Tag Archives: Movies

Guy DeLisle Comments on the Cancellation the Pyonyang Movie

pyongyang coverThe hubbub over the Sony/North Korea internet battle isn’t limited to the cancellation delay of the release of The Interview. The events have made other movie companies gun-shy to do anything surrounding North Korea. Paramount stopped the showing of Team America, and New Regency has stopped the production of a film based on the graphic novel Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea.

Pyongyang tells the story of author Guy DeLisle‘s experience in North Korea while working with an animation study. It provides a fascinating look at the secretive country.

Though what was known about the film didn’t quite sound like what DeLisle wrote, the movie was to star Steve Carell and be directed by Gore Verbinski. Verbinski has commented on New Regency’s decision. Now DeLisle has done the same.

From his website:

The filming was scheduled to start in March in Serbia and I got a phone call from Gore Verbinski. He shared with me how he envisioned the movie, I was excited and I feel very disappointed to learn today that the whole thing is cancelled (I can’t imagine what the producer feels like after working on this for two years). What saddens me the most are the reasons that lead to this. One would have imagined that a huge corporation would not bend so easily under the threats of a group of hackers from North Korea. Apparently they hit a sensitive nerve.

In 2001, a few months after my return from North Korea, I was sending the first pages of my book to the animation studio directors who had sent me there. I thought that they would be amused to read how life was in Pyongyang, where their TV series was produced. The reaction was cold, I was told that I wasn’t allowed to talk about my stay over there and that my contract had a confidentiality clause that prevented me from publishing a book on the subject.

I consulted with my editor at the time, L’Association, where I had published my first albums. Jean-Christophe Menu the director of this small publishing house really liked the idea and the first pages of the book. We looked for the confidentiality clause and couldn’t find it. Finally he told me: too bad if we end up in court, it’s a book we have to do.

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Sony Blames Distributors for The Interview Release Cancellation

interview_xlgIn an interview I heard on NPR, Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton stood firm in saying Sony didn’t capitulate to the hackers who have terrorized the company for some time now. The hubbub was around the cancellation of the release of The Interview on Christmas day.

In his view, they saw the film as continuing the grand tradition of political satire, and saw nothing wrong with releasing it.

Lynton’s interview came a few hours after President Obama called the decision to not release the film a “mistake.”

Lynton danced around issues in the distribution system in place for movies. In the interview he stood firm by the fact that Sony had the intention of releasing the film. The movie company didn’t cancel their current plans until theaters decided to not screen the film. With few theaters willing to do so, Sony’s hands were tied, and the decision to delay the release was made.

We did not capitulate. We don’t own movie theaters, and we require movie theater owners to be there for us to distribute our film. We very much wanted to keep the picture in release. When the movie theaters decided that they could not put our movie in their theaters, we had no choice at that point but to not have the movie come out on the 25th of December. This was not our decision.

In the interview Lynton was pressed why the company wasn’t releasing the film digitally. Lynton said it was something they were considering, but were having issues finding partners willing to join them in the release.

While he was much more diplomatic than he needed to be, it was clear Lynton lays the blame at the theaters, and digital distributors fear that they will be the target of a cyber attack if they release the film. That’s exactly what I pointed out in my earlier coverage of the news.

Here’s his direct quote:

Yes, those are other avenues and we are actively exploring them …. to date, we don’t have any takers — neither on the video demand side nor on the e-commerce side. People have been generally fearful about the possibility of their systems being corrupted, and so there have been a lot of conversations about the robustness of various systems to be able to make sure they’re not hacked, if and when we put the movie out digitally.

I shouldn’t say if — when. We would very much like that to happen. But we do need partners to make that happen. We ourselves do not have a distribution platform to put the movie out.

It looks like we’ll eventually get to see the film, it’s just a question of when, no longer if.

In an email release, the company said:

It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.

That reiterates what Lynton said in the interview.

What stood out to me was the emphasis that the film wasn’t being released due to the fact it was pulled from theaters, and that digital distributors weren’t willing to bite. It emphasizes that we as consumers do in fact have our choices limited by gatekeepers such as movie theater chains, and digital avenues like iTunes or Amazon. BitTorrent, the filing sharing technology and company, stepped up to help with digital distribution through its BitTorrent Bundle.

The President said during a press conference:

We cannot have a society in which some dictators some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States. If somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing once they see a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like.

Sony seems to agree. They said in their release:

Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion.

You can listen to the interview and get details directly from the company.

Gore Verbinski Comments on the Cancellation of the film based on the graphic novel Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

Pyongyang-Journey-In-North-Korea-Gore-Verbinski-CoverAfter theaters, and Sony’s decision to cancel the release of The Interview, ripples flooded out throughout the movie community. One of the casualties is the cancellation of the film based on Guy DeLisle‘s Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea. The graphic novel chronicles DeLisle’s time spent in the country overseeing an animation project and featured his observations on the elusive country. It was Lost in Translation in the DPRK. I loved the graphic novel, as much for its humor as its insight into a country most of us know little about.

A movie was being worked on based on the graphic novel. It was to star Steve Carell and be directed by Gore Verbinski. The film has been scrapped and Verbinski has put out a statement:

Re: Pyongyang

Getting the facts straight:
Yesterday, I was told by New Regency and Fox that Fox will no longer be distributing the film. Prior to that, the film was green lit and fully funded by New Regency with Fox distributing. I have been told in no uncertain words that based on the situation at Sony, Fox has now decided to not distribute the film. Without a distributor, New Regency was forced to shut the film down.

My thoughts:

I find it ironic that fear is eliminating the possibility to tell stories that depict our ability to overcome fear.

Gore Verbinski

Theaters, Sony, and Paramount Cave to Terrorists and Cyberbullies & Why that’s Bad

interview_xlgIn what can only be described as stupidity and cowardice, national theater chains including AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Cineplex, and eventually Sony Pictures Entertainment have pulled the December 25th release of The Interview. For those who might not know, The Interview is a film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco that has them traveling to North Korea to interview Kim Jong Un, and are tasked to kill the leader. The country didn’t take the comedy too lightly, and instead North Korea (likely, it’s hard to verify) waged a cyber-war against Sony in retaliation.

That cyber attack proved an embarrassment for the American subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate. Sensitive documents were released, and have been fodder for sites over the past week. That coverage of leaked documents, and the subsequent reaction (which we’ll get to), played right into the hackers hands. Really, the hack showed the continued ineptness of Sony to protect itself in a digital age. They’ve had numerous hacks, dozens of times, that have exposed user accounts, and more.

In the end, the hackers threatened a physical attacked reminiscent of 9/11 if The Interview wasn’t pulled from release. This led to major theaters to cancel the release of the movie. Those theaters account for 18,000 screens of the roughly 40,000 screens in North America. Other theaters stood strong and would have still released the film. Sony eventually completely caved, and as of this post they were unsure if they’ll ever release the film, even on demand (I’d expect a torrent any day now).

The hacks, and even threat, are an example of cyberbullying taken to extreme, and by caving to demands, that bullying has shown to work. It’s akin to attacks on female creators (which include physical and death threats) in the video game industry, and have gotten some women to quit the industry. Its happened to comic creators and critics by those who disagree with what they have to say. It continues because it’s perceived to work.

What the pulling of the film does is encourage more of the behavior in the future, especially from the North Korean regime. The country has been building a cyber force that supposedly comprises 1,800 individuals. The cancellation of the film by theaters wasn’t likely out of safety concerns for movie goers (North Korea doesn’t likely have the ability to act on their physical threats), it’s more likely theaters are looking out for their own necks, and fear a cyberattack on their own systems, and what would come to light if it happened and documents were released. Documents that have been released showed Sony (and other film companies) conspiring against Google, and really consumers, in the battle over piracy. A battle ironically where Sony, the MPAA, RIAA, and other content producers use similar bullying tactics as were just used against Sony. They’ve also bad mouthed their own films, actors, and the direction of the subsidiary. Imagine what would be revealed about movie theater chains if a similar event would occur?

2014-12-18_1602The caving to the threats, and the embarrassment, have already had a chilling effect.

A planned adaptation of Guy DeLisle‘s Pyongyang by New Regency has been pulled. That film was to star Steve Carrell and be directed by Gore Verbinski with a script by Steve Conrad. The film has been described as a “paranoid thriller,” which has me a bit worried about what it might have been, when in reality DeLisle’s story is more like Lost in Translation. Luckily you can still purchase the brilliant graphic novel. What’s to say a threat and attack isn’t in Amazon’s future to stop the sale of the book though?

Paramount has barred theaters from showing Team America in protest of the cancellation of The Interview.

12 people were killed and more shot, plus numerous other incidences, during the opening week of The Dark Knight Rises, that film was kept in theaters. The Warriors opened in 1979, and lead to vandalism and killings, and only had security added to theaters, and continued to show.

Cyber threats which couldn’t be corroborated, and experts have dismissed the capabilities, are more than enough to stop this film, and more. Where actual physical proof of probable violence existed, a film wasn’t pulled. Think this is about our “safety” or that of protecting the theaters’ digital secrets?

In the coming weeks, and months, this most likely will increase the call for needed cyber legislation, most of which will be draconian, hurt civil liberties, and punish the consumer. Legislation like CISPA, SOPA, or PIPA, will be rammed through like undead zombies infecting and destroying the world before we notice and it’s too late. The attacks also have done more to promote a film which likely have done just ok in a theater (and built up a buzz that it’d be crazy to not release it digitally and capitalize on the hoopla).

This isn’t the first time a hack has led to company secrets being stolen. This isn’t the first time intellectual property has been stolen. The difference here is, that demands were met, and corporations caved to threats. They’ve shown this sort of bullying works, is easy, and effective. It encourages it to be done in the future, creating a chilling censoring effect.

This isn’t the first time issues over a movie and North Korea have come up. In 2002, Bond film Die Another Day depicted a North Korean villain which resulted in the country going on a PR offensive (instead of a cyber one). With these latest threats, the country moves closer to being a real life Bond villain.

Similar issues arose in 2004 of Team America: World Police, and in 2012 and 2013 things changed up a bit with the release of Red Dawn and Olympus Has Fallen. Both of those films featured North Korean terrorists. Those two films, the country used footage for their own propaganda to show off their military prowess.

It’s all ironic since former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was an avid fan of the James Bond franchise (and movies in general). Jong Il was so obsessed with films he kidnapped Japanese and South Korean actors and directors to star in movies he some times wrote himself.



The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies Infographic

With The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies coming out in theaters this week, Shirts.com has put together this infographic looking at the various armies involved. The info is based off of the book, so the movie could vary a bit. Also, for those who haven’t read the books or seen the movies, this is a bit spoilery…..

Big Hero 6 Drops to Fifth, Inches to $200 million

big hero 6This past weekend Big Hero 6 came in fifth place, adding an additional $6.145 million to its total. The film is getting closer to $200 million and so far has earned $185.3 million domestically.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier dropped to third place over this past week as far as domestic gross. It was passed by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 which is about $60 million away from passing Guardians of the Galaxy.

Here’s where everyone stands currently when it comes to “comic” movies in 2014.

Domestic Gross

1. Guardians of the Galaxy – $332.3 million
3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $259.8 million
5. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $245.4 million
7. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $233.9 million
8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – $208.5 million
9. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $202.9 million
10. Godzilla – $200.7 million
12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – $191.2 million
13. Big Hero 6 – $185.3 million
23. Mr. Peabody & Sherman $111.5 million
24. 300: Rise of An Empire – $106.6 million
28. Edge of Tomorrow – $100.2 million
38. Hercules – $72.7 million
48. Robocop – $58.6 million
111. Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – $13.8 million
131. Snowpiercer – $4.6 million
299. We Are the Best! – $180,590

Worldwide Gross

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $1,087.4 billion
2. Guardians of the Galaxy– $771.9 million
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $746 million
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $714.1 million
6. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $709 million
7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – $708.3 million
11. Godzilla – $525 million
13. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – $477.2 million
16. Edge of Tomorrow – $369.2 million
21. 300: Rise of An Empire – $331.1 million
24. Mr. Peabody & Sherman – $272.9 million
26. Big Hero 6 – $253.5 million
28. Hercules – $243.4 million
29. Robocop – $242.7 million
62. Snowpiercer – $86.8 million
99. Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – $39.4 million
277. We Are the Best! – $181,000

Movie Review: Wolf Children

19fzrgtjpt7tcjpgDo you like stories that will make you cry? Well this full length feature anime film may just be for you! It isn’t often that we praise an anime film that isn’t a Miyazaki work, but hey the times called for a movie about growing up as a wolf and a human. Okami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children) was released in 2012 by director Mamoru Hosoda. From Studio Chizu and Madhouse we were given a touching tale about a human woman and her attempt to raise her werewolf children.

The plot is pretty simple in the exact way that it is a mother, Hana, raising her werewolf children alone after the untimely death of her werewolf lover, duly named Okami or the Wolf-man. She struggles of course with the problems of where she should go if she’s having problems, how to hide the fact that her children are werewolves, and how it affects the way Ame and Yuki grow up.  She moves out of the city because of this and into the country-side where she is able to raise them in private and live a peaceful life. With these choices come both problems where the children have to choose if they want to be human or if they want to be wolves and how that changes their own perceptions of themselves.

Hana is the mother of the two children who struggles to raise her two children alone, while also sustaining a life for them via gardening, and how she deals with these problems. Intrigued by Okami from the moment he sat down in the same classroom as her, she made it her mission to find out both who he was and how she could become closer to him. Because of this she found out that he was what he assumed to be the last werewolf and was afraid of hurting her in any way because of what he was, but she still loves him despite those things. She is constantly a support for her children but also wishes to keep the reality of them a secret from the world out of fear of what would happen if anyone found out. Hana always tries to do best by her children but ultimately also stunts them from making choices of their own because of this.

Yuki is the eldest of Hana’s children and is a complicated young girl wolf. From the get go she is very pushy and bratty with her family, wanting to get out of the world she is locked away from, but she also realizes why her mother is keeping her hidden. The older she became the more she was faced with the choice of what it meant to be a normal girl and if she wanted to part of that world she had to choose between the wolf and the human inside of her. In school she is popular but also in constant fear of changing in front of her classmates by accident.

Ame is the youngest of Hana’s children and appears less complicated but then becomes the opposite of what he was set up to be. Easily startled and sick he was always babied by Hana and sought to stay in the human world as he hated how the other animals treated him and each other. However the older he got the more he became disillusioned and disgusted by humanity, and began to leave for the words more and more than his sister ever did. He no longer hides how he feels about people and never lets his sister shout him down.

Souhei is Yuki’s classmate and driving force in her need to become more human. Right off the bat he realizes something is off about her and constantly tries to talk with her or try and be friends with her. This however frightens Yuki, because he could easily find out her family’s secret because of his intuitions. Still he makes a friendship with her despite the hardships in the beginning between them.

Okami is the wolf man that Hana falls in love with, who he initially tells to leave him alone, but later also falls for. He fears what he could do to her, having chosen to live not only as a human but also as a wolf, which he tells her is why he was always pushing her back. Still with her acceptance of him he is able to grow and love her as well as have a family with her. Unfortunately he is sort of killed off early on in the movie to further progress Hana’s story, but hey it’s all for the sake of plot!

So animation wise this film is brilliant. It was developed to have the lightest of tones when it was just right. If you don’t want to watch this movie I implore you that there is one scene you have to watch, and it is the snow scene. The way the wolf children and their mother run through the snow and jump in piles is so beautiful and is only made better by the soundtrack. Also the characters could be more individualized but they weren’t terrible to the pint of disliking the movie, there are very clear ways of how to figure out which character is which. And that how subtle and beautiful this is because it doesn’t rely on the design of a character, they want you to know the character because of the story and what they’re going through. The animation of the wolves was also well done, not in the same sense as Wolf’s Rain, but in its own lighter style that was soothing comparatively to the big subjects it was dealing with. We also were given a beautiful array of nature that seem right out of a painting to give you that raw and artistic feel that is the forest or the countryside. If I could rate this film on just the animation style it would get a ten and I would have no regrets.

The music is literally on the same level as the animation style. The soundtrack was done by musician and filmmaker Tagaki Masakatsu, who brilliantly does his job. Each piece of music fits exactly where it needs to be, once again if there is one song to really take away from this film it is the piece played during the snow scene, which is so graceful and has the same excitement in it that the characters do for the snow. The other to take away is the song Okaa-san no Uta (Mother’s Song), which is literally Hana speaking to her children at the end of the movie and how no matter what she hopes she has done right by them and taught them to be strong. It the single most beautiful sense you can feel the love in that song and how it really is what this move is about, the love of the mother for her children. If a single song of the soundtrack can do that then you know that it is doing its job right. I would wholeheartedly say that you could just listen to this soundtrack and just relax and feel peace and calm with it. Light and lovely like it’s animation I wish I could rate this just on these two things.

Alright in terms of sub or dub I can’t really say much considering I have only seen the Funimation dub, which I thought was really well done. While some could argue that you could give or take certain voice actors I personally saw that the good outweighs the bad. We have veterans of the business like Colleen Clinkenbeard as Hana, which immediately should tell you that it is going to be a good piece of dub. While I suppose the children actors could be better they also could have been far worse, not everyone is going to have the same opportunity the Fullmetal Alchemist did. Still the dub could have been better but it also could have been a lot worse from what I’ve seen.

Now just to wrap up with the ideal amount on the buildup in story. It never feels rushed, instead it flows very beautifully in a way that shows growing up. It’s spaced out in a way that I always could feel like careful care and attention was taken into account. While I wish there had been more time take on Ame’s story and how he grew into the choices he then made I also didn’t feel like it took too much away either. I have no real complaints about this film really, I felt everything was done in the way that the writer intended, and it was beautifully done.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Big Hero 6 Nabs a Golden Globe Nomination

big hero 6The nominations for the 72nd Golden Globe Awards were announced today. And while The Walking Dead was again robbed and overlooked by the Hollywood Foreign Press, and most comic movies not even on the radar to begin with, it was nice to see at least one comic related film get some love.

Big Hero 6 made the list, as it was nominated for “Best animated feature film.” It will go up against The Book of Life, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and The Lego Movie.

Big Hero 6 was based on a comic from Marvel, though the film deviated significantly from the source material. It did have numerous winks and nods though to its roots.

Congrats to all the nominees!

Out of the films mentioned above, who do you think will win? Who do you want to win? Sound off in the comments below!

Around the Tubes

It was new comic day yesterday! What did everyone get?

Around the Tubes

iO9 – 10 Classic Dr. Strange Storylines That Would Be Perfect For Cumberbatch – Some good choices.

Robot 6 – ‘Batkid Begins’ documentary to premiere at Slamdance – Cool!


Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – Afterlife With Archie #7

Comic Vine – The Amazing Spider-Man #11

Comic Vine – Avengers #39

Comic Vine – AXIS: Carnage #3

Talking Comics – Batgirl #37

Comic Vine – Batgirl #37

Talking Comics – Bitch Planet #1

Comic Vine – Bitch Planet #1

Comic Vine – Deep State #2

Comic Vine – Green Lantern Corps #37

The Elkhart Truth – The Love Bunglers

Comic Vine – Punks the Comic #3

CBR – Savage Dragon #200

Comic Vine – Spider-Verse Team Up #2

Comic Vine – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #41

Comic Vine – Thor #3

Comic Vine – Uncanny X-Men Annual #1

Talking Comics – The Valiant #1

Comic Vine – The Valiant #1

Guardians of the Galaxy Up for a Grammy

awesome mixMarvel‘s Guardians of the Galaxy is currently the domestic box office champ of 2014, and while it probably won’t see an Oscar (maybe for make-up or special effects), it is up for a Grammy. The movie sported the best soundtrack of the year, and the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 has been nominated for “Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media.”

For those that have seen the movie, you know how important the soundtrack plays into the story, setting the mood, but also some of the plot.

The soundtrack has been certified Gold, selling over 500,000 copies and has at times been in the number one spot on both the Billboard and iTunes charts.

The 57th Annual Grammy Awards Sunday airs February 8, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS.

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