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CrowdFUNding: Jamie Tiernay’s Kenny vs. Spenny: On The Road

March 12, 2014 1 comment

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By: Addison Wylie

It’s no competition that Kenny vs. Spenny – whether you like it or not – has become a staple in Canadian pop culture.

Kenny Hotz and Spencer Rice’s reality television show featured the buddies going toe-to-toe with each other in various matches such as Who Can Win a Ten Mile Race and Who Can Stay in a Haunted House the Longest.  However, as the competitions became increasingly irreverent and Hotz’s strategies more torturous to his mensch sidekick, the pair’s cult following grew as stakes got riskier with episodes such as Who Can Drink More Beer and Who Can Get Further With The Other Guy’s Mom.  It was a classic case of Schadenfreude.

The show’s been off the air for over three years, and the men have spun off to do their own side projects;  leaving Kenny vs. Spenny to settle.

The high demand of a comeback may be what started the inception of an on-the-road reunion.  Hotz and Rice are teaming up to hit various parts of Canada and hold Q&As, screen segments from the show, and hand out autographs.

Jamie Tiernay, who worked on Kenny vs. Spenny as a crew member on Kenny’s side of the show, has started a Kickstarter campaign to accumulate funds to make a documentary about the tour.

Learn more below:

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The Kenny vs. Spenny On The Road Tour Documentary Kickstarter Campaign is about documenting these two cult legends on their KVS tour across Canada.

Having worked with Kenny and Spenny for over 10 years I’ve convinced them to give me unrestricted access to the tour, themselves and the final cut!  I’m going to be poking, prodding, manipulating and uncovering shit you couldn’t even imagine in your wildest wet KVS dreams.  A road trip tour friendship extravaganza with dick jokes, fart jokes, drunken nights, insane fans, hot fans, dumb fans and shit that’ll make you pee your pants. 

With this $46,000 campaign goal we’ll be able to shoot the whole west coast tour, edit and deliver a pretty kick ass film BUT there’s more tour locations and dates to come this year.  So if we PASS OUR GOAL it’ll let us shoot more tours, more insanity and give more editing time to make this the most insane Kenny vs. Spenny documentary film ever!  

Visit Jamie Tiernay’s Kickstarter page for more details.

My Two Cents:

Tiernay’s documentary sounds and looks promising, but $46,000 sounds like an inflated random number.  However, I trust Tiernay, who obviously has the best intentions for his film and clearly knows how to handle these types of projects.  After all, equipment rentals, transportation, and accommodations do add up rather quickly.

I hope the doc doesn’t take on usual road movie and concert film tropes these projects tend to helplessly accept (see: Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days & 30 Nights – Hollywood to the Heartland and any live event featuring a member of the Jackass crew).  Tiernay’s brief video preview featured enough farting around to make me weary.

But, Tiernay also appears to be focused on the love/hate friendship between Hotz and Rice.  As a possible investor, this is a hopeful opportunity that could potentially propel the film in a surprising direction.  This could shed more of a natural light onto these two performers.

I wish Jamie Tiernay luck with his upcoming film.  It should, at the very least, act as that proper fix for Kenny vs. Spenny diehards.

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All italicized statements regarding Kenny vs. Spenny: On The Road are provided from their respected crowdfunding sources.  Wylie Writes is not responsible for funds attached to these productions and we do not hold any accountability.

This project is that of the filmmaker’s.  Use your own discretion.

Ride Along

March 11, 2014 Leave a comment

By: Addison WylieRideAlongposter

Here’s the thing.  I’m not mad at Ride Along.  I’m not even frustrated with Tim Story’s buddy cop comedy.  I’m not miffed, put off, or even slightly perturbed with it.  I’m just kind of numb.  Barely laughing in a comedy will do that to a person.

I’m writing this review moments after watching the thing because I’m worried I’ll start forgetting portions of it.  This vehicle for Ice Cube and Kevin Hart is slowly dissipating from my head and into thin air.

Ride Along is harmless, but it also doesn’t meet its comedic mission statement.

Story’s film came close to making me heartily chuckle.  I mildly snickered before the jokes were needlessly stretched by Hart’s incessant motor mouth and Cube’s raised brow.

Hart didn’t amaze me with his stand-up comedy in last year’s Let Me Explain (which Story co-directed), but I think he’s a performer who works better with another person on screen.  He appears to be more self-assured with his deliveries when paired with someone to bounce zingers on and off of – nothing wrong with that at all. He just needs stronger material.

My light giggles happened when Hart’s do-gooder character, James, was thrown into a situation where he’s left to flounder.  Like Hart has shown in his stage routine though, he doesn’t know when to stick his landing and wrap up the tomfoolery.  Story, who’s supposed to know this comedic timing even more, lets Hart ramble until the script calls for an interruption.

Cube usually knows how to play a good straight man, and he continues to prove this in Ride Along.  In the film, he plays a protective older brother to James’ girlfriend and is willing to test James to see if he’s “man” enough to be welcomed to the family.  Cube, who has shown recently that he loves playing these amusing intimidators, is able to hold his own next to Hart’s frantic personality, and he’s able to competently keep the scene on target despite Hart swinging on tangents.

What cripples Ride Along is its formulaic script and Tim Story’s uncaring attitude.  Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, and Matt Manfredi (that’s right, four writers!) provide the skimpy set-ups and then rely on their leads to jumpstart the comedy that’s supposed to ensue.  This system may please those who are attending Ride Along to see Hart “have at it”, but the situations don’t provide a heck of a lot of groundwork for these charismatic actors to spring off of.

Cube, who is also attached as one of the film’s producers, looks as if he’s always waiting for more in a scene.  As a producer, you would think he’d take this opportunity to bring the writers and Story aside to figure out ways to punch up the material.

Story doesn’t exactly have a great directorial track record when it comes to action flicks (Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Taxi).  With Ride Along, Story doesn’t add any originality to shoot-outs or car chases, and he doesn’t elevate the quality above any miscellaneous early-2000’s action/comedy starring Martin Lawrence.

There’s not a whole lot going for Ride Along in the realm of booming action or side-splitting comedy.  All it has are two leading men trying to do everything they can to make this fluff into something noteworthy.  But, when the lifeless odds are stacked as conventionally as they are against Hart and Cube, I’m surprised the actors didn’t surrender altogether.

Bettie Page Reveals All

By: Addison WylieBPRAposter

I appreciate Academy Award nominee Mark Mori wanting to “reveal all” about pinup model Bettie Page with his new doc literally titled Bettie Page Reveals All, but I feel as if he may have gone too far right out of the gate.

The documentary gives viewers a confidential look into Page’s life whilst using vintage privy interview answers from the model herself to string along narration.

The documentary’s structure could – and sometimes does – work wonders for Mori to bring truth to his work, and to rightfully respect Page’s life and image.  My problem with his execution is his underdeveloped knowledge of how to work this filmmaking angle.

Bettie Page Reveals All begins with lots of famous faces singing praise for Page’s “naughty but nice” influence on pop culture.  Burlesque performers and fashionistas join in as well.  This is a good enough start.  These scenes are here to foreshadow how subversive Page’s playfully sexual work will become.

These clips are then followed by cutaways from Page’s funeral service, where we see close friends and family in mourning.  These scenes are only here to establish that the film’s iconic subject has passed on.  Wasn’t there an alternate way to depict this that didn’t feel so…nosy?

Already, Mori oversteps as a documentarian.  I can’t speak for everyone but personally, these segments made me feel as if I was intruding on something very personal.  I know Mori has to live up to his title’s name, but private functions like these should be off limits.  It’s an unwritten rule.

The next few scenes give movie goers an unsheltered look at Bettie Page’s life before the fame.  Hearing a deceased Page describe the abuse she was put through as a child and through her budding life in New York is supremely tough to listen to.  The audio track Mori is sampling from also sounds as if it’s eroding, which makes us have to lean in and listen more carefully to Page’s unsettling recapping.

As someone who knew very little about Bettie Page’s life and career before entering Bettie Page Reveals All, Mark Mori actually does a decent job informing.  The condition of the audio gradually cleans itself up, making Page’s narration easily attainable.  The journey is straightforward and memorable, and that feeling of being an intruder is shown the door.

What doesn’t measure up is how technically inadequate the actual doc is when placed beside its subject’s vital life.  It hurts the film’s credibility.

Mori has obviously been inspired by 2002’s film adaption of Robert Evans autobiography The Kid Stays in the Picture.  He takes pictures from Page’s past, and animates them to her speech.  However, The Kid Stays in the Picture found an ebb and flow with Evans’ readings.  Mori’s doc, on the other hand, feels too much like a slideshow – a cheap one, at that.

The doc doesn’t have the appearance of a movie that’s been thoughtlessly slapped together, but the condition of Bettie Page Reveals All is in critical shape.  Different uses of footage ranging from degraded footage to cartoons don’t find an even balance with the material, and a fair amount of images don’t play well when blown up.  Graphics and subtitles look flat and unappealing as well.  This is an example of a slipshod doc that desperately needed more post-production polishing.

But, just like Mori’s boundary misstepping, the doc eventually fixes itself and turns in some strong work.  Unfortunately, the quality control shapes up just as the film is winding down.

The filmmaker’s wisest decisions are with the inclusion of outsiders lending their perspectives on Page’s sexual significance.  Most of these opinions pop up during the latter part of the film, which breaks up the doldrums and adds a refreshing change of pace to the documentary.

There’s no denying that with more time, Bettie Page Reveals All wouldn’t have looked and felt so shabby.  Luckily, there’s enough content in the doc to avoid it being a write-off altogether.  But, how much technical clumsiness will audiences endure in order to get to the centre of this craggy Tootsie Pop?

Alan Partridge

By: Addison WylieAPposter

North Americans have Will Ferrel’s Ron Burgundy, an on-camera anchorman who’s self-centred arrogance has him chewing down on his own foot often.  In Europe, the Brits have Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge.  Partridge is an egotistical radio personality obsessed with a celebrity image and a winning smile.

Where Burgundy can read on screen as a pompous jerk with a heart of gold steeped in spoof misogyny, Partridge is more endearing.  He always finds a way to slip into the spotlight, and try to have others sympathize with him or view him as an inspirational icon.  However, he’s just as easily flustered and frustrated when he isn’t included.

Steve Coogan’s amusing character takes a step away from real life airwaves and his UK Television show I’m Alan Partridge to star in his first leading vehicle self-entitled Alan Partridge.  The film is better known as Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa across the pond, but it’s a title that may have had others scratching their head over its otherwise silly meaning.

That adjustment is what’s going to make Alan Partridge’s overseas success interesting to observe.  I think it helps outsiders taking a chance on the film to know a little bit about Partridge before paying for a ticket.  His fumbled muttering, and his self-absorbed attitude may have the general North American movie going public growing irritated.  However, if they have that initial information or can quickly jive with the lead doofus, they may have themselves as good a time as us fans.

Personally, I found Alan Partridge to be a good comedy that met the goals it set out to achieve.  Director Declan Lowney manages to do what most SNL flicks have difficulty doing – taking a sketch character and having him carry a film all the way until the end.  It also helps that Coogan is still playing the cocky host splendidly.

Alan Partridge plays out as a movie Mike Myers would’ve jumped at the chance to star in.  I wouldn’t call Lowney’s film a laugh-out-loud riot as Myers’ past comedies have been (pre-Love Guru, mind you), but there’s a consistent flow of titters and chuckles that will have you pleased with most of the material.  Although, a scene featuring Alan getting caught with his trousers down will definitely shock you into hysterics.

The story of a disgruntled, newly fired radio personality taking the station and its employees hostage doesn’t feel rote, as does the decision to make Coogan the hero despite the role’s narcissism.  Partridge, being the unctuous goofball he is, manages to find fame in dire circumstances.  He completely understands the danger of the takeover, but is strangely complimented when he’s chosen as a messenger for the police and a co-host for a radio show during the malicious siege.

Lowney’s modest comedy will satisfy the Alan Partridge fan base as well as fans of Coogan’s dry wit.  The main question, however, still stands: how the hell is this going to perform outside the UK?

I won’t be surprised if Alan Partridge doesn’t drum up new anticipation during its North American theatrical release, but I won’t be disappointed if this type of movie finds cult life on VOD.

The Suspect

By: Addison WylieTheSuspectPoster

You can’t say The Suspect was mismarketed.  All that spectacular stunt work that’s flashed in the film’s trailer is there, and it’s still enthralling in context.  What the trailer doesn’t capture is how overblown Won Shin-yun’s film is.  Maybe that’s for the better since the lethargic narrative is a major turnoff.

First, the film’s key strength: Shin-yun knows how to map out an action sequence.  There are more than enough car chases and crashes in The Suspect to get anyone’s adrenaline pumping.  The pursuits are no where near as compelling as the ones movie goers will see soon in Need for Speed, but the chases in The Suspect wet our whistle well.  Same goes for the hand-to-hand combat and the gunplay.

My only suggestion for Shin-yun is he shouldn’t feel the need to present his work as anymore generic as clichéd American action fests in order to capture some sort of recognizable excitement.  The camera work in The Suspect is either too closed in, shaking around like crazy, or both – which causes some of the fine choreography to be lost in translation.  The sloppily choppy editing is also to blame.

There are way too many add-ons set on driving up the film’s intensity.  Shin-yun is trying too hard to convince the audience what they’re watching is impressive and energetic.  That said, Shin-yun could possibly be shovelling on more of these contrivances to cover up how dull Im Sang-hoon’s revengeful script plays on screen.

Sang-hoon has a very hard time adding onto his characters or the nature of getting even.  Instead of building off of his own material, he plunks a lot of “stuff” on top of unfolding events and the emotional characters – none of which are interesting or thrillingly intriguing.  He attempts to add twists and new motives, but inverts his characters in a way that make each person on screen become more complicated than they need to be.

The Suspect lacks confidence.  The film has the appearance of a movie that knows how baggy it’s getting, and is constantly vying to win back its audience while trying to make ends meet with its own story.

The Suspect does have the look and feel of a smart thriller.  As I often drifted into a dazed state, I found myself wondering what a Bourne endeavour would look like through Won Shin-yun’s filmmaking vision.  In time, I think he’ll follow the same steps as Fast and the Furious filmmaker Justin Lin and grow to have what it takes to direct a franchise.

Unfortunately with The Suspect, Shin-yun finds himself spinning a number of plates. It’s neither enjoyable for him nor his spirited audience.

Solo

March 1, 2014 1 comment

By: Addison Wyliesoloposter

Solo starts out on an “A” game, but ends up finishing with a generous “C” grade.

Isaac Cravit’s independent thriller is a straight-up campfire story – and, the filmmaker knows it.  Gillian (played by former Degrassi: The Next Generation co-star Annie Clark) needs to prove herself to be a capable camp counsellor in order to obtain a summer job.  The newbie needs to pull a “solo”, a two-night experience on a secluded island that will test her survival skills.

Cravit, directing and writing his first feature film, is having a lot of fun playing with the conventions of a campfire horror.  The filmmaker even has fellow councillors telling Gillian rumours of haunted activity that took place on the island before she embarks on her trip.

These moments don’t feel like Cravit is pushing too hard for the audience to recognize what the film is trying to be and he sticks his landing well with these scenes of eerie dialogue.

When Gillian arrives at the island and is forced to investigate mysteries in the woods at night, Cravit nails the creepiness.  As the camera slowly moves around a freaked out Clark, we can’t help but get sweaty palms as we feel ourselves growing more anxious.  What’s better is that there aren’t too many of these moments, making these quiet pressure cookers enunciate strongly when they happen.

Cravit is also having a ball throwing red herrings at his audience, including possible antagonists that may have more to do with the island’s history than we realize.

Solo reveals more, including what’s overlooking Gillian.  The routes the film travels on is all a matter of subjectivity.  I watched Solo with my wife, who enjoyed where Cravit took his scary movie.  I, on the other hand, thought these decisions made the film less effectively stimulating and increasingly mundane.

Without spoiling the main course, Cravit’s screenplay makes the right choice to make delirium the main evil in Solo.  The problem is – for me, at least – he chooses the wrong type of crazy.  Solo would’ve been better off as something more psychological than being so literal.

Solo is typical enough to get by.  Some gory effects towards the end are appreciated and certainly help matters tonal wise.  But, part of the joy of watching these smaller scale horrors/thrillers is finding steady specialties that make movie goers gush to others about the film – resulting in consecutive views.  I just didn’t get that with Solo.

Pompeii

February 21, 2014 Leave a comment

By: Addison WyliePompeiiPoster

By definition, Paul W.S. Anderson is a filmmaker.  In my eyes, he’s not a very good filmmaker, but he’s been able to create brainless successes.

His latest blunder Pompeii is by definition “mindless entertainment”.  The film follows similar conventions that were used in his Resident Evil adaptations, and he crosses his fingers hoping people will eat it up all the same.

It’s expected people will walk out of Pompeii passively shrugging off the film as “dumb, but passable fare”, and be perfectly indifferent with it.  For some reason, knowing that something is going to be “dumb, but passable fare” before going into the movie allows Anderson to do just that and not let down movie goers with those low expectations.  It’s how he was able to get away scot-free with most of his action flicks, and why people consider his work “critic proof”.

As I stated in my steaming review of Resident Evil: Retribution, audiences deserve better – even if it is just surface-level escapism.  Pompeii is another example of this filmmaker shafting movie goers in every single way, along with an added PG-13 rating restraining Anderson from showing any over-the-top violence.

The movie takes place in 79 A.D. preceding a monumental catastrophe.  It’s to no surprise that Anderson’s drowsy directing leads to borrowing beats from more enthralling epics such as Gladiator, Titanic, and miscellaneous disaster movies.  It never feels original because of these blatant rip-offs of other popular films.  Even so, Anderson can never sell us on his second-hand saga because of how little effort everyone involved has put forth.

Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington takes the role of the film’s brawny protagonist, Milo.  He fills out the part physically, but hasn’t done any further work to make this character into anything more than a cardboard standee.  This is merely a starring role to test the cinematic waters of whether Harington convinces audiences nationwide that he’s a tough guy on a bigger screen.  He may look the part, but with due time, he’ll realize sombre gazes and rippling abs don’t necessarily help develop a character.

The rest of the cast follows along similarly.  They’ve been cast based on looks alone.  The film’s logic behind its casting is that if you can look attractive while touting a wiry beard or filthy volcanic schmutz on your face, you can be a movie star.

The rest of Pompeii’s production is comparably unsubtle and shoddy.  Whether it’s caking make-up onto an increasingly scantily clad Emily Browning as Milo’s love interest, or showing Keifer Sutherland’s credit as he enters the scene articulating a ridiculous accent with overacting theatrics.  We’re constantly reminded that this is one big, loud, clumsy movie.

For a film carrying historical content, I at least expected Anderson to impress me with period detail.  It appears everyone is costumed in proper garb, but Anderson flatly shot his film as if he’s wanting to emphasize that everything’s been shot indoors on a sound stage.  There’s no movie magic here.  Just a bunch of clanging effects mounted on top of artificial acting.

It goes to show paying audiences that no one behind Pompeii cared to make a convincing product.  The general attitude was apathetic and as static as those inevitable post-screening shrugs.

It’s as if before a day of shooting, Anderson grouped the cast and crew together for a powerpoint rundown of “how to make a by-the-numbers money maker”.  It’s a list of steps dancing around the fact that the end product will also be defunct of any legitimacy amongst the reactions on screen and in the audience.  But, the filmmaker would remind his team that everyone would collect a hefty paycheque once the turkey was in the can – this would cause a cheerful uproar.

The steps on Anderson’s play-by-play include pausing the film to spill countless pages of spoken exposition, drawn out buddying between Milo and his oppressive cell mate Atticus (played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and silly romance with forced chemistry in tow between Browning and Harington.  Plus, you can’t forget those choppy fight sequences that have been hacked to death by autopiloted editors, and their collection of odd pandering zooms to highlight intensity.

Of course, if you’re going to make a big blockbuster involving lots of flying debris from a natural disaster, it has to be in 3D.  If Pompeii’s 3D is what counts as today’s standard for the groundbreaking technology, I’m in the wrong business.  Apparently, in the case of Pompeii, all you have to do is make a few ashes float towards the viewer and have credits punch out.  With an entire two thirds dedicated to droning dialogue in darkly lit settings, it’s the laziest and most unnecessary use of the technology since Thor.

Pompeii is the junk food everyone knows is loaded with carbs and sugar, but they give in because they’re jonesing for the occasional juicy treat.  Trust me, there are better ways for those movie goers to indulge in mindless entertainment.  If they’re patient, they can hold out for that movie that understands the trick to trashy thrills.  Eager audiences shouldn’t feel the need to count on Paul W.S. Anderson’s stale bargain bin tidbits to get their fill.