JJ Abrams urges Paramount to drop its lawsuit over fan Star Trek movie

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Abrams directed the first two Star Trek reboot movies and is producing the third one for Paramount; he says he convinced the studio to drop its controversial lawsuit against Axanar, a crowdfunded fan-film (a suit that included a dubious claim about the copyrightability of the Klingon language) telling them that the lawsuit "wasn’t an appropriate way to deal with the fans." Read the rest

Everything is a Remix on "The Force Awakens"

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Kirby Ferguson's amazing Everything is a Remix series (previously), turns its keen eyes on JJ Abrams's record-breaking reboot of Star Wars, itself a mashup of classic films, and shows what happens when a mashup artist remixed a remix of a mashup. (via Kottke) Read the rest

David Letterman almost starred in Airplane!

David Letterman screen-tested for the role of Ted Striker in my favorite comedy film of all time, Airplane! (1980). I'm serious, and don't call me Shirley.

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World's first app-turned-movie reveals why those birds are so dadgum angry

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This weekend Hollywood is about to make history with The Angry Birds Movie, the first feature film ever to be based on a smartphone app.

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A new trailer is out for 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' reboot starring Laverne Cox

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“It’s not easy having a good time.”

A short but sweet new trailer for Fox's all-new production of the 1975 cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's scheduled to air around Halloween 2016.

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Nebula Award swept by record number of women writers

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The Nebula Awards -- voted on by members of the Science Fiction Writers of America to recognize excellence in science fiction and fantasy -- were given out in Chicago yesterday, and every prose award went to a woman (the film award went to the writers of feminist action film Mad Max: Fury Road). Read the rest

These are the new Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' suits

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No spandex in the Power Rangers reboot coming to theaters next March.

“It’s tricky finding a new language for a superhero costume,” production designer Andrew Menzies (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) told Entertainment Weekly. “Ours is an alien costume that grows on them, that’s not man-made. You can’t win everyone over, but we are trying to appeal to a more mature audience and gain new fans.”

Below, the title sequence from the 1993 television show:

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Mrs. Doubtfire screen tests

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Robin Williams in drag and oldface doing his strikingly-talented thing. It's more unsettling than the movie; he creates the character as the session goes on, moving from anxiety to action, creepy to canny, English to Scottish. Read the rest

Society of synthetic linguists explain to court, in Klingon, why Klingon shouldn't be copyrightable

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Last month, I wrote about Paramount's lawsuit against Axanar, a crowdfunded Star Trek fan-film. Read the rest

Futurististic computer screens are mostly blue

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Chris Noessel and Nathan Shedroff demonstrated that in movies depicting computers in the future, the screens are mostly blue.

Some interesting exceptions: 1991's Terminator 2 made red popular, and the Matrix Trilogy made green the in thing for a while. But within a couple of years, we were back to blue. And it's been this way since the 60s.

I think that green usually signifies "old" computers, perhaps? The Matrix was clever in that way.

Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but I'm struck by the thought that the first and third Alien movies (which were British haunted house movies, sort of) used green screens, whereas the second one, Aliens (an American action movie) used blue. Google Images isn't entirely helpful.

Guardians of the Galaxy (above) appears, of course, to be both. Read the rest

Scottish Terror on Film: Darkfall

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This week, Kodak and Kickstarter announced a joint venture to support low budget film projects that want to shoot on celluloid (that means real film, as opposed to digital). Of the four films Kodak is supporting, psychological horror movie Darkfall is the most interesting to me.

Written, produced, and directed by my long-time buddy magician R. Paul Wilson, Darkfall returns to the classic filmmaking techniques inspired by our fellow conjuror Georges Méliès—that means using magic methods and illusion secrets in place of modern CGI. Inspired by classic horror movies like Cat People, The Haunting and Halloween, Paul hopes to produce a powerful experience using psychology, audio effects, and “in-camera” trickery to terrify the audience.

Special effects and cinematic storytelling were pioneered by Méliès, whose life story was the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s film, Hugo. Méliès produced and directed over 500 films in which he invented new effects and techniques to tell fantastic stories, leaving an invaluable legacy for future filmmakers. Wilson is a huge fan and, during a visit to an exhibit of Méliès’s work in Madrid, it occurred to him to use modern conjuring methods in the same way.

Paul says, “Filmmaking has evolved at an amazing pace and so has the art of magic, but the two have grown apart, especially with the introduction of digital effects. I began to wonder what Georges Méliès would do with modern magic and the idea grew from there.”

The Darkfall story revolves around how perception can be distorted. It’s a supernatural tale with a killer twist inspired by Paul’s time working on television. Read the rest

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is a terrible movie, say critics

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The hot trend in Hollywood is to recast fairy tales as gritty, pathos-driven tragic emofeasts: Maleficent was symbolically raped as a youngster, Peter Pan was a lonely British schoolboy, and so forth. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is the latest and it's "90% terrible," reports Annalee Newitz.

There is something fascinating, in a purely sociological sense, about watching a movie like this. Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones may have reinvigorated epic fantasy filmmaking, but they are also inspiring their fair share of stinky knockoffs. Some of those knockoffs are silly fun, like the first Huntsman film. But this prequel-sequel abomination is barely good enough for hate-watching unless you want to see the purest expression of paint-by-dollars filmmaking to come out this year.

Great Evil Queen outfits, though! Also remarkable is the degree of lifting it does – of images and even phrases — from Game of Thrones. No-one's accusing it of plagiarism; it's just tacky, a dollar-store laser sword with a Star Wars price tag.

Steven Rea appears to be the only critic who likes it, if you'd like a second opinion. Read the rest

TRIPMUNKS: all the CGI Chipmunks movies overlaid, at half speed

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Neil Cicierega took the four (!) Chipmunks movies, superimposed them upon one another, and slowed them down. If CGI remakes of cartoons can be seen as the pigs of our cartoon childhoods ushered into the rendering plant, this is the psychic slime left gluelike under the vats. [via]

Previously: Chipmunk Christmas, slowed down to original speed Read the rest

Just look at this banana chestburster shoop

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Just look at it. Read the rest

The Divide: important new documentary about income inequality based on "The Spirit Level"

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Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson's 2011 book The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger was an instant classic for the way it described the impact of wealth inequality on the lives of both poor and rich people, driving them both to completely unsustainable working lives that destroyed their families and made them deeply unhappy. Read the rest

Piracy dooms motion picture industry to yet another record-breaking box-office year

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Once again the MPAA has released its box-office numbers for the year, and once again, this year has smashed all records (as has been the case throughout our young century) (really!). As always, the astronomical rise-and-rise of their fortunes is somehow used to launch a call for more publicly subsidized enforcement against "piracy." Read the rest

How could Lex Luthor beat the import controls on kryptonite?

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The new, evidently terrible Batman vs Superman movie turns on Lex Luthor's evil plan to lobby the US government to grant a variance in its import controls on kryptonite (making the movie part of the pantheon whose creators bravely decided to make the major plot points revolve around regulation, see, e.g., the Star Wars prequels). Read the rest

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