERT] There is never an "and it might have been only a dream" or an "and it was all a dream -- or was it?" Everything is nicely self-contained, which is something of which other people exploring this genre ought to take note.[/SPOILER ALERT]
I do hope, though, that parents will heed the particularly frightening imagery found in the trailer, if only to ensure that future screenings didn't contain nearly as many crying children as the one I saw. Seriously, parents, don't bring your tiny ones to this movie.
I'm also glad that this movie might be the tipping point in people realizing that "From the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas" is not referring to Tim Burton -- it most certainly will be for this guy.
I joked earlier about how the "war on Christmas" drove us to flee to another country, but that's only the tiniest bit true. Granted, I get really upset every time I'm accosted by a Salvation Army bell-ringer, but I'm mostly just amused at how people get so worked up about someone wishing them a happy incorrect holiday.
Here in Australia, all the ads on telly that I've seen say 'Christmas.' There's nary a mention of generic "holidays," nor any mention of specific non-Christmas ones. I'm not sure whether this is due to the fact that Australia is considerably more secular a society than the states, or some other factor of which I'm unaware, but people are clearly laid back about the whole thing. Even the non-religious folk seem to have no qualms with wishing each other 'Happy Christmas," which is something I think the US could learn a few things from.
This laid-backness regarding 'uptight about Christmas' is why I was so utterly shocked to see this poster at the cinema yesterday:
I'm guessing that the title change is due to a generic "foreign" marketing campaign, wherein they just make one set of marketing images for all the english-speaking non-US countries, allowing for other countries who aren't nearly as laid back about the whole thing. Still, it's jarring. If they had done this in the states, there'd be boycotts and outrage. "How dare they take 'Christmas' out of the title of that sucky movie??!" Bill O'Reilly would have to have Reese and Vince on in order to berate them. Geez.
Know what the world doesn't need? Another freakin' Captain America movie.
Just because Hollywood keeps making PUNISHER reboots, and they've now managed to reboot both Batman and Hulk franchises, TWICE -- not to mention a pending Superman reboot -- doesn't mean we need another Captain America.
I've decided that, from now on, only the first incarnation of a comic book film will be acknowledged.
For instance: I did indeed see The Punisher, and he was played by Dolph Lundgren -- and it was terrible. I also saw The Fantastic Four, which was produced by Roger Corman -- and really, REALLY, terrible. Batman's greatest weapon was shark-deterrent spray.
If, upon learning that there's an R-rated Christian horror film in theaters, you feel that you just HAVE to experience it for yourself, I very strongly suggest you fight the urge.
I didn't, and thus had the extreme displeasure of sitting through what is quite possibly the worst movie I've ever seen -- and I saw both MASTER OF DISGUISE and MIMIC while they were in cinemas. The film in question is HOUSE, a low-budget adaptation of Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker's novel that somehow got released to theaters.
I've been trying to write this post for a couple weeks now, intending to summarize the film and give an idea of how truly awful it is, but it's just too awful. The film depicts a couple going through their own personal Hell, but I think the true intent of the film was to put ME through an hour and a half of Hell. I'm still not certain that Hell is a physical place, but I ain't takin' any chances... I almost didn't survive the screening, so an eternity of that is unfathomable. I'm catching up on back-tithings as we speak.
In any case, lest you're curious, this movie in no way deserved an R-rating. There's virtually no blood, no on-screen violence, and it's about as scary as a Very Special Episode of TV's BLOSSOM. The producers purportedly fought with the MPAA over the R-rating, but I find that highly suspect. I think instead that they asked Mabel to give it an R so as to trick hapless heathens into seeing it. Just now, while trying to find a copy of the poster of the film, I stumbled across Ted Dekker himself talking about the film, and I find that what he said completely backs up my impressions regarding the theatrical release of this film:
“This is still essentially the same story from the book. It’s the story of four lost souls entering their own hell, mistaking their one hope of rescue as something evil, and in the end either living or dying.
But the marketing has changed. The message is now going out to the millions who would never be caught dead watching a movie like ‘Left Behind,’ no pun intended. "
Indeed, it appears that some well-intentioned zealot put a lot of money into getting this stinker into theaters in order to turn some people's lives around. I'm all for trying to make people's lives better, but by tricking them into seeing a horrible movie?
Just got home from Bill Maher's "documentary" Religulous. Very enjoyable, but suffers from the same blight that seems to befall all theatrical "documentaries;" there's either no thesis to be found, or nothing in the meat of the film to support the stated thesis.
Much of the film does a really good job of pointing out all the silly little things that followers of various religions take for granted as being normaller than all the crazy stuff those other religions teach, largely in ways that even fervent proponents of said religions can take to heart without being too offended. Not to say that Bill Maher doesn't show off his usual level of douchebaggary, slyly making fun of people through irony to which they don't catch on. There's plenty of that in the film, some of it really funny. While adding to the enjoyment of the film, these awkward moments are often filled with pretty heavy-handed edits that really make me wonder what, exactly, it was that was really said/meant. Not sure whether what was depicted was real, but very sure that it was funny.
All in all, if one is looking for a Jackass / Da Ali G Show-style collection of disparate funny situations (possibly taken out of context) poking light-hearted fun at various tenets of the religious, one will not be disappointed with this film. This reviewer, however was left cold by both Maher's stated thesis (that religion is going to lead man to its doom) and the fact that he didn't actually use any of the film's screen time to support it. He opened and closed the film in Megiddo, talking about prophesy and mankind's inherent need to destroy itself, but everything in-between was the religious equivalent of fart jokes. Mormon underwear, Jihadist rappers, intergalactic overlords; really, the only "ha ha religion is so silly" element missing was the prophecies embedded in so-called Bible Code. But it sure was funny.
Next time, Bill, I'd suggest keeping it light-hearted; abandon your unsupported thesis and let us enjoy your religious fart jokes for what they are: really funny religious fart jokes.
For those looking for a more light-hearted, informational (and oddly more reverent) look at the various idiosyncrasies Earth's religions manifest, I'd heartily suggest checking out Australia's John Safran VS. God as well as Religulous. You won't be disappointed.
Most of you are probably already aware, but a few of you may not remember that June 15th is Jim Varney's birthday. Or would have been, had he not died already.
I think that Jim Varney has made at least as valuable a contribution to the world as all those other famous dead guys whose birthdays we honor, so I'd like to ask you to take a few minutes to remember Jim fondly.