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Recently I heard through my favorite film-news website Dark Horizons that, in an interview with AMCTV (full story there), not a single person who actually worked on the upcoming sci-fi action thriller BABYLON A.D. is pleased with the end result. The director himself is practically disowning the film in its current format. It is currently nearly 15 minutes shorter and a heck of a lot dumber than what the cast and crew had been hoping for. How did this happen and what does it mean? Let’s explore a bit, as I believe this to be a great example of the flaws of our current studio system, and an even better example of a director trying to show some integrity within his constraints.

Based on the novel Babylon Babies. The story is about “a mercenary (Diesel) in the year 2019 who is hired to transport a woman and her guardian from Eastern Europe to New York” and critics are already drawing comparisons to recent critical success Children of Men. Unfortunately they are all negative, such as the review of one Jordan Mintzer of Variety, who calls the film “A noisier, costlier version of Children of Men, [that lakcs] that film’s social-political significance and jaw-dropping direction.”

Babylon AD was set to be a strong come back piece for critically maligned action star Vin Diesel. Featuring imaginative special effects and a reliable sci-fi backstory to flex his muscles to, I was hoping that he’d really have a chance with this film to star in something intelligent and meaningful (while at the same time punching bad guys in the face). So did he.

Diesel emphasizes the movie’s theme of smuggling people across national borders. “This whole thing that’s happening in Georgia right now is so fresh that no one has even asked about it yet,” he says. “We’re coming into an age where borders are closing, and I think that our society will be numb to it because of our freedom in the virtual world, our freedom in the Internet.”

Diesel has been known to take a more intellectual and involved approach to his film making, helping to craft the fantasy universe of Chronicles of Riddick along with director David Twohy, and taking a turn as a dramatic actor in the critically successful (anywhere other than RT anyways) courtroom drama biopic, Find Me Guilty. If the action star isn’t happy with the result of the movie, and furthermore is upset at the brainlessness of it all, then the final product probably has some major flaws. Diesel sympathizes with Kassovitz.

A director is always in the difficult position of being held accountable for a film’s success or failure. “It’s hard,” he says. “Filmmaking is such a collaborative effort you can’t look to one person.

He couldn’t be more right. But it seems that 20th Century Fox might be the bad guy again, in a case similar to their butchering of the already-pretty-dumb-concept Hitman movie earlier this year. It serves as an odd coincidence that Vin Diesel was one of the key producers on that film as well. What does 20th Century Fox have against the baritone-voiced behemoth? Well, Kassovitz and Diesel have some opinions on that.

The film’s production was reportedly riddled with problems, from vast delays to budgetary concerns to weather setbacks. Kassovitz points to the studio, “Fox was sending lawyers who were only looking at all the commas and the dots,” he says. “They made everything difficult from A to Z.” The last stroke, Kassovitz says, was when Fox interfered with the editing of the film, paring it down to a confusing 93 minutes (original reports were that 70 minutes were cut from the film; Kassovitz says the number is closer to 15). Diesel too was astounded at the film’s length. Having just completed production of the fourth installment of The Fast and the Furious, he had not seen a cut of the film in six months. “Am I even in the movie any more, or am I on the cutting room floor?” the actor joked. Fox could not be reached for comment on this story.

The director, Matieu Kassovitz (Gothika), has even gone so far as to warn people about how bad the film is. “Ready to go to war” with Fox, Kassovitz lashes out, saying:

“It’s pure violence and stupidity,” he admits. “The movie is supposed to teach us that the education of our children will mean the future of our planet. All the action scenes had a goal: They were supposed to be driven by either a metaphysical point of view or experience for the characters… instead parts of the movie are like a bad episode of 24.”

The forewarning is strong indeed. The forewarning that big-budget studios would rather use their money on big dumb action flicks, especially if that means lobotomizing legitimate intentions of intellect. Reminds me of the case of 20th Century Fox v. Ridley Scott over the changes made in Blade Runner. While I doubt any version of Bablyon AD would have been as challenging and as intelligent as that film, I always enjoy seeing younger directors trying to step up to the plate. Shame on Fox though, as we will be treated to watching yet another movie where Vin Diesel punches a bad guy in the face and has little context to put it in. At this time, your dedicated reporter is unsure whether to put his 10 dollars into the film. Kassovitz isn’t helping.

To be fair, Kassovitz doesn’t entirely hate the film. “I like the energy of it and I got some scenes I’m happy with,” he says. “But I know what I had — I had something much better in my hands but I just wasn’t allowed to work.”

In the end I’m glad to see someone up there in the big leagues that has the integrity to admit when he’s being bought out by companies like Fox; admitting to making garbage under the hopes of creating intelligent pieces of work. “I should have chosen a studio that has guts,” he says. “Fox was just trying to get a PG-13 movie. I’m ready to go to war against them, but I can’t because they don’t give a s–t.”

Oh well. Maybe next time. Babylon AD opens in theaters everywhere this Friday.

Sources from and

Film Maker’s Chat: Dan Gvozden

Dan Gvozden is a student of film making at the exquisite NYU. I don’t know much about him past that, except he’s obviously talented enough to be making his own films on actual FILM, unlike my Mini DV exploits, and has been doing a lot of hard work in the industry, amateur and otherwise, for a good part of his life.

dan gvozden

I met the guy at a mutual friend’s birthday party, and Dan’s comments on my early work, Locked Blades, lead to enough inspiration for me not to give up all hope. We keep in touch from time to time, but being that he’s one of the busiest people alive and I’m on the road to becoming the same, it’s hard to cross connect.

However, around 2:30 this morning we had an interesting discussion (I.E. Nerdy as all hell) on Trilogies. As noted, I’m not a huge Star Wars fan. I always found all but the second flick somewhat childish. But I do know why people love it- the original three movies are truly great accomplishments in escapism and adventure. Maybe if I wasn’t so keen in going against the flow. Then again, while I dislike Star Wars, he dislikes Spider Man, so it all balances out in the end, doesn’t it?

Here’s the conversation we had, in Verbatim.

DAN…star wars is untouchablely the best trilogy ever and dont’ give me this lord of the rings shit
DYLAN Hah. No I wouldn’t.
DAN becuase those movies blow
DYLAN LOTR was the same thing for 3 movies. The first movie was good. REALLY good. After that I kinda got…bored.
DAN agreed the 3rd one was good
DYLANThe first movie was a small, intimate quest.
DAN but not as great as the first
DYLAN Which made you appreciate the characters. It felt like you were walking in the world with them, and seeing these great mystical things. The second and third were just “yeah…watch us kill stuff for 2 hours”
DAN yea i mean there was more to it than that
DYLAN: I liked them, but the third wouldn’t have won an oscar if anything better was out that year.
DAN but the 1st was by far better than the other ones
DYLAN yeah I’m trying to think of a better trilogy, but you’re right. I can’t think of anything else with that kind of consistency.
DAN nope nothing is better indy comes close
DYLAN Although I never really appreciated Star Wars, all 3 movies ARE consistently decent.
………..skipping a little further down
DYLAN I loved Alien 3, but no one really agrees with me.
DAN its a good concept
the cgi was poorly concieved its a mixed bag
DYLAN I thoguht it was good for the time. And it still works. But yeah, that speech that Charles S. Dutton gives towards the end is classic to me.
DAN yea i mean i own it
DYLAN “You’re all gonna die to night. But how’s it going to be? Standing like men, or on your knees?” If I’m ever a general of an army, I’m stealing that fucking monologue and we’re going to kick Mongolia’s ass. But yeah. What about The Matrix as a trilogy?
DAN The 1st one was good great actually 2nd one was ok 3rd one blew
DYLAN Hmmm… Let’s see…you’ll never even CONSIDER SpiderMan…but I’d agree because the first one was waaaay too cheesy in retrospect. What about POTC when it finishes? You think that’s got a chance to knock out starwars?
DAN no way the 2nd one blew
DYLAN Pirates?
DAN yea it was an hour too long i would love to recut that movie
DYLAN Hahaha I agree. But damn what an hour. Absolutely stupid as fuck movie, but with some really overblown entertainment. Drove me up a wall. If you cna release yourself enough to feel that “kid inside” bullshit, you’ll love the movie. but its…really damned hard.
DAN the bad guys were pretty cool but that’s about it
DYLAN Johnny Depp in a gerbil wheel. If you ever thought you’d see that at any point in your life, ok. But I didn’t. Seeing it was GREAT. but yeah, otherwise I agree. I think the third will be really good though.
DAN yea it could be
DYLAN …AHA. I found a trilogy that could contend, but I dunno if you’d go for it. The Dollar’s Trilogy.
DAN the fact that i haven’t heard of it means no
DYLAN Fistful of Dollars, Few Dollars More, The Good,the Bad,and the Ugly.
DAN oh yea they are good
DYLAN The ultimate western trilogy masterpiece.
DAN really good
DAN but still no star wars
DYLAN heh. they’re closely related though. They both ripped off Kurosawa to get their starts.
DAN yea
DYLAN Ripped off like CRAZY.
DAN yea but yea anyway i gotta go to bed
DYLAN So in essence, every good movie ever made owes itself to Kurosawa anyways.

And there you have it folks! A new, nerdy discussion. This will go in the “forums” section, since I deem it a discussion. Later guys.

Today, readers, I’m going to make a post about how a place like has gone to hell. Firstly- I hate elitism, even if I imbue it like a Nazi, I can’t stand it when people believe they are right simply because they got their first, or they’ve been their longest, or know more just cause they’ve had more time and experience. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from film, it is that anyone is able to make an intelligent statement, or question, even if it’s a first viewing. That is because everyone, EVERYONE initially takes a subjective, diverse angle on their view of what they’ve just seen.

Now, there’s two kinds of people who can ruin the experience of a forum user on IMDB.

    The first group is the gaggle of imbeciles who think awful movies are worth complaining about. I have never been in the forums for Little Man, White Chicks, the American Pie movies (at least the last three films), or anything with a studio budget but with quality less than a Sci-Fi channel weekly movie (THE CAVE doesn’t count because it’s quality was ON PAR with a Sci Fi channel movie). However, some people will “troll,” which from what I gather means to haunt obsessively, these threads in order to stir up needless bickering just because they have free time. True, it’s fun to make fun of bad movies. But if you’re going to either go on these sites and just hammer away at what is, in general knowledge, bad film making, then you are making worthless statements, such as:

    I dont think this is a good film, but yes is very funny. at least was more funny to me that White Chicks.

Now, that’s not exactly the kind of statement I implied, but while looking up material for my point, I came across that forum thread. Apparently, these people lack so much of a life, that they have to use one sentence a piece to compare crap to crap. I don’t care whether or not White Chicks was better than Little Man- both movies have atrociously stupid, characterless plots all based on stereotypes. Am I joining the gaggle of moronic complaints by making this post?

Yes. I am. However, my point is more constructive than that, as such that I’d like to see more people start threads like this, that actually deal with possible issues based on what they’ve just seen:

    You know what? I couldn’t find a SINGLE thread in this entire forum for this film that had one iota of intelligence. Never freaking mind.

See people? This is what bad movies do- they barely entertain, and then mind numbingly obnoxious people try to complain about them, or try to support them, but have no proof and follow giant, Grand Canyon like fallacies such as “You’re a queer” to fix their arguments into an unmovable position of RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Now, the second group of people that cause these problems are people who take similar statements, similar fallacies, and problematic gestures of stupidity, and bring them unrequested into forums of intelligent debate or friendly discussion. My proof is in the pudding on this one.

I recently went to a thread for the Michael Mann box-office flop, Miami Vice. Now, in all honesty, I love this movie. There are a lot of REALLY cool scenes among what is in truth an over bloated and lengthy piece. However, if I ever wanted to mimic a way a man uses his footage, it’d be Michael Mann- he has some of the best eyes for “cool” since Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns. The movie was critically panned, however, and left with a mildly disappointing score of 6.1 on IMDB’s poll. I can live with that, however, since this movie was really more of a film maker’s film. The mainstream really wouldn’t get it because they won’t understand everything that goes into something like this. The appreciation is more in the design than in the functionality, similar to Da Vinci’s flying machine.

However, there is a thread of fan’s where one poster has decided to answer questions about plot holes and technicalities (this film is very real, so a lot of things are left out giving the impression that the characters already know how to do their job without Video Professor), and I found this to be a very kind and exceptionally decent thing to do. He actually wanted to help people who enjoy the movie enjoy it more with an intelligent and responsive discussion about what he had noticed out of an admittedly nerdy 10 + viewings of the film. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

So what does he get? Well after reading about ten or twenty entries down the page (it has a very expansive 73+ posts at this very moment), I found problem number 2 on IMDB:

The winy, arrogant elitist idiot who wants to ruin intelligent debate because the movie doesn’t live up to his standards. Here’s a quote from gayrzeee starting with his quotation of another user, who while his math is probably very wrong, is at least proving his point with facts and not “you’re gay.” He says stupid, but he’s making a reference to the way the guy was criticizing the film, not to the guy himself. Course, he’s probably going to take it that way anyways. By the end, he did try to tick the guy off, but out of all the posts gayrzeee has made, who knows if it is possible to stop hating on him at this point. Even I get into a tiff with him further down the thread.


Dear dyslexic *beep*
First, the movie budget was 135M, not 153.
I based all my comments on the facts that the movie sucked, Farrell and Jaime-not-my-real-name-Foxxxxx are way over-rated and overpaid Hollywood faces.
And lastly, I doubt there is any intelligence and any reason to think that a Brokeback dyslexic *beep* guesswork on the DVD sales of Miami Vice is credibe.
Donald Rumsfeld

So, what’s with the irritation here, guys? Why can’t you all just get along and stop yelling at each other on the net. If people were to fight like this in arguments in real life, they’d last for probably all of ten minutes, because past that point your throat is going to start hurting. Seriously.

So, here’s a post, that I put in response to this guy’s fallacies, and unnecessary flaming, trolling, and hating across all boards, in an attempt to show him what he was doing:

It’s amazing to see how this wasn’t even a thread about how good the movie was- just explaining away some problems with the plot that might be hard for some people to get (I’ll admit, it was a very confusing movie with a lot of pretty colors to back up its hard-to-swallowness).

What I don’t understand is why you need to come in and start wrecking everyone verbally. This is a FORUM. The definition for which is pretty much “public place of debate.” Also, cursing at someone and calling them petty insults is simply a fallacy of Bill O’Reilly like proportions. Entertaining, yes, but does it get us anywhere as a society? No.

I got into an argument with a guy on the Gungrave forums, and I tried like hell to avoid name calling and fallacies, but he wouldn’t just give up and go home after I proved my OWN point.

I love IMDB. But how can there seriously be this many people in the world who disrespect the use of Forums like you? Seriously, man. If you want to complain about how bad the movie sucks, write a review. Start a website, or at LEAST go to a thread about “did you like/dislike the movie and why.”

Give your fingers a rest and go do something else with your life.

Now I admit I bit into him at the end of my post, no doubt. However, at that point I wish there was a secret trap door to get rid of all people who troll sites in this fashion, who troll debates in this fashion, and try to cause nothing but stupid, backwards thinking. Liking a movie like Miami Vice isn’t crazy- there were some really great scenes to it. Hell, even liking Little Man can’t be all that bad, as long as you can back it UP.

However, the people on rarely take this into account- if you want to debate, write out a point, prove a point, and then elaborate on it to make it MAKE SENSE. Am I the only person who paid attention in High School English class here? It was certainly more than grammar (something Firefox admittedly corrects for me anyways).

From now on if I see a post like the Little Man things in an intelligent forum, or the Miami Vice flaming in “we’re here to help you” posts, I’m going to mark them as spam or complain to IMDB to moderate it. I suggest everyone else does too. It takes like thirty seconds, and will eventually, if spread correctly, get these trollers out of your hair.

Otherwise, just don’t pay it any mind. I try my best not to, but I really have a hard time over looking blatant, unfunny stupidity.

Later guys.

Anyone Wanna Do This?

The South By SouthWest Film Festival (SXSW) is holding a competition in association with Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Desperado) to create a “fictional movie trailer” for the upcoming film Grindhouse , a partner work between Rodriguez and Tarantino.

Here are the details:

SXSW and Robert Rodriguez Want ‘Grindhouse Trailers’ for 2007

Austin, TX – January 15, 2007 – The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival is putting out a call to filmmakers who would like to submit their best “grindhouse trailer,” in honor of the April release from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, Grindhouse. A sample of the best submissions will be judged by Rodriguez himself, and presented during SXSW, on March 11, 2007.

Filmmakers have a deadline of February 12 to submit their “grindhouse trailer” (no longer than two minutes in length) to SXSW. The trailer should be made for a fictional feature-film, just like those being made by celebrity directors Eli Roth and Rob Zombie for Grindhouse. From those submissions, Rodriguez will determine the best of the bunch, and it will screen during a special presentation entitled “Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse 101” on Sunday, March 11. During the presentation, Rodriguez will share stories and footage from the making of the upcoming Dimension Films release.

“We really want filmmakers to come up with something fun, scary, freaky, and out-of-this-world for the competition,” says SXSW Festival Producer Matt Dentler. “This competition, like Grindhouse itself, is in the true spirit of innovative and fast-paced filmmaking.”

Submissions must arrive no later than February 12, to: “SXSW Grindhouse Trailers,” P.O. Box 4999, Austin, TX 78765. There is no application fee, but the trailers must be under two minutes in length, and made within the last 12 months. Films that have already been submitted to SXSW for 2007 consideration, are not eligible. The 2007 SXSW Film Festival occurs March 9-17 throughout downtown Austin, TX. Grindhouse will open nationwide on April 6, 2007.

I’d really be into doing this, and I hope people back at Salisbury might want to try it too. Anyone interested?