I don’t know how much The Fourth Kind is on anyone else’s radar (maybe you’ve seen/heard the ads playing right now on Theater Hopper – sorry about that). Regardless, the execution of this film has me interested.
Basically, the film sets itself up as a dramatic retelling of actual events that were said to transpire in Alaska in the 1970s. Several people have been abudcted for years without any clues to their disappearances. Several years later, psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler (played by Milla Jovovich) is video taping disturbed patients who are subjects in a sleep study. Under hypnosis, they reveal that they have been subjected to alien encounters and experimentation.
What the film does next, I think is genius. It splices in some of Dr. Tyler’s “real” videotaped footage of the hypnotized patients in with the Hollywood version and it creates a layer of fear and doubt that starts to mess with you a little.
If you do a little digging, you’ll find some controversy around The Fourth Kind, but I think it’s the appropriate amount of controversy to stir interest in the film and get the audience to ask sincere questions about the veracity of what they’re watching.
When you think about movies like Paranormal Activity, Rec. or The Blair Witch Project and what they’ve done with “found” footage, The Fourth Kind is playing on another level. It’s presenting to you the “real” footage – framing it in an almost truthful, documentary context – and then contrasts it with the “pretend” version, Hollywood’s dramaticization and leaves it up to the audience to decide.
I don’t have much more to say about The Fourth Kind except to talk it up a little bit. I’ve seen ads for it here and there, but I’m not really hearing any buzz. So, if you haven’t heard about it until now, consider yourself informed.
Something else you should consider yourself informed about is the fund raising project I have going on over at Kickstarter to raise money for Theater Hopper: Year Three. I talked about it a little bit on Friday and explained what I’m doing to try and raise money and I’m bringing it up again today. There have been a few pledges over the weekend, but we’re going to need a lot more if we’re going to make goal by December 31. The holiday’s are hectic. Don’t let them get in the way of preventing you from pledging to the cause!
Visit the campaign page at Kickstarter to read more about the project, including details on the rewards you can receive by pledging at different levels!
Incidentally, I just got a copy of Adobe Premiere Effects over the weekend and I’m excited to record a little promo video explaining the project that I can post to the campaign page. I’ll let you know when that’s edited together and ready to view.
I don’t know if I’ll have a chance to put together the video tonight because I still need to watch the 1941 original Wolf Man for The Triple Feature. Since we were kind of rudderless on last week’s show, Gordon, Joe and I agreed that we needed to get back on track and the easiest way to do that was by having all three of us watch the same movie.
So, in a fit of post-Halloween examination, we’re going to discuss the classic versoin of The Wolf Man and use it as a foundation to discuss the 2010 remake starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins when it comes out. I can’t afford to be dead weight on this one.
It’s was a little difficult for me to run down a copy of The Wolf Man to watch before tonight’s show. Cami and I canceled our Netflix account because we were terrible about making time to watch the movies we rented. I think we need the threat of a late fee to make that kind of activity a priority anymore. Either that or I need to buy an X-Box 360 so I can download movies directly from Netflix to my console and watch them when I want to watch them. I don’t know if that would improve my odds of watching these kinds of movies or not?…
Anyway, Gordon pointed out that I can “rent” The Wolf Man online through Amazon On Demand, which I totally didn’t know you could do. It’ll kind of suck being forced to watch it on a computer monitor, but it’s the best option I have right now.
Anyway, be sure to listen to the final outcome tonight at 9:00 PM at TalkShoe.com. It’s always a good time.
That’s about it for me. Feel free to leave your thoughts about The Wolf Man (original or remake), The Fourth Kind or our new Kickstarter fund raising campaign in the comments below!
Before I forget, I wanted to let people in and around Iowa to know that I will be appearing at the I-Con Comic Book Convention this Saturday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Adventureland Inn in Altoona, Iowa.
I’ll be there, selling my wares, chatting with fans, drawing and signing whatever you bring me. So stop by and say “Hi!”
There was a rumor that I would be on a panel for self-publishing, but I haven’t heard any confirmation on that. So I guess I’ll find out when I get there. In the meantime, it would be cool if you came down to keep me company!
See you Saturday!
The Box, starring Cameron Diaz and James Marsden comes out this weekend and the plot is built around a delicious ethical dilemma. If someone said they would give you $1,000,000 and the only repercussion is the death of a stranger, would you take it? Strangers die all the time, right? What’s one more?
Of course, in science fiction morality plays like this one, things never end up as tidy as one might hope for. Usually in these scenarios, the button-presser ends up killing an automobile driver mid-journey. His car hops the curb and crushes their only son. Or they end up inadvertently killing the person who had just figured out a way to cure cancer.
The Box is based off an episode of The Twilight Zone from 1986 called “Button, Button.” I won’t tell you how that one ends because I don’t know how closely the movie follows the plot. I know it deviates somewhat – it has to if it’s going to support a longer running time. But I don’t know how much of the original story it uses as a springboard.
All I know is that I can’t imagine a reference to The Twilight Zone without thinking of the parody Futurama made of it with their similarly eerie show-within-a-show “The Scary Door.” Invariably, every episode Fry or Bender watched would end with the zinger “IT WAS MAN!”
My question about The Box is why they chose to set it in the mid 70’s? That doesn’t appear to be an era any filmmaker wants to revist anymore – even ironically. Aside from Zodiac, I can’t think of a recent movie that tried to do a period piece in the 70’s.
It’s not like The Box’s story is time-sensitive, or anything. It’s a morality play. A representation of human weakness. It could be told in ANY time period?
I dunno. Studios always seem transfixed on modernizing everything (if the litany of remakes is any indication). Seems like a bizarre choice to set things up during a time of bad hair and bell bottom pants.
We talked about The Box a little bit on Monday’s Triple Feature. Joe is excited for it because it’s directed by Richard Kelly – the same guy who directed Donnie Darko and Southland Tales – and Joe is a fan.
I don’t know if Kelly’s directorial history is enough to get me in the theaters this weekend, but I admit to being curious about the film. It’ll probably be a rental for me.
What about the rest of you? Are you curious to see what happens after the button is pressed? Who here is seeing The Box this weekend and what is attracting you to the movie? Leave your comments below!
I wanted to take a moment to talk to you guys about the rewards I’m offering over at Kickstarter as part of the Theater Hopper: Year Three fund raising campaign. Pledges have trailed off a little bit since I announced the campaign last Friday and I want to make sure you guys understand how the system works.
First, please know that you can pledge ANY amount you feel comfortable pledging.
Second, please know that I won’t see a dollar of the pledged money unless I make my goal of $3,500 by December 31, 2009.
Third, I am offering rewards based on the amount you pledge. They are as follows:
- $1 – Everyone who pledges a dollar will have their name and a link to their web site added to a special thank you page on the Theater Hopper web site.
- $5 – The previous reward, plus a high-res PDF of the completed book.
- $15 – The previous rewards, plus a hard copy of the book signed and numbered by the artist.
- $20 – The previous rewards, plus a custom illustration inside your hard copy of the book.
- $30 – The previous rewards, plus your name printed on a special thank you page in the book. Have your name memorialized FOR ALL TIME!
- $35 – The previous rewards, plus ONE free book! Choose from any of my publications – Theater Hopper Year One, Year Two or Year Three. Any combination. You choose
- $45 – The previous rewards, plus TWO free books! Choose from any of my publications – Theater Hopper Year One, Year Two or Year Three. Any combination. You choose!
- $50 – The previous rewards, plus a special 3D-themed 1″ button set. 5 buttons total.
- $65 – The previous rewards, plus first dibs on a brand new t-shirt design featuring an image of 3D glasses.
- $150 – The previous rewards, plus an avatar set of up to 5 images drawn by the artist. You will also receive the original art as well as high-res, finished digital art.
Without getting overly optimistic, when I look at Theater Hopper’s daily traffic, I see no reason why we can’t have this project completely funded if everyone pledged just one dollar. Obviously, I would love it if you could pledge more than that. But the point I’m trying to make is that the success of this project can be met if even with a minimal investment. If I’m able to rally everyone to my goal, we could have this fund raising problem solved by the weekend.
So please consider pledging. Even if it’s only a dollar. Think about the entertainment you come to this site for – the momentary distraction it provides you. Isn’t that worth at least a dollar? Hopefully you value it more than that. All I’m asking is that you not ignore this fund raising campaign completely.
If anyone has questions about the Kickstarter fund raising system, the rewards or anything else tied to this campaign, please do not hesitate to contact me directly. Please feel free to leave your questions in the comments below as well.
I know this is nothing new, but I am increasingly frustrated by our consumer society forcing the holiday season down our throats as early as they do. I really think there should be some kind of law that says stores need to keep Halloween decorations up at least until 6:00 AM on November 1. I think I went to Target looking for candy to give out on Beggar’s Night two days before Halloween and they were already selling Christmas trees. Slow down, Target!
Robert Zemeckis’s A Christmas Carol is symptomatic of this kind of “FIRE, READY, AIM!” pre-holiday mentality. I think they’ve pretty much acknowledged it in the commercials I’ve been seeing for the movie. I swear I heard the voiceover guy say something along the lines of “Celebrate the holidays early!” Yeah, dude? They’re a month and half away.
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy watching holiday movies AROUND the holidays. Watching a Dickensian classic 6 weeks out isn’t going to put me in the holiday mood any eariler. More than likely, I’m just gonna Scrooge it and forget about it completely.
I mean, I know that Zemeckis’s A Christmas Carol is getting good reviews, but do they really expect it to have the momentum to carry it to December 25. I don’t care how many digital bells and whistles you strap onto the thing, everyone has heard the story a million times. It’s played out!
Frankly, my interest in the film is purely technical. I want to see what kind of improvements Zemeckis has made in the motion-capture animation technology that brought us the dead-eyed automotons from The Polar Express and Beowulf. It doesn’t hurt that it’s in 3D. That’s the cherry on top.
I know it sounds like I’m down on this film. I’m not. Frankly, I hope it does quite well. Because the IMAX theater we have downtown trotts out The Polar Express every year for the kids and every time I see an ad for that movie, I wanna scream. Hopefully Zemeckis’s A Christmas Carol will replace it. Find another cash cow to float you over the holiday season, local IMAX theater!
What about you? Are you excited for A Christmas Carol? Does it look like an improvement over what we’ve seen from Zemeckis so far? Does anyone else find it weird that he is the ONLY proponent for this technology?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Earlier this week I was freaking out because I was worried that my Kickstarter fund raising campaign for Theater Hopper: Year Three wasn’t going to gather enough pledges before the campaign period ran out.
I’m feeling a little more comfortable today after a flurry of activity the last two days. So I wanted to take this moment to thank everyone who has pledged so far!
As of this writing, $533 has been pledged. The goal is $3,500, so that means we have $2,967 to go before the project deadline of December 31. That’s 55 days. In other words, the campaign needs to record pledge amounts averaging almost $55 a day to make goal.
I think that’s totally possible. $55 a day is like 4 of you pledging $15 for the book – which comes signed and numbered by yours truly. Or having a couple of you pledge $30 a day to get a copy of the book signed and numbered, along with a custom illustration AND your name printed in the book’s “thank you” page. Totally do-able!
There’s a lot that I still need to do to help make the campaign a success. Most notably, post a video of myself explaining the project to the uninitiated. I read on Kickstarters blog that projects with videos get 90% more funding. I’ve just had problems finding time to record myself talking about it. I also want the video to be of high quality. So I have ambitions for shooting locations, lighting and editing.
I might be overthinking it a little bit.
In the meantime, if you’d like to help spread the word, go to the Theater Hopper: Year Three Kickstarter page and access some of the social media tools directly below the project graphic. There are links for Email, Facebook, Delicious, MySpace, Twitter and digg – All of which you can use to let people know about the campaign!
Thanks again to everyone who has pledged so far and show enthusiasm for this project. It’s keeping me going!
I just wanted to remind people in or around the state of Iowa that I will be appearing at the I-Con Comic Book Convention this Saturday, November 7 at the Adventureland Inn in Altoona, Iowa. The show is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and tickets are just $5 (kids 9 and under are free with a paid adult admission).
I should mention that I am speaking on the “Your Career In Comics” panel at 2:00 PM. Not exactly sure who is moderating it or what the line of discussion will be, so it should be fun to watch me improvise!
Come out and see me!
I don’t know that I have anything specific to say about Monday’s comic except that there is a genuine level of excitement for Pixar releases that is mutual between Cami and I in our household. We look forward to them every year – both in the theaters and on DVD. We were fortunate enough to get an extra helping of Pixar a couple of weeks ago when Toy Story was back in theaters. It was kind of like Christmas in July at our house.
Up comes out on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow and I’m excited to talk about it. I have to hold back, however, because I’m reviewing a copy sent to me last week that will be posted to the site on Tuesday.
Without getting too specific, the Blu-ray looks phenomenal and the bonus material is very insightful. I always felt like co-writers/directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson had built layers into Up – some that were obvious and some that were not. So it’s very interesting to watch the behind-the-scenes documentaries and the character development that occurred.
There is an excellent alternate scene/animatic called “Married Life” that plays out in great conceptual detail an altogether different montage events in the marriage between Carl Fredricksen and his beloved wife Ellie. That montage delivers an emotional sucker punch in the finished movie and I am pleased to report that even the alternate montage still packs a wallop.
I think it’s a testament to the storytelling going on her that allows you to become so invested in these characters early on, without a word of dialogue spoken. Even when the details are changed, it’s still fantastic.
We might talk a little bit about Up on tonight’s The Triple Feature – I don’t know.
I know Joe saw both A Christmas Carol and The Box, so hopefully he has some insights on those two movies that he’d like to share. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a crapshoot!
I hope you’ll join us as we record the show live, tonight at 9:00 PM over at Talkshoe. Fell free to submit any questions or suggestions for topics of discussion to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also communicate with us through our Facebook page.
See you later!
Wow, you guys. I gotta say that I am overwhelmed by the support you showed the Theater Hopper: Year Three fund raising project over the weekend. When I posted about it on Friday, the campaign had gathered $533 worth in pledges. This morning, we’re up to $868.04. That’s a difference of $335.04 pledged in just a few days and that is GREAT!
I’m kind of chuckling about the .04 that was pledged. That’s pretty cool and it just goes to show that you can pledge ANY amount that you’re comfortable with.
I have to admit that I’m kind of surprised that no one has taken advantage of the $1.00 pledge reward. Your name and a link to your site from Theater Hopper? Seems like pretty low hanging fruit to me. Of course, I’m pleased that more of you are pledging large amounts. So keep up the good work on that front!
If you’ve never purchased a Theater Hopper book before, this campaign is a good opportunity to take advantage of the rewards system and to get your hands on all three books at one time.
Pledging $45 or more opens the door to acquiring Theater Hopper: Year Three as well as TWO FREE BOOKS. Don’t forget the additional rewards, like getting your copy of Year Three signed and numbered with an original sketch. Lots of great stuff to take advantage of.
I still haven’t gotten around to filming my video yet, which is kind of bad. It’s just hard to do at the end of the day when you’re bone tired and trying to put a 2 year-old to bed. I’m also kind of self-conscious about recording myself if Cami is anywhere within earshot. Which is weird, because I bather in typical loudmouth fashion whenever I record The Triple Feature. She says she can hear me in the basement from our bedroom on the second floor.
I guess I’m more comfortable with that because it’s more stream-of-consciousness and I’m free to tumble over my words. I guess I feel like I need to rehearse this Kickstarter video, or something. I gotta get over myself.
In the meantime, if you could help spread the word using the social media links under the project graphic on the Kickstarter page, that would help a lot!
Thanks again for everyone’s support. Let’s keep those pledges coming!
With 9 smash films and nearly 15 years of film making under their belts, one might assume that Pixar would celebrate in grand fashion with their 10th theatrical release. Instead, with Up, Pixar has delivered their most unconventional and absurdly layered film to date.
Carl Fredricksen, the 78 year-old widower at the heart of Up is an unusual protagonist. Arthritic, grumpy and boxed in by life, he is partnered by the youthful and exuberant “Wilderness Explorer” Russell as he sets off for adventure to South America.
Up hooked us with its visual signature of a tiny house being lofted into the air by tens of thousands of balloons. But the story takes an unusual left turn when Carl and Russell finally land in South America.
Surrounded by strange vistas and a lush, but harsh environment, the duo is greeted by the affable and endearing Dug, the talking dog. Things only get weirder from there as the pair encounters a 13 foot tall iridescent bird, a crazed long-forgotten explorer and dirigibles.
The unusual details of the story are what sets Up apart from previous Pixar films. But it’s the rich metaphors and subtext that make Up truly engaging.
At its core, Up is a movie about lost opportunities, obsession the struggle to “fix” the past ruins the opportunity to enjoy the present.
Each of the main characters deals with this in some way. Russell uses over achievement and collects Wilderness Explorer badges to attract the attention of his absent father. There is one small space left on his sash full of accomplishments – a badge for “Helping the Elderly” and it’s missing directly over his heart.
Carl is trying to make up for lost time by going on the adventure his never got to go on with his wife. But since he can’t bear to leave behind his belongings and all of his memories, he takes them with him by setting the house aloft. The house becomes a symbol for his wife – something he has to learn to let go of by the end of the film.
Muntz, the story’s villain, is corrupted completely by his obsession to trap a rare bird in order to bring it to civilization and repair his damaged reputation. His relentless pursuit is ultimately what leads to his literal downfall.
These story elements are framed beautifully by the bevy of mini-documentaries among the Blu-ray’s bonus materials. The character studies for Carl and Russell are particularly insightful.
Carl, for example, is one of Pixar’s most stylized human characters and the decision to make him so was very deliberate.
Animators noted that, as a septuagenarian, Carl’s movements would very limited. His physical restrictions mirror his world view as every shot Carl appears in before going to South America he is placed inside some kind of box. He is either looking out of a window or the camera is looking at him through a door frame. He lives a very interior life. As a result, Carl himself became very square shaped, with hard-edged and inflexible features. A boxy character living in a boxed-in world.
Alternatively, the rotund Russell is almost egg-shaped. This reflects the nurturing he requires in the absence of his father. It becomes Carl’s instinct to take care of him.
Another fantastic bonus feature is the original story concept behind the 10 minute montage of “Married Life” – the emotional gut punch the starts the movie and leads Carl toward his adventure.
Assembled through animatics (animated storyboard concept drawings) and set against Michael Giacchino’s brilliant score, the alternate version of “Married Life” is just as emotional and affecting as what ended up in the movie – a testament to Pixar’s storytelling process.
It should be noted that there is also an excellent piece on Ciacchino’s contributions and how he transformed a simple, heart wrenching four-note melody into a glorious score.
Another great example of the lengths Pixar animators will go to capture their subject material is the engrossing :22 minute documentary “Adventure Is Out There,” which details how directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson traveled with a team of animators to remote and nearly inaccessible tepius mountains of Venezuela.
Other features include audio commentary, the theatrical short “Partly Cloudly,” a second animated short called “Dug’s Special Mission” (that runs parallel to the main storyline in Up) and several other production features detailing the care, craft and precision Pixar executed to bring their unique vision to the screen.
The direct digital transfer to Blu-ray looks sumptuous as one might expect and the Blu-ray edition of the film comes with a digital copy and regular DVD copy as well (for your portable DVD player, I assume?)
Up may not be Pixar’s best film, but it is certainly one if it’s most ambitious. Despite its eccentricities, the emotional core of the story is potent – easily making it one of the best movies of the year.