Devin Faraci, Luke Mullen, Nacho Vigalondo, and Elijah Wood share good times at the Highball Lounge, Fantastic Fest VI. (Photo: Stachewagging)

Getting the Most Out of Your Fantastic Fest Experience

Film writer Alan Cerny interviews Eli Roth at Fantastic Fest VIII.

Film writer Alan Cerny interviews Eli Roth at Fantastic Fest VIII.

There’s no denying it, Fantastic Fest is getting bigger.

Maybe not bigger by way of numbers or anything.  After all when you’re selling a badge that guarantees people a seat in a screening, you’re limited in how many you can sell.  Not that The Alamo Drafthouse hasn’t come up with some clever ways to blur these lines from time to time.  For example, this year two of the opening night films, Kevin Smith’s TUSK and the Alamo Drafthouse ultimate team-up follow-up ABCs OF DEATH 2, will be simulcast across multiple screens around the country.
Which is great for film fans stuck in Denver, who couldn’t make it down for the Festival proper.  It’s also great for the Alamo Festival attendees, because there’s not another several hundred people actually *in* Austin vying for a seat.

I’ve often maintained that part of Fantastic Fest’s charm is its relatively small size, and thus offers a more intimate  over-all festival experience.

After seeing a few things last year, though.  I sometimes wonder if the outside world isn’t bleeding in a little too heavily.  Not that I’m any kind of authority or voice for the festival.  It’s simply my observation.  So, I’d like to share some ideas, take them or leave them, so that you and yours can have a penultimate Fantastic Fest X.

1.) It’s nearly impossible to have a bad time.  But what you take out of it is largely what you put in.

Keep a good attitude and a positive mind.  Things not going your way?  Got all third picks?  Didn’t get to shake hands with a filmmaker you admire?  Did the system hiccup and screw up your reservations?  Don’t worry… it’s all good.  Don’t be sad.  We all still love you, you’re still here to have a good time, and some of Fantastic Fest’s best surprises come from those bottom of the barrel picks.

2.) Don’t bring anyone else down.

It can’t all be about your attitude, unfortunately.  I think the two people I’ve ever talked to who had a bad Fantastic Fest experience did so because other people brought them down.  Which is really tragic.  It’s heart breaking, really.  To think that the only difference between this person having a great time and having a bad time was the way someone else treated them.  We’re all here because we share a passion for film, and the festival is high energy.  With that passion and energy we have to be careful that we’re not impacting someone negatively.  Spirited discussion is fine.  Fair and respectful debate is wonderful.  But if the line is crossed into mean-spiritedness, the wrong line has been crossed.

3.) Leave the movie stars alone.

I love shaking hands with the artists and filmmakers at Fantastic Fest as much as anyone.  And it’s great to see people you admire.  Maybe, even get a picture with them.  But remember, they’re just people.  People who are, like you, at the fest to have a good time.  Fantastic Fest is not the place to shop your script around.  It’s not the place to see if you can score an audition.  It’s not a good place to get a stack of memorabilia signed.  It’s not the place to bring your reel and get it into the hands of industry pros.
Fantastic Fest *is* a good place to, maybe, get a handshake and engage in some polite conversation.  But, also, don’t force yourself on anyone.  Another wonderful thing about the fest is that filmmakers come and hang out, and they do it because it’s a low-stress environment.  You don’t want to be the person that ruins that and starts giving Fantastic Fest a bad name.

4.) Do something outside of your comfort zone.

Back in 2009, filmmaker Nick Robinson successfully got #ChaosReigns trending on Twitter during Fantastic Fest.  This was fitting in two ways.  It the year that Lars Von Trier’s ANTICHRIST played the festival, featuring the famous line.  Also, Fantastic Fest has a habit of being chaotic.  Chaos and unpredictability are in the festival’s blood stream.  So try some new food, or go to a movie that may not be your flavor any other time of year.  Talk to strangers at the festival.  Do something to make your experience that much more memorable.  Who knows, maybe the movie won’t be any good, but you can have just as much fun talking about a movie that wasn’t your bag as you can about a movie that you loved.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your bubble.  You’re surrounded by friends, this is a safe place.

5.) Be safe.

Be fun, be wild, be crazy; but don’t get hurt.  I  don’t think we’ve killed anyone yet, and it’d be nice to keep it that way.  Especially now with a huge construction area surrounding us for Fantastic Fest X, let’s not get carried away.

6.) Fantastic Fest is its own thing.

I can’t stress this one enough.  Especially for new-comers.  Fantastic Fest is not Comic Con.  It’s not SxSW.  It’s not Austin Film Festival.  If you go in with expectations of it being like any of these, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment.  The best way to take the festival is to have no expectations and let the Festival take you in its warm embrace to whisk you off to wherever it wants to go.  Just let it happen.  You’ll be glad you did.

All The Fantastic Fest X Trailers I Can Find

FFX

Fantastic Fest 2014’s first wave is upon us.  With this comes the release of only some of the films myself, and fiends like me, will be melting our minds with come next month.

Related: My 2010 Radio Piece About Fantastic Fest

It also comes with the news that Fantastic Fest 2014 (the tenth incarnation of the annual festival) is being known as FFX.  Which means my attempt at #FanTENsticFest failed.  But no matter.

Also Related: Full List of FFX’s First Wave

Here are all of the trailers, if they exist, that I could find from the first wave:

Tusk

Alleluia (Clip)
At least I think this is for Alleluia. The website is in German.

The Babadook

Bro’s Before Ho’s

Closer to God

CLOSER TO GOD – Official Teaser Trailer [HD] from Billy Senese on Vimeo.

Danger 5
This is a trailer for the first series that is available on Hulu. Series 2 will be playing FFX

High Five (Relocos Y Repasados)

Horsehead (Fièvre)

Jacky In The Kingdom of Women (Jacky Au Royaume Des Filles)

Kung Fu Elliot

The Man With the Orange Jacket

Tombville

V/H/S Viral

The Following Actors Will NOT Be Playing Dr. Stephen Strange

San Diego Comic Con is upon us, and with it comes all of the swirling rumors about the newest casting buzz int he Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Marvel has been making a mint at the box office by producing high budget and high concept adaptations of some of the B-list properties that Marvel, and its parent company Disney, have managed to keep a hold of.
Next week marks the opening of Marvel’s Guardians of The Galaxy, which will be the true test of the Marvel brand name to see if they can make the oft-unheard of comic property float.  But on the horizon is Marvel’s next wave, and with that a lot of speculation on who will play Marvel’s sorcerer supreme, Dr. Strange.  Names from Joaquin Phoenix and Benedict Cumberbatch to John Hamm and Johnny Depp have been thrown around for the role.  We would like to narrow the field a bit, with this exclusive look at who’s NOT going to be showing up as Dr. Strange:

1.) Buster Keaton

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

 

Despite being  the leading stuntman of his time, it is unlikely Keaton will be showing up on celluloid any time soon.  While it’s still unclear if Dr. Strange will provide an action vehicle for it’s main star or something more cerebral, Keaton seems to have left Hollywood for good, despite the occasional cameo in film or television.  Keaton stopped acting on the regular in the mid-60s, citing his advanced age and, also, his death from lung cancer.   So a comeback, even for a high-dollar prospect like the Marvel films, seems unlikely.

2. Bruce Willis

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Photo by Gage Skidmore

 

Probably best well known for his turn as the titular crooning cat burglar Hudson Hawk in a movie bearing that character’s name, Willis would seem like a shoe-in for a movie that hopes to make a skajillion dollars at the box office.  However, the drawing power he brought to films like Hudson Hawk, Fire With Fire, Cop Out, and Assassination of a High School President doesn’t seem to be impressing Disney executives.  At last report not only was Bruce Willis not high on the list of actors to portray the dark sorcerer with silver streaks in his dark locks, Willis wasn’t even on the list to begin with; crushing the hopes of people who enjoyed his work in Nancy Drew and Rugrats Go Wild.  This might also be a disappointment to fans of Willis’s more off-beat and independent films like Die Hard, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, and Die Hard 3: Beavis and Butthead Do America.

3. Robert Downey Jr.

Photo by Sgt. Michael Connors

Photo by Sgt. Michael Connors

Robert Downey Jr.’s comeback from drug addiction and Hollywood badboy fame is the stuff of legend.  Going from a coked-out smart ass to a major box office draw.  However despite his undeniable box office return prowess, it is unlikely that Disney and Marvel will tap this star to jump into the red cape and orange gloves of Stephen Strange.  It turns out that Downey Jr. has already established himself as a major draw in the Marvel franchise in the film Iron Man Three.  While I’m sure Disney could pull some kind of crossover with the same camera trickery they showed in 1961’s The Parent Trap (starring Haley Mills), the general consensus is that having the same actor in two parts, within the same universe, might prove slightly confusing even for the most stalwart fans.

4. Oprah Winfrey

Greg Hernandez, Creative Commons

Greg Hernandez, Creative Commons

This Oscar winning juggernaut of mass media won’t be coming to a theater near you as Dr. Stephen Strange.  While some backlash has erupted around the seemingly white male-centric projects like Star Wars- Episode VII 3-D: The Desolation of Jared-Syn, it seems that Disney and Marvel are hoping that similar backlash won’t befall them, despite passing over the unquestionable draw that Oprah Winfrey would have at the theaters.  Winfrey has a built-in fan base from her years on syndicated television and her turn as a cable network mogul.  However that wasn’t enough to tear down gender and color barriers when it comes to the role of Dr. Stephen Strange.

5. Dalton Winfield

Photo by Mrs. Winfield

Photo by Mrs. Winfield

In news that will no doubt come as a crushing blow to people who are fans of the underdog; Salina, Kansas 5th Grader Dalton Winfield has been confirmed to be out of the running for the lead role in Marvel’s Dr. Strange movie.  A new face to people unfamiliar with the Hollywood fringe, Winfield was cast in Mrs. Balischock’s 5th grade Thanksgiving Day Pagent as Big Chief Friendship, which Winfield’s mom, Mrs. Winfield, described as absolutely wonderful.  However even the success of the off-off Broadway stage wasn’t quite enough to keep Winfield in the running.  When asked about the rumors that he was up for Dr. Strange Marvel executives only coyly replied “Who the Hell are you talking about?”

I Am a Giant Idiot

Courtesy of Universal Television

Courtesy of Universal Television

Earlier today I “shared” an article that was set up to appear as it was from the USA Today website, saying that HULK actor Lou Ferrigno was killed in a car accident.

It’s not true.  Y’all will be happy, as was I, to hear that Lou is still with us.

Sadly I “shared” before I did my due diligence to verify its actuality and I got snowed.  Hard.

As somebody who usually prides himself in not usually falling for hoax crap like this, imagine my shame in falling for this garbage.  I present the thread here, as an enduring reminder of why I should be ashamed.

THINK BEFORE YOU “SHARE.”

Facebook

Facebook

I’d Like to Teach The World To Sing in Perfect Harmony- When You Dance. On the Floor. In the Round.

DoubleCanEverybody talking Coke, Coke, Coke, English, Coke.  Speaking English, singing English.  Melting pot this, Inarticulate indignation that.  It’s all regarding a Super Bowl commercial where Coke advertised its product by allowing a multi-racial group to sing (in perfect melody only) America the Beautiful, in an assortment of languages.  Some people took umbrage to this, saying that Coke was spewing Anti-American sentiment.

Oddly, most of the complaints against Coke were barely describable as "English."

Oddly, most of the twitter complaints against Coke were barely describable as “English.”

In the meantime, others took umbrage to the original umbrage and the whole thing got fought out over Social Networking.

I’m sick of it.  I really am.  There are more important issues at stake here, people.

What I want to talk about is the hypothesis that the Michael Jackson Pepsi Generation commercial, from the 80s, was a documentation of actual events filmed in real time with no rehearsal.  This further supports the claims that Michael Jackson had the superpower that enabled him to make crowds of people dance in a seemingly choreographed manner with the simple snap of his fingers.

Think about it. It explains so much.

We Need To Talk About Kevin… Smith.

Kevin Smith

Jareed, Creative Commons Flickr

I’ve been playing a lot of catch up during this 500 movie challenge that I’ve gotten myself into.  This means watching movies that I’ve been meaning to see for sometime but never got around to.  This is usually because of dumb excuses.  I was waiting to watch it with company, I was never in the mood, that looked good but this looks better… but now those things go right out the window.  Now I’m grabbing some of these old titles and saying “I want to watch this, and I have time, why not now?”

One of the films I recently watched was Kevin Smith’s film Red State.  I’d been avoiding this one for a specific reason.  The movie came out to a great deal of controversy at the Sundance film festival.  Kevin Smith, in his usual P.T. Barnum fashion, announced that he was so confident in the film that he would auction off the distribution rights immediately following the premiere screening.  This of course got a lot of attention, and a scrum of critics and entertainment reporters made it a point to be in the audience to see things unfold.

Following the film, Smith walked out on stage and announced that there would be no auction, as he had just sold the film rights to himself, for pocket money.  Basically getting the message out to the aforementioned scrum of reporters and critics, that he’d be launching his own distribution company.  It was a publicity stunt by every definition, and what’s worse is that the reporters missed the money shot that they had come to chronicle.

Ron Jeremy Delivers Money Shot

A wise man once said, “Never ever, ever skimp on the money shot.” (jnissa, Flickr Creative Commons)

From there it was luke-warm reviews for the movie, and bad press from the journalists.  Smith not helping matters by taking some critics and reporters to task on twitter, which, to me, seemed childish.

I decided to hold off on seeing Red State until after the kerfuffle died down and I could give it a fair shake.  I knew it would probably take years, and it did.

You see, as I have often said, I worshiped at the altar of Kevin Smith for years.  When I watched Clerks for the first time, (on VHS, mind you) it spoke directly to me.  It was about a couple of Gen-X, minimum-wage schlubs hanging out and being cool while talking frankly about pop culture and even more frankly about blow jobs.  Which is exactly what I was.  A [latter-day] Gen-X, minimum-wage schlub who liked to hang out, try to be cool, and talk about pop culture and speak frankly of blow jobs (which, in my case, was a strictly theoretical discussion, at the time.)

VHS Tapes

The 90s. If this guy’s collection was anything like mine, at least one of those labels is code for “porn that I don’t want mom to find.” (Orin Zebest, Creative Commons Flickr)

Years later, but still early enough that I was venomously flying to Smith’s defense around late-night sessions of coffee and cigarettes (Jim Jarmuch reference not-intended), a friend of mine really put it best.  “Trevor, we liked those movies because they actually had the balls to say ‘go down on,'” and while I didn’t agree with him at the time, he was right.  I liked it because it was what I thought was hip and edgy, but the real honest-to-goodness hip and edgy stuff wasn’t actually carried on the shelves at Blockbuster.

Be that as it may, I enjoyed Smith’s movies.  I really liked Clerks, I liked Mallrats, I loved Chasing Amy, I really loved Dogma.

Then, something happened.  Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was released and it was almost like Star Wars: Episode 1.  I thought I liked it.  At least, I was really, really trying to convince myself I liked it… but there was a little tiny voice within me that just kept screaming “that wasn’t very good.”  I saw the movie again, and again.  Bought it on DVD, watched it several more times.  But ultimately… I just stopped watching it because, frankly, I didn’t like it.

He was the guy who lived the dream.  Kevin Smith.  He was the filmmaker with no formal training who went on to have a successful career writing and directing movies I liked, and… he’d let me down.  What’s worse is that he really let me down with more of the same.  It was still two Gen-X schlubs talking frankly about sex and pop culture.

But even at the beginning of our eventual growing apart, there was one thing that I had always given Smith, and that was he was ridiculously in touch with his fans.  He went on College tours, he had an active forum that he and his co-horts posted on regularly.  He made announcements on these boards before anyone else had a chance to break the news.  The guy talked to his fans when they asked questions, which I’d never experienced before.  He was a filmmaker that I looked up to, who was accessible.

But there had been a change during that hey day of View Askew’s internet forum.  Smith had made announcements.  A lot of announcements.  These pertained, specifically, to upcoming projects he had a hand in, specifically: Fletch Won, The Green Hornet, Clerks: The Animated Movie, and a few comic book runs that he had started that just seemed to never get finished (specifically Spider-man & Black Cat and Daredevil Bullseye.)  Slowly but surely, each project would go into development hell, or would just sit and wait and nothing would come of it.  He did eventually finish his runs on the comics, but Spider-man & Black Cat was really, really bad.  So the fans who were excited to see him expand into new frontiers and stretch his wings a bit, kind of got tired of waiting.  Suddenly, his best asset became is greatest flaw, as eventually, only the rabid Jay & Silent Bob fans posted to the forums and awaited an audience with Smith.  The rest of us moved on.

Sullen Bob and... Pantera fan in a wig.

“Yes, Mr. Smith? We think Jersey Girl was totally lacking in ‘Snootchie’ and ‘Bootchie.’ You should have more of those in your next film.” (allygirl520, Creative Commons Flickr)

After that came an age of mediocrity for Smith.  Jersey Girl was kind of “meh.”  Zack and Miri Make a Porno was kind of “meh.”  Cop Out really dropped the baton and was low-level “meh.”  Clerks 2, I admit had a lot of heart and was probably a step above “meh” but it was no Chasing Amy (and, yes.  There is a certain irony to criticizing the guy for never leaving formula and then praising him for a sequel to his first film.  I’m not a perfect individual, people.  I’m flawed.)

Now, I’m not really enchanted with Smith as a filmmaker at all, and that breaks my heart.  Because I was SO into him years ago, it almost feels like a waste.  I still enjoy his older stuff, so there is that, and I certainly catch myself hoping every time he announces a new project, that it’ll be the one that brings me back into the flock.  However, Red State wasn’t that movie.  Sadly, I thought it was so “meh” that it probably falls somewhere in the middle of Smith’s other “meh” films, standing out in neither quality or lack thereof.  The script seemed half-baked and seemed to suffer from either needing more drafts or needing less.  Really, it could go either way.  But the performances were good, so the movie wasn’t un-entertaining.

His next project is a kooky concept piece that seems like it’ll at least be creepy or interesting, about a man who is captured and has to live in a guy’s basement dressed as a walrus.  I’m told the whole concept came from one of Smith’s podcasts, which people tell me are good, but I just can’t bring myself to care enough to listen to them.  Same goes for his last several spoken word specials.  My Smith fire is fading, and I miss its warmth, but I need something more substantial than Smith talking about him self to stoke the logs.

“Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.” -Edward “Blackbeard” Teach

STARZ

STARZ

I love pirates.

Like… really dig the history, the lore, the iconic imagery, the art they’ve inspired…

I loved Treasure Island. I think the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was pretty cool (and even elements of the sequels were enjoyable, if you piece meal them apart from the choices that weren’t quite so hot.)

So I’m looking at this new television program Black Sails, which is premiering on STARZ this week.  And I’m given pause on a few things.

One: Michael Bay’s name is attached to this project.
Now, I’m not the violent Michael-Bay hater that some of my contemporaries and colleagues are, I happened to enjoy such outings as The Rock and The Island, for their own brand of over-the-top charm.  But I also acknowledge that the name “Michael Bay” does not necessarily a good project make.  I think being over the top is what ultimately dragged down the three Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.  Well, that and some questionable writing.  Since over-the-topness is kind of Michael Bay’s forte, I’m a little concerned.  Also, Jerry Bruckheimer is attached… who was also a producer on the Pirates of the Caribbean films, so… that’s starting not to bode well.

However, they’re both producers on the project, and the list of producers is a long one.  So, it depends on how hands-on and, subsequently, how restrained their roles were.

Two: Jack Racham.  On the Black Sails Imdb page, there is a character named, simply, “Racham.”  So, since this is a pirate show, and the words “pirate” and “Racham” will inevitably leave you solving for “x” on Racham’s first name and arriving at the answer: Jack.
Jack Racham was a historical pirate from the days of yore.  Now, that… is pretty cool.  But unfortunately Jack Racham was a fairly unremarkable pirate.  He was no Blackbeard or Henry Morgan.  Probably the most significant thing he did for the world of piracy was to strike a blow for gender equality and start hiring women.  Specifically Ann Bonny and “Bloody” Mary Read.  Now… Bonny and Read, were pretty remarkable pirates, often outshining Racham and certainly overshadowing him in history.

The Imdb page, unfortunately only lists Ann Bonny as a character, so it makes me wonder how “in” to the fascinating story of Jack’s girls they will get.

BUT…

Like I said, these are only things that give me pause.  They subdue my excitement and may, over all, not be an issue.

It appears from synopses and pre-release coverage that the main crux of the story will be a prequel of sorts to Treasure Island.  I will be the first to admit that Treasure Island was a story that could probably beget some prequel action.  The book, itself, nearly starts in the middle of a much grander tale.

For those of you who haven’t read the book, the story starts with an old retired pirate, taking lodging at an small English Inn.  It is discovered that this old pirate is in possession of a map to the buried treasure of the deceased and legendary pirate captain, Flint.  After the old pirate dies, the Innkeeper’s son, and a few proper English gentlemen and adventurers set out seeking the treasure.  But as you can imagine, there’s a huge interest in the former crew of Captain Flint, so there’s pirates under their noses and at their heels the whole time.

But the story of Flint the pirate and is crew, amassing said Treasure was never a story that was fully fleshed out by Treasure Island scribe, Robert Louis Stevenson.  So, there’s a compelling story to be told in the years before Jim Hawkins, Squire Trelawny and Dr. Livesey even enter into it.

However, what I’m looking for, most, in Black Sails is something along the lines of HBO’s Deadwood, and less like previous STARZ original series Spartacus.

Deadwood, while a fictitious look at Old West history, was understated, dramatic, tense and a really solid drama.  It was probably one of the best shows on television before it was untimely cancelled do to budget concerns.

Spartacus, while not a bad show, was certianly a blood and guts, over the top, cash-in on the sword-and-sandal Zack Snyder 300 band wagon.

Where is Black Sails going to land?

I suppose we’ll find out this weekend.

The 500 Movie Challenge: The First 20

Letterboxd.com

Letterboxd.com

I’m quite the movie fan.  When people ask me how big of a fan I am, I usually respond by telling them that at least once annually, I spend well-over $1,000 to fly to Austin, TX when the weather is excellent.  While in the gorgeous town, teaming with bohemian artisans, I sit in a dark room for about 60 hours looking at a flickering wall.

Which is to say I’ve been going to at least one film festival in Austin per year since 2007, when I became fiscally able to do so.

While at these festivals I’ve met some wonderful people, among whom is Tim Anderson, film maker,  a Managing Editor for Bloody Disgusting, and programmer for a few Florida-based film festivals.

Tim did something pretty cool last year.  He resolved to watch 500 films over the course of the year.

“Rules are simple, films must be longer than 45 minutes, television shows do not count.”
-Tim Anderson

Tim made it, by the way.   He almost made it to 600.

But what about me?  An average schlub who isn’t tied to any film festivals professionally?

I think I can do it.  I’m single, lazy, have both Netflix and Hulu, and (after crunching the numbers) I only have to watch about 9 movies in a week.  Which is totally do able.

I’ll post my thoughts here from time to time, but you can keep up with me on my Letterboxd account.

My Letterboxd.com 500 Movie Challenge List

Since the first of 2014, I’ve watched 19 movies.  I’ll hit 20 by tonight.  They’ve ranged from great old re-watches (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) to truly abysmal new first-timers (The Bell Witch Haunting.)

Overall, I’m hoping it will be fun.

You’re Here, You Dig the Blog, Why Not You “Like?”

Tim McCune, Flickr

Stache Wagging staffers learn how to operate these fancy computer things. “See, this is a MONITOR…” (Tim McCune, Flickr)

Apparently you’re not a REAL webpage unless you have one of these new-fangled FaceSpaceDOTcom accounts.

We went ahead and got one.  So, give us a “like” and we’ll keep you abreast of all the goings on over here on ‘Stache Wagging.

In the meantime, when we hit “200” likes, we’ll do a giveaway of some kind for one of our lucky friends.

Head on over right now, and sound off on what you’d like to see in our prize closet.

Click Here to Find Our Facebook

Thanks everybody who has swung by since the first of the month.  You’re warming my heart.