DID YOU READ

Is this the age of fanfiction films?

Is this the age of fanfiction films? (photo)

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Last week, film critic Drew McWeeny wrote a really interesting piece at HitFix called “Muppets, Avengers, and Life In The Age Of Fanfiction.” It was inspired by a conversation with his colleague, TV critic Alan Sepinwall, who described the new “Muppets” movie as “the greatest work of fanfiction [he’d] ever seen.” That spurred McWeeny to write his piece on what he calls “the Age of Fanfiction.”

“What’s been truly bizarre, though, is the way the mainstream has slowly headed in the same direction, and without anyone noticing it, we seem to have handed over our entire industry to the creation of fanfiction on a corporate level, and at this point, I’m not sure how we’re expecting the pendulum to ever swing back. I know people love to blame Spielberg and Lucas for creating the modern blockbuster age, but at least when they decided to pay tribute to their inspirations, they did so in interesting ways. Spielberg has talked about how his frustrations at hearing that only English filmmakers could direct James Bond movies led to the creation of Indiana Jones, and Lucas was working out his love of Flash Gordon when he created ‘Star Wars.’ Those are healthy ways to work through your love of something, and absolutely make sense as important pieces in the creative process. What’s scary is how these days, filmmakers wouldn’t bother with that last step, the part where you take your inspirations and run them through your own filter. Now, instead, we live in an age where we are simply doing the source material again and again and again, and where original creation seems to be almost frowned upon as a ‘risk.'”

The other examples McWeeny cites besides “The Muppets” are J.J. Abrams‘ “Star Trek,” “The Twilight Saga,” and the upcoming movies based on “The Avengers” and the old horror soap “Dark Shadows.” And there are a lot more examples he could have cited from just this year alone. Early in 2011 we got “The Green Hornet” which extrapolated the metatextual rivalry between the Green Hornet and Kato on the old TV series (where the Hornet was the star and the sidekick, played by a young Bruce Lee, got all the press) into the main character dynamic of the film. Later, there was “Fast Five” with an all-star cast reunion that could have been based on a “Fast & Furious” die-hard’s fanfic about characters from every single previous entry joining forces to pull off one amazing heist. Two of the best blockbusters of the summer were prequels with classic what-were-they-like-before-we-met-them fanfic premises: “X-Men: First Class” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

McWeeny writes about how modern filmmakers don’t bother reimagining their childhood cultural addictions as new properties, and instead simply remake the the old properties over and over again. That’s not entirely true, though. J.J. Abrams followed his “Star Trek” fanfiction film with “Super 8,” where he took his love of early Steven Spielberg movies like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “E.T.” and reworked their themes and imagery into a pastiche. In true fanfilm wonk fashion, he even got Spielberg, his idol, to executive produce the film.

This isn’t just about blockbusters, either. The Age of Fanfiction’s begun to seep into lots of other genres that have nothing to do with rebooting old television shows or films. The core idea of fanfiction — of the author assuming creative control over their obsession — is a crucial theme of several of this year’s most critically acclaimed movies. Three frontrunners for the Academy Award for Best Picture — “The Artist,” “Midnight in Paris” and “Hugo” — are clear expressions of the Age of Fanfiction. In the latter two cases, you even have directorial surrogates onscreen (Owen Wilson for Woody Allen in “Midnight in Paris,” Michael Stuhlbarg for Martin Scorsese in “Hugo”), who give the filmmakers the opportunity to indulge in the fantasy of interacting with that thing or person they love so dearly. The Artist” doesn’t include an obvious stand-in for director Michel Hazanavicius (whose two previous movies about the old spy series “OSS 117” probably qualify as fanfiction films as well), but he does essentially rewrite history from a fan’s perspective, giving — SPOILER! — a corrective happy ending to a silent film actor cruelly discarded in the transition to sound.

McWeeny thinks the Age of Fanfiction could give way to the Age of Invention, but for that to happen the Age of Fanfiction would have to falter at the box office. Then again, it makes you wonder: if this generation’s movies are all reworkings of the previous generation’s movies, what are the next generation’s movies going to look like? Fanfiction about fanfiction? Nostalgia for nostalgia? Eventually, someone’s going to need to create something new. Maybe that’s when the Age of Invention will really begin.

What other recent movies qualify as “fanfiction films?” Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.

via GIPHY

It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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