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Second Opinion: ‘DON’T BREATHE’

It dawned on me nearly immediately while watching Fede Alvarez‘s new horror film, Don’t Breathe, that from this point forward, whenever I hear associates bemoan the lack of good feminine roles in Hollywood, I’m holding up the horror genre as one of the few places in the system that actually nurtures and supports strong female leads. These hardworking actors, deemed, unfortunately, scream queens, make a tidy living in a film class thought more of as performance art than actual art. There are juicy roles available for any actress willing to dive into the grime and swim with the hatchet murderers and zombies.

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Gratuitous Trailer Breakdown: The Return of WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER and the Internet Age of Cult

It’s here! Fourteen years later, we finally return to Camp Firewood (unless you count the 50 or 60 times you’ve watched Wet Hot American Summer as “returning” – which I most certainly do.) In 2001, the parody of 1980s summer-camp-sploitation movies that no one asked for (and if they did they would have asked about twelve years earlier) debuted at Sundance to four sold out crowds and zero buyers. Eventually it was released in approximately  30 cities, made approximately zero money, and was pretty much ignored to death. But that is how legends are born (isn’t it?).

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A Century of Skin: Nudity’s Eruption into American Cinema

With Magic Mike XXL (our review here), America’s favorite male stripper sequel, hitting theaters on July 1st, we break down just how nudity has become so ingratiated with American cinematic norms. From the barely provocative titillation of the late 1800s (mmmm, ankles) to Channing Tatum wagging his shtick (sadly, not in 3D), we ask how we’ve come so far and wonder how hard the journey has been.

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Nudity has been a part of American cinema for over a century. When motion picture cameras were invented, they were immediately used to film people taking off their clothes. Many early films featuring male and female nudity have been completely lost. Early films with nudity were destroyed or censored. More often, like other films of this era, early films with nudity simply chemically disintegrated over time. Read More

SIFF 2015 Releases Line Up

This morning, the Seattle International Film Festival lifted the proverbial (and literal) curtain to unveil its impressive 2015 lineup. Arguably overstuffed to the point of popping, this year’s fest will feature an even 450 films including 193 feature length, 70 documentaries, 19 archival films, 164 short films and 4 secret films. Of those 450, 49 are world premieres (23 features and 26 shorts) while 51 are North American premieres (33 features, 18 shorts) and 18 are US premieres (7 features, 11 shorts). As is SIFF tradition, the films are relegated to 10 different (exclamation-filled) “Moods” including: Creative Streak, Face the Music, Love…,Make Me Laugh, Open My Eyes, Provoke Me!, Sci-Fi & Beyond, Show Me the World!, Thrill Me! and To the Extreme. So no matter what mood you’re in, there’s got to be at least one of the 450 that will tickle your fancy.

Of SIFF 2015’s impressive Gala selection, we over at Silver Screen Riot are well ahead of the curve, having already seen a bulk of SIFF’s centerpiece material. Paul Feig‘s Spy is set to open the fest on Thursday, May 14 in Seattle’s McCaw Hall and though we weren’t the biggest fan at its SXSW premiere, it’s very much crowd-pleasing comedy fare. More impressive is James Ponsoldt‘s The End of the Tour, which will play at the DAR Rainier Chapter House as SIFF’s Centerpiece Gala. Having seen 77 films this year to date, The End of the Tour is sitting at my top spot if that’s any indication of me feelings for the film. Closing out the festival is Patrick Brice‘s absolutely hysterical The Overnight which plays Sunday, June 7, the same day that the Golden Space Needle Awards are held.

Others that we’ve seen and would heartily recommend include the twisted Americana fairytale Lamb, Jason Schwartzman‘s other hysterical comedy 7 Chinese Brothers, Joshua Oppenheimer‘s Indonesian genocide doc follow-up The Look of Silence, Kodi Smit-McPhee/Michael Fassbender neo-western Slow West, Leslye Headland‘s surprisingly sweet shock-comedy Sleeping with Other People, NZ splatterhorror Deathgasm, 80s action figure throwback Turbo Kid, family road trip film Manson Family Vacation and Jemaine Clement as a semi-depressive comic book artist in People, Places, Things.

Of those that we’ve not yet seen but immediately caught our interest are: Norway’s Sundance (’14) little-seen but widely-loved Blind, Kevin Bacon-starring SXSW horror hit Cop Car, critically lauded Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys biopic Love and Mercy, Sundance breakout and audience/jury winning Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Room 237 director Rodney Ascher‘s follow-up doc The Nightmare, SXSW ’15 demons-in-the-woods horror flick The Hallow, Daft Punk-inspired 90s Parisian DJ drama Eden and “girl hunts down the pimp that broke her heart” dramedy Tangerine.

Be sure to check back often for SIFF15 updates and our thoughts on the films we see. For now, check out the entire lineup below with links to reviews we’ve written and asterisks on those of interest (growing list.)

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1001 Grams
2045 Carnival Folklore
31⁄2 Minutes
54: The Director’s Cut
7 Chinese Brothers
808
Accused
Alleluia
All Things Must Pass*
Alyam, Alyam
Angkor’s Children
The Apu Trilogy: Song of the Little Road The Apu Trilogy: The Unvanquished
The Apu Trilogy: The World of Apu
The Astrologer
Atlantic.
The Automatic Hate*
Banana
Beach Town
Beats of the Antonov
Before We Go
Behavior
Being Evel
Best of Enemies
Beti and Amare
Beyond Zero: 1914-1918
Big Father, Small Father and Other Stories The Birth of Saké
Black Girl
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution A Blast
Blind
Blue Blood
The Blue Hour
The Boda Boda Thieves
Bodyslam: Revenge of the Banana Bonifacio
The Boss, Anatomy of a Crime Boulevard
Breathe Umphefumlo
A Brilliant Young Mind
Cartel Land
Cartoonists: Foot Soldiers of Democracy Caught
The Cave of Silken Web
Cave of the Spider Women
Challat of Tunis
Charlie’s Country
Chatty Catties
Cherry Tobacco
The Chinese Mayor
Chuck Norris vs. Communism
Circle
City of Gold
Ciudad Delirio
The Coffin in the Mountain
Color of the Pomegranates
The Connection
Cooking Up a Tribute Cop Car
Corn Island
Corrections Class Cub
The Cut
The Dark Horse
The Dark Mirror
Dearest
Deathgasm
Décor
Diner
Do I Sound Gay?
Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten:
Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll Dreams Rewired
Dukhtar
Eden*
Eisenstein in Guanajuato
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films
Elephant Song
The End of the Tour
Excuse My French Experimenter
The Farewell Party
Fassbinder – To Love Without Demands A Few Cubic Meters of Love
Fiddlesticks
The Fire
Flowers
Footloose
The Forecaster
For Grace
Fourth Man Out
Frame by Frame
Free Fall
Front Cover
The Games Maker
Gazelles
Gemma Bovery
Gente de Bien
Gentle
Ghadi
The Glamour & The Squalor
Glassland
The Golden Era
The Golden Hill
Goodnight Mommy
Good Ol’ Boy
Graziella
The Great Alone
The Grump
Güeros
Guidance
H.*
Haemoo
The Hallow*
Handmade with Love in France Happy 40th
A Hard Day
Heaven Knows What
Hedi Schneider is Stuck
Henri Henri
The Hollow One
How To Win At Checkers (Every Time)
I Am Michael*
I Am the People
I Kissed A Girl
I’ll See You in My Dreams
Inside Out*
In the Grayscale
In Utero
The Invisible Boy
Itsi Bitsi
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
Key House Mirror
Kid Kulafu
The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor
King Georges
Krisha*
Kurmanjan Datka Queen of the Mountains
The Lamb
Lamb
License To Operate
Listen to Me Marlon
The Little Death
Little Forest – Summer / Autumn
Little Forest – Winter / Spring
Liza, The Fox-Fairy
The Look of Silence
Love Among the Ruins
Love At First Fight
Love & Mercy*
Love, Theft and Other Entanglements Magicarena
The Malagasy Way
Manglehorn
Manson Family Vacation
Mardan
Margarita, with a Straw
Marshland
A Matter of Interpretation
Maya the Bee Movie
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl*
Meeting Dr. Sun
Meet the Patels
Me Him Her
Messi
Mirage
Molly Moon
Morbayassa
Most Likely to Succeed
Mountain Spirits
Mr. Holmes*
Murder in Pacot
The Muses of Bashevis Singer
My Skinny Sister
Name Me
natural history
The New Girlfriend
The New Man
Next Time I’ll Aim For the Heart Next to Her
The Nightmare*
NN
Not All is Vigil
The Old Dark House
One Million Dubliners
Our Summer in Provence
Our Terrible Country
Out of Nature
Overheard 3
The Overnight
Paco de Lucía: A Journey
Paper Planes
Paper Tigers
Paradise in Service
Paris of the North
Partners in Crime
The Passion of Augustine
People, Places, Things
Personal Gold: An Underdog Story Phoenix
Pilchuck, A Dance with Fire Pioneer Heroes
The Price of Fame
The Primary Instinct
Que Viva Mexico
Racing Extinction
Rebel Without a Cause*
Red Rose
The Red Shoes
Results
Revivre
A Rising Tide
Romeo is Bleeding
The Royal Road
Run
The Russian Woodpecker
The Sacred Arrow
Satellite Girl and Milk Cow
Saved From the Flames – A Trip to the Moon and Other Trips
Through Time and Space A Second Chance
The Second Mother
Senza Nessuna Pietá
Seoul Searching
Sergio Herman, F**KING PERFECT Set Fire to the Stars
Shaun the Sheep*
Sherlock Holmes
Sherry & The Mystery of Palo Cortado
Short Skin
Shrew’s Nest
Sleeping with Other People
Slow West

Snow on the Blades
The Son of the Sheik
Spanish Affair
Spy
Steak (R)evolution
Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine*
Strangerland
Sugarcane Shadows
The Summer of Sangaile
Sunshine Superman
Sworn Virgin
Tab Hunter Confidential
Tangerine*
The Teacher’s Diary
Tea Time
Temporary Family
That Sugar Film
Theeb
These Are the Rules
Those People
Three Windows and a Hanging
Tig
Time Out of Mind
The Tournament
Trudell
Turbo Kid
Uncertain
Uncle Kent 2
Under Construction
Unexpected*
The Valley
Valley of the Sasquatch Venice
Very Semi-Serious
The Village
Villa Touma
Vincent
Virgin Mountain Virtuosity
War of Lies
Waterline
West of Redemption
Wet Bum
When Animals Dream
When Marnie Was There
Where I Am King
The Wolfpack
Xenia
Yosemite

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Has the Summer of 2014 Been the Best in Years?

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Quite simply: yes. We’re not even mid-way into July and we’ve already seen the meteoric rise of many masterclass takes on the summer tentpole. With the nearly perfect Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the breathtaking X-Men: Days of Future Past, Tom Cruise‘s thrilling sci-fi actioner Edge of Tomorrow, Phil Lord and Chris Miller‘s hysterical 22 Jump Street, Dreamwork’s stunning and heart-breaking animated follow-up How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Gareth Edward‘s crazily awesome Godzilla, the season’s blockbusters have been just that: blockbusters.

We’re not even half way into the season and we’ve got more certifiable showstoppers than ever before. And we’re not just talking superhero movies, a facet that has made 2014 stand out even more. We’re talking a wide array of films with varying perspectives and takes on what is great about a summer blockbuster. They’ve topped the charts and for good reason: they’re quite simply good movies on a bigger scale, and we’ve only yet mentioned the hundred million dollar ones.

On the indie side, we’ve seen Bong Joon-ho‘s wildly unconventional Snowpiercer, David Michod’s deeply unsettling The Rover and Jim Mickle‘s unpredictable Cold in July, each made in the traditional of big screen excellence but seen by a smaller, more niche audience and using with a smaller change purse to make it happen. But even this independent cinema has unleashed a pantheon of unforgettable big screen debuts this summer season, each in the tradition of the summer tentpole.

And when we do add superhero movies into the mix, even the overrated Captain America: The Winter Soldier was solid as was The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (a vast improvement over the original). Plus we haven’t even gotten to Guardians of the Galaxy that’ll debut the beginning of August and has the potential to be a breakout hit.

And sure the vastly inferior Transformers: Age of Extinction and Maleficent may have shown them all up in the box office ring but we have to take into account that old habits die slow. People take time to learn what’s good for them. The aforementioned blockbusters are Filet Mignon, it just so happens that people are used to eating hamburger. But so long as we continue to praise these movies and show up to buy tickets for them, things may just continue to trend in a positive direction. I’m no box office guru but I know that at the theater, your money is your voice. Make sure that you’re speaking up for the ones that matter.

Taking into account this fact, just compare with me the quality of 2014 Summer’s blockbuster to recent summer seasons past and you’ll see just how easily it eclipses anything from the past few years. Last year held the decent to middling to just plain bad; Iron Man 3, Fast and Furious 6, Man of Steel, R.I.P.D., Star Trek into Darkness, Pacific Rim, The Heat, The Hangover 3, After Earth, White House Down, The Lone Ranger, Red 2. Sure I purposely left some of 2014 lesser films out of my analysis for the sake of making my argument but look at how many clunkers we have above. Just one after another.

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Blow for blow, 2014 trumps 2013 at every turn. And though 2012 had Dark Knight Rises, Avengers and the like-it-or-hate-it Prometheus, it was also filled with crud like The Amazing Spider-Man, The Expendables 2, Snow White and the Huntsman, Total Recall, Battleship and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Save for one or two exceptions (nearly all from the superhero camp), it was once again a summer left in the wash.

2011 had more Transformers, another unwanted Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Cars 2, the water-dump Green Lantern, the brutally bad The Hangover: Part 2as well as the truly awesome Mission Impossible 4, the conclusive Harry Potter installment, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Cowboys and Aliens and the very solid Fast Five. It also introduced us to Thor and Captain America but it still doesn’t compare to 2014 in terms of originality and vision. Superhero movies and sequels do tend to dominate these summer months but you’re gonna have to spend your hard-earned dollar on things like Edge of Tomorrow if you want to see the summer movie zeitgeist head in a positive direction. It means you taking a risk, or at least reading critical response to movies and knowing what you’re getting into. The good stuff is out there, you just have to be able to not be seduced by the golden arches every time round.

What I’m trying to say is: in terms of the big picture, 2014 is the year of the summer blockbuster puttering back to life and don’t let the big box office performance of Trans4mers or Maleficent tell you otherwise. If you’re still amongst the naysayers calling 2014 a bad year for movies, remove your head from your ass and actually head to the theater. I could recommend ten movies playing right this second that would simply wow you (just take a look at top tier of the 131 2014 films I’ve reviewed so far this year for proof of that). Summer 2014 really has been a showstopper and one that you probably oughta stop talking smack about. But with less and less people going to the movies, the onus is those who do care about the future of cinema to step up and gently herd the box office in the right direction. Spend your money wisely, unless you’re content seeing Transformers 29: Attack of the Robot Nazi Ninjas.

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All the Oscar Winners Names Travoltaized

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After butchering Idina Menzel‘s name during the Oscars (fact: her name is not “Adele Dazeem”), John Travolta has seen a noted bump in his celebrity. As hordes of people have taken to the inter webs to have their names John Travoltaized, the nation and the world has joined forces to take pot shots at a washed-up (can’t we call him that now?) superstar and bask in the glory of our own colloquial superiority.  Whether he suffers an actual learning disability and we’re collectively mocking a dyslexic person or if Travolta merely forgot his spectacles, it’s still “gorgeously empowering” to mock this “wickedly talented” star. Here he is, pronouncing the names of Menzel’s fellow Oscar winners. So strap on your best John Travolta impersonation and give these a go in all in your most affected and staccato drawl.

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto = “The momentously inspiring, Joey Larta

Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey = “The unparalleled and inimitable, MacArthur Gattahew

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o = “The stirringly animated O’yanga Tapiola

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett = “The refreshingly candid Blanche Catitt

Best Director Alfonso Cuaron  = “The touchingly sincere Usef Calarosa

Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze = “The bona-fidely vivacious Jonsey Pike

Best Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley = “The awesomely artistic “Red Johnny” Li

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki = “The brilliantly uplifting Zamuel K. Manuel

BONUS: Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave = “12 Salves a Year

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Lena Dunham to Play Sith Lord in STAR WARS 7

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Taking a decidedly more mumblecore approach to this next gen of Stars Wars films, J.J. Abrams has cast Girls‘ creator and star Lena Dunham as a sith lord and the main antagonist for Star Wars 7 and beyond. Of Dunham, Abrams said, “While certainly not what most people were expecting, casting Lena will bring in the much missing female audience for the next installments of the Star Wars franchise. With her relatable quirk and everygirl persona, we hope to tap into a whole new sector of what Star Wars can mean in the zeitgeist of pop culture.”

Dunham is expected to wield one-liners about how hard it is being a white, middle-class girl living in NYC (in a parallel galaxy far, far away) alongside lightsabers that only work some of the time. When asked why the franchise would take such a drastic left turn from the traditionally evil and more, ahem, composed sith, Abrams shrugged and started pitching a new television concept involving sci-fi and Damon Lindelof: Photon 13. “It’ll be very mysterious,” he promised.

(Actual report: Dunham’s Girls‘ co-star, Adam Driver will in fact play the big bad sith.)

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The Case Against Faux Art Films: Why I Walked out of THE BETTER ANGELS and JAMIE MARKS IS DEAD

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I’m sick of the incognizant derision that arises when a casual film-goer acknowledges an “art film” for its boring, snooty self. Like the hive mind of Twihards (and other noxious YA fan whose title I’m too old to know), coveting a film just because it’s black-and-white, has no story and lacks any acting to speak of is just as bad, if not worse, than piling on mindless praise for an existing fad-pop franchise. It’s the navel-gazing intellectualism for those who won’t switch to eBooks because they’d lose the superiority that goes hand-in-hand with lunking leather-bound tomes around, hanging from their hands like literacy trophies, reminders of their unquestioned intelligence.

So when you hear the choir of inevitable high praise of films the likes The Better Angels and Jamie Marks is Dead, films that wander through their narratives so slowly a snail wouldn’t be caught envious, peppered with the endless gratuity of sunshine peeking through trees, incomplete without innocuous philosophical whisperings, I can’t help but shrug it off. My approach looks a lot more like me giving them about thirty minutes and promptly exiting the theater.

It’s not that these films are universally bad but nor are they high art only to be understood and appreciated by intellectual giants. They just leave the same shallow, useless taste in my mouth that the likes of the majority of Malick’s more recent work. Furthermore, I’m hard pressed to buy the reality that others are really finding this stuff riveting, much less worthy of their two hours. Laziness and Malick-footstepping seem to be two in the same and yet they are celebrated in equal measure. Worse yet is the perfunctory need to herald these films as if they are something few can really “get”. The presumption that people are Philistines for not liking these “art films” is just the mindset of a pedantic snob, so don’t get too worked up if you’re amongst the descenders.

Like the best and worst of poetry, it can be legitimately difficult to decipher between absolute hogwash and something that’s really rich and deeply meaningful. Brilliance does not always stand out the first time through. And a lot of the time one’s appreciation for a piece comes down to their subjective point of view – the ability to connect with something and see it for more than what it may appear at first. Throughout time, the pieces that have uniformly lasted are not only those that have stood out to the snotty demands of the art critics but those that have also had added value for the minutia of the mainstream.

The ability to connect with the mainstream is paramount to the industry, particularly within the studio system. The existence of this need for mass appeal seems to have created this reckless reactionary backlash against it, characterized by idol worship of its antithesis. But battling appeal for the sake of appeal is a self-defeating prophesy. Within the independent film system, an inevitable push against the ceaseless narrative drive of blockbusters, often also characterized by attempts to connect with the widest international audience possible, has meant doing the opposite for the opposite’s sake. But when it goes too far and takes itself too seriously, it’s privy to its own scammed system of contrivance. The natural opposite of slurring Hollywood blockbusters involves slowing things down to a halt, depriving audience’s of character and putting the owness fully on us to make what we will of the film. In opening the proverbial can of worms, it’s time for us critics to take a stand against this arbitrary artistry as much as we do the mind-numbing blockbusters that crowd theaters.

These days, we seem to be witnessing a proliferation of trashy film school abortions unblinkingly called high art. More than anything though, these seem to be films celebrated because people don’t want to feel dumb for not “getting it”. It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes gag where everyone in town is complimenting the wonder of this trend-setting wardrobe but there’s really actually just nothing there save for a naked old buffoon exposing himself to the townsfolk. It takes the wisdom of a child to point this fact out. So here, I stand as that child.

At this year’s Sundance, I walked out of two films: Jamie Marks is Dead and Better Angels.
Both were so meandering, so lifeless and so infinitesimally drab that I found my mind wandering to just about anything outside the confines of the theater. Admittedly tired from the scramble of the fest, I even feel asleep during Jamie Marks is Dead. So while I guess I can’t attest to how bad Marks was, the fact that I fell asleep and felt no pressure to wake up speaks volumes. The Terrence Malick-produced Better Angels on the other hand was an absurdly dull affair that I had the misfortune of staying awake for- another wandering, narrativeless art film for snobs by snobs. Hackeyed filmmaking at best and artistic cowardice at worst, this brand of Sundance darling is exactly the type of art film masquerading with purpose but entirely empty and entirely boring.

Tirade or no, I just couldn’t find myself reviewing either and feel that this diatribe against art films presuming their intelligence is the only suiting response to my infinite boredom during both screenings. Further, I’d like to take the upper hand from those willing to laud these boreflicks and give the power back to the people. It’s not that there’s something there that we’re too dumb to see, we’re just the only ones willing to ridicule the nude old man strutting around.

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What Looks Worse: THE STARVING GAMES or THE HUNGOVER GAMES?

For all the praise The Hunger Games franchise has received (and count me amongst the many fans of the series), the second installment is now single-handedly responsible for not one, but two spin-off “comedies.” The first, so cleverly titled The Starving Games, throws wedgies, Hobbits, The Avengers, LMFAO, Apple products, Angry Birds and a horny Gandalf into the Hunger Games formula that makes a 2 minute and 27 second trailer look like a life time. The internet collectively sighed at the trailer’s debut and condemned it to the worst corner of film hell. If you dare, take a peek at this monstrosity.

Thankfully, audiences also seemed to have enough of Jason Friedman and Aaron Seltzer (Vampires Suck, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, Epic Movie) notoriously lazy brand of comedy as when The Starving Games opened last month (November 8) it made less than $10,000 and barely saw ten theaters. Such a face-first wipeout would make you think that Ketchup Entertainment and their intellectually sleazy cohorts would catch the hint and start leaving these spoofers in the dumpster where they belong but no, as the second Hunger Games ripoff is well on its way in the form of The Hungover Games. Because we all know that you’ve been wondering what would happen if you took the wolf pack and threw them in with Katniss.

This time the spoof net is even wider, and arguably more lazy, with nods to just about everything in the mere periphery of pop culture rears its head in this ugly, ugly looking film. From Jack Sparrow to Tonto, Ted to Django, race jokes to housewives, Carrie and, oh yeah, The Avengers again, it’s amazing just how non-topical some of these references can be. The saddest part of this whole thing is to see Tara Reid and Jamie Kennedy‘s names thrown in the mix as if those two really are going to get people to see the film.

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More than anything, I just wonder who goes to see these films.Friedberg and Seltzer, amazingly enough, tend to break 30 million dollars domestically usually working off a budget of around 20 million. So the profits are small but just sizable enough to give them something to do every couple years or so. I just want to plead with the audiences who are actually seeing these abominations to stop seeing them. It’s not like they enjoy them, right? (Please God, I hope no one enjoys them)

So which of these two do you think looks worse? I know they’re both horrendous but one might have a leg up on the other in terms of being unbelievably shitty. Further, what is the worse spoof movie you’ve ever seen? And finally, if you know anyone who admits to seeing these, just do them a favor and steal ten bucks from their wallet.

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Will FAST AND FURIOUS Franchise Live on After Paul Walker's Death?

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While America tucked into bounties of turkey and stuffing and celebrated Thanksgiving with their families, this holiday weekend also brought the death of Fast and Furious franchise star Paul Walker. While not a celebrated star outside of the Fast and Furious world, Walker was the focal point of the F&F series and the lead character in a cast that includes Vin Diesel, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, amongst many others. In a feat of super sad irony, Walker was driving with a friend in a limited edition 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, the stuff straight from the pages of Fast and Furious, when his vehicle spun out and hit a tree, causing it to burst into flames, killing Walker and the driver. Mirroring the events of the franchise, police are now tossing around the idea that the crash might have been the result of a drag race (CNN). And while many people bowed their head in respectful solace for Walker’s passing, fans of the franchise raced to Twitter to ponder the future of the franchise and whether the next film would go up in flames as well. The short answer: no.

The seventh installment of the massively popular franchise launched into production earlier this fall on a rushed production timeline. Horror auteur James Wan (The Conjuring) stepped in for long time franchise helmer Justin Lin, who directed Fast films since the third film, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. Lin apparently departed the series because he believed Universal was rushing production to hit a July 11, 2014 release date. Now, it seems inevitable that that date will mosey even further into the future as “massive rewrites” will need to take place to account for Walker’s passing.

As for Fast 7, Wan has already shot many of the expensive action sequences with Walker but his role in the film was far from over. Taking into account the fact that few films shoot scenes chronologically, Walker now has scenes all over the film with gaping holes where some much needed plot exposition should go.

Productions have lost major players before. Take for example Heath Ledger who died after completing his work on The Dark Knight but was in the midst of Terry Gilliam‘s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. In order to band-aid the missing scenes, friends of Ledger, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell, stepped in to fill in his missing part. But obviously something that “worked” in a wacky Gilliam movie won’t fly for mainstream audiences in a summer tentpole film. Oliver Reed also famously passed away while filming Gladiator and his missing bits were filled in with CGI composites of his face but that’s an expensive project that cost ballpark two million dollars for mere moments in the film. We can also assume this isn’t the best tactic for F&F 7.

It seems the only option for the franchise at this point is to off Walker’s character. This however raises an issue of good taste. Is it respectful to his legacy and fair to his family to have to relive Walker’s death in a fun, family-friendly movie? Maybe not. But then again, Fast has always been about family. Maybe they’ll let Walker’s character walk into the sunset with his family. For now, production has been halted so the cast and crew can grieve while the writers try and hack out a solution to the whole Walker’s missing problem. Fast 7 will certainly go on, but it might be the last we see of the Toretto family.

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