Friday, June 27, 2008

Swahili for "art house"?

Variety has news on Focus Features' new Africa First program, which will award emerging African filmmakers funding for the pre-production, production, or post-production of their short films, using local industry resources.

Selected filmmakers will retain global distribution rights (except in North America, where Focus will distribute), as well as copyrights, budgetary, and editorial control of their movies. They'll also participate in workshops, led by Focus, that will emphasize studio development, finance, marketing, and distribution.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

George Lucas: the Force is strong with Obama

Slash Film tells us George Lucas was on Capitol Hill this week to testify before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, offering his support for the Universal Service Fund. Lucas advocated for free broadband in schools and libraries, allowing for the creation of an education-exclusive "third Internet." Then, Beltway hilarity ensued:

Rep. Mike Doyle: “The universal service fund needs to be blown up like the Death Star.”

Rep. Lee Terry: “Rick Boucher and I are the Luke Skywalkers riding in to save the universal service fund by those who want to destroy it, the Darth Vaders.”

Chairman Edward Markey: “The e-rate became law when Congress enacted it as part of the Telecom Act, and we’ve defended it with political light sabers ever since.”

Nothing like coming before our noble governing body with new ideas and passion, and being patronizingly met with references to the sci-fi movies you've made. Lucas did, however, claim it's "reasonably obvious" that Barack Obama is a Jedi Knight...

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An interesting YouTube video... all that stands between you and fame & glory (well - and, presumably, musical talent).

That may be the case at any given moment these days, but the premise takes particular form in Coldplay's offer to take you on the road as their Viva La Vida Tour opener.

Just post that video of your band doing its thing on YouTube's Coldplay Opening Act Contest page, and you could soon be sharing an arena tour bill with Santogold - not to mention Chris Martin and the boys. Pretty sweet...

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This aggression will not stand, man

Who wants some Big Lebowski action figures?

Play with them while listening to NPR's character profile of the Dude.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

What's cooler?

Robot band The Trons...

...or Radiohead's "Nude" performed by old machine parts?

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Um, "Iron Man" isn't a documentary, is it?

I like to think of myself as a fairly adventurous moviegoer, willing, eager even, to seek out films a bit off the beaten path. I frequent the art-house (in DC, the great AFI Silver Theater and Landmark E St. Cinema) as much as the multiplex, and often find that the list of movies I want to see – stored nerdily in my wallet – consists largely of documentaries.

The LA Times, though, cuts me down to size as the typical ticket holder I am, with today’s story on ‘08 docs tanking at the box office. The article lays out nicely the reasons for the documentary’s decline in ticket sales lately, including topic fatigue or disinterest (features about Iraq have been notoriously flopping over at the multiplex); the double-edged sword of previous indie/doc breakout success, resulting in a kind of “studiofication” of the independent film world; and increasing reliance on Netflix or YouTube, rather than the big screen.

While I’m as interested in films about social justice issues as the next local film festival attendee, there’s a reason the documentaries that do break out are able to do so – namely, broad audience appeal. And yeah, I (along with tons of others) was drawn to those featuring Al Gore, Michael Moore, or penguins. As a genre that relies heavily on word of mouth, buzz is the thing most likely to get me into a doc screening (as with the critically acclaimed Young @ Heart, pictured above). But since summer blockbusters look great on the big screen and docs tend to suffer less in TV format, I’m more likely to add the latter to my Netflix queue than see them right away.

If the problem for the truly independent documentary filmmaker, then, is how to get your film noticed, YouTube’s new “screening room” feature may just be the answer. Upload your movie for free, and if enough people watch, you could find yourself collecting ad revenue, selling thousands of DVD copies via a "Buy Now" link, or even getting picked up for a distribution deal. Then, there's IFC’s video-on-demand Festival Direct, and Tribeca Film Institute’s Reframe, offering docs to download or buy on video. Finding an audience for your film online might be about as independent as it gets...

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The word "head" in your band name = nice songs

Last month, it was Radiohead getting covered. This month, it's (a truncated) Radiohead doing the covering - of Portishead's awesome "The Rip."

Pretty cool.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Follow That Septuagenarian!

Speaking of muppets, ever wonder how they "do" Big Bird? I know I have: sure, one hand controls the mouth, one controls an arm...but what about the eyes, and the other arm? Fortunately, 74-year-old Caroll Spinney - who's performed the character (as well as Oscar the Grouch) for nearly 40 years - spilled the beans to WaPo.

Also, how do I get to be a Muppet Wrangler?

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Monday, June 16, 2008

R Kelly found not guilty, gross

R Kelly may have been acquitted in his six-year child pornography case, but as any Chicagoan knows, Mr. Pied Piper is guilty of plenty of other, similarly gross stuff.

Step in the name of defense attorneys for the super-rich! Waitin' on that "Acquitted (Remix)"...

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Need I mention again...

...that I'm excited for this movie? Might as well.

Despite the reshoots supposedly going on now for Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are - due (again, supposedly) to the studio finding it kid-unfriendly - I still have hope the thing will come out intact and looking awesome...just like this new image.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Everyone loves cyborg police

Because the world was apparently clamoring for it - maybe it was that "I will shoot you, and I know robot karate" Be Kind Rewind segment? - RoboCop is getting a franchise reboot in 2010. Behold the poster.

I don't know; it looks a little too much like Kanye's Glow in the Dark Tour poster. Coincidence? You be the judge...

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Listen to the Jam Master as he starts to rock

The new, Jam Master Jay-focused documentary, Two Turntables and a Microphone, premiered last week at the Hollywood Black Film Festival.

No word yet on what's next for the doc, about the life and unsolved murder of one of the seminal DJ.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Mmm, picnics

1.) The new Roots album is dope
2.) I wish I could've gone to this
3.) It featured DJ Jazzy Jeff

That is all.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

How soccer explains the world?

Kicking It, director Susan Koch's new documentary about the Homeless World Cup, looks pretty fascinating:

Narrated by Colin Farrell, the doc was picked up by ESPN just before its Sundance premiere. It will play the art-house circuit this summer.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Regardless of whether or not it's supposed to be ironic...

It turns out the glimmer of hope that Weezer's "Pork and Beans" offered for their new LP was all for naught. The Red Album pretty much sucks.

The only other songs off the record that pack anywhere near the punch of its killer first single are the crazy, Queenesque, "Greatest Man That Ever Lived" - and that's mostly just because I find their experimentation in the multi-part epic to be laudable, if uneven - and "Dreamin,'" which has some classic Weezer chord progressions, but fails to excite.

Maybe I'll come around somehow, but I'm finally joining countless other former diehard fans in declaring - hard as it is to say - that the Weez has lost "it."

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

This can't end well

A Michael Bay-directed movie adaptation of the Ouija Board? Ok, I'm curious...

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Not about a comic book movie

Box office pundits who questioned whether women could drive a summer blockbuster got their answer this weekend when Sex and the City became the #1 movie, with a substantial $56.8 million haul. For those keeping track, that's the third biggest debut of the year (behind the decidedly more testosterone-driven Indiana Jones and Iron Man), and the fifth biggest R-rated opening ever.

While some cynically speculate that the huge first day opening suggests a potential big drop off next weekend, there's no denying that women, in a teenage boy-targeting summer, can drive a hit.

Although I wasn't one of these guys this weekend, I've certainly dragged my girlfriend to enough superhero movies to return the favor for her - but when she bought midnight screening tickets, I was out. "Can there really be enough girls out there who want to stand in line and fill up theaters until the middle of the night?" I asked. She assured me there were - and guess who was right?

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