Posted on 31 May 2007 by Rich Drees
Since its January premier at the Slamdance Film Festival, the documentary The King Of Kong and its inside look at competitive video gaming and one man’s quest to break the world’s record for classic Donkey Kong arcade game has been generating positive reviews as it continued across the spring festival circuit in advance of its August 17 limimted theatrical release. (My own review can be found here.)
One person who understandably isn’t thrilled with the documentary is Billy Mitchell.
Mitchell is one of the subjects of the film, the 20-year record holder of the Donkey Kong high score who stands in the way of nice guy underdog Steve Wiebe’s quest for the crown. The film does not paint a very flattering portrait of both him and record keeping organization Twin Galaxies, many of whose higher ups are friends of Mitchell’s.
Now, after four months of silence, Mitchell has decided to speak out and MTV News was the venue. You can read the interview here.
To be sure, complete impartiality is nigh impossible for any documentary to achieve. Just the process of editing a film to a watchable length necessitates the loss of nuance that may impact how an audience perceives certain subjects and situations. It is with that grain of salt that all documentaries must be watched.
And while Mitchell states that he has actually never seen the film, he still hints in the article at possible legal action- “I’m unhappy that so many good people were portrayed in such a negative light and it will be interesting what large law firm may step forward and offer to assist us in our quest for the truth.”
As the summer heads towards the documentary’s August release, it should be interesting to see how this plays out…
Posted on 25 May 2007 by Rich Drees
I wasn’t even sure I wanted to write about the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars
for today. There has already been enough ink spilt and bandwidth burnt about the franchise recently that I don’t think there’s much, if anything, I can add. Still…
I was eight years old the summer of 1977 when Star Wars came out. I still remember how my friend Todd, who was the first among us to see the movie, described the opening sequence as two battleship-like spaceships firing lasers at each other. It was all my young imagination to do to wrap around that idea, so blown over by the incredible coolness of how that sounded. This was sometime in mid-June, I believe, the first flashes of what would become a pop culture phenomenon like no other. Little did anyone realize what kind of juggernaut it was to become.
And little did I realize what an impact that Star Wars would make on my life.
Living in the suburbs with no movie house being within an acceptable bicycling distance, it was hard for me to get to the movies unless one of my parents took me. Thus I was left with trying to get glimpses of Star Wars whenever I could- commercials on TV, news reports about its continually growing box office returns and the like. But what really opened my eyes was when the “Making Of” special aired.
Although I tuned in to hopefully catch a glimpse of the Millennium Falcon shooting down TIE fighters, but what I saw opened my eyes. For the first time, I was introduced to the world behind the camera and everything that goes into making a movie. More importantly, it introduced me to the serial adventures of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, major inspirations to George Lucas. A gateway drug, if you will, that led to other old movies starring the likes of Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart and George Raft. An infinite world of flickering celluloid dreams and nightmares, stories and legends. A world that I’m still exploring.
True, the bloom is off the Star Wars rose somewhat, thanks to Lucas’ incessant tinkering with the films in the form of “Special Editions” and a rather disappointing set of prequels. But even as he tries to redefine his epic through such changes as Han shooting first or replacing the sweat and hard work of the original craftsmen of those spectacular space battles with the coldness of computer generated effects, he can’t deny that it was those original films that shock the pillars of the world’s popular culture, redefining how we go to the movies, how we interact with the movies and how Hollywood presents its films to us.
I consider myself fortunate to have been the age I was when I was to not only witness film history happening but to have it swirl around me, pick me up and put me on a path I’m still traveling today.
Posted on 13 May 2007 by FilmBuffOnline Staff
Although it hasn’t been announced officially, Film Jerk reported on Friday that Andy Fickman has been selected to helm MGM’s remake of Fame, which we previously reported about here. As Fickman has already directed such family friendly films as the Amanda Bynes comedy She’s The Man and the Disney football flick The Game Plan with Dwayne Johnson, it gives one pause to wonder if the studio is looking to do away with some of the original’s darker elements such as drug use and Coco’s (Irene Cara) descent into pornography. Time will tell…
EmpireOnLine has posted the first picture released from the upcoming remake of Joseph Mankiewicz’s 1972 film starring Jude Law and Michael Caine. This version is a return of sorts for Caine, who starred in the original film as a hairdresser who has an affair with the wife of a mystery writer, played by Laurence Olivier, leading to a series of mind games between the two. This time, it is Caine’s character whose wife is having an affair with Law, leading to a game of wits between the two. Actor/director Kenneth Branagh is set to direct from a screenplay updated by Harold Pinter.
Colossus: The Forbin Project
The 1970 techno-thriller, Colossus: The Forbin Project, is being lined up for a remake at Universal with Brian Grazer producing and Ron Howard potentially directing. Based on the first of a trilogy of novels by D. F. Jones, the film tells the story of an artificially intelligent computer placed in charge of the United States defense systems who links up with its Soviet counterpart and comes to the decision that mankind needs to be enslaved in order to save itself from themselves. Screenwriter Jason Rothenberg is reportedly planning on incorporating elements from Jones’ other two books in this updating.
Noted author Clive Barker, who wrote and directed the 1987 original horror film Hellraiser based on his own novella The Hellbound Heart, has reportedly turned in a forty page treatment for an upcoming remake. This news comes from Seraphim Film’s Joe Daley, who told Variety, “There are some areas of the first movie where I think we can be a lot more intense and a lot more scary. It will not be simply a reworking or reshooting of the first picture.” However, with Barker currently working on adaptation of his short story “Meat Train,” it remains unclear as to when he’ll have time to further pursue a script for Hellraiser.
Via Shock Till You Drop
Posted on 10 May 2007 by FilmBuffOnline Staff
Posted on 07 May 2007 by Rich Drees
AintItCoolNews has an interesting news report/editorial on some recent changes that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have made to the rules regarding the eligibility of documentary films for possible Academy Award consideration.
Among the new rules include stipulations that feature-length documentaries must now screen for at least seven days in 14 markets across ten states as well as stronger restrictions on the format of any documentary shot digitally as oppossed to on film.
What does this mean for the smaller filmmaker?
Well, as AICN’s Elston Gunn reports, “smaller budgeted documentary features will be the ones to suffer. You could shoot the greatest documentary of all time for $100 on mini-DV and you’re still going to have to jump through fiery hoops or pay a hefty price to get the Oscars to consider thinking about at least putting it on their nominee shortlist.”
To me this looks like yet another attempt by the motion picture industry to limit the exposure, and ultimately the profitablity, of any smaller film produced outside of the traditional studio structure. Kirby Dick’s excellent documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated makes the compelling case that smaller, independent films are given ratings harsher than their big studio counterparts and thus limiting their potential business.
Until the rules change, documentaries were only required to have a one week run in either New York City or Los Angeles to qualify for Oscar consideration, a relatively easy thing to arrange for an independent silmmaker or small distributor. However, their problems are now multiplied in having to secure at least 14 venues in ten states to screen their films in order to be considered for the Academy Award ballot.
Even appearing on the nominations list gives a small film a boast in additional bookings and DVDs sales, and may very well be the thing that helps a small project break even or turn a slight profit. Appearantly, though, the Academy doesn’t see it’s mission so much as to encourage the advancement of all motion picture arts and sciences. Instead it seems to be, much like the Motion Picture Association of America, more interested in protecting the interests of the major Hollywood studios and their corporate bottom lines.