The Fearless Filmmakers event this month was another mixed bag of great independent films, and…um… other independent films.
Joe Johnson: “Girl Next Door”
A cross between “Silent Hill” and “Scream”, and somehow a parody of them at the same time. Would make a great Rob Zombie video (and I mean that in a good way), half-naked (actually 90% naked) smokin-hot babe gets covered in blood while battling creepy-looking creeps in her home, which has Mysteriously Inadequate Lighting.
Awesome fun, but unfortunately, the ending was a cheap shot, like they ran out of time or film or something.
355 Productions: “Love”
Hysterical mockumentary about a white-collar office guy who decides to encourage “Love” in his coworker’s lives. Hints of “The 40 Year Old Virgin” crossed with “Office Space” and poor quality sound. This worked great as a short, but I have a hard time imagining how it could be extended into a full-length feature film. I guess we’ll find out, because the full-length version, “Love: A Documentary” is in Post Production, and slated for release in Summer 2007.
Aaron Gelperin and Steve Blehert: “The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Eating Cake”
The title don’t lie. Not much else to tell, really. Far and away the best short of the evening. Well done, funny, and although I didn’t understand the ending AT ALL, I didn’t even care. I laughed my ass off.
Orange Apple Productions: “It’s Killing Me”
This film is based mostly on a poorly-written nursery rhyme, narrated by a child with cancer, who is killed by his own parents to put him (or them) out of his misery. This film is positively atrocious, and directly opposed to their ‘Mission Statement’ on their website:
…to bring a positive message to its audience through the projects it produces. To show its viewers that the right choice made in even a bad situation can affect everyone involved in a positive way.
Not. Even. The writer/director/producer seemed to think it was “Pretty good”. He was wrong.
Matt Osterman: “Turtle”
A square white guy is commissioned by the Lord (in the shape of a turtle, hence the film title) to build an ark. I was expecting hilarity to ensue, but instead the story moved from funny comedy to sad tragedy to disturbing thriller.
Ryan Schaddelee: “Manfant”
Billed as a ‘Horror/Comedy with a Twist,’ this film was the opposite of Turtle in that Turtle went from comedy > tragedy > disturbing, Manfant moved from thriller > comedy > lighthearted.
During the Q&A after the showing, Ryan admitted that the entire movie was based off one of his friend’s abilities to make accurate baby noises, and they got drunk and decided it would be an interesting plot for a short about a full-grown man who acted as an infant. He also apologized. Manfant was one of the best produced movies shown tonight, but not nearly as good as his previous Fearless Filmmakers submission, Scream Like A Girl.
I was pleased to see a movie written and directed by a musician, Justin Pierre. The story was abstract, and a bit thin. Naturally the soundtrack was awesome, and included the band ‘Sweet J.A.P.’ The end credits were WAY too long. There’s no way there were that many people involved
Animation over audio conversations with a telemarketer. Very funny, and got the most laughs of the evening. This is part of a larger series of audio called “Wrong Answers” all of which are available on the web for free at this site.
This entry in Grain Belt’s 2006 “Make Your Own Commercial Contest” won Prime Productions first place, and a year’s supply of beer. (I don’t know how much a year’s supply of beer is, and I forgot to ask at the afterparty, but they said it arrived in a truck.) “MVP” is Very pro, it looked like a real commercial.
The album distribution model was perfect for hard-copy records, tapes and CDs. So you really liked Pour Some Sugar On Me because you heard it on the radio. You had your mom drive you down to Musicland on 3 August, 1987 and bought Def Leppard’s Hysteria the day it came out, because if you didn’t get it, you swore you would die.
You paid $11.99, just like I did.
Why did you pay that much for one song? You only wanted the one song, but it was only available on cassette tape, and it cost $3.99. A total gyp. The CD with 12 songs for $12 is a hell of a deal in comparison. Those were your options, and they sucked.
But not anymore.
Thank God For The Internet
On the internet, you preview each song before you buy it, and you pick and choose the songs you want. Who the hell wants to buy the entire CD of Wang Chung’s Points on the Curve for ten bucks, when all you really want is Dance Hall Days for a dollar?
Yes, the time is up for the album.
It’s just as well, since few bands use albums to their full potential anyway. The article mentions Tool and Radiohead, but has anyone heard of Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick? The CD has one track on it, about 45 min long. Its not even a concept album. It’s a 45 min SONG.
But even buying a single for a dollar is going to become unnecessary:
Another solution being debated in the industry would transform record labels into de facto fan clubs. Companies including the Warner Music Group and the EMI Group have been considering a system in which fans would pay a fee, perhaps monthly, to subscribe to their favorite artists and receive a series of recordings, videos and other products spaced over time.
I would take it a step further, and say take a break from technology altogether. Skip the Cellphone and the TV/DVD/Cable/Sattelite, and Things-That-Plug-Into-The-Wall. If the weather is anything like today, it’s time to be thinking spring thoughts!
Read a book, or write one.
Take a drive up to Frisky’s in Coon Rapids, I think they still deliver food out to your car. If not, Wagner’s in Brooklyn Park off of Hwy 81 and Broadway will.
Last night I attended the premier of the dramedy (that’s Drama/Comedy) “The Horrible Flowers at the Riverview Theatre.
Overall the movie was really good. Emily Cline was positively delicious as the lead character, Bettina, leader of a Just-About-To-Make-The-Big-Time band, passing through her hometown of Minneapolis when… things go wrong.
Scott Foster plays Billy, a slacker drummer from Seattle, and love interest to Bettina. Billy seemed to suffer from some kind of multiple personality syndrome. In one scene, he is quiet/shy. The next scene he is loving/caring. The next he is a wise philosopher. Awkward lines were given to him that even the best actor would have a hard time with, (the dressing room scene with Linda comes to mind.) I couldn’t tell if the problem was the writing or the performance, although treating each scene individually, Scott Foster did a fine job, but overall the character came off as disjointed.
Lines of dialog throughout the movie were contrived, and several of the conversations would have made more sense if you cut the last sentence off. You’ll have to see the movie to understand, but several times when characters were walking away from each other and one would say something, I was left there wondering what the hell the person was talking about. “You didn’t even try!” was one I recall. “Try what?” I replied to myself.
The plot was unique and interesting, involving Rock and Roll, and the sacrifices people are willing to make for it.
There was one serious twist in the plot which threw my suspension of disbelief straight off the tour bus. It was an occurrence of something I have coined ‘The English Patient Effect’. This is when two people argue/fight/scream at each other, typically culminating in one person hitting the other or pushing them down…
…and then they have sex.
Um. Yeah. Right.
This doesn’t work. Don’t go down to Martini Blu and try it to find out for yourself. Don’t ask me why it doesn’t work. It didn’t work in The English Patient, and it didn’t work in The Horrible Flowers either. Instead, I wondered if the projectionist got the reels mixed up.
The musical score (by writer/director Eric Tretbar) was good. The songs the bands were performing on stage sounded like uninspired standards, but that was OK. They were not in the big leagues yet, they were not superstars, so that made sense. The background music was much better: simple, emotional guitar/drum/tambourine. Another critic compared the guitar work to Neil Young’s score for “Dead Man” and I completely agree.
More than anything, the movie has a high ‘coolness’ factor. Lots of local Minneapolis places that musicians and music lovers will recognize. The characters are believable, they have the right ‘attitude’. All in all, a great local indie film, in which the plot, acting and Minneapolisism outweighed the drawbacks.
An interesting idea, the website bumrushthecharts.blogspot.com is urging people with I-Tunes accounts to purchase an indie single from the band Black Lab today and push it to #1 on the charts as a ‘stick it to the record industry’ gesture.
How the band is selected is beyond me, (maybe the band made up this entire marketing ploy?) But the idea is similar to people who plan a similar purchasing scheme on Amazon.com. Getting a large number of people to buy your product in a short period of time to make it a “bestseller” has worked well for many authors.
I don’t have an I-Tunes account, so I’m not going to fret about it. If you are interested in proving that a bunch of people can send an indie single to #1, and if you think that will somehow make the record industry jealous, head over to Bum Rush The Charts and show your support.
While I’m sorry for internet radio services like Pandora and AccuRadio who now owes Millions more than they ever made with their services, I know this is the kind of thing that happens when a multibillion dollar industry has their claws around the testes of the government. You don’t set up shop against the record industry without some serious lawyers, insurance, and compromising pix of high-ranking officials.
The recording industry is laughing now, but it sounds to me like they are trying to kill the person standing beside them by using a hand grenade. While this ruling might kill internet radio, and toss the Recording Industry enough cash to sue some more innocent fans, it will also dissuade new artists AWAY from the old royalty paradigm, and onto things like creative commons licensing, and services like Magnatune.
Its been a while since I’ve seen an original monster in a movie. With all the vampire/werewolf clones out there, The Host is a terrifying breath of fresh air.
The Host is a great movie, even if it does make Americans look like evil, polluting, cowboy bullies. [Editor’s Note: We’re Not?] The plot is simple, the characters are believable, the monster is incredible.
There were only two things that bothered me about the movie. First, the mix of the sound was strange. At times when there was no dialog or sound effects, the musical score was Obscenely Loud. This happened several times during the film, so I cannot believe it was an accident. The rest of the volume was fine, so it was not an issue with the theater sound system.
Also, the sense of humor felt odd to me. Some things I thought were funny…well, I’m not sure they were *intended* to be funny, if you know what I mean. The other way ’round too, some things I think were meant to be funny, but I didn’t get it. Then again, Humor is probably the most difficult thing to translate between cultures. But these are trivial issues.
Direction (by Bong Joon-ho) and pacing were good, and as I said, the story was uncomplicated. Great use of tension, you don’t just get handed the monster all at once like a Godzilla flick. By the time you really get a good look at the monster, you’re already terrified. In that respect, it does live up to the critic’s claim that The Host is “On a par with Jaws.”
Some people will let the subtitles dissuade them from seeing the movie in the theater. Fine, you cowards, then wait for the DVD. But if you love a good ‘creature feature’, you won’t want to pass this one up.
300 is based on work by Frank Miller (Who also did the Sin City graphic novels) I’m not sure which occurs more in this movie: Washboard Abs or Blood. The movie is crosses testosterone and homo-eroticism to a degree I didn’t think was possible. People who enjoy the unending non-violence of “Like Water For Chocolate” or “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants” might get bored with the nearly unending violence of 300, but they will still have plenty of washboard abs to watch. And plenty of blood.
I loved the art direction and cinematography in this film. Lots of interesting camera angles, and plenty of slow-motion and stop-action fighting that reminded me of Hero.
But 300 is what it is, a bunch of half-naked Greeks getting their fight on.
If you decide to see 300, please don’t be like the people at the Regal Theatre on Friday night and bring your kids to see this! The movie is Rated R for a reason. I’m talking closeup-on-severed-head-spinning-in-the-air-type-Rated-R. So get a sitter, or your kids will be fucked up. I mean, worse than they already are…