Tuesday April 30th 2013
The straight-to-DVD Mischa Barton vehicle Apartment 1303 hits UK stores on June 3rd, and will look great alongside last year’s Spanish horror import Apartment 143 on your shelf — with or without the intervening 1159 entries in the saga.
Thursday April 25th 2013
In a clear sign that Hollywood has finished eating itself and is now starting to retch up some of the less digestible chunks, Melissa Joan Hart has today joined Zach Braff in appealing to the world’s internet users for $2 million to cobble together a second-rate star vehicle. And what’s more, she’s lined up
a giant baby dressed as Jack Nicholson Hollywood heavyweight Tibor Takács to direct!
If there’s any justice in the world, this’ll be fully-funded by end of play Friday.
Thursday April 25th 2013
Earlier this year, I raised £12k on Kickstarter to fund my first feature film. I was completely blown away by the whole process, and instantly turned into into the sort of insufferable bastard who embarks on great, long speeches about the democratic power of the internet, and the breathlessly exciting future of creative endeavour. I’ve since tried to remain supportive of anyone who finds success on the platform — either with relatively small projects like mine, or with sprawling, wildly ambitious ideas like Matthew Inman’s Tesla Museum. More power to them, I figure.
That said, I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that a few people are starting to ruin it for the rest of us.
Ever since producer Rob Thomas convinced 91,585 backers to pour almost $6 million into his Veronica Mars Movie Project (a kind of ‘proof of concept’ designed to convince Warner Brothers that there was an audience for the film) Hollywood has increasingly begun to view Kickstarter as a sort of magical funding hat, that spits out money when you put Kristen Bell into it.
Yesterday, Zach Braff became the latest high-profile star to solicit the public for cash:
It’s a cute, funny pitch, and given that Braff has already raised 75% of his $2 million funding target, it seems likely that Wish I Was Here will see the light of day — which is great. But his pitch is also emblematic of a certain kind of cynical Kickstarter campaign that does little to ‘change how millions of people around the world connect’, as the site’s strapline promises.
For a start, whether you pledge $10 or $10,000 to the production of Wish I Was Here, you will not receive a copy of the film you’ve helped to finance. The best Zach can offer you is a $30 one-time-only streaming link that will expire the moment you finish watching it. That way, he retains full control of the film’s theatrical and home entertainment rights, allowing him to court potentially huge distribution deals (Garden State sold to Fox Searchlight for $5 million in 2004) should the film do well at Sundance, SXSW or whatever.
Secondly, his supposed reasons for crowd-funding the film are muddled at best. Specifically, his claims about final cut are completely untrue. Very few directors have final cut over their films, and most still manage to make the films they want to make. The problems he claims the ‘money guys’ would bring to the table are conjectural and extremely improbable.
Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Traditional funding will severely limit Braff’s creative control over the film.
If the writer-director of Garden State — which was critically acclaimed at Sundance, sold to distributors worldwide for immense sums and went on to gross 14 times its production budget — really thinks he can shoot the follow-up for just $2 million, then somebody is going to let him do that. And they’re probably not going to want to turn it into Norbit.
Traditional funding will prevent Braff from casting Jim Parsons in a small role.
Braff was perfectly able to cast a relatively unknown Jim Parsons in 2004. Why Parsons’s subsequent Emmy and Golden Globe wins, not to mention his stratospheric rise to sitcom fame, would prevent Braff from doing the same again, is beyond me.
Traditional funding will prevent Braff from giving Donald Faison a cameo.
For all his serious theatre work, Braff will always be best known for his starring role in Scrubs. There is no chance in hell that any ‘money guy’ worth his or her salt is going to squander the chance to put a Donald Faison / Zach Braff reunion in the trailer for a low-budget indie movie.
Traditional funding will require Braff to cut a subplot involving Comic-Con.
I haven’t read the screenplay for Wish I Was Here. I haven’t seen the storyboards. I haven’t even heard more than a brief description of the movie’s plot. But I can tell you now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Comic-Con scenes badly, badly need to go.
Lastly, let’s just quickly flag the massive, fuck-off elephant in the room…
Zach Braff is hella rich.
I mean, even if he spunked every last cent of his eight-figure Scrubs earnings on coke and high-class prostitutes, he must surely have enough left over from his Chicken Little residuals to cover a poxy $2 million indie budget.
Even $1.5m would probably do it. Jim Parsons can make up the rest.
Monday April 22nd 2013
The first thirty seconds of a comedy trailer are absolutely crucial. If a killer gag doesn’t grab the audience within that first half-minute, many viewers are liable to switch off, either intellectually or — in the age of the skippable YouTube pre-roll — literally. It’s presumably for this reason that the new trailer for Grown Ups 2 places its A-material right up front, a mere seven seconds into its runtime.
An unusually saggy-looking David Spade kicks off the ‘bit’, by asking a table filled with family and friends either ‘remember when we used to come here enough to get wasted?’ or ‘remember when we used to come here and after we got wasted?’ — neither of which particularly makes sense.
‘What’s wasted?’ asks a puzzled (and presumably rather sheltered) nine-year-old, who could’ve worked out the definition from context if she’d bothered to think it through and not just immediately asked for clarification. The lazy bastard.
Adam Sandler, rather than simply explain the term to the children in a calm and unsensational manner, tells them that ‘wasted’ means ‘when you have a hankering for ice cream’. It’s a stretch — why would hanging out at a bar cause David Spade to have a hankering for ice cream? — but the kids seem to buy it.
‘I want to get wasted!’ shouts one of the youngsters, clearly misunderstanding Sandler’s explanation entirely. If the definition of ‘wasted’ is ‘to have a hankering for ice cream’, then wanting to get wasted would constitute wanting to have a hankering for ice cream, which is patently tautological. Nonetheless, the other kids concur, proclaiming that they too ‘want to get wasted’.
Dragging the joke even further into the depths of incomprehensibility, a little girl in a blue hat then declares that she wants ‘to get chocolate wasted’, which doesn’t really mean anything at all. Still, at least Sandler sees the funny side…
Now — Adam Sandler has spent many years establishing himself as one of the world’s foremost purveyors of the false laugh (it’s why them pay him the big bucks) but the chuckle he proffers at the 0:17 mark of the Grown Ups 2 trailer, in response to the phrase ‘chocolate wasted’, might just be career-best material. It seems not to emanate from either his chest or throat, but instead from some kind of nasal laugh reserve just behind the eyes — an emergency chortle receptacle for those occasions when even the bassy resonance of the fake belly laugh won’t do.
Here it is in isolation, to give you some sense of how potent it really is:
And here it is again:
Wednesday April 10th 2013
There’s been a lot said about the apparent half-arsedness of Warner Brothers’ marketing campaign for their big summer hope-pinner The Hangover Part III, which has so far consisted of a series of posters featuring hastily cropped production stills and sub-Instagram colour filters. Many have called the designs lazy, but if you ask me, they’re all part of a carefully orchestrated exercise in showboating. Allow me to elucidate…
THE TITLE // Studio execs dream of developing franchises to the point where they can be evoked with little more than a logo (The Avengers), a commonplace word (Cars) or a silhouette (The Dark Knight). The team behind The Hangover have somehow managed to boil its brand down to a single typeface. And not just any typeface, but Futura — one of the most widely-used marketing fonts in the world, also found on the campaigns for Life of Pi, Chicago, The Social Network, The King’s Speech and countless other classy awards contenders. To boot, they’ve intentionally make the word ‘Hangover’ as minuscule as possible, eager as they are to prove that ‘Part III’ is really all that needs to be said.
THE STAR // When the first Hangover movie was released in 2009, Bradley Cooper was best known for a minor supporting role in Wedding Crashers. Now he’s one of Hollywood’s most bankable leading men, has an Oscar nomination to his name, and is set to star in upcoming films from both Cameron Crowe and David O. Russell. Even then, his no-billing-necessary appearance on this poster is designed less to showcase Cooper’s fame, than the fame of his character within the film — Phil — whose dark sunglasses and artfully ruffled shirt have somehow become recognisable character traits over the course of two 90 minute comedies.
THE TAGLINE // Again, what seems like rank incompetence — ‘It Ends’, seriously, that’s it? — can also be interpreted as chest-beating arrogance. After all, what other franchise could get away with such a banally utilitarian strap line? Even the final part of the Harry Potter series, the most successful film franchise of all time, had to slot an ‘All’ between those two words, which can only mean that The Hangover Part III is 50% more confident of its box office office chances than the fourth highest grossing film of all time.
THE VIGNETTE // Vignetting is often used on movie posters to evoke a cinematic quality. Here, the reason is a little more pragmatic: the image of Bradley Cooper used on this design is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill production still, and without the filter he’d likely fade into the background along with the palm tree to his right and the theatre to his left.
THE BACKGROUND // Posters for the previous two films in the series have focused on their famed locations — hedonistic Vegas, lawless Bangkok — and anarchic plot elements — the lost baby, the wild tiger, the face tattoo, and the monkey. Here, all you’re offered is an adult movie theatre and 3/5ths of the word ‘BOOBS’. Because let’s be honest: at this point, you’re going to see it wherever it’s set and whatever it’s about, aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?
On behalf of Warner Bros. Pictures, thank you in advance.