The Oscars are over. Not the most exciting show (musicals blow, always) but there are a few interesting follow-up stories.
For the first time ever, a crowd-funded film won an Academy Award. Crowd funding is where artists pitch their projects on websites like Kickstarter.com or Indiegogo and regular people can donate to projects that appeal to them — anything from a few bucks to thousands of dollars depending on how badly they want to see it come to fruition.
Crowd funded flicks have been nominated before but Inocente, winner of Best Short Documentary, is the first to take home a gold stature. The film is about a young homeless artist in San Diego as she struggles to make a life. The filmmakers raised $52,000 on Kickstarter, enabling them to finish and market their film.
This is important because it validates the open source business model and marks the next step towards the democratization of entertainment. As the audience gains more control over what gets made, clueless studio executives copying last season's success will have less. We should see better films as a result (and books and all sorts of art anything can be crowd funded on sites like Kickstarter).
Secondly: Rhythm & Hues, the company that won the Best Digital Effects Oscar for Life of Pi, is on the verge of bankruptcy and other major Hollywood effects companies are singing a similar tune.
Apparently outsourcing to effects houses located in tax-sheltered areas (like Vancouver or New Zealand) is hurting the American effects industry although I suspect Hollywood studio greed has more to do with it than anything. Apparently there is very little or no profit sharing between studios and effects houses, even though all of Hollywood's top grossing films seem to rely on computer effects. Something has to happen here because Hollywood absolutely needs digital explosions, aliens and mass destruction to prop up their usual weak stories and shallow characters.
Case in point, Jack the Giant Slayer opening Friday (in 2D and 3D). Even though director Bryan Singer (X-Men, Usual Suspects) is generally pretty good, this one looks fee-fi-foe-Dumb.
It's a re-imagining of the Jack and the Beanstalk tale but, of course, instead of one giant this version has a shitload of them and everything climaxes in a giant battle to save the earth. Nicholas Hoult and Ewan McGregor star and while this is obviously aimed at kids it looks way too goofy for me.
And what's with all the classic fairy tales being pillaged and "updated" to include massive battle scenes? Where one witch used to be scary enough we now have Hansel and Gretel, Witch Hunters taking down hordes. Kristen Stewart wears amour and leads an army in Snow White and the Huntsman — it's a new idea that's alrealdy getting old. Gone are the days of simple morality tales where the make-believe actually works to make a story truer. Instead, today's kids are being shown that every problem can be solved with a good old-fashioned war.
Call it the Lord of the Rings effect, where lesser artists attempt to hang epics on simpler stories but big, loud, effects-heavy revisionist fairy tales seem to be the soup du jour. Bubble, bubble toil and trouble, it stinks.
The Villaege 8 is also opening 21 and Over, a "good idea, bad call" story about a young kid who has a big day tomorrow but goes on a Hangover-style bender. In fact, this was written/directed by the guys who wrote The Hangover and judging from the preview (no pre-screenings) they are sticking with what worked with some Weekend at Bernie's and Project X tossed in for kicks. Looks dumb enough to be entertaining. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
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