The Outer Wild: The Road Begins

THE ROAD BEGINS

We’re doing it! We’re launching our next movie.  It’s called THE OUTER WILD and the road really is beginning — I’m on the road driving to the location! So… what is it? It’s all about surviving a wilderness filled with ghosts of the apocalypse. A good and creepy and smart and thrilling weird little indie movie and it really is a different kind of sci-fi flick.  ALL GOOD THINGS!  And we’re making it now so it will be coming to you soon.

Come join us, won’t you?  We’re at the very early stages right now, but we’ll be posting updates as we can.  So at the very least, if you’re interested — please follow our social media accounts:

Twitter:  @OuterWild Movie (and then there’s always me at @pchidel as well).
Facebook:  Facebook.com/OuterWildMovie
Official Site (still under construction): OuterWildMovie.com
And you can sign up for our newsletter:  Cardiac Pictures Newsletter

Thanks for following!  There will be a whole flood of info coming soon!

 

Outer Wild Movie

The Road Begins.

 

 


Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Boyhood)

In the wake of Birdman winning Best Picture, I am still torn about my feelings over this, especially over Boyhood.

birdman

I LOVE Birdman, but my main problem is that even though it is crazily beautifully crafted, its scope seems to be limited primarily to the artistic-minded, or those who can relate to the tortured artist. In other words: to pretentious shitheads. There is a great universal statement to be made about love in that film (‘What is love when we talk about love?’) and this is part of the reason why the film is not just a ‘Why don’t you just love me because I’m an artist’ type movie (which should be a genre, btw). But to me Boyhood is more universal in its story and its themes, dealing with life and all the wonders it holds. And even though the words ‘Best Picture’ are highly open to interpretation — (and industry politics aside) — this greater accessibility for the story is the main reason why I felt Boyhood was worthy of the win.

But it’s sure made for some great Facebook discussion in any case. Thanks to the film-savvy Fabisch Factor, this very question — Boyhood vs Birdman — has sparked a lively debate and has proven to be a terrific agent for my own procrastination. In particular, there was this terrific question posed by a professed Boyhood-Unliker:

boyhood2

Can you tell me whether in your opinion Boyhood would still be relevatory if it hadn’t been made with the same actors over a dozen years? If yes, what elevates it above other coming-of-age films for you? If no, how does that one formal aspect elevate the film to such an extent?

That’s a good fucking question. To which I responded:

Good question.

(I try not to curse on Facebook). But then I wrote more. Which I’m re-posting here because the question made me really think about Boyhood and why I liked it so much. In answering, it made me realize  just how seminal a film Boyhood really is, and made me understand why I went to bed after the Oscars so disappointed. Boyhood did deserve it more than Birdman. And did I say that I LOVED Birdman???

boyhood

In any case — this is my response to his question:

Realistically, this is a ‘what if’ that can’t really be answered, because you can’t separate a film from its elements, or even its process. It would be like evaluating the merits of Birdman if it wasn’t shot in a continuous take, or Pulp Fiction without its colorful dialog, or Titanic without its sense of detailed spectacle. The elements are such an intrinsic part of the films that they define them, and help to shape the experience as a whole.

That said… with that out of the equation, I still feel the film works terrifically. To me it wasn’t just a coming of age story for the boy, but for everyone in it as well. The mom who can’t break her self-destructive cycle of pairing with the wrong man, even as she’s on a perpetual quest to improve herself. The dad who tries desperately to stay hip, young and cool but ages anyway and still seems happy to become a shadow of his former self. The boy caught in the middle, wondering where his own destiny will eventually take him — and is ultimately left still wondering, as his own parents have shown this journey never ends. And the girl… whose Girlhood story got neglected because Lorelei didn’t want to film anymore (as a true side note: she started calling this film ’12 Years a Slave’, which is pretty funny. ) :) To me, all of these were ‘coming of age’ stories, and collectively made the film even more effectual. It encourages reflection of our own lives, and help us look inward in a way that few films can manage. Esp. to the specific point of what it means to grow older.

Also, I’m hard-pressed to think of ANY other coming of age story that tackles such thoughts with such scope. Most coming-of-agers focus only on the young boy or girl, and only on the one pivotal moment that shapes their lives forever. Which is a bullshit approach, since one rite of passage doesn’t equal or define a whole life. But yet it’s convention for coming of age stories, and we all seem to accept that as if it must be that way. And this is what I found so refreshing and vital about Boyhood: its ambitious scope — with and without the 12 year real-life gimmick — tackles more than just a moment to define a life. It also breaks from normal coming-of-agers by treating the main supporting cast as more than just a one-dimensional tool to foster the development of the main character. Of course that aspect of shaping the main character is there (they’re his family, after all), but they also have their own lives, dreams, concerns, and fears. They feel like people, in ways that are rare for the genre.

So yeah. I think Boyhood is exemplary for a coming of age film. And to be clear, though I do love it, I’m not one of those who think it’s so perfect and should be immune to critiques. But I do agree with this article about how only Linklater could have pulled this off. Much like Wes Anderson and Grand Budapest, Boyhood has its own director’s signature themes, styles, and observational eye, in a way only that particular director can do. That’s not a reason why it should win an award, of course, but it’s worth noting and lauding.

So that’s my take and I’m sticking to it. But don’t get me started on Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton…

keatonredmayne

 


Why Star Trek Into Darkness Really Pissed Me Off

First of all: MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT. Stop reading if you haven’t seen it. Seriously. STOP READING.

Okay. You have been warned.

Second of all: do note — I loved the movie. Most of it. Totally cool awesome stuff like volcanoes and space and destroying my adopted hometown (though they spared AT&T Park, I think). But then the more I thought about it, the more things stuck in my craw. I’ll try counting them, but I will lose count. Bear with me as I rant:

1) Dumb title. It’s stupid. Too generic. And they’re ALWAYS going into darkness. It’s space after all. The only worse title would be… I don’t know… Insurrection.

2) I loved seeing Carol Marcus return. Great reveal. But why make her British? Is this an alternate universe thing? OK — make Khan British for Benedict’s sake, that’s cool. But for what’s her name?? Really? Maybe Kirk f*cked the Brit out of her in the other life. I don’t know. I just thought it was odd.

3) What’s up with Old Spock showing up as the Oracle to explain all? LAME. Not only did it feel cheap, but it didn’t add to the story, other than to give a fun ‘Check out yet another tie-in cameo’ moment. Young Spock could have still figured things out without asking Old Spock for info. It would have been better dramatically as well.

4) Though I love me some Wrath of Khan, I gotta admit I’m getting sick of all the references. Does JJ know that there’s more to Star Trek than that one movie? How about some new ideas? Because recycling old ideas with a twist not does a new idea make (see the Yoda speak there? See, JJ — I can play both sides of the street, too). And if you don’t start a Klingon War in the next Star Trek: Just Watch It, or if you mention Botany Bay, Genesis, or any other WOK reference, then I will officially explode.

5) KIRK DOESN’T DIE. Period. I mean, by definition, Kirk doesn’t die. He cheats death and that’s what makes him Kirk. Killing Kirk just makes him another character. And that’s bullshit. Why don’t you go kill James Bond while you’re at it? Fuckers.

Killing Spock in the real Wrath of Khan was great — in part because it was unexpected, but also in part because Spock is not the main character. Killing Spock tests the main character of Kirk in an ultimate and heartbreaking way. Here, killing Kirk is not only derivative of the other movie, but it also kills the main character, not a supporting one. Before the movie’s over, no less. Which means all the supporting characters have to carry the load, and that’s just not cool storytelling. So Kirk DOES NOT die, any more than Chuck Norris doesn’t kick the shit out of you. The closest Kirk comes to death is getting stuck in a fading astronaut hologram in a Tron-like spiderweb — but he still DOES NOT DIE. This current death is a copy of a better moment in another film, and it’s dramatically false.

And then: Spock yelling Shatner’s Khaaaannn! is just a whole big load of fuck you.

But then the diarrhea begins to roll downhill into Act III and fuck us all like a shit snowball:

Old Spock says Khan is the greatest adversary we’ve ever seen. So stopping him should require more than just Khan running away and Spock trying to catch him. Yeah, the fight scene was cool, but where’s Khan’s master plan? Where’s a surprising twist? And what the fuck is Uhura doing in a fight???? And why aren’t the Klingons there???

Seriously, think about it: They made a big stink about trying to avoid/start a Klingon War. Then Khan pisses off the Klingons (on some planet that’s supposed to be uninhabited; Liars), and the Klingons disappear. So it would make great sense if somehow at the end, after a big climactic fight, the Klingons show up to deliver the coup de grace by enacting their revenge on the dishonorable Khan, and take him away from mankind forever. Alive or dead, fuck it, who cares — the Klingons got him. And they don’t want to start a war either — not yet. Then that great dramatic promise that was introduced would actually be paid off rather than left dangling. I mean, did Damon Lindelof write this thing or something??

Wait… He did? Fuck. That explains it.

It might also explain why it’s never really explained why Khan blew up the Archives. At the time, it made sense, since it was a trap to lure all the heads of the military (Although it’s not explained why they would meet in a heavily windowed room rather than some protected bunker). But then, when the other truth comes out — that the Archives held evidence of secret weaponry – then why did Khan destroy the evidence that would have condemned the Federation? I mean, this was like Prometheus, with all these ideas that get contradicted by other ideas. Did Lindelof write this thing or something?

Wait… I said that joke already? Sorry.

But then, you know, it might also explain how a small great moment like the sliding doors completing Scotty’s “Holy Sh—“ line can get cheapened by actually using the word “Shit” twice later on, and in a family movie no less. Not only is the curse wholly less than clever, but to teleport Tom Hanks into here: ‘Are you cursing?! There’s no cursing in Star Trek!!”

It might also explain why there was such a strong foundation laid from the beginning about how we feel at the verge of death. Spock dealt with it, Pike dealt with it, Uhura complained about it, and this movie was off and running and about to say something cool about the human condition. And Lindelof loves talking about death; that’s what Lost was all about. But then Kirk failed to defy death and he sorta whined about being afraid or something, and he died, and it became pretty clear that any honest theme or emotion would be sacrificed for the sake of an unexpected plot twist or self-referential dramatic jackoff moment. I mean, who really wrote this —

Oh, right. Lindelof.

So really, in closing, all I want to say is that I loved this movie. But then I realized I didn’t. And I want to love it. But I can’t. I certainly do love parts of it, and the Star Trek tone and banter is really good, but then just when I think I can talk myself into loving this movie like a true fanboy should, I remember yet another thing that pisses me off: how horribly telegraphed it was that McCoy would come up with a zombie tribble solution to Kirk’s death. I mean, this was as subtle as a porcupine in a balloon factory. And how could they introduce a zombie tribble without having it replicate and overtake the Enterprise by eating everyone’s brains??!!

I mean, seriously, how awesome would that be. Not even World War Z has tribble zombies, I bet.

Okay. Now I’m really outta here. Ultimately, with all its fun and flaws, Star Trek Into Darkness was more effective in its dramatic manipulation than it was in its dramatic storytelling, and for that I have to say:

Fuck you, JJ. And the Lindelof horse you rode in on.

I will now sit back and greatly anticipate the hopefully named Star Wars 7: It Arndt Lindelof.

 


Another Hollywood Kickstarter??? For Shame….

All right , there’s another Kickstarter disaster in the making. Veronica Mars and Zach Braff have company: It’s Melissa Joan Hart, aka Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Darci's Walk of Shame

Like Veronica and Zach, she’s cute. She’s from TV. And she’s using Kickstarter to reach a $2M goal. Disgusting. But very much unlike them, her project — a feature called Darci’s Walk of Shame — is falling far short of its goal: it has raised only $54K as of this writing, with about 2 weeks to go.

And by ‘only’, mind you, I simply mean to imply that it’s a fraction of her goal. $54K is still a lot of money. Most Kicksarter projects would be thrilled to receive that much. For crying out loud, that’s more than 25X the amount that my own meager kids book has managed to raise, so take the ‘only’ with a grain of salt. I’m pissed! Share the wealth Sabrina!! You won’t be using it! But alas, that’s mean. I’m sorry. It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose.

I Am Fartacus

Still, though, it’s easy to poke fun at failure. Mean-spirited, too, and that’s not my point here. My real point is this: Why don’t we hate her too?Note that Sabrina’s lack of success that she’s having is not without its reasons. The pitch itself is highly flawed, both in concept and in execution. It’s not a Sabrina movie that’s being pitched, after all, and who wants to see Melissa in anything else? And the idea of a 30-something woman still playing off her innocence and virginhood just seems weird. And she’s talking about playing a mature and sexy role — by pitching it in an OFFICE to her MOM. I mean, Jesus. Seriously, just… Jesus.

After all, if her campaign did hit her $2M goal, she’d be the third in as many months to do so by trading in her Hollywood support. Maybe we’re not mad simply because she’s nowhere close to her goal. Maybe this proves that Kickstarter isn’t successful for everyone just because of their fan base (and yes, there is a fan base for Melissa Joan Hart). And her failure does prove that Kickstarter success is far from guaranteed. You still need a good project. You still need a good pitch. And you still need good marketing to stir up support among your fans, whether they know who you are yet or not.

So here, we can laugh with contempt at Melissa, and feel justified in doing so as if we’re personally hammering home that nail in the coffin of Hollywood Kickstarter abuse. But that would just make us evil hypocrites. Because as much as we may hate the feeling of Hollywood encroaching on indie turf —

Harbinger Down

Because they work hard, they’re good at what they do, and they’re reputable. But they’re not famous.We’re still going to donate to the next great ‘indie’ project: A seasoned FX house making an 80’s style creature feature called Harbinger Down. These are Hollywood professionals too — and their pitch is great — so why don’t we hate them too???

So really — next time you find yourself getting mad at Zach Mars for their success, realize that you’re only mad because their success is not yours.

 


Veronica Mars, Zach Braff, and the Future of the Human Race

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: In reading, remember: I’m trying to raise $5K. Ok, carry on.)

First there was Veronica Mars, and now there’s Zach Braff. Both are appealing and downright adorable — yet they are now hated by legions of fans simply because they have asked for your money, and gotten it. It’s not their recent success on Kickstarter that is drawing the anger of the masses, though; it’s the fact they had even walked through that crowdfunding door in the first place. (More like kicked it down and burst inside, but who’s quibbling?)

The mentality against these two (and others to come) is understandable. It feels like it is unfair, that these projects could have been made elsewhere and they didn’t ‘need’ Kickstarter. It feels like they are invading a space that is perceived to be for ‘true’ indie artists.

To that, the Marshmallow roasters and anti-Braffs have a point. But not really. Because if you’re of that ilk, ask yourself this:

If you had a project that you felt could legitimately raise $10K on Kickstarter, would you pursue it?

Of course you would. And the same would still hold true if you were trying to raise $100K, or even $2M like Braff. And if you asked this question:

If you had a project that could raise $2M on Kickstarter, but you had the option to instead find investors and give away half your profits, which option would you choose?

You would still choose Kickstarter. Because why would you give away something that you don’t have to? Why would anyone else? I mean, really. Duh.

So really, the only issue here is that Veronica and Braff are abusing the purpose of Kickstarter, since they are famous and don’t need it. (I know Veronica Mars is fictional. I don’t care. She’s cute.) Also, they’re certainly not the first ‘non-needy’ people to go this route, as other notables have preceded them including, to name a few, the likes of Paul Schrader, Ralph Bakshi, Colin Hanks, Alex Cox, and Alice Cooper (Cooper’s project, btw, was actually unsuccessful). And note — all of these people were putting their own money into their projects as well, but no one seems to pay any attention to that.

Besides, films are not the only category to ‘suffer’ from celebrity endorsement: the popular company Double Fine leveraged their fan base and made their early and permanent mega-million mark on the gaming side of things, and the makers of the Ouya console more than doubled that success. Clearly these companies didn’t ‘need’ Kickstarter, but did people really mind? Eh… maybe. But if they are offering a product or service, and there is enough demand for it, where’s the problem? I mean, that’s capitalism, right? Yay America!

There is another question to pose regarding this dilemma as well: What’s the difference between paying for a movie after it is produced, rather than before? Given that donating to such campaigns allows a glimpse into the creative process and engages the audience in ways that otherwise would not be possible actually should boost the case for Braff et al. — but being traditional slaves to the studio system as we are, it’s a hard mental switch for many to make.

Ultimately, the real anger here does not lie in the idea that these adorable assholes are abusing Kickstarter. Because quite simply, there is no abuse of the system at all; they are using the site for exactly the purpose for which it was designed. Instead, the real anger comes from the disruption of a dream. The dream that many of us starving artists (self included!) have a place in this world, and that place should be free of the needs of money and undue influence. It is the same dream that believes that the Sundance Film Festival should only celebrate movies with no-name talent, or the dream that believes everyone working on a film should feel happy and amazed to do so, even if that means working for 16-hour days and cold pizza.

Like all dreams, they are illusory, moody, and they do not exist. What does exist is a new system that can be used to make movies (or other projects), regardless of fame, stature, influence, or birthright. The key word here is ‘regardless.’ Though Braff may be famous or have extra influence, he has every right to use Kickstarter, as does everyone. To deny him that right, or bemoan him and others for using it, would be hypocritical. If you feel that way, then remember: They’re not the asshole here. You are.

(Yeah. That’s right. I just called my lovely readers assholes. But don’t worry — I’m an asshole, too. I’m pissed off just like you are. It really doesn’t feel fair. But we have to get over it. After all, there is no Santa Claus… which, come to think of it, I’ve never really had a problem with because I’m Jewish… Which means — damn. Maybe I’m just an asshole.)

Anyway, asshole or not, bitter or not, we must all come to terms with the fact that our dreams of grandness on Kickstarter are actually not affected by this. If anything, Braff’s great success brings more validity, acceptance and attention to the platform, which would likely benefit everyone. So rather than stew in our envy for the success that we don’t yet have, we should accept the reality that we are not alone in this universe.

There is life on Mars, they are the corporate and Hollywood elite, and they are crashing our party. Whether we like it or not.

Oh — and btw: Now that Braff has made his $2M+… can you help me to reach $5K?? Lend a starving artist a hand??? THANKS!

 


Who is Fartacus?? And Who Would Name Their Kid That??

So it looks like, for some strange reason, I am launching a new project — and it’s not a horror movie! Hmmm…. Why would I EVER do that???

Well, the reason’s not very strange at all. As this video shows, my son has wanted me to make something for him for a while, and frankly — I got tired of neglecting him. :) But when we talked about what he wanted me to do, it actually came out to be a FANTASTIC idea, and frankly, I couldn’t NOT do it.

It’s a superhero fantasy adventure (and who doesn’t want do that?) — and it’s all about a superhero with farting powers (OK, seriously; WHO DOESN’T WANT TO DO THAT??!!). And the more we played around with it, we realized it wasn’t just a (ahem) passing fancy. It’s actually turning out to be a full superhero universe with a complete mythology all its own, and it celebrates a child’s innocence as being the strongest power of all. It’s called I AM FARTACUS, and it’s rather special.

So check it out! It’s not scary. But it’s funny, family-friendly and adorable. Here’s our (temporary) web site: www.iamfartacus.com. Please support if you can — because we have big plans for this to expand, but we can only do so with your help. More news to come soon. In the meantime: Enjoy.

 


Til Death Wrap Up

So here we are at the end of 2012 and ‘Til Death has had quite the year. As expected (?), ‘Til Death managed to play in a bunch of genre fests. And quite unexpectedly, it picked up three separate BEST SHORT FILM awards!

best_in_show

Matthew Foster and his friends at Dragon*Con honored the film by naming it Best Short, as well as Best Horror. And I didn’t even have to wear a costume! Weeks later, the pre-Halloween weekend was a big one. J.T. Seaton and the New Orleans Horror Film Festival named us Best Short as well, as did Chad Clinton Freeman and the Pollygrind Underground Film Festival — which named us Best Short AND Best Director. So that was thrilling, flattering, humbling, and overwhelming, all rolled up into one. Now, as 2012 comes to an end, the future of ‘Til Death is being debated. It will either be part of a larger project, or be released as part of an anthology of other horror-minded shorts. Time will tell. But whatever its future, I stand now as being thrilled that it received some recognition, and even more thrilled that the fans have reacted to it so wonderfully. As a taste of the kind of response it’s been generating, check out this review from horror blogger Char Hardin. It warms the heart cockles!

 


What It is to Stephen King…

Hugo is to Martin Scorsese. Sure, Hugo is awesome, it’s Scorsese’s masterpiece and most personal film, yada yada blah blah. But for all you cinephiles out there… it’s just so goddamn full of references!! Just like Stephen King wanted to put every monster known to man in one giant horror book, Scorsese seems to do the same thing here with Hugo. And it’s awesome.

Hugo It

Now, I’ve seen some of this chatted about online already… but other than the obvious clips of Melies and Lumiere Bros films among other historical clips (Lloyd, Chaplin, et al)… how come I’m not seeing anyone talk about the film techniques that Scorsese used as homages as well? For me, one striking example was Citizen Kane‘s through-the-window shot at the end of the movie. And another sequence homaged the mob scene from Metropolis when Isabel gets lost in the crowd running after Hugo. Were there others? I think there must be. Only because Scorsese is the greatest spokesperson for film EVER, and if he’s going to make us all rediscover the joys of cinema, then goshdarnit, he better refer to every movie ever made in his magnum opus, period, or else he’s just a hack.

Seriously. What’s up with that? If DePalma can recall Eisenstein in The Untouchables or ripoff Hitchcock in Body Double, Dressed to Kill or any other movie he’s ever made except for Mission to Mars (argh, I just got sick), then can’t Scorsese at least recall DePalma recalling Eisenstein/Hitchcock for Hugo? I mean, Marty does go a little Vertigo with a chase up the clock tower, but does that count? And is the heart-shaped key an homage to My Bloody Valentine — or is that wishful thinking? And while he’s at it, can’t he give some love and pay homage to Subject Two? I mean, he does have it snow in Paris. So that counts. Right??

If anyone knows of more film references in Hugo, please post them here in the comments. I’d love to here more. In the meantime — entertain yourself with this great link, a glimpse into Hugo and film history.

 


New Web Site And Trailer

Just a quick announcement —  ‘Til Death has a new web site! And trailer, too  — so check it out.

Til Death

There are nips and tucks to be made to the site, but for the most part, it’s there. More great news to come soon, so thanks for your continued support and interest! It’s been a terrific ride, and we’re only just beginning. Glad to have you along.

Happy Holidays to all!

 


Thank you, Mr. Ken Russell

Mr. Russell, to say I will miss you is one thing. To say the world will miss you is an understatement. Of course there is Women in Love and The Devils, but Altered States and Tommy were both seminal to me, and thanks to you, I will never lose sight of what Ann-Margret can do if you give her enough baked beans. Gothic and Lair of the White Worm have their place in my heart as well, as does Whore, if primarily because I feel dirty when I say its name.

We need more filmmakers like you, and now that you are gone, I dare anyone, myself included, to fill the void that your absence creates. Thank you for your art. You will always provoke and inspire.

Altered States

 


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Why So Serious?

    Well, depending on the time, he may in one spot, or several.

    The Joker