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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Buying The DVD: Unhelpful And Unethical

These last few years P2Pers have got used to TV entertainment ‘our way’: unfucked, de-loused, delivered efficiently in economical, good-looking codecs. Because we rarely turn it on, it’s been easy to forget just how cynical, unsatisfying and downright venal television, as a distribution medium, has become.

Whether it’s the stupor-inducing gambling channels dedicated to parting fools from their money, the late-night pseudo-porn selling premium-rate phone sex, or the corrupt ‘competition’ call-ins plaguing the UK’s prime-time (even that Holy of Holies, the BBC), there’s the unavoidable sense that TV is on the rocks. Anyone who’d have you believe filesharers are the only scourge afflicting an industry that would otherwise be healthy is smoking crack, in the business, or both.

This is why Tape It Off The Internet seemed like such a good idea until you actually started trying to use it. There are just not enough good shows being made to justify something as complicated and involved as TIOTI. Enter all your favorites and share them with strangers ‘just like you’ and discover… what? That there are only seven good shows in the world at any one time, you were already watching six of them, and they’re all in the Pirate Bay’s Top 100 anyway. When you strip away the hours of dross and advertising, the truth is that the world’s mighty entertainment infrastructure is only capable of producing half a dozen hours of passable content a week. Maybe it’s because they spend the rest of their time on lawsuits.

One of these rare hours is The Wire. If by some small chance you’re not mainlining it already, think yourself lucky. You have four back seasons to enjoy, of what is quite possibly the last great show television will produce before it’s entirely superseded by — well, by whatever is coming around the way.

I’m not sure anyone has ever attempted to make a show of this scope: The Wire’s by-all-accounts-not-very-nice creator David Simon (Homicide, The Corner) has said his theme over the series’ five years has been ‘the decline of the American empire’ — which means decay of its cities through poverty, of traditional jobs, of the education system, of the police force and of the media. For those getting restless at the back, the show’s also got the slickest, nastiest drug slingers you’ll see on screen and is so realistic that the Baltimore Police have apparently complained it reveals too much about how crimes are — or are not — solved; apparently real thugs love it as well.

Find it and download it — though probably David Simon doesn’t want you to and neither does HBO, which has been actively poisoning Torrents of its other shows. Tell everyone you know about it. Maybe those of them still rocking TVs will raise the show’s increasingly dismal viewing figures.

Or maybe that’s no longer the point. While I sympathise with the plight of the David Simons, David Milchs (Deadwood, John from Cincinnati) and Joss Whedons (Firefly) of this world, and would like to help them in future endeavors, I specifically do not sympathise with the plights of the craven, dim-witted, played-out producers that surround them on all sides. And by ‘playing fair’ and buying the DVD or the cable package, besides the fact that most of our money is not going to the creators and their families, aren’t we really saying we accept the meshwork of shit in order to get the two or three gems that occasionally sift through it? Aren’t we signalling the industry that there’s something we still find acceptable about their way of doing business?

Now I suppose this could seem a bit extreme to some. But again and again in blogs and comments about shows like The Wire you hear ‘I’d pay for this if…’ — if it wasn’t DRM’ed all to hell like HBO’s own online offering, if it was freely shareable, good to be watched whenever, wherever, on whatever, without constant interruption by adverts. The kicker is that we’re not only unable legally to liberate and re-distribute shows from the broken, corrupt mechanisms of television and DVD distribution: we also have no way of supporting creators like David Simon and crew outside of it.

This means that right now, people still stupid or unfortunate enough to sit in front of TVs watching months-old shows or paying massive cash-or-attention premiums for the new ones are heavily subsidising us P2Pers. This is genuinely immoral, because we’re really exploiting people less fortunate than ourselves. Instead, we should be helping them out of the wasteland, and thinking of new ways to get the creators we like creating outside the prison of mass distribution. It cannot be that we are able to figure out how to make GNU-Linux - a world-class operating system — together, but not to make a dozen decent shows a year.

The irony is that TV series really feel like they’re coming into their own, just as the media that spawned them is dying. From the ‘high art’ of Deadwood and John From Cincinnati to the epic modern-day myth of Lost to the (dare I call it) Beckettian dark comedy of Trailer Park Boys, the drawn out tales of our series (often consumed a ’season’ at a time: I know at least three people waiting for The Wire to finish before downloading it) are an undeniable core of our emerging P2P culture.

We are the most passionate viewers ever, talking and writing profusely about the media we love, analysing, promoting, hosting free screenings… And they need us as much as we need them — all of these shows, without exception, enjoy their primary life on the networks, through our blogs, comments, reviews, remixes and fan fiction. Lost in particular has learned that incorporating online feedback can make a great (if utterly Shaggy Dog) story.

Can we find a way to get the shows we want made without buying the goddamn DVD? I remember this guy talking really sensibly a couple years ago about how Joss Whedon could get to make another season of Firefly, and we got this project back up his musings. Why didn’t Whedon try it? Because someone else owned his ideas? Perhaps it could have worked otherwise, and maybe it could work for the future. If you’ve got ideas, throw them in the comments box below. And if you have time in between catching up on The Wire, read this by the venerable guru of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly — I’m going to try to get him into the next installment of STEAL THIS FILM. See you around. I’ll be back in two weeks to pick up the pieces.

TorrentFreak welcomes Jamie King as our new bi-weekly columnist. Jamie is the Director of STEAL THIS FILM I & II and a member of the League of Noble Peers. He is currently working on a cinema release of STEAL THIS FILM and prototyping an experimental, post-P2P remuneration system for creators.

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is a grassroots movement founded by a consortium
of angry Star Wars fans who don't want to see FANBOYS,
the first and only feature film about Star Wars fans,
ruined by a greedy movie studio who has no
respect for its target audience! We are in no way
affiliated with the filmmakers or with the
asshats at the Weinstein Company (obviously).



Fellow Star Wars Fans!!!

Would you rather see a movie about friendship and what it means to be a Star Wars fan? Or a movie that ridicules Star Wars fans?

The long-awaited movie Fanboys is about a group of Star Wars fans who travel to Skywalker Ranch to steal an early copy of "Episode I: The Phantom Menace" so their friend can see it before he dies of cancer. This movie was made by Star Wars fans, for Star Wars fans, and it is a tribute to the greatest film franchise in history, and to the millions of people who love it. We fans have been waiting nearly ten years to see this movie!

Last summer, the director, Kyle Newman, screened his rough cut of Fanboys for the fans at the Star Wars Celebrations in both Los Angeles and London. It received several standing ovations at both screenings. The creators of this website are fans just like you, and were at those screenings. We witnessed the audience reaction ourselves! Everyone in attendance absolutely loved the movie! Fanboys is like Stand By Me for Star Wars fans. It is the ultimate Star Wars fan film!

But now, after delaying the release of the movie for over a year, the Weinstein Company (the studio distributing it) has decided to take FANBOYS away from the filmmakers and change the entire plot, so that "cancer" is no longer mentioned! In their butchered "no plot" version, the Star Wars fans now decide to break in to Skywalker Ranch for NO REASON AT ALL.

The head of the Weinstein Company, Harvey Weinstein, seems to think he'll make more money if he rips the heart out of the movie and turns it into another mindless comedy. And he thinks fans like us won't mind if he recuts FANBOYS so that it portrays Star Wars fans as idiotic criminals who would break into George Lucas's offices just because they're hopeless dorks.

Well guess what, Darth Weinstein? We mind. We're sick of being told what we want to see, by people who have zero respect for their audience. We're sick of moronic movie studios turning smart movies into dumb ones, because you think dumb sells!

We, the millions of Star Wars fans around the world, aren't going to take it lying down. This time, you've messed with the Rebel Alliance. We hereby demand that the original version of Fanboys be released!!!

If you don't release the REAL version, we won't go see it!

We won't buy the DVD!


In case you didn't get that last part, we're going to put it in big bold letters.


(Except for maybe Kevin Smith's movies, because we really like those.
But all of your other movies? BOYCOTT! Lifetime BOYCOTT, Darth Weinstein!!!)

If you want to help save Fanboys from being ruined by Darth Weinstein, here's what you can do:

Join the Rebellion in our fight to save Fanboys from being butchered by Darth Weinstein and the money-grubbing studio Sith Lords! When the original version is finally released, you can say you were one of the people who helped save the greatest Star Wars fan film of all time! Help us, fellow fans! You're our only hope!

May the Force Be With You!


Kyle Katarn
Jan Ors
Jek Porkins
Dack Ralter

and a growing army of Star Wars fans

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Toy Story 3 Plot Revealed

“Woody the cowboy and his toy-box friends are dumped in a day-care center after their owner, Andy, leaves for college.”

Lee Unkrich, who has been co-director on Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, and Finding Nemo, stepped up to helm the third film in the series. Michael Arndt, the Academy Award nominated scribe of Little Miss Sunshine, wrote the screenplay.

Before the Disney/Pixar merger, the mouse house was hard at work on a third Toy Story film without Pixar’s involvement. Disney’s plot idea involved a recall of Buzz Lightyear toys, which includes Andy’s doll, which results in the Toys going on an adventure to Taiwan to rescue Buzz, who has been malfunctioning. John Lasseter and company were very unhappy with the idea, and didn’t approve.

The new plot line sounds interesting, but am I the only one who liked the logline for Disney’s Recalled story? (Note: I heard the actual treatment was horrible, but the idea itself sounds pretty cool). Either way I have faith in whatever Pixar comes up with.

Disney will be rereleasing new Disney Digital 3-D versions of Toy Story on October 2nd, 2009, and Toy Story 2 on February 12th, 2010. Toy Story 3 is being produced as a 3-D movie, and will hit theaters on June 18th, 2010.

Discuss: What do you think of the “Day-Care Center” storyline compared to the scrapped Disney “recall” storyline?

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5 Reasons Scifi Does Better In Movies Than In TV

Why is science fiction so much hotter at the movies than on television? People have wondered for a while. Recently, the universally panned Jumper and the blah I Am Legend and Cloverfield have hit big. But the well-received Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is on the brink of cancellation. We explain this strange phenomenon, after the jump.

1) TV and movies show the same pattern. Sarah Connor Chronicles had record-high viewership of 18.3 million for its first episode, but has since dropped to around 8 million. The same thing, more or less, happened to Bionic Woman and the second season opener of Heroes. When this happens to a TV show, it's a disaster. But a movie that makes buckets of cash in its opening weekend and then drops is considered a success. Movies don't have to hold people for future installments, they just have to hook you once and then go away.

2) Movies can afford way bigger special-effects budgets. This one is obviously a no-brainer. But actually, it's the least of the reasons why a TV show would have a hard time winning over audiences. Look at the two most successful scifi shows of recent years: Lost and Heroes. Neither show wears its visual effects budgets on its sleeve, and you could easily mistake them for soap operas or "vanilla" dramas a lot of the time. There's not a lot of bling on the screen in your average Lost episode, compared with, say, Transformers. Or Sarah Connor, which has tons of VFX.

3) Endless plot tangles. Joss Whedon famously said that a television show is a question, but a movie is an answer. That's why Firefly spun out tons of mysteries, like what happened to River in her special school, or what was the deal with the Reavers. And Serenity, the movie based on the TV show, had a self-contained plot and answered all your lingering questions in the course of two-ish hours. TV shows, especially in this era of arc storytelling, spin out endless plots that reward obsessive viewers -- and scare away casual ones. (This is why I'm still wondering if J.J. Abrams can do a Star Trek movie that doesn't feel like a tease.) reaver1.jpg

4) Scifi TV is actually cheesier than movies. The cheesiest SF movies nowadays tend to go straight to DVD, or at most appear in a few festivals. Yes, a movie like Transformers is incredibly cheesy and dumb, but it does feature an A-list lead actor (no matter how you may feel about Shia LaBoeuf.) If Transformers was a TV show... well, it would be Knight Rider.

5) The networks. Sure, there are plenty of things the movie studios and distributors can do to mess up a movie's chances. They can market it horribly, or not at all. They can release it during a packed weekend. And countless amazing SF movies have died in the development "process." But nothing the movie studios or distributors can do could be as horrendous as what Fox and other networks have done to strangle promising SF shows in their infancy.

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Coraline 3D Trailer Now Available Online

**UPDATE (Feb 21st): My apologies - the originating source stated that this trailer is in 3D and of course it cannot be polarized as it would need to have a 3D system like a theater would have. It does not even appear to be in anaglyph 3D (red and cyan glasses). Enjoy it anyway! It is much clearer than the older hand held camcorder one.

Guys - here is the new Coraline 3D trailer and if you have got 3D polarized glasses - USE 'EM! It is much clearer than the hand held camcorder version that I posted back on January 16th. Check it out. Thanks for the heads-up Andrea.

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The Most Anticipated Movies of 2009

Yeah, yeah, we know - it’s 2008. So why talk about the movies of 2009 so soon?

With the advent of viral marketing and extremely early teaser trailers being leaked eons before a movie is scheduled for release, you can never be too early to start talking about films. Hell, you’re lucky this list isn’t about the most anticipated movies of 2010, which could’ve been done just as easy - and it still would’ve been way behind the internet’s buzz schedule.

Some of these movies will be sure fire hits, while others are doomed to flop. Either way, we offer you the chance to share your opinion in the comment section.

Vote at the bottom for what you feel will be the best of 2009.


Brave New World: Ravaged Planet (2009)

Plot Outline: After super-villains obliterate Chicago in 1976, those Americans fortunate enough to have powers must either work for the US government or go underground. Today, the legendary Patriot leads the rebellious Defiance against his former masters, the sanctioned super-powered operatives known collectively as Delta Prime. When the Primers capture Patriot, his friends must find a way to break into the toughest super-prison ever created-or watch him be executed before the entire world.


Coxblocker (2009)


Plot Outline: William Cox (Grace) meets his ideal woman, only to find his advances continually blocked by her ex-boyfriend/current best friend (Scott), who is trying to find a way to win her back.

Cast and Crew: Seann William Scott, Topher Grace

COED’s Take: Being that we’ve all had it happen to us the plot seems catchy, but there is a 99% chance the movie is going to blow. If Sean William Scott can bring the heat and find a way to make this thing work it could be a hot dorm room DVD similar to Just Friends.


Angels & Demons (2009)

Angels & Demons (2009)

Plot Outline: Angels and Demons was the reclusive author’s third novel after he gave up his job as an English teacher. It tells the story of Langdon’s brush with a shadowy secret society, the Illuminati, and his frantic quest for the world’s most powerful energy source, in the company of a beautiful Italian physicist whose father, a brilliant physicist, has been murdered.

Cast and Crew: Tom Hanks, Naomi Watts

COED’s Take: Most people that have read Dan Brown’s books feel Angels and Demons (the book) is better than The Da Vinci Code. If this movie is written and directed well it has the cast, plot and setting to be a legendary adventure film.


Friday the 13th (2009)

Friday the 13th (2009)

Plot Outline: Looking to reopen a camp for special need kids a group of councilors encounter a snag in their plans when an unknown person begins to pick them off one by one.

Cast and Crew: Odette Yustman

COED’s Take: What?! Friday the 13th is included in the list of most anticipated movies of 2009?! We included Friday the 13th because it will be a bust or a classic, nothing in between. Odette Yustman (Cloverfield) is a rising star, and if they choose to make it a traditional roll-em-out slasher film it will end up cheesy and flop… but if they go the direction of Batman Returns and make it a dark introduction to the classic character the movie could do well.


G.I. Joe (2009)

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Plot Outline: An elite military unit comprised of special operatives known as G.I. Joe, operating out of The Pit, takes on an evil organization led by a notorious arms dealer.

Cast and Crew: Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dennis Quaid, Rachel Nichols, Ray Park, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Marlon Wayans (rumored)

COED’s Take: I am very, very nervous to see how G.I. Joe, a staple of my young childhood, ends up. Transformers was decent at best (why does every Michael Bay movie resort to Armageddon-esque “the world’s gonna end” type storylines?), and a live action version of the show has me skeptical.

Still, if the powers that be listen to the fans instead of simply rebranding old product, we could have a straight-up killer. Cooooooooobraaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!


Halo (2009)


Plot Outline: After they crash-land on an artificial ring-world called “Halo”, a navy captain, his surviving marines, and a chemically-and-surgically-enhanced supersoldier named John-117 “Master Chief” must find out what the Covenant, the genocidal alien race they are at war with, are looking for on the ring. However, Halo holds more secrets than either side imagined.


Old School Dos (2009)

old school

Plot Outline: Mitch, Beanie and Frank return for more laughs as they open the fraternity doors to a new generation of college students.

Cast and Crew: The original cast is back for more.

COED’s Take: Frank the Tank. There’s nothing more to be said…other than it being a worthy sequel or shameless cash in. Still…Frank the Tank! Here’s hoping that Blue’s ghost makes a cameo.


X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
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Plot Outline: Wolverine lives a mutant life, seeks revenge against Victor Creed (who will later become Sabertooth) for the death of his girlfriend, and ultimately ends up going through the mutant Weapon X program.


Playboy (2009)

playboy 2009
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Plot Outline: A biography of the life of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner.

Cast and Crew: Leonardo DiCaprio…Hugh Hefner (Rumored), Brett Radner - director

COED’s Take: John Hoffman is writing the scripti and Brett Radner will direct what I feel could be a smash hit in 2009. Hugh Hefner is a living media legend, but not many people know how he got to where he is today. The movie will have its fair share of hardships and inspiring moments but we all know it’s gonna have a $50 million opening weekend because of the boobs.

But seriously - if Leo signs on, it’s a wrap.


The Brazilian Job (2009)

The Brazilian Job (2009)

Plot Outline: Charlie Croker and his fellow crew of expert thieves head to Rio de Janeiro to pull off another heist in this follow up to The Italian Job.

Cast and Crew: Charlize Theron, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def


Conquistador (2009)

Conquistador (2009)

Plot Outline: The story of 16th century explorer Hernan Cortes (Banderas) and his mission to bring about the demise of the Aztec empire.

Cast and Crew: Antonio Banderas

COED’s Take: Historical movies will be a major theme of 2009 and this one should be the best of the breed. The budget will allow it to be shot on location so expect many scenic shots and plenty of Banderas’s patented romantico flare.


Sin City 2 (2009)

sin city 1212

Plot Outline: In the dark bowels of Sin City, Dwight plans to have his vengeance against the woman who betrayed him, Ava Lord, while Nancy is trying to cope with Hartigan’s death.

Cast and Crew: Johnny Depp (rumored), Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Rachel Weisz, Clive Owen, Dwight McCarthy, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, Antonio Banderas (rumored), Michael Clarke Duncan, Michael Madsen


1776 (2009)


Plot Outline: A look at how General George Washington led the war of independence against the powerful British army in 1776.

Cast and Crew: Tom Hanks - Producer

COED’s Take: Another historical winner for 2009. Expect 1776 to portrayed the American Revolution in a a way that has yet to be seen. The book by David McCollugh is one of the best I’ve ever read and although its being released through HBO we can expect this one to have a huge following.


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
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Plot Outline: A traveling theater company gives its audience much more than they were expecting.

Cast and Crew: Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Jaw.

COED’s Take: Heath Ledger died during the filming of this movie and it’s rumored that Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Jaw will fill in for the fallen actor. Due to its unfortunate circumstance, it should be successful for the right reasons, hopefully.


Inglorious Bastards (2009)

Inglorious Bastards (2009)
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Plot Outline: A band of US soldiers facing death by firing squad for their misdeeds are given a chance to save themselves - by heading into the perilous no-man’s lands of Nazi-occupied France on a suicide mission for the Allies.

Cast and Crew: Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Babe Buchinsky, Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino has been working on Inglorious Bastards since Jackie Brown and Kill Bill were in production, and during his publicity rounds for Grindhouse stated the script is the best he’s ever done. Strong words from a strong personality - but if anybody can deliver inappropriate zingers in a war movie, or (gasp!) hard-hitting dialog that doesn’t let up, it would be Tarantino.


Arrested Development (2009)

arrested development

Ever since the epilogue of Arrested Development, where Ron Howard, the show’s narrator, revealed a tantalizing pun (did “Maybe a movie” mean Maeby, a Movie?), fans of The Best F***ing Show of All Time Ever have wanted - nay, demanded - more hot Bluth action. And it’s on the way…maybe.

Rumors have been flying about an Arrested Development movie, and it couldn’t start production at a better time: Superbad and Juno have propelled Michael Cera to stardom while many of the shows’ alumni not only remain successful, but enthusiastic about revisiting the project - if it happens. Mitch Hurwitz, creator of Arrested Development, has blown hot and cold on the subject since the show was canceled back in 2006. We can only hope that fans and AD newbies rally up and let it be known that yes, an Arrested Development is wanted. Can you hear us, Mitch? Hello? Annyong?


Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins (2009)

Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins
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Plot Outline: After Skynet has destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, a group of survivors led by John Connor (Bale) struggles to keep the machines from finishing the job.

Cast and Crew: Christian Bale, Josh Brolin, Sam Worthington; Director - McG.

COED’s Take: Christian Bale in a big budget reassessment of a dying franchise? Say it ain’t so! If it worked for Batman it will work for Terminator.


What is your most anticipated movie of 2009?

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