Tag Archives: Hollywood

Internet Hater Chris Dodd Wants Technology to Help Boost Sagging Theater Attendance

ChrisDodd

by Legendary Lew

Variety reports that last year, attendance for the 18-24 year-old age bracket in movie theaters dropped like a stone. It’s serious because, you know, everyone else is dead and will never benefit from films aimed toward them:

The number of frequent moviegoers in the all-important 18-24 age group plunged an unprecedented 21% in 2013, according to MPAA annual statistics released Tuesday at Cinemacon, while attendance in the 12-17 age bracket also saw a precipitous drop off, falling almost 15%.

Frequent filmgoers from 12-24 are likely spending much of their previous moviegoing time watching a variety of other screens.

Well, heavens to Betsy, whatever shall a bloated, non-innovative, money-wasting, inefficient, money-gouging, hypocritical corporate entity do?!

I know! Call in MPAA head Chris Dodd to give the industry a pep talk:

“We need to keep exploring fresh ways of leveraging our new technology to drive traffic to your theaters,” Dodd insisted during his keynote address delivered Tuesday at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

“We can embrace technology, and use it to complement our offerings,” Dodd added.

I practically shat blood laughing so hard when reading these statements. This is the same Chris Dodd that backed the SOPA and PIPA legislations–so much so that he extorted the White House to try and have its support. SOPA and PIPA would have destroyed the internet as we know it with opposition to the legislation coming from internet companies that regularly help Hollywood promote its films. The public response to Dodd and SOPA/PIPA supporters was a whole lot of this.

It’s also the same Chris Dodd that supported the arrest of Kim Dotcom, only to have the case against him implode over embarrassing allegations, not the least of which was Dotcom’s assertion that he was ready to start a legally-created IPO with MegaUpload. (Dotcom’s new company, Mega, has since created an IPO in New Zealand)

Now, Dodd wants to urge the industry to use technology, i.e the internet, to boost theater tix sales.  Never mind that he tried to explode it a couple of years ago and will, no doubt, try again, unless Dodd has some other new type of technology he wants to introduce to the world.  Oh wait, I forgot, Hollywood doesn’t have one.

Next time Chris Dodd gives a speech, I suggest this type of formal attire.

 

 

TUGM Guest Stars on Heave Media for the Annual Razzies Podcast

by Legendary Lew

There were more than 43 reasons to hate Worst Picture Razzie winner "Movie 43"

There were more than 43 reasons to hate Worst Picture Razzie winner “Movie 43″

TUGM’s Tyler Pistorius and Lew Ojeda were guests on Heave Media’s annual report on The Razzies, hosted by Dominick Mayer. Head on over to Heave Media to listen to this scintillating discussion and don’t say we didn’t warn Hollywood about next year.

Hey, Robbie Collin, I LOVE the Razzies. Here’s Why.

Johnny Depp (left) and Armie Hammer get sucked into the rot of Hollywood

Johnny Depp (left) and Armie Hammer get sucked into the rot of Hollywood in “The Lone Ranger.”

by Legendary Lew

Robbie Collin of the UK’s The Telegraph just weighed in on The Razzies, the 30+ year institution that comes along every year around Oscar time to chuck produce at the worst Hollywood had to offer during the previous 12 months. I now look forward with great anticipation to watching and reviewing all of the movies nominated for the golden fruit. This usually requires a concentrated effort of peering into hours of hell for a couple of months, but I feel it’s well worth it for a sense of grounding. After watching a whopping 19 Razzie nominees in just over 30 days, I’m ready for my annual ranting Razzies podcast with my co-horts.

I agree with Collin over much of what he states in his post. There are some particularly sloppy choices for this year’s Razzies. Lindsay Lohan, IMHO, was chosen for three movies, simply because she’s Lohan. Playing herself in Scary

Tyler Perry, master scammer in "A Madea Christmas."

Tyler Perry, master scammer in “A Madea Christmas.”

Movie 5 and InAPPropriate Comedy was the best thing to happen to both those films and she was terrific in The Canyons. What should stun Razzie followers is that her co-stars in the latter film (Nolan Funk and Amanda Brooks) were not nominated as they were both horrendous. I can also nitpick about choosing Halle Berry for The Call, a movie for which she had to fall victim to a ludicrous script suggesting to future serial killers they should use Tracfones and not use OnStar.

I could go on about the other acting choices, most of which are good ones, but there’s a bigger point to be made and one which I part with Collin. It’s fascinating he writes the following:

“the Razzies’ ongoing failure to train its sights on anything but the most obvious targets means it grows more tired and redundant by the year.”

I could have written the very same thing but replaced ‘Razzies’ with ‘Oscars.’ In fact, there’s a great deal of overlap between the Oscars and the Razzies, and that’s because both are  influenced greatly by the studios’ public relations machines.  Of course, Razzie voters are going to choose people like Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Brown and others who pop up all too often on our “news” homepages when we turn on our computers and smart phones. Given the over-saturation of some celebs who readily appear in easy-to-find movies at your local Redbox or on Netflix, who do you think they will vote for? Same as with the Oscars, do you think the nation’s top streaming service, top DVD rental distribution company, and top theater chains provide enough choices to the widest available audiences for most viewers to make the most informed choices? And if Mr. Collin believes the Oscar voters actually watch all the films they vote for, I’ve got the Willis Tower here in Chicago to sell him.

The biggest things the Razzies provide for me are reasons for a party (perhaps next year, not this time though) and, much more importantly, a chance to really discuss what Hollywood does very wrong and sometimes right in a yearly podcast I’ve been organizing with Dominick Mayer for the last three years. It’s vitally important to know WHY Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy and Grown Ups 2 are bad movies. Anyone can easily say it’s because of bad jokes, sexism, transphobia, racism or any number of details, but has anyone even close to Hollywood dare to openly say that the movies are essentially scams? I have during HeaveMedia’s Razzies podcasts and so have the Half in the Bag guys in what is, hands down, the best damn insightful review of Jack and Jill ever.  

No one is going to call for throwing The Oscars into the trash bin, myself included. I wish for the Academy Awards to be better, and I do for The Razzies.

They've got your $13 bucks when you watched "Grown Ups 2"

They’ve got your $13 bucks when you watched “Grown Ups 2″

Robbie Collin may complain that Razzie voters don’t need to watch the movies they vote for, but at least anyone can become a Razzie member by subscription, meaning that you and I could join and help influence who eventually gets those awards. To vote for Oscars, you have to be chosen which, you would think, should give Academy members pause to take their balloting much more seriously than they do.  Pity those who still believe most Academy voters take they duties with great reverence. Perhaps in the first live telecast of The Razzies, Seth MacFarlane can do a song and dance number called “We Saw Your Booby Prize.”

Legendary Lew, Dominick Mayer and Tyler Pistorius will be giving their takes on this year’s Razzies on Pod People, Heave Media’s podcast due out tomorrow.

 

 

Redbox Helps TUGM with Its “Award Nominees”

F**k the Oscars!

F**k the Oscars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Redbox sent me a neat little email announcing they have the “Award Nominees” with a graphic that looks like this:

RedboxAwards

Fair enough, but what about those other award nominees, The Razzies? Well, yes they certainly have those:

Machete Kills
Escape Plan
After Earth
Grown Ups 2
The Lone Ranger (Oscars and Razzie-nominated? Huh?)
Getaway
Jobs
The Smurfs 2
Battle of the Year
The Big Wedding
The Call
A Haunted House
Bullet to the Head
The Hangover 3
The Canyons
Tyler Perry’s Temptation

Legendary Lew, Tyler Pistorius and Dominick Mayer will be recording the 3rd Annual Razzies Podcast for Heave Media this weekend for air on a later date. You’ve got a chance to catch up on a lot of turds before then!

Listen to HeaveMedia’s past Razzies Podcasts featuring Legendary Lew:
Pod People #8
Pod People #27

The Philosophy Behind My Approach to Facets Night School

FNS1This weekend marks the final shows of Night School presented at Facets Multimedia, which has served as the home of the most inventive midnight movie presentations in Chicago for 4.5 years. It’s been my pleasure to host a dozen film screenings during that time, including a feature-length film–Sisters of No Mercy– inspired by Night School.

Joe Lewis and Michael Smith have both written wonderful blog pieces about the demise of Night School at Facets. I’ve also read great comments from presenters Dominick Mayer and Joel Wicklund.

When Night School founder Phil Morehart brought forth the idea of having midnight movies at Facets, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. In the past, I had enjoyed thoughtful reviews of unusual rare films in such great magazines as Shock Cinema (to which I once contributed) and Psychotronic Magazine. I knew there was a great well of strange movie from which to draw.

The emergence of Night School came at a perfect time for FacetsNS2experimentation of how screenings could be formatted for independent theaters. Studios were changing to digital projection exclusively, leaving many theaters holding the bag with now outdated 35MM equipment and expensive digital changeovers. Netflix went through a nasty PR period of growing pains with the perception of unlimited streaming and the roll out, and then roll back, of Quixster, the video world’s version of New Coke. Blockbuster was evaporating from its video (and retail) dominance of the late 1980s and 1990s. All this was compounded by The Bush Depression of 2008, which threw hundreds of thousands of people out of work monthly.

From the outset, I knew that Night School had to be different from other movie series. Studios and movie chains could use their large wallets to entice viewers to theaters with larger spectacles, more advanced 3D capabilities, table-side food service and movie discount specials.

Courtesy Time Out Chicago

Courtesy: Time Out Chicago

This all seems fine for the bottom line, but the major point being missed by the chains and the studios was that they are not suited to cater to the needs of movie viewers at the community level. Sure, you can have chats online with people via Netflix about movies, but there’s also the probability you’ll never meet them in person. I used to joke about having film appreciation groups meet up at a local Redbox in the pouring rain.  And I’m very doubtful the studios will have cast members of new movies make dozens of public appearances across the country without them being paid lots of money for the trouble.

What Night School proved was that poverty-stricken creative folks can436 come up with a truly forward-thinking solution: engage with fans on a collective idea. Bring back variety with each show. Give viewers a spectacle without having to break a budget. Indeed, with a budget of exactly $0, you can actually accomplish a great deal. You can still jump out of a cake (Eat the Rich); have an interview with the mother of The Terminator and Lady Terminator (Lady Terminator); have Yor the Hunter from the Future show up for Q&A (Yor, The Hunter from the Future); have zombie whores dance and hand puppets sing (Sisters of No Mercy); uncover a lost Idi Amin toothpaste radio ad (Amin: The Rise and Fall); perform a live interactive radio skit (Wonder Women); have spectacular live music performances to such films as Haxan, The Fall of the House of Usher and A Page of Madness and more.

You can also meet and form a production partnership with an incredible talent named Joseph R. Lewis. Night School gave birth to The Underground Multiplex and the notion that you can rely on the genius of others here in Chicago to do great things. We have, thanks to the incredible presenters we’ve had over the years, the forethought of overseers Phil Morehart and Susan Doll and the hands-off policy of Facets Multimedia, which allowed the inmates to run the asylum one night per week. I’m grateful to Facets for allowing me the chance to change the way viewers experience movies.  Major unending thank yous to all the presenters, volunteers, projectionists and everyone who’s ever come out to see some craziness in action.

As our award-winning program moves on to different venues, The Underground Multiplex will continue its commitment to presenting great forgotten and underappreciated films with the ballyhoo, fun and zaniness the great city of Chicago deserves.

Lew Ojeda

RIP 2009-2013

RIP 2009-2013

Fright School Spooks Chicago Beginning October 4th

Once again, the award-winning Night School makes its way to the screen here in Chicago starting October 4 at Facets Multimedia. There’s a great variety of spine-tingling goodness with films from around the world ready to scare the hell out of you. Each film will be presented with a lecture prior to screening and a Q&A after most of the presentations.

This will be our final gig at Facets Multimedia so come on down for some spooky thrills! Night School will be traveling on to new venues TBD.

You Are Who You Eat!: Fruit Chan’s Delicious, Disturbing Dumplings
October 4, 2013
Presented by Michael Smith

Fruit Chan (MADE IN HONG KONG, DURIAN DURIAN) became internationally famous for a series of gritty, naturalistic dramas tackling important social issues in the turbulent Hong Kong of the 1990s. With 2004′s DUMPLINGS he drastically shifted registers, crafting an elegant and beautifully photographed horror film (the exquisite color cinematography is courtesy of the great Christopher Doyle) that successfully translates his trademark social criticism to the confines of the more genre-oriented filmmaking for which Hong Kong is best known. The result expertly balances visceral shocks with intellectual provocation, and deservedly became one of the most acclaimed Hong Kong films of the post-”handover” era, winning numerous accolades along the way (including a Film of Merit Award from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society and many Best Supporting Actress trophies for Bai Ling). Come on out to see this director-preferred expanded version of DUMPLINGS and find out what all the fuss is about — though you may want to hold off on eating before you come!

Michael Smith is an independent filmmaker whose most recent short films, At Last, Okemah!! (2009) and The Catastrophe (2011), have won multiple awards at film festivals across the United States. Since 2009, he has taught film history and aesthetics at Chicago-area colleges including Oakton Community College, the College of Lake County, and Harold Washington College. His first book, Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry, a non-fiction account of early film production in Chicago, will be released by KWS Publishers, Inc. in late 2013. He is also the creator and sole author of the film studies blog WhiteCityCinema.com. He has previously taught many Facets Night School sessions including “Drilling Into The Slumber Party Massacre”  and “Eat the Rich: Manoel de Oliveira’s Unlikely Cannibals Musical.”

One Roll of Flesh, No More No Less: The Mad World of Suicide Club
October 5, 2013
Presented by Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Lecture description: Writer-director Shion Sono’s 2002 film Suicide Club came out during a time when worldwide interest in J-horror was at an all-time high, and stands as both one of that subgenre’s crowning achievements and one of its strangest films. Suicide Club begins with an unforgettable mass suicide committed by teenagers in a Tokyo subway tunnel, and descends into a complex web of madness involving butterfly tattoos, a roll of human skin, a teen-friendly pop group and a man named Genesis who does atrocious things to animals in empty bowling alleys. Night School lecturer Dominick Suzanne-Mayer will attempt to unravel the mysteries of Sono’s film, and further discuss its connections to one of latter-day Japanese cinema’s most prevalent questions: what to do with all the youth?
Dominick Suzanne-Mayer is a regular at Facets Night School, having presented on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), The Frighteners, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and many more. He recently received his graduate degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, and is the features editor at HEAVEmedia, a Chicago-based pop culture website. You can regularly find him in various drinking establishments that show professional wrestling for free.

Guru, The Mad Monk in 35MM!
October 11, 2013
Presented by Jason Coffman and The Chicago Cinema Society

Andy Milligan was the quintessential grindhouse filmmaker, shooting movies for next to nothing and, legend has it, occasionally editing with his teeth and some scotch tape! Milligan was a control freak on a level that made Stanley Kubrick look positively relaxed: he built sets, sewed costumes, wrote, directed, edited, and basically did everything a person can do on a film set. There’s no mistaking an Andy Milligan film for the work of any other director. His period pieces are particularly interesting, one of the best being “Guru, the Mad Monk,” in which Milligan regular Neil Flanagan plays the titular insane “holy man” who uses his position to cover up his evil deeds.
The Chicago Cinema Society and Facets Night School present a rare 35mm screening of Andy Milligan’s “Guru, The Mad Monk” as part of this year’s Fright School!This screening takes place Friday night, October 11th at Midnight at Facets Multi-Media! Presented by CCS programmer Jason Coffman with a brief talk about Andy Milligan before the show and Q&A after.

F for Femdetta! Midnight Movie Birthday Screening of 36 Pasos
U.S. Premiere!
October 12, 2013
Presented by Demetra Materis
Six women, three rules, one reason to watch 36 Pasos- pure originality. It’s just so hard to be pretty and popular these days. It’s so hard, you’ll have to fight to survive! The fourth feature from indie director Adrian Garcia Bogliano of Argentina, this energetic, sexy and sadistic movie will stick with you forever. This presentation will include a pre-recorded Q&A from presenter Demetra Materis and director Adrian Garcia Bogliano.Best part is… it’s Demetra’s birthday! You are all invited to celebrate and watch a kick ass movie with her.
Demetra Materis is a huge horror movie fan. When she’s not behind the counter at Facets Videotheque, she’s on set working with veteran horror film director Ricardo Islas on projects- currently Bachelor’s Grove: The Movie and previously Frankenstein: Day of the Beast. She’s also currently the unit production manager for a documentary series about a legendary Chicago marionette puppeteer. This is her first Night School session and it coincides with her birthday so make sure you leave room for cake! (Gifts accepted.)

Curse of the Demon
October 18, 2013
Presented by Phil Morehart
Jacques Tourneur directs a spooky supernatural thriller based on the M. R. James story “Casting the Runes.” Dana Andrews plays an American skeptic with a lot of blah, blah, blah about occultist nonsense in English until a sorcerer whips up some first-rate evil. After shitting his pants, the skeptic then must find a way to counter that goofy bastard.
Phil Morehart was a programmer for the Cincinnati Film Society. He also wrote on film, theater, music and visual arts for Chicago Journal Newspaper and Cincinnati CityBeat Newspaper, and is a contributor to the book, The Armchair Reader Guide Goes Hollywood.  He’s currently an editor at ALA and a marathon runner. Previous Night School classes taught include There’s No More Room in Hell, So Let’s Go Shopping: A Look at George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

I’ve Been a Bad, Bad Girl: Sleepaway Camp and the Punishing Nature of Horror
Saturday October 19, 2013
Presented by Lauren Whalen
“She’s a real carpenter’s dream – flat as a board and needs a screw!” – Judy (Karen Fields), Sleepaway Camp

In the summer of 1975, Camp Arawak is a great place for summer vacation – unless you aren’t nice. Shy Angela is sent to Arawak with her cousin after her immediate family’s demise in a boating accident. Before long, campers and staff with less than pure motives start turning up dead, in increasingly bizarre and violent ways. What twisted individual is behind the body count? What exactly is Angela hiding? And really, is it that big a deal to lose such terrible people?

Weird, offensive and brilliant, Sleepaway Camp has attracted a cult following since its 1985 release. But why are so many horror movies intent on punishment – other than the utter coolness of fake blood? Dig up your awesome short shorts and join Lauren Whalen as she explores why in the horror genre, cruel intentions can get you the boot (or knife).

Lauren Whalen is a freelance writer for Chicago Theater Beat and The Film Yap. Previous Night School presentations include Brick, Mulholland Dr., Donnie Darko and Drop Dead Gorgeous. Lauren’s had an 11-year relationship with Facets as an intern, subtitle reader, full-time employee and volunteer. There are many who would call her a bad, bad girl.

Full Metal Frankenstein!
October 25, 2013
Presented by Bruce Neal

The 1931 James Whale/ Boris Karloff/ Dwight Frye classic, Frankenstein, presented with a live score by Dysfunctio Cerebri, a new ensemble featuring members of On You, Czar, Get Up with the Get Downs and The Crippled Masters. Guitars will crack like plasma filaments emanating from a Tesla coil! The villagers will march! Bring your lighters! With secret surprise second short feature! It’s Alive!!

Bruce Neal is a projectionist at Facets and has worked in film, music, underground theater, performance art and stand-up comedy. He was creative and story consultant on Dream Havana, which won Best Documentary at the Chicago, Orlando and Lyon Latino Film Festivals. His previous Night School classes covered such films as Street Trash and God Told Me To. Bruce also co-created original soundtracks to A Page of Madness, Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, The Fall of the House of Usher, Alucarda and the shorts of Bettie Page as a member of The Cursed Bird Ensemble (among many other aliases). Currently, he’s performing in the Death-Folk band  The Crippled Masters with fellow soundtrack alum Matt Silcock.

We are the Strange: Video Games vs. Movies
October 26, 2013
Presented by Joseph R. Lewis
No film better illustrates the maniacal effects that video games have had on the psyche of American moviemaking than this one. An animated film like no other, We Are the Strange incorporates stop-motion, CG, and video game board layout designs to create a dark fantasy world unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Joseph R. Lewis, co-founder of The Underground Multiplex, presents this Chicago premiere.
Joseph R. Lewis is the co-founder of The Underground Multiplex, a Chicago-based arts collective producing live theatrical events, Internet films and podcasts. Lewis has completed several features, including the award-winning ScumbabiesTyler B Nice, and Sci-Fi SOL. He’s also the creator of the Emmy-nominated TV show Elephant and Worm TV. Previous Facets Night School presentations include Killer Klowns from Outer Space and the debut of Sisters of No Mercy 3D.
All shows begin at Midnight Friday or Saturday nights as listed.
1517 W Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
Admission: $5. FREE for Facets members. Find out how to be a member here.

Is Warner Brothers Getting Wise with Piracy?

Warner Bros logo WB logoTorrentFreak is reporting on interesting developments within the Hollywood studios currently treating piracy as nothing short of sacrificing newborns in Satanic rituals. It seems some within the bureaucracy are starting to realize that piracy is reflecting audience demand and can be used as a measurable indicator .

Warner Brothers’ anti-piracy exec David Kaplan:

“Generally speaking, we view piracy as a proxy of consumer demand…Accordingly, enforcement related efforts are balanced with looking at ways to adjust or develop business models to take advantage of that demand by offering fans what they are looking for when they are looking for it.”

This falls in line with a recent study indicating that a crackdown on piracy has some slight effect on blockbusters but is much more hurtful on independent features that have little chance at big screens anyway and that file sharers actually purchase media and attend events.

If the big studios were smart, they would take this knowledge and cater directly to the audiences they want to appear for certain features as they  localize events  in independent theaters.  Sundance does a bit of that already with stars making personal appearances with their films at special screenings.

This would, however, assume a respect for a moviegoer’s choice, and the studios are ill-equipped for that idea. When you have to travel 30+ miles to see a movie you want to see in a theater, you don’t have that choice. If studios learn to distribute their PR budgets among movies more evenly and come up with better ideas for filling the seats, they’ll diminish piracy.