Tag Archives: Movie

BE KIND REWIND: A History of Sweded Film

Be Kind Rewind (2008) was written and directed by French filmmaker Michel Gondry. It’s a movie about the dawn of the DVD and a VHS video rental employee’s attempt to thwart off the digital competition by creating his own versions of popular movies. This practice is known as “Sweding.”

It was panned by critics.

“It’s the kind of amusing film you can wait to see on DVD,” said Roger Ebert in a 2008 review.

Be Kind Rewind currently sports a 65% fresh rating on rotten tomatoes and 6.4 on IMDB.

A colossal box office flop. The film only reeled in four million opening weekend.

Dave Chappelle was supposed to play the main character, who is instead played by Mos Def.

Chappelle’s Block Party documentary in 2005, apparently inspired the film’s urban setting, though the idea was one Gondry had envisioned for years prior.

In an interview with avclub.com in 2008, Gondry said: “Chappelle was intrigued, interested in this project for a while, and he mentioned a couple of films that we did remake: Driving Miss DaisyRush Hour 2, that was his idea… Boyz N The Hood as well.”

Enlisting Dave Chappelle would have made a difference at the box office. Nevertheless, the legacy of Sweding has lived on.

Four years after the film was released, people are still cranking out Sweded films. Including this Casino Royale Gem.

Continue reading


Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen

The worst movie poster OF ALL TIME

So I’m minding my own business, wandering around the Series of Tubes after finishing all kinds of physical labors, and what strikes my eyeballs?

Only the worst movie poster known to man.

Here it is:

the hobbit, the worst movie poster OF ALL TIME

THE HOBBIT movie poster is seven separate kinds of awful.

This isn’t bad in the usual way. The production values are high. The photograph looks nice. There’s nothing low-budget about this.

HOWEVER: From looking at this poster, and reading the tagline “An unexpected journey,” what do you think this movie is about?

Here are my theories:

Theory Number 1: Gandalf makes an unexpected journey back to the store after he forgets to buy sour cream AGAIN.

Theory Number 2: “Oh, it’s only partly cloudy today, when my weather prediction potion said it would definitely rain. How unexpected! I’ll go for a stroll.”

Theory Number 3: Gandalf, being older than the oldest hobbit’s great-grandfather’s grandfather, is getting rather senile. Every journey he takes is unexpected.

See, here’s the thing: a movie poster needs to express one thing, and one thing alone: conflict.

No conflict, no story.

No story, no movie.

No movie, no audience.

This is why the JAWS movie poster is so powerful and iconic.

jaws movie poster

The JAWS movie poster is classic, and will always be classic, because it’s simple and visceral and seven separate types of awesome.

Do you have any doubts, whatsoever, about what this movie is about? (Hint: It’s about a killer shark.)

THE HOBBIT poster gives us nothing to work with, no reason to plop down $12 for tickets with funky 3D glasses and $9 for popcorn that costs 26 cents to make and $6 for Diet Coke.

Memo to Hollywood executives: Put the conflict — the villain — on the poster. If you make the poster calm, beautiful and boring, there’s no reason to see a film that cost $230 million to make.


Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.



Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen

Movie trailer madness: WILD WILD PLANET

Before the invention of YouTube, you’d only find gems like this at estate sales in Hollywood. And the only way to play such treasures would be if you owned a 8mm projector, eight-track tape or some other obsolete technology brought to you be the number 8.

HOWEVER: We have the technologies today, and just like Christmas in July, they give is insane film clips and trailers of things that Should Not Exist, But Somehow Do.

The trailer to WILD WILD PLANET is awesomely, ambitiously bad. Take a peek.

My favorite bits:

  • the four-armed thugs who look like offspring of a Terminator-Matrix union
  • the women who know kung fu and how to disappear
  • the twisted plan by some man to transmorgify into a half-man, half-woman using transporter tech stolen from the U.S.S. Enterprise or whatever

The ’90s and ’00s (oughts? oh-oh’s?) brought us movie after movie where the heroines are tough women in black leather catsuits with guns. Maybe this all started with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, but it’s taken off ever since.

As this movie proves, tough women (good or bad) in ‘the ’60s and ’70s movies didn’t wear black leather / pleather catsuits. No. They wore red flowing polyester. If red flowing polyester wasn’t available, they wore bright orange or green.

If anybody actually WATCHED this movie, as in paid actual monies and rented it or whatever, please shout.

Also: if you are brave or crazy enough to fire it up on Netflix or whatever, please report back on what happened to the crazy man with the mustache.


Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.



Filed under 3 Tinseltown Tuesday, The Big Screen

JUAN OF THE DEAD, the epic Cuban zombie movie

Zombie movies are inherently good.

Movies with subtitles are typically depressing and bad, and only watchable when you’re in college and think that French existentialism is amazing, that you should wear a black beret and smoke Gallouise Blondes the rest of your life, which will be spent in a cafe in Paris, sipping coffee and eating pan au chocolat as you discuss politics and philosophy with other intellectuals, never mind the fact that YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH.

paris cafe

Just like this, except Jean Paul Sartre and Hemingway are also here, bumming smokes and asking for your opinion about their latest work of genius.

There are two exceptions to the Law of Subtitles.

The first is DEAD SNOW, a Norwegian movie that isn’t just about zombies (yes!) but Nazi zombies (double yes!).

The second exception is JUAN OF THE DEAD, a Cuban zombie movie that isn’t afraid to pile on the craziness.

As a public service, if you haven’t seen DEAD SNOW, here’s that trailer, too.


Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.



Filed under 1 Survival Sunday, The Big Screen, Zombie apocalypse

Surviving the coming zombie apocalypse

Are you prepared?

The zombies hordes are coming. It’s just a matter of time. Maybe not today, though it is Halloween. It could happen next month, when some egomaniac scientist at a giant pharmaceutical company creates a retro-virus that cures cancer, and death, with the little side effect of turning you into the walking dead.

Preparing for the zombie apocalypse can be fun and useful. Having a stockpile of basics like food, water filters and ammunition will serve you well if (a) giant asteroids smash into Australia and turn the planet into a snowglobe, (b) some idiot dictator decides to start playing global thermonuclear war or (c) the bird flu makes sweet love to the swine flu and turns into the 99 Percent of People on Earth are Dead Flu.

Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse? Go get ready. DO IT NOW.

(Click over here to read Zombie movies are NOT standard horror movies. Then come on back for more deep, intellectual pondering of zombie flicks.)

Also, zombie movies are just fun to watch.

So let’s talk, you and I, about why zombie movies are so popular while you think about how woefully unprepared you are for any sort of disaster. What if the power went out right now – do you even know where the flashlight is, and some batteries that actually work?

FIRST: It’s always fun to imagine an apocalypse because that means there are no rules. You can do whatever you want. No police, no prosecutors, no jails. Total freedom. Need some groceries? Hop on down to the grocery store, shoot a few zombies wandering around the aisles and load up on all the canned food you can find.

SECOND: Zombie movies are completely unlike other horror movies, where it’s the Boogeyman who gets to have all the fun. In zombie movies, the heroes get to dish it out just as much as the zombies. They get to blow them up, dismember them with chainsaws and beat their zombie brains out with whatever croquet mallets or golf clubs are handy in the Sports Authority at the mall.

THIRD: Shooting zombies is a huge part of the appeal of zombie movies. DAWN OF THE DEAD had an entire scene where they played zombie chess by shooting zombies.

And this leads us into something deeper and all meaningful or whatever. Shooting things and blowing stuff up is fun. HOWEVER: We are trained from birth to not hurt other people, because if we ran around shooting and blowing up other people, we’d be in prison, and in Hell, if that’s your thing. Even if religion is not your thing, it’s morally repugnant to get your kicks by hurting people at all, much less setting treating them like zombies.

Men who got drafted to fight in World War II had trouble firing their rifles at other human beings, even though they were Nazis, because they knew killing people was wrong. This feeling was so strong that even when they were getting shot at, many soldiers didn’t fire their rifles, because killing other people was wrong. It’s good they have these instincts. Otherwise, we’d be a bunch of savages.

zombies superheroes

What could be more fun than plain old zombie hordes? A whole bunch of zombified superheroes, thats what.

The percentage of soldiers who shot at live human soldiers on the other side went up in other wars, such as Korea and Vietnam, when they started having soldiers fire at human silhouettes instead of bull’s eyes.

This is why war propaganda portrays the enemy as cartoonishly evil subhumans, and why soldiers in every war have slang terms for the other side that dehumanize them. It cuts down that barrier.

With zombies, there’s no barrier. They’re not other human beings. They’re already dead. Zombies are unthinking monsters that you are supposed to blow up, decapitate or set on fire, because if you don’t, they will eat you and every other person you know and love. There’s no negotiation. There’s no chance for diplomacy. Kill or be killed.

And that’s why zombies movies are fun. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel bad watching stupid action movies with insane body counts. The evil bad guy, fine, he deserves it. His 5,932 soldiers for hire, they’ve got moms and wives and little kids, right? Not cool.

Dead Snow — Ded Sno is the Norwegian spelling — gives you Nazi zombies in the snow, and it amazing. Fire up the Netflix and watch it today.

I don’t feel bad watching zombies go boom, though it is required by law for a character in a zombie movie to come face-to-face with a wife, husband, son or daughter who got zombified, and they can’t bring themselves to put the zombie down, and it’s the only time in the movie when you might get something stuck in your eye.

Otherwise, it’s a free-for-all. In regular horror movies, you can shoot the Boogeyman with a .357 magnum, stab him in the chest or plant six pounds of C-4 in his tighty whities, and he’ll still keep coming back. You will not get anywhere. It’s frustrating, and to me, it’s cheating. I mean, come on. How many times have Jason, Freddie and every other horror movie villain been killed and resurrected?

Zombies don’t cheat. They play fair. Though the heroes usually die anyway, at least they have a fair chance, and they get to romp around the apocalyptic wasteland, taking whatever they need and doing whatever they want until the zombie horde catches up and goes nom-nom-nom.

Darth Vader reading Harry Potter

The only way zombie movies could be better is if Darth Vader stopped reading Harry Potter, took out his lightsaber and started wading through the zombie hordes. Who would win? I’m putting some paper decorated with dead presidents on the Dark Lord of the Sith.


Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.



Filed under 1 Survival Sunday, Zombie apocalypse

Zombie movies are NOT standard horror movies

Zombie movies are epic and wonderful and far, far superior to the Standard Horror Movie featuring horny teenagers getting mowed down by the Boogeyman or silly scientists who create genetically modified super-sharks which, of course, escape their tanks and EAT EVERYONE.

People — especially those who wear tweed and like to talk about “dialectical materialism” all the time — tend to lump together horror movies as simple B movie trash, including zombie movies.

They are wrong.

Zombie movies are NOT like your Standard Horror Movie.

(1) They are better.

(2) They feature zombies.

(3) Zombies rock.

zombie, zombie zombie zombie, the zombie, zombie girl, girl zombie, zombie makeup, hot zombie, sexy zombie makeup, zombie photo, sexy zombie, beautiful zombie

Zombies need shooting.

Seriously: zombie movies are different. Let’s pry open the skull of movie goers — and people who read Stephen King and other horror novels — to see what’s going on. Will we eat their brains? No. That would be undercutting the job security of zombies.

Continue reading


Filed under 1 Survival Sunday, 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, Zombie apocalypse