Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Return Of The Tough Guys

Since PROMETHEUS, the movie world has been through it's fair share of up's and down's; wondering when the legendary RIDLEY SCOTT would rear his head again...
Well, imagine the surprise when he reappeared with CORMAC McCARTHY (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) and an adaptive script for Cormac's THE COUNSELOR, a tale the Pulitzer Prize winning writer himself terms as "No Country For Old Men on steroids"... Have we managed to get your attention now..?

The story--- about a respectable lawyer getting in deep with the drug world, is considered one of McCarthy's 'most powerful and disturbing' works yet--- which says alot considering he gave us one of the most monstrous hitman characters in print; later personified by Javier Bardem. This film could very well be the return of the tough guys!

The cinematography reeks of old school 80's style, along with a moment or two, if you look carefully, of a style mastered by Ridley's own brother, the late master TONY SCOTT.  With an all star cast: BRAD PITT, JAVIER BARDEM, CAMERON DIAZ, ROSIE PEREZ, PENELOPE CRUZ, JOHN LEGUIZAMO, and MICHAEL FASSBENDER in the title role, this little firecracker is scheduled to appear this NOVEMBER, and PLANET GRIFFIN is geeking like no one's business!

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Hello again, Housekeeping.
PLANET GRIFFIN calling... And yes, we're keeping the keys to the minibar.

Easy like Sunday Morning (we're uneasy weekly the rest of the time), PLANET GRIFFIN returns to orbit again with another wild anecdote on the ever changing face of pop culture and the new remaking of reality so profound, H.P. Lovecraft himself would almost take pride in his own insanity...

Is it just me, or are multiplexes beginning to feel more like courtrooms, and movies are turning into hard fought cases to win or lose in the court of public opinion..? From a 'Man of Steel', despite its booming box office numbers, still trying to defend its attributes (Christopher Nolan producing a Zak Snyder film is as much of a clash as Ridley Scott trying to technically advise Michael Bay--- it's gonna have issues) in one courtroom (or theater, if you prefer), and Brad Pitt vs. the CGI Undead In PG13 3D in the courtroom next door (if you were to take STARSHIP TROOPERS; removing the socialist commentary, the fun, AND PAUL VERHOEVEN, would you STILL like to know more..? Don't answer folks, the almost greenlit sequel has answered for us.)...

Style over substance. Substance abuse. So far.
 Not to fear, of course, it's small mishaps like this that'll drive the public to comedies like the upcoming THIS IS THE END to let off steam... Or back to review movies like THE PURGE to build it back up. We still get to look forward to big budgeters like the upcoming WOLVERINE and PACIFIC RIM. It's still pretty early in the game, so anything is possible in this summer film season. The PLANET is merely one judgment out of many--- if you enjoy it, great! Call it a guilty pleasure. If not, you live with the guilt until the next case is made to feel great again. The caselog is endless right now, and you are, after all, the ultimate judge...

... EXCEPT ONE! As any horror fan may tell you, a PG13 Zombie Apocalypse is no apocalypse at all...

Until next time, court is adjourned.

The Return Of Otomo

Good Afternoon Housekeeping.

It's been 9 years since the world has seen a feature from KATSUHIRO OTOMO. Long since the animated gamechanger that was AKIRA and it's technically brilliant follow-up, STEAMBOY, Otomo has been quietly toiling away on another animated project now known as SHORT PEACE, a 4 part short story omnibus, debuting in Japan this July, Otomo, along with fellow creators Shuhei Morita, Hiroaki Ando, Hajime Katoki, and Kouji Morimoto, appear to be out to recapture the magic of a past Otomo classic, MEMORIES.  The international sub and dub versions are expected to appear shortly after it's Japanese debut.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Long Live The Don: James Gandolfini

The last 24 hours has been a tremendously sad one in Hollywood circles as the sudden death of actor JAMES JOSEPH GANDOLFINI is only now beginning to set into the hearts and minds of the acting community, as well as the countless fans who loved the body of work the Westwood, New Jersy Native left behind.

Oddly enough, even though Gandolfini made his bid for superstardom as Mafia kingpin Tony Soprano in HBO's THE SOPRANOS, as well as current films like ZERO DARK THIRTY and KILLING THEM SOFTLY, a large majority of film fans remembers his brief, yet scene stealing turn as the hitman 'Virgil' from TRUE ROMANCE (not too hard of a stretch considering the all star casting not seen since Abel Ferrerra's KING OF NEW YORK, but I digress...); a sure fire sign that a new talent was emerging... And now, at the age of 51, taken from us all too soon.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Planet Griffin PSA: Happy Father's Day

Your host, The Infamous RodBuddah, of the irreverent rant machine known as PLANET GRIFFIN, would like to take a moment to wish a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all the dad's out there!

Dad's be Dad's... Don't act like Mother's unless you absolutely have to! Ha Haaa! This has been a PLANET GRIFFIN Public Service Announcement...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tokyo Always Rebuilds

"It's not the end of society... Just critical thinking."
Like a slingshot casting the first stone, PLANET GRIFFIN returns to orbit, keeping a vigilant eye on the self aggrandizing monster that is Pop Culture. Speaking of unexpected monsters, tonight's beast was born only 24 short hours ago...
Various internet sites have been abuzz over the recent speech given by Steven Spielberg & George Lucas during the opening of a new media center at the University of Southern California ... What was to be considered a standard speech to the students, the two titans of the film industry gave their predictions on the 'massive implosion' of the business and it's relation to the blockbuster formula... Keep in mind, this is coming from the very two men who built the business model.
"...The enormous amount of available content has pushed movie studios to be more conservative, banking on the power of event films to break through the white noise of a crowded marketplace. You're at the point right now where a studio would rather invest $250 million in one film for a real shot at the brass ring than make a whole bunch of really interesting, deeply personal — and even maybe historical — projects that may get lost in the shuffle..." stated Spielberg to the standing room only crowd.
"There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even half a dozen of these mega-budgeted movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm again."
The subject of cable television becoming internet TV, movies turning into overpriced events, and the number of cinemas that will die off as a likely result peppered the conversation, until George Lucas spoke up.
"It's a mess. It's total chaos," Lucas said. "But out of that chaos will come some really amazing things. And right now there are amazing opportunities for young people coming into the industry to say, ‘Hey, I think I'm going to do this and there's nobody to stop me.'" Lucas was quick to encourage the students to take advantage of the new opportunities that the current disruption provides.
Now, the arguments to their statements have been waged all day, from 'the laughable hypocrisy' to outright 'bullshit'... So rather than argue either side, PLANET GRIFFIN will speak on the one thing that no other blogsite has spoken on throughout all of this, which is the point of this post... The point to all of this isn't just the current malaise of the blockbuster formula or whether theaters will become event centers  or whether Internet TV is the next big thing...
 It's content.
Now that the PLANET has your attention, we can explain...
It's no secret that the blockbuster model has devolved. Before the advent of interactive technologies such as videogames, Studios could experiment with genre and storytelling to variable degrees of success. Using said successes of the last 40 years as a gauge, it's no wonder we as a people continuously see the same familiar remakes and regurgitations, only edited down to move faster and packed with enough CGI to hold you enthralled until the house lights reappear... Knowing that it's far easier to draw people to a moving object rather than an inanimate one; the industry seems willing to lose core content in favor of big returns...
It's also no secret that Spielberg and Lucas have created some of the biggest blockbusters in the history of film and television, but they have also created blockbusters with more story content and heart than most. You can't blame films like RAIDERS, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, or STAR WARS and AMERICAN GRAFFITTI to the downfall of society... By extracting the content, you easily get what's Now Playing...
Like a raging Godzilla, mercilessly crushing Tokyo beneath it's heel, the blockbuster theorum has taken a monstrous life of it's own. Thinking thoughts such as 'hypocritical' or 'bullshit' are more than entitled, but it could also be taken completely different... Especially once you take the time to realise that Tokyo can also be substituted for content itself...  But fear not... Tokyo always rebuilds.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hollywood's New Catering Service

 "I can tell you that I turned down two Chinese publishing deals because they wanted to censor the book. The first time they said, 'Let's change the name of China to some fictional country'. And it was a very Chinese Communist argument, a sort of, 'Look, everyone knows it's going to be China; you're not hiding anything. All we want you to do is just change the name'. And I said, 'No, China's China, I'm sorry.' Then the second time they said to me, 'You can keep the China name, but we want to take those chapters out of the book and put them online.' I said, 'No, I'm sorry. I know there's a billion of you and if you all gave me a dollar that would be awesome, but China's China and I have to be true to my book."
                                                                     - Max Brooks when first approached
                                                                       by the studios to make changes
                                                                       to the novelization of World War Z 

Hello Boys & Girls.
PLANET GRIFFIN is back on the air.
As moviegoers begin to crowd into multiplexes for the start of the summer season; anxious to catch a glimpse of the latest CGI loaded blockbuster (or at least the local bootlegger recording it for them), Joe Q. Multiplex may not be aware of the subtle shift Hollywood is undertaking. Beneath the veneer of Hollywood gloss, lies a new power base in the world of entertainment: Chinese Hollywood.

China is the second largest film industry in the world, and, thanks to Hollywood deal-making, it may well be the single largest film consortium by the end of the decade.
 Highly authoritarian and well known for it's propaganda and heavy censorship campaigns, China seems to be influencing Hollywood to do the same with their own films... Especially if Hollywood plans to open any of their films in Chinese Territories.
(Iron Man 3? Who remembers Dr. Wu? If you watch the American cut of the film, probably not much. The longer Chinese cut? Dr. Wu is a substantial character in the film; along with the heavily themed chinese elements and a much longer cut of the film. Bootleggers take note)

Disney saw the writing on the wall in advance, already
 utilizing Iron Man 3 as it's first (successful) test subject... By filming enough Chinese themed elements into the film and catering the Chinese Government for territorial release, Disney can claim the superhero franchise as a 'Co-Production', thereby pocketing 43% of the overall gross instead of the usual 25%. In these unenlightened times, it makes sense that Hollywood's inflated budgets for these films are actually going into filming more Chinese themed material (to the Chinese Governments standards, of course), creating longer cuts of the same film in question, and releasing two very different versions of the same movie to cater to 2 very different audiences!
AND WHY NOT?! China allows 34 foreign films annually into their territories--- but those 34 films also have access to 1.3 BILLION moviegoers, averaging out at about 60% of their Box Office (2012 alone was 1.7 Billion) Iron Man 3 secures it's name among Top Ten Grossing Films Of All Time, topping over a billion.

The old adage of 'You can't please everybody with the same thing' seems to remain quite intact. As depicted by the opening quote, here's another example of how to 'go along to get along', reported from the British World News Service-

Bad enough that WORLD WAR Z:The Movie shook off many of the literary trappings that author MAX BROOKS made famous with the book, but the simple changes suggested by the Chinese government made the adaptation process all the more transparent. In the novel, Patient Zero was noted to be a small Chinese boy who was bitten by something underwater. . In the film, Patient Zero originates from Taiwan, creating the worldwide horde.
 The significance of this fact is that Taiwan, being a historic enemy of China, makes the very thought of the possible end of the world originating from China almost unthinkable. It seems Paramount Studios agreed. With many other films currently slated to go this same route (including a certain Star Spanlged Hero & Friends) within the next 2 years, it's quite safe to say that Hollywood's New Catering Service is well underway!

Of course, it's not all one sided... Right..? I mean, every country or colony loves to view itself as a champion to its people or worldview--- especially the United States; home of the Superhero Mythology/Supervillain Mentality. It's a matter of catering to the pleasure of others at the cost of originality, honesty, or even personal creative liberty, because money is still the great persuader... Right..?
 Propaganda is a key component of marketing; worth billions of advertising dollars worldwide... So whether it's 'made in America', 'made in China', or 'made in Taiwan', we should all enjoy the end product and know that it was made with pure pride, no matter by whose standards... Right..?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

HERCULES: A Tale Of Two Wars (In Hollywood)

PLANET GRIFFIN, your favorite pirate blogcast, returns with a weekend tidbit in that desolate teenage wasteland known as Pop Culture. Within the next couple of days, DWAYNE 'THE ROCK' JOHNSON, will begin his crushing 14 week workout prep for the live adaptation of HERCULES: THE THRACIAN WARS, based on the comic of the same name by RADICAL PUBLISHING.

Directed by BRET RATNER with a whopping $110 million pricetag, the film is reported to be as 'a dark representation of the comic in tone and style' and more fitting to the comic, as well as another hit series recently concluded: SPARTACUS.

The irony of this last bit is not only is there a second HERCULES 3D feature filming at the same time of the above production, marking the grand return of director RENNY HARLIN, but the inclusion of Spartacus himself, LIAM McINTYRE, alongside KELLAN LUTZ, to add more kick to the cast!

 Both films will collide Summer 2014; creating another 'who's better' scenario, much like OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN and WHITE HOUSE DOWN of this year's pre-summer season.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Kicked Before Starting..? The New Middleman

It has gone by many names: Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding, 'Angel Financing', and Group Backing. Since KICKSTARTER opened it's doors in 2009, the digital middleman company has changed the landscape in regards to how independent projects are financed without the need for large corporations; bringing many a great idea to fruitition. The initial design of the network was aimed towards those artists, filmmakers, and creators who needed help to realize their projected goals, with Kickstarter acting as the middleman...  It seems to still be the case, though it's with the arrival of more noted professionals and other legal hurdles flooding the Kickstarter network that has given cause for concern for those who are still campaigning to make said dreams real... Welcome to PLANET GRIFFIN.
Let's look at the statistics:

  • MARC SILVESTRI, creator of the much lauded CYBER FORCE comic, which helped change the comics game in the 1990's with IMAGE comics, successfully campaigned it's resurrection in 2012 by raising $117,135 for the series (exceeding goal by an additional $42,000).
  • ROB LIEFELD, another IMAGE comics founder, is currently campaigning the return of the BRIGADE comic; raising over $6,775 in less than 24 hours, hoping to secure a pledge goal of $17,500. Liefeld's aim is to release the first issue for free.
  • ROB THOMAS successfully campaigned the return of former TV series VERONICA MARS, raising a whopping $5.7 million dollars, exceeding it's original goal by $3.7 million.
  • Actor ZACH BRAFF's latest in-production WISH I WAS HERE just closed at $3.1 million.
  • MAC BISHOP, 24 yr. old entreperneur, raised over $300,000 for wearing what he claimed to be a wool shirt that needed no wash/dry cleaning for 150 wears. (His father is the CEO giant of Pendleton Woolen Mills.)
  • Singer/Songwriter AMANDA PALMER recently completed a Kickstarter campaign; consisting of an album, art book, and tour. A $100,000 goal ballooned into $1.1 million.(Palmer is also the wife of legendary comics writer Neil Gaiman.)
  • ERIC MIGICOVSKY, creator of the smartphone-connected Pebble, closed out his campaign with an astounding $10.2 million for a customizable digital watch.

The internet has been abuzz over the last 2 months, debating the fairness of famous people using Kickstarter to fund their projects. Some people believe headline names act as 'rainmakers' for crowdfunding in general, helping draw more attention to projects. Others believe it's a drawback for those newcomers who have incredible project pitches, but fall short due to lack of marketing, whether through press coverage or other social media outlets. There are countless statistics online that suggests those aforementioned famous people actually help smaller projects with their notoriety.
Now, of course there will be plenty of statistics that support the idea of famous people pitching projects to Kickstarter--- and why not?!  Kickstarter collects 5% automatically from each successful campaign. (Imagine 5% from each of the notable stats mentioned above, atop the thousands of campaign pitches that arrive weekly into the Kickstarter offices! With the exception of Silvestri, the other campaigns shown are within the last 3 months ALONE). Also, the very fact that this same famous collective already has access to resources to suit their project needs as opposed to minor upstarts who go through Kickstarter to create the given resources needed is unsettling.

It's no different than begging on the street for gas money to a Ferrari at home that you barely drive! The people pay to have the product made and, in the majority of the campaigns, pay again to obtain the very product they seek. Twice bitten, twice shy.

Now, given that the crowdsourcing giant, with it's loose wording of 'taxable income', the IRS has now instituted new tax codes regarding funding rewarded from successful Kickstarter campaigns as fully taxable income (As of April 1st of this year--- who's the fool?). Tread very carefully when offering startup rewards. Kickstarter fees, minus expenses, could easily turn into tax audits.

Now, none of this is to discourage anyone from launching campaigns on Kickstarter, as the projects that have come from these campaigns have been great... This is merely an opportunity to better introduce you to the new middleman you will face when you prepare your next great idea. Hurry. The masses are waiting...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Returning To The Daze Of Venture...

*Ladies and Gentlemen, PLANET GRIFFIN takes a moment out for time travel--- y'know, that near impossible temporal event that we only know in reality as hindsight *ahem*--- let's take a short hop back to February of 2003, where a little cable station in Atlanta would change the game forever...

Created by JACKSON PUBLIK (aka CHRISTOPHER McCULLOCH) and DOC HAMMER, the whacked out adventures of the Venture Family has been one of longest, and strongest, running shows on the Cartoon Network (only just shy of the current animated zeitgeist, ADVENTURE TIME), as well as one of the cornerstones of the Network's ADULT SWIM mature viewer block... Not bad for a show COMEDY CENTRAL turned down... (Hence the phrase 'Corporations CREATE their competition', but I digress...)

As a wild parody of the old JOHNNY QUEST show, the program captured the attentions of young and old alike; spawning a legion of fans and taking no prisoners with it's hilariously scathing riffs on other shows and popular characters. After 3 years of waiting, TONIGHT at MIDNIGHT will see the return of one the funniest shows on the network as SEASON 5 begins! Rather than explain the twisted tale here, we'll leave that to famed former henchman,  HENCHMAN 21!