Secret Society & Price of Success Explored in “Echelon: The Series”

EchelonTheSeries

Mark A. Krupa is best known for his work in front of the camera, notably as Bjorn in the excellent The Wild Hunt (review) and most recently as the sadistic Indian Agent in Jeff Barnaby’s outstanding Rhymes for Young Ghouls (review) but the actor is also an accomplished producer, writer and director and he’s ready to take the plunge into the world of webseries.

The concept of Echelon: The Series is fantastic. It centers on an elite agency called Echelon which operates from funding and support of angel sponsors to mentor emerging talent. The contract stipulates that when they leave the program, beneficiaries are required to fulfil a single request and that contract is strictly enforced by Strahd, also known as the “Collector” (played by Krupa).

Would you like to know more…?

Trailers From Hell does We Need To Talk About Kevin

AKA, why I love Brian Trenchard-Smith.

Joe Dante’s ongoing project devoted to cinephilia centered around trailers, Trailers From Hell, has been doing fine work for years, and is a site I visit regularly as much for my love of Dante’s sensibility as for my love of trailers in and of themselves. The most articulate ‘Guru’ on the site – most really quite great but the ex patriot Briton-er who long ago set up shop making super-trash in Australia, Brian Trenchard-Smith is king. The site cut its teeth on trash horror action pictures from the 1950s onward, but has grown enough to make space for modern art films like We Need To Talk About Kevin and Holy Motors along side stuff like Night of the Lepus or Queen of Outer Space.

And, just so it is crystal I am on the same page, critically, as Trenchard-Smith, here is my archival review of the same film, which was one of my favourites of 2011.

Mamo!’s Matty Price Talks P.T. Anderson and his Significance to Cinema

A part of The Substream‘s Very Important Dudes and Dudettes in Film History series, curated by Matty Price in tweed and elbow-patch mode (albeit he’s actually wearing an E.T./Alien-mashup Tee) offers a fair number of insights into one of the younger great auteurs in Cinema working today, Mr. Paul Thomas Anderson; that is P.T. to film snobs. On the threshold of widening release for The Master, let Mr. Price set the scene for you.

Here Comes the Ridley Train!

You can probably expect a deluge of Sir Ridley Scott and Alien related material in the-week-and-a-bit lead up to Prometheus, both around the web and here at Rowthree. To kick things off, here is Mamo!s Matt Price explaining why the British filmmaker’s ouvre should be looked at through the lens of iconic advertising imagery and he goes on to line up Scott’s filmography and legacy in that light. Here is another episode of Very Important Dudes and Dudettes in Film History, courtesy of our friends over at thesubstream.com)

Go, Speed Racer, Go

Just for fun on a Sunday, you can see how an 8 year old boy and a 6 year old girl react to a first time viewing of The Wachowski Brothers critically slagged but mightily interesting Speed Racer after catching it in the Cinema (at Toronto Underground’s Defending the Indefensible Series). Expect more (‘adult’) conversation on this weeks cinecast, but for now children’s perspective on the mach-speed-eye-candy. The video is embedded below. Enjoy.

Urban Wolf is Watching You

A well-appointed man lands in Paris and stops off in the restroom. He notes a security camera in the corner, innocuously capturing his movements. As he steps back from the sink, it seems as though the camera follows him. Paranoia? Or is he merely one of a million people being silently monitored in our increasingly surveillance-ridden society? As he goes on his way, he becomes more and more aware of pervasive cameras everywhere, unescapable. But are they really singling him out? And if so, for what purpose?

This is the premise of the new web series Urban Wolf, which started playing on Crackle.com a few days ago. I was able to see a screening of the entire series recently, and it’s quite worth your time. Though the premise sounds like a lot of other paranoia thrillers, this is done tightly and stylishly, with much higher production values than commonly found in web series. It feels very cinematic, and yet director Laurent Touil-Tartour embraces the particular needs of web video, splitting the series up into fifteen segments, each three to four minutes long and all written with that length in mind.

In an effective artistic choice, there’s essentially no dialogue in the series; rather, everything plays out visually, carried out through a dynamic central performance by Vincent Sze. Touil-Tartour has a nice flair for composition and a good sense of visual storytelling. He also knows how to do good twists and suggest things rather than spell them out, something I really appreciated. I know he’s hoping this series gets him noticed by the film and television industry (getting the series on Sony-owned Crackle.com is probably a nice start), but I’m also glad to see ambitious series like this on the web. Web video is starting to come of age a little, and as much as I love geeky comedy series like The Guild and The Legend of Neil, it’s nice to see some different genres and styles in the mix.

Urban Wolf screened to good reactions and awards at the ITV Festival, AFI Digifest, and ComicCon over the past year. I’ve embedded the first episode of the series under the seats, and the first six episodes are already available on Crackle. They’re releasing one a day, looks like, which means you won’t have to wait long in between each cliff-hanger.

Would you like to know more…?

Auteur Essay: Matt Zoller Seitz on Wes Anderson

This superb (and thorough) look at Wes Anderson‘s auteur influences was mentioned on the current episode of the Cinecast. The House Next Door founder, freelance writer and film director Matt Zoller Seitz narrates and edits a collection of side by side and annotated scenes from Wes Anderson’s filmography and connects the director’s aesthetic to Hal Ashby, Mike Nichols, Charles Schultz, Martin Scorsese, Orson Welles, François Truffaut and the written work of J.D. Salinger. High praise indeed, but the key here is that Anderson re-invents his influences into his own auteur stamp, one that has been imitated (From Napoleon Dynamite to Garden State), yet nevertheless remains instantly recognizable about the crowd.

The series: The Substance of Style, is in 5 parts, ending with a fully annotated playing of the sublime opening prologue of The Royal Tenenbaums.

The First Part is tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

Joe Dante’s “Splatter” Premiers Today

Episode One of Roger Corman’s series of webisode entitled Splatter was released today and anyone in America can check it out over at Netflix (you don’t need a membership to watch).

“Splatter” is the haunting tale of rock-and-roll legend Johnny Splatter (Corey Feldman), a musical genius who accumulated as many hit records as he did enemies on his climb up the fame ladder. His sudden death, ruled a suicide, brings a small circle of professional parasites and hangers-on (including Tony Todd) to his Hollywood Hills mansion for the reading of his last will and testament. But as his “frenmies” come to pick the bones clean, Johnny has returned for a deadly encore long after what they thought was his final curtain.

In terms of production value, this may not be the highest quality short of all time. But damn if it ain’t worth it just to see Corey Feldman blow his brains all over the camera lens. Yeah, it’s not exactly for the squeamish.

What is pretty interesting about this short series of horror webisodes is that after watching the clip, you can click over to the voting page and decide the fate of the characters in the next episode. Who will die next? It’s actually up to you!

Thanks to Bloody-Disgusting, we have a short clip/trailer for the series embedded underneath the seats.

UPDATE: Corey Feldman will be guest tweeting from the Netflix Twitter account (twitter.com/netflix) from 2pm-3pm EST today (October 29) to chat with fans and answer questions about Splatter.

Would you like to know more…?

Help Solve the Circle of 8 Mystery

CircleOf8Webseries. Short (5 to 10 minutes) shows which distribute their episodes online. The only two shows I’m aware of that have succeeded in this developing field are “Sanctuary” which transformed into a full fledged television show now airing on Syfy (along with a slew of other networks) and “The Guild” which now airs its episodes on XBox Live and MSN. There may be more but none are as successful as these originals but that’s not stopping the big studios (or at least one big studio) from trying to maximize on the changing tide of their viewers.

Paramount Digital Entertainment is behind “Circle of Eight,” a paranormal web series currently playing on MySpace. Their official synopsis is akin to a mildly interesting movie: it’s the story of Jessica, a young woman who moves to Los Angles and a building known as The Dante. When a number of deaths start occurring in the building, she teams up with her neighbour Evan to solve the mysterious deaths.

The show’s plan is for 10 episodes to unravel the mystery but the selling point is the show’s interactive component with including hidden clues, mobile content, an online game and exclusive material that builds the back story of the characters and their relationships and gives the audience the chance to affect their futures.

The first three episodes are now online and I’ve obviously not watched them closely enough because I’ve yet to see the interactive component at play. It’s still early going but it shows promise. I’ve tucked the first three episodes under the seat. If you’re interested in checking out future updates, the easiest way to track this sucker is by subscribing to their MySpace channel.

Would you like to know more…?