The Star Wars Prequels are Much Better in Japanese

A while back, Topher Grace (of “That 70s Show” fame) cut all of the fat off of the Star Wars prequels and it was praised by many. Peter Sciretta of /film pronounced it the best possible cut of a terrible series of films. Today I discovered Darth Lunar’s version. They wanted to test Sciretta’s claim and see if it could be done better. The result is this. A reworking of the entire trilogy using the Japanese overdub but with English subtitles that actually sound like they were written by someone… well, other than George Lucas.

Sometimes we make fun of our resident culture snob, Kurt Halfyard, for unwittingly giving passes to certain films just because they’re in a language other than English. He claims it isn’t so, but after watching bits of this, I’m starting to wonder if there maybe is something to that theory. This is surprisingly pretty good.

Film maker’s NOTE: Unlike many other fan-edits of the prequels, “The Blackened Mantle” is not simply three separate films glued back-to-back with the fat cut out. It has proper dramatic pacing, new character arcs, reworked image quality, and a heavily modified plot constructed from a brand new, non-chronological script. It is not necessarily compatible with any Star Wars canon other than the original film trilogy (such as the fantastic “Clone Wars” animated series). Apologies go out to fluent Japanese speakers, who will likely not be able to watch the film without muting the audio.

The film makers have also graciously included a downloadable version of the movie. Or you can just watch it right here…


The Paramount Vault [Free Movies!]

paramount logo

Tired of not being able to find anything on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, et. al? Well then you’re doing it wrong. But maybe you’re trying to save a few bucks and don’t have access to any of these services. If that’s the case, Paramount has seriously got you covered.

The Paramount Vault is a collection of dozens of full length films covering decades of material from the iconic studio. Classic Elvis to Clive Owen to Gene Wilder laughery to Noah Baumbach to black and white to guts and gore and everything in between, before and after – there’s something in here for everyone.


Our own Kurt Halfyard found this quick startup primer of the “best” and “worst” films available on the service if you’re looking for somewhere to start. For the record, I mostly agree with this list and being October, I highly encourage you to watch The Loved Ones this month. Myself? I’ll be checking out an early Robert Downey Jr picture, In Dreams; directed by Neil Jordan.

Have a look through the vault and you’re sure to find something to keep you busy for the rest of the next year or two. Enjoy!

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day at Camp [trailer]

I never saw the original film from 2001, but apparently it’s pretty funny. Funny enough that Netflix is releasing an 8-part mini-series that is a prequel to the original. The fact that it stars basically the same cast but they’re all 15 years older is part of the gag I guess.

Anyway, here’s the trailer if you’re into this sort of thing. Some bits work in here pretty well, others don’t. I quite like the “what?”, “nothing.”, “what?” banter at the end with Bradley Cooper and Michael Ian Black.

The cast is stacked: Elizabeth Banks, H. Jon Benjamin, Michael Ian Black, Bradley Cooper, Janeane Garofalo, Nina Hellman, David Hyde Pierce, Joe Lo Truglio, Ken Marino, AD Miles, Marguerite Moreau, Christopher Meloni, Zak Orth, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Marisa Ryan, David Wain, Molly Shannon, Michael Showalter, Jordan Peele, Kristen Wiig, and introducing Jon Hamm.


Tribeca/Lionsgate Announce VOD Service

We had a long talk the other night about HBO breaking away from cable and moving to their own subscription-based service. CBS recently announced something similar with their “CBS All Access” service (anyone need an instant “Twin Peaks” fix?). Is this the way TV and movies are moving for good? Obviously Netflix is here to stay, but what I mean is, with all of these off-shoots, rather than paying a hundred bucks a month for cable, will we be shelling out a hundred bucks a month (or more) for several different streaming platforms? Though in my utopia there would be one service with everything I could possibly want and I’d be willing to pay a premium price for it. But it’s unlikely this will ever happen and with Hulu and Amazon and Netflix already going strong, the future seems to be an ala carte selection of various video on-demand services that you’ll have to navigate to separately. But I digress…

The latest “media conglomerate” seems an unlikely pairing at first whisper since when I think Tribeca Film Fest I think of artier, more thoughtful dramas and Lionsgate conjures thought of people having their limbs sawed off while evil clowns stand by laughing. But of course those are both generalizations and not altogether true. The Tribeca/Lionsgate VOD service has been dubbed “The Tribeca Short List.” Possibly a little misleading to some as some sort of shorts program; but no, this will be a highly curated list of titles from festivals around the world as well as critically acclaimed and prestigious films from the Lionsgate and Tribeca. The list of titles are to be replenished and refreshed each week.

Launching in early 2015, this sounds like a way to see the newest The Hunger Games movie as soon as possible while at the same time making it possible to hunt down all of the festival titles you heard about on podcasts and blogs, but know will never see the light of day (or the darkness of the cinema). In other words, depending on the launch titles announced and price point, I’m kind of digging this idea; count me in!
Would you like to know more…?

The Empire Strikes Back: Uncut (Director’s Cut)

It’s finally here. The full, uncut version of the fan made version of The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars Uncut was released a few years ago and after the success, the powers that be deemed a sequel was necessary. It’s been a long wait, but The Empire Strikes Back is ready to be watched in all of its fan-made glory.

It’s the entire length of the movie cut into short clips (from about 5 seconds to 15 seconds) and created by fans from around the world. Drawings, action figures, home CGI, live action office hijinx, marionettes, animals, stop motion, claymation and even just ethereal wierdness; you name it, all were brought in to recreate this masterpiece. And if you watch carefully, other areas of inspiration were brought in by many fans as well; from Wes Anderson to beer commercials to Devo to spaghetti and meatball Star Destroyers… and that’s just in the first fifteen minutes!

You can check out the entire uncut film below. Once you start, it’s difficult to stop watching. Enjoy1

Two Online Film Festivals Worth Your Time


Thirteen films which had their world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 will make their digital debut in 2014 exclusively on Vimeo On-Demand:

Asphalt Watches directed by Shayne Ehman and Seth Scriver
Cinemanovels directed by Terry Miles
Empire of Dirt directed by Peter Stebbings
Faroeste Caboclo (Brazilian Western), directed by René Sampaio
Gente en Sitios (People in places) directed by Juan Cavestany
Ladder to Damascus directed by Mohamad Malas
Little Feet directed by Alexandre Rockwelll
Palestine Stereo directed by Rashid Masharawi
Standing Aside Watching directed by Yorgos Servetas
The Animal Project directed by Ingrid Veninger
This is Sanlitun directed by Robert I. Douglas
Une Jeune Fille (A Journey) directed by Catherine Martin
Wild Duck directed by Yannis Sakaridis

The films will become available between now and May 2014, starting with Little Feet which is currently available for pre-order on Vimeo.


From January 17 until February 17, twenty-three new French films, released in France in 2013 will be broadcast for one month, in 13 languages. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg will be free for the first day of the festival, worldwide, in a restored version.

President Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s (dir. Amélie) 4th edition of the festival can be found at

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Season 2)

Against better judgement, but totally worth it, I stayed up very late last night after discovering this little gem from Jerry Seinfeld. Am I just late to the party? Is there a reason I’ve not heard of this internet show before? Because it’s pretty damn great. “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” pits Seinfeld and some other famous funny face together to just shoot the bull (most often to hilarious results) while driving to some small cafe or diner for coffee.

It’s a great concept. Fans of Britain’s “The Trip” may find some similarities here; though this has rotating characters and a much less scripted feel. Season one (I’m almost finished) was a ball. Michael Richards talking about losing to a bum in chess. Ricky Gervais fearing for his life. Alec Baldwin telling Jerry where and why his career is where it’s at. Carl Reiner perpetuating alcoholism. It’s all here and it’s all gold. And it’s all Free!

Each episode is between ten and seventeen minutes so it’s easy to whip through a season in one evening. Which I already did. So that’s why I’m excited about season 2, which starts tomorrow! Looks like it has even bigger names and bigger laughs – watching Chris Rock and Seinfeld getting pulled over should be a treat. The trailer for season 2 is below. Why is no one talking about this?

How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song: Available March 26th!

At last year’s Flyway Film Festival, Matt and I were honored to be among jury members for the fictional narrative feature category. While voting, it was a pleasure to award best director to Gary King for his musical, How Do You Write A Joe Schermann Song. Now, some may be screaming bias, but our jury is not alone in the festival world of awarding HDYWAJSS accolade after accolade. And now for the good news…

You can see HDYWAJSS starting Tuesday no matter where you are. You don’t have to wait for a festival screening to check it out as it will be available for download on several major platforms (Vudu, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and a DVD and Blu-ray will also be available on Tuesday. Here’s the OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE


As a side note, if you’re in the Minneapolis area, I’ll see you at the upcoming screening on April 11th because despite being able to see it at home starting Tuesday, quite honestly if you can get to a big screen to see this spectacle. It’s quite shiny! Sign up for the Tugg to ensure your spot today. It will be at the Southdale AMC. Probably see you before and after stumbling from bar to bar in the area.