The Veronica Mars Kickstarter is going to be a huge success

I've never watched an episode of Veronica Mars, but I can already tell this Kickstarter is going to be huge, wildly surpass their goals, and become a film fans will love. How do I know? Because: Hit and Run.

 

This was a little movie written, directed, and starring Kristen Bell's husband Dax Shepard. It's a goofy little movie, part road-trip, part who-done-it, but very funny with smart dialogue. I rented it a few weeks ago on AppleTV not expecting much and was surprised by how much I liked this goofy little film. It has a look of a film that says "anyone can do this, you too can make an entertaining little picture."

I did a little research (read the IMDB page) and realized why I loved it so much: it only cost $2M to make. Comic book movie blockbusters are now costing in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars, and this little two million dollar movie has done over fourteen million dollars in business, I'm sure making it quite the successful project for everyone involved. There was something about the movie that reminded me of the first time I went online in the mid-1990s and saw the web as one giant "anyone can do this, you too can make a great website" message.

So I have a feeling Kristen Bell can make a wonderful little $2M movie that people will love since she already did it last summer.

This is 40

I wanted to like This is 40 more than I did. I’d heard positive reviews from friends and heard Judd Apatow give a great interview on Jesse’s Bullseye (embeded below).

The thing I heard in many reviews was how this comedy struck a common thread with people turning 40, and as a guy that is barely a couple months past that milestone, I looked forward to a personal and brilliantly funny comedy about the things I’ve had to deal with in the past year.

Opening night of this film I saw a friend tweet about how This is 40 was basically just “rich white people problems” and I thought that was a cynical take until I watched it. Ultimately, I think this was the downfall of the film. Sure, the script does feel very personal and I’d say it’s a safe bet that three quarters of what happens on screen happened in Apatow’s real life, but the film lost me by not being the common-man-turns-40 comedy I was expecting it to be.

They live in Santa Monica, one of the most posh neighborhoods in West LA. Judging from the minimum of 3 bedrooms and the huge backyard I’d say their house is worth around $2mil. Rudd’s character drives a $80k 7-series BMW and Leslie Mann’s (Apatow’s real-life wife) character is in a $50k Lexus. Rudd runs his own record label, and Mann runs a clothing storefront, both in Santa Monica (where rents would be astronomical). They both have enough time and flexibility to exercise for an hour or two each morning and their only obligation seems to be getting up early enough to drop the kids off at school before exercising and eventually showing up to their workplace. One of the core conflicts in the movie is they are having money problems, but when you look at their lives, that conflict felt weak given their amazing circumstances.

They also lie constantly, a personal pet peeve that made it hard for me to love the main characters or root for them. I have no patience for dishonestly in my personal life and one of the worst scenes in the film was one where the parents both flat out lie to┬áMelissa McCarthy, whose character gets so frustrated she flips out and looks like the crazy one in a scene that ends up with everyone laughing at the stereotypical fat “hysterical” woman that left me kind of sad that a good movie had to stoop that low.

It’s not all bad, the movie is funny and cracked me up endlessly in parts and yes, that included a few scenes from my own life that went in a similar way. Judd Apatow is amazingly good at packing a comedy with honest moments from life and there are plenty in this. One of the best was when the 13 year old daughter flips out at her parents and drops the f-bomb repeatedly. It was such a perfect capturing of the moment where you are thirteen and have hormones coursing through your body and you’re completely frustrated by a lack of control in how the world is going at that age and you can’t do anything but rage into the abyss about how everything sucks. There were lots more moments that rang both funny and poignant: dad sitting on the toilet for 30min playing iPad games, siblings hating each other and making up later, dad farting in bed while discussing their lack of sex life, etc. Still, in the end, it fell flat of being as good as the title “the sequel to Knocked Up” lead it to be.

Continue reading “This is 40”

Transformers/Avengers rated: PTSD

I saw The Avengers yesterday since everyone I know has been raving about it for weeks saying it was better than every other big budget comic book summer blockbuster (because it had a good script and good cinematography). I thought it was very good for a comic book movie, pretty good overall. It was entertaining, but at the same time disturbing. It took several hours after viewing to figure out what I found unsettling about it, and I’d have to say (slight spoilers) it was the battles that took place in NYC between giant metal evil snake things and the heroes.

Screen Shot 2012-05-08 at 10.17.51 AM

Screen Shot 2012-05-08 at 2.38.28 PM

Screen Shot 2012-05-08 at 2.38.43 PM

Of course it’s all computer generated and this is a movie, but it was distracting to see aliens and their ships constantly brushing up against buildings supposedly filled with office workers, knocking down buildings in some cases. While the comic book hero team was trying to save one or two buildings full of people, you’d see a dozen more get damaged. In the end the world gets saved but there’s no mention of all the damage and lives lost in the final scenes. It felt weird, like a minor side plot point that was previously mentioned was never mentioned again.

I hadn’t felt conflicted with entertainment since last summer’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The movie was tough to get through and a total assault of the senses in the battle sequences. It was like watching a difficult war movie (think: Platoon or Thin Red Line) and I couldn’t wait for it to be over (I nearly walked out halfway through).

Screen Shot 2012-05-08 at 10.07.55 AM

Screen Shot 2012-05-08 at 2.34.24 PM

Screen Shot 2012-05-08 at 2.32.54 PM

With Transformers, the influence was more obvious as the director used constant visual references to 9/11. There was a burning city with smoking skyscrapers, buildings went down after collisions with robots, and there were people diving out of planes (in wingsuits) shown in vertical poses next to buildings like iconic horrifying photos from September 11, 2001.

I never thought I was all that affected by the events of 9/11. I was on the West Coast, slept through the first crash and only got to see the second building collapse live on TV after reading everyone’s reactions on MetaFilter. I never experienced it in person with my own eyes, just through media from thousands of miles away.

Seeing these movies and remembering the horrifying events of that day, I can’t sit and watch a movie with CGI monsters battling in a city full of people and not think about the substantial collateral damage happening. Part of my mind knows this is all done on a computer and it’s fake robots in fake fights with a few extras running around on the ground and no one was hurt and this is all fiction, but a larger part of my brain remembers the horrifying images from TV that are permanently burned into my brain and I can’t really enjoy movies that mimic them in any way.

Kevin Bacon Number II: The Wire Index

I've noticed many of the films and shows I've enjoyed over the past few years have featured actors that previously appeared in The Wire. Someone should build a site that calculates a number based on how many actors in a show or film previously appeared in The Wire. It could be calculated like so: 

(Actors in the work that were on The Wire / Total number of actors in a work) * 10

This gives you a number between 0 and 10, with 10 being a perfect total saturation of the cast (probably only in actual episodes of The Wire) and zero being not a single actor from The Wire is involved in the project. I'm curious what the highest number non-Wire show/film is and I have a feeling if I was about to watch something and it had a number hovering between 2 and 3 I would be almost certain the work would be enjoyable.

Developers: this seems like it'd be fairly possible to do with some IMDB api work and you could probably make some money off the site by throwing Amazon "order now" links to any DVDs mentioned. 

 

Netflix on the iPad

One of my favorite apps for the iPad is Netflix's streaming service. I started out watching tons of documentaries. I really enjoyed two recent ones: Beer Wars and The Union

Beer Wars is an inside look at the world of microbreweries and how it's nearly impossible for them to sell at major stores thanks to the near monopoly held by Bud, Coors, and Miller. The Union is yet another "pot should be legalized" movie, but it's better than any I've seen before, with a long slow exploration of all the angles of the "why is pot illegal?" that doesn't fall for cheap tricks or emotional pleas and comes off as an intelligent run-down of how crazy the US laws are around pot and how they got to be that way.

Eventually, I found I didn't always have 90 minutes to sit around watching films and I eventually found the streaming TV shows listing at Netflix. It's really fantastic to have all three seasons of Arrested Development just a click away, or any number of TV shows I've never watched when they were first broadcast.

I thought my favorite app for the iPad would be Air Video, but that requires me to seek out shows and movies, download them, then stream. Netflix has surprisingly become my go-to app for relaxing and enjoying video on the iPad. It's a bit buggy and crashes whenever I finish an episode, but other than that, it's pretty great.

Logorama

Nominated for an Oscar this year in the animated short category, Logorama is a 15 minute film that’s a cross between Pulp Fiction and 2012, with lots of violence and NSFW dialogue, and exists in a world made of nothing but well-known corporate logos. Let’s hope it wins.

http://www.garagetv.be/v/S5k!wUapp7BV2oONHOYgA0fA3kKn7cvwkWO59OBMBBswSNtey-igvNmRlbFFQLab-z/v.aspxKlik hier om het video filmpje te bekijken

PS: How awesome is it that we get to watch nominated short films for free online? (via artlung and TCJ)